-setts, Book (^y Proceedings
at the Celebration of the TvfO
Hundred and Fiftieth Anniver-
CTasS-F- 1 ^
Proceedings at the Celebration of the
CtDO fluntireti anti jFifttetf) 9lnnt\jersar^ of the
INCORPORATION OF THE TOWN June 6,igoi
GEO. H. ELLIS CO., PRINTERS, 272 CONGRESS STREET
M D C C C C II
PRELIMINARY ACTION OF THE TOWN AND WORK OF THE
ANNIVERSARY COMMITTEE. ,^„
Action at Town Meeting, March 5, 1900 7
Report of the Anniversary Committee . 7
List of Invited Guests . 12
Official Program 13
Sunday at the Churches ... 21
The Procession .62
The Sports 64
LITERARY EXERCISES AT THE CHURCH.
Introductory Address by Joseph A. Allen 65
Historical Address by William S. Tilden 69
Remarks by the President of the Banquet, James Hewins, Esq^ ... 89
Response of Don Gleason Hill 89
Response of Julius H. Tuttle 92
Response of Frank Smith 93
Response of Hon. Robert R. Bishop 94
Response of Rev. Carlton A. Staples 98
Response of George M. Fiske I02
Response of Nathaniel T. Allen 105
List of Contributors 107
INDUSTRIES AND PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS OF MEDFIELD.
Excelsior Straw Works 109
Bonnet, Hat, and Frame Wire Factory no
Medfield Insane Asylum m
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
" The Willows " Frontispiece
The Peak House "
Pages from Original Town Book, 165 i, with Agreement and Signa-
The Harding Place on Canal Street, later the Bishop Homestead . 23
The Old Hotel, 1852, Site of Present Town Hall 23
Unitarian Church of 1789 as Remodelled in 1839 23
The Baxter Homestead 27
Baptist Church of 1838 37
Headstone in Vine Lake Cemetery, Son of Rev. John Willson, First
Minister of Boston 43
From the Plimpton Monument, Vine Lake Cemetery 43
Browse Tablet on Front of Town Hall 43
Headstone of the First Settler, Erected by Descendants .... 49
Panel from the Morse Monument 49
Birthplace of Rev. Pitt Clark, Elm Street 55
Corner of Main and North Streets, i860 61
Antique Exhibit in Parade, June 6, 1901 63
Oldest Stone with an Inscription, 1661 69
First Headstone Erected, 1654 69
" King Philip Cottage," Corner of Main and Short Streets ... 73
Old Pratt Place, Corner of North and Pine Streets, Later the Harm-
STAD Place 77
Old Newell House, Bridge Street 87
The Old Chenery Saw-mill 95
Corner of Main and South Streets, 1875 99
Site of the Homestead of Lieutenant Henry Adams and of the First
Mill, 1652 105
Communion Tankard from the Old Church, Panels from the Pulpit
OF 1656, Lantern, Foot-stove, and Contribution Box 107
PRELIMINARY ACTION of the TOWN and
ACTION of the ANNIVERSARY COMMITTEE.
The warrant for the Medfield town meeting held March 5, 1900, con-
tained the following : —
Article 19. To see if the town will take any action regarding the
proper celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settle-
ment of the town, appoint any committee to have charge thereof, make any
appropriation therefor, or do or act anything relating thereto.
At the above-mentioned town meeting it was voted that a committee of
three be appointed, who shall designate a committee of five, who shall report
at some future meeting. William S. Tilden, Wilmot W. Mitchell, and
George Washburn were appointed by the moderator of the meeting a com-
mittee of three, and presented the names of Joseph A. Allen, James
Hewins, Edwin V. Mitchell, William S. Tilden, and Henry E. Marshall
as the committee of five, and it was voted that they be appointed a committee
to take the matter into consideration and report at some future meeting.
The first meeting of the committee of five, or Anniversary Committee,
was held at the room of the Historical Society on Thursday evening, Sept.
27, 1900. The meeting was informal, and nothing was done beyond discuss-
ing the matter in a general way.
On Monday evening, Oct. 8, 1900, a second meeting was held at the
same place. At this meeting it was voted that George Washburn be a Sec-
retary for the Committee, and that this Committee be an Executive Commit-
tee to take full charge of the Anniversary Celebration. It was furthermore
voted to have Mr. Willard Harwood act with this Committee.
The following votes were also passed : —
I. To commence the exercises of Anniversary Day by the ringing of
bells and the blowing of whistles at sunrise.
II. To request the local clergymen to deliver historical addresses con-
cerning their respective churches and from their respective pulpits on the
Sunday preceding the Anniversary Day.
III. To have a procession and to invite the following citizens to serve
on sub-committees : —
Trades: Messrs. William Marshall, Clinton M. Clark, Patrick H.
Leahy, Thomas E. Schools, and J. A. Fitts.
8 z->,oth ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
Historical Features : Fred. M. Smith, Mrs. Abbie A. Bishop, Mrs. Olive
B. Monks, Mrs. Alice H. Bartlett, and Miss Rosa S. Allen.
Schools: Mr. Leonard M. Patton, principal of high school, and the
Organizations: Heads of the various organizations.
V. To have a Loan Exhibition under the direction of the following
committee: Mrs. George Washburn, Mr. Albert A. Lovell, Miss Eliza-
beth S. Sewall, Mr. J. Herbert Baker, Miss Harriet A. Fowle, and Miss
Lucretia M. Johnson.
VL To invite the following gentlemen to serve as a Committee on
Music : Messrs. Henry E. Marshall, William S. Tilden, and James Ord.
VIL To have a Committee on Printing and Advertising, the following
gentlemen being invited to serve : Messrs. Stillman J. Spear, J. Herbert
Baker, and George Washburn.
VI I L To have a General Hospitality Committee, the following ladies
and gentlemen being requested to act : Mr. Willard Harwood, the clergy-
men of Medfield, Mrs. Edwin V. Mitchell, Miss Helen S, Brown, and the
Hannah Adams Club.
IX. To have a Committee on Decorations to embrace the following:
Mr. Henry J. Dunn, Mrs. Moses F. Clark, Mrs. Sarah A. Fitts, Mr.
Michael E. Griffin, Mrs. Henry M. Parker, and Mrs. Ellen Curtis.
X. To have a Banquet, the arrangements to be left with the Anniver-
XI. To invite Mr. James Ord to act as Chief Marshal of the proces-
For various reasons a number of the ladies and gentlemen appointed on
these committees were unable to act, and the committees, as they actually
served, appear In the Program incorporated in this volume. Other members
In compliance with the vote passed at the town meeting held March 5,
1900, a special town meeting was duly warned and held on the evening of
Oct. 27, 1900.
Article 1 of the warrant reads as follows : —
To hear and act upon the report of the Committee appointed at the
last Annual Town Meeting to take into consideration the matter of a cele-
bration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the incorporation of
the town, and to see if the town will do or act anything relating to such cele-
bration and appropriate money therefor.
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 9
Mr. Joseph A. Allen, Chairman of the Anniversary Committee, made a
report embodying the doings of this Committee as hereinbefore recorded,
and Mr. James Hewins suggested an appropriation of $1,500.
The report of the Committee was accepted and adopted, and it was voted
That the sum of 1 1,500 be granted, appropriated, and raised by tax-
ation for the purpose of celebrating the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary
of the incorporation of the town of Medfield.
At a meeting of the Committee held Nov. 5, 1900, it was voted that a
Committee on Agriculture be appointed to prepare some feature for the
procession, the committee to consist of the following : Messrs. Hamlet
Wight, Amos E. Mason, Albert W. Shumway, George W. Kingsbury, Fran-
cis D. Hamant, Alanson H. Clark, Lewis A. Cutler, George W. Bruce, and
George L. L. Allen. It was also voted that the Secretary be authorized to
prepare such an invitation as he may deem proper, to be sent to the Select-
men of Millis, requesting them to present it to their townsmen, inviting
them to participate in the procession on Anniversary Day.
The following letter was prepared by the Secretary, and he was directed
to forward a copy at once : —
To THE Selectmen of Millis:
Gentlemen, — At a recent meeting of the Committee appointed by the
town to take into consideration the proper celebration of the two hundred
and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of Medfield the Secretary of the
Committee was instructed to extend, through you, an invitation to the cit-
izens of Millis (in consideration of its having been originally a part of Med-
field) to participate in the procession, which will be one of the features of
The celebration will occur early in June next. The procession embraces
five divisions, schools, trades, organizations, agricultural and historical feat-
We should be pleased to have your citizens form committees and pre-
sent any features that will add to the attraction of the j^rocession.
For the Conwiittce.
At a meeting of the Committee held March 14, 1901, it was voted that
James Hewins, Esq., should preside at the Banquet.
lo zt^oth ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
On Monday evening, March i8, 1901, another meeting was held, and it
was voted : —
I. That the Waltham Watch Factory Band be hired to furnish music
for the occasion.
II. That Mr. Tilden's sketches, " A Visit to an Early Settler's Home"
and " A Sunday in the Old Meeting-house," be printed in separate volumes
as souvenirs of the anniversary.
III. That the Banquet be held in Chenery Hall.
IV. That the literary exercises be held in the First Congregational
At a meeting held March 25, 1 901, it was voted to have sports and
games on the day of the anniversary celebration, and that Henry E. Young
be appointed to direct said sports and games, and that he select two or four
other persons to serve with him, such selection to be subject to the approval
of the Committee.
A meeting of the Committee was held April 8, 1901, and the route of
procession was agreed upon.
April 22, i90i,itwas voted that a circular be issued, inviting the co-
operation of the tradespeople in carrying out the plan of a procession. The
Secretary was instructed to prepare and issue said circular, which was as fol-
lows : —
To THE Manufacturers, Merchants, and Tradesmen of Medfield :
The Town of Medfield will celebrate the two hundred and fiftieth anni-
versary of its incorporation on June 6, 1901.
One of the features of the day is a procession, which will start promptly
at 9 o'clock A.M.
The procession embraces schools, organizations, historical features, and
displays by the business men of the town, and promises to be the most ex-
tensive parade the town has ever witnessed.
Will you kindly add to its success by displaying your business in the
procession ? The committees you may consult are : —
On Trades: Messrs. Charles J. Sawyer, Clinton M. Clark, Thomas E.
Schools, J. Augustus Fitts.
On Agriculture : Messrs. Hamlet Wight, Albert W. Shumway, Francis
D. Hamant, George W. Kingsbury, Lewis A. Cutler, George W. Bruce,
William F. Guild, George L. L. Allen.
Per order of Anniversary Committee, PFO WASHRURN
of the TOWN s/ MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS ii
May 14, 1901, the committee voted that the ushers at the literary ex-
ercises be selected from the descendants of the thirteen original settlers. A
list of the ushers is printed in the Program.
During the month of May the following towns were billed by the Sec-
retary : Medfield, Norfolk, Dover, Needham, Dedham, Natick, Framing-
ham, South Framlngham, Wellesley, Franklin, Wrentham, West Newton,
Bridgewater, Sherborn, Medway, West Medway, Norwood, Westwood, and
A meeting of the Anniversary Committee was held at the house of Col-
onel E. V. Mitchell on Tuesday evening, June 4, 1901. The object of
the meeting was for general discussion in regard to final details. At this
meeting Colonel Mitchell very kindly offered his carriages for the use of
the Anniversary Committee and for other purposes.
On June 11, 1 901, a meeting of the Committee was held to consider
all bills presented up to this date ; and it was voted " that the Chairman of
the Anniversary Committee be, and hereby is, authorized and directed to
sign all bills in approval of the same." The same plan was adopted in re-
gard to all future bills presented.
Previous to the celebration, twenty-one meetings were held by the Com-
mittee. In this account of the preliminary action of the Committee, only
such matters as are deemed of interest to the citizens of the town are inserted.
Since the celebration, numerous meetings have been held to perfect the Com-
The following were invited to the celebration : —
His Excellency, W. Murray Crane, Governor.
Herbert W. Wight .... Medfield
of the Commonwealth.
Mrs. H. W. Wight
Hon. Robert R. Bishop
. Newton Centre
Herbert W. Hutson
Mrs. Robert R. Bishop
Mrs. H. W. Hutson
Rev. Carlton A. Staples
Rev. John A. Savage
Don Gleason Hill .
Mrs. J. A. Savage .
George H. Ellis . .
Rev. Leroy M. Pierce
Mrs. George H. Ellis
Mrs. L. M. Pierce.
Frank Smith .
Rev. Silas L. Morse
Mrs. S. L. Morse .
George M. Fiske .
T. H. Johnson .
Julius H. Tuttle . .
Mrs. T. H. Johnson
Charles F. Jenney
G. H. Remele . .
Willard Howe . .
Mrs. G. H. Remele
Edgar Potter . . .
D. M. Babcock
Dr. Frank L. Babcock
Mrs. D. M. Babcock
Rev. D. H. Riley .
. . Walpole
J. C. Bartlett . .
John W. Fairbanks .
Mrs. J. C. Bartlett .
Nathaniel T. Allen .
. West Newton
H. R. Searles . .
. New York
Mrs. N. T. Allen .
. West Newton
Mrs. H. R. Searles .
. New York
Edward M. Bent . .
. . Medfield
Granville F. Dailey .
. New York
Mrs. E. M. Bent . .
Mrs. G. F. Dailey .
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Department.
Boston, June 3, 1901.
George Washburn, Esq., Secretary, Medfield, Mass.:
My dear Sir, — I beg to acknowledge receipt of the invitation of the
Town of Medfield to be present at the celebration of the two hundred
and fiftieth anniversary of the incorporation of the town, on Thursday,
June the sixth.
I have delayed answering this invitation in the hope that my official
duties would permit me to accept; but, as the legislature is still in session,
and as so many important matters are likely to demand my attention during
the next few days, I feel unable to take upon myself any additional duties,
and, therefore, must ask you to excuse me from attending your celebration.
I beg to be permitted, however, to express my best wishes for the continued
prosperity of your town, and to remain
Yours very truly,
W. M. CRANE.
CELEBRATION of the
250th ANNIVERSARY of
the Incorporation of the town
of Medfield, Thursday, June 6
nineteen hundred and one
JOSEPH A. ALLEN
Col. EDWIN V. MITCHELL
WILLIAM S. TILDEN
HENRY E. MARSHALL
Hamlet Wight, Albert W. Shumway, Francis D. Hamant, George W. Kingsbury, Lewis
A. Cutler, George VV. Bruce, George L. L. Allen, F. Winthrop Wardner, William
F. Guild, George S. Cheney, George P^aston, R. Busby Newcomb.
LITERARY EXERCISES AT FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
AT n O'CLOCK A.M.
L Music. Brass Quartette from American Watch Company Band of Waltham.
IL Invocation. Rev. C. A. Staples, of Lexington.
III. Hymn. Sung by the audience. Tune, " Hebron," written in 1833 by Dr. Lowell Mason,
a native of Medfield.
I. O God, beneath thy guiding hand
Our exiled fathers crossed the sea;
And, when they trod the wintry strand,
With prayer and praise they worshipped thee.
Laws, freedom, truth, and faith in God
Came with those exiles o'er the waves ;
And where their pilgrim feet have trod.
The God they trusted guards their graves.
3. And here thy name, O God of love,
Their children's children shall adore,
Till these eternal hills remove.
And spring adorns the earth no more.
IV. Introductory Address. Mr. Joseph A. Alien, President of the Day.
V. Song. " The breaking waves dashed high." Mr. J. C. Bartlett.
VL Historical Address. Mr. W. S. Tilden.
" The American Indian,"
Miss Rosa S. Allen.
VIII. National Hymn. " America." By the audience.
itteii by Dr. S. F. Smith, was
Boston, under the dii
St sung to '* Ameri
lion of Lowell Ma
J "July 4, 1832,
in, of Medfield.
: Park Street Church,
My country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing:
Land where my fathers died.
Land of the pilgrim's pride.
From every mountain side
Let freedom ring.
My native country, thee, —
Land of the noble free, —
Thy name I love :
I love thy rocks and rills.
Thy woods and templed hills ;
My heart with rapture thrills,
Like that above.
Our fathers' God ! to thee.
Author of liberty.
To thee we sing :
Long may our land be bright
With freedom's holy light ;
Protect us by thy might,
Great God, our King !
The following young lady ushers at the Literar)' Exercises are descendants of the thirteen
original settlers of the town, as indicated : —
Edith M. Harwood, ..... descendant of Ralph Wheelock.
Nellie E. Ellis,
Pauline F. Allen,
Mary A. Babcock,
Rosa S. Allen.
Helen S. Brown, .
Mary E. Hamant,
Louise M. Cole,
Abbie A. Bishop,
Mabel H. Ellis, .
Harriet A. Fowle,
Emma M. Walker,
" John Ellis.
•' Samuel Bullen.
•• Daniel Morse.
" James Allen.
" Joseph Clark.
" Francis Hamant.
" John Turner.
'• Timothy Dwight.
" Robert Hinsdale.
" John Frairy.
■■ Thomas and John Wight.
BANQUET AT CHENERY HALL
AT J O'CLOCK P.M.
J.^MF.s Hewins, Esq., will preside.
Post-prandial speeches are expected from the following gentlemen : —
Hon. Robert R. Bishop, .... . Newton Centre, Mass.
Rev. Carlton A. Staples,
Mr. Julius H. Tuttle,
Mr. Don Gleason Hill, "
Mr. George M. Fiske, . Auburndale,
Mr. Charles F. Jennev, Hyde Park,
Mr. Frank Smith, Dedham,
Mr. Edgar Potter, South Framingham
Mr. Nathaniel T. Allen, West Newton,
Mr. Geo. H. Ellis, . ' "
Vocal selections will also be given by the Albion Quartette : Messrs. T. H. Johnson, J. C.
Bartlett, G. H. Remele, D. M. Babcock.
in the vestrj- of the First Congregational Church. The Exhibition will be closed during the Literary
Sarah A. Fitts, Harriet A. Fowle, Lucretia M. Johnson, Edith M. Harwood, Ellen B.
Washburn, Amos H. Mason, E. Chamberlain, Edward P. Gillev,
Orin T. Mason, J. Herbert Baker.
BAND CONCERT IN THE AFTERNOON.
COMMITTEE ON MUSIC
Messrs. Henry E. Marshall. William S. Tildex, and James Ord.
SPORTS AND GAMES AT 2.30 P.M.
Henry E. Young, Cijnton M. Clark, H. L. Richardson, P. E. Woolford, and M. E. Griffin.
ORDER OF EVENTS.
One Hundred Yard Dash, free for all.
One Hundred Yard Dash, fifteen years and under.
Running High Jump.
Running Broad Jump.
Base-ball Game, Married Men «os. Single Men.
The sports and games will take place on Mrs. Samuel Ellis's field, entrance from Adams Ave. only.
Ringing of bells and blowing of whistles at 7 o'clock P.M.
CONCERT AT 8 P.M.
By the American Watch Company Rand of Waltham.
J. March. "1901,"
2. Overture. " Masaniello," ....
3. Waltz. " New Vienna," . .
4. Cornet Solo. Tafley Maiich,
5. Selection. Finale from " Ariele,"
6. Characteristic. " Love's Confession,' ....
7. Duet. "Serenade," .......
WiLLlA.M IlKAKLF.Y, Flute; GEO. Newcombe, French Horn.
8. Selection. '' Carmen,"
9. Descriptive. "The Cavalry Chargv,' ....
10. March. " Utopian,'"
John M. Flock ruN, Conductor.
Other Committees on this occasion are as follows: —
Mr. WiLLARD Harwood, Mrs. Maria L. Parker, Miss Helen S. Brown, Rev. John A. Savage,
Rev. Silas L. Morse, Rev. Lerov M. Pierce, and the Hannah Adams Club.
Mr. Henry J. Dunn, Mrs. Moses F. Clark, Mrs. Sarah A. Fitts,
Mr. Michael E. Griffin, Mr. Fred M. Smith.
PRINTING and ADVERTISING.
Mr. Stillman J. Stear, J. Herbert Baker, Georoe Washburn.
PLACES OF HISTORIC INTEREST.
John Wilson's Homestead,
Lowell Mason's Birthplace,
Hannah Adams's Birthplace,
Site of First School-house,
Site of Old Fort,
Site of the Indian Barbecue,
Thomas Mason's Homestead,
Birthplace of Eleazer Smith,
Site of Chenery Hall
near corner North and Janes Streets
beyond Brastow's Bridge
DEPARTURE OF STEAM CARS,
FROM MEDFIELD CENTRE.
5. II ••
7. II -
FROM MEDFIELD JUNCTION
To Boston and way stations. To Woonsocket and way stations.
12.38 P.M. 1.22 P.M.
4-5° '■ 4-34 "
6.44 •• 6.07 '•
To Framingham. To Mansfield.
1. 15 P.M. 12.4s f-^'-
S-iS •■ 3-45 ■
7-15 " 6.45 •
10.22 " To Walpole only.
ELECTRICS LEAVE MEDFIELD
For Dedham and for Franklin at frequent intervals.
ILLUSTRATED SOUVENIRS OF MEDFIELD LIFE by W illiam S. Tilden.
I. A Visit to an Early Homestead.
II. A Sunday in the Old Meetings-house.
Will be for sale at the Medfield News Company. Price 25 cents each.
SERMONS AT THE CHURCHES
SUNDAY, JUNE 2, 1901
The churches were well filled on this day to listen to the addresses
delivered from the different pulpits, — addresses full of historic interest.
FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH.
FOUNDED IN 1651.
SERMON PREACHED BY THE PASTOR, REV. JOHN ARTHUR SAVAGE.
" Stand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord of all the righteous acts of the Lord,
which he did to you and to your fathers." — i Samuel xii. 7.
SOMETHING over eighty-four years ago the Rev. Daniel Clark
Sanders, D.D., then pastor of this church, prepared and delivered a
sermon on the text that I have just read to you. That sermon, able
and eloquent at the time of its delivery, which was the one hundred and sixty-
sixth anniversary of the incorporation of Medfield as a town, is now an im-
portant historical document with us. And, in using this same text to-day, on
the occasion of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the town and the
First Parish in Medfield, I wish at the outset to make grateful acknowledg-
ment of my indebtedness to Dr. Sanders's historical sermon for a better knowl-
edge of many of the facts and events that I shall rehearse to you at this time.
It is also fitting that I should here make thankful mention of the valuable aid
I have received in the preparation of this discourse from the reading of the
" Life of Ralph Wheelock," written by the Rev. L. W. Hicks, and by a fre-
quent perusal of the " History of Medfield," written by our capable and ac-
curate local historian, Mr. William S. Tilden. These authorities, together
with the parish records, also some of the papers I have heard at the meetings
of your historical society and my frequent conversations with aged and well-
informed natives of the town, during my residence among you of now not far
from nine years, have brought to me the information that I shall report and
try to set in order on the present occasion. Let it be borne in mind, how-
ever, that I am to speak not of the history of the town, as such, but of the
origin, ministry, life, and development of the First Congregational Parish in
Medfield, one of the earliest of the New England churches.
This church was organized in the summer or autumn of the year 1651,
the same year in which the town was incorporated. We have no definite
record of the exact time or manner of the church's origin in this place, but
the date of the event is approximately fixed by the well-known fact of the
settling of the first minister here in December of 1651. The church was no
doubt organized before that ; and the process of organizing had probably run
24 25o/>i ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
through the several months preceding. The forming of a religious society
or church among the New England Puritans of that day was a very serious
and deliberate proceeding. When the First Parish Church in Dedham was
formed, only thirteen years before this one, and by some of the same devout
and conscientious men who founded our town and parish, many months were
spent in reaching the desired result. Week after week and month after
month the people met in little groups in their homes and deliberated upon
the subject ; and there were " heart-searchings, fastings, and special meetings
for prayer," until at length, after almost a year's deliberation and prayer, a
church of eight members was organized, and a minister called and settled.
That was in Dedham. In all probability the process of organizing the
church and settling the first pastor was substantially the same in Medfield ;
for it was some of the same people doing the same sacred work over again.
The first minister of this church was the Rev. John Wilson, Jr., eldest
son of the Rev. John Wilson, pastor at that time of the First Church in
Boston. John Wilson, Jr., graduated from Harvard in 1642, being a mem-
ber of the first class educated in that college. He served two years as the
Rev. Richard Mather's colleague in Dorchester, and then in December,
165 1, was called and settled as the minister of the newly formed church in
Medfield. This sacred office he held from that time until his death in
August, 1 69 1, — a period of forty years. It was the difficult formative pe-
riod in the life of both the town and the church. The hardships were
many, and some of the perils were great. It was in the later years of Mr.
Wilson's ministry — February, 1676 — that the Indians in King Philip's
War assaulted the town, burned many of its homes, and killed a considerable
number of its inhabitants. And probably the ruin and slaughter would
have been much greater, had not Mr. Wilson applied the week before to
the governor and council of the colony for military aid, so that the com-
munity was in some measure prepared and protected.
Prominent and most eminent among the members of the church in that
early period of Medfield history must be mentioned Ralph Wheelock. He
had been educated for the ministry in England at the University of Cam-
bridge, had been ordained and settled as a clergyman in that country ; but
he afterwards cast in his lot with the Puritan dissenters, and came to
America in 1637. Mr. Wheelock purchased land and made his home first
in Dedham and then in Medfield. He was among the organizers and first
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 25
settlers of this town. Here he led in the educational work of the com-
munity, as he had done in Dedham, and devoted his time, his learning, and
talents to teaching. This calling he followed during the whole active period
of his life in this town, with the exception of the four years in which he
represented the town in the legislature, or General Court. Having thus
lived a noble and eminently useful and helpful life, this worthy and learned
man died here in his home, November, i68j, "in the eighty-fourth year of
his age." Among other worthy and highly respected members of the parish
living here in those times may be mentioned Thomas Wight, Robert Hins-
dale, Edward Adams, John Harding, Thomas Thurston, Samuel Barber,
and Benjamin Clark. This list might be greatly extended if there were
The Rev. Joseph Baxter, a very young man graduating from Harvard
College in 1693, ^^'^^ made the successor of the first pastor of this church in
April, 1697. He was a native of Braintree, Mass., a well-bred and finely
educated Christian gentleman of marked practical and professional ability.
And, though the pastorate of the Rev. John Wilson was long, that of the
Rev. Joseph Baxter was longer. He spent his life here with your ancestors,
living for their good and dying in their midst at the age of nearly sixty-nine
years, and just after closing the forty-eighth year of his ministry. In return
" he was much respected and generously supported." Mr. Baxter found in
the church in 1697 a membership of sixty-five, and during his ministry he
received three hundred and seventy-three persons into the fellowship of
this society. It must be remembered, however, that his ministry was long
enough to make this an average of less than eight persons a year admitted
into the membership of the church.
Mr. Baxter's death took place in May, 1745, and in October of that
same year the Rev. Jonathan Townsend, Jr., was installed as his successor.
Mr. Townsend was educated in Harvard College, and his father was minister
of the First Parish in Needham. His ministry in this place continued almost
tsventy-four years. During his pastorate sixty-one persons were admitted to
membership in the church, and three hundred and thirty-four were baptized.
He died in Dedham, Dec. 12, 1776. His grave is there.
After Mr. Townsend left his pastorate here the church remained without
a settled minister a little more than one year. Rutin October, 1770, a pastor
was called, ordained, and installed. The new minister was the Rev. Thomas
26 zsoth ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
Prentiss, afterwards widely known as the Rev. Dr. Prentiss. He was a
scholarly man, and gave a considerable part of his time to the preparation of
young men for college : among others, Dr. Joseph Allen, of Northboro, was,
in youth and while living at his father's home in this town, a pupil under
the instruction of Dr. Prentiss. It was the beginning of a scholarly career
in the Allen family of this place and Northboro. Dr. Prentiss was born
in Holliston, where his father was a Congregationalist pastor, and the Uni-
versity in Cambridge, that honored him with the doctor's degree in 1808,
had educated and graduated him in youth. The earlier years of his ministry
covered the trying period of the war for independence, and witnessed the
rise of the North American Republic. His pastorate continued forty-three
years and four months. Dr. Prentiss died Feb. 28, 18 14, "greatly beloved
and lamented." It was during his ministry in 1789, now one hundred and
twelve years ago, that the present church edifice was erected. It had been
preceded by two others on the same site, the first one lasting fifty years, and
the second eighty-three years. There is preserved a long list of honored
pew-holders who with their wives and children worshipped here on Sundays
during the ministry of Dr. Prentiss. Among them are Wights, Hardings,
Aliens, Baxters, Clarks, Adamses, Ellises, Hamants, Hartshorns, Jeraulds,
Masons, Plimptons, Smiths, Townsends, and other worthy and honored old
family names too numerous to mention in this brief discourse.
Some ten months after the death of Dr. Prentiss a call was unanimously
extended to the Rev. Daniel C. Sanders, D.D., to become pastor of this
church. The call was accepted, and Dr. Sanders was installed and began his
ministry here in May, 181 5. He was a man of eminent learning and talent,
and his pastorate in Medfield marks an epoch in the history, not only of this
church, but of the whole religious life and Congregational faith of this town.
Dr. Sanders was forty-seven years of age when he settled here, and had been
the minister of Congregational churches in the cities of Vergennes and Bur-
lington, Vt. In October of 1800 he had been made president of the Uni-
versity of Vermont, which position he held some fifteen years, and until, in
the course of the war of 18 12, the American troops took possession of the
college buildings as winter quarters, thereby necessitating the suspension of
the work and functions of the institution. Dr. Sanders was then in his prime
of middle life and manly and scholarly strength. He had already published
one book and some twenty discourses ; and Harvard, his Alma Mater, had
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 27
honored him with the doctor's degree. But the breaking up of the college
in Burlington was a great interruption in his career and a heavy blow to his
ambitions. He left Burlington with his family, and, as has been said, settled
here in the spring of 1815. His parents and grandparents had originated in
this town ; here, in his youth, he had studied divinity under the venerable Dr.
Prentiss ; here he had preached his first sermon after being licensed as a min-
ister by the Dedham Association in 1790. Dr. Prentiss had baptized him
and admitted him to communion. Naturally enough, his heart and hopes
turned this way when, after the disasters that had come to the college in
Burlington, your ancestors invited him unanimously to become the successor
of Dr. Prentiss.
He entered vigorously upon his work in this pulpit and parish, and was
soon famous as a preacher in all this region of country. He was in demand
at dedications, ordinations, installations, and on nearly all public occasions of
importance. But the ministry of Dr. Sanders in this place had fallen upon
evil times. The very year in which he settled here was the year that wit-
nessed the breaking out of the controversy in the Congregational churches
of New England between Trinitarians and Unitarians. That year Dr.
Morse read the copy of Belsham's " Life of Lindsey " that had been sent
from England to Harvard College ; and " the veil was torn away." In less
than five years from that time John Lowell had written and published his
vigorous pamphlet entitled "Are you a Christian or a Calvinist.'' " Dr.
Channing had preached his famous Baltimore sermon ; and the First Parish
in Dedham — mother of this church and here at your side in the neighbor-
ing town — had been rent in twain in a manner peculiarly exasperating.
Controversy and division were in the air and in the pulpits and in the hearts
of the people. It was inevitable that Medfield should breathe the spirit of
the hour and enter strenuously into the conflict. Dr. Sanders foresaw the
coming strife and division, and worked faithfully and anxiously to prevent
controversy and ward oflF a schism in his church. And, as matter of fact, the
actual division did not come until after Dr. Lyman Beecher had, in May,
1827, visited the town and preached a sermon in this pulpit at the request
of the deacons and " without the consent of the pastor." Dr. Beecher's
avowed purpose was the defence and promotion of a stricter orthodoxy.
There were at that time many disciples of Channing in this parish, as the se-
quel plainly proved. On the other hand, there was also a goodly number of
28 25o;/^ ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
zealous and conscientious evangelical believers. Dr. Sanders, appreciating
the situation and wishing to allow freedom of thought and to maintain peace
and union, avoided controversial themes and always used the time-honored
church covenant, in receiving members, that had been used by Dr. Prentiss
and his predecessors. But all these precautions and efforts to harmonize
conflicting elements were unavailing ; and not long after Dr. Beecher's visit
the actual and permanent division of the parish occurred. Seventeen mem-
bers withdrew from the church of the First Parish, and on Feb. 6, 1828,
organized the Second Congregational Church of this town. These were fol-
lowed by nineteen others that same year, among whom were some of the
best members in the church, including, with others, the widow and two daugh-
ters of Dr. Prentiss. The large majority that remained in the First Church
and Parish then seemed to insist that the preaching and the covenant should
be more distinctly Unitarian. In this Dr. Sanders did not sufficiently com-
ply with their wishes; and on March 2, 1829,3 vote was passed by the
parish, dissolving the pastoral relation at the request of the pastor himself
This vote took effect on the 24th of the following May.
The church then remained without a settled minister about one year
and a half, at the end of which time James A. Kendall, son of the Rev. Dr.
James Kendall, of Plymouth, was called, ordained, and settled here, Mr.
Kendall's ministry in this place was comparatively short, lasting six years
and eight months. It began with a revision of the church covenant, and
was continued as the first distinctively Unitarian pastorate in this parish.
During his ministry thirty-seven persons, young and old, were baptized,
and twenty received into the membership of the church. Daniel Adams,
Esq., a finely educated lawyer, was at that time clerk of the parish ; and he
has left an entry in the old church records which shows plainly that Mr.
Kendall, while over-sensitive and a good deal discouraged with his work and
his difficulties here, was none the less much beloved and respected by his
Some months after the close of Mr. Kendall's pastorate extensive re-
pairs were made upon the church edifice. It was turned around so as to
face the south, a vestry was built under it, and a steeple erected. Two
years and more passed away before another minister was settled ; and then,
in October, 1839, the Rev. Charles Robinson, of Groton, was called and
installed as pastor. He remained here eleven years; and his work in this
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD. MASSACHUSETTS zg
parish and pulpit is spoken of in one of the printed historical documents
of the town as " an able and faithful ministry." During Mr. Robinson's
pastorate, twenty persons united with the church. One of these still dwells
in our midst, and now, as then, remains a faithful member in this goodly
fellowship. She is the honored president of the Ladies' Social Circle in this
parish, and daughter of the late Rev. C. C. Sewall.
Mr. Robinson closed his pastorate in October, 1850, and his successor,
the Rev. Rushton D. Burr, was not settled in this place until January, 1853.
But the church was not closed nor the parish idle during those three inter-
vening years. In the year 1843 the Rev. Charles C. Sewall, for a long time
pastor of the First Unitarian Church in Danvers (now Peabody), had taken
up his abode with his family in this town ; and at different times, through
considerable intervals of time, he supplied this pulpit to the satisfaction and
marked benefit of the community. Thus, in the absence of a pastor, there
was still an able and much venerated minister in the pulpit. Mr. Sewall
was a native of Marblehead, a graduate of Bowdoin College, and in his early
manhood had come into association with this town by teaching school here
and by marrying into one of the old and influential families of the town.
He resided here, after his return in 1843, until his death in 1886 ; and it is
safe to say that no other clergyman, since Dr. Sanders, has taken so impor-
tant a place in the life and history of Medfield.
Mr. Burr's pastorate commencing, as has been said, in January, 1853,
was of short duration, continuing onlv three years and eight months, when
he accepted a call to the Unitarian church in Marietta, Ohio. Nothing of
special importance, that I have been able to discover, marks his ministry or
the time of his ministry in this place.
Two years and about four months elapsed before the next pastor, the Rev.
Solon W. Bush, of Brattleboro, Vt., was installed. In the mean time, when
the church was not hearing candidates, Mr. Sewall supplied the pulpit.
Mr. Bush began his work here in December, 1857. His pastorate lasted
seven years ; and he then became editor of the Christian Register. An his-
torical document, that I have already quoted, says that " during his peace-
ful and efficient ministry twenty-three members were added to the church."
It was, indeed, a "peaceful and efficient ministry" by an able, devout, and
scholarly man ; and that ministry is remembered here with love and grati-
tude. I wish to say, however, that in my opinion the principal achievement
JO 250/,^ ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
in Mr. Bush's pastorate in this place was his discovery of George H. Ellis,
the present publisher of the Christian Register. Mr. Ellis, a member of
one of the oldest and most respected families of the town, was then a youth
living here with his father, who served as clerk of the parish for fifty years.
The youth went with Mr. Bush ; and to-day the old First Parish in Med-
field enjoys the honor of having sent to Boston an able editor and an able
publisher, — two men whose ability, life, and character have been an honor
to the whole denomination. Mr. Bush was a native of Newport, R.I., a
graduate of Brown University and of the Cambridge Divinity School. He
died in Boston three years ago last March.
The next minister settled by the people of this church was the Rev. James
H. Wiggin. He came here from Marblehead, and was installed Oct. 6,
1867. Mr. Wiggin, though born in Boston, was educated in Meadville,
Penn., where so many of our clergymen have since prepared for the min-
istry. He was a genial man of stalwart form, much vigor, and fine literary
attainments. With the consent of the parish, there being only one dissent-
ing voice and that a friendly voice, it was agreed in the early part of Mr.
Wiggin's ministry that there should be one sermon on Sunday instead of
two, and that the one regular public service should be held in the afternoon
immediately after the Sunday-school. This left the minister free to give
his first efforts and the best part of the day, each Sabbath, to the Sunday-
school. The result was that under Mr. Wiggin's vigorous and resourceful
leadership the Sunday-school, that had been originated and organized some
fifty-two years before by the Rev. Dr. Sanders, became larger, more interest-
ing and prosperous than it ever has been at any other period in its history.
Mr. Wiggin's ministry in this place is best remembered by his fine, large,
well-equipped, and ably conducted Sunday-school ; though his whole min-
istry here was vigorous and efficient throughout. At the end of five and a
half years he accepted a call to the Unitarian church in Marlboro. That
was in March, 1873. During the next four years Rev. Mr. Bewail again
supplied the pulpit, and under his wise oversight and faithful ministrations
the parish lived and prospered. In those years extensive repairs were again
made upon the church property at heavy cost ; and the reopening of the
church for worship, after the repairs, was an event of much interest.
But, unfortunately, the period of short pastorates, critical restlessness,
questionable parish methods, and much candidating had set in, with a strong
ebb-tide of religious sentiment, and was having a bad effect in the churches.
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 31
This church did not escape the evil of the times. The parish had
pastors, or settled ministers, only nine years and four months during the
whole fifteen years that followed next after the close of Mr. Wiggin's pastor-
ate in March of 1 873. Throughout a great part of that time the men in this
pulpit were either very temporary supplies, or a procession of pilgrims who
could " tarry but a night " ; for they were candidates, and most of them would
" be seen here no more forever." Among the whole number the Rev. Gran-
ville Pierce, who has since had a good long pastorate in Chelmsford, was settled
here nearly four years ; the Rev. Joseph N. Pardee, now pastor at Bolton, was
here, in all, about two years and a half; and the Rev. J. J. Twiss, deceased,
was the settled minister of this church for two years and ten months. It
was difficult, almost impossible, to accomplish much in such short pastorates
and under condidons of such restlessness and frequent change. Yet there
was some good work done in those years. The Rev. Granville Pierce was
a most tireless and faithful pastor, and in the short time that he was here
received twenty-eight persons into the membership of the church. But the
pastoral terms were growing shorter and shorter, and the candidating more
frequent, protracted, and unsatisfactory. In the mean time the Rev. and
venerable Charles C. Sewall had gone to his heavenly reward, and was no
longer present in your midst to come quietly into the pulpit in time of criti-
cal emergency, and with grace and wisdom prevent irreverent hands from
jolting the ark of God. Matters grew more and more perplexing until, in
the summer and autumn of 1888, it was felt that something exceptional
must be done to save and religiously restore the old First Parish. Strong
and faithful men were on the Parish Committee at that time, among them
the late William P. Hewins, who, like his honored father before him, had
been a pillar of strength in this town and parish forty years or more.
What was done by the men of the committee ? It was seen that no con-
certed and harmonious action of the society was likely to be obtained at
that time, and the men of the committee simply and quietly opened the
church doors and invited the Rev. William W. Hayward, of blessed mem-
ory, to come into this pulpit and preach the gospel of Christ. He came, and
you came. He was not called by the society nor settled by the church.
He was called by the strong men of the Parish Committee, and commissioned
by the Almighty. And seldom has wisdom been more fully justified of her
children than in the action of that committee in the early autumn of 1888.
32 The TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS
He stayed, and was your minister and your friend until, in the summer of
1892 he went peacefully from among you to his God. 1 would gladly tell
the whole story of his faithful, kindly, devout, and beneficent ministry with
you and your children.
But you already know the story well, and there is neither time nor
necessity for repeating it here to-day. It is enough to say that in life he
led you into the ways of peace and good will, in death he left a benediction
upon your whole community ; and his ministry here marks a new era in the
religious life and harmonious action of this ancient church and parish, whose
sons and daughters have stood among the "great and good" in our land
through eight generations. Ralph Wheelock, Joseph Baxter, Daniel C.
Sanders, Lowell Mason, Daniel Adams, Thomas Prentiss, Hannah Adams,
Dr. Hewins, Dr. Allen, and other worthies have consecrated the ground on
which we meet at this hour.
" Gone are those great and good
Who here, in peril, stood,
And raised their hymn.
" Peace to the reverend dead !
The light that on their head
The passing years have shed
Shall ne'er grow dim."
FOUNDED IN 1776.
SERMON PREACHED BY THE PASTOR, REV. SILAS L. MORSE.
"Children's children are the crown of old men ; and the glory of children are their fathers." —
Prov. xvii. 6.
A BAPTIST church is not a church of recent birth, — a product of
these later centuries. It is a part of the thoughts of Him with
whom a thousand years are but as one day. Our Baptist fathers
said, " How did men make a church in the first place ? " They found that
one hundred and twenty men and women came together as one in Christ,
devoted to his service, body and soul, and were a church. They said, " That
is the way to have a church." They went back, not to English history, not
to their own imaginations and inventive genius. They went back to the
original sources, and founded what Christ founded, a church of the people.
I cannot prophesy what the future church of this country is to be ; but I
suppose there is no man so devoted to his own system of church life that
he will not say that the final church is to be one in which all are priests,
under the one Lord, holding the one faith and bearing the one baptism.
Passing over the earliest days in New England history, we merely men-
tion the names of Hansard Knollys, Roger Williams, John Clarke, Obadiah
Holmes, and Henry Dunster, who were treated with great severity for hold-
ing and proclaiming doctrines similar to those held by Baptists in these
days. But the spirit of intolerance was everywhere in that early time ; and
the Massachusetts Puritans were by no means free from it. It was left for
Roger Williams, and others of like spirit, to found a State in which freedom
of conscience was one of the chief corner-stones ; and, finally, more than a
century later. Baptists secured the adoption of the statute of religious liberty
in this country, championed by such men as Patrick Henry, Thomas Jeffer-
son, and Madison. Complete freedom in Massachusetts, however, was not
granted till 1833, when Church and State were fully separated; and, even
then, so good a man as Lyman Beecher was much displeased because the
State no longer compelled his unwilling Baptist brother to contribute to his
There were some who held Baptist views at a very early date in this
34 250//4 ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
town. One of the constituent members of the first Baptist church gathered
in Massachusetts, that at Swansea in 1663, was Benjamin Alby. One of
the settlers of this town, coming in 1651, was Benjamin Alby. He Hved,
apparently, near the corner of Main and Bridge Streets. A daughter of his
married Samuel Wight, whose grandson, Elnathan Wight, was a pastor of
the Baptist church in Bellingham.
Jonathan Adams was baptized at Swansea at an early date : he lived on
the west side of the river at the place now owned by Mrs. Henry M. Daniels,
in Minis, till 1732. Later he lived on Bridge Street, at the spot now marked
by an old cellar, well, and a large willow-tree. Joseph and John Rock-
wood were evidently of the same persuasion, Joseph removing to Swansea,
where he died in 1693. John is thought to have been a "Separatist"
preacher (called often " Rev." in the records), — a movement which contrib-
uted to the formation of many Baptist churches at a later period. He resided
on the west side near " Oak Grove Farm," and had married a sister of Jon-
athan Adams, before mentioned. None of these men lived to see Baptist
meetings established in this town. But it is believed that the embryo was
there which afterward blossomed and ripened into full fruition.
The next decided movement in this direction was in 1746, when Eben-
ezer Mason, of Medfield, then seventy-five years of age, sought baptism
at the hands of the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Boston. He resided
on North Street, where Amos E. Mason, a descendant, now resides. In
1 75 1 his son, Ebenezer Mason, Jr., joined the Second Boston, now Warren
Avenue, Baptist Church. He was followed soon after by Nathan Plimpton,
the chorister in the old parish church here, as also by John Cutler, John
Allen, Joshua Morse, and Joseph Plimpton. In the summer of 1752 these
seven obtained permission of the Second Boston to hold Baptist meetings in
this town as a branch of that church. The next year William Plimpton and
his sister (the wife of John Cutler) were baptized. Several other families
attended the meetings, though not church members, but claiming to be of the
A question of great importance now arose, which was whether people
should be compelled by force and arms to pay taxes to support the parish
minister, in whose doctrines they did not believe and whose preaching they
did not attend. After considerable agitation a law was passed allowing such
as felt this to be a violation of their conscience to be excused from such tax
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 35
on presentation of a certificate signed by two members of a Baptist church.
One of these certificates, still preserved, reads as follows : —
A list of the names of the Anabaptists, so called, in the town of Med-
field, in the County of Suffolk, in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, in
New England. [Here follow twelve names.]
We, whose names are underwritten, do certify that the persons contained
in the above list are conscientiously of the Baptist persuasion, and they do
usually and frequently attend the public worship on the Lord's day with us.
The law was frequently changed and modified by successive legislatures ;
and for half a century frequent attempts were made by the town authorities
to force the Baptist brethren to support the parish minister.
The little band of men and women continued their meetings, sometimes
at the school-house, and, when refused this, at private dwellings, for nearly
twenty years. Several of those who were among the first had died, but
others had come to take their places ; and, a considerable accession being
made about 1770-71, it was thought best to build a house of worship. Ac-
cordingly, a plot of ground was purchased, and a building thirty-one feet
square was erected on Main Street, on the place now owned by heirs of Mr.
Hoisington. The old meeting-house forms the easterly end of the present
building there. When it was raised and partly finished, Dr. Manning, pres-
ident of Rhode Island College (now Brown University), stopped here while
on a journey through the place, and preached from the text, " Except the
Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." At the close of
that service the ordinance of baptism was administered. The first baptism
in Medfield waters, however, was that of James Morse, Dec. 5, 1770, Rev.
John Davis, of the Second Boston, being the administrator.
A list of the names of such as attended the Baptist meetings in 1771 was
returned to the town, and is as follows : —
Ebenezer Mason, Ezekiel Adams, Joshua Morse, Simon Plimpton,
John Peppelow, John Cutler, Keziah Plimpton, James Morse, James Ellis,
Jr., Benjamin Hews, Nathan Plimpton, and Joseph Plimpton. These
claimed exemption from taxes to support the old parish church.
During these years of the beginnings and struggles of the Medfield Bap-
tists, occasional preaching services were held in their meeting-house. Pastors
from Boston and from Rhode Island supplied the pulpit occasionally and
officiated in the ordinances as the brethren called upon them so to do.
250//^ ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
In 1775 Thomas Gair, then twenty-two years of age, a student in Rhode
Island College, visited this town, and preached so acceptably that he was in-
vited to remain. He accepted the invitation, and supplied the pulpit either
himself or by exchanges with ministers in or near Providence, as Boston was
now shut off from intercourse with the country towns. There was an in-
creased attendance at the meetings, and many were converted. So it was
decided to organize an independent church here. On the i8th of August,
1776, the articles of faith were read and assented to by a rising vote. They
then gave themselves to the Lord and to one another in covenant, to walk
in his ways and maintain the discipline of his church as he should enable
them. The solemn transaction was concluded by prayer, following which
Mr. Gair preached a sermon from Acts ii. 47, " Praising God, and having
favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as
should be saved."
Nine members brought letters from the First Boston Church, eight from
the Second Boston, and twelve were received by experience, having been
baptized at various times and places. We bow in reverent thoughtfulness as
we mention the names of these twenty-nine constituent members : —
Grace (a slave of
Mr. John Green)
Mr. Gair was ordained Sept. 16, 1776. Dr. Stillman, of Boston, Dr.
Manning, of Providence, and Elder Alden, of Bellingham, participated in
the exercises of ordination.
Mr. Gair, besides attending to his pastoral duties here, made the
itinerancy of several surrounding towns, preaching and baptizing in Weston,
Natick, Needham, Newton, Walpole, Sudbury, Leicester, and Holden.
Persons from many different towns were members of the Medfield church.
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 37
there being no other in those early times nearer than Boston and Belling-
ham. Only about one-fifth of all who joined in Mr. Gair's ministry were
residents of this town. Many of those who attended church here rode
from five to twenty miles for the purpose, and the little meeting-house was
well filled with hearers. These early days were seemingly very prosperous.
In 1779 land was purchased and a house built for a parsonage. This was
not done without opposition from their townsmen, who desired to prevent
another denomination of worshippers gaining foothold. The house was on
Main Street, and is now a part of that owned by Mr. J. M. Johnson.
About this time several members residing in Weston asked permission
to hold meetings there as a branch of this church ; and eighteen of those
living in or near Needham were dismissed to form a new church, which
became extinct in a few years, from causes now unknown.
Our church experienced a great loss in 178 1 in the death of Nathan
Plimpton, who had been for nearly thirty years a leading spirit in the Bap-
tist movement here, though not formally uniting with this church, as his
means and influence were much needed in the Second Boston, of which he
was a member. With the loss of his wise and faithful counsels, differences
and dissensions began. A strife sprang up between the pastor and one of
the leading members. Both were very rigid in their attitude ; the result
was that the layman was excluded. The church from this time passed into
a period of decline. Things went from bad to worse, till in 1787, what with
the alienation of several resident members and the very large proportion of
non-residents, the church found itself unable longer to support the pastor,
and Mr. Gair resigned, accepting a call to the Second Boston Church, where
he died in 1790, at the age of thirty-six.
In 1789 fourteen members were dismissed to form an independent
church in Weston; and in 1790 we can find but seventeen resident members
connected with this church, only four of whom were men. Business matters,
after the manner of the olden time, were conducted by a " Society," the
members of which also claimed exemption from ministerial taxes. The par-
sonage was rented to the Rev. Edward Clark, of Framingham, for ten Sun-
days' preaching a year, he to have one pound a day for such other Sundays
as he should preach. He remained here till 1801 ; but not much was
accomplished beyond barely holding together.
During his stay another attempt was made to force payment of minis-
38 250/,?' ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
terial taxes from all the Baptists in town ; and the chairman of the Society's
committee was seized and committed to jail in Boston. But it was soon
discovered that the town officials had exceeded their authority ; and they
went hurriedly to Boston on the Lord's day to expedite the man's release.
He then brought suit for illegal imprisonment ; and the result is told in the
proceedings at a subsequent town meeting : —
Your committee appointed to take into consideration the 8th article in
the warrant report as our opinion that, whereas the lawsuit referred to in said
8th article did take place in consequence of a ministerial tax levied on the
whole Incorporation, agreeable to the 3d article of the Bill of Rights, but by
the simple omission of a seal on the warrant, the assessors were subjected to
damage and cost, nevertheless the decision of the cause answered the question
in dispute respecting a ministerial tax levied on the whole Incorporation
where there are different denominations. We are of opinion it is necessary
the town grant the sum of sixty dollars and eighty-seven cents to defray the
expense of said lawsuit.
This was the last attempt in Medfield to compel Baptists to pay toward
the support of a Congregationalist minister.
The four resident male members already referred to were reduced, in a
few years, to one, leaving simple-hearted Joseph Cutler the only survivor.
But poor Joseph lived to see a return of prosperity, — the congregation out-
grow the meeting-house, that house enlarged, that again outgrown, and
a new church built in the heart of the village. He died in 1842, the last
survivor here of those baptized by Mr. Gair.
During those days of darkness, it was at one time proposed to disband
and make this a branch of the Attleboro church ; but the members were dis-
suaded from this step by a travelling preacher, the Rev. Abraham Cummings,
once belonging to this church. There was occasional preaching by visiting
ministers ; and all through this discouraging period there were a few faithful
women who did not lose heart. Among these were Mrs. Hannah Clark,
Miss Abigail Morse; also Mrs. Susannah Reed, who died in 1839, the last
of the constituent members.
In 1808 there were but fourteen resident members: two only of these
were men, one of whom was very old, and the other of extremely limited
mental abilities. " But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to
confound the wise " oft-times ; and we now turn to the dawn of brighter
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 39
One Sabbath morning in the early part of 1808, Medfield was surprised
by a line of carriages coming from the east, which wended its way to the
little Baptist meeting-house, where about sixty persons alighted and entered.
They came from the West Parish in Dedham (now Westwood) where there
had been a sharp division of opinion as to the location of a new meeting-
house. To evade paying a part of its cost, these families decided to worship
with the Baptists at Medfield. Their townsmen called them the " Mad
Baptists." They had at first, it is true, little if any sympathy with Baptist
views ; but many of those who were then filled with wrath and bitterness
became at length humble and devoted servants of Christ. During 1808-9
twenty-one were added to the church ; and with this addition it was able
to employ a regular preacher, in which capacity the Rev. John Peckins served
for a while, and finally, in 18 10, to extend a call to the Rev. William Gam-
mell which was accepted, and he preached, during his stay with us, alternate
Sabbaths in Medfield and West Dedham. Besides these services, he
preached on week-days in many of the surrounding towns. He was much
more than an ordinary preacher. His countenance and bearing were impres-
sive, his language affluent, his energy and devotion untiring. He held
meetings in Sharon for some time on Sunday evenings; and in 18 14 eleven
persons were dismissed for the purpose of founding a new church there. In
1 8 14, also, the Medfield church thought best to purchase a "bass-viol" to
accompany the sweet singers of Israel, — the first known instance of the
introduction of instrumental music in this church.
A Sunday-school was started in this town in 181 8. During the first
year it was a union school, children from both churches meeting at the noon
hour in the school-house between sermons, of which there were always two
in those days. The next year each church maintained its own school in the
meeting-houses. They were discontinued in the winter, as there was then
no heating apparatus of any kind in either of them.
In 1 8 19 some forty women of this church and congregation organized an
auxiliary society to aid in the work of ministerial education. It was called
" The United Baptist Female Education Society of Medfield." In the pre-
amble to their constitution occurs the following : " While we totally discard
the idea that human learning alone can qualify men to preach the gospel, we
still think that the state of society in this age requires that one called to
preach to others have such a measure of information as may render his labors
40 zipth ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
reputable in the view of those to whom he may be called to minister." The
contributions were mostly in straw braid with gifts of labor in turning it into
goods ready for sale. In 1822 they made the Rev. William Gammell a
trustee for life of the "Education Society," by payment of ^50.
The old meeting-house was enlarged to nearly twice its former capacity
in 1822. This was not done without much opposition from some of our
townsmen who had not outgrown the spirit of intolerance. At the time of
its dedication an unruly disturbance was made in the house by some adher-
ents of the old parish. But it is just to say that the larger portion of that
society held aloof from these base proceedings.
The remodelled house had a high pulpit at the westerly end, galleries on
three sides, the semicircular part opposite the pulpit being occupied by the
singers and the various instrumentalists. There was one aisle that led from
the entrance on the easterly end of the house up the centre to the pulpit,
with long pews shut in by high pew-doors, on each side. Two arm-chairs,
now in use in our vestry, stood in front of the pulpit by the communion
table. About 1827-8 a large box-stove for burning wood was placed in the
aisle near the pulpit, with a long pipe running back to the chimney, over the
heads of the singers.
During Mr. Gammell's pastorate the affairs of the church were con-
ducted very largely by its women, of whom there were several of more than
ordinary business and literary ability. Associational and other letters from
the church were frequently written by some one among the women, as it is
said there were few, if any, of the men qualified for such literary work. Mr.
Gammell was called to serve the church in Newport, R.I., in 1823, where
he died, four years afterward, at the age of forty-one.
The Rev. Joseph Ballard commenced his labors as acting pastor in 1824.
He was not installed, nor did he enroll himself as a member of the church;
but for the next five years he did effective pastoral work. During the first
year of his stay, twenty-five members living in or near West Dedham were
dismissed to form an independent church there, now the Westwood church.
It was in his days, also, that the division of the old parish church here was ef-
fected and a new Orthodox Congregationalist Church formed. Mr. Ballard's
ministry was a time of decided gain to the local membership : he was a dili-
gent, fearless man and a good preacher. He concentrated his efforts to a
greater degree than his predecessors had done, and, of the forty-seven added
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 41
while he was here, the larger part were residents. Several of these were men
who for many years were loyal to the interests of the cause, among them
Abner Mason, David Clark, Aaron Smith, and Josiah Phillips.
Mr. Ballard left in 1829, at which time there was a branch of this church
in West Medway. For a few months the pulpit was supplied by the Rev.
James Boswell, a man of excellent spirit, though of limited ability as a
In 1830 the Rev. Moses Curtis began his ministry, and was an able and
efficient pastor. One Sabbath in each month he preached at the branch
church. Under his pastorate many additions were made to the membership,
among whom were several whose names will be long revered, of whom we
name Wesley P. Balch, Jacob R. Cushman, and Silas Richardson, men who
labored with abiding conscientious principle for the good of the church and
all that the church stands for. The last of these to remain with us was Dea-
con Silas Richardson, who died in 1889, having been a member sixty-seven
Along with these years of prosperity came trials also. A number of
members living in and near Walpole came to feel that churches were cor-
rupt, and that it was their duty to " come out from among them and be ye
separate." They absented themselves from the services of the church and
established meetings by themselves. Efforts to win them back proving
unavailing, several were at last excluded from fellowship.
Mr. Curtis went from us to the Second Springfield Church in 1833 ; and
after his departure a man named Amos Le Favor was engaged as acting
pastor, who remained one year. Soon after his coming he held a service in
which he installed himself. His time of service was without benefit to us ;
and he left a legacy of partisanship and alienation here, as he had done in
the churches he had previously served elsewhere.
The Rev. Horatio N. Loring became pastor in 1834. In a letter to the
Association, the following year, this sentence appears : " His labors among us
have been blessed to the healing of our divisions and the cementing of our
hearts together in love." In 1837 seven members were dismissed for the
purpose of forming the new church of Needham and Dover, now extinct.
Mr. Loring severed his pastoral relations in 1838, going to the church
in Plymouth. None of those who joined prior to 1838 are now with us.
The old meeting-house, built in 1772 and enlarged in 1822, was now
42 250/-?- ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
inconvenient for the use of the church, and it was resolved to build a new
one in the centre of the village. The lot was bought, on the corner of Main
and South Streets, and in the summer of 1838 the house was built. This
enterprise was carried through largely by the energy of Wesley P. Balch, a
business man of the village ; but it involved much self-sacrifice on the part
of the membership generally, most of whom were in very moderate cir-
On the completion of the new house of worship a call was extended to
Mr. Daniel W. Phillips, a student at Newton, to become pastor ; and it was
determined to have the exercises of dedication and ordination on the same
day, Oct. 3, 1838. Among those participating, we find the names of the Rev.
Messrs. Daniel Sharp and Rollin H. Neale, of Boston, William Leverett, of
Roxbury, and several neighboring clergymen. Singers and instrumentalists
were brought from East Medway to furnish the music on that occasion.
Congregations were small for two or three years; but a more prosperous time
came in 1841, when the membership was much increased. In that year the
old parsonage was sold and a house purchased on Pleasant Street.
The year 1845 brought trials to this as to many other churches. The
teachings of Millerism and " Come-outism," with the hostile attitude of some
on the slavery question, caused alienation on the part of many who had
hitherto been loyal, and some were cut off from membership. Perhaps the
exercise of greater forbearance might have saved some of these to the
Mr. Phillips closed his pastorate in 1 849, going to South Reading, now
Wakefield. While here, sixty-three joined the church ; while death re-
moved twenty-five, including most of the old standard-bearers.
In 1850 a Mr. Sutherland was acting pastor for a few months. His
record was discreditable ; and in the following year Mr. George G. Fair-
banks, then a student, was invited to settle here, and he was ordained in Sep-
tember, 1 85 1. He was a powerful and impressive preacher, very clear and
positive in his views of gospel truth. During his pastorate fifteen were
added, among them Deacon B. J. Babcock and his estimable wife, whose
voice led in the praises of the Lord's house for a quarter of a century. In
his time, also, a small pipe-organ was placed in the singers' gallery, the first
in this town. One only of those added in his day still remains, Mrs. Mary
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 43
Mr. Fairbanks resigned in 1855, and became pastor of a church in Somer-
ville. After his departure the pulpit was supplied by students from Newton
till the next year, when the Rev. James W. Lathrop was called to this place
and installed as pastor. He was a devoted, godly man, deeply anxious for
the spiritual welfare of his people. In 1858 came the great awakening of
the century, and forty-six were added to the church, largely sons and
daughters of those who had so long borne the burden and heat of the day
here, and who were now destined to become the church workers of the
Mr. Lathrop resigned in 1862, and was succeeded by the Rev. Amos
Harris, a recent graduate from Newton. His ministry was characterized by
a spirit of cordiality and mutual helpfulness. Conversions took place every
year, and twenty-six were added. He resigned in 1865; and early in the
next year the Rev. Alexander W. Carr assumed the pastoral charge.
Eighteen were baptized by him, and eleven came by letter.
In 1868 the Sunday-school observed its semi-centennial with appropriate
exercises, and in 1869 the church assumed entire control of the business de-
partment, discarding the " Society " feature of its existence. Mr. Carr re-
signed in 1 871. At that time the church numbered one hundred and eleven.
Mr. Alvin M. Crane, then in Newton Institution, was called to be our
pastor, and he was ordained in August, 1872. In the succeeding years sev-
eral of the young people were received into the church, and a number also
joined by letter, among them our late Deacon Charles Dunn, Deacon Ed-
ward Payson, and Deacon W. Bennett Grover.
The meeting-house erected in 1838 was completely remodelled in 1874
at a cost, including furnishing, of $12,500, one-half of which was given by
Deacon George Cummings, widely known for his religious benevolence and
public spirit, and who was then a resident of Medfield.
The centennial of the church was observed Aug. 18, 1876. A brief his-
tory of the church was given by Brother W. S. Tilden, a poem by the Rev.
Theron Brown, and an address by Dr. Alvah Hovey.
Mr. Crane resigned in 1878. During his ministry seventy-eight were
added to the church, about one-half of whom were permanent residents.
Seventeen of these still remain.
The Rev. Isaac H. Gilbert was the next pastor, from 1878 to 1886, in
which time seventy-six were added, twenty-two of whom yet remain. During
44 ^'^oth ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
his pastorate the order of service was changed from two sermons to one on
the Lord's day. In 1880 a new parsonage was built on East Main Street,
Deacon Cummings contributing half the cost. The house is now owned by
Mr. W. W. Mitchell.
Mr. Gilbert resigned in 1886 to become pastor of the church at Chicopee
Falls, where he died in 1890. He was succeeded for the next two years by
the Rev. Eugene S. Gardner. While he was here, eighteen members were
received into the church.
In 1886 one of our foremost members, Brother Jacob R. Cushman, was
called away by death, having been connected with the church fifty-four years,
serving it with a heartfelt interest and a spirit of fidelity and self-sacrifice
The parsonage on West Main Street was sold, and the present one built
on South Street in 1886. Mr. Gardner resigned in 1888, going to Franklin,
Ind., where he is now Professor of English Literature.
After hearing several supplies, Mr. Louis S. Bowerman, a student at
Newton, was called to be our pastor, and, the invitation being accepted, he
was ordained May 28, 1889. During his two years' stay, forty-three were
received to membership. Mr. Bowerman closed his work here in i 891, and
has since been settled in Randolph, and in Seattle, Wash.
In June, 1891, a call was given to the Rev. A. M. Crane, a former pastor,
to renew his relations with us. He began his work here in October follow-
ing. He remained here seven years, in which time forty-five were admitted
to membership, twenty of them by baptism. Meanwhile many of the older
members passed away, among them Brother Thomas L. Barney, who united
with us in 1858, and whose invaluable services as collector and treasurer for
so many years are most gratefully remembered. Mr. Crane resigned July
31, 1898, and became pastor of the church in Groton.
Oct. 24, 1898, a call was extended to the Rev. Silas L. Morse, the pres-
ent pastor, and he commenced his ministry November 13. Since that time
fifty-three have united with the church, twenty-five by baptism. Our mem-
bership at present is one hundred and seventy-one.
And so readeth this fleeting history : eighteen pastors, many faithful dea-
cons, twelve clerks, nine hundred and four admissions to membership. A
century and a quarter are gone, but from those struggling days to our pres-
ent developed success the providence of God spans the history like an arch
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 45
of perpetual promise. Church history, with all its joys and sorrows, its rec-
titudes and its flagrancies, its grace, and, finally, with all its glory, is but the
carrying out of the command of Him who said, " Go ye therefore, and teach
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and
of the Holy Ghost : teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have
commanded you : and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the
SECOND CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
ORGANIZED IN 1828.
SERMON BY THE PASTOR, REV. LEROY M. PIERCE.
"I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times." — Psalm Ixxvii. 5.
THE most remote source of the Charles River is said to be a spring
about a mile from the centre of the town of Hopkinton. The little
brook flowing from the spring empties into a neighboring artificial
reservoir, called by the pretty name of " Echo Lake " ; and from Echo Lake
flows a still larger stream, touching the northern edge of Worcester County,
and later winding its tortuous course through western Norfolk, and still
later through south-eastern Middlesex, gradually increasing its current by
receiving numerous tributaries, larger and smaller, until it empties into
As we stand upon the new Cambridge bridge, and observe the deep
and broad stream, we would hardly think that its source was only about
thirty miles distant, as the crow flies, though the whole length of its sinuous
course is said to be about seventy-five miles. This seems to me fitly to
represent that particular phase of religious movement which has helped to
shape largely the life and institutions of New England, and through New
England the whole country.
The source of that particular form of religious life which we call Congre-
gational had its rise in the Manor House of William Brewster, in the little
hamlet of Scrooby, in Nottinghamshire, not many miles from the east coast
of England, and not many miles from where the Humber flows into the
North Sea. In this Manor House, early in the seventeenth century, a little
company of devout Christian people were accustomed to meet together for
worship. No church bell announced the hour, and there was no public
notice of the meetings. They came together to worship God according to
the dictates of their own consciences. The Established Church of England
did not satisfy their spiritual need. But to worship God in any other way
than the prescribed religion was a crime which rendered them liable to
punishment. They maintained their simple religious worship in this remote
corner of England for several years ; but it subjected them to such strict
surveillance and severe hardship that they sought an asylum in Holland.
The TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 47
Not only did the English government seek to restrain them in their religious
worship, but they tried to prevent their leaving the country. After many
and trying vicissitudes they found a refuge in Holland. But Holland was
not altogether a satisfactory country for the development of their religious
institutions and the training of their children. So their thoughts turned to
the new world. The story of the " Mayflower," and the landing of our
Pilgrim Fathers that bleak December day in Plymouth Harbor, are familiar
to us all.
Not one of the little company fully realized how much their coming to
this new continent would mean to future generations. A few years later this
little Pilgrim stream of religious influence was joined by the goodly Puritan
tributary, larger even than the original stream. In 1630, under the leader-
ship of John Winthrop, fifteen hundred emigrants, in thirteen vessels, came
over from England and settled in Boston and its vicinity. It is estimated
that during the short period of twelve years t\vo hundred vessels brought
from twenty to thirty thousand Puritans to the shores of Massachusetts Bay.
They had been practically exiled from their native land, as the Pilgrims were
before them. They were called " Puritans " because they had sought reform of
religious worship and purity of conduct within the Established Church.
When Charles I. became King of England, they were subjected to such hard-
ships and persecutions for their faith that they saw no prospect of realizing
their cherished dreams ; and so, like the Pilgrims before them, they sought
religious freedom in the new world. Free from the restraints of the Eng-
lish Church, and finding that they were in essential agreement with their
Plymouth brethren, they adopted practically their form of worship and
church polity. Henceforth Pilgrim and Puritan influences were united in a
common work and destiny, blending in the goodly stream of religious life
and manner of church government which we call " Congregational." Do we
fully realize our glorious heritage? If ever there was a denomination which
has reason to be proud of its early beginnings, I think that we have. Prob-
ably the early settlers of Medfield, coming from the neighboring town of
Dedham, were mostly of Puritan origin, though it is possible that some of
the Pilgrim colonists had found their way to Massachusetts Bay.
The Puritan emigration continued until the English Civil War and
Oliver Cromwell. Therefore, Medfield's settlement was not far removed
from one of the greatest struggles for religious freedom in English history.
48 z50//i ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
We may be sure that the first settlers in the town were people of most
profound religious convictions. Ralph Wheelock, the founder of the town,
educated at the English Cambridge University like many of the Puritan
preachers, was a dissenting minister, and, coming over when the tide of
persecution was the highest, must have been a typical Puritan. He, prob-
ably, more than any other of the first settlers, helped to shape the religious
life of the town. No doubt the other settlers possessed the same spirit.
Medfield became a regularly incorporated town of the Massachusetts Bay
Colony in May, 1651, and the following December John Wilson became
the pastor, in which relation he continued for about forty years. That the
first settlers so soon had a church and a settled pastor shows their true
religious spirit. It does not properly belong to me to sketch the early
ecclesiastical history of the town, only so far as it is vitally connected with
our own particular church, whose separate history did not begin until a long
time later. I think it will be the candid verdict of history that, as far as the
spiritual life and religious convictions of the early days are concerned, the
Second Congregational Church is as true a representative as any church of
the town at the present time. Are we not fully as much as any church the
spiritual descendants of Ralph Wheelock, John Wilson, and the other con-
secrated laymen and pastors of the early days of our town ? " Neither
because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children." We are in
the line of spiritual descent, though we cannot trace directly our church
organization as the first in town. It is a matter of history that the first
church continued essentially an Orthodox Congregational church until the
ministry of the Rev. Dr. Sanders. It had an orthodox creed and covenant,
and the children of the town were instructed in the Westminster Catechism
once a month by the pastor of the only existing church in the town for
Coming to our particular organization, we find its beginning in the closing
years of Dr. Sanders's pastorate. The pastor immediately preceding him,
the Rev. Thomas Prentiss, D.D., was a minister of unquestioned orthodoxy.
The Rev. Joshua Bates, of Dedham, later president of Middlebury College,
preached his funeral sermon and paid the highest tribute to his orthodoxy.
He spoke of his preaching as '* evangelical," and that " he faithfully
declared the doctrines of the gospel." He was greatly interested in mis-
sions, and gave liberally of his own private means to carry the gospel to those
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 49
"who are perishing for lack of vision." The Rev. Arthur Granger, the first
pastor of this church, in an appendix to his sermon preached at the dedica-
tion of our first meeting-house, referred to Dr. Prentiss as " the former
orthodox pastor of this people whose memory is still cherished with the
liveliest feelings of affection and respect." The proof of his orthodoxy was
shown by a few extracts from his manuscripts and sermons. It is well that
the present generation should know the early history of the church, that
they may have a reason to give for the hope which is in them. We do not
wish to open the sores of the old controversy, now happily healed. We
only wish to give a kindly and candid review of the past, which will help us
to understand the genesis of our church. It was a stormy period in the relig-
ious history of New England. The churches were greatly agitated and
divided by a doctrinal discussion upon the divinity of our Lord. Even
as early as 1801 nearly one-half of the ancient church at Plymouth with-
drew and organized another church, because the old church by a small
majority of its members, and well-nigh unanimous approval of the parish,
had settled the Rev. James Kendall, a man of the so-called " liberal " faith.
All the original Congregational churches in Boston, with the single excep-
tion of the "Old South," had by the time of the organization of this church
become Unitarian. Ten years before, the parish connected with the original
Congregational Church in Dedham, against the earnest protest of two-thirds
of the membership of the church, succeeded in settling a Unitarian minister.
This unexpected event was accomplished by calling a council of churches
and ministers who sympathized with the parish and not with the majority of
the church. Consequently, the evangelical members withdrew and organized
another church. The Supreme Court gave the house of worship to the par-
ish. The church at West Dedham, now Westwood, had already become
Unitarian. The evangelical members in Walpole, two years before, had
withdrawn from the old church because it had become Unitarian, and organ-
ized a church of their own faith. For this same reason, as late as 1836, there
had been eighty-one cases of such division, in which the evangelical members
had withdrawn, giving up all claims upon the property of the old churches,
and starting anew without a dollar of money from any other source than
what they themselves or friends contributed for the building of the new
house of worship.
There was at that time a spirit of dissension and division in the air. It
50 250//^ ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
was fostered by the religious publications of the day. The religious period-
icals and occasional pamphlets were intensely controversial, earnestly defend-
ing one or the other side of the controversy. Harvard College came under
Unitarian control as early as 1805. In 1803 Dr. Channing was settled as
pastor of the Federal Street Church and had embraced Unitarian views, and
was practically the leader in the movement toward Unitarianism. He re-
jected the commonly accepted doctrine of the Divinity of our Lord, subor-
dinating Him to the Father to such a degree that it practically robbed Him
of His Divinity. So, at least, it was the general opinion of those who held to
the old way. There were also able and stanch defenders of orthodoxy,
among whom was notably Professor Moses Stuart, of Andover Seminary.
It was a battle of the giants. As far as Boston and its immediate vicinity
were concerned, there was a strong Unitarian following. Just at that time
orthodoxy suffered a temporary eclipse. For one to declare himself out-and-
out in sympathy with it was almost to lose social standing. A certain
church, organized during the heat of the controversy, was an especial target
for jest and ridicule. But the orthodox element, separating itself from the
Unitarian leaven, girded itself with renewed strength and made rapid prog-
ress, until to-day the united strength of all the evangelical churches makes
Boston a stronghold of orthodoxy. Under the existing circumstances it was
impossible for the Medfield church, in the immediate vicinity of the storm
centre of religious controversy, to remain unaffected. People took their
theology more seriously than to-day. The great questions at issue were dis-
cussed everywhere, even at social gatherings and around the family fireside.
By 1828 the lines were drawn quite distinctly. There were the two oppos-
ing parties, each holding tenaciously to its own views. Such, no doubt, had
been the situation for some years in the old church, the division constantly
increasing in tension.
The reason given by our charter members for leaving the old church
was that the preaching of Dr. Sanders was not evangelical, though he was
an able and scholarly preacher. In justice to the memory of Dr. Sanders, it
should be said that he called himself evangelical. This we find in the corre-
spondence growing out of the separation. He was, however, in an em-
barrassing dilemma. The doctrinal discussion of the day had by this time
made a wide breach of religious sentiment in the congregation. As the
pastor, he naturally and properly desired to avert the threatened cleavage.
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 51
It could hardly be expected, under these circumstances, of a minister who, if
not decidedly Unitarian, yet whose orthodoxy was not of a pronounced type,
would be satisfactory to the earnest evangelical people, when the lines of
theological discussion were so sharply drawn. Neither is it probable that
his preaching was sufficiently liberal to satisfy the Unitarians ; for his pastor-
ate closed in about a year after the separation, and he was followed by a
pastor of whose liberal sentiments there could be no doubt.
Anyway, whatever the exact theological type of Dr. Sanders's preaching,
a large proportion of the evangelical people, of sincere and devout spirit, were
dissatisfied. A few had already withdrawn, and united with the church at
North Wrentham (Norfolk) whose pastor was of unquestioned orthodoxy.
The charter members did not act without advice. As we read the interest-
ing records of those early days, we find the names of the two Beechers, of
Boston, Dr. Codman, of Dorchester, and Dr. Storrs, of Braintree. The
brethren, no doubt, conferred with them and the other stanch defenders
of orthodoxy in the immediate vicinity. The example of the recently organ-
ized Orthodox Church in Walpole must have also helped to determine
their action. The step was not taken without serious deliberation and
earnest prayer. It was a struggle for them to break the ties that bound
them to the old church. There their parents had brought them to be bap-
tized ; there they had publicly professed their Saviour ; there were all the
tender ties of old associations. But, in the true Puritan spirit, they went out
from the old church and organized a new church, where they might worship
God according to their own religious convictions, and bring up their children
in what they believed to be the true Christian doctrine. They acted con-
scientiously, and I believe that subsequent history has justified their course.
Under the existing circumstances the separation was inevitable and
desirable. It was best for both parties. For how can two walk together
unless they are agreed ? Each had the opportunity of bearing its own testi-
mony for what it believed to be the truth. Each has had a prosperous
history, and I believe that the separation has contributed to a deeper
religious life in the community. Happily, the fires of the old controversy,
that burned so furiously in those early days, have subsided. Let us all
hope that the only contention in the future will be generous emulation in
earnest and faithful work for the moral and religious welfare of the
52 zso/A ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
There is a tradition that the first religious service of the new enterprise
was held in the upstairs, south-west-corner room, in the house on Frairy
Street, now occupied by Mr. Eldon Hamilton. It was then occupied by
Mrs. Derby and her sister, Miss Townshend. They were members of the
Episcopal church in Dedham, and were friendly to the new movement.
There is a tradition that Dr. Codman, of Dorchester, preached the first
sermon. Services were held in other private houses. The first call for a
council to organize a church was the seventh day of November, 1827, but
was temporarily withdrawn on account of the local excitement which it
created. This shows that the brethren did not act with undue haste.
There is another tradition that the church was organized in the Derby
house. This may have been true as far as the preliminary proceedings
were concerned ; but the council which formally organized the church met
Feb. 6, 1828, in the house of Deacon Elisha Clark, which is now occu-
pied by Mr. Harry S. Mason, near the corner of South and Pond Streets.
The council reviewed the preliminary proceedings, and after a full discussion
it was voted to proceed to organization. The public exercises were held in
the old Baptist church, now a private dwelling, belonging to the Hoising-
ton estate. The Rev. Jonathan Curtis, of Sharon, made the introductory
prayer ; the Rev. Samuel Green, of the old Essex Street Church, now
Union Church, preached the sermon ; the Rev. Edward Beecher, of Park
Street Church, gave the right hand of fellowship ; the Rev. Warren Fay,
of the First Church in Charlestown, read the Covenant to the church ; the
Rev. Moses Thacher, of North Wrentham, made the concluding prayer.
Mr. Fay was the moderator, and, Edward Beecher was the scribe of the council.
There were seventeen charter members ; and nineteen more were received
to the membership, either by letter or profession, before the end of the
year, among whom were Mrs. Prentiss and two daughters. Mrs. Prentiss
is reported to have said that she was not leaving, but going to her husband's
For a few months they met for worship in private houses. In the sum-
mer of that year a hall was finished off in the upper story of the store at the
corner of Main and North Streets, now occupied by Mr. J. A. Fitts. It
was then owned by Moses B. Harding, and Noah Fisk of Dover. Mr.
Harding resided in the house directly east of the church, now known as the
Everett house. The store was occupied by Captain George Newell. The
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS S3
interest and generosity of the proprietors of the building were seen in the
fact that the rent of the hall was only the nominal sum of fifteen dollars.
The congregation raised one hundred dollars to defray the expenses of finish-
ing off the hall. In addition to this, seats were provided for by individual
subscriptions. This hall was the place of worship until the dedication of the
new church April 17, 1832, a period of nearly four years. For nearly
three years they depended upon temporary supplies. There is fortunately
preserved a private memorandum of texts from Nov. 28, 1828, until after
the settlement of the first pastor. It shows that services were held nearly
every Sunday, conducted by many different ministers, some of whom were
neighboring pastors, and others presumably unemployed ministers and theo-
Unexpectedly, the Rev. Arthur Granger made his appearance at a
Sunday service Feb. 13, 1831, and was invited to preach, which he did with
great acceptance. He announced he had decided to leave Mendon, and
would consider a call to Medfield. He preached two Sundays later ; and
March 11, at a preparatory lecture conducted by the Rev. Harrison G.
Park, of South Dedham (Norwood), an unanimous call was extended to him
to become pastor. An unusually large number of churches, twenty in all,
were invited to the council for his ordination ; but we have no record of how
many responded to the invitation. The ordination services were April 20,
1832. The Rev. John Codman, D.D., of Dorchester, preached the sermon.
His text was 1 Corinthians iv. 5, " For we preach not ourselves, but Christ
Jesus the Lord ; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." The Rev.
Elisha Fisk, of Wrentham, made the ordaining prayer, the charge to the
pastor was by Dr. Lyman Beecher, the right hand of fellowship by the
Rev. Harrison G. Park, the charge to the people by the Rev. Richard S.
Storrs, the concluding prayer by the Rev. Ashael Bigelow, of Walpole.
Mr. Granger's labors were greatly blessed, and additions were made to
the church. The congregation was so encouraged that they began to plan
to build a house of worship. The original subscription paper is an interest-
ing document. Obed Fisher subscribed one hundred and nine dollars,
which was the largest subscription. Mrs. Prentiss was also a contributor.
The autograph " L. Beecher " for ten dollars showed the interest and gener-
osity of Dr. Lyman Beecher. The building cost about twenty-five hundred
dollars. But outside churches and friends generously aided the young
54 250M ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
church in their self-denying efforts to build a house of worship. The whole
valuation of taxable property of both church and society was about twenty-
five thousand dollars. They were comparatively poor, but they made
great personal sacrifices to carry forward their cherished plans. There are
some traditions concerning their early sacrifices, and it is to be regretted
that they have not been preserved in an authentic form. The site selected
for the building, which is the present location, was owned by Moses B.
Harding, who was always a good friend to the new enterprise, though he
was not himself a member of the church. We learn incidentally through
the correspondence of Mr. Granger that the membership at this time was
about fifty, and the usual congregation one hundred and fifty, which is fully
as good as any of the congregations in our village at the present time. The
dedication of the new house of worship was April 17, 1832. Fortunately,
the dedicatory sermon was printed. The text was i Kings viii. 29,
" That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even
toward the place of which thou hast said. My name shall be there." It
was a strong doctrinal sermon. It emphasized especially the Deity and
atonement of Jesus Christ. It claimed that a belief in these fundamental
doctrines was essential to the Christian life. No doubt it was the favorite
subject of the orthodox preaching at that time.
It must have been a happy day when the congregation could worship
in their own sanctuary. They must have felt that the new enterprise, started
with much fear and trembling, was now firmly established. But their
occupying the new house of worship was not without a note of sadness.
For the pastor had already given his resignation upon a six months' notice
according to the arrangement of his settlement. The letter of his resigna-
tion is significant. He gave four detailed reasons for his course of action.
In those days the separation of pastor and congregation was a more serious
affair than at the present time. It speaks well for the kindness of heart
and wisdom of Mr. Granger that he did not leave until the congregation
occupied their new house of worship. The principal reason, however, of
his giving up his work in Medfield was the Impaired health of his wife,
which demanded a change of climate. It was Intimated In his letter of
resignation that they would remove to Charleston, S.C. Mr. Granger was
dismissed by council Aug. 27, 1832, four months later.
The old house of worship was different In appearance from the present
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 55
one. It had a double square tower in the extreme front of the building.
The vestibule extended a few feet in front of the main building. The
pulpit was at the front end of the audience-room between the two doors
which opened from the vestibule. The gallery for the choir was in the
rear of the audience-room. In 1845 the interior of the audience-room was re-
paired. The pulpit and gallery changed places, and the pews were reversed.
This arrangement was no doubt highly satisfactory to the late comers.
About the same time the small vestry in the basement, approached from
the door on the west side, was enlarged and refitted. It was used for a
time for town meetings and public entertainments, being the most suitable
place in town for such purposes. In 1873 a chapel was built on the ground,
now partly occupied by the parsonage. Mr. Joseph Miller gave the neces-
sary additional land for this purpose. Mr. Francis D. Ellis built the chapel
at his own expense, and presented it to the church. He also contributed
generously to the repairs of the house of worship made at that time. A new
organ was also purchased, toward the expense of which the ladies' circle
generously aided. The whole expense was forty-five hundred dollars, of
which Mr. Ellis contributed thirty-three hundred. The church with all its
contents, and the chapel, were destroyed by fire on the night of Sept. 21,
1876. During the following year a new church was built, and the whole
cost of building and furnishing was about nine thousand eight hundred
dollars. The entire amount was raised before the church was occupied.
The service of dedication was held Aug. 7, 1877, the Rev. Thomas
Laurie, D.D., preaching the sermon, the Rev. J. M. R. Eaton offering the
dedicatory prayer. Addresses were given by the former pastors, the Rev.
Messrs. Richmond, Bigelow, and Eaton. The present edifice was struck
by lightning July 21, 1898. What at first seemed a frowning Providence
proved in the end a blessing in disguise ; for the serious damage to the build-
ing necessitated extensive repairs, which were made at an expense of about
fifteen hundred dollars. The interior of the audience-room was greatly im-
proved and embellished. The Ladies' Circle purchased a new carpet. The
Gothic ceiling was made air-tight by an ingenious device of Mr. H. C.
Aiken, the decorator. The beautiful motto, " The Lord is in His holy
temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him," was put upon the wall at
the right of the pulpit. The rededicatory services were held on the evening
of Feb. 26, 1899, ^he other two Protestant churches uniting with us in these
56 25o//i ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
interesting services. The Rev. J. A. Savage, pastor of the Unitarian
church, the Rev. S. L. Morse, pastor of the Baptist church, and Prof
J. W. V. Rich, of Providence, R.I., made appropriate addresses.
PASTORS OF OUR CHURCH.
Rev. Arthur Granger April 20, 1831, to Aug. 27, 1832
Rev. Walter Bidwell Sept. 19, 1833, to April 18, 1836
Rev. Charles Walker June 21, 1837, to Aug. 21, 1838
Rev. John Ballard September, 1838, to March, 1840
Rev. Moses G. Grosvenor March 6, 1841, to July, 1842
Rev. Thomas T. Richmond Oct. 25, 1842, to Sept. 12, 1855
Rev. Andrew Bigelow, D.D Sept. 12, 1855, to Sept. 5, 1866
Rev. Chester Bridgman April 3, 1867, to April i, 1868
Rev. Joseph M. R. Eaton March 28, 1869, to July 2, 1876
Rev. William H. Cobb, D.D Nov. 18, 1876, to June 8, 1878
Rev. Fred De Bos Nov. 10, 1878, to Feb. 28, 1879
Rev. George H. Pratt June 8, 1878, to June i, 1883
Rev. Wilbur Johnson Oct. I, 1883, to Oct. i, 1888
Rev. George W. Lawrence March 17, 1889, to March 16, 1890
Rev. Nathan T. Dyer May 14, 1890, to Dec. 25, 1896
Rev. Leroy M. Pierce July i, 1897.
Of these sixteen pastors, they were for the most part earnest and able
ministers of the gospel. If they did not always meet with the greatest suc-
cess, they might not have had always the most hearty support of the congre-
gation. Of earnest and faithful members the church has been greatly
blessed. They were devoted Christian men and women, by whose prayers
and self-sacrifice and earnest efforts this church was born into existence
and by which it has since been sustained. We cannot now fully appreciate
the struggles and consecration of the godly men and women who were identi-
fied with the early history of this church, nor of those in later years who have
stood loyal to their beloved Zion in the days when clouds lowered and
dangers threatened. It would be almost invidious to mention names when
there have been so many bright and shining examples of consecration and
fidelity. It is well to remind the present generation that the church was
interested from the first in Christian benevolences. As early as Oct. 19,
1830, a local tract society was organized for the monthly distribution of
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 57
tracts. Artemas Woodward was the president. A monthly concert for
prayer was observed the first Monday evening of every month. An inter-
esting document which has been preserved gives a list of monthly pledges,
from six cents to twenty-five cents, to be divided equally between foreign
and home missions. Formerly the church contributed more to missions than
at the present time. This was owing principally to the fact that there were
some members at that time who were blessed with considerable means and
were generous givers. We find the church was accustomed to observe days
of fasting and prayer. Such a day was observed a few months after the or-
ganization of the church. There was also such an observance before calling
During the history of the church there have been " seasons of refreshing
from the presence of the Lord." The largest accessions subsequent to the
organization of the church were in 1832, when eighteen were received both
by profession of faith and by letter; twenty-three in 1858, eighteen in 1891,
and seventeen in 1900. Our present resident membership is about one
hundred. We rejoice that the first baptized child of the church is still liv-
ing among us, our dear sister, Miss Augusta Adams, than whom there is no
more loyal member. It would be pleasant to have a picture of the religious
services in the early day, before any repairs had been made in the house of
worship, — the pulpit in front, the gallery for the choir in the rear of the
audience-room, and the singing supported by an orchestra of two violins,
one bass-viol, and one double bass-viol and a flute. What a quaint picture
of the olden time !
The church has been fortunate in its different organizations. The Sun-
day-school was organized at the beginning of the history of our church, and
has been faithfully sustained ever since. The Female Contributing Society
was also organized early. It was happily named, for its avowed purpose
was to aid in the support of the church. Though reorganized in 1855
and renamed the Ladies' Circle, it has since carried out the original purpose
of its founders and its generous assistance to the church. The Auxiliary to
the Woman's Board, organized about twenty-five years ago, and later sus-
pended for lack of interest, was revived four years ago, and has since been a
generous contributor to foreign missions. The Young People's Society of
Christian Endeavor was organized in 1884, and has since been a helpful
factor in the religious life of the church. The Junior Endeavor has been
58 250/-?- ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
recently organized with good promise of future usefulness. While I do not
find that the church has raised up any ministers, yet five of our members
have married ministers: Laura Cleveland, who married the Rev. Mr. Brig-
ham ; Ellen A. Ellis, who married the Rev. Thomas Laurie ; Sarah Fiske, who
married the Rev. James Laurie; Sarah M. Hartwell, who married the Rev.
Forest M. Emerson ; and Mary C. Davis, who married the Rev. Wilbur
Johnson. Among those of our members who have gone out into the world
and made a good record, we would mention Joseph Stedman, a brave officer
of the Union Army, and later a successful physician; Robert R. Bishop, a
well-known lawyer, who now occupies an important place in the judiciary of
the State, and is also president of the trustees of Andover Theological Semi-
nary ; the two brothers George M. and Charles F. Fiske, successful mer-
chants of Boston, and respected by all who know them ; Edward P. Fitts,
a successful teacher and now superintendent of public schools.
We are glad to speak of Dr. Lowell Mason as one of the early friends
of the church, though he left town before its organization. His parents
were members of the church, and he personally contributed to its support.
His great service to sacred song was along distinctively evangelical lines.
It is significant that as early as June 28, 1832, the church put itself right
upon the temperance question. At a regular meeting of the church it was
resolved that " the use of ardent spirits as a beverage was not only useless,
but hurtful and sinful ; and, further, in the admission of new members in
the future, that those who should be received into the church should be
required to adopt and act on the principle of total abstinence from ardent
spirits." This was a remarkable declaration for so early a date. I am glad
to say that our church has from that day sustained its testimony to one of
the greatest of modern reforms. I ought not to close this sermon with-
out speaking of another inspiring fact of our history. The church has al-
ways been faithful to the great testimony of its founders, which led to its
organization, and is the chief reason that entitles it to its present exist-
ence. And this has been loyalty to the great and precious doctrines of the
evangelical faith. Its ministers without exception have preached the doc-
trines of the cross. This church has stood for spiritual religion. It believes
in the old-fashioned pieties, like prayer, family religion, church-going, and
Bible study. It believes in both home and foreign missions. It stands as
much as any church for the essential truths of religion, with the largest
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 59
degree of individual liberty. It stands ready to co-operate with other
churches in the true spirit of Christian fellowship in every worthy effort
for the moral and spiritual uplift of the community. Its highest ambition
is to be faithful to its splendid traditions and loyal to its divinely appointed
FIRST SERVICES IN 1854. CHURCH DEDICATED IN 1893.
PASTOR, REV. DANIEL H. RILEY.
THE sermon was delivered without notes. The facts relating to the
history of the church, as contributed by a parishioner, are here
given : —
In 1854 about twenty good Catholics were living in Medfield. Through
the entreaties of a Mr. James Griffin, who died a few years ago, the first
mass in Medfield, as a town, was offered up in a private house at the east
end of the town on the Dedham road, known as the Peak House, by Father
Byrne of Tommy's Rock, Roxbury. From that time, on various occasions
till 1870, mass was offered in different houses by the following priests:
Fathers Byrne, Scully, Griffin, and Carroll.
In 1870 Medfield was attached to Dedham parish, the following priests
celebrating mass from time to time either in houses or in the town hall :
Fathers Brennan, Donovan, Tierney, and Corcoran, of Hyde Park. In 1878
Father Brennan, then an invalid, came and lived at Mr. John Sullivan's on
Pleasant Street, and administered to the spiritual wants of the people till
1880, when he went to Foxboro, still retaining the care of Medfield till 1884,
when he was succeeded by Father Callanan. In November, 1890, Father
Callanan was transferred to Newton Lower Falls ; and Medfield was then at-
tached to South Natick parish under the care of the Rev. J. A. Donnelly.
Aug. 6, 1892, ground was broken for the new church, the corner-stone laid
Oct. 23, 1892, the church dedicated Oct. 15, 1893, Bishop Brady officiating
on both occasions. Father Troy, of Norwood, preached at the laying of the
corner-stone ; and Father Richard Barry of St. Cecilia's, Back Bay, preached
at the dedication.
The first confirmation in the new church was on Oct. 14, 1894, by Most
Rev. J. J. Williams. The first mission was given in the town hall by Father
Walsh, S.J. The first mission in the new church was given in June, 1895,
by Father Smith, S.J. The first Grand Army appearance in the new church
was on May 28, 1899. The sermon was by the Rev. J. A. Donnelly. The
church bell was hung in December, 1900. Bishop Brady officiated, and
was assisted by six priests from different places.
The TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 6i
On Feb. lo, 1901, Father D. H. Riley was appointed pastor. There
are now over two hundred Catholic families in the town, and the average at-
tendance at church is about one hundred.
A day more favorable for the town's anniversary celebration could not
have been desired or provided. From early dawn till the close of the
exercises, fair skies and balmy breezes prevailed. At five o'clock the bells
and whistles announced the opening of the gala-day. Public buildings and
private houses on the route of the procession, with very few exceptions, had
been elaborately decorated for the coming event ; and at nine o'clock, the
time appointed for the starting of the procession, the head of the column
moved, and made its appearance upon Main Street. The procession was
made up as follows : —
W. R. Marshall. F. W. Wardner. J. E. Lonergan. J. B. Fisher.
American Watch Co. Brass Band of Waltham. John M. Flockton, leader.
Moses Ellis Post, 117 G. A. R. Ellery C. Crocicer, commander.
Augmented by guests from Post 15, Boston, 35, Chelsea, 151, Hyde Park, and 157, Walpole.
Medfield Lodge I. O. O. F. Joel E. Heard, N.G.
Float illustrating the motto "We care for our sick and bury our dead."
Medfield Lodge A. O. U. W. Michael E. Griffin, M.W.
Escorted by Partridge's Fife and Reed Band, Franklin. G. I. Partridge, leader.
Float containing the Degree Staff and the Pet Goat.
Excelsior Hook and Ladder Company, with decorated machine.
Medfield Engine Company, with decorated machine.
Carriage driven by Colonel E. V. Mitchell,
containing Joseph A. Allen, President of the Day, Noah Allen, and Mrs. Lydia A. Rowe,
a son and daughter of Revolutionary soldiers, Mrs. E. V. Mitchell.
School Children of the Town (A. A. Badger, superintendent) and Teachers.
I. An Indian Camp. 11. An Early Settler's Home. III. The Minute Man of '76.
IV. The Spirit of '61.
The TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 63
The Hannah Adams Woman Club. Edwin J. Keyou, Pharmacist.
The Lowell Mason School. Moses Ellis Woman's Relief Corps.
Medlield Grange P. of H. William B. Roberts, Florist.
Excelsior Straw Works, E. V. Mitchell & Co., six teams.
William Marshall Company Wire Covering Works.
Edmund Bullard, Provisions, eight teams.
Charles F. Bruce, Provisions, three teams. J. Augustus Fitts, Grocer, two teams.
Edward M. Bent, Coal and Wood, two teams.
Joseph E. Lonergan, Grain and Coal, three teams.
Clinton M. Clark & Co., Grocers, five teams. Raymond Weiker, Ice, two teams.
Alfred B. Tisdale, Butter and Cheese. Charles C. Wright, Fish and Oysters.
Nathan Grant, Livery Stable, three teams. Armour Beef Company.
M. L. Cheney & Son, Cattle Dealers. Francis D. Hamant, Cattle Dealer.
Charles La Croix, Soda Water Manufacturer, two teams.
Thome Brothers, Grain Dealers. John H. Pember, Bicycles.
Timothy F. Donlan, Contractor.
Excelsior Saw Mill, R. E. Sherman, Manager.
George Battelle, Agricultural Implements.
R. Busby Newcomb, Agricultural Implements.
Ten private carriages furnished by Colonel Mitchell for members of Committee
Tandem Pony Team, driven by the little daughter of Dr. Charles E. Inches.
Twentieth-century Farming Tools on Float.
Tools used by our Grandparents on Float drawn by oxen, driven by G. W. Bruce.
This display was conducted by Hamlet Wight and George W. Kingsbury.
With the exception of the Tub Race, which took place on Baker's Pond,
the events planned by the Committee on Sports occurred on Ellis Field on
The events and winners were : —
Tub Race Harry W. Ryan
One Hundred Yard Dash, free for all John R. Miller
One Hundred Yard Dash, fifteen years and under Grover C. Mollison
Hurdle Race John R. Miller
Potato Race Hugh McCarthy
Running Broad Jump John R. Miller
Base-ball Game. Married men against single men.
Won by latter by a score of 12 to 10. L. M. Patton, umpire.
AT eleven o'clock a.m. the Literary Exercises at the First Congrega-
tional Church were opened with music by a brass quartette from
the American Watch Company Band of Waltham.
An invocation was pronounced by Rev. C. A. Staples, of Lexington,
Mass.; and the singing of a hymn by the audience followed.
BY JOSEPH A. ALLEN, PRESIDENT OF THE DAY.
Fellow-citizens and Friends, — I have the honor to welcome you upon
this interesting occasion, — the celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth
anniversary of the incorporation of this town.
It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this, to bring to
remembrance the labors and sacrifices of our fathers in changing a wilder-
ness into the pleasant and beautiful town we now live in, to inspire in us
and our children a determination to prove ourselves worthy sons and
daughters of such ancestors.
To join with us in these exercises, we have present a real son and a real
daughter of Revolutionary soldiers, the soldiers who helped throw off the
British yoke, and establish a nation governed by the principles embodied in
the Declaration of Independence, — the self-evident truth, — the right to life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Not only are they a son and daughter of Revolutionary soldiers, but
they are directly descended from two of the pioneers of this town. Our
guests are Noah Allen, aged ninety-four; and Mrs. Lydia Hamant Rowe,
eighty-four years old.
We have also as citizens members of the Grand Army who risked their
lives in defending the nation that their fathers established. Men who risk
their lives in defence of a cause they deem just will always be revered by
their fellow-men. " What can alone ennoble strife ? A noble cause."
Our churches are represented here, of various names, but with the same
fraternal spirit, working together for the good of the community, pointing to
66 z'ioth ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
a time, not far distant, we hope, when, not expecting or desiring intellectual
agreement on questions of doubtful disputation, they can all worship together
the common Father of us all.
Medfield is honored in having been the birthplace of several people of
Lowell Mason, born here in 1792. He was the most celebrated teacher
and composer of church music this country has produced. He received
the degree of Doctor of Music from the University of New York, and it is
to him we owe the introduction of music into the common schools through-
out the country. Ninety years ago he had charge of the music in this
church. He attended the North District School which now bears his name.
A tablet has been erected at his birthplace on North Street by his son Dr.
William Mason, of New York City.
Hannah Adams, born in 1755, was the first woman to gain a reputation
as an author in this country, and the first tenant of Mount Auburn. She
attended the South District School, which now bears her name ; and, as she
has been called the Mother of Women's Clubs, the " Hannah Adams Club
of Medfield " is named for her.
Her portrait hangs in the Boston Athenaeum, and also in the rooms of
the Medfield Historical Society. A tablet has been placed at her birth-
place on Elm Street by her grand-niece, Mrs. Hannah Adams Pfaff, of
John Prentiss, a man highly respected, was born In 1799, son of the
most prominent clergyman of the town. He was a graduate of Harvard
College, taught school here, and afterward became president of Baltimore
Rev. William Gammell, born in 1786 In Boston. Although not a
native of Medfield, he was a man of great influence here, being settled over
the First Baptist Church in 18 10. Under his care the society, small in
numbers and Influence, Increased rapidly, so he might be called the
founder of our present Baptist church. Receiving the degree of A.M. from
Brown University in 18 19, In 1820 he was made one of the Board of
Trustees, and was called to the Second Baptist Church in Newport, R.I., In
Eleazer Smith, born in 1755, was a man of great mechanical ingenuity
and an inventor of several valuable machines. He was a peculiar man, like
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 67
many geniuses. After he had made an invention, he took no further interest
in it, and received no pecuniary benefit, and died in poverty.
James L. Plimpton, born in 1828, was the son of a farmer here. He be-
came a machinist and an inventor, and was a successful merchant and manu-
facturer in Boston and New York. From his inventions he realized a large
fortune. He is still living; and, though over seventy years of age, his active
mind is constantly engaged in scientific investigations.
Rev. Daniel C. Saunders was settled over the First Congregational Church
from 1 8 14 to 1829. He was one of the ablest and most influential men in
town. Though not born here, he was of Medfield stock. He was a gradu-
ate of Harvard, and president of the University of Vermont; and he held
various offices here, being for many years chairman of the School Commit-
tee, and a member of the legislature.
Ephraim Wheelock, born in 1733, served four years in the French and
Indian War, was captain at the siege of Louisburg, a colonel in the Revolu-
tionary War, and commanded a regiment in the Continental Army. He was
at Ticonderoga and Crown Point.
Time will not permit me to enumerate others, though well deserving
As soon as possible after the organization of the town a church was built,
and on this spot. The people were very religious, but intolerant, as was
common in those days ; but, by contending for their own political rights,
they soon recognized the religious rights of others. The same change was
going on in every State, so that, when our Constitution was adopted in
1789, no religious test was required to hold any office under the government,
as you will see from the following quotation : " No religious test shall ever be
required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the United
States," — a great change from the sentiments of the early Puritans.
This church was the only religious organization in the town for one
hundred and twenty-five years, when in 1776 a Baptist church was formed.
This present building, though modernized, was erected about 1789, one
hundred and twelve years ago. I remember seeing Hannah Adams in this
Next to the church our ancestors valued the schools, and very soon a
school-house was built near the church. A tablet, given by former pupils
of our public schools, now marks the spot, Ralph Wheelock, called the
68 25oM ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
founder of Medfield, was the first schoolmaster; and the school of this dis-
trict is named for him. He was considered the ablest and best educated man,
and was chairman of the first board of selectmen.
In the opinion of many educators the common district school of seventy-
five or one hundred years ago, aided by home influences, was better adapted
to fit children for the duties of life than any other schools have been since.
Originally, Medfield was a part of Dedham ; and, when the formation of
this town was contemplated, a committee was appointed to take the names
of those desiring to join in the enterprise. Let me quote from the agree-
ment they were required to sign : —
" That, if differences, questions, or contentions shall fall out, or arise any
manner of ways in our society, or betwixt any parties therein, they shall
really endeavor to resolve and issue the same in the most peaceable ways and
manner, by reference, arbitration, etc."
One hundred and twenty-five years later this method of settling difficul-
ties was embodied in the Constitution of the United States, so that difficulties
between States or between individuals cannot be settled by appeals to brute
force, but by courts, which are boards of arbitration.
And now an international court of arbitration has just been established at
the Hague in the Netherlands, where disagreements between nations may be
settled. In that city is a monument erected to the great Hugo Grotius, a
native of that country and the founder of the science of International Law.
Thus the nations are just proposing to do what our forefathers did two hun-
dred and fifty years ago.
When we are asked what has wrought this great change, from a wilder-
ness Inhabited only by savages and wild beasts to this beautiful town with its
churches and schools and all the evidences of advanced civilization, shall we
say. The farmer has been sowing tares, the merchants giving false weights,
the rich defrauding the poor, the strong oppressing the weak.'' No. This
would be contrary to the universal experience of mankind. Grapes are not
gathered from thorns or figs from thistles. Whatsoever a man soweth,
that shall he also reap. The Golden Rule cannot be exchanged for one of
baser metal. The great laws of ethics, like the inalienable rights of man, can-
not be repudiated by a nation, any more than by an individual. Righteous-
ness only exalteth a nation, and sin is always a reproach to any people.
Believing in these great principles and realizing what our ancestors did
to enable us to enjoy the present results, we will
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 69
" Tell them to our sons,
And they again to theirs,
That generations yet unborn
Shall teach them to their heirs."
At its conclusion Mr. J. C. Bartlett, of the Albion Qiiartette, sang "The
Breaking Waves dashed high." This was succeeded by an Historical Ad-
dress by William S. Tilden, historian of the town of Medfield.
BY W. S. TILDEN.
THE past but lives in words," says one of the poets. To quicken
and preserve remembrance of that past is the object of all historical
research and record.
Two hundred and fifty years have rolled their course since our fathers
came here to fix their dwelling-place. Eight generations have made their
entrance upon the heritage they left us. We cannot walk beside them in the
paths they trod, nor mingle in their plans, their cares and toils, their scenes
of mirth or sadness ; but we may, with a spirit of grateful remembrance for
those who changed the wilderness into a home-land for themselves and their
children, in fancy dwell awhile among them, — seem to hear again the voices
which waked the primal echoes of these hills, and picture, as we can,
something of the times in Medfield's earlier days. And in this not we
alone, the descendants of those who earliest came, may join ; but our es-
teemed fellow-citizens as well, who in later times left far-away homes, and
have come to share this heritage with us. To-day, then, one and all,
" We listen, through long lapsing years,
To footsteps of the pioneers ;
Gone steepled town and cultured plain.
The wilderness returns again.
Once more the bear and panther prowl,
The wolf repeats his hungry howl ;
And, peering through his leafy screen.
The Indian's copper face is seen."
yo 250/// ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
The religious life of the town has been presented by abler hands ; and we
will here emphasize its secular life, tracing briefly our history down to the
time when that part now Millis and Medway was set off, speak of the
educational and patriotic spirit of our people, and sketch from records
" penned by fingers long since turned to dust," as well as from memories and
traditions still whispered by lips of the ancient, a few things which throw
light upon the features of early Medfield life.
The men who founded this settlement were born in old England.
"What sought they thus afar?"
With the accession of Charles I. in 1625, and his choice of Strafford and
Laud as chief advisers, the hopes of the Puritans for better times in Eng-
land died within them ; and attention was turned to these western shores as
a place of refuge and freedom. England claimed this land by right of dis-
covery, though the sovereignty claimed was not intended forcibly to dis-
possess the natives, but to prevent other European powers from getting a
foothold, and to keep such colonies as might be planted here under the
English flag. In 1629 a charter was granted to John Winthrop and his as-
sociates, embracing that part of New England lying between three miles
north of the Merrimac and three miles south of the Charles, and in length
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, which was then thought to be not so very
far to the west.
When the country was first visited, it was in possession of various Indian
tribes ; and one of the earliest provisions of the Massachusetts colony was
that, whenever new settlements were projected, the Indian titles were to be
extinguished by purchase or by treaty. Soon after the settlement of
Boston, Mr. Pynchon, treasurer of the colony, bought of the Neponset
sachem Chickatabut, those lands lying between the Neponset and Charles
Rivers. Great numbers of the natives had been swept off by a pestilence ;
and soon after this transaction, Chickatabut himself fell a victim before the
boundaries toward the west were established. But our title was afterward
confirmed by his successor, Josias Wampatuck, upon payment of an addi-
tional sum. It is said that in selling lands the Indians reserved the right to
cut " broomsticks and basket stuff," and old people may still remember
hearing the few straggling natives about here " pounding off basket-stuff"
from the ash logs in the woods at Noon Hill and elsewhere.
The first town formed from Mr. Pynchon's purchase was Roxbury. At
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 71
this time the seaboard towns were rapidly filling up with people who came in
the " great emigration " ; and some men from Watertown went in boats up
Charles River, looking for places of settlement. They selected Dedham,
where a village was founded in 1636 ; and the charter of that town seems to
have taken in the remainder of the Pynchon purchase, forming now a dozen
towns, including this.
How early that part of Dedham's territory now Medfield was first
traversed by white men we do not know ; but Dedham granted to one of its
citizens soon after its settlement a tract of land near " Bogestow," and that
land lay within the boundaries of our present township. "Bogestow" is
understood to have been the Indian name for the valley of the Charles in
this part of its course. A notable Indian path led along here to the
fording-place near the present almshouse, where they came to take the fish
that ran up the river. These Indian paths were the first ways followed by
the whites, afterward made bridle-paths and cartways. Dedham people
came for hay to the meadows, evidently, and also pastured cattle hereabouts
under the care of a herdman. The plain a mile east of this village was at
the outset known as " herd-house plain," indicating some sort of a hut or
shelter for the herdmen there.
What led to the founding of a new town here? Prominently, the desire
for landed property. All men were farmers. Mechanics and even ministers
carried on a farm. The Dedham people complained that they were straitened
" by other towns and rocky lands." We can understand this when we re-
member that Roxbury line was near on the east, and Neponset River on the
south ; while on the west there was not much show of arable land in the
region known as " Dedham Woods." So their minds would very naturally
turn to this level stretch of land which they had often passed on their way
to the ford and the meadows.
Another cause which led to founding new settlements was the tenacity
with which political and religious opinions were held by individuals. When
they could not agree to differ, they could agree to separate. No doubt
Ralph Wheelock was the leading spirit in founding this town, — educated in
England, first a preacher in the Established Church, and afterward a dis-
senter. The tradition has come down to us that his position in Dedham had
not been in accordance with his aspirations ; but how much that may have
had to do with his new project we cannot now guess. And perhaps some
72 25o//i ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
of those who remained in Dedham felt as did the boy who remarked to his
Httle sister, " There would be more room for me on this ottoman if one of
us should get off." At all events, several persons proposed to help on the
new enterprise, who after all continued to live in Dedham.
Let us try to picture the landscape as it would appear to the eye of the
settlers. The old way from Dedham probably wound along through " Clap-
boardtrees," so called, in Westwood, — east of the pond, through a
corner of what is now Walpole, entering our territory at the end of the pres-
ent Foundry Street beyond Mr. Coltman's. It thence led over the slopes
of the hill to the east of us ; and as our fathers came over that eminence, and
the sight of their anticipated possession burst upon them, what wonder,
in their familiarity with Old Testament phrase, that they thought of the hill
as a " Mount Nebo," — a name which it bears to this day. Before them lay a
broad plain, mostly cleared ot trees by the annual Indian burnings. On the
right a belt of fine timber trees in the wet land along Vine Brook; beyond
these, other plains and open woods toward the north; and, still beyond, the
line of rugged hills called " Rocky Woods." To the left was the great swamp
where the old pines and cedars grew ; while southward rose the woody slopes
of Noon Hill, and to the west stretched the meadows, beyond which on the
horizon might be seen the hills of Sherborn, Holliston, and Hopkinton,
then a wilderness, with the blue crest of Wachusett in the dim distance. No
doubt they might have said to one another, What a fine site for a town !
And so say we.
Nov. 4, 1649, Dedham granted territory three miles east and west, and
four miles north and south at the west end of their bounds next Bogestow,
for the establishing of a new town to be called " Dedham Village." This
is the territory now comprised within the bounds of Medfield. But, showing
the value then placed upon the river meadows, our fathers much desired to
possess those on both sides of the river. So they obtained a grant of lands
on the west side also, now forming the town of Millis. This grant was from
the General Court, it being what was termed " country land," — that is, within
no township then organized; and it continued a part of Medfield for sixty-
The selection of the name for this town has ever been a matter of con-
jecture, the most reasonable one, perhaps, being derived from the ancient
spelling, — " Meadfeild," — which suggests the proximity of the much-prized
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 73
meadows to the "great field," so called, on which this village was afterward
At the outset of our settlement an agreement was drawn up, to be signed
by every townsman admitted. Its provisions were intended to keep out un-
desirable elements, as also to avoid dissensions among the inhabitants. None
were to be admitted without suitable guarantee that they were honest, peace-
able, and free from erroneous opinions. Grants of land were to be made to
settlers in extent corresponding to their wealth and the number of persons
in the household. No one, however, was to receive in his first grant more
than twelve acres of upland and twelve of meadow, nor less than six of
Teaching and church officers were to be specially provided for, and no
doubt the present town hall site was early set apart for the minister, who-
ever he might be ; and it became Mr. Wilson's. The site is now marked
by a bronze tablet, erected by the Medfield Historical Society.
In June, 1650, came the pioneers, thirteen in number, to locate their
house lots. Lot No. i was Ralph Wheelock's, and included the land where
Thayer Hall and Dr. Mitchell's house now stand. Next was John Ellis's,
at the place now Mr. Upham's. These, with the minister's, were the only
lots taken on Main Street then ; and each of these had a " home field " op-
posite the house, extending southward as far as Oak Street. Our Whee-
lock School building stands on Ralph Wheelock's " home field."
Samuel BuUen located on a lane leading out of Philip Street, near South
Street, Daniel Morse taking a lot to the northward of him. James Allen,
Joseph Clark, Francis Hamant, and John Turner chose their lots on South
Street, from where Mr. Rhodes now lives to the corner of Curve Street.
Timothy Dwight and John Frairy located on what is now Frairy Street,
their home fields lying along west side of North Street as far as Dale Street.
Robert Hinsdale selected the place where Mr. Edmund Chenery at present
lives, his lot extending from the brook to Green Street. Thomas Wight
and his son John Wight took land eastward of the last, a lane leading to
their houses, now Green Street, but called for many years " Wight's Lane."
A descendant of each of these thirteen pioneers is serving on the board
of ushers for the gathering to-day.
No houses were probably built here till the following year; but the news
of a projected settlement spread, and additional colonists appeared, to whom
74 zso/i- ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
house lots were granted. Isaac Chenery and Henry Smith had theirs on
South Street, beyond Oak. Joshua Fisher, George Barber, and John
Thurston selected their homesteads in the order named on East Main Street,
from the minister's lot to the place now occupied by James Hewins, Esq.
John Bullard, John Plimpton, and John Metcalf took their lots on West
Main Street, from the present railroad crossing to the cemetery. Joseph
Morse, with his aged father Samuel, settled on or near Pound Street. John
Pratt, William Partridge, Thomas Ellis, Thomas Mason, and John Part-
ridge were on North Street, from where Mr. Bishop now lives to the corner
owned by Mr. Hamlet Wight. Two or three of these lots were origin-
ally taken by other men, from whom it was soon transferred to the parties
Ten families came from Weymouth and Braintree, — Benjamin Alby,
John Bowers, Nicholas Rockwood, Alexander Lovell, Abraham Harding,
Henry Adams, John Fussell, Edward Adams, Peter Adams, and Margaret
Sheppard. These all settled on Bridge Street in the order named, from the
almshouse site to the corner of Bridge and Main Streets.
The thirteen pioneers, together with the twenty-six others just named,
we take as the fathers of the settlement. Their descendants predominated
in the population for a long time. Indeed, descendants of all these, with
the possible exception of Mr. Wilson, may be found to-day living within a
radius of three miles from the centre of the town. As the early families inter-
married largely, many persons now find that they are descended from sev-
eral of the men of that first generation. The writer of this sketch can
trace his own line of descent back to a dozen of these thirty-nine, and there
are doubtless many others who can make a similar claim.
Dedham surrendered jurisdiction over this part of its territory Jan. ii,
1651 ; and in May of the same year the act of incorporation was passed by
the General Court, when Medfield entered upon its independent existence,
the forty-third town in this colony in the order of incorporation.
Building operations appear to have commenced immediately, and the first
house completed for occupancy was Samuel Bullen's. Mr. Wilson com-
menced his pastorate in the following December, which indicates that a con-
siderable number of the families had located by that time.
In those bright autumn days of 1651, when "Prince Charlie," defeated
by Cromwell's men, was fleeing for his life toward the coast to get away from
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 75
England, the founders of this new settlement in a far-off western clime were
busy with their preparations for residence here. We fancy them passing and
repassing over the winding cartway between this and Dedham, spending the
day or the week with axe and mattock or at their rude carpentry, and return-
ing for rest and worship. As they sat about the hearthstone at evening in
the homes they were about to leave, how the wives and daughters listened
to the plans for the accommodation of their rustic housekeeping ! — the big
fireplace to furnish comfort in the coming winter days and nights, as well as
means for preparing their simple meals ; the pleasant living-room, into which
the sun poured its genial rays through a real glass window ; the clear spring
of water near by, the berries and wild fruits they had found, and the big
stacks of hay from the meadows to feed the pet lamb or heifer as well as
horses, cows, and sturdy oxen. How the little boys' eyes danced as their
older brothers told what a big fish they almost caught, what store of nuts there
was going to be, and the partridges they caught in a snare ! Or how their
flesh crept as they listened to the grewsome tale of the wolves howling in the
dark cedar swamp, or of two glaring eyes of some fierce beast seen in the
dusk of the evening as they were coming home along near the pond at Clap-
Simple pursuits and interests of a simple life ! How little they seem
compared with the tremendous upheavals in the land across the seas ! Yet
hardy exiles like these are laying the foundation of a mighty people on these
western shores, one day to take place beside kingdoms and empires among
the great powers of the world, to the opinions of whose statesmen and the
thunder of whose guns the hoary monarchs of the Orient shall listen with
Many of those who came in the great emigration had been well-to-do
people in England, and, as they had been accustomed at home, kept their
servants, and brought them over to the new country. Some of these were
" indentured "; that is, had voluntarily bound themselves to a term of service
here in payment for their passage over, hoping thus at length to better their
condition. But in the following generation good servants were hard to find.
Indians were tried, but they proved treacherous and ran away to their native
freedom. So a seeming necessity brought in negroes, or " Moors," as they
were at first called. In this way slavery was introduced. The Puritans at
first declaimed against the African slave-trade ; but it was afterward seemingly
76 250/,?' ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
sanctioned by many. The second minister of this town owned a negro
woman, who was disposed of by will with other property ; and as late as
Revolutionary times one of the Continental soldiers from Medfield remem-
bered being stolen from Africa when a child.
Most of the first houses built were doubtless of logs or of squared timber
laid up for walls ; though some of the houses in the centre of the village,
like Mr. Wilson's, Mr. Wheelock's, and a few others, were probably frame
houses. It is said that the first frame house west of the river was not built
till a quarter of a century later, — the Harding homestead at the corner of
Main and Village Streets in Millis. These early houses were generally of
one story, with two or three rooms below, and a loft under the thatched
roof, reached by a ladder. Tradition says that Mr. Wilson's house had a
second story, overhanging in front, thus forming a sort of portico.
Mr. Wilson, first minister of Medfield, was a son of the Rev. John Wil-
son, of Boston. He appears to have been a man of kindlier spirit than his
father, who, it is said, railed and scoffed at the Quakers from the foot of the
gallows on which they were hanged. Our first minister was as a father to his
flock, served and befriended them in every time of trouble, — "allured to
brighter worlds, and led the way."
The officials of the new town consisted of a board of five selectmen, and
a " clerk of the writs," or, as we say, town clerk. There were no other
town officers for many years. The selectmen made the taxes, received all
moneys, paid all bills, took charge of school and highway matters, and, in
fact, of all the town's business afiairs.
The town clerk at once commenced a record of births, deaths, and mar-
riages, which has happily continued without break to the present time.
A ruined stone in the cemetery states that the first white female born in
this town was a daughter of John Ellis, afterward wife of Samuel Rock-
wood. Descendants of hers are still living here. The first recorded mar-
riage was that of Thomas Mason in 1653, the ceremony being performed
by Major Lusher, of Dedham. No minister, unless of the Episcopal church,
was qualified under English law to join in marriage till more than thirty
years after this. Mr. Wheelock was appointed magistrate about 1656, after
which he officiated at marriages. The first recorded death was of an infant
child of Mr. Wilson's in December, 1652 ; and the first death among the
original settlers was that of John Wight in 1653.
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD. MASSACHUSETTS 77
Our earliest bridge over Charles River, a little way above the present
poor-farm bridge, was carried away by a freshet; Eliot's Indians had built a
bridge at Natick about the same time ; and they plumed themselves greatly
that their bridge stood, while that at Medfield was washed away.
No sooner had our settlers a place of abode for themselves than they
set about building a meeting-house, — a house for "meetings" of whatever
sort, sacred or secular, not specially a church. Probably this structure was
similar to that at Dedham, thirty-six by twenty, with twelve-foot posts and
a thatched roof. As the meeting-house was never heated, the loft was a safe
place for the town's stock of ammunition. So the building was at once house
of worship and powder magazine. We have a rudely carved piece of oak,
now in possession of the Historical Society, which ornamented the panelled
front of the "desk" in that first house.
The next thing after erecting the building was to dignify it ; that is,
to decide what seats were highest in dignity. Then a committee, chosen in
town meeting, proceeded to assign the people to their seats according to
their estimated standing in the community. Any who persisted in sitting
in a place other than that assigned them were fined ; and they could not in-
dulge their temper by staying away from meeting, for such received a visit
from the tithing-man and had the privilege of paying another fine. The
people were ranked according to age, wealth, and official position. As
Whittier has it : —
" In the goodly house of worship, where in order due and fit,
As by public vote directed, classed and ranked the people sit :
Mistress first, and goodwife after, clerkly squire before the clown,
From the brave coat, lace-embroidered, to the gray frock shading down."
Our fathers were for the most part, probably, devoid of lace, though they
were as great sticklers for precedence as their wealthier seaport neighbors.
Whether this feeling braced them up for the protracted services in zero
weather and in an unhealed building, we cannot now tell. In those days
the men sat by themselves, the women by themselves, and the children —
especially the boys — in some place convenient for the tithing-man to attend
to their behavior. Disorderly boys were sometimes punished after service
in the presence of the congregation ; and women who were slanderers, liars,
or otherwise lacking in integrity, sat during service on the " stool of re-
78 250/,?' ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
pentance," which was placed in the centre aisle. Confession of faults was
also required in the presence of the audience.
About 1656 a law was passed that every town should have an "ordi-
nary," or public house; and one was opened by Joshua Fisher, where Mrs.
Margaret Hewins now lives. Two years later the selectmen were allowed
at the town's expense a dinner at the " ordinary." An annual dinner was the
extent of the selectmen's emoluments in those happy days. Let us hope
they enjoyed it.
In 1659 another grant of country land was obtained, now mostly em-
braced within the town of Medway. This was for a long time called the
" new grant."
The main industry of the people in early years was agriculture, they
living principally upon the products of the soil, with some help from hunt-
ing and fishing. There was the usual complement of village mechanics, —
carpenter, blacksmith, cooper, shoemaker, etc. A mill for grinding grain
was among the earliest buildings, and a tannery was also started in a few
years. Lumber was prepared by hewing, cleaving, or sawing by hand in a
sawing-pit, one man standing upon the log and the other underneath, in
the pit, to work the saw. Sixteen years after the settlement the town paid
money for " Digging a Sawing Peet." But this mode of working was soon
superseded by the rude up-and-down saw-mill run by water power.
During the first quarter of a century but few new names appear ; yet by
1668 people began to emigrate, some of the Hinsdale, Frairy, and Plimp-
ton families going to the Connecticut valley, and of the Albys, Wheelocks,
Sheppards, and Warfields to start the new town of Mendon. In 1675 there
were seventy-seven heads of families here, six of whom were on the west
side of the river. The whole population was about three hundred and
The dark and terrible prospect of a general uprising of the Indian tribes
had been seen as an angry cloud upon the horizon for several years. The
general policy of the colonists had been to deal gently and honorably with
the natives, but leniency shown to savages is often construed as weakness
and a sign of fear. The white man did not wish to mingle in the feuds
among the tribes, and all efforts to prevent them were reckoned as an inter-
ference with their cherished pastime of murder and pillage.
Metacom, called Philip by the English, had succeeded his father, the
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 79
friendly Massasoit. He saw the decadence of his race in the spread of the
whites. His hostile plans were suspected at Plymouth as early as 1670,
though he stoutly denied any such thing, all the while working to unite the
tribes for a war upon the settlements. A friendly Indian who gave warning
to the governor was at once assassinated by Philip's men.
In June, 1675, hostilities began at Swansey. The next month Mendon
was broken up. In the autumn the conflict passed to the Connecticut val-
ley. In December occurred the terrific fight in the Narragansett swamp,
when the Indians were driven out with considerable loss, but only to break
up into smaller bands and fall upon defenceless settlements. Great alarm
was felt here: "garrisons " were built, a supply of powder and bullets was
procured, and a " great gun," or field-piece, was bought. On the first of
February, 1676, a roving band of savages attacked the home of Thomas
Eames at Framingham in his absence, killed six of his family, carried the rest
captive, and burned his buildings. Soon after it was learned that a large
body of Indians were heading this way, and on February 10 Lancaster
The news of this disaster being brought to us, Mr. Wilson wrote to the
governor for help ; and a force of a hundred men was sent here. On Sun-
day, February 20, Mr. Wilson warned the people to be on their guard ; and
Indians were espied lurking about the woods as the people went home from
meeting that day. It is probable that a watch was set during the night;
but, as there was no sight or sound of danger, it turned in at daylight. But
the enemy had crept with moccasined feet upon the yielding snow near to
each outlying homestead, ready to apply the torch and murder the helpless
inmates as they fled in terror from their burning dwellings.
Samuel Morse, who lived near Mt. Nebo, going to his barn very early
that Monday morning, discovered an Indian hid in the hay. Suspecting
his designs, he at once turned loose his cattle, and fled with his family to the
garrison. No sooner had he gone than the flames shot up from his home-
stead, and presently the fires arose in every direction. The buildings in the
centre of the village were saved ; but nearly all a quarter of a mile or more
away were destroyed, with the barns, in which the live stock also generally
perished. Seventeen persons were killed or mortally wounded.
The soldiers with the townsmen rallied for defence, and it is said that
some of the savages fell that morning under the fire of our men. The " great
8o z^oth ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
gun," being fired, so dismayed them that they fled across the river, setting
fire to the bridge as they went, and burning four homesteads and a mill on
the west side.
King Philip was absent at a great gathering of warriors near Wachusett ;
and the assault here was directed by Monaco, a fierce enemy of the white
settlers, who afterward boasted of having burned Lancaster and Medfield.
He was finally compelled to surrender, and the following autumn was hanged
on Boston Common, when the whole populace, men, women and children,
turned out to see the execution.
Half the population of this town being rendered homeless and reduced
to poverty, the remaining houses were opened for shelter and support, and
for the cure of the wounded. There was no farther assault upon this
town, though there was much apprehension. Hostilities continued through
the spring and summer, till finally, in August, Philip was slain, the power
of the enemy was broken, and our fathers dwelt in peace and security.
We sometimes view with pathetic interest the decaying fortunes of the
red man : our sympathies are apt to be with the vanquished, irrespective of
the merits in the case. Some one has said, "It often takes a very well-
balanced mind to sympathize with the upper dog in the fight." And we
recall the words of John Fiske : " They read history incorrectly who suppose
that savages, whose business it is to torture and slay, can always be dealt with
according to the methods of civilized peoples."
We cannot, however, but look with aversion upon the treatment received
by the Indian captives from our much revered ancestors, and we shed a pity-
ing tear over their hapless fate. The redoubtable Captain Church seized the
helpless wife and child of Philip, and they were sold into slavery in the
Bermudas. Furthermore, the counsel and help of converted and friendly
natives were often spurned and despised. Had the advice of our red allies
at Seekonk been followed in the summer of 1675, ^*'- Hooker says, the
plans of Philip would have been thwarted and the war ended at that time.
It was a friendly Indian runner who found out the plans of the enemy and
brought us the tidings of the intended attack upon Lancaster and Medfield.
He reached here February 9, the day before Lancaster was burned. But
there came to be an unreasoning and indiscriminate prejudice against all
natives. Our hot-headed soldiers burned one or two villages of Christian
Indians in their heroic raids. Eliot's congregation at Natick was hustled off
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 8i
to a bleak island in Boston harbor, with insufficient food and little shelter
from the cold. And, when the news of the burning of Medfield reached
Boston, a mob-like spirit took possession of the people, who were eager to
go down to the island and massacre those friendly Indians one and all.
Even good John Eliot himself was held in suspicion, and not a word he
could say in favor of his flock was believed. We must remember, however,
the demoralizing influence of warfare, and that the fighting force in any nation
embraces some most undesirable elements. One of our valorous captains
during Philip's war is said to have been formerly a pirate. But such was
not the general character of those who were defending their homes and
Medfield recovered but slowly from the disasters and impoverishment of
the war. Most of the buildings were finally replaced, though not for several
years, as some of the heads of families were obliged to go elsewhere for a
time to earn support for their households. A few houses and the mill of
Henry Adams (who was slain) were never rebuilt.
Mr. Wilson died in 1691, and was laid to rest, after his forty years' min-
istry in this town, with heartfelt sorrow by his flock who had known and
loved him so long. His son was not favored by the town as his successor ;
and in 1697 Mr. Joseph Baxter was settled, he being then twenty-one years
of age. He built his house on the site now owned by Mr. Willard Harwood.
No records of the parish church until his time have ever been found.
The great clock of time strikes the year 1700. Let us look around.
Where are the men who came at the beginning? Six died before the Indian
war. Seven fell by the hand of the savage foe. Death has taken away
twenty more since that time. Six only now remain, — Edward Adams,
Isaac Chenery, Alexander Lovell, John Partridge, John Pratt, and John
Turner. Old men now they are : in feebleness they who once battled with
wild beasts and barbarous men. One only of these — Edward Adams —
now takes any part in public affairs. He for a little time remains, till in 17 16
he also, the last of the original settlers, sleeps in a grave unmarked and
The old meeting-house, though once enlarged, had now become too
narrow and too dilapidated for the convenience of the town ; and steps were
taken toward building a new one, which was accomplished in 1706. At this
time twenty-nine of the householders were on the west side of the river, and
82 250//; ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
they began to desire a meeting-house of their own. They sent a petition to
the General Court to that effect ; and after several years of agitation the town
was divided in 1 7 13, when the new town of Medway was incorporated, embrac-
ing all the territory west of Charles River, with fifty householders, leaving
on the Medfield side ninety-four. For many years the same names were
common in both towns, especially Adams, Allen, Barber, Clark, Ellis, Fisher,
Harding, Metcalf, Partridge, and Roclcwood, descendants of our first settlers,
the new names being largely of such as had married the daughters of the old
We have no description of the second meeting-house : it stood on the site
of the old one, now occupied by the Unitarian church. It was probably a
plain barn-like structure, without belfry or steeple of any kind. It is said
there were two galleries, the upper one for negroes, of whom there were a
considerable number then in town held as slaves.
The river meadows, so highly prized and much sought after by the first
settlers, soon began to decline in value. What with the obstructions in the
river by dams below, and mowing the grass yearly instead of burning it as
the Indians had done, it steadily deteriorated in quality. The result was
that farmers turned attention more and more to raising hay upon upland.
Seed for this purpose was brought from England, from which came our
term " English hay," to distinguish it from the product of the natural
Our fathers in their desire to make this a model community not only
provided the moral restraints of church and school, but arranged for other
restraints upon evil-doing. Soon after settling here a pair of stocks was
built in a conspicuous place in the village ; and those found guilty of thieving,
cheating, or drunkenness, as well as other transgressors of both sexes, might
sometimes be seen with feet made fast between the heavy horizontal bars,
jeered at by the populace, and made the general target for uncomplimentary
The youths of the second and third generations sometimes forgot the
good counsels of the fathers. At one time the selectmen took notice of
excessive and disorderly riding of several youths, of racing horses on the
Lord's day up to the very meeting-house doors to the endangering of elderly
persons and the annoyance of others ; and it was ordered that such should
be fined. At a later date the selectmen were instructed to fasten up the
upper gallery, so that the young people could not get in to play.
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 83
But the good intentions of the founders would seem to have been fairly
well realized, as in 1767 it was said that up to that date there had been but
five or six instances of any in town being sued for debt, not one of being
committed to prison, no estate rendered insolvent, nor any in poverty obliged
to apply for relief to other than their own neighbors.
The country was at first infested with wolves, bears, and wildcats, as
well as foxes and smaller predatory animals. The last bear in this region
was killed about 1730; and at that time the town was granting bounties to
encourage the killing of wildcats. But wolves were the most destructive to
young stock ; and wolf hunts were set on foot, when large numbers were
surrounded in swamps and killed or captured amid great excitement.
Sport was made with captured or wounded wolves by worrying them with
dogs after the manner of the old bear-baiting in England. Rattlesnakes
were found in the earliest days, and birds which preyed upon crops became
very numerous. A man in this town once received bounty for killing " fif-
teen dozen blackbirds." Fox and squirrel hunts were frequent, not as
heartless sport, but as a necessity.
Fur-bearing animals were common ; and great quantities of beaver and
raccoon skins were sent to market, and formed a considerable source of in-
come to the people. Game was plenty : the wild turkey soon disappeared,
but myriads of pigeons, ducks, and geese were to be had for the shooting ;
and there was great store of partridges, woodcock, and quail. Moose and
deer were often seen. The last moose found about here was in 1745. The
common red deer was much prized, both for food and for the skin, which fur-
nished material for clothing. Fish were abundant. Charles River was in
the early days unobstructed to the ocean, so shad and alewives ran up to
their breeding-grounds at Populatic Pond and elsewhere. People came
from long distances to our fording-place, a famous spot for taking these fish,
and carried them away in loads.
Our fathers early prepared for " the long mysterious exodus of death."
In the first year of their coming a " burying-place " was set ofi^, and consisted
of the front and central portion of the present cemetery along Main Street.
The resting-places of four only of the first comers can now be located :
those of Rev. John Wilson, Deacon Samuel Bullen, Samuel Morse, and
The burying-ground at first lay common, and was soon covered with
84 25°"^ ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
trees and bushes. Later it was fenced and let as a cow pasture. It would
"The dreariest spot in all the land
To death they set apart,
With scanty grace from Nature's hand
And none at all from art."
It was well along into the nineteenth century before it was enlarged or
much improved. Since then four successive additions have been made, and
considerable attention has been paid to beautifying it.
In the earliest days there were no " funeral services." It is recorded
that the first instance of prayer at a burial in this colony was that of the Rev.
John Wilson, of Medfield, when a minister in Roxbury was carried to his
grave. There was no hearse in this town for a hundred and fifty years. A
bier was employed, raised to the shoulder of the bearers, and carried from
the residence to the burying-place. A heavy black cloth, or " pall," was
thrown over all; and four "pall-bearers" walked beside.
A century or so ago, when a death occurred, " they went and told the
sexton, and the sexton tolled the bell." If it was a man, three-times-three
was struck ; if a woman, three-times-two. Then the years of age were tolled
oflf. The older people can still remember pausing in their work to listen.
"A man, — and eighty-four. It must be old Mr. Smith : he's been failing
for some time," they would say. The bell tolled slowly again as the funeral
train wound its way through the village toward the burial-place.
Our townsmen early showed a care for education. In 1653 Mr.
Wheelock was appointed to take up a collection for Harvard College.
Two years later provision was made for the instruction of children here
under the care of Mr. Wheelock, who taught probably for several years
in his own house. The school was supported in part by town appropriation
and in part by tuition fees. A school-house was built in 1666, eighteen feet
by fourteen in size, which stood on the east side of North Street, not
far from the location of the present " boarding-house." A stone to mark
the site has been purchased by twenty-five cent subscriptions from graduates
of Medfield public schools.
In 1675 sixty-two persons at Medfield and the " Farms " contributed
£^1^ \s. toward the " new brick college." Gifts ranged from £^1 in money
down to " one bushel of Indian corn."
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 85
The first female teacher employed by this town was, as far as known,
Experience Adams, who kept in 1699 ^ school on the west side of the river
at her own house. Perhaps this was what was known as a " dame school,"
when a little book-learning and a good deal of handiwork were taught.
Schooling in those days was mostly for boys : girls were not educated very
much. It is said that not one woman in a dozen could write her name ;
and, certainly, we would think so from the number who were obliged to
"make their mark." Even the signatures of the men seemed often like a
In times when young men in college were whipped, and a president of
Harvard was dismissed for extreme severity, it will be readily imagined that
the common school discipline was somewhat heroic. Flogging and ferruling
were common occurrences. The tongue was gripped in a split stick for
certain offences (the same punishment scolding women had sometimes).
School-children were also treated with an occasional dose of the " flapper," —
a broad belt of leather, with a hole through it to raise blisters, — the proto-
type, perhaps, of the traditional " slipper " in the hands of some strenuous
In 1701 this town came under the law requiring a "grammar school," —
that is, where Latin and some higher mathematics were taught ; and now
young men from Harvard were employed as teachers. Until 17 18 school
was always kept in the centre ; but from this date the school was movedj
sometimes to the north, and sometimes to the south part of the town, where
school-houses were soon after built. For the next forty years the school
time was thus divided, school being kept in but one section of the town at
the same time. But in 1760 the three districts were established, which con-
tinued for a century. One room sufficed for each district, though by 1820
the centre school numbered one hundred and ten, and the north and south
schools some seventy each, ranging in age from five to twenty, from the
a-b-c's to Antony's address to the Romans, from the addition table to cube
root and " partial payments." The old school-houses were warmed by huge
fireplaces with log fires, the rear of the room being often at freezing tem-
perature still. Successive batches of children were permitted to come forward
and warm up at the hearth. About 1825-30 large wood-burning stoves
were introduced into the school-houses and meeting-houses, the latter being
without any artificial heat up to this time.
86 25o//i ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
The first supervising school board chosen in this town was in 1813, and
consisted of the Rev. Thomas Prentiss, Dr. Lothario Danielson, Dr. James
Hewins, and Daniel Adams, Esq. For a half-century the school board was
made up from the clergymen, lawyers, and physicians.
The district system was abolished in 1869. Those old district schools
had their drawbacks and imperfections, it is true ; but they were not without
their attractive and beneficial features, particularly the winter schools attended
by the older as well as the younger boys and girls and taught by a master,
frequently an enthusiastic student in college who was working his way,
who had some vitality to impart, even if he was not strictly " normal " in
method. There being no high school then, some of the higher branches
were attempted in these winter schools ; and, though what was learned may
be termed a smattering, it was not so very much more superficial and frag-
mentary than the ideas of similar subjects are sometimes found to be in these
later times. At all events the fundamentals were pretty well attended to ;
and we must remember that the children gained something from association
with those of older growth. Their little hearts beat faster to hear the young
men in the highest class " Strike till the last arm'd foe expires," perempto-
rily demanding " Give me liberty, or give me death," or were moved by a
transient pathos as their budding sisters sweetly warbled " On Linden when
the sun was low." They thus got a little outlook in listening to these higher
readings and recitations which is not so readily obtained while mingling only
with those of their own age.
In connection with our old district schools we would not forget to recall
those teachers of half a century or more ago who did much to impress the
scholarly habit and shape the after-lives of their pupils. The names of
Seaver, Graves, Hamant, Staples, Lincoln, Gale, and others, have been and
will be gratefully remembered.
Medfield has not been wanting in patriotic spirit. Soldiers from this
town have entered into the various conflicts in which the safety of the State
or the nation has been imperilled. In the battles of King Philip's time, — at
Swansey, at Hadley, in the Narragansett swamp, — in the campaigns at the
eastward, in Phipps's ill-starred expedition, in Queen Anne's war, at the capt-
ure of Louisburg, in the campaigns of the French and Indian War, our
soldiers bore a part.
The oppressive measures of George III. were stoutly resisted by our
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 87
townsmen ; and the instructions voted to our representative show a spirit
and intelligence worthy of the foremost patriots of the time. When the
Lexington alarm came, Captain Mann's minute-men started at once ; and
Captain Chenery literally " left the ploughshare in the mould " of the field
where he was at work, and with his company of militia men set forth to aid
in the defence of our liberties. Over eighty men marched from here that
day. At the Bunker Hill alarm a company started for the scene of action,
and, though arriving too late to take part in that battle, served for some
time in the siege of Boston. Medfield had a part, too, in the terrible march
through the wilderness of Maine to attack Quebec ; and during the entire
Revolutionary struggle one hundred and sixty men at least, from this town,
served in various campaigns, forty-two of whom were in the Continental
Army. The burial-places of sixty-eight Revolutionary soldiers have been
identified in our cemetery, and the prescribed " Sons of American Revolu-
tion " markers erected over them by the town. The last survivor of those
heroes, as far as known, was Nathan Allen, who died in 1848, aged ninety-
The War of 1812 was unpopular in Massachusetts; and few, if any,
soldiers from this place entered that strife. The same may be said of the
Mexican War ; though Lieutenant Derby (known as John Phoenix), a Med-
field man and a graduate of West Point, was with the regular army, and was
wounded at Cerro Gordo.
But at the outbreak of the War of the Rebellion in 1861 the military
spirit ran high. Those who live in these later days can scarcely picture the
exciting scenes in the streets of this quiet village when the news came that
our Sixth Regiment, going to the defence of the capital, was fired upon in
the streets of Baltimore. Enlistments began at once. The calls of the
country were answered by the patriotism of the town, and during the four
years of civil strife eighty-two men went into the service. Fifteen of these
gave their lives in the war for the preservation of the Union.
Thus we have endeavored, in a fragmentary way, to trace a few pictures
from the long story of our by-gone years, —
" Review the scene,
And summon from the shadowy past
The forms that once have been."
The TOWN of MEDFIELD. MASSACHUSETTS
Would that the gift were ours to set the story forth in worthier phrase !
To such, however, as listen with the historic spirit, it is hoped these simple
annals will not have proved entirely tedious. But there are with us also
those who have come to-day from distant places to visit for a little time the
scenes of their youth. The home of our childhood ! What art of eloquence
or song could give an added pathos to these cherished words ! The old
familiar rocks and hills, the verdant vales, the winding stream, the sunny
spots where dear ones dwelt, — oh, many a time and oft sweet thoughts of
these return in dream and waking hours !
Passed is many a mile-stone in the history of this good old town ; yet there
is a joy for age in the possession of memory's treasures and of the experiences
that life has brought, with which we would not part.
We stand beside time's ever-flowing stream, at this chosen point upon its
margin. Below us the river of the yesterdays, its waters lost in the
unsounded seas. Above us, speeding on, comes the resistless current of the
to-morrows, with what freightage borne upon its bosom ! Ah, who can tell !
When another fifty years have sped their course, another company,
perchance, will gather to indulge in retrospect ; and, while the curious
wanderer shall spell our names upon the mossy stone, some child, maybe,
who gayly waves aloft his little flag this day, will stand with silvered locks
and thoughtful brow, and tell in youth's then unheeding ear the favorite
story of the elders, — " I remember, — I remember 1901."
History inscribes itself upon the days that passing hurry by : a few events
are rescued from the darkness of suns long set. But from the great record
of human interests, of homes where cheerful hearth-fires once burned brightly,
long since dark and cold, of voices whose lightest tone could awaken music
in the heart, hushed now in death's deep stillness, of budding joys and
fading hopes, the toils, the triumphs, the aspirations, and the failures, — of
all these how small a part we now can read at best ! The page grows dim
in the waning light : our eager eyes try but in vain to trace the pictured
scenes upon these time-stained leaves. But onward, onward still, —
" O'er deeps which being's mystic isles divide,
The slow, incessant years forever glide,
And sink in silence on the other side."
A recitation, " The American Savage," by Sprague, was given by Miss
Rosa S. Allen, the exercises concluding with the singing of " America " by
The banquet was held at Chenery Hall at one o'clock. James Hewins,
Esq., president of the banquet, welcomed the assembly as follows: —
Fellow-citizens, — Standing on this historic spot where once stood the
home of the first minister of our beloved town, it is my happy privilege to
welcome, in behalf of my fellow-townsmen, all our guests, respected friends
from neighboring towns and more distant places, and sons and daughters
of Medfield returning to the home of their fathers once more to " tread the
paths their feet have worn." On this fair day, at " the high tide of the
year," when " whatever of life hath ebbed away comes flooding back with a
ripply cheer," we bid you each and all a most cordial welcome.
The Rev. John A. Savage, pastor of the First Congregational Church,
then asked the divine blessing.
After the banquet was finished, Mr. Hewins spoke as follows : —
Ladies and Gentlemen, — The Albion Quartette of Boston, of which our
fellow-townsman, Mr. James C. Bartlett, is a member, have very thought-
fully and generously tendered their services as a contribution to the festivi-
ties of the day ; and we will now listen to singing by them.
The quartette responded with some excellent music. At the conclusion
of the singing the President said : —
Ladies and Gentlemen, — Our sister town of Dedham, settled by the
same generation that founded Medfield, sends greetings to us to-day. I
have the pleasure to present to you Mr. Don Gleason Hill, the President of
the Dedham Historical Society.
DON GLEASON HILL, ESQ.
Ladies and gentlemen, native born and adopted citizens of Medfield, I
bring you to-day the congratulations of the Dedham Historical Society and
of the old town of Dedham, not of the sister town, but of the mother town,
to our eldest daughter, child of our youth ; for we were only fifteen years old
at your birth. " Train up a child," etc., — you know what the Good Book says.
90 x'ioth ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
We gave you the best we had both in land and in men ; and, in order that
you might have plenty of room in which to grow, on our petition we received
from the General Court more land for your sole benefit.
We gave you Ralph Wheelock, the father of Medfield, Robert Hinsdale,
John Frairey, James Allen, and other good men and true. Wheelock,
Hinsdale, and Frairey were founders in the Dedham church. They were
also founders of the Medfield church.
In the organization of the Dedham church, after the selection of the
minister, the question came as to the man for the second place, that of ruling
elder. Two men were named, either of whom was amply competent to fill
the office, Ralph Wheelock and John Huntting. Acting under the advice
of the sister churches, we selected Huntting for our ruling elder, thus leaving
Wheelock (our first schoolmaster and the ancestor of the founder of Dart-
mouth College) to have the greater honor of being the father of this noble
old town. Hinsdale and Frairey were professional pioneers. Their sons
first settled Deerfield.
Poor old Robert Hinsdale was a good man, but altogether too venture-
some, both in matrimonial and in military affairs. His first wife, Ann
Woodward, was a very timid, sensitive soul, who fainted when admitted to
the church (the Medfield Fraireys are descended from this first wife) ; but his
second wife was of a different stamp. It was not a happy union ; and he was
obliged to part with her, and for that reason was brought before the court.
She refused to answer, and appears to have gotten oft. He claimed he did
what he did as being her head and having rule of her in the point, and did
it for her correction of her disorder toward him; but the Honorable Court
held that he had broken the Divine Law (Mai. xi. i6; Matt. xix. 6;
I Peter iii. 7), and also the law of the colony, in intent, if not in letter,
and gave ten stripes on his naked body and a fine for which his sons
became responsible. He and three of his sons were killed at Bloody Brook,
and still the court would not remit the fine. His widow afterwards
married Thomas Dibble ; and we certainly hope that, at last, she found her
I like that beautiful old custom which began on the " Mayflower," that of
signing a covenant. Dedham had its covenant, and Medfield followed
with its covenant ; and no one was " admitted into our society " except such
as they thought would make proper citizens. Consequently, we have very
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 91
little material in the history of Dedham or Medfield with which to write
such a book as the Emancipation of Massachusetts. Witches were scarce ;
and we only whipped Quakers when they were sent through the town from
Boston en route for the wilderness, by order of the court.
I like to see the growing interest in the study of history, particularly
family history, unless it is simply to find one ancestor who served a day or
two in the Revolution, so they can join one of the historic societies. We
are all very fond of the old colonial stories and traditions ; and, for one, I
am very sorry to have any doubt thrown upon our old favorites. I don't see
why you could not let this very picturesque old house of yours out here
remain as the only one left by King Philip. I don't see why Mr. Sheldon,
of Deerfield, wanted to throw discredit on that very fascinating old story
about one of the regicides suddenly appearing in one of the bloody con-
flicts as an angel of deliverance. Why doubt the Washington hatchet story ?
You certainly cannot find the cherry-tree now. Only think of the great
moral tendency of that little story.
We have an ancient house in Dedham, a picturesque old house, said to
have been built in 1636 ; but, though the builder did not come to Dedham
until 1637 (new style), we do not mind a little discrepancy like that. Care-
ful investigation sometimes gives us more light than we want.
Probably I have spent more time on the old Dedham Records than any
one else now living, yet I was not born there, and have not a single Dedham
ancestor in all its history, so far as I can ascertain ; and yet I am very fond
of the old town of my adoption, because I have made Dedham my home,
and you know the adopted child has all the rights of the one natural born,
and I hold that it is the duty ot each citizen to strive for the welfare of the
whole community. And, when all the citizens of a town work together
unselfishly for its best interest, the town must prosper.
The President. — We have here to-day another citizen of Dedham,
and one representing a still larger field ot historical work; Mr. Julius H.
Tuttle, of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
92 z^oth ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
MR. JULIUS H. TUTTLE.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, — I tried hard to find out from
your Chairman the reason why I was called to fill this honored position. I
fear that my misunderstanding of the wish of your committee may be some-
thing like that of the little girl, in a neighboring town, who was sent to buy
a pair of shoes. The clerk asked her if she would like the orthopaedic
shoe. "No," she replied: "I think not. We are all Baptists."
From one like myself, not native here and to the manner born, only a
few words of congratulation are needed ; and these I give most heartily.
Personally, this event has a double interest ; for it was my pleasure to serve
as Secretary of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the town of Ded-
ham in 1886. I am sure that the spirit of that celebration finds a renewed
expression in the sentiments here to-day.
This occasion is one full of inspiration for us all, and the people of
Medfield may well feel proud of the record which was so vividly described
in the fine historical address of this morning. Here you recall the deeds of
the brave men and noble women who have made possible the priceless
heritage which you now enjoy. Their patient endurance and their wisdom
laid the foundation ; and it is for you to transmit to posterity, not only
untarnished, but with brighter lustre, what you have so happily received
from their hands.
The President. — Hyde Park, though one of the younger towns of the
county, has a very mature and efficient Historical Society. What that
society is, is largely due to the earnest work of my friend Mr. Charles F.
Jenney, whom I now have the pleasure to present to you.
Mr. Jenney responded in a happy vein, and spoke of the propriety of
maintaining New England institutions.
The President. — Dover, too, has an Historical Society of which she
may well be proud, founded and nurtured by her loyal son, Mr. Frank
Smith, who will now address you.
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 93
MR. FRANK SMITH.
Mr. Chairman, — It affords me great pleasure to be present on this occa-
sion. I can truly say in the words of the hymn which we sang in the
" I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills,"
for I have gazed upon them from my earliest childhood. From my father's
farm in Dover I daily look southward over territory of this town. As a
boy, I came here for amusement and inspiration. How often in the years
that have passed have I attended entertainments and listened to lectures in
this hall, and how often have I worshipped in your First Parish Church !
I come, Mr. Chairman, not by invitation alone, but by right, as there flows
in my veins the blood of one of the founders of this town, James Allen,
a man who imparted such staying qualities to his posterity that his farm is
still occupied by his descendants. I love to think, as emphasized by the
essayist this morning, that this town was settled and these farms first occu-
pied by those whose feet had trodden the ways and the byways of old Eng-
land, of whom it has been said that God sifted a nation to find suitable men
with which to found the colonies.
I love to think of the old farms which have been occupied by lineal
descendants from the first settlement of the town to the present time. Surely,
it is no idle task to tell the story of these homes, which represent so much
of the past life of this community, — a tale which, if fully told, would touch
in many ways the national life and development of this country.
Emerson says, " The only gift is a portion of thyself, therefore the poet
brings his poem, the shepherd his lamb, the farmer corn, the miner a gem,
the sailor coral or shells, the painter his picture, and the girl a handkerchief
of her own sewing." All have put something of themselves into their gifts.
How truly the founders of this town gave themselves to the task !
" All we have of freedom, all we use or know,
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago."
This celebration, as I understand it, is a service of thanksgiving to the
men and women who have given us the harvest of two and a half centuries
94 250/^- ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
of toil and sacrifice in the settlement and development of this town. They
looked westward from their homes in Dedham, and saw a beautiful country
waiting for the coming of a people who would clothe the pastures with flocks
and herds and cover the fields with orchards and growing crops. The fertile
meadow lay before them ; the primeval forest, in all its original charm, rested
on the upland ; the winding Charles flowed unhampered to the ocean ; and
the shad, as we were told in the address of the morning, leaped and played in
its waters. But the time had come when all this wealth of nature should
be unlocked. Yet there were no homes to invite the settlers, no cleared
fields ready for the plough, no roads, no school, no church. The first step in
the development of every enterprise in the community was yet to be taken ;
and so the true meaning, as I take it, of this occasion is a recognition of the
great debt of gratitude which we owe our forefathers for all their toil and
patient sacrifice in the settlement of this town and in the building and
upholding of its glorious institutions. " Other men labored, and we have
entered into their labors."
Singing by the Quartette followed the address of Mr. Smith.
The President resumed as follows : I now have the honor to call upon
one who needs no introduction here, a son of Medfield always ready to
respond to her call, and whose painstaking and honorable life is in keeping
with all her traditions and lends new lustre to her name, — the Hon. Rob-
ert R. Bishop, of Newton Centre.
HON. ROBERT R. BISHOP.
Mr. President, — It would violate every filial instinct if, on this day of
days, any son of Medfield who could come back should stay away ; and yet
I came near being an absentee. As some of you know, I am holding court
in Dedham. Your presiding officer, Mr. Hewins, gave me some months
ago a copy of the trial list of the court there at a term held in the year
1865. It was a pleasant reminder of the time when he was a student in my
office and of the warm friendship that has existed between us ever since.
This trial list consists of less than seven pages, with eight cases on a page, —
fifty-four cases in all. It is an evidence of the great growth in importance
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 95
of the northern part of Norfolk County in the last twenty-five years to
look, in comparison, at the trial list of the term I am now holding, which
contains nearly forty-seven pages, with five cases on a page, — two hundred
and thirty-three cases. This great volume of legal business indicates the
metropolitan condition Norfolk County is taking on ; and it arises from the
great development caused by the Metropolitan Park System, by the general
introduction of water by public authority now into our towns, by electric
railways running now through our roads everywhere and connecting place
with place, by the increasing necessity of public sewerage, and from all the
rights, questions, and disputes that in this interval — just about one genera-
tion — have arisen, largely unknown in time before. Well, with this great
amount of legal work to be managed in a term of six weeks, I doubted if
I could get a day to come back to the old home, great as the day was to
be. But, one morning when I went over to the court, I found the sheriff
in close consultation with one of the county commissioners, Mr. Hewins ;
and I felt convinced that a conspiracy was on foot. When the county
commissioners and the sheriff put their heads together, it behooves the court
to proceed cautiously. So I joined the conspiracy ; and last night we ad-
journed the court to meet this morning at the First Parish Church in
Medfield, at eleven o'clock, to listen to the address of Mr. Tilden and
attend the other and subsequent exercises. And here we are, — the sheriff in
the gallery, his deputy, Mr. Colburn, with him, the "clerk of the writs"
in front, and plenty of jurors ; but we will not have anything to do to-day
with that trial list. We have other and more interesting — yes, important
affairs — to participate in and listen to.
This town, thank God, though it has an electric railway through its
length, and water and modern conveniences, has not taken on any such met-
ropolitan character as to spoil it or to make its old self unrecognizable to
one who comes back from many years of sojourn away. There is the same
quiet beauty and repose, there are the same fields and trees and great past-
ures : the bobolinks and larks sing here as they do not in Newton ; and,
though many of the faces are new, yet many are not old, but the same, —
the same dear and true faces of the old time, when Medfield was the whole
world to the boys who went away to enter into the great world beyond.
Indeed, it seems the best world now, and we coming back, once in a while,
to be for the time at home, and go away again, ashamed of our desertion,
96 z^oth ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
wish in vain we had never gone at all, but had stayed here to lead a peace-
ful and contented life upon the old farms, and be carried at last to the
sacred ground where rest the generations we have the right to call as noble
and faithful men and women as any town or country could ever boast.
But, if we cannot roll time back again and stay, we can at least do one
thing: we can try to carry the old spirit and temper elsewhere. A consid-
erable colony of us went to Newton, — Mr. Nathaniel Allen, his brother
George, his brother James, my early and constant friend, Mr. George M.
Fiske, Mr. George H. Ellis, and others of the Medfield blood. We are told
that the Greek language was spoken as accurately in the colonies as at Athens,
and we have tried to keep with us away some of the old-time sturdiness and
character of this town, our home.
Amid the memories which such a day as this recalls, and in contempla-
tion of the history of the town's past brought before us by the exercises and
by narration, we are affected by no narrow and despondent feeling that we
have fallen upon evil times and are going from good to bad. It is no such
thing, though certain modern things are bad enough and worse than any our
fathers encountered, and give color to the idea. I obtained at the loan col-
lection, just before coming in here, a copy of both of Mr. Tilden's pamphlets,
"A Visit to an Early Homestead," " A Sunday in the Old Meeting-house,"
which I have not had time to read, but am going to take home and read to
my wife this evening ; but I venture to say that the Sunday newspaper does
not cut so important a figure in Mr. Tilden's old-time Sabbath as it does in
our Sunday, and that people were not disturbed before meeting time then by
the rattle of the small wagon carrying it around to every door. The percen-
tage of church attendance was greater then than now ; and this is not the fault
of our ministers, who preach better sermons than the preachers in any gener-
ation before. But who can compete with the crimson head-lines and flaming
pictures of such a paper as the New York Journal? Much more serious
things are the gigantic frauds of the present day, corruption in public affairs,
the low level to which politics sometimes reaches, and the whole train of
evils from these. Great as we think these evils are, and bad as we know
they really are, they are not great in comparison with the prevailing rectitude
of life in our time. All these are only the receding waves of the great tide
of good that goes forward. There must be some counter-action to every
great forward impulse. Let us be as true to our light as our fathers were to
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 97
theirs, and the world will continue to improve in every good thing. To
doubt it is to doubt the purpose of God ; and how rapidly the world is
growing in light, knowledge, faith, character, strength, and purity, despite
the counter-action that must accompany every effort of a being free to do
good or evil.
They say it as a derogatory expression that one should wear his grand-
father's hat, as if he were living on his grandfather's merits. But there is
one venerable man sitting here beside me whose hat I should like to wear for
the rest of my life, if it would transfer to me his virtues and his character, —
this very hat on the table; and he is Mr. Noah Allen. What a life he has
led ! Ninety-five years old, he never had an enemy, nor met a person who
did not respect him. Though never obtrusive, it was always clear upon
which side he stood of any important question. Thoroughly alive to every
modern question, he brings to us, with eye undimmed and strength almost
unabated, the gentle manners and the genuine simplicity of the time when he
was born, three generations ago.
What, then, is the lesson the day teaches? To be true to our light and
our time, faithful to the commands of God in our circumstances, and alive
to all kindling manifestations of his Providence and grace in our lives, as
our fathers were true and faithful and alive to theirs in their day and time.
And what a complex problem this is, to infuse into and keep in and carry
through the multifold and conflicting labors, cares, and duties of modern life,
with its progress, improvements, and inventions, which change all things,
annihilate space, circumscribe time, and reverse all methods, the earnest,
simple, firm living of the past, full of faith, and faithful to the pattern of
living ! but, if we are true to the problem, ours shall be the flower and fruit
of all the seed and growth of the generations and the centuries gone.
The President. — More than half a century ago, in the winters of 1846
and '47, and '47 and '48, a certain young man taught the district school in the
south part of this town, and with what signal success his many pupils, among
them the gentleman who so ably addressed you in the old meeting-house
this morning, can all testify. That teacher is our guest to-day, — the Rev.
Carlton A. Staples, of Lexington.
z<ioth ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
REV. CARLTON A. STAPLES.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, — Permit me a bit of personal rem-
iniscence. When I heard to-day of the ancient custom of subjecting all
new-comers to Medfield to an examination before admitting them to resi-
dence or of warning them to leave if they proved immoral, heretical, or likely
to become a town charge, I was reminded of my own experience here in that
respect. On a cold morning of February, 1846, I rode in an open sleigh
from my home in Mendon, fifteen miles distant, to this town to teach the
South School, from which the teacher had just been dismissed. I was half
frozen in the long ride which had begun before sunrise and occupied three
or four hours, and after a hurried breakfast went before the School Committee,
consisting of three ministers, to be examined on my literary and moral quali-
fications. A green country lad, then under twenty years, with but little ex-
perience in teaching and little knowledge of what and how to teach, shiver-
ing from head to foot with the cold, I must have presented a rueful appear-
ance to that learned and august body. Nor was it reassuring to a diffident
youth to be told by one of them that they would warm me up before they
got through with me ! However, the examination was not so terrifying as I
had expected ; and I passed through it successfully, due as much probably to
their deficiencies as to my accomplishments. But then came the appalling
question, " Have you a certificate of good moral character? " I was not in
the unfortunate condition of the servant-girl of whom a lady asked a similar
question : " I used to have a character, mum, but I have lost it." I had
never even had a character. So I was charged to procure one immediately,
and in due course of time it was received from the selectmen of Mendon ;
and I was allowed to live in Medfield. I was never warned out of town,
though, had I been, it would have been in good company. The late Gover-
nor Robinson once told me that his ancestors were warned to leave Lexing-
ton when they first settled there, the town fearing they would become a
public charge, and also the family of Captain John Parker who commanded the
minute-men on April 19, 1775. Happily, they did not leave; and so Lex-
ington has the honor of having produced one of the best Massachusetts
governors and one of the bravest of Revolutionary soldiers. For two winters
I was employed as teacher of the South School, and I recall my experiences
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 99
there as among the pleasantest of my life. At that time there was a good
deal of rivalry between the schools of the town ; and at the end of the second
winter ours came out triumphant over the others in the committee's report,
which placed it, unmistakably, at the head of all. I have never seen a
brighter class of scholars than those, nor a school more easily governed or
more responsive to the best a teacher could give. As I listened with interest
and pleasure this morning to the address, so full of information upon local
history and told in such simple and beautiful language, I was half inclined to
cry out in the pride of my heart, " He was one of my scholars in the South
School." Truly, the boy has proved to be father ot the man.
What has impressed me most in the history of these humble country
towns is the number of distinguished men and noble women born and
reared in them, and the influence which has gone out from them for freedom
and righteousness. We are prone to think that the idea of national inde-
pendence originated in the cities, and that from them came the inspiration to
its achievement. Also that the humane sentiment which raised a protest
against the abomination of African slavery, and grew and deepened until it
was finally overthrown and banished from the land, belonged to the great
centres of population, and from them it radiated through the country
towns. But in my study of town records I have found the desire of na-
tional independence and of opposition to slavery earlier and stronger in
the country towns than anywhere besides. Searching the records of Med-
field many years ago for some information regarding the history of Mendon,
I was surprised to see the action taken here in December, 1773, in reply to a
communication from the Committee of Correspondence of the town of Boston.
It is upon a report of the committee to whom was referred the letter from
Boston for consideration. After fully indorsing the patriotic sentiments of
the letter, the committee say : " We wish the blessings of national liberty to
be as extensive as the subjects to enjoy them, and therefore cannot but think
it incumbent upon us to bear testimony against that iniquitous practice of
enslaving the Africans. It appears greatly absurd for us to plead for liberty
and yet patronize the most cruel servitude and bondage. We wish to main-
tain constitutional liberty, and cannot endure the thought of its being with-
held from the same flesh and blood for no other reason but that the God ot
nature has been pleased to tinge their skin with a difi^erent color from our
own. If we look for liberty ourselves, we ought not to continue to enslave
loo 250/^ ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
Others, but immediately set about some effectual method to prevent it for the
This report was voted by the meeting apparently without dissent.
Nothing more honorable than this is found in the records of Medfield, —
sentiments so just and humane, and more than half a century in advance of
popular opinion and custom. It is doubtful if sentiments as broad and
righteous exist in the public records of any other town in Massachusetts
or New England. Happy would it have been for the country, had the
course there recommended been taken, preventing the awful sacrifices of
the Civil War.
And again in May, 1776, three years later, the town voted to instruct
their representative to the General Court to vote for the following objects,
namely: " ist, to support the Continental Congress in a declaration of
independence ; 2d, to repeal the law compelling the people to build
meeting-houses and support ministers ; 3d, that no African or other
person be held in slavery during life." The second of these, separating
Church and State, was not fully accomplished until sixty years later,
and the third, by the proclamation of emancipation, nearly a century
afterward. It shows that the town of Medfield was first and foremost in ad-
vocating the broadest civil and religious liberty at the opening of the great
struggle for independence, and far in advance of Boston and other towns of
There has been much discussion regarding the authorship of the Decla-
ration of Independence. Undoubtedly, Jefferson wrote that immortal paper
as it appears in the archives of our government. But did the sentiments
and the language originate with him, or are they found in earlier documents
substantially as he recorded them.^ This has been claimed for the resolu-
tions of the Mecklenburg (N.C.) Convention of May, 1775, ^"'^ ^^^ occa-
sioned long and bitter controversy, Jefferson himself maintaining that they
But, however this may be, there is a much earlier claimant than Meck-
lenburg; namely, the little town of Mendon, settled in 1663, twelve years
later than Medfield, and lying fifteen miles beyond it in the wilderness.
At the annual town meeting held March i, 1773, in reply to a letter from
the Committee of Correspondence, the following resolutions, among others,
were unanimously adopted : —
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS loi
Resolved^ That all men have an equal right to life, liberty, and property. Therefore
Resolved, That all just and lawful government must originate in the free consent
of the people.
Resolved, That a right to liberty and property, which are natural means of self-
preservation, is absolutely inalienable, and can never lawfully be given up by ourselves
or taken from us by others.
These sentiments and this language are almost identical with those of the
Declaration ; and, as the resolutions are entered upon the town records, in
connection with other proceedings at the meeting, there can be no reason-
able doubt of their genuineness. As you will see, this action was taken by
the town more than three years before the Declaration was reported to Con-
gress by Jefferson. It is contained in a history of the United States by
Bryant and Gay, where the resolutions are printed in facsimile, as copied
from the Mendon records. They were written by Joseph Dorr, a grandson
of Susanna Wilson, the daughter of the Rev. John Wilson, of this town,
born on the spot where we are now assembled. She was the wife of the
Rev. Grindall Rawson, the second minister of Mendon ; and her distin-
guished grandson became the first judge of probate of Worcester County.
Thus we learn that here in Medfield and Mendon the bold stand was
taken in favor of national independence, of religious freedom, and of the
abolition of slavery long before it was taken in other towns, showing con-
clusively that in these humble communities were able leaders in humane
thought and patriotic action. A century ago these country towns contained
as intelligent men in all departments of professional and business life as
were found in any part of the State, — men of advanced ideas and far-reaching
vision and high moral and religious principles.
And now, after this look backward over two and a half centuries, for a
moment let us turn our gaze forward, and see what fruit the coming years
are likely to bring forth. Surely, it is not difficult to determine its character
and worth. It will be the harvest of seed now being sown in these homes,
these schools, these churches, — the seeds of honesty, of truthfulness, of
purity, of kindness, the love of man, of country, and of God. Industry
and skill on these farms and in these shops, fidelity to one another in these
homes, vigilance in guarding the interests of the town and State, a steadfast
devotion to the worship of God in the faith and spirit of Jesus, will surely
make the future of Medfield as worthy and honorable as the past.
250//^ ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
The President. — We have among our guests one of the many sons of
Medfield who in the war of the Rebellion cheerfully responded to their
country's call, one whom you have often heard with pleasure before, Mr.
George M. Fiske, of Auburndale.
MR. GEORGE M. FISKE.
Mr. President and Friends, — The poet tells us that
" Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime."
We are considering to-day the lives of great men and great women, — not
great, it may be, in their individual characters, but great in that they belonged
to a class of men and women which was great, indeed among the greatest of
history. We may not be justified in claiming for our Pilgrim and Puritan
ancestors that they were the wisest and best people who ever lived ; but we
are justified In claiming for them that they were people of the loftiest of
ideals, people whose lives were dominated by a great moral purpose, and who
held in light esteem their health, their wealth, their comfort, their lives even,
as compared with that great purpose. In the early settlement of this country
many expeditions were fitted out in the Old World for settlement in the New.
Most of these were moved by the love of adventure or of gain, a few by
some great moral purpose.
Of the former, few, if any, however well supplied with money and backed
by royalty itself, succeeded in gaining a permanent foothold here ; while sev-
eral of the latter, however lacking they were in this world's goods, — and
most of them were poverty-stricken, indeed, — not only succeeded in estab-
lishing themselves on these shores, but the principles which moved them
entered largely into the formation of our national character.
Such were our New England ancestors ; and we honor them to-day, and
the world honors them, because through the most appalling suffering and
hardship and privation they held unflinchingly to their great purposes.
I have been thinking how much I would like, if it were possible, to go
backward till I stood in these streets two hundred and fifty years ago. I
would like to be present at that first town meeting, when my great-great-
great-great-grandfather, Timothy Dwight, was elected one of the first select-
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD. MASSACHUSETTS 103
men. I would like to stand on the steps of the meeting-house on Sunday
morning, and watch these men as they came to church with their wives and
children. They were all there, we may be sure, unless prevented by sickness.
No Sunday golf in those days. I would like to enter that first meeting-
house, and listen to Mr. Wilson's sermon, even if it was two hours long and
the church was cold. I would like to get a little nearer to these people,
"Whose simple lives, complete and without flaw,
Were part and parcel of great nature's law."
And yet, perhaps, this would not be wise, even if it were possible. There is
great significance in the old saying about distance lending enchantment to the
view. And, possibly, if we were to get too near to these worthy progenitors
of ours, we should find them exceedingly human. They were stern men,
doubtless rough in manner and in speech. They had their grave faults.
They were uncharitable toward those who differed from them. Bigoted they
are called in the light of present standards. They persecuted and banished
the Baptists. Within ten years of the settlement of Medfield they hung
four Quakers — one of whom was a woman — on Boston Common; and
possibly some of these very ancestors of ours were present at that hanging
and giving their consent. Yes, their integrity was stern, indeed. But with
all their faults we honor them to-day ; and we have a right to do so, for they
were true to their convictions of right to a degree rarely found in history.
A few years ago I was the guest one evening of the Medfield Histori-
cal Society ; and, after giving a little talk along the line which I supposed
was expected of me, I was somewhat taken aback by some one saying,
" I thought Mr. Fiske would give us some reminiscences of Medfield " ;
and I asked myself. Can it be that I am old enough to give reminiscences ?
And so the fact that we are passing, or have passed, from the younger to
the older generation, and are expected to give reminiscences, comes to us
as a surprise.
There is not time now for many reminiscences ; but I am glad of one
thing, and that is that my memory goes back far enough to take in the
little old red brick school-house which stood in the fork of the roads,
near the house of Mr. Elman Mason, and in which I received the first
rudiments of my public schooling, — one of those typical New England
country school-houses to which New England owes so much, to which this
I04 250M ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
country owes so much, and to which, I believe, the world is to owe much
through the new and broader American world power and influence.
And, then, the building of that wonderful new school-house a little
farther up the road to the northward, and the years of school life I
spent there. My schoolmates and friends of my youth. Many of
them have already passed on before. It is seldom that I meet those
who survive. But they are often in my thoughts ; and I can truly say of
them, in the words of Longfellow, —
" Friends my soul with joy remembers,
How to quivering flames they start,
As I fan the living embers,
On the hearthstone of my heart ! "
Many the good lessons I learned in those school-days, many the inci-
dents I recall both within and without the school-room doors. One thing let
me mention, for I can never forget it ; and that was the great height to which
Gus Bruce used to kick the football. Talk of your lofty ideals !
I see Mr. Bruce is here to-day, and he can correct me if I go too far.
He had a pretty good reach with his foot ; and, when he found just the right
focus and brought it to bear upon the under side of that football as it hung
suspended in air before him, the result was a rise that filled us younger
boys with wonder and with awe. And then we were expected to believe
certain propositions which the " big boys and girls," as the members of the
older class were called, informed us were a lesson in natural philosophy.
It was said that Gus kicked that football so high one night that it did not
come down till sunrise the next morning. And, when we had generally ac-
cepted that proposition, we were given another. The football had disap-
peared, and it was said that Gus had kicked it so high that it went beyond
the line of gravitation and was drawn into the great solar system, where it
was whirling through space, very much to the amazement of the learned
astronomers, who could not agree as to whether it was a planet, a comet, or
a fixed star. Then the excitement of the war period and the war meetings,
the going away to the war and the returning therefrom, and the life upon
the farm. I did not leave the farm to engage in business until several years
after the war, and I look upon those years upon the farm as among the best
of my life ; and many a time since those days, when I have tossed upon my
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD. MASSACHUSETTS 105
bed at night, the cares and perplexities of business driving sleep from my
eyes, I have gone back in imagination to the old farm at Medfield. Again
I have followed the patient oxen ploughing round and round the field, the
air laden with the sweet perfume of the apple blossoms and the mayflowers,
the song of the bobolink, of the thrush, the meadow lark, and the robin
making music in my ears and melody in my soul. Keeping my thoughts
down to the furrow, I have ploughed on and on until I have dropped
off to sleep, the rich odors of mother earth in my nostrils, and the songs
of the birds dying gradually away ; and so the benediction of old Medfield
follows all her sons and daughters. She says to them : " Go out into the
world, if duty calls, but never forget the lessons which my history teaches.
Be true to your conscience, and your every duty. Throw around you broad-
cast the mighty influence of an upright manly or womanly, noble, and
Never forget your obligations to the world in which you live, your duty
to your fellow-men, and, keeping this ever in mind, seek to accomplish three
things. Do the best. Get the best. But, above all, be the best.
At this point the Quartette was again called upon, and generously re-
sponded with another musical selection.
The President. — I will now call upon one who, though an honored
guest, yet appeals to me rather as a fellow-townsman, so familiar is his face
among us and so constant has been his devotion to his native town through-
out his long and useful life, — Mr. Nathaniel T. Allen, of West Newton.
MR. NATHANIEL T. ALLEN.
Mr. President^ Friends and Citizens of good old Medfield, — old in years
but still vigorous and youthful in spirit, — it is ever a great pleasure to meet
the citizens of my native town, the home of my ancestors. The ancestral
home of the family has continued in an unbroken line of possession, and is
now occupied by the seventh, eighth, and ninth generations. The affection
which her children feel for Medfield is shown in the great gathering here
to-day. Why this love and reverence for the dear old town ? Not alone
io6 The TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS
for its charming scenery of plain, hills, valleys, woods, meadows, and river,
and the fruitful soil, which are all beautifijl, but for the noble, true men
and women of high character who, from the first, as we heard in the admi-
rable addresses at the church this morning, have lived and labored to bless
this community. Character depends largely upon inheritance and upon
social and educational environment. Honest, productive, industrious habits,
with true temperance, without extremes of wealth or poverty, have de-
veloped a sturdy and transmissible physique. Educational and religious
advantages of high order were established and liberally maintained from the
first. The foundation of a well-rounded character is the physical. Horace
Mann said, " It is next to impossible for a dyspeptic to be a Christian."
Sixty years ago it was stated, and with apparent truth, that in Medfield a larger
per cent, of its inhabitants had attained fourscore years of age than of any
city or town in Massachusetts. At present there are a real son and a real
daughter of the American Revolution, natives of the town, still living here.
Long may they continue in health and comfort ! As an object-lesson,
unique and probably unparalleled in Massachusetts, will Mr. William C. Allen
please rise ? Mr. Allen has seen eight generations of his own family line.
When an infant, his great-great-grz.nAx<!\o\}ci^x took him in her arms. The
great-grandmother and grandmother were also living. He is in the eighty-
seventh year of his age, has had twelve children, grandchildren, and great-
grandchildren, thus completing the eight generations. Abandoned farms are
rare, if any, in Medfield. The extremes of life should be spent in the
The President. — And there is another who, though living apart from
us yet seems as one of us, he whose deep interest in and love for his native
town are well known to you all, — Mr. George H. Ellis, of West Newton.
Mr. Ellis responded with remarks of a reminiscent nature, speaking with
his accustomed enthusiasm and reiterating his loyalty to the town of his
The company parted with the singing of " Auld Lang Syne," in which
One of the most interesting features of the anniversary celebration was
the Loan Exhibition in the vestry of the First Congregational Church.
The exhibition was closed during the literary exercises which were held in
the church above. The articles displayed were entirely of an ancient or
historical character, and the contributions were very numerous. A list of
the contributors, as complete as it is possible to obtain, is given here-
with : —
Edwin V. Mitchell.
William S. Tilden.
Joseph A. Allen.
Edwin J. Keyou.
Ellery C. Crocker.
Alfred B. Tisdale.
Samuel W. Simpson.
Charles M. Fuller.
Joseph W. Curtis.
Joseph M. Johnson.
M. Howard Blood.
Francis E. Mason.
VV. H. Chenery.
Silas L. Morse.
Henry J. Dunn.
Harr)' S. Mason.
W. Edward Kingsbury.
Ralph A. Battelle.
George L. L. Allen.
William C. Allen.
George W. Bruce.
Lewis A. Cutler.
John A. Newell.
George H. Wight.
William H. Bailey.
Elmer H. E. Dyer.
Edward M. Bent.
James W. Dawson.
Edward P. Gilley.
A. Elman Mason.
Amos H. Mason.
George M. Hanks.
Granville C. Mitchell.
John A. Savage.
Mrs. Adeline Smith.
" Florence Newell.
" Elizabeth Ord.
" Mary C. Johnson.
" May Leeds.
" Elizabeth Dunn.
" Margaret E. Hewins.
" Alys H. Bartlett.
" Lydia A. Rowe.
" William Marshall.
" Sarah Shumway.
Mrs. Ellen Clark.
" Cynthia Hamant.
" Allan Kingsbury.
" Eva McLean.
" G. W. Clough.
" W. B. Roberts.
" H. J. Everett.
" J. A. S. Monks.
" John Mitchell.
" G. W. Gamble.
" Catherine Cary.
" S. E. Stone.
" C. F. Read.
" F. S. Wight.
" Susan Ware.
" W. J. Cox.
" W. A. Newell.
" Almira Kern.
" D. M. Bent.
" T. L. Barney.
" A. A. Blake.
Miss Mary Morse.
" Louisa Morse.
" Hattie Thayer.
" Harriet A. Fowle.
" Helen S. Brown.
" Carrie Leeds.
The TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS
Miss Elizabeth S. Sewall.
« Ellen Clifford.
" Amelia F. Everett.
" J. D. White.
Miss L. M. Johnson.
" E. F. Johnson.
" Abbie Bailey.
" E. F. Rhodes.
The Derby Estate.
Miss Augusta Adams.
" Lucy C. Washburn.
" Caroline Newell.
" Clara Lougee.
Out of town contributors were
Orion T. Mason, Medway.
Robert W. Drawbridge, Medway.
Milton M. Fisher, Medway.
Herbert N. Hixon, West Medway.
E. L. B. Howard, Cambridge.
Albert H. Wheelock, Millis.
Geo. E. Holbrook, Norfolk.
Mrs. Geo. H. Smith, Norwood.
" Amy Z. Squires, New York.
" Sarah E. D. Rogers, Boston.
" Esther M. Metcalf, Medway.
" Martha Gowan, Weymouth.
Miss Clara S. Washburn, Bridgewater.
" Edna Calder, Dedham.
INDUSTRIES AND PUBLIC IN-
STITUTIONS OF MEDFIELD.
THE STRAW BUSINESS OF MEDFIELD.
The straw business of Medfield commenced one hundred years ago in a
very primitive way. Year by year it increased, and has ever since been the
leading industry of the town. The originators were Johnson Mason and
George Ellis, who kept a store on North Street, opposite Dale. They took
domestic straw braid in exchange for their goods, which they sent out to be
sewed by the women in this vicinity. Then it was sent to New York for
The next mention of the straw business was in 1810, when David Fair-
banks employed women and girls in his tavern which stood on present site
of Town House.
Warren Chenery next started in 1845 the same business on South Street,
which gradually increased; and in 1867 Jeremiah B. Hale succeeded Mr.
Chenery, and carried on the business until the factory was destroyed by fire.
In 1 85 1 Mr. Walter Janes employed about thirty girls in the old tavern.
He hired the hall for that purpose ; but afterward he established the business
in a dwelling on North Street, which was enlarged from time to time and
was where the present factory is located.
At first Mr. Janes was somewhat interested with a firm in Franklin,
where he learned the details of the business.
In 1856 Mr. Janes formed a partnership with Mr. Daniel D. Curtis, with
whom he carried on business so successfully that at the time of Mr. Janes's
death the company was shipping three thousand cases of hats annually.
Mr. Curtis remained without a partner only for a brief period. He
formed a partnership with Mr. Haskell A. Searle and Mr. Granville F.
Dailey, of New York.
The New York partners attended to the buying and selling, while Mr.
Curtis gave his attention to the manufacturing.
The factory was destroyed by fire Oct. 3, 1876. It was immediately re-
built, which is the present modern structure. The new building was ready
for occupancy Jan. i, 1877.
no aso/y?- ANNIVERSARY of the INCORPORATION
This factory was not sufficiently large as the business increased. So sev-
eral additions have been made, and now it is one of the largest factories of its
kind in this country.
Since 1877 ^'^- Edwin V. Mitchell has been connected with the firm,
and for some years was a partner with Mr. Curtis. Since Mr. Curtis's death,
which occurred Dec. 9, 1885, Mr. Mitchell has assumed the entire charge of
the manufacturing. At present the firm name is Searle, Dailey & Co. in
New York and Edwin V. Mitchell & Co. in Medfield.
The straw business has been revolutionized during the last ten years.
A much finer grade of goods is made, and more fancy hats than ever before
are manufactured, which requires more skilful workmen and workwomen.
During the busy season the company employs about a thousand men and
women, and at no time in the year is the factory closed.
Granville C. Mitchell.
WILLIAM MARSHALL COMPANY, MANUFACTURERS
OF BONNET WIRE.
This business was established in 1871, and until 1893 was carried on
under the firm name of M. F. Clark & Co., the partners being Messrs.
M. F. Clark, William Marshall, and Ed. Jencks.
In July, 1893, the factory building was struck by lightning and totally
destroyed by fire. Mr. Jencks having retired from the concern a few years
prior to this, Mr. Marshall at this time purchased Mr. Clark's interest in
the business, and immediately commenced the rebuilding of the plant, erect-
ing a much larger factory, equipped with better machinery, which thus facil-
itated the production of a greater amount of goods. The business was thus
conducted until 1900, when the William Marshall Company was incorpo-
rated under the laws of Massachusetts.
During the summer of 1900 quite an addition to the factory was built, a
new power plant installed, and more modern machinery introduced, which
at this date makes it one of the best-equipped plants of its kind in the
Henry E. Marshall.
of the TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS
MEDFIELD INSANE ASYLUM.
The Medfield Insane Asylum was opened for the reception of patients,
by proclamation of the Governor of the Commonwealth, May i, 1896.
The institution was built to relieve the pressure in the State hospitals for
the insane, as these hospitals were all badly overcrowded. The Medfield
asylum is the only institution for the insane in New England built strictly
upon the cottage plan. It consists of eighteen ward buildings, divided for
the sexes into ten buildings for women and eight for men. These are ar-
ranged in a quadrangle. Within the quadrangle is the power house, which
supplies heat, power, and light to the whole institution. Beside it is an
industrial building, where male patients are employed in making mattresses
and men's clothing. In another room, female patients make women's cloth-
ing and underwear. The lower floor is occupied by a machine shop, a car-
penter's shop, and a paint shop, where necessary repairs are made for the
institution. In the centre of the quadrangle is located the kitchen. Upon
either side of it is a large dining-room, one for women and the other for
men patients. Each dining-room seats about five hundred. In front of the
kitchen is the laundry, and in front of that is the chapel and amusement
hall, a very necessary feature to the life of this little village. Religious
services are held on Sundays, and during the winter entertainments are pro-
vided for the patients once a week. There is also a reading-room for the
employees in this building. In this aggregation of buildings there are four
for hospital and infirmary patients, with an ambulance service. So, if patients
become physically ill, they are moved at once to a hospital where they are
treated precisely as they would be in any general hospital.
At present the asylum shelters and cares for over thirteen hundred pa-
tients. It requires over two hundred officers and employees to administer
and provide for their needs. The management is vested in a board of
seven trustees, appointed by the governor. These, in turn, appoint a resi-
dent superintendent, who is a physician, and a staff of four assistant physi-
cians. The steward, treasurer, auditor, chief engineer, and matron are also
appointed by the trustees.
The cost of the land, buildings, and entire equipment of machinery, heat-
ing apparatus, furniture, etc., has been over one million of dollars. The cost
The TOWN of MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS
per bed is about eight hundred dollars. The policy of the management is
to employ the patients, as far as possible, whether the work is profitable to
the institution or not. The resulting benefit to the patient is such as to
encourage the utmost endeavor in this direction.
Edward French, M.D.,
OCT 13 1902