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PROCEEDINGS AND ADDRESSES
TOWN HALL, IN SWANSEA
ON WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 1891.
FALL RIVER, MASS. :
Ar>MY & Milne, Fine Book and Job Printers,
A:n3r. Anu. SoO.
25 11 ^SO*^
Swansea, Oct. 1st, 1891.
Mil. Job Gardner,
Chairman of Dedication Exercises of Swansea Toivn Hall :
Dear Sir : — At a meeting of the Board of Selectmen of
Swansea, held this day, it was voted to request you to confer with
the orator and other speakers who took part in the exercises at the
dedication of the Town Hall, for permission to have their addresses
printed and published in pamphlet form.
William P. Mason, ') Selectmen
Daniel Hale, >- of
Samuel G. Arnold, ) Swansea.
Swansea, October 2nd, 1891.
Mr. Job Gardner,
Dear Sir : — In behalf of the citizens of Swansea we request
that you cause to be prepared and published a Memorial volume
containing an account of the exercises which took place on Wed-
nesday, Sept. 9, 1891, at the dedication of the Town Hall ; and
also a copy of the deed given by the Hon. Frank S. Stevens to the
town of Swansea.
William P. Mason, ^ Selectmen
Daniel Hale, >- of
Samuel G. Arnold, ) Swansea.
I HE formal dedication of the handsome new Town Hall
-^ at Swansea village, the gift of Hon. Frank Shaw
Stevens, occnrred on Wednesday, September Ninth, A. D.
1891, with appropriate and deeply interesting exercises.
It was a great occasion for the historic old town, and
many of her sons and daughtei's who make their present
home in other communities gathered from far and near to
do honor to the occasion, and renew their allegiance to the
town from which they went forth to the fields of their life's
activities, with its trials and its triumphs.
The towns-people were early on the scene, and when
Mr. Job Gardner opened the formal exercises at 11 o'clock,
the hall was crowded to repletion with a noble gathering of
the people of Swansea and their friends.
The weather was of a delightful character, clear, cool
and inspiring, and this fact contributed much to the success
of the occasion. The ladies of the town sent a committee
to decorate and adorn the hall and its rooms with beautiful
flowers. They did their work in an excellent manner, and
the result was seen on the platform of the hall, in the pub-
lic library and in the selectmen's room.
6 DEDICATION OF THE
On the speaker's stand, in tlie center of the platform,
was a basket of handsome flowers, while in the front was a
row of beautiful potted plants. At each end was a bank of
flowers, — ferns, golden rod, lilies, etc. These were arranged
by Mrs. I. W. Pierce and Miss Laura E. Allen, while an
attractive display of ferns and golden rod, with bright flow-
ers to show a contrast, was placed in the selectmen's room
and in the public library room by Miss Julia R. Wellington,
the librarian, and her assistant, Miss Carrie A. Chase.
The exercises were announced to commence at eleven
o'clock, but an hour before that time the hall was filled with
a distinguis]ied company of people, and late comers were
oblio-ed to stand either in the corridor or the rooms to be oc-
cupied by the selectmen and public library. While the peo-
ple were gathering the Swansea Brass Band gave an inter-
esting concert on the lawn in front of the hall.
Hooper's Steamer Puritan Orchestra rendered the fol-
lowing concert programme in a manner that elicited fre-
quent applause and gave much pleasure to those who lis-
March — Steamer Puritan
Overture — Aukl Lang Syne D. Miller.
Descriptive Piece — A Trip to Great Britain. . Loesch.
Selection from " Faust" Gounod.
Overture — Jubal Weber.
The following named gentlemen were seated upon the
Mr. Job Gardner, president of the day ; Hon. Frank S.
Stevens, the donor of the building ; Hon. John Summerfield
Brayton, the orator of the day ; Rev. Percy S. Grant of Fall
River, chaplain of the day ; the venerable Rev. Benjamin
H. Chase of Swansea ; Maj. James Brown of Taunton, the
first Swansea man to graduate from college ; Jonathan M.
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 7
Wood, Esq., of Fall Kiver ; Hon. E. L. Barney of New
Bedford ; D. A. Waldron of Barrington ; Edmund Arnold,
Dr. J. M. Wellington, Obadiah Chase, E. M. Thurston, of
Swansea ; Wm. P. Mason, Daniel Hale and Samuel Arnold,
selectmen of Swansea ; Levi Cummings, ex-selectman ; Jere-
miah Gray, William C. Davol, Jr., Rev. Pay son W. Lyman,
John S. Brayton, Jr., eTohn P. Slade, Benjamin Buffinton,
Henry S. Fenner, George Slade, David F. Slade, Esq. ; the
venerable William Mason of Fall River, a native of Swan-
sea ; Jonathan Slade, Hon. Wm. Lawton Slade, Hon. Daniel
Wilbur, of Somerset ; Rev. George E. Allen, Hon. Weaver
Osborn, Robert Adams, Job B. French, Wm. Lindsey, T. D.
W. Wood and others of Fall River ; Rev. O. O. Wright of
Newton, Conn., and others. Mr. Gardner arose and wel-
comed the people. He said :
" Ladies and gentlemen : — To me has been assigned the
pleasant duty of presiding on this occasion. In view of
what is to follow, however, I will not detain you with any
extended remarks. I heartily welcome you here on this
auspicious day, and trust that it will prove to all, one of
memorable interest, pleasure and profit."
Prayer was then offered by Rev. Percy S. Grant of
Fall River, after which Mr. Stevens, the donor of the build-
ing, was presented by Mr. Gardner, who said : "I now have
the pleasure of presenting to you, the Honorable Frank
Shaw Stevens, who is too well and favorably known in this
community to need an introduction."
DEDICATION OF THE
Address and Presentation
BY HON. FRANK SHAW STEVENS.
I ^j^-REAT applause greeted Mr. Stevens as lie rose to
^-^ respond to the call of the chairman, and the high
esteem in which he is held by his towns-people was manifested
frequently during the progress of his brief but characteristic
address. Mr. Stevens said :
Mr. Cliairinan^ ladies and gentlemen : —
The occasion for which we have met here today is one
of the greatest pleasure to me. Although not to the manor
born, I have been a resident of the town and your neighbor
for more than thirty years. I believe I can safely say there
is no one who feels a greater interest or takes more pride in
the prosperity of the town and its people than I do.
The first town meeting I ever attended here was held in
the vestry of the Christian Church, and the town meetings
were held there for a number of years after. When the
Christian Society decided that politics and religion did not
harmonize very well, it notified the town officials that they
would have to procure other quarters, which they succeeded
in getting at Swansea Factory ; and our meetings and elec-
tions have been held there since that time. I must say that
they were very inadequate quarters, particularly so when
politics ran high. When the warrant was issued calling
the annual town meeting to be held in March 1890, there
^^. (^i^^d^/^m @^^^^^.
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 9
was a clause to see if the town would vote to build a town
hall and make appropriations therefor. When I saw it, I
made up my mind to propose at the town meeting to build a
town hall and present it to the town : which proposition was
unanimously accepted, and the building we are now in is the
I wish to put myself on record by saying that I had no
selfish or personal motive in wishing the building located
here, as I think anyone giving anything to a city or town
ought to do it so as to benefit future generations as well as
the present. For the past four or five years when in conver-
sation with citizens and others interested in the town, I have
casually asked them what part of the town they thought was
going to increase in value and population the most in the
next fifty years. I can safely say without an exception they
said '^ Gardner's Neck." When asking them their reason,
they said because of its location, it being bounded on the
east by Lee's River, on the west by Cole's and on the south
by Mount Hope Bay, and it also had railroad facilities which
no other part of the town enjoyed. Taking the last ten
years as a basis, I think they were right in their judgment.
With this object in view, some four or five years ao-o
when making alterations in my will, I left some thousands of
dollars to the town for the purpose of erecting a hall, and I
left it without any restrictions of any kind, having confi-
dence in the good judgment of the voters of the town that
they would erect a building in the proper place.
I do not take any credit to myself for the tower, clock
and bell, as that was the suggestion of a friend of the town,
and mine as well. A few days after it became public, I re-
ceived a communication something like this : it commenced,
" My Venerable Friend :— I see by the papers that you are
going to erect a hall and present it to your fellow citizens.
I think tliat it is a very nice thing for you to do, and one
10 DEDICATION OF THE
that will be appreciated. I have a suggestion to make
which is, do not fail to have a tower and put in a clock and
bell : for when the belated traveller is passing along and
hears the bell striking the hour of the night he will say,
' God bless the donor of that clock and bell.' " He closed
by saying *' I can give this disinterested advice as I do not
have to pay the bills."
The manner in which this thing was put pleased me
very much, and the tower, bell and clock are the result.
Mr. Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, I now have
the pleasure of presenting to you the deed of this property
and the keys to the building, with the hope that the citizens
of the town will have as much pleasure in receiving, as I
have in making the gift.
As Mr. Stevens handed the important document and
the keys to Mr. William P. Mason, the chairman of the
selectmen, the applause of the audience was enthusiastic
and long continued.
Mr. Mason, chairman of the selectmen, accepted the
munificent gift in a brief address. He spoke as follows :
RESPONSE OF MR. ]\L\SOX.
" Mr. Stevens : — In behalf of the citizens of Swansea,
allow me to thank you for the generous and beautiful gift
you bestow on us, and we know that within its walls we shall
find among us men who can govern our town in such a
manner as will be acceptable to all our citizens. I know the
citizens of this town will all join with me in wishing a long-
life, combined with health and happiness, to Swansea's best
friend and most liberal benefactor."
Hooper's Orchestra then rendered a selection, and con-
tributed delightful music at intervals during the exercises.
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA.
The President then introduced the Hon. John Summer-
field Brayton of Fall River, a native of Swansea Village,
who would deliver the historical address of the day.
Mr. Brayton spoke in a clear voice, and held the un-
divided attention of the large audience for more than one
hour, during the delivery of an address rich in historical in-
formation, choice in language, and eloquent in the presenta-
tion of facts that made every one present honor the name of
12 DEDICATION OF THE
BY HON. JOHN SUMMERFIELD BRAYTON.
QWANSEA to-day dedicates its first town hall. An
}<^ honored and generons citizen has erected this sightly
and commodious structure, adapted to the uses of the town
and library, and has in your presence presented the same,
with its appointments, as a free gift to the town Thus, this
ancient and historic municipality comes into possession of a
town hall, worthy of its name and fame. Few rural towns
in the Commonwealth have been so signally favored.
For nearly two centuries and a quarter, town meetings
have been held here, but never yet in any town building other
than the meeting house. From the first the town meeting
was regarded as of high importance. In 1670 it was "or-
dered that whatsoever inhabitant of this town shall absent
himself from any town meeting to which he shall be legally
warned, he shall for every such absence, forfeit four shil-
lings." Affairs of the greatest importance were there dis-
cussed and settled, and it was felt to be every citizen's duty
to share in public decisions. What was a duty was also
generally regarded as a privilege.
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 13
Originally these assemblies were held at the meeting-
house in what is now Barrington, afterwards at North Swan-
sea, at private dwellings, in the meeting house at Luther's
Corner, and recently in the hall at Swansea Factory. The
dwellino- house of Jonathan Hill and his son Caleb Hill,
now the residence of Mrs. Kate F. Gardner in this village,
was thus frequently used, as were also the houses of James
Brown, James Luther and of Caleb Slade, the latter now
the residence of Deacon Arnold. For four years just prior
to the division of the town the house of Capt. Joseph
Swazey at the north end of Somerset was thus utilized.
As lono- ao-o as 1812 a vote to build a town house was
passed, but it was speedily reconsidered, and the proposition
has never since been successfully carried through, although
frequently discussed in town meetings. The contention has
been happily settled by this day's events. We congratulate
Swansea upon receiving this tangible proof of the loyalty and
affection of her adopted son, and we congratulate him that
by this act he has raised in the hearts of this people a mon-
ument more enduring than the pile he has reared. The wise
man says, '' The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that
watereth shall be watered also himself."
We are here to revive the memories of the old town, to
recall briefly some ' of the scenes, and some of the leading
actors in its long and honorable history, and to sketch,
though it can only be in outline, the course of events which
have given it celebrity, and which merit more elaborate re-
cord than they have received, or than can now be given.
Its ancient territory included the home of that justly
celebrated and honored Indian chief, Massasoit, who became
the fast and inalienable friend of the English of Plymouth
Colony, and whose home was at Sowams, within the territory
now covered by the village of Warren. Its soil was prob-
ably first trodden by Englishmen when a visit was paid to
14 DEDICATION OF THE
Massasoit In the summer following the Pilgrim's landing, by
Edward Winslow, afterwards Governor of Plymouth Colony,
and Stephen Hopkins. The object of the visit was to ex-
plore the country, ascertain the strength and power of the
sachem, procure corn, and strengthen the mutual good un-
derstanding. They reached Massasoit' s residence July 4th,
havlno; crossed the TIticut or Taunton river about three miles
from Taunton Green, and passed through what is now the
town of Swansea from east to west.
The next visit of the colonists was that of Capt. Miles
Standish and fourteen of the English to the home of Corbi-
tant, a petty sachem under Massasoit, who lived " at the head
of the Neck," called by the Indians Metapolset, now Gard-
ner's Neck. Corbitant's residence could not have been far
from this place. Some historians locate it in this village.
Capt. Standish and his party came to take vengeance on
Corbitant, In case a rumor that he had taken the life of
Squanto, a friendly Indian, was true. They attacked his
wigwam in the dead of night, badly wounding three of its
Inmates. As It was found that Squanto had not been slain,
no harm was Inflicted on Corbitant. The wounded were ta-
ken to Plymouth for treatment and afterwards returned with
their wounds healed.
In March, 1623, Winslow accompanied by John Hamp-
den paid his second visit to Massasoit, having been informed
of his serious Illness. They came down the east side of Taun-
ton river to what Is now Slade's Ferry ; where they were told
that Massasoit was dead. Anxious, in that case, to concili-
ate Corbitant, Winslow decided to visit him at Metapoiset.
Finding on their arrival that he had gone to visit Massasoit,
and being assured that there was no certain news of the death
of the chief, Winslow sent a messenger to Sowams who
brought back word that he was still alive. Winslow then
hastened to Sowams and found Massasoit apparently near
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 15
death, but by the judicious use of remedies he was able to
save his life. This liuiuane act determined the long and
effective friendship of Massasoit for the colonists, and so
proved of the greatest value. Winslow and Hampden de-
parted from Sowams followed by the blessings of the sachem
and all his people. At Cor bi taut' s invitation they, on their
way home, si)ent a night with him here, being treated with
most generous hospitality.
During the twenty years next succeeding, the colonists
added to Plymouth the six settled towns, Duxbury, Scituate,
Taunton, Barnstable, Sandwich and Yarmouth. A trading
post was located in Sowams as early as 1632, in which year
Massasoit fled for shelter from the Narragansetts " to an
Enoiish house at Sowams." But there was no settlement in
this vicinity sufficient to warrant a town organization till
1645, when Rehoboth was incorporated. The same year
John Brown bought Wannamoisett Neck of Massasoit.
Three years later the church of Rehoboth suffered a " serious
schism," the '' first real schism" in religion which had taken
place in the colony. Obadiah Holmes and eight others with-
drew, set up " a meeting by themselves," and afterwards
joined a Baptist church in Newport, whither some of them
The same year a Baptist church was organized in
Swansea, in Wales, under the pastorate of John Myles, who
for the previous four years had preached with great success
in various places. This was in the first year of Ci^mwelFs
protectorate. Under the religious freedom thus gained, the
church at Swansea grew to a membership of three hundred.
Mr. Myles became the leading Baptist minister in Wales.
When the monarchy was restored the act of uniformity was
passed, which drove two thousand of the best ministers in
England from their places. Mr. Myles, with some mem-
bers of his church, came to America in 1663. Finding that
16 DEDICATION OF THE
in Relioboth there were persons holding his faith, he went
thither and formed a church of seven members.
Their '' holy covenant " is a remarkable document, both
in respect to the piety, and the spirit of Christian fellow-
ship, which it evinces. They declare that union with Christ
is the sole ground of their union, and of the Christian fel-
lowship which they seek and will give.
Nevertheless, as soon as it became known that a Bap-
tist church had been organized, the churches of the colony
solicited the court to interpose its influence against it, and
Pastor Myles and James Brown were fined each £5 and
Nicholas Tanner 20s. for setting up a public meeting with-
out the knowledge and approbation of the court, to the dis-
turbance of the peace. They were further ordered to desist
from their meeting for the space of a month, and advised to
remove to some place where they would not prejudice any
other church. This colonial disfavor towards those holding-
Baptist views is the fundamental fact in the origin of
A plain house of worship was at once built, just over
the southern border of Eehoboth, in New Meadow Neck,
the members gradually settling near it. The catholic spirit
of Mr. Myles drew thither not only Baptists, Init others who
were tolerant of their opinions.
Being without town government, these settlers thought
to secure for themselves that measure of civil autonomy.
Previous to Oct. 3d, 1667, Plymouth granted to Thomas
Willett and his neighbors of Wannamoisett the privilege of
becoming a town. On the above date they signified their
desire for incorporation. To the new town was given the
name borne by the place in Wales whence Pastor Myles had
been driven, Swansea, the Sea of Swans. It lay between the
two upper forks of Narragansett Bay, south of the Relioboth
and Taunton lines, and extended from Taunton to Provi-
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 17
dence rivers. It consists of a series of five main peninsulas
or necks projecting* southward, and separated by arms of the
bay and the streams flowing into them. The first neck on
the east is Shewamet, now Somerset, lying between Taunton
and Lee's rivers ; the next is Metapoiset, now known as
Gardner's Neck, between Lee's and Cole's rivers ; the third
is Kickemuit, between Cole's and Warren rivers. This tract
is traversed by the Kickemuit river, which, where it broad-
ens towards the bay, divides the tract into Toweset and Mont-
haup (or Mount Hope) Necks. The fourth is New Meadow
Neck, between Warren and Barrington rivers ; and the fifth
is Wannamoisett Neck, between Barrington and Providence
rivers. The area of the old town has been three times re-
duced : first in 1717, by the separate incorporation of Bar-
rington ; second by the settlement of the line between Massa-
chusetts and Rhode Island in 1747, whereby Little Comp-
ton, Tiverton, Barrington, Cumberland and the part of
Swansea now known as Warren fell to Rhode Island ; and
third in 1790, when the tract known as Shewamet was made
a separate town by the name of Somerset.
As we have seen, the motive to this settlement was
religious. Ecclesiastical freedom was the goal which led the
founders hither. The church was thus the basis of the town,
and the town organization was in order that, in gaining eccle-
siastical liberty, they need not sacrifice the high privilege of
American citizenship. Some of those who were active in
planting the church and town were not Baptists. They, how-
ever, saw that underneath the difference which separates Bap-
tists from their fellow Christians, there was a fundamental
adhesion to the essentials of the faith. Hence they were
willing to co-operate with Baptists in extending the bounds
both of the kingdom of God and of the Commonwealth. This
diversity of opinion resulted in a town where a larger meas-
18 DEDICATION OF THE
ure of religious liberty was enjoyed than anywhere else in
Historians agree in calling Pastor Myles and Capt.
Thomas Willett the fathers of the town. To Capt. Willett,
with four others, was given the trust of " the admittance of
town inhabitants.'' The terms of membership which Willett
proposed were laid before the church, and, after considera-
tion by that body, a reply was made by Mr. Myles and John
Butterworth. This document is a careful *' explication" of
the sense in which the proposals are to be understood and
accepted, and reveals the scholarly and trained mind of the
pastor. Like all other documents relating to the settlement,
this clearly shows the religious motive to have been domin-
ant. The " explications" made by the church were agreed
to by the trustees, and the proposals, as thus explained, were
adopted by the town February 20th, 1669.
On the foundation thus laid, Swansea was built. Un-
til this time Baptists had been excluded from every colony
in New England except Khode Island. The organization of
this town on the basis of religious toleration was thus an im-
portant epoch in the history of religious opinions and of ec-
clesiastical life. This church, which still lives and worships
at North Swansea, was the first Baptist church formed in
Massachusetts, and the fourth in the United States. Thus
this town may justly claim to be the cradle of that branch
of the Christian church in this Commonwealth.
At the close of King Philip's war, owing to the broken
condition of his church, Mr. Myles labored three years in
Boston. Finally the urgent entreaties of his people caused
his return. As the settlement was mainly broken up, and
a new one had been started further down the Neck, a parson-
age and a church were there built. The death of Mr. Myles
in 1683 closed a faithful and fruitful ministry of thirty-eight
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 19
EARLY PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
In the original partition of the public lands, there was
reserved a pastor's, a teacher's and a schoolmaster's lot.
This shows, that, at the outset, the people counted on the
establishment of schools. December 19, 1673, it was order-
ed " that a school should be forthwith set up in this town for
the teaching of grammar, rhetoric and arithmetic, and the
tongues of Latin, Greek and Hebrew, also to read English
and to write," and " that Mr. John Myles the present pastor
of the church here assembling be schoolmaster," or " to have
power to dispose the same to an able schoolmaster during the
said pastor's life." The salary was to be " X40 in current
country funds," but on condition that Mr. Myles and his
successor should accept whatever the people would bestow in
a weekly contribution for their ministerial services. Mr.
Myles accepted the proposition and held his school in vari-
ous parts of the town on successive months, to suit the con-
venience of pupils. Thus he deserves grateful remembrance
not only as the first pastor but also as the early schoolmaster
and teacher of youth who laid the foundation of the public
schools of Swansea.
After his death no mention is made of a school till
1698, when Jonathan Bosworth was employed at £18, one-
fourth in money and the rest in provisions at money prices.
He was to teach the first month in Wannamoisett Neck, the
second in New Meadow Neck, the third in Kickemuit, the
fourth in the Cole neighborhood, and fifth on Metapoiset,
and so in succession. Later, John Devotion was engaged at
X12 and board and X20 for feeding a horse, to keep a school
in succession " in the four quarters of the town." In 1709
he engaged for six years, and in 1715 for twenty years more.
At this time it was voted that he should " teach our youth
to read Inglish and Lattin and wriglit & sifer as their may
20 DEDICATION OF THE
be occation." He was to teacli five montlis each year, from
October tlirougli Februaij, the first two months near his
own dwelling, and the other three in other parts of the town.
His compensation was £11 10s. a year, three ponnds of
which was to be paid for the nse of the schoolmaster's lot.
Such were the beginnings of our public schools.
DIVISION OF INHABITANTS INTO RANKS,
AND DIVISION OF LAND.
To the trustees of the town was also assigned the duty
of dividing the public lands. The method of division was
as undemocratic as it was unprecedented. The men were
divided into three ranks, according to the judgment of the
trustees as to their standing. Promotions and degradations
were made from time to time by a committee appointed by
the town. The men of the first rank received three acres to
two granted those of the second and to one granted those in
the third. The majority were of the second rank, though
more were of the third than of the first. For ten years this
ranking system was in force. But it broke down when in
1681 the committee granted to five men, their heirs and as-
signs forever, ''the full right and interest of the highest
rank." It was all these freemen could stand to have a landed
aristocracy. But to have it made hereditary they would
not endure, and so the town by unanimous vote repudiated
the act of the committee, and from that time the practice
went into disuse.
CAPTAIN THOMAS WILLETT.
Of Capt. Thomas Willett much might be said. One
of the last of the Leyden colony to come to Plymouth, he
early secured and always enjoyed the confidence of the col-
onists. Their agent at the Maine trading posts, successor
of Miles Standish in military command, largely engaged in
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 21
coastwise traffic, long an assistant in the Plymouth govern-
ment, an arbitrator between his colony and lihocle Island on
boundary disputes, chosen by Governor Stuyvesant of New
Amsterdam as a man of fairness and integrity to represent
the Dutch in their controversy with the English. " More
acquainted with the manners and customs of the Dutch than
any Englishman in the colony," and hence the leading advis-
er of the English in the negotiations which resulted in the
surrender of New Amsterdam ; prominent in organizing New
York, its first mayor, and who " twice did sustaine the
place," trusted beyond any other man by English, Dutch
and Indians, a settler in Swansea as early as 1659 or '60,
and until his death its foremost citizen, dying Aug. 4th,
1674, less than a year before Swansea was ravaged by Philip's
Indians, buried with his wife near the head of Bullock's cove
in East Providence ; such in outline was the life of Capt.
KING Philip's war.
The gradual alienation of their lands to the English,
and the consequent growth of English settlements, threatened
the ascendancy if not the existence of the Indian tribes.
Against the latter contingency the colonists sought to guard.
When the Plymouth authorities gave Capt. Willett liberty
to purchase lands in Swansea, they added the express proviso,
" so as he do not too much straiten the Indians." But by
his land sales, Philip, son and successor of Massasoit, became
shut into Mount Hope peninsula, so that his only land route
out lay through Swansea.
We cannot now refer to the events which led to Philip's
fierce and fatal outbreak, which, in its course, despoiled
New England of a dozen towns, six hundred dwellings, and
as many of its choicest young men. Swansea was destined
to suffer the first baptism of blood and fire.
22 DEDICATION OF THE
Convinced that war was impending, Maj. James Brown
of Swansea, on the 14th of June, 1675, laid the facts of the
case before Gov. Winslow, and two days later Capt. Benja-
min Church brought to Plymouth conclusive evidence that
war was at hand. Measures were at once taken to oppose
force to force. On Sunday, June 20th, the predicted out-
burst occurred. Some of Philip's men raided Swansea, en-
tering houses, helping themselves to food, shooting cattle
and committing other acts of lawlessness. Most of the men
were in church, but one was found at home, whose cattle
were shot, and whose house was entered and liquor demanded.
When it was refused, violence was resorted to, whereupon
the householder shot one of the Indians, inflicting a serious,
though not fatal wound.
A son of Major Brown at once bore tidings of the out-
break to Plymouth. A fast was proclaimed for Thursday,
June 24th. The troops of all the towns were ordered to
rendezvous at Taunton, Monday night, and messengers were
sent to Boston to urge prompt assistance. A stone house,
upon the farm of Gov. Brenton, at Metapoiset, occupied
by Jared Bourne, was used as a garrison, which the Bridge-
water company was ordered to re-enforce. This company
reached the garrison Monday night and found there seventy
persons, all but sixteen, woman and children. The next
day, a part of the soldiers having escorted Mr. Brown to
his home, on their return met thirty Indians, and a little
later met some of the men of the garrison going to a barn
for corn. Though warned of their danger, the men pro-
ceeded and were assailed, six of them being killed or mortally
Thus the first blood of the war was shed on Gardner's
Neck. The Bridgewater troops remained at Bourne's gar-
rison until re-enforced, when the in)nates were conveyed
down Mount Hope Bay to Ehode Island, and the house
House of John Myles.
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 25
abandoned. This honse stood on the farm long occupied by
Mr. Saunders Sherman.
On the next day, June 23d, another man was shot
within the bounds of Swansea, and his wife and chikl scalped.
On Thursday, the appointed Fast Day, some of the Swansea
settlers returning from church were attacked. One was
killed, another was wounded, and two men going for a sur-
geon were slain. On the same day in another part of the
town others were killed.
" By this time half of Swansea was burned." By
Monday night, June 28th, two companies of foot and one of
cavalry from Boston had joined the Plymouth forces already
assembled at the garrison house of Pastor Myles, which is
now standing near Myles's Bridge, at Barneyville. This
bridge spans what is now known as Palmer's river, from
Walter Palmer, an elderly settler of Rehoboth, its first
representative at Plymouth, whose farm was on its banks.
Across this bridge a detachment of cavalry pushed, but were
fired upon and driven back with the loss of one killed and
two wounded. Tuesday morning several Indians having
appeared, were driven across the bridge and five or six of
them slain. That night, Philip fearing that he should be
caught in his own narrow peninsula, escaped to the Pocas-
set country, Tiverton, across the Mount Hope Bay. Major
Savage, who had been placed in command of the Massachu-
setts troops, having arrived, the combined forces marched
into Mount Hope Neck, in search of Philip. On their way,
at Kickemuit, near the present village of Warren, they saw,
set upon poles, the heads of the men who had been slain at
Metapoiset. They continued their march down the Neck,
but they found the wigwams untenanted and no Indians to
Thursday the Massachusetts troops returned to Myles's
garrison, the cavalry going on to Rehoboth for better quar-
26 DEDICATION OF THE
ters. Keturniiig the next morning tliey came upon some In-
dians burning a building, and killed four or five of them.
On Sunday, July 4th, Capt. Hutchinson brought orders for
the Massachusetts troops to go to Narraganset country, and
seek an agreement which should hold that tribe back from
the support of Philip.
The next two weeks saw the expedition of Capt. Fuller
and Church to the Pocasset and Seaconnet country, which
revealed the bitterly hostile temper of these tribes ; the
two expeditions which Church led to the Pocasset Swamp,
in one of which Philip lost fifteen men, the march of
the major part of the Plymouth force by way of Ta-unton
toward the swamp, the apparently successful negotiation of
the Narragansetts, their return to Swansea and their junction
with the Plymouth troops, at Pocasset Swamp, within which
Philip had taken refuge. Philip eluded his besiegers on
the night of the last day of July, crossing Taunton river,
probably near Dighton Rock. Though assailed while cross-
ing Seekonk plain by the men of Rehoboth who slew some
thirty of his men, he escaped into the Nipmunk country.
Thus he was launched upon a life and death struggle with
With unabated fury the contest raged through the re-
mainder of 1675 and the first half of 1676. But the san-
guinary and ferocious conquest of the Narragansetts, the
desertion of many of his confederates and the death of many
more, left Philip in an almost hopeless plight ; and after
a year's absence he seems to have been resolved to meet his
fate in the beautiful land which held the graves of his
fathers, and which had been his home. Abandoned by his
confederates, betrayed by his friends, his most faithful
followers fallen in battle, his wife and son in the hands
of his deadly foes, liunted from wood to wood, from swamp to
swamp, he had come to his ancestral seat to make his last
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 27
stand. Yet such was his temper that he wouhl not hear of
peace. He even struck dead one of his own followers for
suggesting it. A kinsman of the man thus slain brought
news of Philip's hiding place to Capt. Church, who with his
soldiers was on Rhode Island. They at once crossed to
Mount Hope. The informer acting as guide, they made
their way up the west side of the Neck, toward the swamp
within which Philip had taken refuge. Creeping stealthily
up, in the dark of the early morning, the force completely
invested the knoll on which Philip was encamped. When
the alarm was given, he plunged into the swamp, only to
meet two of his besiegers. By one of them, the Indian
Alderman, he was shot. Thus the renowned chieftain, who
had been the terror of New England, fell, pierced through
the lungs and heart. And thus ended the mortal career of
the most noted Indian in American history.
In the times immediately succeeding his uprising and
overthrow, no epithet was too bitter for the use of those
against whom he rose.
But history has, in a measure, reversed their judgment.
Though all must rejoice in the failure of his attempt, yet we
can sympathize with the motives which actuated him. In
the classic words of Irving : " He was a patriot attached to
his native soil, — a prince, true to his subjects and indignant
of their wrongs, — a soldier, daring in battle, firm in ad-
versity, patient of fatigue, of hunger, of every variety of
bodily suffering, and ready to perish in the cause he had
espoused." " With heroic qualities and bold achievements
that would have graced a civilized warrior, and have ren-
dered him the theme of the poet and the historian, he lived
a wanderer and a fugitive in his native land, and went down,
like a lonely bark, foundering amid darkness and tempest —
without a pitying eye to weep his fall, or a friendly hand to
record his struggle."
28 DEDICATION OF THE
NOTABLE MEN OF SWANSEA'S FIRST CENTURY.
Among" the best known of Swansea's early settlers was
Maj. James Brown, brother of Capt. Willett's wife. He
was one of the original members of the Swansea Church,
one of the five citizens who were to admit to the town, and
divide its lands, long a leading citizen and officer, represen-
tative in the Plymouth Court in 1671-2, a local leader in the
campaign against Philip, and successor of Capt. Willett, as
an " assistant in Plymouth Colony."
Another name not to be forgotten is that of Lieut.
Hugh Cole, an original member of the church, an early se-
lectman, representing the town seven of its first fifteen terms
in the General Court. Like the immortal Washington,
Lieut. Cole was a land surveyor.
In 1669 he bought of Philip five hundred acres of land
on Toweset Neck, on the west side of the river to which his
name was given.
When the Indian War broke out, two of his sons were
captured and taken to Philip's headquarters. Philip released
them with the advice that their father should seek safety on
Rhode Island. He at once took his family thither, probably
down the Bay, but he had hardly gone when his house was
fired. After the war he settled on the west side of the Neck
upon Kickemuit River. His farm, and the well which he
dug the year after Philip's death, are still in possession of
With Willett and Brown as the town's first trustees was
associated Nathaniel Paine, who afterwards settled on the Mt.
Hope lands, and became one of the founders of Bristol, and
the third Judge of Probate for Bristol County. The first
Judge of Probate was John Saffin, an early jjroprietor of
Swansea, admitted to the first rank among its inhabitants in
1680, a son-in-law of Capt. Willett, a member of the Gener-
TOWN HxVLL, SWANSEA. 29
al Court for Boston from 1684 and Speaker from 1686 till
the usurpation of Andros, settling in Bristol about 1688,
Probate Judge from 1692 to 1702, and also Judge of the
Superior Court one year.
An Associate Justice of the first court established in
Bristol County was John Brown of Swansea, a grandson of
the first John Brown.
One of the early large proprietors of Swansea land was
Governor William Brenton of Newport, who bought Meta-
poiset Neck of the Indians in 1664. Here he lived for a
time after King Philip's War. He had been Governor of
Rhode Island Colony from 1666 to 1669, having been pre-
viously Deputy Governor four years. He became a very
extensive land owner. His Metapoiset land was cultivated
by Jared Bourne, whose house was garrisoned during the
war. He bequeathed it to his son Ebenezer, who in 1693
sold it to Lieut. Samuel Gardner and Ralph Chairman for
£1700. Mr. Gardner took the south part and Mr. Chap-
man the north. Mr. Gardner had been a prominent citizen
of Freetown, representing it in the General Court, and hold-
ing the offices of town clerk, treasurer and selectman. To
the latter office he was at once chosen in Swansea, but did
not long survive his removal hither.
In 1779, Col. Simeon Potter, a native of Bristol, one of
Rhode Island's prominent men, settled on Gardner's Neck.
His homestead farm extended from Lee's to Cole's rivers.
He was the owner of other large tracts of land. For more
than a quarter of a century he was one of the prominent
figures of this community, a hospitable and generous house-
holder, surrounded by whatever wealth could command,
owning also a number of slaves. Col. Potter was represen-
tative in 1784, to the General Court from Swansea. In 1795
he gave a valuable parcel of land in Newport to support in
that city a free school forever for the advantage of poor
30 DEDICATION OF THE
children of every denomination. A large school honse erect-
ed in 1880 is called the Potter school. He bequeathed a
small farm to one of his former slaves, in the possession of
whose heirs it still remains. His homestead farm and the
house in which he lived are now owned by Mrs. Macomber.*
SUCCESSIVE PASTORATES OF THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH.
The immediate successor of Mr. Myles in the Swansea
pastorate was Captain Samuel Luther, a founder and early
proprietor of the town, in whose affairs he wielded great in-
fluence, sustaining nearly every civil and military office in
the gift of his townsmen. He was ordained two years after
the death of Mr. Myles, and held the pastorate thirty-two
years. The old meeting house at North Swansea, which
was familiar to many of you, was built the year after his
death, in 1717, and stood until 1845, when it was taken down
and the present house of worship erected. Ephraim Wheaton
who had been his colleague, became his successor. He was
a man of respectable property, of influence and of power,
and successful in the ministry, adding to the church by bap-
tism about one hundred persons in seventeen years.
Next come Samuel Maxwell and Jabez Wood, followed
by Charles Thompson, probably the most distinguished man
in the long line of Mr. Myles' s successors. He was valedic-
torian of the first class graduated at Brown University, a
chaplain in the American Army, and pastor in Warren.
When his church and parsonage in that place were burned
by the British soldiers in 1778, he was taken prisoner and
confined a month in Newport. His people sought and were
welcomed to temporary membership in the Swansea church,
of which lie shortly became pastor. During his twenty-two
year's pastorate one hundred and seventy-six were baptized
into the fellowship of the church. He was a scholarly man,
* See Appendix Xo. 2.
The old meeting house at North Swansea, erected in 1717 and
taken down in 1845, it being the house of worship of the
first Baptist church organized in Massachxisetts.
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 33
a schoolmaster for many years, a man of great pnlpit power,
of commanding voice, fine figure, expressive features, tender
sympathies, plain and forcible in speech, exalting the great
truths of the evangelical system, and using them effectively
as the weapons of his spiritual warfare, often a preacher on
public occasions, and considered a leader in the denomina-
tion whose ministry he adorned.
Under some of the leaders who followed, the church for
a while lost the fellow^ship of the adjacent churches of its
order, but recovered it under the ministry of Rev. Abiel
Fisher who served it faithfully from 1836 to 1846. More
brief pastorates have brought the church down to the present
time, and it still stands for the faith once delivered to the
saints, in its two hundred and twenty-eighth year. Long may
it continue a light to lead the community in ways of truth
" THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IN SWANSEA."
The distance of the church after its removal to the lower
end of New Meadow Neck, caused the residents of the cen-
tral portion of Swansea to establish religious services near
Luther's Corner, as early as 1680, four years after the death
of Philip. Organization was effected and a pastor ordained
in 1693. If this be counted a Baptist Church it was the
thirteenth in America. Its record book styles it a " Church
of Christ in Swansea." No doctrinal tests, but only evidence
of Christian character, were required for admission. Thomas
Barnes, one of the original proprietors of the town, was
chosen and ordained pastor at the time of organization, his
death closing a successful ministry of thirteen years. His
successor, Joseph Mason, was a son of Samson Mason, who
was a soldier of Oliver Cromwell, and who on coming to
America settled in Rehoboth. Another of his sons was the
first deacon of the church. John Pierce became colleague
S4 DEDICATION OF THE
of Joseph Mason in 1715. These two men " continued in
good esteem in their offices until the death of Elder Mason in
1748 and of Elder Pierce in 1750, being each of them near
ninety years old."
Ten years before the death of Elder Mason, upon the
request of the two pastors for a colleague, his nephew, Job
Mason, was appointed. He proved a judicious pastor and
an able preacher, so that, in later years, the era of his pastor-
ate was regarded as the golden age of the church. His
brother Russell became his associate in 1752 and his success-
or in 1775, ministering to this people forty-seven years and
dying just before the dawn of this century. A cousin of
these two, Benjamin Mason, became the colleague and the
successor of Elder Russell, his labors continuing to his death
Thus, for one hundred and seven consecutive years, the
pastoral office in this church was filled by a son or a grand-
son of Samson Mason. With the latest of the line, Philip
Slade, Jr., was associated in 1801, whom he succeeded in
1813, being dismissed in 1820. He was succeeded by Ben-
jamin Taylor, who spent ten useful and successful years in
the ministry here, being held in honor throughout the region.
Want of time forbids even the merest mention of his suc-
cessors. Two years hence this church will pass the two hun-
dredth anniversary of its organization. It is, perhaps, the
oldest church in the Commonwealth which has never had any
legal connection with a town.
Some of the older members of the Second Church, not
satisfied with the dismission of Elder Philip Slade, left the
church and held services under his conduct at the house of
Deacon Ellery Wood, about a mile north of Luther's Corner.
They were organized as a church by the Six Principle Bap-
tists. Deacon Wood bequeathed his homestead for the
maintenance of worship and it became the home of Elder
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 35
Comstock, (the only pastor after Elder Slade,) and the honse
of worship as well. The proceeds of the property which has
been sold, are now held in trnst for the benefit of the denom-
THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR.
Her contributions for the support of the war for national
independence constitute an im^jortant and honorable chapter
in the history of Swansea.
At a meeting held Sept. 26th, 1774, the town chose Col.
Andrew Cole, Capt. Levi Wheaton, Capt. Philip Slade,
Richard Cornell and Capt. Luther Thurber a committee to
meet with the delegates from the other towns of the county,
in Taunton " then and there to deliberate and devise meas-
ures sutabel to the exigency of the times."
A Hampshire county convention had just been held " to
consult upon measures to be taken in this time of general
distress in the province, occasioned by the late attack of the
British Ministry upon the constitution of said province."
That attack had come in the shape of an act of Parliament
" For the Better Regulating of the Province of Massachu-
setts Bay." The principle of this act, Bancroft says, " was
the concentration of all executive power, including the courts
of justice, in the hands of the royal governor. Without a
previous notice to Massachusetts, and without a hearing, it
took away rights and liberties which the people had enjoyed
from the foundation of the colony" with scarcely an excep-
tion. It superseded a charter, " which had been the organic
law of the people of Massachusetts for more than eighty
years." It provided that the Governor's Council should be
appointed by the King, rather than chosen by the representa-
tives of the people. The Governor appointed by the Crown,
without even consulting his council, might appoint and re-
move all judges and court officers. The selection of jurors
was taken from the freeholders and given to the sheriffs, who
36 DEDICATION OF THE
were appointees of the Governor. Worse than all, the regu-
lating act sought to throttle the town meeting, that dearest
of all institutions to New England, whose people, as Ban-
croft so well puts it, " had been accustomed, in their town
meetings, to transact all business that touched them most
nearly, as fathers, as freemen, and as Christians. There
they adopted local taxes to keep their free schools ; there
they regulated the municipal concerns of the year : there
they chose their representatives and instructed them : and
there most of them took measures for the settlement of min-
isters of the gospel in their congregations : there they were
accustomed to express their sentiments upon any subject
connected with their interests, rights, liberties, and religion."
The new act allowed only two town meetings annually,
in which town officers and representatives might be chosen,
but no other matters introduced. Every other assembly of
a town was forbidden, except only upon written leave of the
Governor, and then only for business expressed in that
leave. Thus the King trampled under foot the customs,
laws, and privileges of the people of Massachusetts.
This act went immediately into effect, and at once
forced a choice between resistance and submission.
In this juncture, the Committee of Boston sent a circu-
lar letter to all the towns in the province, in which they
said : '' Though surrounded by a large body of armed men,
who, having the sword, have also our blood in their hands,
we are yet undaunted. To you, our brethren, and dear
companions in the cause of God, we apply. To you we look
for that advice and example which with the blessing of God
shall save us from destruction." This urgent message
roused the State : William Prescott of Pepperell, who in
less than a year was to stand at the head of a band of
American soldiers to dispute with the British regulars the pos-
session of the Bunker Hill redoubt, expressed the mind of
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 37
'the State, when he wrote for his neighbors, " We think, if
we submit to these reguhitions, all is gone. Let us all be
of one heart and stand fast in the liberties wherewith Christ
has made us free." Everywhere the people were weighing
the issue in which they were involved, and one spirit ani-
mated the country.
This was the situation in view of which Swansea sent
Col. Andrew Cole and his associates " to deliberate and de-
vise measures sutabel to the exigency of the times." And
this was why in a town meeting which the new regulating
act interdicted but whicdi was nevertheless held, Swansea
chose Colonel Andrew Cole, Col. Jerathmiel Bowers and
Capt. Levi Wheaton as ''a committee for said town to meet
with other committees of the several towns in the province,
at Concord to act on measures agreeable to the times." This
was why later, they chose a Committee of Inspection to ex-
ecute the wishes of the Continental Congress.
Thus by their votes in town meeting. New England
everywhere bade defiance to Great Britain. In this town
twelve of these meetings were held in one year.
Committees of Inspection, Correspondence and Safety
were appointed by all the towns, composed of their leading-
men. Through them the authorities reached the people at
large, and secured the execution of their plans.
The events of the fateful morning of Aj^ril 19, 1775,
are known to all. The six companies of Rehoboth are all
on record as responding to the Lexington alarm. It is not
likely that the three Swansea companies, which with those
of Kehoboth constituted the first Bristol regiment, failed to
respond to the call, though no record of such response has
come to my knowledge. The town, two days later, ordered
the Selectmen to provide 40 '' gons" 250 lbs. of powder, 700
lbs. of lead and 600 flints, and directed " that fifty men be
enlisted to be ready at a minute's warning." May 22nd a
88 DEDICATION OF THE
Committee of Insi^ection was appointed, and it was voted
" that the town will secure and defend said committee and
empower them to follow and observe such directions as
they shall receive from time to time from the Provincial
Congress or Committee of Safety." At this time five sliill-
ings penalty was imposed for wasting a charge of powder,
and the offender's stock of ammunition was forfeited.
In order to ascertain Swansea's response to the call for
troops the muster rolls of the Revolution have l)een examined
and a book has been placed in the library into which such
parts of them as relate to Swansea have been transcribed.
An indexed alphabetical list has been prepared which shows
that not less that four hundred and sixteen Swansea men
bore arms in the War for Independence, many of them how-
ever, only for brief periods along our own shores. On this
list the surnames which occur oftenest are Peck, Martin,
Anthony and Bowers, which each have seven representatives,
Kingsley nine. Wood and Pierce each eleven. Cole and
Barney each twelve. Mason eighteen. Chase nineteen, while
Luther leads all the rest with a record of twenty-seven.
From such rolls as are extant the following facts are
gathered : Seven Swansea men served at least five months
of 1775 in Col. David Brewer's regiment near Boston, as
did a few in other regiments doing duty there. Probably
many more did actually serve that year. The alarms of war
were brought close home to this section. From the time
when the British took possession of the island called
Rhode Island in December, 1776, till they abandoned it two
years later, the militia were often called into service. Troops
were repeatedly called to Slade's Ferry, Rowland's Ferry,
(now the Stone Bridge in Tiverton) to Bristol, to Warwick
Neck, (a part of which is now known as Rocky Point) and
even to the Island itself.
In May 1779, it was '^ voted that there be a guard on
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 39
each of the necks for safety of the good people of the town."
Later in 1779 " voted 22 men to guard the shores." Eight
Swansea men served in the artillery company of Capt. Tales
of Taunton, at Blade's Ferry in December, 1776.
Of three militia captains of this town Peleg Sherman,
afterwards Colonel, was a leading factor in the conduct of
Swansea's relation to the great struggle. He was often
moderator of town meetings and at the head of important
committees on military affairs. He was in active service
along our shore during the British occupation of Rhode
Island, e. (/. at Slade's Ferry from January 6 to June 5,
1777, and at Bristol later in the same year. He also served
the government as commissary for the supply of stores to
the troops. His home, where at one time troops were quar-
tered, was at Shewamet Neck, at what is now known as the
the Henry H. Mason place, where he died Nov. 20, 1811,
Philip Slade, another of the militia captains, was also
often on important committees. He was selected to wait
upon General Sullivan, " to represent to him the fenceless
condition of the town, and pray him to be pleased to order a
gard for us against our enemies on Rhode Island." He
was on July 5th, 1779, appointed one of the committee "to
confer with General Gates at Providence upon some meas-
ures for the safety of the town," and at the same meeting
he and John Mason " were chosen deligates to represent the
town at Cambridge in forming a new constitution."
The same thing can be said in perhaps less degree of
the third Captain Peleg Peck, whose company served fre-
quently along our shores, as for instance, at Bristol, in
December 1776, on a secret expedition to Tiverton, where
it was stationed from Sept. 29th, to Oct. 30th, 1777, at
Warwick, R. I., from January to April 1778, and later in
the same year, on Rhode Island about six weeks.
40 DEDICATION OF THE
A pay roll for the Continental pay of Capt. Peck's
company who were called ont by an alarm to Tiverton,
states that " by order of Col. Peleg Slead all the men in
Swansea were joined in one company under Capt. Peck,"
to respond to an alarm at Tiverton. The roll bears one
hundred and seventy-eight names, and shows that the men
served from four to nine days. In the expedition of Gen.
Sullivan on Rhode Island, Col. Carpenter's regiment of
Rehoboth and Swansea men distinguished themselves for
their bravery, Benjamin Smith of Swansea being wounded
by a bursting shell.
Another of the local leaders in this struggle was Col.
Peleg Slead, one of the largest land owners of the town, who
was called to fill many important offices of town and State,
and who proved himself an ardent friend of his country's
cause. He died Dec. 28, 1813, at the age of eighty-four,
and is buried in the cemetery on his homestead farm, not
far from this village.
On a muster roll dated Sept. 16th, 1777, eight Swansea
men are returned as enlisted for the present war in Col.
Henry Jackson's regiment, which was probably in service
on the Hudson. On the 19th of June, 1778, ten men were
drafted for nine months from their arrival at Fishkill, and
about the same time three for nine months from their ar-
rival at Springfield.
April 10th, 1778, the General Court having ordered
2,000 men to be raised to recruit the State's fifteen battalions
of Continental troops for service either in Rhode Island or
on the Hudson, twenty-six Swansea men were sent to Col.
William Lee's regiment. In 1779, twelve Swansea men
were in Continental regiments on duty in Rhode Island.
During this year one-seventh part of the male population
was ordered under arms in the national service. Swansea
was behind on its quota only three men, few towns showing
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 41
a better record. 1780 and 1781 saw other men in small
numbers enlisted for three years or the war.
Thus, with constant drafts for men and money, the
war wore on to its triumphant close in 1783, when the
people had the joy of knowing that the last British soldier
had left our shores, and that through great sacrifice in blood
and treasure Independence was secured.
One of the earlier industries of the colonies was that of
For several years the immigration of shipwrights was
encouraged, and special privileges were given them, such as
exemption from the duty of training, and from the taxation
of property actually used by them in their business. These
inducements brought hither a number of good carpenters.
In 1694 a sloop of forty tons burden was built in Swansea,
and in 1697 a ship of seventy-eiffht tons. In the early part
of the last century, Samuel Lee came to this country in the
interest of English people, to look after timber land. He
settled on Shewamet Neck and built a house near the resi-
dence of Mr. Levi Slade, establishing a shipyard at the land-
ing, where for several years he carried on a large industry.
In 1707 a ship of 120 tons, — a large craft for those times —
was launched. In 1708 abrigantine of fifty tons and a ship
of one liundred and seventy tons, in 1709 two brigantines of
fifty -five tons each, and in 1712 a sloop of eighty tons were
built in Swansea. The river upon which Mr. Lee located
his yard soon after his advent took and has since retained
his name, Lee's River.
Vessels have been built near the residence of Mr. Wil-
liam H. Pearce, on Cole's river.
Prior to 1801, when he moved to New York, Jonathan
Barney built several small vessels on Palmer's river. In
42 DEDICATION OF THE
1802 his son, Mason Barney, being then less than twenty
years of age, contracted to build a ship. Although young
Barney was acquainted with the nature of ship building,
through his father carrying it on, he himself did not know
the use of tools. His courage and self reliance in takino'
such a contract, when so young and inexperienced, fore-
shadowed the character of the future man. By his zeal, en-
thusiasm and determined will he overcame the great difficul-
ties which to most men would have been insurmountable.
From this beginning sprung up the ship building business
at Barneyville, and Mr. Barney's subsequent great promin-
ence in business circles. He sometimes employed two hun-
dred and fifty men, annually disbursing large sums of money.
The sails of the good substantial vessels, which in the course
of a half a century he built, whitened almost every sea.
During his business career he built one hundred and
forty-nine vessels, from the small fishing smack to the ship
of 1,060 tons, the largest vessel that had then been launched
in this section of New England.
It has been publicly stated, without denial, that Mr.
Barney built more vessels than any other man in this coun-
try had then built.
The financial crisis of 1857 found him with two large
ships upon his hands, with no market. In them he had invest-
ed a large part of his fortune, which was thus entirely dissi-
pated, and he was compelled to give up business. With him
passed away the ship building interest of Swansea.
Mr. Barney died on the first day of April, 1869. The
house in which he was born in 1782 is still standing, and
dates from old colonial times.
He was a fine specimen of an earnest, enthusiastic and
persevering man. He was unaffected, original in his charac-
ter, simple in his tastes and habits, always genial and hospit-
able. In his death the community lost an enterprising,
honest and eminent citizen.
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 43
Richard Chase began the manufacture of shoes here in
1796, and pursued the business for nearly fifty years, em-
ploying more people than any other man in town except Mr.
Other industries have been pursued in a small way,
such as the making of paper and the manufacture of cotton,
which last industry was commenced at Swansea Factory in
the year 1806 by Oliver Chace, and it was also carried on
at a small mill at what is now Swansea Dye Works ; cotton
was carded and spun, and the yarn sent out to be woven into
cloth by farmers' wives and daughters, as was the case in all
cotton manufactories in those days.
All these early industries, with others of which I cannot
now speak, have passed away.
The first post-office in Swansea was established on the
first day of Jnly, 1800. Mr. Reuben Chace was appointed
post-master. He opened an office at his dwelling-house, for
many years known as ''The Buttonwood," some three
quarters of a mile west of Swansea village.
On the 17th day of June, 1814, Mr. John Mason was
appointed post-master, and he removed the office to the
village, where it has since been located. Mr. Mason con-
tinned in office until the 12th day of June, 1849, when Mr.
John A. Wood was appointed post-master, who retained the
office until the sixth day of June, 1853, when Mr. John
Mason was again appointed, and who remained in office until
the 23d day of March, 1864, when Mr. John A. Wood was
reinstated as post-master. Mr. Wood held the office until
the 18th day of June, 1867, when his son, Mr. Henry O.
Wood, was appointed his successor. Mr. Henry O. Wood
served as post-master for twenty years, having resigned on
44 DEDICATION OF THE
the 24th day of May, 1887, when Mr. Lewis S. Gray, the
present post-master was appointed.
A post-office designated ^' Barney ville " was established
at North Swansea, and Mr. Mason Barney appointed the
first post-master on the 20th day of February, 1830. The
name of this office was subsequently changed to North Swan-
sea. Mr. Barney was superseded as post-master by Mr.
Alvan Cole on the 28th day of June, 1836. Mr. Cole re-
tained the office until the 28th day of February, 1838, when
Capt. James Cornell was appointed post-master, and remained
in office until the 24th day of June, 1841, when Mr. Mason
Barney was reappointed as post-master. Mr. Barney, Sr., was
followed in office by his son, Mr. Mason Barney, Jr., on the
15th day of April, 1867, who continued post-master until
he was succeeded on the 12th day of February, 1872, by the
present post-master, Mr. William P. Mason.
The post-office at Swansea Center was established on
the 29th day of December, 1888, when Mr. Seth W. Eddy
was appointed post-master, and now holds that office.
The post-office at Hortonville was established and Mr.
L. L. Cummings, the present post-master, was appointed to
that office on the 19th day of January, 1885.
On the 24th day of October 1890, a post-office, '' South
Swansea," was established on Gardner's Neck at the station
of the Old Colony Railroad Company. Mr. Frank J. Arnold
was appointed post-master, and began the business of the
office on the 20th day of November, 1890. He is the present
THE POPULATION OF SWANSEA.
The population of Swansea from the time of the first
State census in 1765 has never varied greatly. The total
at that time was 1,840 which has never been exceeded save in
1820, when it reached 1,933. The lowest point was touched
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 45
in 1870, when it fell to 1,294. Since that date it has been
slowly bnt steadily rising. In 1890 the number was 1,456.
The stationary character of Swansea's population is due
largely to the fact that its chief industry is agricultural. At
the hist census, though it ranked as low as the two hundred and
eleventh town in the State in population, it stood thirty-sixth
in value of agricultural products.
The fixed tenure of many of its farms is worthy of note.
Some of them are still owned and oc(nipied by the lineal
descendants of the first proprietors, having descended from
father and son to the sixth and seventh generation. The
Masons, the Browns, the Woods, the Gardners and other
families are now living on their ancestral acres.
Though the industry of Swansea has been largely agri-
cultural, its citizens have had no unimportant agency in the
development of the cotton manufacture in Fall River.
When that industry was there begun, a very considerable
portion of the money invested came from the country towns.
The Fall River Manufactory, the first cotton mill erected
there, was built in 1813. Its capital was divided into sixty
shares, of which William Mason and Samuel Gardner, 2d, of
Swansea, took two each. Mr. Mason soon added to his
holdings, so that one twelfth part of the stock was held in
this town, and at a subsequent date a still larger percentage.
The Troy Cotton and Woolen Manufacturing Company
was organized a little later, the originator of which was
Oliver Chace, who had had some experience in a small way
in the manufacture of cotton at Swansea Factory, and who
moved to Fall River where he could embark on a more ex-
tensive scale. He took one tenth part of the stock in the
new company, wdiile an equal amount was taken here by
Benjamin Slade, Moses Bui^nton, Oliver Earle, Joseph
G. Luther and Joseph Bufftnton, making one fifth of its
46 DEDICATION OF THE
Thus Swansea men and Swansea money essentially
aided in the early development of cotton manufacture.
Many of Swansea's young men have become the skilled
mechanics, artisans and contractors who have been important
factors in the growth and development of the cities of
Taunton, Providence, New Bedford and Fall River. Some
of the prominent business men of these cities originated here.
Fall River's first mayor, the Hon. James Buffinton, who so
long and ably represented this district in Congress, spent
years of his boyhood in this village. Another mayor of
that city, the Hon. Samuel M. Brown, was born and reared
in Swansea ; also the Hon. Caleb Earle, who was Lieutenant
Governor of Rhode Island from 1821 to 1824, and Col.
John Albert Munroe, recently deceased, who filled a marked
place in the military and professional history of Rhode Island.
REPRESENTATION IN THE GENERAL COURT.
The first representation of Swansea in the General
Court was in 1670, when John Allen was sent to represent
it at Plymouth.
Of the long line of men who, in the last two hundred
and twenty years, have represented the town in the General
Court, Col. Jerathmiel Bowers had the longest term of ser-
vice, in all nineteen years. Next to him in length of service
comes Daniel Haile, with fourteen terms ; Ephraim Pierce,
with twelve; Christopher Mason, with eight; Hugh Cole,
with seven ; Ezekiel Brown, with six, and Joseph Mason,
Jr., with five.
Several of its citizens have been honored with a seat
in the State Senate.
Hon. John Mason, a life-long resident of Swansea vil-
lage, was colleague in the Constitutional Convention of 1820
with Daniel Haile, who had then had a dozen terms in the
House. That year Mr. Haile was defeated by Dr. John
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 47
Winslow, who was a Federalist in politics. In 1821, John
Mason was bronght forward by the Democrats as the only
man who conld defeat Dr. Winslow. The two men were
next door neighbors, and with their families were on most
intimate terms. Mr. Mason won by six votes. In the fol-
lowing year he was elected to the House, in which he served
two terms, after which lie was four in the Senate and four in
the council of Gov. Levi Lincoln. Later he was four years
a county commissioner, and was town clerk fifty of the years
between 1808 and 1865, and postmaster forty-six of the years
between 1814 and 1864.
At the November election in 1850, three senators were
elected for Bristol County, one of them being Hon. Geo. Aus-
tin of Swansea. Soon after the General Court convened
in 1851, Mr. Taber of New Bedford, resigned his seat
and the two branches of the Legislature, as then required
by the constitution, met in convention to choose a person to
fill the vacancy from the two defeated candidates who receiv-
ed the highest number of votes at the autumnal election.
The choice fell upon Hon. John Earle of this town, and thus
Swansea had two senators, Messrs. Austin and Earle, for the
remainder of the session, an unprecedented honor. Mr.
Austin was a member of the Constitutional Convention of
The Hon. Frank Shaw Stevens, whose name appears
upon the tablet on the outer walls of this building, was sen-
ator from this district in 1884. He modestly declined a re-
election, which would have been triumphantly accorded him.
As the Masons have been prominent among those who
have ministered to the souls of Swansea people, so the Win-
slows were ministers to their bodily health for three quarters
of a century, from 1765, when Dr. Ebenezer Winslow lo-
48 DEDICATION OF THE
cated here. He became one of the most widely known
physicians in Southern Massachusetts. He died in 1830,
in his ninetieth year. His son, Dr. John Winslow, rivalled
even his eminent father in the successful practice of medi-
cine, to which he devoted his entire life, dying in 1838.
Though their patients were widely scattered, yet these
physicians never drove in a wheeled vehicle, always trav-
elling on horseback, carrying their medicines in saddle-bags,
the custom of those days. Dr. John W. Winslow, son of
Dr. John Winslow, early became well and favorably known
as "young Dr. Winslow," and gave promise of eminence in
his profession. But he died at the early age of thirty-two
in 1836. For several years these three generations of phy-
sicians were here together in the practice of their profession.
Dr. A. T. Brown began here, in 1836, a successful prac-
tice of sixteen years duration.
For nearly half a century Dr. James Lloyd Wellington,
a Harvard classmate of Gen. Charles Devens, James Russell
Lowell, the sculptor William W. Story, William J. Rotch
and George B. Loring, has been the highly esteemed phy-
sician of this place. By his self-sacrificing devotion to the
noble but exacting profession he adorns, he has won, what
is far better than wealth, the gratitude of the whole commu-
nity which he has served so skilfully and successfully.
Long may he continue to be to this people, what he has
already been to two generations, the trusted friend, the wise
counselor, and the good physician.
Several lawyers, previous to the year 1832, lived and
practiced their professions here, among whom were the
Hon. Pliny Merrick, for eleven years an Associate Justice
of the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth ;
Hezekiah Battelle and Eliab Williams, who moved to Fall
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 49
River and formed there the law co-partnership of Battelle &
Williams, so long and favorably known in this section of
Among the present leaders of the Bristol Bar, Swansea,
by one of her sons, is represented in each of the three cities
of this county : Hon. Edwin L. Barney of New Bedford,
Hon. James Brown of Taunton, and Jonathan M. Wood,
Esq., of Fall River.
UNION MEETING HOUSE.
This structure in which we are now assembled occupies
the site of a Union meeting house which was built by the
joint efforts of people of several denominations resident here.
In the dedication which occurred Dec. 29th, 1830, Method-
ists, Baptists, Swedenborgians and Universalists partici-
pated. The hymns sung were composed by Elder Baker, a
Six Principle Baptist clergyman. Services were maintained
some years, but as the building was not owned by any one
denomination, timely and needed repairs were not made, for
want of which it became unfit for use and was finally demol-
ished. The site was for a number of years disused. Since
it seemed impracticable for a private title to be acquired, it
was finally condemned and taken into possession by the
town, upon the generous offer of Mr. Stevens to erect for
the town's use a public building suited to the needs of the
Thus, in the order of occupancy, upon this spot there
has been reproduced a picture of early New England.
The primary organization was the church, as we have seen
in the history of Swansea ; after the church the town ; so
here, we have had first the house of religious worshi]), and
now the hall for municipal use and the library.
50 DEDICATION OF THE
Some of the prominent men of this and adjoining
towns, who had maintained occasional religious services,
were organized in 1838 as the First Universalist Society of
The Kev. Aaron L. Balch, who was a preacher to this
people before the organization of the society, died in this
village Nov. 4, 1837, and was buried in the cemetery. The
society has not maintained regular services for many years,
and the members have to some extent become connected
with other religious bodies.
CHRIST CHURCH, SWANSEA.
In May, 1845, Kev. A. D. McCoy, rector of the Church
of the Ascension in Fall River, opened a Sunday evening
service here which he maintained till November, 1847. A
church was organized January 7, 1846. A Sunday school
was established and superintended by Dr. Geo. W. Che vers,
a physician of Fall River, afterward a clergyman, who dur-
ing the greater part of 1847 conducted lay readings on
Sunday, morning and afternoon.
The services were at first held in the Union meeting
house. A neat and attractive church edifice was shortly
erected and dedicated December 2, 1847. The first resident
rector was Rev. John B. Richmond, who served the church
four years from January 1st, 1848. The duration of most
of the subsequent pastorates has been brief, though that of
Rev. N. Watson Munroe lasted eleven years.
The only survivor of those who were active in the or-
ganization is the Rev. Benjamin H. Chace, who when about
40 years of age gave up his secular occupation, and prepared
himself for the ofEce of the Christian ministry, being or-
dained in 1854. In the serene evening of a long and useful
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 51
ministerial life he has returned to this his native village to
await the call of the Master to come up higher. With the
work of the church which he and his wife did so much to
establish, he is in active sympathy.
THE WAR FOR THE UNION.
The war to preserve the Union, on account of its near-
ness to our time, interests us more deeply than does the war
which made us an independent nation. But in some re-
spects it called for less endurance and sacrifice. The clash
of arms and the alarms of war did not vex these hillsides
and echo across these bays as they had done in Philip's and
the Revolutionary wars. It was not so long continued nor
financially so disastrous as was the war for independence, in
which the financial system of the country went to wreck, and
its promises to pay became worthless, insomuch that, even
three years before the war ended, this town voted f 140 for
an axe, and ^50 a day to its selectmen. Let us honor the
heroic endurance of the fathers, while we also cherish with
pride the valor of their sons, our brothers, who responded
nobly to the call of the nation, when threatened with dis-
union. For it is to be said that in the later struggle this
town did its full duty. At the close the town stood credited
with twelve more men than the State had required. It is
true that some of them were not its own citizens, but hired
substitutes ; but it is also true that from these farms and
hamlets enough perhaps to balance the hired contingent went
into Rhode Island regiments and batteries. Your rebellion
record contains the names of one hundred and thirty soldiers
who went from or who were hired by and for this town.
Your sons were widely scattered among our State or-
ganizations and were in all branches of the service. One or
another of them faced the nation's foes on most of the battle-
fields of the Atlantic slope and of the Gulf. They helped
52 DEDICATION OF THE
to roll back the haughty and desperate tide of rebel invasion
that was twice shattered on the glorious fields of Antietam
and of Gettysburg. They fought with Hooker at Chancel-
lorsville, with Burnside at Fredericksburg, with Sheridan in
the Shenandoah. They were with McClellan in his march
to Richmond by the bloody peninsula, and they followed
Grant through the Wilderness and beyond, to Richmond
and to Appomattox. Others of them shared the fortunes
of the forces which captured the coast and river cities of
the Confederacy, and raised the blockade of the Mississippi.
Every man had his story. Each looked armed battalions
in the face and sustained the hostile shock of the assault.
They heard the whistle of the rifle ball which was seeking
their life, the shriek of the exploding shell, the clatter of
galloping squadrons, the clash of sabres, the roar of the
cannonade, the cries of the wounded, the groans of the dying,
the mournful dirge over the dead. The blood of some of
them was shed, and that of them all was offered, in defense
of the Union. Some languished and died in hospitals or
" When can their glory fade?"
Write down, so that your children of coming time may
read, the story of their sacrifices, who perished of diseases
consequent upon the experiences of camp and field. Such
Swansea men were Daniel Tompkins, Frank R. Chase,
Stephen Collins, William H. Hamlin, Martin L. Miller,
Charles H. Eddy, Josephus T. Peck, Joseph Whalen,
Captain Edwin K. Sherman, all of whom by death in hospital
made a soldier's greatest sacrifice.
Look at the roll of the slain : Andrew S. Lawton, a leg
shattered at the battle of Williamsburg early in the Peninsu-
la campaign, and dying within a few hours. Joseph T. Bos-
worth of a Rhode Island battery, killed on the bloody field
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 53
of Antietam by an exploding shell. Oliver R. Walton slain
when the war was far advanced, at the battle of Winchester
in the Shenandoah, after nearly three years service. Edward
G. West, like Lawton, a member of the Bristol county
regiment raised by Gen. Conch, which followed the varying
fortnnes of the Army of the Potomac and shared its ex-
perience of battle and of blood. Early in the victorions
bnt costly campaign in the Wilderness, West paid the price
of his patriotism by a soldier's death. Mark the heroism,
the valor, the Christian resignation of Alfred G. Gardner,
of Battery B. of Ehode Island, who at the battle of Gettys-
burg fell beside his gun, with his arm and shoulder torn
away. With the other he took from his pocket his Testa-
ment and other articles and said, '' Give them to my wife
and tell her that I died happy," and with the words of the
soldier's battle hymn, ''Glory, glory hallelnjah," on his lips,
his soul went marching on — a striking illustration of the
spirit which breathes in the immortal words of Horace,
Dulce et decorum est iwo patria morl.
Who can forget the deeds of such men ? Let their
names be written on the enduring granite of the memorial
shaft or tablet, on the page of the historic record, and
on the hearts of their grateful countrymen. And let all
who, on the blood-red field offered their bodies a target to
the enemy's assault, whose deeds of daring and self-devotion
we cannot here recite, be also held worthy of our undying
An address on an occasion like this can at best do but
scant justice to a history such as that of which Swansea can
boast. The deeds of these two and a quarter centuries
deserve elaborate record. Let it be one of the offices of the
Library Association, for whose literary stores and work
ample provision has been made within these walls, to gather
54 DEDICATION OF THE
all tliat has been or may yet be written of Swansea, to
cultivate tlie taste for historic research, and to collect and
preserve such memorials as will illustrate the past and per-
petuate its fame.
The past is fixed and is amply worthy of record. But
what of the undetermined and oncoming future ? Will it
reach the height of the standard set by the achievement of
days gone by ? Will it display equal or superior fidelity to
the eternal principles which alone make a community strong ?
Will the men of to-day and of to-morrow, for whose use
this structure has been reared, rise to the level of their his-
tory and their high j^rivilege ? Let them emulate the ex-
ample of the brave and godly fathers of the town who laid
its foundations in righteousness and in piety — foundations
more imperishable than the solid boulders which have been
built into these massive walls.
The oration of Mr. Bray ton was followed by brief ad-
dresses by Jonathan M. Wood, Esq., of Fall River, Maj.
James Brown of Taunton, and Hon. E. L. Barney of New
Bedford, all natives of Swansea, who have distinguished
themselves in Bristol county as honored members of the legal
The president, in presenting the next speaker, said : —
I have the honor of introducing to you Jonathan M. Wood,
Esq., of Fall River. It may not be out of place to remark
that Mr. Wood is one of four brothers, natives of Swansea.
In the war of the rebellion his three brothers served respect-
ively in the cavalry, infantry and navy. Each in his depart-
ment did faithful service. One was severely wounded and
taken prisoner at the battle of Pittsburg Landing.
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 55
OF JONATHAN M. WOOD,ES(^, OF FALL RIVER.
Ladies and Gentlemen :
I have a right to claim Swansea as my birthpLace,
for on the western hillside, where linger the last rays of the
setting sun, in the centre of a hundred acre farm, near the
old brick mansion house, is the old family burial ground
where sleep six generations of ancestors and kindred. And
there was plenty of room for the progeny to multiply, for
until within a few years there were five contiguous farms in
the family name.
The place of my birth being one of the reasons of the
honor done me to-day, I may be indulged in referring to an-
cestral lineage, for few families, even in this ancient town, can
trace a longer continuous line of ownership and residence on
the same farms, and within its borders ; and to-day one of your
citizens is of the eighth generation, still continuing the farm
and the old mill in the family name. And the old mill flume
repeats the murmurs of more than two hundred years ago :
"That mill will never grind again
With the water that has passed."
In common with many of the citizens, my first impres-
sions were formed in Swansea, in the toil of the field, and
that best of all schools, — the old district school, — the influ-
ence of which upon the public mind as far surpasses that of
56 DEDICATION OF THE
the higher institutions of learning, as the im])ressions of
youth are more lasting than those of later life.
Swansea is more than twice as old as the government it-
self of which it forms a part. More than half of its political
existence as a municipal corporation was passed in colonial
A reference to its map shows the inconsistency of grants
and charters. It would seem that, for some reason, in the
adjustment of boundary lines, Swansea got piqued and in re-
taliation made a sharp point on Barrington, Seekonk and
Rehoboth. The same irregularity appears also on the east-
ern boundary. Until recently one could not drive between
North and South Somerset without getting one wheel into
Swansea. The shape of the town shows that even in old
times things were not always done on the square.
Swansea is fortunate in her natural location, her rivers,
her fisheries, her clam shores. It is a high recommendation
of a town to have good roads. This title to favor Swansea
can claim. Good roads are a source of wealth. Even the
hundred years old walls, though not horse high, bull stout
and hog tight, are yet so far serviceable that they never
allow the claim of a fraudulent title to pass over them.
Swansea has contributed liberally to peopling the far
west. She has sent forth to the cities some of the best me-
chanics and builders in the land. Her sailors and command-
ers have been upon every sea ; and her merchants to all parts
of the world.
In her sacrifices for the country on sea and land, in
bloody battle, in hospitals, in rebel prisons, in glorious graves
and in widows' and orphans' homes, her record has been most
In most of the Western States, a township means, not
a municipal organization but thirty-six square miles of land,
in sections of one square mile. In New England a town
has greater powers than anywhere else in the Union. A town
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 57
here is a small republic, — ^a municipal corporation, possess-
ing political powers. The people tax themselves ; make their
own appropriations for highways, for the support of schools,
paupers and police. They choose their own town officers,
selectmen, assessors, collectors, school officers and the like.
The town meeting is their legislature, and every voter a
member ; every voter has a voice in more than three fourths
of all the laws he lives under in the land.
This building has been given to the town of Swansea.
The gift is the greater because by a citizen of the town, and
it is dedicated to the noblest purpose in a free government.
The citizens will meet here in free town meetings, and
their children after them. Under the constitution of our
State it is their right also peaceably to meet and discuss
public questions, to instruct their representatives and to
petition to those in office for redress of grievances.
Free schools, free churches, the free town meeting and
free discussion, have been, as we hope they will continue to
be, the promoters of a citizenship worthy of the town and
this great republic.
Let us all hope that not only the years, but the centuries
shall be many before the people of the town of Swansea,
with its hills and its valleys, its rocks and its rivers, shall en-
joy less blessings than those that flow from free schools, free
town meetings, and happy homes.
58 DEDICATION OF THE
OF MAJOR JAMES BROWN.
Introducing Major James Brown of Taunton, tlie presi-
dent said lie was the first native inhabitant of Swansea to
graduate from a college, and was highest in rank of Swansea's
sons who participated in the civil war. His response was
substantially as follows :
Mr. President : —
I thank you for your highly complimentary introduc-
tion. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, directly in front of me,
across the street, not three hundred feet from where I stand
is the place of my birth. The old two-story house is gone,
and a beautiful cottage has taken its place. The big wil-
low tree that stood in the corner of the yard, the pear tree
and the apple trees are gone, but I revere the spot, and I
love my native village with greater intensity as the years
roll by. Memory of the playmates of my childhood, the
pleasures of youth, and the steadfast friendships here of
maturer years bind me to you as with " hooks of steel." I
have always been proud to say I was born in the ancient
town of Swansea. I firmly believe that breathing its health-
giving air during my childhood and early youth contributed
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 59
largely to the robust health I have always enjoyed. My
aiieestors from the earliest colonial times — seven generations
— were tillers of the soil in the town of Swansea. They
were farmers, and as a farmer boy I lived and toiled among
you. I cannot claim that I took to its duties with that
avidity which evinced a strong and abiding love for plough-
ing ftnd planting during the cold days of the spring, pulling
weeds and hoeing in the early summer days, pulling potato
vines and onions in August and September, together with
milking the cows at sunrise and again at sunset, and the
other varied duties of a farmer boy.
I am introduced here as the first native inhabitant of
Swansea to graduate from a college. My home was here
until I was admitted to the bar just before I was 24 years
of age. A man's surroundings have great influence in
determining his course of life. In my childhood and early
youth religious polemics were the order of the day.- The
Methodists discussed doctrinal points with Baptists, and the
Universalists with both the others. In passing let me
remark that there never was a Congregational Society in the
town of Swansea. Nothing but Baptist meeting-houses had
been built within its present limits. The beautiful edifice of
the Episcopal Church was erected when I was well advanced
in my youth. The Union meeting-house, as has been said by
the orator of the day, was on the site of the building we now
dedicate. My father's house, directly opposite, was a com-
mon resort for Methodists, Baptists and Universalist min-
isters. My parents received and entertained them in a
most hospitable manner, and I heard much of their dis-
cussions. I listened to their arguments as I grew older, and
begun to take part in their discussions at an early age,
involving a thorough study of the Bible, and a familiarity
with its doctrinal passages, together with a study of the
controversial books, a few of which were within my reach.
60 DEDICATION OF THE
Then came the old debating society. The Hon. John
S. Brayton, the orator of the day, as well as myself attended
it, as its youngest members. Among them were the Eev.
Benjamin H. Chace and Hon. Daniel Wilbur, who sit here
on this platform with us to-day ; there was Royal Chace
of Swansea, one of the most brilliant and gifted young men
among us ; there were also Peleg S. Gardner, Avery P. Slade
and Benjamin G. Chace of Somerset, Edward F. Gardner
of Swansea, and Nathaniel B. Horton of Rehoboth, and
others I do not at this moment recall ; but I must not omit
to mention that our records were kept, regularly read, and
signed by Joseph Shove, clerk.
The meetings we held in this village, Somerset town-
house, Swansea Factory, Rehoboth and elsewhere, were
always well attended and excited the most lively interest.
Political questions, involving research of history, biography,
and the writings and speeches of great men, were frequently
discussed. The question " Does man act from necessity or
from free will ?" excited deep interest. These discussions
were oreat incentives to studv, and awakened a desire for a
solid and thorough education.
I then conceived the idea of going to college. My
father, with a good and well-stocked farm, could not afford
to pay the expense of two years preparation and four years
sojourn in college. I doubt whether there was then a farmer
in Swansea that could, from the profits of his farm. I was
told that I could have a comfortable home there, and I
always did. My dear mother ever afterwards did all she
could (and more than she ought) in caring for my wants
during the struggle that followed. My father was always
ready to lend a helping hand.
After teaching school, boarding round, four months at
$15 per month in the Nathaniel Mason district in Somerset,
John S. Brayton and I entered Pierce Academy at Middle-
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 61
boro during the last week of Mareli 1846, and we eliuninied
together, paying 11.75 per week for our board and wasliing.
Before then I had never seen a Latin or a Greek grannnar,
and I think my chum had not, though he did not then begin
to prepare for college. In June 1850, 1 had passed my final
examinations, and received my degree of Bachelor of Arts
at the Annual Commencement at Brown University in Sep-
tember. My labors during the first two or three years in col-
lege commenced at half past four in the morning ; by lamp-
light during the frosts of winter, and when the birds began
to sing in the spring, and by daylight in the early summer.
Yes, my friends, it was work — constant, continuous work, —
work with a free will. It might be said the task was accom-
plished so soon, by necessity of earning the means as I went
along. I taught school fifty-four weeks during the time. My
friends, you are acquainted with my life since, and know
how dearly I have loved to visit old Swansea during the
years that have followed.
But, Mr. President, you introduced me also as the
highest in rank of Swansea's sons who participated in the
civil war. I was not aware of this. I am proud to say that
having belonged to a company of the volunteer militia for
five or six years prior to the civil war, playing soldier for
fun, upon call of the Governor April 16, 1861, I went with
my company (G. 4th Regt.) as corporal, and had the good
fortune, as right company of the regimental line, to be a
part of the first company of organized troops that trod upon
rebel soil, and subsequently to be in the first organized duly
planned battle of the rel)ellion between organized troops,
that of Big Bethel, June 10, 1861. The fact that I after-
wards became a field officer and rode on horseback, you
have alluded to. Every man, officer or private who went
forth to do battle in that conflict and performed his duty,
came home justly proud that he went. If I have added
62 DEDICATION OF THE
anything to the laurels of the sons of old Swansea, I am re-
Swansea Village was my home. It has changed, greatly
changed during the last forty years. As a business locality,
except at the old paper mill, it no longer exists. In 1840
in this village there were no less than five places where shoe-
makino- was carried on as an active and remunerative in-
dustry, employing some fifteen to eighteen men. Now as
a regular business it is not carried on at all, and in fact
there is no active mechanical or manufacturing business here.
The same is true of the neighborhood of Swansea Factory,
where my maternal grandfather, Benajah Mason, carried on
an extensive business as a tanner, currier and a manufacturer
of boots and shoes, employing a dozen or more men accord-
ing to the season. That has passed away, as well as Swan-
sea Factory itself, once a flourishing manufactory within two
miles of this village. What has been the cause of this
change ? It was not from lack of enterprise here, but it is
to 'be found in the superior advantages of the then small
villages, through which the lines of railroad were run. With
better facilities for transportation they started forward and
soon left the outlying villages far in the rear. Stagnation
soon commenced, and the result was an abandonment of all
mechanical or manufacturing industry where a railroad
station was not near at hand. Brockton and other villages,
now cities, have grown with phenomenal ra])idity, and the
old familiar landmarks known to the village boy of forty or
fifty years ago are covered with big blocks built of brick and
mortar, and the peaceful quiet of the country village is
disturbed by the rattling of machinery, the hum of business,
and the crowding of people in the streets.
Now, my friends, so far as I am concerned, I am glad
that Swansea Village remains as she is. It is selfish, I
know, but it is a selfishness engendered from a love of the old
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 68
scenes as they were in my boyhood. Nearly every dwelling-
house and shop are still standing-. The trees on the street
planted by the villagers some fifty years ago, (Rev. Ben-
jamin H. Chace leading in the enterprise) have justified the
predictions of those who toiled to put them in their places.
The residence of Mr. Stevens, with its beautiful grounds and
surroundings add new attractions to our beloved village. It
is truly the most charming rural retreat in this section of
the State. When Mr. Stevens first came here with his wife,
some thirty odd years ago, the thought did not occur to him
that this might become his permanent home. Leading, as
he had, an active and busy life, full of adventure and ex-
citement, it was not natural for us to even hope that he
would settle down and become a citizen of the ancient town
of Swansea. But the place grew upon him. He began to
love it and the people, and they in return loved him and his.
They learned to respect him and be guided by his counsels.
He has been a leader among business men and in the councils
of the State. The name of Frank S. Stevens has lono- been
a synonym for all that is good, noble and generous in thought
or deed. This beautiful building, which we dedicate to-day
is a tribute of love from him to the people among whom he
has cast his lot. How many of us may envy him. In the
dreams of our youth we may have looked forward to the
time when we might be author of some substantial benefaction
to the people of the place where we were born. That dream
is seldom realized. Mr. Stevens is not " native and to the
manor born," like many'of us. He did not play as a child
in the street, here, as we did. He did not mingle with us,
as boys and girls together, and have impressed upon him
scenes that last for a lifetime. Here he cannot say with us,
" How dear to my heart are the scenes of my childhood
When fond recollection presents them to view,
The orchard, the meadow, the deep tangled wild wood,
And * Abram's Rock' that my infancy knew."
64 DEDICATION OF THE
But he can say, " how dear to my heart are the place
and the people with whom I have lived during the last gen-
eration of men. Happy is my home, where peace and
affection abide. Respected and beloved of my fellow men,
the heart's fondest wishes are satisfied."
If he has sorrows of mind or heart we know them
not. To-day we know his heart must beat tumultuously
in response to our grateful appreciation of this noble bene-
faction. This building, so unique in design, so perfect as a
specimen of architecture, so well adapted to its purposes, will
stand through the centuries as a monument perpetuating
the memory of Frank S. Stevens. " Sculptured stone or
ever 'during brass" could never attain that end so well as
this beautiful and useful benefaction.
Mr. Gardner, in introducing the next speaker, said : —
In the very excellent historical address to which you have
listened, honorable mention has been made of Mason Barney.
I have the pleasure of introducing to you his grandson, the
Hon. Edwin L. Barney of New Bedford. Mr. Barney is
also a native of Swansea. His extensive law practice has
not only made his name familiar in Southeastern Massachu-
setts, but also in other parts of the State. *
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 65
OF HON. EDWIN L. BARNEY OF NEW BEDFORD.
Ladies and Gentlemen of Swansea. :
Not as a stranger coming into a land which he knows
not, and where he is not known, but as a native among his
okl friends and neighbors, I join with you to-day. Although
my labors are in other scenes, my coming here is not after
many years and much wandering. It has been my good
fortune to be near my old home all my life, and to visit
it often. I feel that I know Swansea's people, not as old
acquaintances merely, but as townsmen, fellow townsmen.
I am proud of the town ; I am proud of her people. I re-
joice to be present to-day and participate in this dedication.
Not only the fact that we are here for the purpose of throw-
ing open and accepting this grand building, is before us ;
but the great generosity of the giver and the inestimable
benefit of the gift appear to us, and you ought, and I think
you do, fully appreciate them.
This edifice is worthy of its noble donor. It is beauti-
ful in its architecture and complete in all its arrangements.
Frank S. Stevens has shared his prosperity with you. He
Q6 DEDICATION OF THE
lias built for the people. As I stand here it occurs to me
how wisely and judiciously he has made and constructed
this house for the whole people ; with what fidelity to all
has his plan been wrought out. This structure is not for
one purpose only. Built to accommodate the various uses
of town government, education and recreation, it is not too
small for either, and is fully adequate for them all. Monu-
mental to the liberality of the name of Stevens, this building-
shall no less stand symbolical of the loyalty of the good
people who shall maintain and protect it.
This Town House is not of stone finished and trimmed
by the skillful hand of the mechanic ; not huge blocks of
granite or brick pressed to a severe smoothness ; not arti-
ficial or manufactured substance, but of the natural boulders
that have lain for years in the soil, or marked the boundary
lines of your forefathers ; rock upon rock, boulder upon
boulder, does not the house they make, represent the natural
solidity of character the building commemorates.
My friends, Mr. Stevens has been wise ; he has made
a fitting combination of beauty and great utility in this
bountiful work he has done for his adopted home. He has
been generous, and with a lavish hand has made you part-
ners of his good fortune. A monument to his honorable
name, a standing tribute to good citizenship, and a light-
house for future advancement, let this edifice be accepted
by you. Here you, and future generations, can come to ex-
ercise the right of elective franchise, the highest political
privilege of American citizenship. Within these walls you
will elect and choose your town officers. This place shall
be the scene of your balloting for State officers, and here
you will manifest your choice for a President of the United
States. Beautiful as is this building, so is the right to bal-
lot as sacred.
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 67
In search of learning the yonng will come. From the
volumes they can study political economy to guide them
in their action as voters, or they can pore over the pages of
history and science to aid them in their knowledge of the
world in which they live. In fiction they can find a pastime ;
in the graver works they can seek instruction. Confined to
neither sex alone, it belongs to you all, — truly, in every
sense of the words, it is the Town House. What noble
acts may the walls echo !
How changed is all this from a century and more ago.
If the dead could look down from the skies and see the work ■
that is done upon the earth, what would old John Brown, or
Major James Brown, Thomas Willett the first mayor of
New York, Eev. John Myles the fighting pastor, John
Myles his son, the first town clerk of Swansea, Samuel Myles
the second pastor of King's Chapel, Boston, Rev. Samuel
Luther, Hezekiah Luther, Hugh Cole, Thomas Easterbrooke,
John Butterworth, Francis Stevens, and of more recent date
Mason Barney, Thomas Peck, John Mason and a host of
other immortal spirits, who used to walk these fields and
gather in the old meeting house that stood upon this spot,
what, I repeat, would they say ? Would they not rejoice
with us ? Would they not delight in our good fortune ? I
almost think that the redeemed and regenerate soul of King-
Philip would be touched in beholding the very stones his
feet may have trod, in his wild and weird chase of the white
man, two hundred and odd years ago, rising into a building
on almost the very spot that English blood was first spilled
in the Old Colony. Commemorative of Old Swansea, typi-
cal of the present progressive age, and exemplifying the
open-heartedness of your leading citizen, this building shall
stand through the years to come.
Of a family whose name is historical comes Frank S.
Stevens. We find it often in the records of the Plymouth
6S DEDICATION OF. THE
and Massachusetts Colonies. As early as 1658 a Francis
Stevens held property and had his residence in this town,
and now 233 years afterwards we have with us a high-mind-
ed, liberal, patriotic and distinguished man of the same name,
who worthily upholds the family distinction.
Ladies and gentlemen of Swansea, see to it that the
purposes for which this pile was erected are not averted.
Keep it as befits the honor of the town. Encourage its use
by all. Do this and the future generations will be nobler,
better, more independent and enlightened.
Adherence to high principles, fidelity to the causes of
progress, patriotism and liberality, cannot fail to produce
what Tennyson felt when he wrote, —
" Yet I doubt not through the ages,
One increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widened
With the process of the suns."
The chairman then asked if there was any business be-
fore the meetinof.
Mr. James H. Mason moved that the selectmen be re-
quested to convey to the Hon. Frank Shaw Stevens the
grateful thanks of the citizens of Swansea for his gift of
this beautiful and commodious town hall ; and that the pro-
ceedings of this meeting, together with this vote, be incor-
porated in the records of the town.
Mr. E. M. Thurston moved that a vote of thanks be
extended to the Hon. eTohn S. Brayton for his very interesting,
instructive and valuable address ; also, to Messrs. Wood,
Brown and Barney for their interesting addresses, and that
a copy of each address be requested for publication.
Both resolutions were adopted.
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 69
The interesting exercises were then brought to a close
by the venerable Rev. Benjamin H. Chase, of Swansea, who
pronounced a benediction.
The audience then dispersed ; many people took ad-
vantage to press to the platform and thank Mr. Stevens for
his sjilendid gift, and Mr. Brayton for his magnificent address.
There were none in the audience more deeply interested
in the proceedings then the special guests of the honored
donor of the building :
Mrs. Louisa E. Stevens, of Cleveland, Ohio, mother of
Hon. Frank S. Stevens ; Mr. N. C. Stevens, of Toledo, Ohio ;
Mrs. A. K. Spencer, of Cleveland ; Mr. and Mrs. Geo. H.
Allen, of New York ; Mrs. J. Barstow, of New York ; Mrs.
F. Hoard and Miss H. M. Kelton, of Providence.
The ushers of the day, who performed their duties in a
successful manner, were Messrs. Henry O. Wood, Nathan
M. Wood, James Easterbrook, Mason Barney and Elijah P.
At the close of the exercises in the hall, the Swansea
Brass Band gave an elaborate clambake, near the hall, and
entertained a large crowd in a satisfactory manner.
70 DEDICATION OF THE
Knoav all Men by these Presents, that 1, Frank
S. Stevens of Swansey in the State of Massachusetts, in con-
sideration of one dollar and other considerations to me paid
by the Town of Swansey, a municipal corporation situate in
the County of Bristol and State of Massachusetts aforesaid,
the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, do hereby re-
mise, release and forever quitclaim unto the said Town of
Swansey the following lots of land situate in said Town.
The first lot is bounded beginning at the southeast corner of
the lot to be described on the northeasterly side of the high-
way, and running thence northerly by the fence, building,
and wall now there, one hundred and two feet (102) by land
of Elizabeth R. Stevens to a wall, thence westerly one
hundred and sixty feet (160) by the burying ground and
the wall as it now stands, to a wall and land of the heirs now
or formerly of Mason B. Chase, thence southerly by said
last named land and wall sixty-five feet (65) to the highway
aforesaid, thence westerly by said highway one hundred and
eighty-six feet (186) to the point of beginning, containing
by estimation fifty-five rods more or less. Said tract of land
is subject to a right of way to and from the highway and
the burying ground.
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 71
Also, one other lot of land situate in said Swansey and
bounded beginning" at the southwest corner of the lot to be
conveyed, thence running by the wall forty feet to the pass-
way, thence northerly by said passway to the lot formerly
occupied by John Mason, Esq., thence west by said Mason lot
to the wall, and thence by the wall to the first named corner,
being the lot conveyed to me by John S. Sprague by deed
dated June 16th, 1890.
Also, one other lot of land situate in said Swansey and
next to the lot last described above, and bounded beginning
at the southeast corner thereof by the lot first described
above, thence running northerly by the wall twenty-four (24)
feet for a corner, thence westerly by a lot now or formerly
owned or occupied by Richard Chase to the center of the
path, forty-four feet (44), thence southerly l)y said path
twenty-four feet (24) to a wall, thence easterly by said wall
forty-four feet to the point of beginning, being the lot con-
veyed to me by William H. Chase and others by deed dated
June 25th, 1890.
This conveyance is made upon the express and precedent
conditions that the building which said Frank S. Stev^ens is
erecting or has erected upon said land for a Town Hall and
Public Library, and which is conveyed by him as a free gift
to said Town as part of the premises included in this con-
veyance, shall be devoted to public purposes and forever used
as a Town Hall and Public Libraiy by the inhabitants of
said Swansey ; that the room designed for the use of a Pub-
lic Library shall be used, rent free, for library purposes by
the organization known as the Swansey Public Library, or
such other library as may succeed to or take the place of
the same, and that any Christian denomination desiring the
use of said Town Hall for funeral services shall be allowed
to use the same, subject to such equal and reasonable regu-
lations as the Selectmen of said Town may prescribe.
72 DEDICATION OP THE
To have and to hold the granted premises, with all the
privileges and appurtenances thereto belonging to the said
Town of Swansey and its successors and assigns, to their
own use and behoof forever.
And I do hereby, for myself and my heirs, executors
and administrators, covenant with the said grantee and its
successors and assigns, that the granted premises are free
from all incumbrances made or suffered by me, except the
right of way aforesaid, and that I will, and my heirs, execu-
tors and administrators shall warrant and defend the same
to the said grantee and its successors and assigns forever,
against the lawful claims and demands of all persons claim-
ing by, through, or under me, except said right of way, but
against none other.
And for the consideration aforesaid I, Elizabeth R.
Stevens, wife of said Frank S. Stevens, do hereby release unto
the said grantee and its successors and assigns all right of or
to both dower and homestead in the granted premises.
In witness whereof, we, the said Frank S. Stevens and
Elizabeth R. Stevens, have hereunto set our hands and seals
this twenty-third day of June, in the year one thousand eight
hundred and ninety-one.
Signed, sealed and delivered ( Frank S. StevenS. ( Seal.)
in presence of )
Andrew J. Jennings to F.S.S. ) _ ^ ^
N. C. Stevens to E. R. S. ( ELIZABETH R. StEVENS. ( Seal.)
Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Bristol ss. June 24, 1891. Then personally appeared
the above-named Frank S. Stevens and acknowledged the
foregoing instrument to be his free act and deed, before me.
Andrew J. Jennings,
Justice of the Peace.
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 73
[Copy of a communication from the Newport corre-
spondent of the Providence llorning Star, published in that
paper on the 15th day of December, 1880.]
THE POTTER SCHOOL HOUSE.
The new school house to be erected and presented to
the city by the trustees of Long Wharf, is to occupy 18,000
feet of land on Elm street, and the trustees have decided to
christen it, " The Potter School House," for the following-
reason : In 1795, Simeon Potter of Swansea, Mass., made
a free gift to the trustees of an estate owned by him near
the wharf, which the following copy of Mr. Potter's letter,
making the donation, will more fully explain :
SwANZEY, Aug. 16, 1795.
Messrs. George Gihhs and George Champlin :
Gentlemen : — I saw in the Boston Centinel a scheme
of a lottery, for the laudable intention of re-building Long-
Wharf in Newport, the building a Hotel, and more especially
establishing a Free School, which has determined me to make
74 DEDICATION OF THE
a free gift of my estate on the point called Easton's Point,
which came to me by way of mortgage, for a debt due from
Hays and Pollock, if you will accept of it in trust to support a
Free School forever, for the advantage of poor children of
every denomination, and to be under the same regulations as
you desired the Free School should be that you designed to
erect. If you, gentlemen, will please to get a deed wrote
agreeably to the intentions here manifested, I will sign and
acknowledge the same, and send it to you for recording. I
would only mention that if the situation is agreeable to you,
the house and garden would do for a school-master, and the
oil-house, which is large, might be fitted up for a school-house.
This as you may think proper. There is no person here who
understands writing such a deed, or I would have sent it to
you completely executed.
I am, gentlemen, with respect.
Your very humble servant,
It is needless to add that the gift was accepted and the
property used as proposed, a free school having been main-
tained there for many years, or until the State, through the
" School Fund Lottery," which many will remember as exist-
ing for many years, took charge of the education of its youth.
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 75
THE NEW TOWN HALL.
The Town Hall, of which the cut on the frontispiece is an
illustration, is the gift to the town of Swansea of Hon. Frank
S. Stevens. The building is located upon a lot nearly oppo-
site the residence of its donor. The dimensions of the land
are 193x122 feet. It is placed about the center of the lot,
some 30 feet back from the street, and its dimensions are
61x80 feet. The building is of rough field stones, taken from
the walls on farms owned by Mr. Stevens, with Longmeadow
brown-stone used for trimmings, all laid in pure Portland
cement. The arched entrance seen in the cut, is eight feet
in width and handsome blue-stone steps lead to the entrance.
The vestibule is spacious, being a square room twelve feet four
inches. Directly in front, to one entering this vestibule, are
wide folding doors opening directly to the town hall. By the
only condition of the donor this is to be open to every and
any religious society desiring to hold funeral services there.
The hall is a magnificent room, 40x50 feet, with recess for
a stage 10x34 feet. The platform extends slightly into the
76 DEDICATION OF THE
hall, and its dimensions are 16x30 feet. The hall -is finished
with a dado four feet high, and has a cove ceiling on all
sides 16 feet above the floor, which height marks the tie
beams of three ornamented trusses, 10| feet apart. The
vaulted or dome ceiling, 29x13 feet, is designed to break
sound waves and assure good acoustic properties. For further
decoration the cove ceiling is broken by wooden ribs, form-
ing panels three feet wide and the height of the cove around
the hall. The finish is of hard pine, in shellac. The
seating capacity of the hall is 500. On the west side a fire-
proof vault for the town records is provided, lined with brick
and with vaulted ceiling, with double steel doors. Besides
the folding doors to the vestibule, similar doors open into
the library and selectmen's rooms at the front of the build-
ing, thus increasing the capacity of the main hall, should
occasion require. Heat is provided by furnace.
The southwest corner of the building is for the library
and reading room. Book cases run the whole width of its
walls and to the ceiling. The dimensions of the room are
23x18 feet exclusive of an alcove, 6x13, with open fireplace.
Spacious window seats are provided at the front windows.
The southeast corner is the selectmen's room, 18x20 feet,
and opening into a circular stairway that leads to the bell
deck and clock tower. A fireplace ornaments the east side
of the room, and both this and the library are heated by
grates sufficiently large for the purpose. Provision has been
made whereby an extension can be made on the east for a
room for kitchen purposes on festal occasions, though this
was not contemplated in the original plan nor in the cut
presented. This vestibule entrance formed by the tower is
finished in brick, and in one of the sides a bronze tablet will
be set suitably inscribing the gift and the purpose of the
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 77
The perspective of the building, as seen by the ilhistra-
tion, is very pretty and pleasing. The style at once excites
commendation from all who see it. It is nearer " rustic"
than anything else, and the architect has evidently had ever
in mind the location for which it was intended. The tower
shown is 13 feet square and 56 feet high, and its roof is
covered with red slate, while the roof of the main buildino-
is of dark blue. The tower, with its bell and clock, marks
the memorial feature of the structure. A memorial tablet,
cut from a slab of brown freestone, bears the inscription :
PRESENTED TO THE TOWN OF SWANSEA,
FRANK S. STEVENS.
One of Howard's best movement clocks has been fur-
nished, and a fine-toned bell of 715 pounds weight accom-
panies it. It will be noted that the ornamentation of the
building is all in front, the roof being kept j^lain, and so
easily in repair. The front is ornate with brown stone and
carving. The tower treatment, its rounded arches marking
the Romanesque, is indeed picturesque, and the turret for
the clock is a distinctive and important feature for this part
of the tower. The chimney, for the library fireplace, is
carried on the tower on the opposite side and as a balance
to the clock turret, and rises to a height of 52 feet above
grade. Another architectural feature to show that the tower
is for a bell as well as for a clock is seen in the large opening
below the clock, through which the bell will show, and the
sound waves have nothing to check and subdue them.
As the building is only designed for the three rooms
which have been described, a town hall, library and select-
78 DEDICATION OF THE
men's room, there being no second story, the roof is designed
in keeping with this fact. The large roof covers the large
hall only, and the roofs are low over the other two rooms.
And to make the alcove a distinctive architectural feature
of the front it is marked by a steep gable, which also acts as
a screen for the roof of it.
The building is piped for gas. Mr. J. Merrill Brown
of Boston, was the architect, Mr. J. J. Highlands of Fall
River, did the masonry, and Mr. Angus McDonald of Boston,
the carpentry work.
TOWN HALL, SWANSEA. 79
FRANK SHAW STEVENS,
The donor of the town hall, was born in Rutland,
Vermont, Ang. 6, 1827. He received a common school edu-
cation, and at the age of seventeen entered a store in West-
field, N. Y., as a clerk. He served in this capacity four years,
when the California gold fever excitement allured him to the
great West, and he joined his fortunes with a company of
Forty-niners for a trip across the great American Desert,
in the spring of 1849. They left Omaha in May of that
year for Sacramento, Cal., and reached their destination in
the latter part of August. Mr. Stevens did not like the life
or the work of a miner, and soon gave up this business for
something more to his liking. He entered into partnership
with Mr. Henry Durfee, for the purpose of hauling goods
and provisions to the miners and travellers in the mountains.
The enterprise was proving to be a profitable one when high
water came on and they were obliged to give it up. He then
successfully engaged in the restaurant business and after-
wards ran a staae line from Sacramento to Placerville. In
1854 all the stage lines in California united to form the
California Stage Company, and Mr. Stevens was chosen vice
president, having charge of one of the most important di-
visions until 186G. In the fall of 1858 he came to Wash-
80 DEDICATION OF THE
ington, D. C, to look after the interests of his company, and
made several trips to and from California from that time to
In 1858 he visited Swansea for the first time, and in
1866 he settled in the town which has since been his home.
In 1862, he became a member of the firm of Paris, Allen &
Co., of New York. Mr. Allen died abont a year ago and
Mr. Paris died September 2, 1891.
Mr. Stevens has been prominently identified with the
business interests of Fall River for nearly a quarter of a
century, and at the present time is president of the Globe
Street Eailway Co., president of the Fall River Merino Co.,
vice president of the Metacomet National Bank, and a direc-
tor in the following corporations : Bourne mills, Chase Ele-
vator Co., Edison Electric Illuminating Co., Fall River
Electric Lighting Co., Fall River and Providence Steam-
boat Co., Granite mills. Mechanics mills, O shorn mills,
Richard Borden mills, Slade mills and the Stafford mills.
Up to the opening of the war of the rebellion Mr. Stevens
was a Democrat, but since that time he has been actively
identified with the Republican party. He was a member
of the Republican State Central Committee from this district
for several years, and in 1884 was a member of the State
Senate, declining a re-election the next year.
He was a delegate to the National Republican conven-
tions of 1884 and 1888.
Mr. Stevens has been twice married. In July, 1858,
he married Julia A. B., widow of James E. Birch, of Swan-
sea. She died in February, 1871, and on April 22d, 1878, he
married Miss Elizabeth R. Case, of Swansea. He is an at-
tendant and supporter of the Protestant Episcopal church
of Swansea. His farm is one of the finest in the vicinity of
Fall River, and is well stocked with fine horses and a large
herd of pure Jersey cattle.
Table of Contents,
Letters of the Selectmen of Swansea, - - - - 3
Dedication of the Town Hall, ----- 5
Presentation, Address of Mr, Stevens, - - - . - 8
Portrait of Frank Shaw Stevens, - - - opp. 8
Response of Mr. Mason, the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, 10
Historical Address of Hon. John S. Brayton, - - - 12
Vie\v of the Garrison House of Ptcv. John Myles, - - 23
View of the Old Meeting House at North Swansea, - - 31
Address of Jonathan Wood, Esq., - - - - - 55
Address of Major James Brown, _ _ _ - 58
Address of Hon. Edwin L. Barney, - - - - - 65
Vote of Thanks to
Messrs. Stevens, Brayton, Wood, Brown anrl Barney, - 68
Deed of Mr. Stevens to the Town, - - - - 70
Letter of Simeon Potter, _ - - - - 73
Description of Town Hall, - - - - - 75
Frank Shaw Stevens, Notice of, . - - - 79