by Caleb Butler
Caleb Butler, History of the Town of Groton, Including Pepperell and Shirley: from the First Grant of Groton Plantation in 1655, with Appendices Containing Family Registers, Town and State Officers, Population and Other Statistics (Boston: T.R. Martin, 1848), pp. 305-57.
Edited by Wendy Cummings, 2024.
Incorporation and Meeting Houses
That part of Groton lying west of Nashua river and north of the country road, as travelled a century ago from Groton to Townsend, was set off as a distinct precinct, or parish, in the year 1742, and called “Groton West Parish.”
At a legal meeting of said parish, held January 17, 1742, at the house of Mr. William Spaulding, Benjamin Swallow was chosen moderator; Eleazer Gilson, parish clerk; Benjamin Swallow, Isaac Williams, James Lawrence; Jonathan Woods, and Joseph Whitney, committee; Samuel Wright, treasurer; Jonas Varnum, Moses Woods, and Samuel Shattuck, assessors; and William Spaulding and Jeremiah Lawrence, collectors. This was undoubtedly the first parish meeting and organization of the parish under the act of the General Court by which it was incorporated. At this meeting, the sum of ten pounds, lawful money, was voted to be assessed to defray the necessary charges arisen and arising in said parish.
Whilst this territory remained a parish, nothing of a public nature, unconnected with Groton, except of a parochial character, was transacted therein. Building a meeting-house and settling a minister, were of course the first and only matters which called for action, and were put on record.
The second meeting was held at the house of James Lawrence, February 16, 1742, at which the parish voted to build a meeting-house, and that it should be set at “the most convenient place near Joseph Blood’s ford-way;” a well known place, between the paper-mills at Babbitassett and Jewett’s bridge.
About the same time, it was voted “to receive the people on the east side of the river, that have petitioned to be annexed to us, provided they will consent to have the meeting-house set at the most convenient place on the west side the river, near the bridge, next below Jo. Blood’s ford-way, so called.”
But the momentous affairs of deciding upon a spot on which to set a public building, and choosing and settling a minister, are not usually accomplished without much strife and contention, and are sometimes attended with long and furious quarrels and expensive lawsuits. The reason of this, the Rev. Mr. Emerson, the first minister of the parish, in his sermon at the dedication of the second meeting-house, explains in this manner: “It hath been observed,”; says he, “that some of the hottest contentions in this land hath been about settling of ministers and building meeting-houses; and what is the reason? The devil is a great enemy to settling ministers and building meeting-houses; wherefore he sets on his own children to work and make difficulties, and to the utmost of his power stirs up the corruptions of the children of God in some way to oppose or obstruct so good a work.”
If the true reason was assigned by the Rev. Mr. Emerson, it would seem that either the west parish of Groton consisted of a large proportion of the devil’s children at this time, or that the corruptions of the saints were too easily wrought upon by Satan. Before the expiration of a year, a parish meeting was called, a vote passed to reconsider the vote fixing the place for the meeting-house, and another passed to place it “three fourths of a mile northeast of the centre of the parish, or at the next convenient place.” The size was fixed at forty-two feet in length, thirty feet in breadth, and twenty feet in height. A committee was chosen to ascertain the centre of the parish, and another to state the place for the house. The parish having been surveyed, the centre found, and the northeast line of three fourths of a mile run out, the site for the meeting-house was determined on, which was agreeable to the wishes of a majority of the parish, the north and east parts being more settled upon than the west. Some of the timber for the house was brought to the spot; but the devil, according to the Rev. Mr. Emerson’s theory, was busy setting on his own children, and stirring up the corruptions of others; the minority, living in the centre and west part, being not well pleased with the location, with Moses Woods at their head, made such resistance to the proceedings of the majority, that the destruction of the parish was threatened. Whereupon the aid of the Great and General Court was invoked; Peleg Lawrence and Josiah Sartell were appointed a committee to supplicate the legislature to take measures to end the dispute. The Great and General Court, in mercy to the distracted condition of the parish, appointed a committee to survey the place and locate the meeting-house. The parish chose a committee “to show the Court’s committee the inhabitants of the place.” It seems that the Court’s committee promptly attended to the business assigned them, and they agreed upon the spot where the first parish meeting-house in Pepperell now stands; and the parish voted, February 19, 1745, “;to set the meeting-house on the place that the General Court prefixed.” Upon this final result, the Rev. Mr. Emerson, in the sermon above quoted, remarks: “One thing I cannot but mention, as a kind interposition of divine Providence, though considered as such by very few in the time, and that is, the fixing the place for the meeting-house, though fixed contrary to the mind and the vote of the majority of the inhabitants by a Court’s committee, yet proves now to be with much more equity; and where all seem to be universally contented with. Had it been erected in the place designed, and where even the timber was drawn to, what trouble, charge and ’tis very likely contention, we must have been exercised with before this day!”
The devil having been thus foiled by the Court’s committee, but not entirely “cast out,” made one effort more to obstruct the building of a meeting-house. When the men, employed to remove the timber from the place where it had been deposited to the site determined upon, had assembled for the purpose, and their teams were in readiness to move with it, James Lakin, a leader in the previous minority of the parish, who were rejoiced at the decision of the Court’s committee, took the lead with his team. A number of the inhabitants of the east part, greatly enraged at the decision, many of whom bore the name of Shattuck, collected on the spot; and when the teams were put in motion, they attempted to prevent their forward movement by pricking the noses of the oxen. Lakin, being a stout, strong, athletic man, and probably somewhat excited by the outrage, soon put the whole of them to rout, and let the teams quietly pass on. [Fame says the Shattucks, on this occasion, were piled on the road-side “six or eight deep.”]
Soon after this the meeting-house was raised, and so far finished as to be occupied in the former part of the year 1745. But, from sundry votes passed, it seems not to have been completed, and that occasionally work was done upon it, and improvements made for several succeeding years. The following are extracts from the votes about building and completing it.
“Voted, that said committee frame, raise, and board the outside and shingle the roof, lay the under floor and make suitable doors and hang the same.”
— “To build the pulpit and the body seats below.”
— “To seat the meeting-house.”
— “Set off the pews (or pew ground) to the highest payers in the three last rates.”
— “To ceil the meeting-house as high as the girths all around.”
— “That windows be cut where needed, provided, they that cut them maintain them upon their own cost, that they be no parish charge.”
— “To finish the building the seats in the gallery, and to ceil the meeting-house from the gallery floor up to the beams.”
— “To glaze the public meeting-house, and to provide boards to lay loose on the floor over-head,”
— “To seat the public meeting-house by the three last years’ pay.”
— “To give the men that are seated on the fore seats below, liberty to set a row of bannisters (balusters) with a rail-stop before the fore seats, at their own cost and charge.”
Judging from these votes, it would seem, that this first house, if it were now before us in its best state, could be called little better than a shantee. But it served for the people of the west parish in Groton, and the district of Pepperell, for about twenty-five years, and no doubt but the praises and prayers therein offered were as sincere and as acceptable to Him, “who regardeth the heart,” as those raised in the most magnificent temple ever constructed by human hands.
April 12, 1753, Groton west parish was made a district by an act of the Great and General Court, in conformity to a petition by the inhabitants, and named Pepperell. This name was adopted in honor of Sir William Pepperell of Piscataqua, who commanded an army of six thousand men raised in New England in the year 1745, for the express purpose of reducing Louisburg and subjecting the isle of Cape Breton to the possession of Great Britain, which was successfully effected. The Rev. Mr. Emerson, who was ordained the minister of Groton west parish about two years after this event, was a chaplain in that expedition, and probably suggested the name in remembrance of his commander. [Tradition says, that William Prescott, afterwards Colonel Prescott, an inhabitant of the parish, was a lieutenant in that expedition, and conversed with the commander-in-chief on the contemplated incorporation of the place as a town or district, and proposed the name; but the Prescott manuscript hereinafter noticed, makes no mention of this service, but says he was a lieutenant in the forces sent to remove the neutral French in Nova Scotia, under Col. Monkton in 1755. Besides, Prescott was but nineteen years of age at the time of the former expedition, and that about eight years before the incorporation of the district, so that neither his lieutenancy nor the conversation would seem probable.] It is said that Sir William gave or intended to give a church bell to the district, that he sent to England and had one cast bearing the inscription of his own name and the following couplet:
And to the grave I summon all.”
That the bell was brought to Boston, stored there and afterwards sold to pay storage. Another tradition is, that it fell into the hands of the British during the war.
May 29, 1753. At the first meeting after incorporation, the district “voted to confirm and establish what was voted in Groton west parish.” The practical use or legal effect of this vote is not perceived.
In the year 1767, the district took preparatory steps to build a new meeting-house. They voted to raise the sum of eighty pounds for the purpose, and that the house should be sixty feet long, forty feet wide and twenty feet high, with porches. In 1768, “voted that the meeting- house be built workman-like.” Also “chose William Prescott a committee to join the committees from the several towns in this Province, considering the awful frowns of divine Providence upon our land and on this Province in a particular manner, whereby our civil privileges are greatly threatened, and considering we are engaged in the important affair of building a new house for the worship of God, voted to set apart Thursday as a day of fasting and prayer, to confess our manifold sins, whereby we have provoked our God to frown upon us in our public affairs, and earnestly to implore the returns of his favor, and particularly to humble ourselves before God, for our unprofitableness under the means of grace we have enjoyed in the old meeting-house, and to entreat his guidance in erecting a new one.”
In 1769, a question arose whether the house should have a steeple, which was finally decided in the negative. Cornet Gilson was the undertaker to build the new house, and as part compensation he had the old one, which he removed to his farm and used as a barn. It has since been burnt.
The new house was dedicated March 8, 1770, on which occasion Mr. Emerson preached the sermon, before quoted, from this text, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” In this discourse Mr. Emerson enumerates various reasons why the people of Pepperell should set up their Ebenezer, and gratefully acknowledge that “hitherto the Lord had helped them.” Such as the preservation of the church, when threatened with total destruction; that God had had his eye upon New England ever since its settlement; that the number of the inhabitants of Pepperell since his settlement had increased from seventy-two, to one hundred and fifty-two families, and that their interest and wealth had increased in as great proportion; that they had been able to pay the charges of becoming a parish, a district, building a house for worship, and that peace, love and harmony had prevailed in settling the gospel among them; that they had been preserved from savage enemies while it was a frontier place, and they were under the necessity of carrying their weapons of war with them to the house of worship, as they had done since his settlement; that the great sickness, which had prevailed among them several years, had been stayed; and that they had been preserved while erecting and finishing the second- meeting-house, not a life having been lost or a bone broken while providing the timber, raising the frame and finishing the house; and finally, that he himself would on this occasion set up his Ebenezer, it being the twenty- third anniversary of his ordination, and acknowledge that “hitherto the Lord had helped him,” both in temporal and spiritual things.
This second meeting-house is the same that is now owned and occupied by the first parish in Pepperell. In the year 1836, it having been in constant use for sixty- six years, and being out of repair and not adapted in its form to modern taste, the parish undertook to remodel and repair it throughout. The following extracts from records show the progress of that work.
“July 31, 1836. On this day we assembled for public worship for the last time in the old meeting-house; we, on this day, bade adieu to the old places where generation after generation had kept holy time.” “The parish, with a decisive energy which did them credit, took the necessary steps in order to the work being effected. Two sermons, appropriate to the occasion, were preached on Sunday, and on Monday the church was stripped of its pews and its whole interior.”
“The work advanced more slowly than we had hoped. Delays of various kinds interposed. At length, however, on the 26th of October, the work was finished, and on Thursday, the 27th, the house in its new form was solemnly dedicated to ‘the service of Almighty God.’ “It was to us a season of heartfelt joy, of gratitude to God and of mutual congratulation. The work of our hands had been prospered. A new temple had been raised up for us, and we, who had held our religious festivals under the most uncomfortable and disheartening circumstances, were now permitted to worship God amid the beauty of the sanctuary.” “It is only giving honor to whom honor is due to record in this place, that by the generosity of the ladies of this parish, the pulpit was trimmed and the aisles carpeted throughout.” “ The Bible in two volumes was a generous donation from Mrs. E. Bass of Boston, a daughter of the Rev. Mr. Bullard, a former pastor of this church. The communion table was a present from Mrs. Thomas Bancroft of this town.”
A handsome silver goblet was presented by Madam Prescott of Boston, March, 1846.
In the year 1831, a large number of the inhabitants of the town, including a great majority of the members of the church, withdrew from public worship in the meeting-house, and held meetings for a time in a private hall. They “signed off,” as the phrase is, from the town, or first parish, and formed a second parish by the name of the “Evangelical Congregational Society.” In 1832, they built a commodious meeting-house, finished in modern style, having a steeple and clock. It was dedicated October 31, 1832.
Ministers, Churches, etc.
The first provision for having preaching in Groton west parish, which appears on record, is under date of February 16, 1742, when the parish “;voted, that Samuel Wright be a committee to provide preaching till the last day of April next.” It appears by the records, that the house of Enosh Lawrence, who lived in what is now the east village, and the house of Nehemiah Hobart, who lived where David R. Shattuck now lives, were used as places of worship before a meeting-house was built.
March 13, 1744, the parish “voted to keep the last day of March instant, a day of fasting and prayer to Almighty God for direction in the important affair of settling a minister” — “chose a committee to take advice of the neighboring ministers, and to invite them to assist in said fast, and to make provision for them.”
Soon after, “voted to give the Rev. Mr. Vinal a call to settle in the work of the ministry.” Why he did not accept the call, does not appear.
“September 25, 1746, voted to give the Rev. Mr. Joseph Emerson, of Malden, a call to settle in the gospel ministry in said parish, and to give him one hundred and twenty pounds settlement, and sixty-two pounds ten shillings salary yearly, and thirty cords of fire-wood, cut and delivered at his door.” In January following, the parish voted to give Mr. Emerson forty acres of land within a mile of the meeting-house, and to increase his salary twelve pounds ten shillings when the parish should contain one hundred ratable families. At that time it contained seventy-two families. Mr. Emerson’s answer to the call was in the affirmative, and he was ordained February 25, 1746-7. The sermon on the occasion was preached by his father, the minister of Malden, from this text: “Thou, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” A church had been organized (or gathered, according to the technical phrase of the times) on the 29th of January next preceding the ordination, and Mr. Emerson was formally admitted a member of it on the morning of his ordination. The church at this time consisted of fifteen male members, eleven of whom had been dismissed from the church in Groton for the purpose of forming this. The number of females is not exactly known, but it is supposed there were nearly as many as males. [By a paragraph in a discourse delivered by the Rev. Mr. Andrews, at Pepperell, January 29, 1847, it would seem there were no females, vid. p. 23. But the names of the wives of at least ten of the males are named in the records as original members, and not under the head of admissions. This seems to be proof positive, that there were female members at the time of organization.]
Mr. Emerson’s salary was regulated something in the manner of Dr. Chaplin’s of Groton; according to the price of produce, provisions, and other necessaries of life; but with a little more propriety and justice in the quantities of articles stated, upon which to make the calculation.
The following lists were made out by a committee for that purpose, which were accepted by the parish and by Mr. Emerson.
Ninety pounds on W. I. Goods.
- “W. I. rum at 21s. per gall.
- Molasses, 15s. do.
- Loaf sugar, 7s. per lb.
- Cotton wool, 13s. do.
- Salt, 32s. per bush.
“Forty pounds upon Meat.
- “Beef at 9d. per lb.
- Pork, 15d.
“Sixty pounds upon Grain.
- “Corn at 12s. per bush.
- Rye, 16s.
- Barley, 14s.
- Oats, 7s.
- Wheat, 22s.
“Sixty pounds upon Sundries.
- “Sheep’s wool at 10s. per lb.
- Flax, 3s. 6d.
- Shoes, 30s. per pr.
- Labor at £60 per year.
- Butter, 2s. 6d. per lb.”
It was doubtless a troublesome business to estimate the salary annually upon such a basis, and the district wisely voted in the year 1767 to abandon the plan, and give Mr. Emerson £73 6s. 8d. annually, computing silver at 6s. per dollar, and 6s. 8d. per ounce. Upon this change in his compensation Mr. Emerson remarks: “I heartily rejoice that you have seen fit to set aside the old contract, which hath been the occasion of so much trouble. As to the sum you offer me instead of it, I thankfully accept of it. All things considered, it is honorable and kind, and is a token, that after so many years, my labors are yet acceptable among you. I hope, through divine grace, to go on with more cheerfulness in the work of the ministry, and while I am partaking of your carnal things, that the Lord may abundantly shower down spiritual blessings, is the sincere prayer of your affectionate pastor. I desire this may be recorded in the parish book.”
The service of Mr. Emerson in the expedition to Cape Breton as chaplain, in 1745, undoubtedly had an influence on his whole life and character afterwards; and that influence was imparted, in an eminent degree, to the people of his charge. Hence the great number of brave officers and courageous soldiers in Pepperell in the French and Revolutionary wars, and down to the present time. Immediately upon the assembling of the army at Cambridge, he repaired thither to visit his numerous parishioners there in arms, and is said to have offered the first prayer ever made in the American camp. While there, he took a cold, which induced the disease of which he died, October 29, 1775, aet. 51. He left a widow and five children, four sons and a daughter. He appears to have been a very useful, faithful, and successful minister; beloved, esteemed, reverenced by the church and people of his charge. His religious views and principles undoubtedly harmonized with those of most of the clergy of his time in New England; though if we may judge from his writings, and the plain, simple, practical covenant of his church, we must suppose that he had more liberality and Christian charity, and less dogmatism and bigotry, than many of them. Ultra Calvinism had not, however, at that time been portrayed in the unscriptural and meta- physical language of Edwards, Hopkins, and Emmons; nor had the absurd and contradictory dogmas of these found their way into the creeds and covenants of so many churches, as they afterwards did.
During the twenty-nine years of his ministry he baptized eight hundred and seven persons, admitted one hundred and ninety-six to the church, and solemnized one hundred and seventy-three marriages. Eight deacons were elected by the church, and by him inducted into office, viz.: Jeremiah Lawrence, John Spafford, January 11, 1747-8; Josiah Fiske, January 18, 1754; Peleg Lawrence, August 21, 1754; Thomas Laughton, August 3, 1759; David Blood, April 9, 1762; Daniel Fiske, April 23, 1773; Edmund Parker, October 8, 1773.
It was customary for one chosen deacon to give his acceptance in writing, drawn out into quite an epistle, which was read to the congregation, and then the candidate was formally inducted into office by a charge from the minister, and took his appropriate seat.
[The form used by Mr. Emerson on these occasions was as follows : — “Dear Brother: — We congratulate you upon the honor, which the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the church, hath been pleased to confer upon you; for we doubt not but you had a call to this office, which under the influence of his Spirit, as we trust, you have accepted; that Spirit, which Christ hath purchased and promised to send down, not only to convince and convert the sinner, but also as a guide and teacher to his people, and hath assured us, that he should lead us into all truth. You are sensible there is a work as well as an honor, attending the office, which you must see to it that you fulfil. I would therefore charge you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge both the quick and the dead, another day, before the elect angels and this assembly, that you faithfully discharge the duties of your station, that you fulfil the ministry you have received. See to it, that you be honest and just with respect to the treasure, which may be committed to you; see to it, that you answer the character of the deacons in the word of God, ‘Be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre, hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.’ See to it, that you govern your children and household well, ‘be blameless, be an example to believers themselves,’ let your conversation be as becometh godliness, watch and pray continually, that those who seek occasion to speak evil of you, may find none; live always as under the eye of the Loid Jesus Christ, who will shortly call you to give an account of your stewardship. If you thus behave and do, ‘you will purchase to yourself a good degree’ of favor with God and good men, and ‘great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.’ And let me put you in mind, that as the Lord Jesus and this his people, expect more from you in this relation than ever, so there is strength enough in Christ for you, and he will not leave you, if you do not first forsake him. O, then, repair to him by a lively faith. Go out of yourself, trust wholly in him, so when you are weak in yourself, you will be strong in him; so shall you fulfil your course at length with joy, and your Lord will say to you, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; as you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things, enter into the joy of your Lord.’ May this at last be your and our portion, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory in the church, world without end. Amen.”]
A term of nearly four years after the death of Mr. Emerson passed, before the settlement of another minister. The congregation was not, however, destitute of preaching for the whole of that time. Mr. Joseph Emerson, a son of the deceased pastor, and Mr. Jonathan Allen, each preached in the place for some time, and the latter received an invitation to settle, which was declined. At length Mr. John Bullard, of Medway, a graduate of Harvard college in 1776, was invited by the church and town to become their pastor and religious teacher, and he accepted their invitation. His ordination took place October 18, 1779. His ministry was long, prosperous and happy. If there were not so many who made public profession of religion under his ministry in proportion to the length of time and number of parishioners, as under that of his predecessor, the deficiency must be attributed to the spirit of the times, and the various important matters which agitated the public mind, and absorbed the attention of all, and prevented many from devoting their time and talents to the promotion of morality and religion. The war of the revolution, the formation and adoption of systems of general and state governments, devising the methods of administering those governments after adoption, and measures to be pursued under them during the long protracted and eventful wars in Europe, a second unnecessary and impolitic war with England, were matters unpropitious to the culture and growth of Christian principles and practices. These all happened during Mr. Bullard’s ministry, and in some of them his parishioners took a deep interest. Notwithstanding these discouragements and hinderances, one hundred and fifty-six members were added to his church; he baptized five hundred and fifty-six individuals, and solemnized four hundred and twenty-nine marriages. Four deacons were elected, viz. Nathaniel Hutchinson, Nathaniel Lakin, April 23, 1789; Jonas Parker, Edmund Jewett, August 15, 1805.
Clergymen, who were his associates and have survived him, give testimony of his urbanity, affability, love of science, respectability of talents, and manner of discharging his parochial duties. In his theological opinions he probably differed but little from his predecessor; a trinitarian, but on other points an Arminian rather than a Calvinist.
He was much engaged in the cause of learning and instruction of youth; was one of the first projectors and contributors to the establishment of the academy at Groton, and a trustee thereof from its incorporation till his death. Three of his sons finished their studies, preparatory to entering college, in that institution.
“Having nearly completed the forty-second year of his ministry, he died September 18, 1821, honored and esteemed by his friends and the people of his charge in life, and truly lamented in death. — He left a widow and eight children, four sons and four daughters, to mourn the loss of an affectionate and devoted husband and father.”
In about a year after the death of Mr. Bullard, Mr. James Howe, of Jaffrey, New Hampshire, who had been graduated at Dartmouth college in 1817, and had studied theology at the institution in Andover, was chosen by the town and church their teacher and pastor.
At this period a large portion of the clergy of New England, assuming to themselves exclusively the title of orthodox, had begun in effect to say to their brethren of the other portion, (whether as learned, pious, humble and orthodox Christians as themselves or not, God knoweth,) “Stand by thyself, come not near me; for I am holier than thou.” They had assumed the position, that those only, who believed and embraced certain polemic doctrines and articles of faith, constituted the true and only proper church, and that to hold fellowship, and exchange ministerial services with any, who did not assent to all these essentials, as they termed them, would be no better than tolerating heresy, and holding communion with heretics. They had therefore come to the determination not to exchange pulpit services with Arminians, Unitarians, and other liberal denominations of Christians, denying them even the name of Christians. To this “exclusive system,” as it has been called, which, with the relaxation from all legal obligation to support any religious instruction or public worship, about that time and since, has rent most of the towns and territorial parishes asunder, and set at variance, Christian friends and neighbors, the Rev. Mr. Bullard while living, and the good people of Pepperell generally, were strongly opposed. On the occasion therefore of settling a minister, caution was taken to pursue such measures, as should prevent the town and church, hitherto remarkable for their unanimity, from division. In selecting a council to assist in the ordination of their pastor elect, they took pastors and delegates from eleven congregations, who were in favor of the exclusive system, and from nine, who were more liberally inclined, intending, if possible to be on terms of communion and fellowship with all regular Congregational churches and societies. As Mr. Howe’s education and associations had been with the party favoring exclusiveness, some fears were entertained that he might be inclined to join with them in their measures. In order therefore to prevent all misunderstanding on that point, some of the legal voters, to the number of seventy-nine, signed a remonstrance against the ordination of Mr. Howe, solely from apprehensions respecting exchanges, and laid it before the council on the day appointed for the ordination. Whereupon the pastor elect was freely and fully interrogated on that point by the council, and he gave such assurances of his willingness to exchange pulpits with each member of the council, and all neighboring ministers of regular standing of the Congregational order, that the remonstrants were satisfied, and withdrew all objections. Mr. Howe was accordingly ordained, October 16, 1822.
For several of the first years of his ministry, there was general harmony between pastor and flock, the fulfilment of the promise being satisfactorily observed. But as exclusiveness became more strictly enforced by its authors and abettors, Mr. Howe was compelled either to violate his promise, or lose fellowship with the friends of that system. He chose the former alternative. [Whether or not Mr. Howe adopted the least objectionable course, in the “strait betwixt two,” into which he was driven, will, in men’s judgment, probably be decided differently; by some in the affirmative, by others in the negative, according to their different estimation of justice and expediency. But either course would, in the minds of all honest, honorable, upright men and Christians, have been preferable to the mean and contemptible position, in which his friends, (if friends they can be called,) have since his death endeavored to place him. In order to evade the reproach of being a promise-breaker, they have represented him as making a promise, which he knew would be understood according to its express terms, in one manner, and by a secret, non-committal, mental evasion, reserving to himself the right to interpret it in another manner. See Rev. D. Andrews’s Centennial Discourse, note H; and Rev. C. Babbidge’s Centennial Address, note C.] Upon this, his parishioners became dissatisfied, and communed with him in a friendly manner, on his neglecting to exchange services with some of their favorite neighboring ministers. But he could not be prevailed with to return to his promised course in this matter. Whereupon a town meeting was held, May, 11, 1831, at which the following vote passed: “Voted, To excuse the Rev. James Howe from preaching six Sabbaths in the course of the ensuing year, and permit the pulpit to be supplied on those Sabbaths by ministers of other denominations.” This movement Mr. Howe and a minority of the town, including a large majority of the members of the church, chose to consider an expulsion from the pulpit. They therefore withdrew, and formed a separate religious society. The town became thus divided into two parishes, with less trouble and contention than has happened in many other towns in the country.
The town or first parish and church proper, thus becoming destitute of a minister and pastor, on the 19th day of January, 1833, invited Mr. Charles Babbidge to accept of that office. He gave an affirmative answer to their call, and on the 13th of February, 1833, a regular ecclesiastical council having assembled for the purpose, ordained him over the first parish in Pepperell and the church thereof.
The Rev. Charles Babbidge was born at Salem, October 27, 1806; was graduated at Harvard University, 1828; and studied theology at the institution in Cambridge. He was married to Eliza Ann Bancroft, daughter of Mr. Luther Bancroft, July 1, 1839. He continues in the ministry at Pepperell, in much peace and harmony, to the highest satisfaction of the people of his charge, and to their eminent opportunity for instruction and advancement in Christian virtues.
Dr. John Walton and Mr. Benjamin Hall, were chosen deacons of the church, September 4, 1832; and Mr. Nathaniel Sartell, Jr., March 22, 1837, was chosen to the same office, to supply the place of Dea. Hall, deceased.
February 9, 1847, being the completion of just one hundred years since the organization of this church, was celebrated by its members and the congregation, as its first centennial anniversary. The church in Groton, from which most of the original members of this church were dismissed, in order to found this, were invited to join in the festival. The Rev. pastor made an ingenious and pertinent address on the occasion, and a sumptuous collation closed the ceremonies. [While partaking of the collation, the following “letter missive” was read:
“Address to the first church in Pepperell, in 1847, prepared by Mr. John Bullard, son of Rev. John Bullard. February 9, 1847. The church of the first parish in Pepperell, to the brothers and sisters who shall fill their places and inherit their responsibility, on the 9th day of February, in the year of our Lord 1847, send greeting: —
“Dearly beloved and cared for, we charge and exhort you, by the mercies of God, the love of our common Saviour, and the hopes and consolations of his gospel, that you hold fast the liberty of private judgment, which has descended to us from venerated sires, (and, we trust, to you also;) that you exhibit in your lives and conversation the spirit and graces of the Christian character, love to one another, and to all who profess faith in Christ as the Saviour of the world. And we hope and trust, that when He, who is our exemplar, shall make up his jewels, we all may be among his chosen ones, and join in the song of praise to his God and our God, to his Father and our Father.”]
On the first day of February, 1831, at the call of the Rev. Mr. Howe and those who with him separated themselves from the town or first parish, an ecclesiastical council assembled, approved the proceedings of the seceders, and recognized Mr. Howe as their minister.
About three years before his death, Mr. Howe’s health began to decline, so that he could but partially perform the duties of his office. He continued, however, to preach occasionally, as health permitted, till within a little more than a year of his death, which event happened, July 19, 1840, in the 44th year of his age.
Mr. Howe married Harriet Nason, of Harvard, October 13, 1823, by whom he had six children, four of whom still survive. His character, as portrayed in a discourse delivered at his funeral, represents him as “courteous, kind, and gentlemanly in his conversation and deportment,” sound in understanding, conservative in principle, sagacious in judgment, traits that well become a minister of the religion he professed.
During Mr. Howe’s long and lingering sickness, he was assisted by two or three candidates for the ministry; and on the 29th of January, 1840, the Rev. David Andrews was, by invitation of the church and society, ordained his colleague pastor. Upon Mr. Howe’s decease, Mr. Andrews became principal and sole pastor of the Evangelical Congregational Society, which office he still retains. He was born at Dedham, September 15, 1808; graduated at Amherst college in 1836; studied theology at Andover; and married Miss T. Murdock, of West Boylston, Sept. 15, 1840.
Mr. David Blood and Dr. Nehemiah Cutter were elected deacons of this church, October 29, 1832; and Mr. Henry Jewett, January 4, 1844.
The 29th day of January, 1847, being the seventh anniversary of the ordination of the Rev. Mr. Andrews, and without making the necessary correction for change of style, the one hundredth of the organization of the first church in Pepperell, was noticed by the Evangelical Congregational society as a festival. The pastor pronounced a discourse on the occasion, containing an interesting account of the first settlement of the place, the organization and progress of the church, the building of the meeting- houses, the ordination of ministers, and their character and success in discharging their duties, down to the present time.
Wars and Warriors
The ravages of the Indians had nearly ceased in this vicinity before the settlement of Pepperell. Fears and alarms, however, had not entirely subsided; so that Mr. Emerson says, after his settlement in the ministry, his parishioners carried their weapons to the house of worship.
Pepperell justly claims to have produced many brave officers and soldiers. A military spirit was imbibed and cherished by the encouragements and exhortations of their minister, Mr. Emerson, who having served as chaplain at Cape Breton, took a lively interest ever after in military affairs, especially at the commencement of the revolutionary war.
In the spring of 1758, a company was enlisted for the French war, from Pepperell and its vicinity, of which Thomas Lawrence was captain. As the company were about to take up their march to join the army, Mr. Emerson preached a sermon on the occasion, in which he thus addressed the soldiers:
“My Friends and Brethren, — ‘Tis matter of rejoicing to me, that so many of you have engaged in this affair with so much cheerfulness, and proffered your services for your country; and some of you, I hope, have entered upon it with becoming seriousness. If the present expedition should go forward, according to our present expectation, (which God grant it may!) and not be stigmatized, as some former ones have been, by the name of a mock expedition whereby we are become the shame of our friends and contempt of our enemies; I say, if the army should proceed, you will doubtless be called into action, and must expect to jeopardize your lives in the high places of the field. Fix this, then, in your minds, that danger you must encounter; imagine not that you are going out against a weak and effeminate enemy, who will be affrighted as soon as they hear of your approach, or be intimidated by the very sound of your drums, and run away as soon as you charge them, and you have nothing to do, but fall upon the prey, and load yourselves with the spoils. Far from this. You are going against an enemy who are far from being dastardly; an enemy flushed with various and repeated successes. And as you are designed, by the present concerted scheme of operation, to enter the very heart of the enemy’s country, you may well expect that they will not tamely resign their possessions into your hands. I say not these things to discourage you, but rather to animate you to set out with greater resolution and courage. If you alight upon dangers, this will not make them heavier when they come, and it may serve something to lessen them. You are to fight; you are enlisted for this end; you are paid for this purpose. Boldly, then, advance into the very heart of your enemy’s country. Fear them not; let it never be said of a New England soldier, — let it never be said of a Pepperell soldier, that he was afraid to face his enemies, or that ever he turned his back on them, and cowardly deserted the cause of his country.”
Capt. Lawrence, the commander of this company, is represented as a man of gigantic stature, Herculean strength, bold and courageous, experienced in Indian warfare, and holding in thorough contempt the valor of the savages. He often said, he would never run for an Indian or Indians, and that he would never be taken alive by them. This assertion was verified in the manner of his death. Having the command of a ranging party of about twenty men, in 1758, at a place called “Half-way brook,” they were suddenly surrounded by Indians. Many of the party fell by the first fire; a few ran and escaped. Capt. Lawrence sprang to a tree, and shouted, “To cover, to cover, boys!” Being closely pressed on all sides, those who remained were soon all slain, except the gallant captain, and he was mortally wounded. He finally fell by the strokes of a number of the enemy. His body, when found, was in a horribly mangled state.
Sympathizing with their minister in the ardor and zeal he felt in the contention between the colonies and the British ministry, previous to the commencement of hostilities, the inhabitants of Pepperell were among the first to notice the unconstitutional and arbitrary acts of Parliament, which led to the separation of the colonies from the mother country; among the first to express emphatically their opinion in relation to those acts; and among the first forcibly to defend what they deemed their rights and privileges. Perhaps some of the following extracts from the district and town records were penned by Mr. Emerson.
On the 25th of October, 1765, the district voted to give the following instructions to their representative in the General Court, for his conduct in this important crisis.
“To Abel Lawrence, Esq.
“Taking into consideration the measures that have been adopted by the British ministry, and acts of Parliament made, which press hard upon our invaluable rights and privileges, by the royal charter granted to the first settlers of this province, the power of making laws and levying taxes invested in the General Assembly. It is certain we were not represented in Parliament, neither were the remonstrances sent by this province admitted there, when the late act, called the stamp act, by which an insupportable and unconstitutional tax is laid on the colonies, was made. We, therefore, think it our indispensable duty to desire you by no means to join in any measures for countenancing or assisting in the execution of the said stamp act. Furthermore, as the trade of this province is greatly obstructed, and the people labor under an almost insupportable debt, we expect you will use your utmost endeavors, in the General Assembly, that the monies of the province drawn from the individuals, may not be applied to any other uses, under any pretense whatever, than what is evidently intended in the act for supplying the province treasury.”
January 24, 1766, Mr. Emerson preached a thanksgiving sermon on the repeal of the stamp act.
In 1768, the district chose William Prescott a committee to join the committees from the several towns in this province.
In 1772, the following article was inserted in a warrant for a district meeting.
“To see if the district are so generally inspired with true patriotic spirit, as to propose any method in order to retrieve and recover the constitutional liberties that have been extorted from us, contrary to the royal charter, and in order to prevent any further unjust taxes, tonnage, poundage and the like, and act thereupon as shall be thought proper, and most conducive to the happiness of all the true sons of liberty, and to American subjects in general.”
At a district meeting held January 15, 1773, “chose a committee of nine men to consider what is proper for this district to do, at this alarming time, respecting the encroachments that have been made upon our civil privileges; ” which committee reported the following communication to the committee of correspondence, and also a letter of instructions to their representative, both of which follow.
“To the Committee of Correspondence, Boston.
“Gentlemen, — You will be so good as to inform the town of Boston, that we have received their kind letter, together with the pamphlet setting forth our liberties as men, as Christians, as subjects, with the infringements which have been made upon them. Desire them to accept our hearty acknowledgements for their vigilance over our common interests, and remitting to us so particular accounts of the innovations made upon our charter privileges. Assure them we are greatly alarmed at the large strides, which have been made by the enemies of our excellent constitution, towards enslaving a people. We of this place are unanimous; no less than one hundred have signed a request to the selectmen to call a meeting, though we count but about one hundred and sixty families; and when met, the fullest meeting that was ever known on any occasion, and not a dissenting vote or voice. We feel for ourselves, we feel for our posterity, we feel for our brethren through the continent. We tremble at the thought of slavery, either civil or ecclesiastical, and are fully sensible of the near connection there is between civil and religious liberty; if we lose the former, the latter will not remain; our resentment, (not to say our indignation,) rises against them, let them be in what relation soever, who would dare invade our natural or constitutional rights. Tell our brethren at Boston, that we entirely agree with them in their sentiments transmitted to us, both with respect to what are our rights, and those infringements which have been made upon them; and stand ready to co-operate with them in all measures warranted by the constitution, and the law of nature, for the recovery of those privileges which have been unreasonably and unconstitutionally wrested from us, and for the establishment and security of those we do enjoy. Offering up our unfeigned desires to the all-wise God, that he would, in this day of darkness, be a lamp to our feet, a light to our path, and graciously direct to those measures which may be effectual for this purpose.”
“To James Prescott, representative of the town of Groton, and the districts of Pepperell and Shirley.
“Sir, — We, his majesty’s most loyal and dutiful subjects, the freeholders and other inhabitants of the district of Pepperell, legally assembled, July 18, 1773, being ever ready to give due assistance and encouragement to government, in a constitutional way, at the same time greatly concerned that the rights and privileges of British subjects, (our birth-right and the richest inheritance left us by our fathers,) may be securely enjoyed by us and transmitted entire to our posterity, cannot but be greatly affected at the frequent innovations which have been made upon our happy constitution; the particulars of the encroachments made on our liberties we shall not at this time enumerate, but referring you to a pamphlet sent from Boston to every town in the province, which we think very justly states our rights, and the encroachments made upon them; we, therefore, who are no small part of your constituents, do desire and expect, that you exert yourself in the Great and General Assembly to the utmost of your ability, for the regaining of such privileges as have been unjustly wrested from us, and establishing those we do enjoy. We trust that you will be ever watchful, that you be not induced by any means to consent to any vote or votes, in the Great and General Assembly, that may have a tendency to weaken our constitutional rights and privileges, or ever in a like case to be made a precedent of, to the disadvantage of us and our posterity. Presenting the above instructions to your wise consideration, we wish, that you and all true friends to the English constitution, may be under the divine direction, that you may be led into the paths of truth, and never be driven aside from seeking the welfare of your country.”
The district unanimously voted to accept these communications, and chose a committee to transmit them to their respective destinations.
February, 1773, the district voted to add two casks of powder, and lead answerable, to their stock of ammunition.
June 27, 1774, the district passed the following preamble and resolutions, and voted to send a copy thereof to Boston.
“Under a deep sense of the distressing and very extraordinary circumstances we of this land are unhappily brought into, by (as we think) a bad ministry in our parent country, by the innovations already made in our civil liberties, and what seems to be further threatened, we are with concern of opinion, that it behooves us and all this province, and all North America, to set up a general correspondence and to cultivate harmony, that there may be a united voice with resolution throughout this land, that we may make a proper stand, and lift up our united prayers to Almighty God to pity us, and vouchsafe to us his gracious protection, and direct us into such measures as he will please to prosper and succeed for our deliverance from the great difficulties and embarrassments we are under, and secure and save us from impending ruin, with which we are further threatened by some in power, who carry on their wicked designs as if by magic art assisted. We seriously recommend to all amongst us and the whole of North America to lay aside all contentions, broils, and even small quarrels, and to omit the practice of every thing that tends to disunite us as brethren, as neighbors, as countrymen, that are interested in one and the same cause, and must stand or fall together. Therefore, resolved,
“1. As the opinion of this district, that we have a just and lawful right to meet together, when and so often as we shall have occasion, to cultivate harmony and to transact our town affairs; and that we will hold, use and improve that privilege, and will never give it up, or quit the usual practice of meeting, on any mandate whatever.
“2. That neither Lord North, nor any other British minister or person whatever, hath any right to trample America under his feet, nor to invade its privileges, either civil or religious.
“3. We are resolved to do all in our power, by abstinence and every other lawful and proper way, to secure and preserve our charter rights and privileges, and that we will not tamely submit to the yoke of bondage.
“4. That we will not have any hand in the consumption of teas, West India or British goods, wares or merchandize, imported after the last day of August next, nor deal with any persons that shall import or deal in such goods, wares, or merchandize, contrary to the general sense and agreement of the inhabitants of this much abused province.
“5. We return our hearty thanks to our patriotic friends at Boston, for their firmness, care and vigilance the time past, for the good and safety of this country. And we desire you not to give over now, although your circumstances are very discouraging. We sympathize with you in this day of darkness, and bad situation of affairs, and will, when need be, attest our ability, administer our substance, and whatever may be beneficial to the cause, and are determined to exert ourselves in the cause, that so much concerns us. And we hope and pray, that the Lord of Hosts will direct us and you and all the colonies into a right way, that His blessing may be upon our united endeavors, and may success, with peace and harmony, crown the whole to the glory of God and the tranquility of the American colonies.”
One more extract from the records of the district deserves to be remembered, as it anticipated the great and important step taken a year afterwards by the Continental Congress. It is a part of the instructions of the inhabitants to their representative in 1775.
“We therefore instruct you, sir, that you, in our name and behalf, signify to the Great and General Court, of which you are a member, that our opinion is, that independence is the only alternative for the safety of this oppressed land, and that if the honorable Congress should think it best for the safety of the United Colonies to declare them independent of Great Britain, we acquiesce heart and hand, and are determined at the risk of life and treasure to support the measure.”
Soon the time arrives, which puts to the test the valor and the courage of Pepperell soldiery. It is soon to be known, whether their patriotism consisted of words only, and whether or not, when the crisis arrives, their actions would correspond with, and make good, their promises and resolutions. The sequel shows, that their intrepidity in action was in no wise inferior to their skill and pertinency in expressing their opinions.
William Prescott, a son of the Hon. Benjamin Prescott, though born in the centre of Groton, removed to that part of it called the “Gore,” which formed a part of the district of Pepperell, before he arrived at the age of twenty-one years. “He was a lieutenant in the provincial troops, which were sent to remove the neutral French from Nova Scotia,” in 1755, and possibly a soldier in the expedition to Louisburg, two years before. [The following anecdote relating to Lieut. Prescott, when on the expedition to remove the French, is from good authority, and is unquestionably correct. “He was attacked by a fever. The surgeon of the army was very negligent in his attendance on him. One day on entering his chamber he found him so ill, that he brutally exclaimed, ‘It’s no use of my staying here, I can do nothing;’ and turning his back on the patient walked out of the room. Lieut. Prescott was perfectly aware of what was said, and was filled with such rage by this unfeeling conduct, that he seized his sword, which hung near him, and springing out of bed, made after the doctor, who, as it may be believed, completed his exit with greater precipitation than he commenced it. This sally of passion had a most favorable effect, as it appeared, on the fever, which was then at its crisis, and the patient mended rapidly from that day.”] After his return from the first named expedition, he was promoted to the office of Captain. “In 1774 he was appointed Colonel of a regiment of minute men,” enrolled in Pepperell, Groton, Hollis, and other towns in their vicinity. On the morning of the memorable 19th of April, 1775, a messenger rode from Concord to Pepperell, alarming the inhabitants on his way with the intelligence that the “ regulars ” had come out from Boston, had killed eight men at Lexington, and were fighting at Concord. He arrived at Pepperell about nine or ten o’clock, A.M. “Col. Prescott immediately gave order to the company in Pepperell, and the company in Hollis, to march to Groton, and there join the Groton companies, and proceeded him- self to Groton.” So expeditiously were the Pepperell company armed, equipped, and on their march, that although five miles farther from the point whence the messenger started, and consequently proportionably later in receiving the alarm, than the Groton companies, they arrived at Groton parade ground before the companies were in readiness to accompany them. [It is said that Dr. Oliver Prescott, a brother of the Colonel, and chairman of the selectmen of Groton, who were then together delivering out arms and ammunition to the soldiers, on hearing the martial music and seeing the Pepperell company marching to the common in full ranks, exclaimed to his brethren, “This is a disgrace to us,” alluding to the greater promptitude of the Pepperell soldiers than of their own.] After a halt for a few minutes they again marched on in advance of the Groton companies. [One of the Pepperell company, (Abel Parker, since Judge of Probate in the county of Cheshire, N. H.) ploughing in a distant field, did not receive the alarm in season to start with the rest; but on hearing it, left his oxen in the field unyoked, ran home, seized his gun in one hand, his Sunday coat in the other, sat out upon a run, and slacked not till having passed the Groton companies, he overtook his fellows at Groton ridges.] Col. Prescott hastened on, with as many of his regiment as he could collect, “to Concord, and thence to Cambridge, but did not overtake the British detachment on their retreat. He and most of his officers and men enlisted for eight months, the period of the first enlistment, and which it was then hoped, would be as long as troops would be wanted.”
The patriotism of the women in those times, “which tried men’s souls,” must not be passed over in silence. After the departure of Col. Prescott’s regiment of “minute men,” Mrs. David Wright of Pepperell, Mrs. Job Shattuck of Groton, and the neighboring women, collected at what is now Jewett’s bridge, over the Nashua, between Pepperell and Groton, clothed in their absent husbands’ apparel, and armed with muskets, pitchforks, and such other weapons as they could find, and having elected Mrs. Wright their commander, resolutely determined, that no foe to freedom, foreign or domestic, should pass that bridge. For rumors were rife, that the regulars were approaching, and frightful stories of slaughter flew rapidly from place to place and from house to house.
Soon there appeared one [Capt. Leonard Whiting, of Hollis, N. H., a noted tory. He was in reality the bearer of despatches from Canada to the British in Boston. An article was some time after inserted in a warrant for town meeting, “To see what the town will vote or order to be paid to Mr. Solomon Rogers, for entertaining Leonard Whiting and his guard.” Not acted upon.] on horseback, supposed to be treasonably engaged in conveying intelligence to the enemy. By the implicit command of Sergeant Wright, he is immediately arrested, unhorsed, searched, and the treasonable correspondence found concealed in his boots. He was detained prisoner and sent to Oliver Prescott, Esq., of Groton, and his despatches were sent to the Committee of Safety.
As Pepperell has the honor of being the residence of Col. William Prescott, and he being chief in command on the American side in the first battle of any considerable consequence, that was fought in the revolutionary war, a history of that town would be unpardonably incomplete, without some account of that engagement and of that valiant officer. For the following narration, as well as for many other matters relating to Pepperell and to the Prescott family, the author is indebted to the courtesy of a distinguished descendant of the commander on Bunker Hill, for the use of a manuscript, penned at sundry times, and kept by sundry persons of that family, of the truth and correctness of which no doubt can exist.
“On the 16th of June, 1775, Gen. Ward, the commander-in-chief, issued an order for placing three Massachusetts regiments, (Col. Prescott’s, Col. Frye’s, and Col. Bridge’s,) and a detachment of one hundred and twenty men from a Connecticut regiment, (under the command of Capt. Knowlton, a brave officer,) about one thousand in all, under the command of Col. Prescott, directing him to proceed to Bunker Hill, and there erect a fortification; stating that the party should be relieved the next morning. They therefore took only a small supply of provisions with them. Col. Gridley, an experienced engineer, was appointed to lay out the works. The detachment was drawn up on the common in Cambridge on the evening of that day, attended prayers by the Rev. Dr. Langdon, then President of Harvard college, and when daylight was gone, Col. Prescott led them silently down Charlestown road over the neck, and then halted, called around him the field officers, with Col. Gridley, and then first communicated to them his orders, and conferred with them respecting the place intended for the fortification.
“The whole height at that time was popularly called ‘Bunker Hill,’ although the southern part was known as ‘Breed’s Hill’ by the neighbors. After some discussion, the southern part, now better known as Breed’s Hill, was determined on. This caused some delay. The detachment proceeded to Breed’s Hill, and Col. Gridley laid out the works, a redoubt and entrenchment, which the troops immediately commenced building. This was about eleven o’clock. Col. Prescott was anxious lest they should be discovered and attacked in the night, or too early in the morning; and, to satisfy himself, went in person, accompanied by an officer, twice to the margin of the river, and much to his satisfaction found that they were not discovered. The sentinels on board the ships were drowsily calling out, ‘All’s well.’ Daylight made the discovery. A heavy cannonade from the ships and Copp’s Hill then commenced, which annoyed them, but did not materially retard their work. [“One man was killed outside of the redoubt. Seeing the soldiers gathering; around the body, Col. Prescott ordered them to cover it with earth immediately. They inquired if they might not have prayers over it. He told them, that might be done after the battle, but it must be covered with earth immediately. Finding the men still continued round the body, regardless of the danger, he ordered the body to be thrown into the trench, and earth thrown over it.”] About nine o’clock it became apparent that the British were preparing to cross the river and attack them. The officers then urged Col. Prescott to send a messenger to head quarters, and request the commander to relieve them according to his engagement, as they had brought on no provisions for a longer time, and had worked all night. This he refused, saying, the works should be defended by those who built them; their honor required it, and they could do it successfully; but he would send for reinforcements and refreshments. He accordingly despatched two messengers in the course of the morning; the last, Major, afterwards Governor Brooks. This last message produced an order to Col. Stark and Col. Reed, of the New Hampshire troops, to march their regiments to his assistance. They arrived just at the commencement of the action, and posted their regiments at the rail fence, [One rail fence was pulled up and placed parallel to another left standing, and the intermediate space filled with grass, mown on the spot the day previous.] where they fought with great bravery. The Connecticut company, under Capt. Knowlton, were posted at the end of the rail fence nearest the breastwork, and the three Massachusetts [“Gen. Warren came up to the works a short time before the action was commenced, with a musket in his hand. Col. Prescott proposed to him that he should take the command, as he understood he had been appointed a major-general the day before. Gen. Warren replied, ‘I have no command here; I have not received my commission. I come as a volunteer, and shall be happy to learn service from a soldier of your experience.’”] regiments defended the redoubt. The action began between two and three o’clock. The redoubt was the great object of attack, and the principal force was directed against it, while three regiments advanced towards the rail fence, with intent to come on the rear of the redoubt and cut off the retreat of the Americans. The British were twice repulsed with great loss from the redoubt and from the fence.
“The British officers were obliged to make great exertions to bring up their men a third time. They however succeeded, and made a third attack, with great spirit, on the redoubt and at the fence. The redoubt was entered on the southern or southeastern side, and at the same time the enemy advanced between the breast-work and the rail fence, to the rear of the redoubt. A few men were shot down as they mounted the breast-work; among others, Major Pitcairn; but the ammunition of the Americans was exhausted; a cartridge of one of the field pieces furnished powder to load the last muskets that were discharged. They had few bayonets, and were obliged to use the butts of their guns.
“The enemy had entered the redoubt on one side, and were advancing to the rear of it, when Col. Prescott ordered the retreat. He was among the last that left the redoubt, and before leaving it, was surrounded by the enemy, and had several bayonets pushed at his body, which he parried with his sword, in the use of which he had some skill; they, however, pierced his banyan [“Dr. Oliver Prescott, the younger, who relates the fact, says, that soon after the battle, he was at Pepperell, and his uncle, Col Prescott, shewed him the banyan and waistcoat, and the rents or holes made in them by the British bayonets.”] and waistcoat, but he was not wounded. [Eight of the Pepperell soldiers were killed in this battle, and eight wounded. The names of the whole company are preserved in the town records.]
“Col. Prescott was always confident he could have maintained his position, with the handful of men under his command, if he had been supplied with ammunition. The British staggered before they entered the redoubt, and he thought would not have rallied, if they had been again repulsed.
“On his return to Cambridge, he immediately repaired to head-quarters, where he found the commander-in-chief, Gen. Ward, in great distress, apprehensive that the enemy, encouraged by their success, might advance on Cambridge and attempt to penetrate into the country. Col. Prescott assured him, that the enemy’s confidence would not be increased by the result of the action, and offered to retake the heights that night, or perish in the attempt, if the commander-in-chief would give him three regiments, with bayonets and sufficient ammunition. The commander-in-chief thought, perhaps justly, that the character and situation of his army would not justify so bold a measure. We afterwards saw, that this battle made a lasting impression on Gen. Howe’s mind, and rendered him an over-cautious commander during the remainder of his command.”
“Col. Prescott continued in the service until the end of 1776. He was stationed at Governor’s Island, New York, until the Americans were obliged to retire from the city. The good order, in which he brought off his regiment, was noticed and publicly commended by Gen. Washington. At the end of this campaign, he returned to his farm and family in Pepperell, where he resided till his death. In the autumn of 1777, he went as a volunteer, accompanied by some of his former officers, to assist in the capture of the army under Gen. Burgoyne, which was his last military service.” Perhaps his exertions and activity in the suppression of Shays’s insurrection, and going to Concord with his side arms, to protect the courts, should be excepted in the last remark.
After his retirement from the army, he served his townsmen in the municipal offices of clerk and selectman, and represented the town in the General Court three years. He was an acting magistrate for the remainder of his life. He died October 13, 1795, Æt. 69.
In his person he was tall, his frame large and muscular, but not corpulent, his features strong and intelligent. He possessed a strong mind, but had not the advantage of much education, a common town school being the only seminary he ever attended; so he was self-taught. Yet he was fond of reading, especially history, in which he spent much of his time, evenings and nights. His manners were plain but courteous; his disposition benevolent and kind; he was liberal even beyond his means; and was always ready to assist others in their affairs to the neglect of his own.
He married Abigail Hale of Sutton, by whom he had one son, the late Hon. William Prescott of Boston. She was a kind, prudent, amiable and excellent wife, such a companion for life as such a man as Col. Prescott ought to choose. Her extraordinary care and prudence, not tinctured in the least with selfishness or parsimony, were a salutary counterpart to his liberality and negligence of his own affairs. She survived him twenty-six years, continuing her residence on the Prescott estate in Pepperell, respected and beloved by all her neighbors and friends, till her death, October 21, 1821, at the advanced age of 88 years.
Pepperell was the birth-place, though not the constant residence, of William Prescott, the only offspring of Col. William and Abigail Prescott. A short memoir of so wise, so great, and so good a man, must not be omitted in a history of the place of his nativity, and the place of his retirement in summer for many years and until his death. He was born August 19, 1762. He lived in his father’s family on the farm till he was fourteen years of age, working like other farmers’ boys of his age, and attending the common district school the short time it was kept each season, and for several years visited his uncle in Groton, and attended school there a month or six weeks at a time. In the autumn of 1776, he was put to Dummer’s school at Byfield to prepare for college, under the instruction of that famous master, Samuel Moody. In July, 1779, being well fitted, according to the requirements of that day, he entered Harvard college. Having there studied the usual time, he received his first degree, and immediately, (even a little before the end of his last term in college,) commenced school keeping in Brooklyn, Connecticut. Here, however, he tarried but a few months, the school which was intended by its patrons for an Academy being discontinued for want of funds. Soon after his return home, he was recommended to a private school in Beverly, where he could enjoy the advantage of reading law with an eminent counsellor, Hon. Nathan Dane. This he found a very eligible situation, both for the acquisition of knowledge and forming valuable acquaintances, both of which he improved to advantage, for present enjoyment and future usefulness.
In 1787, he was admitted to the bar, and in the absence of Mr. Dane, he being at Congress, opened an office in Beverly. But on Mr. Dane’s return to resume his professional business, Mr. Prescott removed to Salem, where he practiced extensively and successfully nineteen years. He then removed to Boston, where he devoted himself principally to professional business till 1828, when his health obliged him to relinquish it. Besides his practice as an advocate and counsellor, he filled many stations in the service of his country with fidelity, and to the universal acceptation of his constituents and the public. He was representative in the General Court for Salem in 1798, and the three next succeeding years, and served the city of Boston several years in the same capacity. He was senator for the county of Essex in 1805, but declined a re-election. He was one of the executive council in 1809, under Gov, Gore, and in the same office several years during Gov. Strong’s administration. He twice had the offer of a seat on the bench of the supreme judicial court, but in both instances declined it. He was afterwards induced to accept the office of judge of the court of common pleas for the city of Boston, but having filled it about a year, and finding its duties irksome, he resigned it. In 1820, he was chosen by the citizens of Boston a delegate to the convention for altering and amending the State constitution.
To close this account of public services, in which chronological order has not been exactly pursued, one more must be named, which, however some may be disposed to undervalue it, was no less a mark of his patriotism to accept, than of the high estimation in which he was held by the most intelligent part of his fellow citizens. He was appointed by the Legislature of Massachusetts in 1814, a delegate to meet in convention with other delegates of the New England States at Hartford, “the great object of which was, to convince Congress, and the administration, of the sufferings of the people of New England, the dangers to which they were exposed, their inability to defend their extensive sea coast at their own expense, the troops stationed along it having been withdrawn to the frontier, and to induce the government to provide for its defence during the war, and to make peace, as soon as it could be done consistently with the honor and interest of the country.”
“Being deeply engaged (I quote his own words) in professional business, and thinking I had devoted a full share of my time to the service of the public for several years preceding, it was with reluctance I accepted the appointment. My friends urged me, alleging that there was reason to fear that some rash measure might be proposed in the convention, that I should oppose; and entertaining some apprehension on this head myself, and thinking I might be of some service in such an event, I yielded. I am happy to be able to state, that these apprehensions proved entirely groundless; that no such measure was ever proposed in the convention; nor was there a member of that body, who, in my opinion, would have consented to any act, which would have tended directly or indirectly to impair the union of the States. Their proceedings were thought tame, when their report first appeared; afterwards, as it is well known, they afforded unscrupulous demagogues a fruitful topic for declamation and calumny.”
In the year 1814, Harvard University conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, and the same year he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
In December, 1793, he married Catharine G. Hickling, daughter of Thomas Hickling, Esq., of the island of St. Michael’s; and an exceedingly happy connection it proved to be, though the untimely death of so many of their children served as an alloy to their otherwise happy allotment. They had seven children, four of whom died in infancy. William Hickling, the well-known historian, and Elizabeth, wife of Hon. Franklin Dexter, are still living. Edward Goldsborough, who was graduated at Harvard University, in 1825, and was an ordained minister of the Episcopalian order, died in 1844.
The writer of an obituary notice of Judge Prescott, truly says of him: “The last sixteen years of his life were spent in the quietness of his home, where the original qualities of his nature, disencumbered from the care that had so long oppressed him, seemed to come forth with the freshness of youth. Not that he could be permitted to withdraw himself from all concern in private or public interests, in which he had been for forty years a part, and not unfrequently an important part. On the contrary, the troops of friends that gathered round his old age, still came to him, as they had always come before, with their own burdens, and perhaps yet oftener with the exigencies of the state. For no man in this community, during the last quarter of a century, felt himself too high, either from his position or from his talents, to ask counsel of Mr. Prescott’s wisdom; and we and our children shall feel the benefit of his noiseless influence, in our institutions and affairs, as long as the present structure and tone of society shall last. Thus he walked onward in the paths of a venerable and beloved old age, with peace and cheerful- ness, full of the deepest reverence for God, and overflowing with sympathy and good will to his fellow-men.”
“In the autumn of 1843, he had a slight attack of paralysis. On Sunday morning, December 8, 1844, he rose and went to his library, as usual, but had hardly reached it, when he perceived that the messenger of death was at his side. In a few moments, surrounded by the family he so much loved, in the full possession of his faculties, and with a peaceful trust in his Maker and in the blessedness of a future life, he expired without a struggle.”
At a meeting of the Suffolk Bar, December 10, 1844, a distinguished member remarked, “;The oldest member of our association has departed this life. He had lived to an extraordinary age, and though retired for many years from active life, he was known and respected by all of us, to some of us very long and intimately. No man ever lived among us of more amiable demeanor or purer character. He was a man whose integrity was incorruptible, and whose manners were most gentle and kind; but whose firmness of principle, and at the same time, independence of character, were never to be questioned.”
At the same meeting, the following resolution was unanimously adopted : “Resolved, That the late William Prescott, whose sudden decease at a good old age, calls forth this tribute of respect, presented to his associates, throughout a long life, whether at the bar, or on the bench, or in the dignified retirement of his late years, such an eminent example of modest talent, substantial learning, and unpretending wisdom, with affable manners, strong social affections, absolute fidelity in every station of life, and probity beyond the slightest suspicion of reproach, as rarely adorns even the highest walks of professional excellence. Concerning whom can it be more appropriately asked than of him —
Incorrupta fides, nudaque veritas,
Quando ullum invenient parem? ”
Under this title, in the church records made by the Rev. Mr. Emerson, are the following incidents, thought worthy of publication:
“July 28, 1748. About one o’clock, afternoon, we had a terrible hurricane, accompanied with shocking thunder. The course of the whirlwind was from south-west to north-east, though often varying sometimes to the east, and sometimes to the west. It tore up a vast number of large trees by the roots, entirely demolished two or three buildings, shattered several dwelling-houses, carrying off the boards from the roof, sides, &c. It tore away a considerable part of the roof of the meeting-house. When it came with its violence, it threw down the fences, stone walls, and laid the corn even with the ground. One house, which it took in its way, was garrisoned, and one part of the garrison was stove with violence against the house, the other sides thrown to the ground, part of the roof of the house carried away, and some things in the chamber were afterwards found above a mile from the place. A woman and three small children being in the house, were wonderfully preserved; and what was very remarkable, the woman, when she heard the wind, took her children to go into another building, where she thought she should be more safe, but was hindered by the door being stopped by part of the garrison drove up against it; and the building she was going to was entirely demolished, not so much as the sills remaining in their places. The air, for a quarter of an hour, which was near the time it was passing through the parish, was full of leaves, hay, pieces of timber and boughs of trees. It went quite through the parish, and stopped or lost its impetuosity at the line between New Hampshire and this province, which is a few rods from the bounds of the parish.
Notwithstanding all this desolation, through the goodness of God there was not one life lost, either of man or beast, though several persons were in imminent danger, and many creatures so enclosed with fallen trees, that they could not extricate themselves. The damage sustained was very considerable. One man, in the destruction of his buildings, corn, hay, fences, and apple-trees, hath lost above £500.”
“September, 24, 1750. A child of William Spaulding drowned in a well, æt. one year three months.”
“July 15, 1752. Towards night, was heard distinctly, by some of the most credible people among us, in the air, the beat of a drum, a discharge of three guns, like cannon.”[Probably the bursting of a meteor, like that at Weathersfield, Connecticut, some years since, accompanied with the fall of meteoric stones.]
“July 19, 1753. Abiel Richardson, a man above thirty years old, assisting at the raising of Dunstable meeting- house, fell and died in a moment.”
“Nov. 10, 1755. About fifteen minutes past four o’clock in the morning, there was felt, through all New England, a most surprising earthquake, the most terrible that was ever known in this country. It lasted about three or four minutes. It shook down abundance of chimneys, in one part of the country and another, racked buildings, threw down stone walls. The shock was most terrible near the sea coast. From Boston we have the following account: ‘Many chimneys, not much less than a hundred, are levelled with the roofs of the houses; many more, not fewer than 1,200 or 1,600, are shattered and thrown down in part, so that in some places the streets are almost covered with the bricks which are fallen. Some chimneys, though not thrown down, are dislocated or broken several feet from the top, and partly turned round, as upon a swivel; some are shoved on one side, horizontally, jutting over, and just nodding to the fall. The gable ends of several brick buildings, perhaps of twelve or fifteen, are thrown down from the roofs, and the houses to the eaves. The roofs of some houses are quite broken in by the fall of some chimneys. Some pumps (wells) are sadly dried up. Many clocks are stopped by being so violently agitated.’”
“About an hour after, another shock was felt, not very hard, and several smaller ones in the week, especially on Saturday evening, between eight and nine o’clock, which was harder than any, except the first. But through the goodness of God, not one life lost anywhere, as we hear. The first shock was heard in the southern provinces.” [The reader may be apprised, that the tremendous earthquake which sunk a great portion of the city of Lisbon, and shook all Europe, was on the first of November, seventeen days only previous to this New England earthquake. It can easily be conceived, that the same cause which produced the former, might be the preliminary one of the latter, or rather that the disturbance made in the interior parts of the earth by the former, might cause a further disturbance at a distant part of the earth, which, however, might not take place for several days after.]
“In the latter part of summer and fall of 1756, we, of Pepperell, were visited with grievous sickness. From August 5, to the last of October, there were above 180 persons sick, of which number 18 died, chiefly of a burning ague. September 16, we kept a day of fasting and prayer, and December 13, as a day of thanksgiving, when the sickness seemed to be entirely removed.”
“We were visited again with grievous sickness in 1757, the same illness we had last year. From the beginning of July to the middle of October, there were 219 persons sick, of which number 25 died, 17 heads of families.”
“In 1758, we were again visited with the same grievous illness we have been for two years before. From the first of August to the middle of October, there were 96 persons sick of the fever, of which number 11 died, 7 of whom were heads of families. [January 3, 1760, was set apart by Mr. Emerson, his church and congregation, as a day of thanksgiving, “to commemorate the goodness of God to them the year past, especially in the removal of sickness and the return of so many soldiers from the army.” In the sermon preached on this occasion, Mr. Emerson says, “It pleased God, in the summer of 1755, to visit us with that grievous fever, by which we have suffered so much, and which hath, from its beginning with us, obtained the name of the Pepperell fever.” The district contained about ninety families. After enumerating its ravages in four successive years, he sums up the whole thus: “In the four years abovementioned, there were above 540 persons sick; 103 died, of whom 16 were soldiers from home, or just after their return; no less than 48 heads of families; 64 grown persons. How great was our distress for two years, especially in the height of the sickness, and we, notwithstanding, obliged to find our quota for the war! I know not that we were eased more than a single man, excepting the time of the general alarm, when fort William Henry was besieged, in 1757, when our proportion was above twenty men, at which time there were not so many able to bear arms in the place, besides those who were necessarily taken up in attending on the sick in their own families, the field officers were so good as not to call for any. One of the years, there were near 200 confined at the same time. Your pastor at the point of death, and then confined from the house of God for four months. And of this large number who have been sick, I know not of ten persons who have been visited with the same distemper twice. Nor should we forget the bounty we received by order of authority, namely, fifty pounds, to be distributed amongst the greatest sufferers.”
The proximate cause of this Pepperell fever has been thought to be the miasma arising from decayed vegetable matter. The swamp or meadow of John Shattuck, near Henry Jewett’s, had been overgrown with bushes and various vegetables; and in order to kill them and bring the land into a state of cultivation, a dam was built and the swamp overflowed with water. When the water had been drawn off, and the vegetable matter exposed to a summer’s sun, the stench was very offensive, and extended perceptibly for several miles around. This, in the opinion of men learned in physiology, was a cause Sufficient to produce the fever. It has been further said, that the shrub, commonly called white dog-wood, more properly poison sumach, (Rhus vernix,) abounded in the swamp; but whether this circumstance added to the deleterious property, is problematical. On the other hand it has been said, that a similar disease had been prevalent in New Hampshire, and the adjoining parts of Massachusetts, for two or three years previous, and that its cause was not confined to a small locality. Which of these suppositions is the correct one, or whether either be true, each reader may judge for himself.]
“January 5, 1757. The house inhabited by Benjamin Jewett. was burned to the ground, and every thing in it; two small children narrowly escaped. The loss he sustained he imagines to be near £400, old tenor. The house was not his own. Collected for him, by public contribution, in money and other things, to the value of £60, old tenor.”
“May 24, 1757. The house of the widow Woods was struck with lightning, which came in near the chimney, and went out at the door.”
Dr. Franklin’s discoveries and experiments in the electric phenomena had not at this date been made. If they had been, and had come to Mr. Emerson’s knowledge, he would not have told of the lightning’s going out at the door.
“March 20, 1760. A fire broke out in Boston, and raged in such a manner, as in a few hours to destroy one hundred and seventy-four dwelling houses, and as many warehouses, shops and other buildings; the loss whereof, the furniture and goods therein, was judged at a moderate computation, £100,000 sterling. Governor Pownal sent briefs through the province for a general contribution. Accordingly we had one here, and collected £64 125. old tenor.”
“January 17, 1762. The wife of Josiah Nutting was delivered of a monstrous birth; the child had no eyes, no ears, no nose, a large mouth, very large tongue, which hung out; no neck, no proper distinction of sex, a monstrous large belly, had on one hand six fingers and a thumb, on the other five fingers and a thumb, seven toes on one foot and six on the other. The midwife said it died in the birth.”
“June 15, 1763, P.M. A remarkable thunder shower with hail. The shower was narrow as to width, perhaps not above a mile and a half or two miles, its length from the middle of Pepperell to Merrimack river in Dunstable. The hailstones very large; in Dunstable near as big as hen’s eggs, but not round; the shape very various, some oval, others long, like hard pieces of ice, two or three inches long; some almost flat, near as big as a dollar; one near Pepperell meeting-house, measured better than three and one half inches round. It did considerable damage, breaking windows, beating down and cutting of the rye, etc. It lasted but a few minutes. In some places the ground was covered. When these hailstones were put together, they would freeze, though the weather was very hot before and after the shower.”
“July 19, 1763. Jonathan, son of Deacon Blood, almost twenty-one years of age, driving a cart loaded with boards, fell; the cart wheel ran over his stomach. He died in about an hour and a half.”
“September 18, 1767. In the night the house of Eleazer Gilson was entirely consumed by fire. They could save but very little of their household stuff.”
“January, 1768. In the night following, the house of David Shed was consumed by fire; his mother narrowly escaped by getting out at a window.”
“June 24, 1769. Eleazer Chamberlin, son of Phinehas Chamberlin, a young man of about twenty-two years of age, going into Lancaster river to wash himself, was drowned.”
“April 11, 1772. Isaac Corey was drowned. The manner of it was something remarkable. The printed account in the paper was as follows : Mr. Isaac Corey, a man near sixty years of age, having ferried over two men across Lancaster river, against his own house, and returned almost to the shore, from whence he had set off, by some accident the canoe filled, he was immediately carried down the current (the river being very high and the water running exceeding swift) near two miles, during which he was seen by several, standing at one end of the canoe, up to his armpits in water, the other end just out of the water; he was heard by many calling out for help, but none could get to him to relieve him. The canoe was seen to pass over the falls about a mile below where he was seen last, with the bottom up.”
“August 2, 1772. The above Mr. Corey was found floating upon the water in the river, about a mile below where he was last seen.”
“August 24, 1776. A child of Mr. John Bowers, in the fourth year of his age, was drowned by falling into a vat in his tan yard.”
“Lord’s day, — 1777. The dwelling house of Mr. Solomon Rogers was entirely consumed by fire.” [These two last items entered by the Rev. Mr. Bullard.]
In 1741, the town of Groton voted to have their school kept a part of the time at Nissitissit, which was probably on the west side of the river, and the first school kept on that side. After the west side had been set off as a parish, viz. in 1749, a number of the parishioners petitioned the town of Groton for the means of supporting a school. The petition was granted on condition a school-room should be provided without expense to the town. The condition was complied with, and the town granted £13 6s. 8d. In 1750, the parish voted that their committee should take some method to obtain of the town their proportion of the school money. In 1751, the parish voted to raise £13 6s. 8d. to be laid out in schooling; but in January, 1751-2, they voted not to put it into the assessment. After it had become a district, in 1753, a vote passed to raise £7 10s. for schooling, and another, that the school should be kept at the nearest convenient place to the meeting-house; and that all who lived more than two miles distant, might draw their proportion of the money, and appropriate it for schooling, as they should see fit. In 1754, it was voted, that the school should be kept in three places; but it was afterwards altered to two. In 1764, a school-house is first mentioned, being in the middle of the district; but in 1770, the school is voted to be kept in four places, all in dwelling houses. In 1771, the school-house is again mentioned, and a vote is passed to have a grammar master. It appears by votes passed in 1772, that the centre school-house belonged to individuals, and the district voted to pay £10 13s. 4d. for it, and to build four more.
November 2, 1778, the town voted to raise £400 for schooling, and chose a committee for each division; by which it appears there were then six divisions, called the middle, south, southwest, west, north and east divisions. This division of the town into six squadrons, as they were usually called, continued many years, and a committee of three persons in each squadron, was annually chosen to see that the money was properly laid out. In 1809, the above names of the squadrons are dropped, and numerical districts are adopted in their stead. In May, 1819, a new school district, embracing Babbitasset village, was formed, and called No. 7. November, 1820, district No. 6 was divided, and district No. 8 was formed. March, 1835, No. 2 was divided, and No. 9 formed, but were afterwards reunited. This division of the town into eight school districts, numerically named, remains to the present time. Each district has a school-house, seven of which are of brick.
The moneys granted for the support of schools at several times, were as follow. In 1758, £10; in 1768, £25; in 1778, £400, continental; in 1788, £90; in 1798, £150; in 1808, $500; in 1818, $600; in 1828, $750; in 1838, $850; in 1847, $1,000.
About the beginning of the year 1834, a number of gentlemen, belonging to Pepperell, desirous of having a seminary of a higher grade than a common district school, in which youth of both sexes might acquire a more extensive education, and young men might be prepared for college, formed themselves into a voluntary association, for the purpose of erecting a suitable building and procuring the necessary means of instruction. On the 27th of January, in that year, the associates held their first meeting, consulted upon measures to be pursued, and adopted a few simple rules for their present and immediate government. Every subscription of twenty-five dollars, constituted a share, and entitled the subscriber of it to a vote in the company. The following subscriptions were then made, viz.
|Samuel S. Ames
|Rev. James Howe
|David Blood, Jr.
At subsequent meetings, appropriate officers and committees were chosen, and so earnestly was the work pursued, that on the 10th day of June following, a handsome and convenient building was completed by Dr. Cutter, the contractor, accepted by the proprietors, and the school was opened with appropriate religious exercises, under the charge of Mr. and Mrs. Erasmus D. Eldridge.
At the session of the Legislature in 1841, they obtained an act of incorporation, and soon after a board of trustees were chosen. The following list contains the names of all the trustees from that time to the present.
|Died, Resigned, etc.
|Rev. David Andrews
|Dr. Nehemiah Cutter
|Mr. Samuel Farrar
|Mr. John Farrar
|Mr. Seth Nason
|Capt. Henry Jewett
|Mr. John Blood
|Rev. Silas Aiken
|Rev. Jonathan Magee
|Rev. Daniel Perry
|Rev. James T. Woodbury
|Rev. George Fisher
|Rev. Levi Brigham
|Rev. Hope Brown
|Mr. Joseph Breck
|Rev. Daniel Goodwin
|Rev. Charles Babbidge
|Rev. Nehemiah Adams
|Rev. James Aiken
|Dr. David Harris
|Hon. Asa F. Lawrence
|1834, June 10
|Erasmus D. Eldridge and wife,
|to November, 1837
|Harvey B. Wilbur,
|Josiah W. Pillsbury,
In 1841, the sum of $200 was expended for apparatus for the use of the scholars. The institution has subsisted entirely upon the tuition paid by the students; having no funds for paying for instruction. The number of pupils has averaged about thirty or forty. It is now, as it generally has been, in a prosperous condition, and is apparently a useful institution.