A BRIEF HISTORY OF CONCORD BY JOHN SHEPARD KEYES, ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AS PART OF D. HAMILTON HURD’S HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS, WITH BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF MANY OF ITS PIONEERS AND PROMINENT MEN (PHILADELPHIA: J. W. LEWIS & CO., 1890)
The following extract comprises Chapters 41-46 (pages 570-612) of Volume 2 of Hurd’s history. The electronic file for its Web publication was prepared by Sarah Chapin, proofread and edited by Reed Anthony, Bette Aschaffenburg, Robert Hall and Leslie Perrin Wilson.
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Chapter XLI: Settlement—Early History—Indian Troubles—Capt. Wheeler’s Narrative
Chapter XLII: Independence in Church and State––Preparations for Revolution––Journal of a British Spy
Chapter XLIII: Concord Fight ––Brunt and Strife of Revolution
Chapter XLIV: Progress and Prosperity as a Shire-town and a Literary Centre––Celebrations––Monuments––Rebellion
Chapter XLV: Courts, Schools, Societies, Donations, Etc.
Chapter XLVI: Professional and Official Citizens––Conclusion
Biographical: Nathan Brooks
Biographical: Calvin C. Damon
Biographical: Ralph Waldo Emerson
Biographical: Reuben N. Rice
BY HON. JOHN S. KEYES
Settlement—Early History—Indian Troubles—Capt. Wheeler’s Narrative.
Whatever other distinction Concord has obtained, it has surely that of being the oldest inland Anglo-Saxon town in America. The first English settlement made above tide-water was here.
In 1635 a small company of twelve or fifteen families broke their way along the Indian trails into the forest, away from the sea-shore. Starting from Newtown (now Watertown), at the head of tide-water in the Charles River, they made their toilsome way along either the route still known as the “Trapelo” road, or that called the “Virginia,” over hills and across swamps, to the “Musketaquid.” Their object was the wide, grassy meadows of that stream, free from the forest growth, and the level plains on its banks where the Indians had raised their corn. These meadows and plains Simon Willard had known, if not seen, in his trading for furs with the natives. He was the leader of the small company, made up of Peter Bulkeley, the minister, John Jones, the teaching elder, William Buttrick, James Hosmer, Robert Fletcher, John Heald, William Judson, Luke Potter, John Scotchford, Merriams and Wheelers, with their families,––sturdy Englishmen from Kent, Surrey, Yorkshire and Bedfordshire, who had come to the country in the “great emigration” of that time. They had secured from the General Court an act of incorporation, dated September 2, 1635, granting them “six myles of land square,” and the name of “Concord.”
For shelter the first winter they made rude hovels of earth and brushwood on the southerly slope of the mile-long ridge east of the Common. The next year they built their first frame house for the minister and elder, on the little knoll at the northwest end of the ridge nearest the river, and their first meeting-house on the summit of the ridge. In this dwelling-house they made their bargain with the Indians for the land, three miles north, south, east and west, and obtained a deed signed by Squaw Sachem, Tahattawan, Nimrod, and others. For this they paid in wampum, beads, blankets, hoes, knives and cloth, to the satisfaction of the native owners, and were “made welcome.” This land was laid out, and the corners of the tract marked by stone bounds, with surprising exactness, considering the difficulties of the task. It included a part of the present Carlisle on the north, of Bedford on the east, and Lincoln on the south and agrees with the line of Sudbury and Acton on the other sides. These lines took in Fairhaven Bay and, White, Bateman’s, Flint’s, Walden and Beaver Ponds, and Nashawtuck, Annursnack and Punkatasset Hills.
The first road was laid out along the foot of the ridge, and the earliest houses were built in the place of the hovels of the first winter. New-comers to the growing settlement soon extended the hamlet across the brook that flowed near the first road. A dam across this brook at the side of the Common gave the power to the first mill erected as soon as practicable. The farms taken up by the settlers, as their choice or fancy inclined, were very early extended out in a southwesterly direction across the river. “Canows” were for a time used for access to and from these but a bridge was soon needed. The first, built over the south branch to the foot of Nashawtuck Hill, was carried away up stream by a freshet coming from the Assabet or North River as it was then called. The second bridge was built over the great river below the junction of the two branches at the spot destined to become historical. The South bridge took the place of the one first mentioned at a point higher up the stream. These, with the roads leading over them, were the public works of the first generation, and they were great undertakings for the time and the men. In such a community as this, after food and shelter were found, religious concerns were most prominent. A Puritan church was organized for Concord by a council that met at Cambridge July 5, 1636. Rev. Peter Bulkeley was ordained pastor, and Rev. John Jones, elder. The latter, after a few years’ service, left Concord with a part of the settlers and moved to Connecticut. The former remained, and spent his life and fortune in the services of the small company he had joined for the settlement of this town. Peter Bulkeley, B.D., was of noble birth, scholarly attainments and ample resources, probably the foremost of all the earlier ministers of New England. He was born at Wodell, in Bedfordshire County, January 31, 1583, educated at St. John’s College, Cambridge, settled in his native town, and preached there twenty years. Persecuted by Archbishop Laud, he left his parish and emigrated to this country. He was an eloquent preacher, a useful pastor and a great help to the infant settlement. He published a volume of sermons which reached a second edition, and was dedicated “to the church and congregation in Concord,” and to his nephew “ Oliver St. John, Lord Embasador Extraordinary from the Parliament of the Commonwealth of England to the High and Mighty Lords, the States General of the United Provinces of the Netherlands and Lord Chief Justice of the Common Press,” (afterward Lord Bolingbroke), London, 1651. Mr. Bulkeley married for his first wife Jane, daughter of Sir Thomas Allen, by whom he had nine sons and two daughters. For his second wife he married Grace, daughter of Sir Richard Chetwood, and had by her three sons and a daughter. He died March 9, 1659, leaving an estate of £1302, including books valued at £133.
He was succeeded by his son, Rev. Edward Bulkeley, who, though not the equal of his father, continued to preach till the increase of the town and his infirmities required the aid of a colleague in 1667. His only printed work is the sermon preached at a special Thanksgiving held October 26, 1675, on the return of Captain Wheeler’s expedition, and published with the narrative of that striking event of Philip’s War. He died January 2, 1696, after fifty-three years’ service as minister at Marshfield and Concord.
Rev. Joseph Estabrook graduated at Harvard College in 1664, and, first settled here as a colleague, remained the minister till his death, September 16, 1711, and left of all his sermons only the annual election sermon of 1705 in printed form.
Rev. John Whiting succeeded to the charge. He was a graduate of Harvard in 1700, and a tutor there before his settlement in Concord. He preached till 1737, when he was dismissed by a council, but continued to reside in Concord till his death, May 4, 1752. Thus through more than a century the church and the town, one and separable, had prospered under the preaching of these learned, pious and useful ministers, with as little of incident of disturbance as falls to the lot of such organizations.
With the settlement of Rev. Daniel Bliss in 1738, and the differences of opinion that grew up in New England about this time, troubles began in this church and community. A revival occurred under Mr. Bliss’ preaching, and in 1741 the celebrated Whitefield preached in Concord, who greatly excited his hearers, so that a great awakening ensued and fifty persons joined the church that year, and sixty-five more in 1742. As usual, out of this excitement much controversy and division arose, and council after council failed to satisfy the discontent. A new society was formed by the seceders from the old parish in 1745, and met for worship in a tavern. This stood near the site of the present Library building, had a sign of a black horse over the door, which caused the society to be called in derision “The Black Horse Church.”
The early settlers soon found the meadows wet and the plains unfertile, so that in 1644 quite a number of the disheartened followed Elder Jones to Connecticut. Those left in Concord were persevering, and soon obtained from the General Court new grants of land westerly and northwesterly of the “Six Miles Square,” furnishing fields and “pastures new” to the old settlers and attracting new-comers to the town.
From the bargain made with the Indian owners of the place, and the kind treatment those received from the white men, no serious raid was made by the Indians upon Concord, while the towns beyond suffered greatly from their attacks. A few of the more exposed homesteads in remote parts of the town were raided, and one or two unwary farmers were killed at their work, but no great damage was done. Concord, however, furnished its full proportion of the soldiers and scouting-parties to defend the more remote settlements.
Captain Thomas Wheeler, who led a company of troopers, chiefly from this town, to the defence of Brookfield in Philip’s War, wrote an account of the expedition that was printed with the sermon of Rev. Edward Bulkeley preached to the survivors on their return, in 1675. Only two copies of this pamphlet are known to be in existence, and from the one presented to the Concord Library by the Hon. George F. Hoar the following extracts are made. It shows, better than pages of modern writing would describe, the dangers and hardships our ancestors incurred in the savage warfare that for a century was carried on by the Indians against the white settlers of this colony:
CAPT. THOMAS WHEELER’S NARRATIVE
of an expedition with Capt. Edward Hutchinson into
the Nipmuck Country and to Quaboag
“A true narrative of the Lord’s providences in various dispensations towards Capt. Edward Hutchinson, of Boston, and myself, and those that went with us into the Nipmuck Country, and also to Quaboag, alias Brookfield: The said Captain Hutchinson, on having a Commission from the Honoured Council of this Colony to treat with several Sachems in those parts, in order to the public peace, and myself being also ordered by the Said Council to accompany him with part of my troop, for security from any danger that might be from the Indians; and to assist him in the transaction of matters committed to him ––
“The said Captain Hutchinson and myself, with about twenty men and more, marched from Cambridge to Sudbury July 28, 1675; and from thence into the Nipmuck Country, and finding that the Indians had deserted their towns, and we having gone until we came within two miles of New Norwich, on July 31st (only we saw two Indians having an horse with them, whom we would have spoke with, but they fled from us, and left their horse, which we took) we then thought it not expedient to march any further that way, but set our march for Brookfield, whither we came on the Lord’s day about noon. From thence the same day (being August 1st) we, understanding that the Indians were about ten miles northwest from us, we sent out four men to acquaint the Indians that we were not come to harm them, but our business was only to deliver a message from our Honoured Governour and Council to them, and to receive their answer, we desiring to come to a treaty of peace with them (though they had for several days fled from us), they having before professed friendship and promised fidelity to the English. When the messengers came to them they made an alarm, and gathered together about an hundred and fifty fighting men, as near as they could judge. The young men amongst them were stout in their speeches, and surly in their carriage. But at length some of the chief Sachems promised to meet us on the next morning about 8 of the clock upon a plain within three miles of Brookfield, with which answer the messengers returned to us. Whereupon, though their speeches and carriage did much discourage divers of our company, yet we conceived that we had a clear call to go to meet them at the place whither they had promised to come. Accordingly we, with our men, accompanied with three of the principal inhabitants of the town, marched to the place appointed, but the treacherous heathen, intending mischief (if they could have opportunity) came not to the said place, and so failed our hopes of speaking with them there. Whereupon the said Captain Hutchinson and myself, with the rest of our company, considered what was best to be done; whether we should go any further towards them or return, divers of us apprehending much danger in case we did proceed, because the Indians kept not promise there with us. But the three men who belonged to Brookfield were so strongly persuaded of their freedom from any ill intentions towards us (as upon other bounds, so especially because the greatest part of those Indians belonged to David, one of their chief Sachems, who was taken to be a great friend to the English): that the said Captain Hutchinson, who was principally intrusted with the matter of Treaty with them, was thereby encouraged to proceed, and marche forward towards a Swampe where the Indians then were. When we came near the said swampe the way was so very bad that we could march only in a single file, there being a very rocky hill on the right hand and a thick swampe on the left. In which there were many of those cruel, bloodthirsty heathen, who there waylaid us, waiting an opportunity to cut us off: there being also much brush on the side of the said hill, where they lay in ambush to surprise us. “When we had marched there about sixty or seventy rods, the said perfidious Indians sent out their shot upon us as a showre of haile, they being (as was supposed) about two hundred men or more. We seeing ourselves so beset, and not having room to fight endeavored to fly for safety of our lives. In which flight we were in no small danger to be all cut off, there being a very miry swamp before us, into which we could not enter with our horses to go forward, and there being no safety in retreating the way we came, because many of our company who lay behind the bushes and had left us pass by them quietly; when others had shot they came out and stopt our way back so that we were forced as we could to get up the steep and rocky hill; but the greater our danger was the greater was God’s mercy in the preservation of so many of us from sudden destruction. Myself being gone up part of the hill without any hurt, and perceiving some of my men to be fallen by the enemies’ shot, I wheeled about upon the Indians, not calling on my men who were left to accompany me, which they in all probability would have done, had they known of my return upon the enemy. They firing violently out of the swamp and from behind the bushes on the hillside wounded me sorely and shot my horse under me, so that he faltering and falling I was forced to leave him, divers of the Indians being then but a few rods distant from me. My son, Thomas Wheeler, flying with the rest of the company, missed me amongst them, and fearing that I was either shot or much endangered, returned toward the swampe again, though he had then received a dangerous wound in the reins, where he saw me in the danger aforesaid. Whereupon he endeavored to rescue me, showing himself therein a loving and dutiful son, he adventuring himself into great peril of his life to help me in that distress, there being many of the enemies about me. My son set me on his own horse and so escaped, awhile on foot himself, until he caught an horse whose rider was slain, on which he mounted, and so through God’s great mercy we both escaped. But in this attempt for my deliverance he received another dangerous wound, by their shot, in his left arm. There were then slain, to our great grief, eight men, viz.: Zachariah Philips of Boston, Timothy Farlow of Billerica, Edward Coleborn of Chelmsford, Samuel Smedley of Concord, Sydrach Hopgood of Sudbury, Sergeant Eyres, Sergeant Prichard and Corporal Coy, the inhabitants of Brookfield, aforesaid. It being the good pleasure of God that they should all these fall by their hands, of whose good intentions they were so confident and whom they so little mistrusted. There were also then five persons wounded, viz.: Captain Hutchinson, myself, and my son Thomas, as aforesaid, Corporal French of Billerica, who having killed an Indian was (as he was taking up his gun) shot and part of one of his thumbs taken off, and also dangerously wounded through the body, near the shoulder. The fifth was John Waldo, of Chelmsford, who was not so dangerously wounded as the rest. They also then killed five of our horses and wounded some more which soon died after they came to Brookfield. Upon this sudden and unexpected blow given us (wherein we desire to look higher than man the instrument) we returned to the town as fast as the badness of the way and the weakness of our wounded men would permit, we being then ten miles from it. All the while we were going, we durst not stay to staunch the bleeding of our wounded men for fear the enemy should have surprised us again, which they attempted to do, and had in all probability done, but that we perceiving which way they went wheeled off to the other hand and so by God’s good providence towards us they missed us, and we all came readily upon and safely to the town, though none of us knew the way to it, those of the place being slain, as aforesaid, and we avoiding any thick woods and riding in open places to prevent danger by them. Being got to the town we speedily betook ourselves to one of the largest and strongest houses therein, where we fortified ourselves in the best manner we could in such straits of time, and there resolved to keep garrison, though we were but few and meanly fitted to make resistance against such furious enemies. The news of the Indians’ treacherous dealing with us, and the loss of so many of our company thereby, did so amaze the inhabitants of the town that they being informed by us, presently left their houses, divers of them carrying very little away with them, they being afraid of the Indians suddenly coming upon them, and so came to the house we were entered into, very meanly provided of clothing or furnished with provisions.
"I perceiving myself to be disenabled for the discharge the duties of my place by reason of the wound I had received, and apprehending that the enemy would soon come to spoyle our town and assault us in the house, I appointed Simon Davis, of Concord, James Richardson and John Fiske, of Chelmsford, to manage affairs for our safety with those few men whom God hath left us, and were fit for any service, and the inhabitants of the said town; who did well and commendably perform the duties of the trust committed to them with much courage and resolution, through the assistance of our gracious God who did not leave us in our low and distressed State but did mercifully appear for us in our greatest need, as in the sequel will clearly be manifestad [sic].
“Within two hours after our coming to the said house or less, the said Captain Hutchinson and myself posted away Ephraim Curtis, of Sudbury, and Henry Young, of Concord, to go to the Honoured Council at Boston, to give them an account of the Lord’s dealing with us in our present condition. When they came to the further end of the town they saw the enemy rifling of houses which the inhabitants had forsaken. The post fired upon them and immediately returned to us again, they discerning no safety in going forward, and being desirous to inform us of the enemies’ actings that we might more prepare for a sudden assault by them, which indeed presently followed, for as soon as the said post was come back to us, the barbarous heathen pressed upon us in the house with great violence, sending in their shot amongst us like haile through the walls and shouting as if they would have swallowed us up alive, but our good God wrought wonderfully for us so that there was but one man wounded within the house, viz––the said Henry Young who looking out of the garret-window that evening was mortally wounded by a shot, of which wound he died two days after. There was the same day another man slain, but not in the house, a son of Serjeant Prichard’s, adventuring out of the house wherein we were to his Father’s house not far from it, to fetch more goods out of it, was caught by those cruel enemies as they were coming towards us, who cut off his head, kicking it about like a foot ball, and then putting it upon a pole they set it up before the door of his Father’s house in our sight.
“The night following the said blow they did roar against us like so many wild bulls, sending in their shot amongst us till toward the moon rising which was about three of the clock, at which time they attempted to fire our house by hay and other combustible matter which they brought to one corner of the house and set it on fire. Whereupon some of our company were necessitated to expose themselves to very great danger to put it out. Simon Davis, one of the three appointed by myself as Captain to supply my place by reason of my wounds as aforesaid he being of a lively spirit encouraged the soldiers within the house to fire upon the Indians; and also those that adventured out to put out the fire (which began to rage and kindle upon the house side) with these and the like words, that God is with us, and fights for us, and will deliver us out of the hands of these heathen, which expressions of his the Indians hearing they shouted and scoffed, saying now see how your God delivers you or will deliver you, sending in many shots whilst our men were putting out the fire. But the Lord of Hosts wrought very graciously for us in preserving our bodies both within and without the house from their shots and our house from being consumed by fire, we had but two men wounded in that attempt of theirs, but we apprehended that we killed divers of our enemies.
“I being desirous to hasten intelligence to the Honourable Council, of our present great distress, we being so remote from any succour (it being between sixty and seventy miles from us to Boston, where the Council useth to sit), and fearing our ammunition would not last long to withstand them if they continued to assault us, I spake to Ephraim Curtis to adventure forth again on that service, and to attempt it on foot, as the way wherein there was most hope of getting away undiscovered; he readily assented and accordingly went out, but there were so many Indians everywhere thereabouts, that he could not pass without apparent hazard of life, so he came back again; but towards morning, the said Ephraim adventured forth the third time and was fain to creep on his hands and knees for some space of ground, that he might not be discerned by the enemy, who waited to prevent our sending, if they could have hindered it. But through God’s mercy, he escaped their hands and got safely to Marlborough, though very much spent and ready to faint by want of sleep before he went from us, and his sore travel night and day in that hot season till he got thither, from whence he went to Boston; yet before the said Ephraim got to Marlborough, there was intelligence brought thither of the burning of some houses and killing some cattel at Quaboag by some who were going to Connecticut, but they, seeing what was done at the end of the town, and hearing several guns shot off further within the town, they durst proceed no further, but immediately returned to Marlbourough, though they knew not what had befallen Captain Hutchinson and myself and company, nor of our being there, but that timely intelligence they gave before Ephraim Curtis his coming to Marlborough occasioned the Honoured Major Willard’s turning his march towards Quaboag for their relief, who were in no small danger every hour of being destroyed, the said Major being, when he had that intelligence, upon his march another way as he was ordered by the Honoured Council, as is afterwards more
“The next day being August 3d, they continued shooting and shouting and proceeded in their former wickedness blaspheming the name of the Lord and reproaching us his afflicted servants, scoffing at our prayers as they were sending in their shot upon all quarters of the house, and many of them went to the town’s meeting-house (which was within twenty rods of the house in which we were), who mocked, saying come and pray and sing psalms, and in contempt made an hideous noise somewhat resembling singing. But we to our power did endeavour our own defence, sending our shot amongst them, the Lord giving us courage to resist them and preserving us. On the evening following we saw our enemies carrying several of their dead or wounded men on their backs, who proceeded that night to send in their shot as they had done the night before, and also still shouted as if the day had been certainly theirs, and they should without fail have prevailed against us which they might have the more hopes of in regard that we discerned the coming of new companies to them to assist and strengthen them, and the unlikelihood of any coming to our help.
“They also used several stratagems to fire us, namely, by wild fire in cotton and linen rags with brimstone in them, which rags they tied to the piles of their arrows sharp for the purpose and shot them to the roof of our house after they had set them on fire, which would have much endangered the burning thereof, had we not used means by cutting holes through the roof and otherwise to beat the said arrows down, and God being pleased to prosper our endeavours therein. They carried more combustible matter as flax and hay to the sides of the house and set it on fire and then flocked apace towards the door of the house either to prevent our going forth to quench the fire as we had done before or to kill our men on their attempt to go forth or else to break into the house by the door, whereupon we were forced to break down the wall of the house against the fire to put it out. They also shot a ball of wild-fire into the garret of the house which fell amongst a great heap of flax or tow therein, which one of our soldiers, through God’s good Providence soon espyed, and having water ready presently quenched it, and so we were preserved by the keeper of Israel both our bodies from their shot which they sent thick against us and the house from being consumed to ashes, although we were but weak to defend ourselves, we being not above twenty and six men with those of that small town who were able for any service, and our enemies as I judged them about (if not above) three hundred. I speak of the least, for many there present did guess them to be four or five hundred. It is the more to be observed that so little hurt should be done by the enemies’ shot it commonly piercing the walls of the house and flying amongst the people, and there being in the house fifty women and children besides the men before mentioned. But abroad in the yard one Thomas Wilson, of that town, being sent to fetch water for our help in further need (that which we had being spent in putting out the fire) was shot by the enemy in the upper jaw and in the neck, the anguish of which wound was at the first that he cried out with a great noise by reason whereof the Indians hearing him rejoyced and triumphed at it, but his wound was healed in a short time praised be God.
“On Wednesday, August 4th, the Indians fortifyed themselves and the barns belonging to our house, which they fortified, both at the great doors and at both ends, with posts, rails, boards and hay, to save themselves from our shot. They also devised other stratagems to fire our house on the night following, namely, they took a cart and filled it with flax, hay and candlewood and other combustible matter, and set up planks fastened to the cart to save themselves from the danger of our shot. Another invention they had to make the more sure work in burning the house: they got many poles of a considerable length and bigness, and spliced them together at the ends one of another, and made a carriage of them about fourteen rods long, setting the poles in two rows, with peils laid cross over them at the front end, and dividing these said poles about three feet asunder, and in the said front end of this their carriage, they set a barrel, having made a hole through both heads, and put an axle-tree through them, to which they fastened the said poles, and under every joynt of the poles where they were spliced, they set up a pair of truckle wheels to bear up the said carriages, and they loaded the front or force end thereof with matter fit for firing, as hay and flax and chips, &c.
“Two of these instruments they prepared that they might convey fire to the house with the more safety to themselves, they standing at such a distance from our shot whilst they wheeled them to the house. Great store of arrows they had also prepared to shoot fire upon the house that night, which we found after they were gone, they having left them there. But the Lord, who is a present help in times of trouble, and is pleased to make his people’s extremity his opportunity, did graciously prevent them of effecting what they hoped they would have done by the aforesaid devices, partly by sending a shower of rain in season, whereby the matter prepared, being wett, would not so easily take fire as it otherwise would have done, and partly by aide coming to our help. For our danger would have been very great that night had not the only-wise God (blessed for ever!) been pleased to send to us about an hour within night the worshipful Major Willard, with Captain Parker, of Groton, and forty-six men more, with five Indians, to relieve us in the low estate into which we were brought.
“Our eyes were unto him, the holy one of Israel; in him we desired to place our trust, hoping that he would in the time of our great need, appear for our deliverance, and confound all their plots, by which they thought themselves most sure to prevail against us; and God who comforteth the afflicted as he comforted the holy apostle Paul by the coming of Titus to him, so he greatly comforted us, his distressed servants, both souldiers and town inhabitants, by the coming of the said honoured Major and those with him. In whose so soon coming to us the good Providence of God did marvelously appear; for the help that came to us by the honoured Council’s order (after the tydings they receive by our post sent to them) came not to us till Saturday, August 7, in the afternoon, nor sooner could it well come, in regard of their distance from us, i.e., if we had not had help before that time, we see not how we could have held out, the number of the Indians so increasing and they making so many assaults upon us that our ammunition before that time would have been spent, and ourselves disenabled for any resistance we being but few and alwaies fain to stand upon our defence; that we had little time for refreshment of our selves, ––either food or sleep. The said honoured Major’s coming to us so soon was thus occasioned: he had a commission from the honoured council (of which himself was one) to look after some Indians to the westward of Lancaster and Groaton (where he himself lived), and to secure them, and was upon his march towards them on the foresaid Wednesday in the morning, August 4th, when tydings coming to Marlborough by those that returned thither as they were going to Connecticut, concerning what they saw at Brookfield, as aforesaid, some of Marlborough knowing of the said Major’s march from Lancaster, that morning, presently sent a post to acquaint him with the information they had received. The Major was gone before the post came to Lancaster; but there was one speedily sent after him who overtook him about five or six miles from the said town, he being acquainted that it was feared that Brookfield (a small town of about fifteen or sixteen families) was either destroyed or in great danger thereof, and conceiving it to require more speed to succour them (if they were not past help) than to proceed at present as he before intended; and being also very desirous (if it were possible) to afford relief to them (he being then not above thirty miles from them), he immediately altered his course, and marched with his company towards us, and came to us about one hour after it was dark, as aforesaid, though he knew not then either of our being there nor of what had befallen us at the swampe and in the house those two days before.
“The merciful providence of God also appeared in preventing the danger that the honoured major and his company might have been in when they came near us, for those beastly men, our enemies, skilful to destroy, indeavoured to prevent any help from coming to our relief, and therefore sent down sentinels (some nearer and some farther off), the farthest about two miles from us, who, if they saw any coming from the bay, they might give notice by an alarm. And there was about an hundred of them, who for the most part, kept at an house some little distance from us, by which if any help came from the said bay they must pass by their sentinels of their approach to waylay them and if they could, to cut them off before they came to the house where we kept.
“But as we probably guess they were so intent and busy in preparing their instruments (as above said) for our destruction by fire that they were not at the house where they used to keep for the purpose aforesaid, and so the major’s way was clear from danger till he came to our house. And that it was their purpose so to have fallen upon him or any other coming to us at that house is the more probable in that (as we have since had intelligence from some of the Indians themselves) there was a party of them at another place who let him pass by them without the least hint or opposition, waiting for a blow to be given him at the said house, and then they themselves to fall upon them in the rear, as they intended to have done with us at the swamp, in case we fled back as before expressed.
“The major and company were no sooner come to the house and understood (though at first they knew not that they were English who were in the house, but thought that they might be Indians and therefore were ready to have shot at us till we discovered they were English by the major’s speaking, I caused the trumpet to be sounded) that the said Captain Hutchinson, myself and company with the town’s inhabitants were there, but through the Lord’s goodness though they stood not far asunder one from another, they killed not one man, wounded only two of his company, and killed the major’s son’s horse; after that, we within the house perceived the Indians shooting so at them, we hastened the major and all his company into the house as fast as we could, and their horses into a little yard before the house, where they wounded five other horses that night; after they were come into the house to us the enemies continued their shooting some considerable time so that we may well say had not the Lord been on our side when these cruel heathens rode up against us as they had swallowed us up quick when their wrath was kindled against us. But wherein they dealt proudly the Lord was above them.
“When they saw their divers designs unsuccessful, and their hopes therein disappointed, they then fired the house and barne (wherein they had before kept to lye in wait to surprize any coming to us), that by the light thereof they might the better direct their shot at us, but no hurt was done thereby, praised be the Lord. And not long after they burnt the meeting house, wherein their fortifications were, as also the barne which belonged to our house, and so, perceiving more strength come to our assistance, they did, as we suppose, despair of effecting any more mischief against us. And therefore the greater part of them towards the breaking of the day, August the fifth, went away and left us, and we were quiet from any further molestations by them; and on that morning we went forth of the house without danger, and so daily afterwards, only one man was wounded about two days after, as he went out to look after horses, by some few of them skulking thereabouts. We cannot tell how many of them were killed in all that time, but one that afterwards was taken confessed that there were killed and wounded about eighty men or more. Blessed be the Lord God of our salvation who kept us from being all a prey to their teeth. But before they went away they burnt all the town except the house we kept in, and another that was not then finished. They also made great spoyle of the cattel belonging to the inhabitants and after our entrance into the house, and during the time of our confinement there, they either killed or drove away almost all the horses of our company.
"We continued there both well and wounded toward a fortnight, and August the thirteenth Captain Hutchinson and my self with the most of those that had escaped without hurt, and also some of the wounded came from thence, my son Thomas and some other wounded men came not from thence, being not then able to endure travel so farr [sic] as we were from the next town till about a fortnight after. We came to Marlborough on August the fourteenth, where Captain Hutchinson, being not recovered from his wound before his coming from Brookfield, and overtyred with his long journey by reason of his weakness quickly after grew worse and more dangerously ill, and on the nineteenth day of the said month dyed, and was there the day after buried, the Lord being pleased to deny him a return to his own habitation and his near relations at Boston, though he was come the greatest part of his journey thitherward. The inhabitants of the town also not long after men, women and children removed safely with what they had left to several places, either where they had lived before their planting or setting down there or where they had relations to receive and entertain them. The honored Major Willard stayed at Brookfield some weeks after our coming away, there being several companies of souldiers sent up thither, and to Hadley and the towns thereabouts, which are about thirty miles from Brookfield, whither also the Major went for a time upon the service of the country in the present wars, and from whence there being need of his presence for the ordering of matters concerning his own regiment and the safety of the towns belonging to it, he, through God’s goodness and mercy, returned in safety and health to his house and dear relations at Groaton.
“Thus I have endeavoured to set down and declare both what the lord did against us in the loss of several person’s lives and the wounding of others, some of which wounds were very painful in dressing and long ere they were healed, besides many dangers that we were in, and fears that we were exercised with, and also what great things he was pleased to do for us in frustrating their many attempts and vouchsafing such a deliverance to us. The Lord avenge the blood that hath been shed by these heathens who hate us without a cause, though he be the most righteous in all that hath befallen there and in all other parts of the country; he help us to humble ourselves before him, and with our whole hearts to return to him, and also to improve all his mercies which we still enjoy, so that his anger may cease towards us, and he may be pleased either to make our enemies at peace with us or more destroy them before us.
“I tarried at Marlborough with Captain Hutchinson until his death, and came home to Concord August the 21 (though not thoroughly recovered of my wound), and so did others that went with me. But since I am reasonably well, though I have not the use of my hand and arm as before. My son Thomas, though in great hazard of life for some time after his return to Concord, yet is now very well cured and his strength well restored. Oh, that we could praise the Lord for his great goodness towards us. Praised be his name, that though he took away some of us, yet was pleased to spare so many of us and adde to our days; he help us whose souls he hath delivered from death, and eyes from tears, and feet from falling to walk before him in the land of the living till our great change come, and to sanctifie his name in all his ways about us, that both our afflictions and our mercies may quicken us to live more to his glory all our dayes.”
This narrative has been well called the “Epic of New England Colonial Days.” The combination of bravery and piety, of “trust in the Lord and keeping their powder dry,” that characterizes this expedition is a marked example of the spirit of the times. The men who could do and suffer and believe as this troop did, were true founders of
In April, 1676, a force of Concord soldiers sent to the defence of Sudbury were decoyed into an ambuscade and nearly all killed by the Indians. Ten men are reported slain but the names of only eight of them are now known. In the fall of that year the praying Indians of Nashoba, being short of food, were removed to Concord, and placed in the charge of John Hoar. The excitement about the attacks of the savages on the outlying settlements was so great that the presence here of these Christian Indians was not tolerated by many. A force under Captain Moseley, of Boston, appeared here on Sunday, and with scant ceremony hustled these poor converts off to Boston, where they were detained on Deer Island, in the harbor. John Hoar protested vigorously, and the Colonial authorities were appealed to in vain.
For the first century of its life Concord had struggled for food, shelter and clothing, yet had sent forth its sons and daughters to found other settlements of the wilderness. It had increased in numbers and wealth, and had become one of the mother-towns. To the Province of Massachusetts it was the important central town, holding much the same position that Worcester now does to the State. With the troubles in the church, and the disturbance in politics, to which the citizens now found time from other labors to give their attention, a new era began. The new minister, Mr. Bliss, was at heart a Tory, and his views did not agree with those of his flock, who had helped to depose Governor Andros, and were already beginning to think of independence. Discussion was rife, and the town-meetings ere long held “high debate,” and passed strong resolutions. The stir of national life was arising, and echoes from Boston and Salem were heard with quick response by this central town.
Next to the church, the military organization was the most important in the town. It began the first year after the settlement, when Simon Willard was appointed to exercise the freemen of Concord in training, and has been kept up in some form to this day. The story of Capt. Wheeler’s command has been told. In 1689, on the thrice memorable 19th of April, the Concord company, under Lieut. John Heald, marched to Boston and helped execute the order of the Representatives, signed by Ebenezer Prout of this town as clerk to the Representatives, for the removal of Andros to the castle. This bloodless revolution ended the Colonial period of Massachusetts history.
The militia of Concord had their full share in the Indian and French Wars that kept the settlers in arms through the first half of the eighteenth century. They were present at Sudbury, where ten of their number were killed, Lancaster, Groton, in Lovewell’s Fight, in the expedition against Cuba, at the capture of Louisbourg, at Crown Point and Fort Edward. Wherever long marches, sharp fighting and great privations were encountered, soldiers from Concord, in single files or full ranks, were found at the front. This military spirit and these adventurous expeditions fostered, even among those who remained at home, a tendency to emigration farther into the wilderness. Lancaster, Littleton, Rutland and Grafton, in Massachusetts, Peterborough and Keene, in New Hampshire, and many other settlements to the west were founded by Concord men.
The mutterings of the coming storm of the Revolution excited all, some with hopes and others with fears. Daniel Bliss the lawyer, son of the Rev. Daniel, and Joseph Lee, the physician of the town, took the side of the King. James Barrett and Joseph Hosmer were as ardent for their country. Rev. William Emerson, the newly-settled minister, after Dr. Bliss’ death, had healed the church difficulty, and this left more time for his hearers to consider political matters. As a town, Concord stood manfully for the rights of the Provincials, and her leaders were soon in consultation and agreement with Otis and Adams in resisting the arbitrary acts of the Parliament and the King of England.
The Boston Port Bill, the massacre in State Street, the tea party in Boston Harbor gave new fuel to the fire of excitement that raged in Concord and throughout the Province. It was much increased here by the meeting of the First Provincial Congress in this town, October 11, 1774. A Legislature had been chosen under the proclamation of General Gage, the Governor of Massachusetts, to meet at Salem. Finding that it would be hostile to his administration, he forbade its meeting, whereupon it organized as a Congress, and adjourned to Concord. Here, with its ranks filled up with sturdy patriots, chosen for the purpose by the towns, began the real work of organization for the conflict of arms that impended.
Concord was the suitable place for this meeting. Her part in the resistance to the King’s encroachments on the charter and liberties of the Province had been conspicuous in both word and deed. In 1773 the town adopted a patriotic response to the address of the citizens of Boston. In 1774 Concord passed strong and bold resolutions against the illegal taxation and the importation of tea and other articles from England. These were made effective by the subscription of more than three hundred of the voters to a covenant not to consume such goods. So few opposed the patriot cause that except three or four individuals, the town was a united body of Sons of Liberty.
A county convention was held here in August, 1774––the first of those in Massachusetts––at which resolutions were passed denouncing the acts of Parliament and the new officers of Government appointed for the Province. To carry these into effect, some hundreds of men from this and neighboring towns, partly armed, marched to Cambridge. Finding no body of men in arms to oppose them, they laid aside their guns and visited several persons who were Tories and compelled them to recant their acceptance of offices under the Crown.
In September 1774, the County Court was to meet here, but the assembling on the Common of a large number of men from this and other towns prevented its sitting and compelled it to adjourn.
At another large meeting, soon after, all suspicious persons were brought before a committee of the meeting, tried for Toryism, and if found guilty, were “humbled” as much as the crowd thought fit.
The Provincial Congress having begun the purchase of arms and ammunition and the collection of military stores Concord followed the example by procuring cannon and ammunition, the enlistment of two companies of minute-men and the raising of a liberty pole. The military stores and arms obtained by the Provincial Congress were mainly deposited in this town in the keeping of trusted patriots. This work and the sessions of the Congress made a busy, stirring season for the stouthearted Whigs of the village, where the manufacture of gun-carriages, fire-arms, harnesses, accoutrements, musket-balls and cartridges went on lively all that winter. The Congress held its meetings in the old church, that yet stands, strangely altered, on the Common, being then a plain, barn-like structure, with two tiers of galleries and without any of its present adornments. John Hancock presided; Samuel and John Adams, Otis, Warren and others spoke; rousing resolutions were passed, a Committee of Safety appointed, regiments and companies of militia and minute men raised and the officers commissioned by the authority of the Congress. Concord agreed to pay the minute-men of the town for their time spent in drill and exercising, and examined them by a committee, and furnished with guns those not already supplied.
In March, 1775, a review was held of all the military companies of the town, and they marched into the meeting-house and heard a sermon from the Rev. William Emerson. On the next Thursday a solemn fast was kept, and Mr. Emerson again preached. To protect the arms and stores deposited here, guards were stationed at the bridges and in the centre, and on the road to Boston. The morning gun and guard-mounting at night gave the town the appearance of a military camp, and the excitement and enthusiasm was so great that some of the men carried their guns at all times, even to church on Sundays.
On March 22d, the Second Provincial Congress met here and remained in session till April 15th. This adopted measures to save the collected stores and arms from seizure and destruction by the British forces, for improving the discipline of the minute-men and for organizing companies of artillery. After their adjournment the Committee of Safety were empowered to take all necessary steps to secure the safety of the Province.
Gen. Gage, the commander of the British forces in Boston, alarmed at these preparations for war, sent out spies and officers to find the condition and location of the stores and arms, and the opinion of the Tories as to the probabilities of resistance to the King’s troops.
One of these spies came to Concord on his return from Worcester and kept a diary of his adventures on the trip. This was printed in 1827 at Concord, N.H., but as the edition was nearly all burned, only two copies are known to exist. From this curiously accurate journal the extracts that follow give a vivid picture of the state of feeling that existed in this county, and of the habits of the officers in Boston:
“Journal kept by Mr. John Howe while he was Em-
ployed as a British Spy during the Revolu-
“On the 5th of April, 1775, General Gage called on me to go as a spy to Worcester to examine the roads, bridges and fording places, and to see which was the best route to Worcester to take an army to destroy the military stores deposited there. Accordingly Col. Smith and myself dressed ourselves as countrymen with gray coats, leather breeches, and blue mixed stockings, with silk flagg handkerchiefs round our necks, with a small bundle tied up in a homespun checked handkerchief in one hand, and a walking stick in the other.
“Thus equipped we set out like countrymen to find work. We travelled to Cambridge, about two miles, and found the roads good. Nothing extraordinary took place until we got to Watertown, about six miles; here we called for breakfast at the tavern. While at breakfast there came in a negro woman to wait on the table. Col. Smith asked her where we two could find employment. She looked Col. Smith in the face and said, Smith, you will find employment enough for you and all Gen. Gage’s men in a few months.
“This conversation about wound up our breakfast. Smith appeared to be thunderstruck, and my feelings were of the keenest kind. Directly the landlord came in and asked how our breakfast suited. Smith replied very well, but you have a saucy wench here. The landlord asked what she had said. Smith repeated very near what she had said, the landlord then replied that she had been living in Boston and had got acquainted with a great many British officers and soldiers there, and might take you to be some of them. Then we paid our reckoning as soon as possible, the landlord said it was likely that we could find work up the road. We bid him good morning and set off, traveled about one mile, found the road very good; here we were out of sight of any house and got over the wall to consult what was best to be done.
“I told Smith that for us to go any farther together would be imprudent. Smith said he thought so, and would return back to Boston, if I would pursue the route. He then gave me up the journal-book and pencil, and ten guineas with several letters to tories between Boston and Worcester. Smith said if he came out with a regiment that road, he would kill that wench. He told me if I would pursue the route and got through he would insure me a commission. So we parted. The last I saw of Smith was running through the barberry bushes to keep out of sight of the road.
“I then set out toward Waltham Plains, and found the roads good. When I got to the head of the plain, being about four miles from where we breakfasted, I called at a tavern and inquired if they wanted to hire. The landlord asked me where I was from, I told him from the eastward, he asked me what kind of work I could do. I told him farming work, but that I should rather work at gunsmithing, for that was my trade.
“When I mentioned that he told me I could get employment at Springfield, for they were in want of hands to work at that business, and said that I had better get there as soon as possible for they were in want of guns, for they expected the regulars out of Boston, and they meant to be ready for them. He asked me if I would take some spirit, I told him I would take some New England and molasses, for I well knew that to be a Yankee drink, and the good man wished me prosperity in my business and I set off.
“I found the roads hilly, stony and crooked for about three miles, when I came to a hollow with a narrow causeway over it; here I left the road and went below to see if there was any place where our artillery could cross, but finding none there I examined above and found it bad. Here I saw a negro man setting traps. The negro asked me what I was looking for, I told him for sweet flag root for the stomach ache. He said it did not grow here, but he had a piece he would give me; he walked out to the road with me. About ten feet from this narrow road stood the largest tree I ever saw. I asked the black man what kind of wood that tree was. He said buttonwood, and further said that the people were going to cut it down to stop the regulars from crossing with their cannon. I asked him how they would know when the regulars were coming in time enough in time enough to cut the tree down. He said they had men all the time at Cambridge and Charlestown looking out. This tree would completely blockade the road should they do it. I asked this negro how far it was to a tavern. He said one mile to a tavern by Weston meeting-house, another tavern half a mile above. I asked him which was the best, and what their names were. He said the first was kept by Mr. Joel Smith, a good tavern, and a good liberty man; the other was kept by Capt. Isaac Jones, a wicked tory, where a great many British officers go from Boston to his house.
“Here I left the negro man and proceeded on my way one mile, found the road hilly, stony and crooked. Came to Smith’s tavern, where two teamsters were tackling their teams. I asked them if they knew of any one who wanted to hire, one of them answered and said he did not know of any body who wanted to hire Englishmen, for they believed I was an Englishman. I asked them what reason they had for thinking so. They said I looked like them rascals they see in Boston, here I wished myself at Capt. Jones’, but to start off then I thought it would not do. So I walked into the house, called for some rum and molasses, one of them followed me in, and told the landlord he guessed I was a British spy. The landlord then questioned me very closely, where I was from and where I was going. I told him I was going to Springfield to work at the gunsmithing business as I understood arms were very much wanted, but I should like to work a few days to get money to bear my expenses. The landlord told me he believed Capt. Jones would hire.
“I asked him where he lived, he said about half a mile above and kept tavern at the sign of the golden ball. This seemed to pacify the teamsters. I now went on to Capt. Jones, here I handed him a letter from Gen. Gage. After perusing it, he took me by the hand, and invited me up stairs. There I made him acquainted with all that had taken place from Boston here, it being fourteen miles.
“He informed me that it would not do for me to stay over night for his house would be mobbed and I would be taken. Here I got some dinner, then he said he would send his hired man with me to the house of one Wheaton in a remote part of the town where I must remain till he sent for me. After dinner I set out with the hired man for Mr. Wheaton’s, I arrived there about sunset. The hired man informed Mr. Wheaton of my business, and that I was a British spy, and Capt. Jones wished him to keep me secure until he sent for me. Then I was conducted into a chamber with a table furnished with a bottle of brandy, candles, paper, etc. Now I went to work to copy from my head on a journal. I remained here all night, the next day being the sixth, the good hired man came to see me early in the morning. He informed me that the news of the conversation which took place at Watertown between Col. Smith and a black woman reached Capt. Jones’ last evening by the same teamsters you saw at J. Smith’s tavern yesterday. They insisted that there were British spies in the house. The news spread and by eleven o’clock there were thirty men collected. Capt. Jones gave them leave to search the house, which they did, in part, then they went into the kitchen and asked the black woman if there were strangers or Englishmen in the house. She replied she thought not. They asked if there had been any there that day. She answered, one or two gentlemen dined up stairs this afternoon. They asked her where they went to. She answered, they sent them off to Jericho Swamp, a dismal swamp about two miles from Jones’ tavern. By this time their fury was subsided, Capt. Jones set on a bottle of spirits to drink, which they drank, and all retired.
“Now the hired man went home, saying he should call again in the evening. After breakfast I went to work upon my journal, here I set down the number of militia arms and ammunition of this place, sent to me by the hired man from Mr. Jones. After dinner Mr. Wheaton introduced his two daughters, stating to them that I was a British officer in disguise. Here we sat and played cards till tea time. After tea the ladies retired and I lie down, being very tired and expected company. That evening about eight o’clock the hired man called for me, and said he was going with me to Marlborough, but said we could not go by Capt Jones’ for they were lying in wait for me there. So I bid Mr. Wheaton and his family Goodbye, and off we set on the back road, coming out above Capt. Jones one mile on the Worcester road. Here I found the roads good to Sudbury River. Here I found myself twenty-five miles from Boston. Here we examined the river for a fording place, providing the bridge should be moved. We found a place which was fordable in Framingham, a town opposite from here. We proceeded for Esq. Barnes’, in Marlborough, and found the roads bad. We traveled all night, examining the roads as well as possible, and arrived at the house of Esq. Barnes at two o’clock in the morning of the seventh. Here we knocked at the door, the Esq. put his head out of the window and asked who was there. My guide answered Capt. Jones’ hired man. He struck a light and let us in. I gave him a letter from Gen. Gage. My guide likewise gave him one from Capt. Jones. After reading them he took me by the hand, saying he wished me good luck in my undertaking, and promised to assist me all in his power. He set on the table a bottle of brandy and some victuals. After refreshing ourselves I asked him if he had heard of the affair of the spies at Watertown and Weston. He answered he had, but it was not believed in that quarter. Here my guide bid me good-morning, and left me. The Esq. said I had better go to bed and rest myself, and that he would find means to help me to Worcester. I went to bed about four o’clock and slept till nine. Then the Esq. waked me, informing me that he had been to the tavern, and reports were there that two men, supposed to be spies by their examining a small bridge near the house where a woman, being up with a sick child, saw them. She said they went on toward Worcester.
“The Esquire told me I must remain there that day, make out the plan of the road so far as I had come, and any writing I wished to do. He said he would go back to the tavern and see if there was any stir about the spies. If there was, he would let me know seasonably enough so that I could be conveyed to the swamp. Here the table was furnished with victuals and drink, pen, ink and paper, and the Esquire left me to go to the tavern. About four o’clock in the afternoon he returned and said all was quiet, the stories had turned out to be negro stories. I must wait till dark, when he would let me have a horse, as he concluded I was tired to go to Worcester, when I must examine the roads and bridges as well as I could in the night, and I must remain in Worcester till the night.
“About eight o’clock in the evening I started for Worcester on the Esquire’s horse. I rode all night and it snowed all the time. I arrived in Worcester about an hour before sunrise, found the roads very hilly and bad. I had slow work getting along for I had to get off my horse to examine the road and bridges. Here I delivered a letter to Mr. . . . from Esquire Barnes, and one from General Gage. After reading them, he ordered my horse put up, and conveyed me to a private chamber, where he said I must remain all day. Here I was furnished with all things which were comfortable. I was informed of the number of militia, and of the quantity of military stores in this place. Nothing particular took place during the day. After dark Mr. . . . . took me to the place where the military stores were deposited, showed me the place where I could break in; also two old wells where I could throw in them the flour and ammunition. Now I returned to the chamber, after he had looked over my papers, I asked him what he thought of an army coming from Boston to Worcester. He said he did not think a man would dare lift a gun to oppose the regulars, and asked me what was my opinion. I told him if he would keep it a secret, I would give him my opinion. He frankly declared he would. I then told him if General Gage sent five thousand troops with a train of artillery from Boston to Worcester, they would never one of them get back. Then he answered, We, his Majesty’s friends, are in a bad situation.
“Then I collected up my papers, ordered my horse, and started from Worcester about nine o’clock in the evening to go to Esquire Barnes. The night was clear and cold. I was now fifty miles from Boston and in danger of being captured every moment. The night was long and dismal. I often wished that night that I had never undertaken the business of a spy. Nothing particular took place during that night. I arrived at Esquire Barnes’ about the break of day on the 9th, where the Esquire kindly received me.
“Here I had some hot sling and a warm breakfast. Soon after breakfast I gave the Esq. my papers. He told me I must go to rest and lie till one o’clock and he would go to the tavern and see if he could make any discoveries which would operate against me. At one o’clock he called upon me and informed me that all was safe, but it would not do for me to tarry in his house that night. I got dinner and then I collected my papers, after the Esq. had given me an account of the militia and ammunition from there to Worcester, and from this place to Weston, and all this he found out while I was gone to Worcester. Now he took me to his garret window and pointed the way for me to go to Concord. He said I must go across the lots and roads. He said I must start about eight o’clock. Then we retired to a private chamber; we conversed about the British coming to Worcester. Then I got my papers and tied them up in a bundle and threw them on a table all ready for a start, then he set on a bottle of brandy and we drank. Now, it being about eight o’clock, we heard a knocking at the front door. The Esq. told me if he did not return in one moment to make my escape out of the chamber window upon the shed and from there into the swamp, and make for Concord. I heard a man say, Esq., we have come to search your house for spies. I heard him say, I am willing. I then hoisted the window, leaped upon the shed, which being covered with snow, my feet flew up and I fell flat on my back in the garden. I recovered a little from the fall, picked up my bundle and hat, and made for the swamp, though considerably lame. Here I was afraid they would track me, the snow lying about six inches deep. When I got into the swamp I looked back to the house, and could see lights dodging at every window. I heard horse’s feet in the road as if great numbers were collecting at the Esqr.’s house.
“Now, I traveled, as near as I could judge, four miles, the snow being on the ground. It was tolerably light. I came to a negro’s house, where I found a black man and his wife. I told them I believed I had got out of my way and enquired the way to Concord. The man said I had better stay all night and he would show me the way in the morning. I told him my business was urgent, and if he would show me the way to the road which led to Concord I would pay him, showing him a silver dollar. He asked me what my business was, that I wished to go that night. I told him I was going to making guns to kill the regulars, for I thought they would be out of Boston in a few weeks. Now the man consented to go. The woman observed, she wished I could make guns to kill the regulars, as she understood there had been a number about Esq. Barnes’ a day or two. I asked her if Esq. Barnes was a tory. She said he was. I said I hoped they would catch him and hang him.
“Then I set out with my black guide. we proceeded on to Concord River; my guide went to a black man’s a little above, where he borrowed a canoe, and carried me safe over. He said he would go with me a mile farther if I would give him a half a dollar, which I readily granted. When we arrived here he went up to a house and said we could buy some rum here if I wanted. I told him I should be glad of it, and if he would go in I would follow him. Then he knocked and they bid us come in. Here my guide told them about my coming to his house, and our route across the lots, and my business. The people in the house appeared to be very glad. I called for some brandy and it was set on. I told my guide to help himself, which he did quite freely. The man of the house said I better tarry till morning as he would go to Concord with me, it being now nearly daylight. By this time my guide was fast asleep. I slept till about sunrise, and I called for some breakfast. I set out for Concord which was in sight. Mr. Wetherby accompanied me to Concord, where he introduced me to Major Buttrick and several other gentlemen, and informed them that I wanted to get into business, which was gunsmithing. They said I was the very man they wanted to see, and would assist me all they could, and immediately went to hire a shop. Here they brought me several gun locks for me to repair, which I repaired with neatness and dispatch, considering the tools I had to work with.
“I was now invited to take dinner at the tavern with a number of gentlemen. The conversation at dinner was respecting the regulars at Boston, which they expected out. I asked them if there were many tories in the place. The answer was, they expected there were, but not openly. I was asked by a gentleman where I was from. I answered Pownalborough, down east. The gentleman asked what I might call my name. I answered him, Wood. He asked me if I was a relation of Col. Wood, of Pownalborough. A distant relation, I said. He asked me whether he was called a liberty man. I answered him it was doubtful which way he would be. He said he would write the Col. a letter immediately to stand his hand. He asked me when I was going to return there. I answered him that I was going right down to get some tools to carry on my business here. Inform the Col. when you see him, that you have seen old Major Parmenter of Sudbury; tell him I say, that if he turns tory I will seek his life at the risk of my own.
“By this time we had got through dinner. After dinner we walked up to the store house to examine some guns, they asked me if I could make such guns. I told them I could make any kind they wished. Here I found a quantity of flour, arms and ammunition. After examining the gates and doors attached to yard and store house, I returned to the tavern, where, after taking some brandy and water, I took leave of them, and set off for Pownalborough after my tools as they supposed.
“Now I set out on the road to Lexington, I travelled about two miles, here I called at a small house a small distance from the road. I found it inhabited by an old man and his wife. The old man was cleaning his gun. I asked him what he was going to kill, as he was so old I should not think we [sic]could take sight at any game. He said there was a flock of red coats at Boston which he expected would be here soon, he meant to try and hit some of them, as he expected they would be very good marks.
“I asked him when they were expected out, he said he should not think strange if they should come before morning, he said some supposed they would go up through Watertown to Worcester for we hear they have sent out spies that road. I asked the old man how he expected to fight. He said open field fighting or any way to kill them red-coats. I asked him how old he was ? he said seventy-seven, and never was killed yet. The old man asked me what parts I was from, and what my business was, I repeated the same story I did at Concord. I asked the old man if there were any tories nigh there. He said there was one tory house in sight, and he wished it was in flames. I asked what his name was. He said it was Gove. I very well knew where I was then, being the very house I wanted to find, it was situated in Lincoln, about four miles from Concord, Mr. Gove being one of his majesty’s friends. Here the old gentleman told the old lady to put some balls in the bullet pouch. She asked him how many. He said 30 or 40, perhaps I shall have an opportunity to give some to them that have not got any. The old woman pulled out an old drawer and went to picking out. The old man says, Old woman, put in a handful of buck shot as I understood the English like an assortment of plumbs. Here I took leave of them. I travelled on the Lexington road about one mile, then I turned out west for Mr. Gove’s house, arrived there about half hour after sunset, inquired for the man of the house, he immediately came forth. I told him I wanted to speak to him in private. He took me to a private room[.] I informed him of my business and told him I put my life in his hands. I laid my papers on the table and asked him to examine them. He told me to give myself no uneasiness for he was my friend. He informed me he was at Southboro at the time I escaped from Esq. Barnes’, he informed me the mob were supplied with tar and feathers to apply to the Esq., if they found me in the house.
“I was furnished with refreshment and apparatus for continuing my Journal. I wrote until about 10 o’clock when Mr. G. came into the chamber and informed me he must remove me to an out house he had at a small distance to lodge, for fear the plot would be found out at Concord and his house would be immediately searched. Accordingly I did, and retired to rest. He called me about break of day, this being the 11th day, and said I might return to my chamber, and he would go to Concord, and see if he could hear anything new.
“He returned from Concord about 10 o’clock, and said they were very much pleased with the prospect of having an armory established there. He said I must stay until evening, and he would convey me to Charlestown which was about 12 miles. Accordingly, about eight o’clock in the evening we set out for Charlestown both on horseback and examined the road through Lexington to Charlestown, and arrived there about 12 o’clock. I took leave of Mr. G, and he took the horse I rode and returned back. I went to the ferry, and took a boat and crossed over to Boston the 12th (April), about two o’clock in the morning and retired to my quarters to rest.
“About sunrise I turned out, threw by my yankee dress and put on my British uniform, and walked down King Street, and directly met Col. Smith, he took me by the hand, and said how do you do John? We heard you broke your neck jumping out of Barnes’ chamber window. Smith further said come go up to the General’s quarters. I told him I should rather go after breakfast.
“Tell me nothing about your breakfast; you are under me now. Accordingly we went to the general’s quarters, where the officers were generally collected. I thought they had been taking their bumpers rather too freely by their actions. The general said ‘Good morning, John. How do you like the Rebels?’ I replied that I should not like to fall into their hands. I took my papers out and presented them to the general. I asked him after he had perused them if he would return them to me. He told me he would, with fifty guineas with them. The general said, adjutant take charge of the papers. He took the papers, handed me a guinea. He said, take that, John, and go and get some liquor; you are not half drunk enough for officers’ company. The general told me to call at his quarters at 11 o’clock. Accordingly I did. The general said, ‘John, we have examined your journal; you are well deserving the name of a good soldier and a lucky and expert spy. How large an army will it take to go to Worcester and destroy the stores and return safe?’ By answering that question I must stand or fall, but I was determined to give my opinion in full, turn as it would. I said, if they should march 10,000 regulars and a train of artillery to Worcester, which is forty-eight miles from this place, the roads very crooked, stony and hilly, the inhabitants generally determined to be free or die, that not one of them would get back alive. Here Smith exclaimed, ‘Howe has been scared by the old women.’ Major Pitcairn says, ‘Not by a negro wench, John,’ which caused a great laughter. The general asked me what I thought of destroying the stores at Concord, only eighteen miles. I stated that I thought 500 mounted men might go to Concord in the night and destroy the stores and return safe; but to go with 1000 foot to destroy the stores the country would be alarmed; that the greater part of them would get killed or taken. The general asked me what I thought of the Tories? I stated that they were generally cowards, and no dependence could be placed on them.
“The general asked me how old I was. I told him I was twenty-two. He said my judgment was very good for a beardless boy of twenty-two. Here are your papers and money, John. You shall be exempt from carrying a firelock;” and I was dismissed for that day. He said I must call again the next day at nine o’clock. Accordingly the next day at nine o’clock I called at the general’s headquarters. He said he should want me to put on my Yankee dress and go on horseback through Malden, Lynn, and Marblehead to Salem, on the 18th, at night to carry letters to the Tories in those places, to have them use their influence to restrain the militia and secure the arms and ammunition, if they could attempt to take up arms against his majesty’s regulars, as I shall detach Major Pitcairn to march on the 19th, at 1 o’clock in the morning with 800 grenadiers; to have me on my return from Salem, if I heard of any alarm from the Americans to ride through the adjacent towns east of Concord to see what preparations were making, if any, to let Major Pitcairn know without delay. This I told the general I would undertake; he might rely on my faithfulness in this dangerous undertaking.
“Accordingly, on the 18th, the troops were put in readiness; about two o’clock we embarked and crossed over to Charlestown. Here I left the troops, mounted on a country horse prepared for the purpose, with my Yankee dress. I called at Malden on one Mr. Goodridge, delivered him a letter from the British general. I rode from this place to Lynn. Here I called on another tory; delivered my letter. I now proceeded to Marblehead; there I delivered another message. Then I proceeded to Salem, where I arrived about daybreak, making the distance about 15 miles. Here I refreshed myself and my horse. About sunrise I mounted, returned back to Lynn, where I called for a breakfast. While at breakfast, the thundering news came that the regulars had gone to Concord, and had killed 8 men at Lexington. Such a confusion as the people were in I never heard or saw. They asked me where I had been and where I was going. I told them I was a Bostonian and had been to Salem to notify the people that the regulars we were afraid were going out of there to Concord. They said I had better make my way through Reading and Woburn, also through Billerica to Bedford and Concord, and notify the people that the regulars had gone on, and have themselves in readiness to march to Concord. Now I set out full speed; wherever I saw the people were alarmed, I informed them that the British had come out and gone to Concord, and for their lives and country to fly to arms. Where there was no alarm I made none. When I arrived at Woburn, ten miles from Boston, I found the militia about on their march for Concord. Here I omitted going to Billerica, it being ten miles further into the country.
“I made the best of my way through Bedford to Concord. Here my horse failed me in some measure. Here I overtook crowds of militia; I told them to drive on. I also told them there had been 8 men killed at Lexington by the British. I told them I was afraid the regulars would leave the town of Concord. This kind of alarm I gave the people all the way. I soon arrived at Concord, where I found confusion sure enough. Here I found the militia pouring in from every quarter. I rode up to Major Pitcairn and informed him that he must have a reinforcement from Boston, or else he could not get a man back to Charlestown, for they were very sore and fatigued. I was furnished with a fresh horse and set off for Boston and alarmed the people on the road to fly to arms and waylay the regulars from behind fences and walls and any thing that would cover them from their fire. No person mistrusted but what I was a faithful American through the whole route. When I arrived at Charlestown I met Lord Percy with a regiment of regulars and two pieces of artillery. I passed the troops and went on the ferry and crossed over to Boston; went to General Gage’s headquarters and informed him of my route, and all that had taken place. He said he did not think the damned rebels would have taken up arms against His Majesty’s troops, etc.
“From this time I was determined to leave the British Army and join the Americans.”
Concord Fight ––Brunt and Strife of Revolution.
THE BIRTHDAY OF AMERICAN LIBERTY.––There are several personal accounts written by those who took part in the events that made the 19th of April, 1775, forever memorable. Rev. William Emerson’s diary is the most complete and accurate. The journal of Lieut. Barnard, of the British Army, is clear and interesting in its details. Capt. David Brown’s entry in his almanac, “Had a sharp squirmish with the Regulars to-day” is graphic. John Howe, the spy, writes “That at Concord I found confusion sure enough.” Martha Moulton’s description of the conduct of the British at Concord is vivid. The depositions of the patriot soldiers, taken by the Committee of Congress a few days after the fight, are exact and carefully given under the solemnity of an oath. The report of Lieut.-Col. Smith, the commander of the regulars, is in print, and from this Gen. Gage’s report to his King was garbled by the ministry before it was published, to meet the political necessities of the government, and is therefore unreliable. A letter to Jefferson, printed in his Virginia newspaper, and probably written by Gen. Warren the night after the battle, is the best of the published accounts in the press of that time. While the stories and traditions that have grown up since, and the sermons and orations, the pamphlets and histories of the events, would fill a larger volume than this whole book. Relying on contemporaneous accounts, and neglecting the afterthoughts and one-sided statements when controversies had arisen, the real facts may be ascertained.
CONCORD FIGHT.–– General Gage, aware by the reports of his spies of the condition of things at Concord, determined to destroy the military stores and arms collected there. An expedition was secretly organized for this duty, composed of six companies of the Tenth Light Infantry and the grenadier companies of several other regiments in Boston. Lieut.-Col. Smith was the commander, with Major Pitcairn, of the marines, as the second officer. These troops were taken off their regular duty under pretence of learning a new drill, and were quietly embarked in the boats of the men-of-war from the foot of the Common late in the evening of April 18th. The project was found out by the vigilance of the patriots in Boston, and when the column started, Paul Revere set forth from Charlestown on his famous ride, and
Several British officers, well-mounted and armed, had been sent out the day before to reconnoitre the scene, and on their return in the evening to intercept any messengers from Boston who might give the alarm. They captured Revere and his companion, Ebenezer Dorr, just below the line in Lincoln, while Samuel Prescott, who had joined Revere, escaped by jumping his fleet horse over the wall of the road and taking a by-way through Lincoln, gave the alarm there, and reached Concord between one and two o’clock on the morning of the 19th.
He aroused the guard at the town-house, who fired the signal gun and rang out the alarm bell. This assembled the minute-men, the militia and the townsmen, old and young. Rev. William Emerson, the pastor, with his gun in his hand, was among the first to join the guard. Major John Buttrick and his son, the fifer of Captain Brown’s company, were among the early arrivals. Messengers were despatched to the adjoining town, Samuel Prescott to Acton, William Parkman to Sudbury, and Reuben Brown was sent towards Boston to report the approach of the enemy. The Committee of Safety began the removal of the cannon, ammunition and stores to places of security, and the women and children, with their valuables, fled to the woods or to houses remote from the village. The minute-men and militia companies took position on the hill in front of the church, around the liberty pole, on which the pine-tree flag was raised, and awaited the return of the messenger, Brown. They were supplied with ammunition from the town-house, and about seven o’clock saw, from their post on the hill the British approaching. It was a pleasant morning of an early spring, after a mild winter; the fruit trees were in bloom and the spring grain waved in the breeze, foretelling a warm day.
As the King’s troops came in sight, their bayonets glistening in the sun and their solid platoons filling the wide, old highway, the officers of the Concord companies saw that they could not resist such a superior force successfully. The provincials fell back to another hill, some eighty rods distant, and from this watched the movements of the regulars. The British force marched to the Common in the centre of the town, paraded there and sent out squads of soldiers to find and destroy the stores of flour, fish, salt and rice, and the magazine of arms, cannon, powder and balls the provincials had collected. The officers made the taverns their headquarters; Colonel Smith at Jones’ tavern, on the main street, and Major Pitcairn at the Wright tavern, next the church. Col. Smith finding that the early alarm had nearly spoiled the object of his raid, and that the patriots were increasing in numbers, sent a company under Captain Munday Pole to guard the South Bridge, and five companies under Captain Lawrence Parsons to the North Bridge. Three of these companies remained there to guard the bridge, while two companies went two miles beyond to destroy the cannon and ammunition at Col. James Barrett’s farm. Captain Lawrie commanded the guard at the bridge, and while Captain Parsons was absent on his errand, permitted the soldiers to seek food and drink at the neighboring houses.
Captain Parsons found but little to reward his search. He burned a few carriages for cannon, but the cannon had been hidden in a new-plowed field, and when he heard signal guns fired at the bridge his command retreated hastily towards the village.
While Colonel Smith and Major Pitcairn were resting and refreshing themselves at the taverns the grenadiers sacked the store-houses, broke up sixty barrels of flour, disabled two twenty-four pound cannon, burned four gun carriages and sixteen artillery wheels and some barrels of wooden spoons and plates, threw into the mill-pond about five hundred pounds of bullets and cut down the liberty-pole on the hill. The town-house, in which the powder was stored, was set on fire, but by the remonstrances of Martha Moulton, who pointed out the danger from the explosion, the fire was put out and the building saved with its valuable contents.
This was all the expedition accomplished. The Americans fell back, as the detachment advanced, towards the North Bridge, crossed it and took position on Punkatasset Hill, half a mile north. Here their numbers increased by squads and files of minute-men from the adjoining towns, till they were in sufficient force to advance to the high ground just west of the causeway and bridge. From this point they could overlook the village and watch the guard at the bridge. Here they were joined by the companies from Lincoln, Sudbury and Acton, and by Lieutenant-Colonel John Robinson and some minute-men from Westford. Joseph Hosmer, of Concord, acting as adjutant, formed the companies and squads into line as they arrived on the ground, while the officers held a council of war to determine what should be done.
The smoke of the burning gun carriages and other spoils in the village could be plainly seen, and it seemed as if the British were burning the town. This determined the council to march to its protection, and Colonel James Barrett, as the commanding officer, gave the order “to march to the bridge and pass the same, but not to fire on the King’s troops unless they were first fired upon.” Major Buttrick took the command, first offering it to Lieutenant-Colonel Robinson, who declined the post, but went with the major as his aid, and Colonel Barrett left for his farm to take care of his family and the stores. The American force numbered more than the guard at the bridge, but the British force in the village was the larger, and an advance on this would bring Captain Parsons’ detachment in their rear, and place the provincials between two fires. It was a hazardous movement but the patriots did not flinch from the danger when the crisis came. Captain Davis’ Acton company, who were armed with bayonets on their guns, took the right, and the Concord company, under Capt. David Brown, came next, and thus the “embattled farmers” in double files marched down to the hill to the tune of the “White Cockade.” As they reached the causeway at the foot of the hill the British guard began taking up the planks of the bridge to prevent their crossing it. Major Buttrick ordered them to desist, and they soon stopped this work and formed in solid column on the easterly bank of the river. The Americans pressed forward till within a hundred yards, when the British fired two signal guns and then a volley at the advancing minute-men. This killed Captain Isaac Davis and private Abner Hosmer of the Acton company, and wounded two or three men of the other companies. Major Buttrick sprang from the ground and gave the order. “Fire, Fellow-Soldiers, for God’s sake Fire!” The order was repeated along the line, and the Americans fired a volley that killed two British soldiers, fatally wounded Lieutenant Kelly and a sergeant, and severely wounded several officers and many privates. This firing with sure aim from the shoulder was too effective for the regulars to return with their guns only pointed from their hips without aim. They broke and retreated towards the village, bearing their wounded, bleeding and dying, in their ranks. The signal guns had given the alarm to the main body of the British on the Common, and it soon marched to the aid of the retreating detachment.
The Americans crossed the bridge and occupied the hill on the east side of the river, from which they could see the advance of the main body to join the retreating companies. After some consultation, and before the return of Captain Parsons’ command over the bridge, the Americans left this hill and passed by a bridle-road through the woods around the centre of the town to the road leading to Boston. They might have cut off the two companies returning from Colonel Barrett’s, but the risk to their force and the town was too great, and they wisely decided to reserve the attack until after the British had left the village on the retreat to Boston. The war had begun. “Major Buttrick gave the order to fire to British subjects. It was obeyed by American citizens,” who “fired the shot heard round the world.”
This fight proved to Col. Smith not only that the Americans would resist, but that his forced must return to Boston at once. Arranging for the care of his wounded who could not be removed, and taking chaises and pillows for those unable to march, he hastily collected his troops and before noon left the village on his retreat. Throwing out flank guards on the ridge that lined the road for a mile, he kept his force in column unmolested till Merriam’s Corner was reached. Here the patriots from the fight at the bridge were posted in safe positions, and were joined by companies from Reading and Chelmsford and Billerica. As the British left the protection of the ridge and called in their flank guards to cross a narrow causeway over the meadows, the Americans poured a sharp fire on the retreating columns, causing some loss, and then passed round the next hill to renew the attack. Another sharp skirmish took place at the foot of Hardy’s Hill where a Sudbury company came up on the south flank of the regulars and the fire was hot from both sides of the road. A little farther on the woods lined the highway, and from behind trees and rocks and walls the Americans sorely galled the retreating column. The officers dismounted and sought shelter in the ranks of the soldiers. Col. Smith’s horse was shot, and Major Pitcairn’s captured with his pistols in the saddle-holsters, which are still preserved as memorials of the fight. The retreat became a rout long before the reinforcement under Earl Percy was reached, and if any American officer could have been found in command Col. Smith would have surrendered.
It was the first and perhaps the only instance when a body of veteran soldiers of England fled before an undisciplined and unorganized armed mob of inferior numbers.
This reinforcement sent out by Gen. Gage in the forenoon with two field-pieces checked the pursuit by the Americans, and received the worn-out men of Smith’s command into the shelter of their ranks, where they laid down like tired dogs with their tongues hanging out of their mouths from the heat and dust of the rout. After a short rest the British took up the march for Boston, and were again attacked by the Americans, who pursued them, and poured a hot fire into their ranks, till they reached Charlestown Neck and were under the shelter of the guns of the ships of war in Boston Harbor.
The victorious patriotic farmers encamped that night in Cambridge, and formed the nucleus of the Continental Army around Boston, where the British were shut up till they evacuated that town early the next year.
The British loss that day, as reported by Gen. Gage, was sixty-five killed, 176 wounded, and twenty-seven missing. The American loss was forty-nine killed, thirty-six wounded and five missing.
Of this battle, which has passed into history under a new and wrong name, Senator Hoar said, in his address at the quadro-millennial celebration of the town of Concord, “the number of the slain is no necessary test of the importance of a battle. The English lost at Agincourt but four gentlemen, ‘none else of name, and of all other men, but five and twenty.’ Plassy, which gained India to England, cost the victors seven European and sixteen native soldiers wounded. The American lost but twenty-seven at New Orleans. There were more Englishmen slain on the Greek side at Marathon; more men fell on both sides that day than at the first battle of Bull Run.” Concord, the first battle-ground of the Revolution, is well named the birth-place of American liberty; for if in Boston was the conception, and in Lexington the agonizing throes of deadly pain, here the blessed child was born.
The British retreat begun here never ended till Yorktown, and, however it may be called in history, this is glory and honor enough for any place, any men, any generation––in this broad land or the world.
Of the many incidents of that day in Concord––whether of the large, fleshy, bulky Col. Smith being run against and knocked over by Ephraim Jones, the tavern-keeper, or of Major Pitcairn stirring his glass with his finger at the Wright Tavern, and hoping “to stir the damned Yankee blood so ere night,” the shrewd reply of the miller, Wheeler, to preserve his meal from the spoilers, the cute Yankee answers of the women to save the property in their houses from the raid, the cool remarks of the slightly wounded, that “a little more and it wouldn’t have hit me”––there is no occasion here for more detail.
Nearly 200 of the men of Concord were engaged in the fight that day. As they were volunteers, and the rolls of the companies are not preserved, all their names cannot be ascertained. A partial list only can be given, and this includes almost every Concord family name of that period. Of the prisoners captured that day, Lieut. Kelly was buried in Concord, Lieut. Gould was exchanged, Lieut. Potter was confined at Reuben Brown’s house––and his sword is still there in the Antiquarian Society’s collection––several of the soldiers were confined in the old jail, and one or two of them, when released, remained during their lives in the town. The horses and other property taken from the British were advertised and sold at auction, and the leading men in the fight gave their depositions within a few days after it occurred.
No more genuine Yankee or American trait than this is recorded in history, that, after beginning a war, shooting down the King’s troops, and shutting them up in Boston, the victorious leaders coolly sit down, deliberately draw up, and solemnly swear to their account of the engagement. It marks their Puritan spirit, their devotion to duty, their conscientious regard for truth, and carries out the honest saying of one of them, Captain Miles, “that he went to the battle in the same spirit that he went to Church.” When a Revolution is undertaken by such men, it will be carried through and a firm government successfully established.
In the Revolution thus begun on her soil, Concord did her full part throughout the war. This town furnished, in answer to all the calls for men, over two thousand soldiers for longer and shorter terms of service. For the expenses of the war there was raised here by taxation annually more than $10,000 of silver money, an amount that made a greater burden on the property of the town at that time than twenty times as much would be now. To the expedition to Ticonderoga in 1775 a full company went from Concord, and her beloved minister, Rev. William Emerson, accompanied the Middlesex Regiment as chaplain. He fell a victim to the camp-fever and died at Rutland, Vermont, October 20, 1775, at the early age of thirty-three years.
While Boston was occupied by the British forces, Concord furnished the patriots with fuel and provisions to a considerable amount. So many of the inhabitants of Boston were received and sheltered here, that in July, 1775, a town-meeting of and for Boston was duly held in Concord, a representative chosen and other votes passed––perhaps the only instance in which a town held its meeting outside its own limits.
The American Army having occupied for barracks the buildings of Harvard College at Cambridge, that institution removed to Concord in 1775 and remained here nearly a year. It held its exercises in the Court-House, its students and professors living in various houses in the town. The large dwelling-house on the Lee farm, in which the Tory Dr. Lee had been confined by order of the Committee of Safety became the Harvard Hall of that episode. The commencement exercises of 1776 were held in the old church, and on the return of the college to Cambridge its authorities passed votes of thanks to Concord for their reception and kind treatment.
Progress and Prosperity as a Shire-town and a Literary Centre––Celebrations––Monuments––Rebellion.
AFTER the Revolution had triumphed, and peace and independence were won, the sacrifices and burdens of the war were felt more fully than while it lasted. Debts had accumulated, the currency inflated, distress increased and culminated in Shays’ Rebellion. Concord as a shire-town was the place of meetings and conventions to consider the state of the times, and at length, in 1786, an attempt was made by an armed mob to prevent the court from sitting here in September. Although this town had taken measures of precaution by its committees and resolutions, a mob of armed men, several hundred in number, assembled here to oppose the authority of the Government. They were led by Captain Job Shattuck, of Groton, and, after spending the night of September 12th in the court-house and in barns in the village, they took position on the Common and formed their lines to stop the judges from holding court. Their leader held them in some order while a committee of a convention called by Concord had a parley with him, and at last succeeded in persuading him to consent to the court opening and adjourning to the last of November. The rain and the rum had badly demoralized the mob, and they dispersed to their homes without acts of violence or any bloodshed. The invasion created great alarm and anxiety in the town, and would have had serious consequences but for the prudence and firmness of her leading citizens. Captain Shattuck was afterwards arrested for this and other treasonable acts, was badly wounded by the officers who made the arrest, and was confined in jail till May, 1787, when he was tried in Concord, convicted of treason and sentenced to be hanged. He was, however, pardoned in September, through the efforts of Judge Wood, of this town, and lived in Groton till 1819.
After the troubles that caused this insurrection had subsided, the era of growth and prosperity that followed national independence was felt in Concord. Trade and manufactures increased here. As a shire-town in the centre of Middlesex County, it attracted population, capital and ability, and soon became a prominent rival with Boston for the seat of the State Government, and came near having the State-House. Men of character and distinction in the profession of the law settled in the town and gave it influence. In 1798, at the time of the difficulty with France, William Jones, a lawyer here, led a detachment of forty-one men from Concord to join the Oxford army, so called, because that was the place where the troops assembled.
When the War of 1812 was declared the old hostility to England induced Concord’s leading lawyer to give up his practice and his offices of county treasurer and postmaster and take command of a regiment recruited in the vicinity for service on the Canada frontier. Although political feeling at that time ran so high in Massachusetts that he did not escape sneers and reproach, yet Colonel John L. Tuttle was brave and patriotic, and deserved a better fate than death by poison for the purpose of robbery, which he met at Sackett’s Harbor, N.Y. The town furnished both its military companies for the defence of Boston when in danger of an attack from the British fleet, and raised a large company of exempts to protect its homes in case of invasion. Several English prisoners of war were confined here till they were exchanged or paroled.
In this busy prosperity Concord moved even faster after the peace of 1814 without noticeable events till, in 1824, the visit of Lafayette as the nation’s guest occurred. During his triumphal tour he visited this historic town and was received with all the manifestations of gratitude and hospitality that could be made. Military escort, address of welcome, collation, greetings of old comrades of the Revolution, and of men, women and children, united to bring tears of joy from the companion of Washington. His visit revived the memory and stirred the patriotism of that generation so much that the fiftieth anniversary of Concord fight, April 19, 1825, was fitly celebrated. The cornerstone of a monument on the centre of the Common was laid with due ceremonials. Edward Everett, then in the flush of his youth and eloquence, delivered an oration seldom equaled by him in his after-years. But the corner-stone never found its superstructure, opposition to the site developed and the project slumbered for nearly a dozen years without fulfillment.
In the next decade various institutions started that mark the growth of the town, ––the Middlesex Mutual Fire Insurance Company in 1826, that in its long and useful existence has developed into one of the largest and strongest in the state; the Concord Bank in 1832, an equally successful corporation, and the Middlesex Institution for Savings that has pursued a steady growth to a strong financial position. An academy was founded somewhat earlier, in 1822, and under teachers of good repute a higher education than the town schools afforded was given. In 1828 a Lyceum was formed, growing out of an earlier debating society. This has continued to the present time, furnishing a course of lectures each winter from some of the best minds of New England. It is now incorporated, has an invested fund and increases in popularity every season.
A social library was established in 1821, and soon obtained a useful collection of books, reviews and pamphlets. An ornamental tree society planted many of the fine trees that shade the village streets. A public bathing-house contributed to the physical health of the community. The Concord Chapter of Royal Arch Masons was formed in 1826, and a volunteer engine company in 1827.
The Western Society of Husbandmen and Manufacturers, incorporated in 1803, removed from the upper part of the county to Concord in 1821, and has held its annual cattle shows here nearly every year since. In 1852 its name was changed to the Middlesex Agricultural Society. It has a large exhibition building, ample fair-grounds and a good half-mile track.
More than all these, the single parish system of the town broke up, and a second religious society was formed. Rev. Ezra Ripley, who succeeded Rev. William Emerson in 1778, had grown liberal in his views and preaching with his years––had, in fact, become Unitarian. A Trinitarian society was organized in 1826 by those who held to the old faith. Sixteen joined the new church, and built a meeting-house and settled a minister the next year. By the successful result of an act of incorporation of the trustees of the old ministerial fund that money was preserved to the Unitarian Society, and the town saved from the usual lawsuit attending such divisions.
The influence of all these was shown in 1835, on the two hundredth anniversary of the settlement of Concord. An appropriate celebration was arranged and carried out on the twelfth of September of that year. It was among the first of the long line that have followed, and equal to the best of these town holidays. The address by Ralph Waldo Emerson was the earliest of those that have made his words and thoughts known throughout the English-speaking world. The Governor and his staff attended; the procession, escorted by the infantry and artillery companies, marched to the old church, through the lines of the school children, and a crowded audience listened to the eloquent words there uttered. A dinner and speeches at the table by the distinguished guests from Boston, Plymouth, New York and other places concluded the celebration. The address was printed and reprinted in 1875 and may be found in the complete edition of Emerson’s works.
The occasion furnished a pattern example to later towns, especially in the matter of expense. This, the committee reported, amounted to $168.79, of which the town voted $75.00, private subscribers gave $4.50, and the balance, $48.24 [sic], was paid by the committee themselves.
Shattuck’s “History of Concord” was published this same year, and is one of the earliest and best of town histories, since so numerous. It gave much information about the olden times, and has become very rare and valuable.
Now began the period of literature and culture which for a generation marked Concord more prominently than its historical, political or business traits had before.
A great awakening of thought was springing up in New England about this time. In part it had been brought over the sea by the brilliant young men who had studied abroad. In part it was the uprising of the intellect of a people who had found leisure from the sordid cares of life to seek some higher ideas. Mr. Emerson’s residence here, which began on his return from Europe, attracted much of this transcendentalism, as it was called. Margaret Fuller, Hawthorne, Alcott and Channing came to Concord to live. The Dial, the organ of the new philosophy, was often mainly composed here, and from this town, as a centre, many of the converts drew their inspiration, and to it made their pilgrimages, as to their Mecca.
This “newness,” as it has been styled, soon dominated the village , and found its expression in many forms of the life and society of the town. It gave birth to and encouraged the literary efforts of that generation. Hawthorne wrote his “Mosses from the Old Manse,” to which he had brought his bride in 1842, and in which Emerson had written his “Nature” a few years earlier. Thoreau wrote and published his works chiefly about Concord scenes, Channing printed his poems, Alcott his conversations, his daughter Louisa her stories, Mrs. Austin her novels, and others, inspired by these examples, rushed into print till the alcove in the Free Public Library devoted to Concord books is nearly filled. So much of this literary work was done here that a distinguished state and national officer, when asked by a fellow-traveler in the cars through Concord,” What was the chief occupation of the villagers?” promptly replied, “principally writing for the Atlantic Monthly.” This dwarfed and soon overcame the business and political importance of the town, and although the railroad came here in 1844, the quiet repose of the place was hardly stirred by the locomotives.
One result of Mr. Emerson’s address in 1835 should be recorded. The next year the town decided to build a monument at the battle-ground, a matter that had been too long neglected. A fund had accumulated in the town treasury for this purpose sufficient for a modest memorial. This money was originally subscribed in this vicinity for the Bunker Hill Monument Association, which had planned to mark both the earlier battle-grounds of the Revolution with enduring monuments. Finding that the work on Bunker Hill was more than they could accomplish, that Association gave up their plan of building one at Concord and returned a part of the subscriptions to this town. Dr. Ripley, who had gained a title by possession to the old road leading to North Bridge, reconveyed the same to trustees for the purpose of a memorial.
A simple design was selected by a committee of the town, and from a granite boulder within the original limits of the “six miles square” the modest shaft was obtained and placed on the river-bank, where it now stands. The task of framing a suitable inscription was a difficult one. Several inscriptions had been sent in by persons asked to contribute, and while each had merits, no one exactly suited the committee. Thereupon, they made a composite, taking sentences from such as they approved, and inscribing this on the monument:
on the 19th of April, 1775
the first forcible resistance
to British aggression.
On the opposite bank
stood the American militia.
Here stood the Invading Army,
and on this spot
the first of the enemy fell
in the War of that Revolution
to these United States.
In gratitude to God
in the love of Freedom,
For the dedication of this monument July 4, 1837, Mr. Emerson wrote his immortal hymn, that was sung by the assemblage, and is copied below from the original printed slip:
“By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
“The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps,
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream that seaward creeps.
“On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We place with joy a votive stone,
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
“O Thou who made those heroes dare
To die, or leave their children free,––
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and Thee.”
A prayer by Rev. Dr. Ripley, then in the eighty-seventh year of his age, and an address by the Hon. Samuel Hoar completed the simple exercises. On the 19th of April, 1838, the four rows of trees lining the avenue to the monument were planted by the towns [sic] people.
In 1841 the old meeting-house, built in 1712 and remodeled in 1794, was so changed and altered as to leave no trace of the old structure, either inside or out. The tall, slender spire surmounting the square clock-tower was torn down, and in its place the Grecian temple porch, with the heavy wooden columns, was added. The old square pews and long gallery seats were replaced by modern slips. The high pulpit, with graceful sounding-board above, gave way to the reading desk, and those “who knew it so well would know it no more.”
The alteration of the church of which he had been minister for sixty-three years was coincident with the death of Dr. Ripley, and his funeral was held in the Orthodox Church, where the Unitarians worshiped during the repairs.
This quiet of Concord was broken in the Presidential campaigns of 1840 and 1844 by mass-meetings of the county, which gathered thousands of voters to renew on this historic spot their patriotism. They were addressed by distinguished speakers brought here from Maine to Georgia, including Webster, Choate, Winthrop, Lawrence, and others of this State. The effect of these on the town subsided when the election was over, and peace reigned.
Again in 1850 the repose of the town was interrupted by a union celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the battle. At this all the neighboring towns that took part on the 19th of April, 1775, united in commemorating the day. The Legislature and the State officers attended, escorted by the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, and listened to the oration delivered by the Hon. Robert Rantoul, of Beverly. This, with the eloquent speeches of Hon. E. R. Hoar, who presided, and of the distinguished guests at the dinner-tables, was printed by a resolve of the General Court as a legislative document. The last survivor of Concord fight, Amos Baker, of Lincoln, was present on this occasion, at the great age of ninety-four years and eleven days.
During these quiet years ending in 1860 Concord did some useful work by improving her public grounds, laying out the pleasant Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, establishing a Town Library, building a commodious Town Hall, and organizing various societies that helped in many ways. In agriculture the railroad made a great change from the old general farming to the milk-producing and fruit-raising of the present. This was stimulated by a successful Farmers’ Club, of which Hon. Simon Brown was the founder, and the profit of it increased largely by Hon. Ephraim W. Bull’s discovery of the Concord Grape, the greatest vegetable improvement of the age. This grape, raised by him from seeds of the native wild grape, has extended to the Pacific, and across the Atlantic to Europe, while the mother vine, from which millions have grown, still lives and bears here.
Through the great Civil War the manhood, the wealth and the spirit of Concord were poured out for the Union and to put down the Rebellion.
Her company left home on the memorable 19th of April, 1861, with full ranks, under the command of Lieut. George L. Prescott. They were duly mustered into the United States’ service and sent forward to Washington by way of Annapolis, Maryland. On their arrival they were quartered for a time in the Senate Chamber of the Capitol. They took part in the first battle of Bull Run, and had four men taken prisoners by the rebels on the retreat that day. At the expiration of their three months’ term of service they were received on their return home with enthusiastic greetings. Another company was soon re-enlisted by the same commander, now Captain Prescott, and were stationed at Fort Warren, guarding Rebel prisoners for some months, as a part of the Thirty-second Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers. This regiment was sent to the front in 1862, and saw active service in the Army of the Potomac at the great battles of Antietam, Gettysburg, the Wilderness and others throughout the war.
Captain Prescott, promoted to colonel, was killed at Petersburg, Va., in 1864, giving his life for his country after a brave and honorable service. His name heads the roll of the illustrious dead on Concord’s Soldiers’ Monument.
A third company, under Captain Richard Barrett, served under Gen. Banks, in the Forty-seventh Regiment, in Louisiana for the nine months of that campaign. This regiment was stationed in New Orleans, and held that city in subjection during their term of service. By the skill and care of Captain Barrett every man of the company was brought back home on its return to be welcomed by the rejoicings and thanks of the town’s people. Others enlisted in various regiments, ––a squad of eleven, headed by Sergeant Lovejoy, in the Fortieth Regiment, and nine in the Fifth Regiment, for one hundred days’ service. In all, two hundred and twenty-nine men from Concord served in the war, making twelve over and above all demands on the town. Of these, thirty names are inscribed on the Soldiers’ Monument in the public square as “Faithful unto Death,” and the town “records with grateful pride that they found here a birth-place, home or grave.”
To support their soldiers in the field and the families left at home, Concord raised during the war nearly twenty thousand dollars in money. Besides this, the donations and supplies to the Sanitary Commission collected and forwarded by the ladies of the Soldiers’ Aid Society, amounted to even more in value. The bandages alone, carefully prepared for wounds, exceeded the dollars in number.
This town also gave to the Sanitary Commission, in the person of Louisa Jane Barker, one of the most earnest, useful and indefatigable of their agents at Washington. She was the sister of William Whiting, Lincoln’s solicitor of the War Department, and the wife of Rev. Stephen Barker, chaplain of Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Regiment. Her services and labors for the cause were of such interest and value as to merit a longer and more enduring record than this mention.
Other brave men and fair women of the town did their utmost in thought and word, in help and counsel for the Union, who could not render military or hospital service. And the record of Concord in the putting down the Rebellion is as patriotic as that of other Northern towns, and worthy of its historic fame. The completion and dedication of the Soldiers’ Monument, one of the earliest in the State, shows how mindful of the duties and sacrifices of the war was this town. The plain, but severely simple structure, raised to commemorate her dead soldiers, was the first work to be done after the war ended, and Peace and Union were established.
The next work was to build a High School-house on the ample lot, generously given to the town by Cyrus Stow, who thus remembered his native town in his life-time, and at his death gave a fund of $3000 for the use of the High School. Soon after this the town built a large new almshouse.
By the liberality of Mr. William Monroe, also a native of the town, a library building was erected, and, with a fund for its preservation and increase, given to a Library Corporation as trustees of the public. To this Concord handed over the books and funds of the Town Library, and the new building was opened in 1873, and has proved the great attraction of the town. It has already required enlargement to hold the twenty-two thousand volumes mentioned in the last report of the trustees.
Water-works had become a necessity for Concord. Looking for a source of supply, Walden Pond was found insufficient in size and height to be used without pumping; Nagog Pond, in Acton, too far away; Sandy Pond, in Lincoln, the most available. This clear sheet of one hundred and fifty acres, about two miles from and ninety feet above the village, was selected. It is fed wholly by springs, has three hundred acres of water-shed, a large outflow, a sandy bottom and but two houses within its drainage limits. The water, by analysis, contains less than two grains, chiefly vegetable matter, to the United States gallon. Having obtained an act of the Legislature authorizing the taking of this source, the town, by its water commissioners, secured a favorable contract, under which a ten-inch main, one and three-fourths of a mile in length, was laid to the Common, and branches of suitable sizes to all the streets of the village. The water was let on December 2, 1874, and has proved a real blessing to the town. The supply is ample for all uses, the pressure sufficient for fire in any building within the water limits, and the interest on the cost, with one percent. to a sinking-fund, has been paid by the water rates from the start. The system has been since extended to the west to supply the Reformatory, Concord Junction and Westvale, requiring another main to the pond and a reservoir on Nashawtuck Hill. The whole work was executed under the direction of William Wheeler, civil engineer, a native of this town, a graduate of the State Agricultural College, and president of the Agricultural College in Japan for two years.
That was an interesting town-meeting in 1873, when on one side of the platform were the plans of the water-works, and on the other the model of the statue of the minute-man, by Daniel C. French, a Concord youth, shown for the inspection and adoption by the voters of the town after a full examination and discussion.
Some feeling had always existed among the older citizens that the monument at the battle-ground stood on the wrong side of the river; that it was on the British and not on the American ground of the fight. This feeling was specially cherished by Ebenezer Hubbard, who led the solitary life of a bachelor on his farm in the middle of the town for ninety years.
He had accumulated by the frugal ways of an odd and queer recluse some money, and inherited strong prejudices as well as the old house in which Hancock and Adams lived while attending the Provincial Congress. To carry out his patriotic sentiments, he left by his will the sum of $1000 to Concord toward building a monument on the spot where the Americans fell on the opposite side of the river from the present monument “in the battle of the 19th of April, 1775,” and further provided that if it “is not built, nor sufficient funds for that purpose obtained within five years after my decease,” then the sum is to be paid over to Hancock, New Hampshire. As showing the habits of Mr. Hubbard, he found, some years after the time for redeeming them had expired, six one hundred dollars bills of the Concord Bank carefully hidden in an old family Bible. These he presented at the bank, and as the president of the Concord National Bank offered, though not legally obliged, to redeem them, Mr. Hubbard gave the sum to him for the purpose of re-building the old North Bridge across the river to make a way to the new monument he wished built. A committee of the town recommended the acceptance of this legacy and gift, in 1873, and the erection of a statue of a minute-man on the right bank of the stream. Stedman Buttrick, Esq., gave the land for this purpose, and at the town meeting before named the project was voted almost unanimously. The statue was finished by the sculptor, Mr. French, and cast in bronze from condemned cannon given by Congress by a resolve passed on the anniversary of the fight, through the influence of the Hon. E. R. Hoar, then Representative of this district at Washington. The bridge was built. The statue was set up on a granite pedestal cut from the same boulder as the older monument, with the first verse of Emerson’s hymn, before quoted, for an inscription on the front, and the dates: “1775, 19th of April, 1875,” on the rear panel.
The centennial of the battle was set for the dedication of the new memorial, and the statue was unveiled in the presence of Gen. Grant, President of the United States, his Cabinet, the Governors of all the New England States, with their staffs and body guards, the Legislature of Massachusetts, escorted by the Boston Independent Corps of Cadets, the Fifth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, and an immense concourse of people. The exercises at the battleground were an address by Mr. Emerson, a poem by James Russell Lowell, an oration by George William Curtis, and speeches at the dinner table by Speaker Blaine, Secretary Boutwell, Senator Hawley, Governors Peck and Ingersoll and others. Judge Hoar presided, General F. C. Barlow was marshal, and the celebration was in all respects fit to begin the long line of centennials of the Revolution. As the first of these it attracted attention throughout the nation, and the only limit to the attendance upon it was the inability of the railroads to bring all who wished to come. The estimates of the number present varied from 15,000 to 20,000, while the severely cold weather and the crowds at the car stations kept as many more away. The festivities closed with a splendid ball in the agricultural building, where the decorations gathered from the United States navy yards, the music of the Marine Band from Washington, and the brilliant company made an unequaled display.
A decade later in 1885, Concord celebrated her 250th anniversary. As a preparation a large committee designed and set up in the right places, tablets of stone or bronze inscribed thus. On the rock at the junction of the rivers:
“ON THE HILL NASHAWTUCK
AT THE MEETING OF THE RIVERS
AND ALONG THE BANKS
LIVED THE INDIAN OWNERS OF
BEFORE THE WHITE MEN CAME.”
On a slate in the wall of the Hill Burying-Ground:
“ON THIS HILL
THE SETTLERS OF CONCORD
BUILT THEIR MEETING-HOUSE
NEAR WHICH THEY WERE BURIED.
ON THE SOUTHERN SLOPE OF THE RIDGE
WERE THEIR DWELLINGS DURING
THE FIRST WINTER.
BELOW IT THEY LAID OUT
THEIR FIRST ROAD AND
ON THE SUMMIT STOOD THE
LIBERTY POLE OF THE REVOLUTION.”
On a bronze plate set in granite near the square:
“HERE, IN THE HOUSE OF THE
REVEREND PETER BULKELEY,
FIRST MINISTER AND ONE OF THE
FOUNDERS OF THIS TOWN,
A BARGAIN WAS MADE WITH THE
SQUAW SACHEM, THE SAGAMORE TAHATTAWAN
AND OTHER INDIANS,
WHO THEN SOLD THEIR RIGHT IN
THE SIX MILES SQUARE CALLED CONCORD
TO THE ENGLISH PLANTERS
AND GAVE THEM PEACEFUL POSSESSION
OF THE LAND
On a stone west of the three arch bridge:
“ON THIS FARM DWELT
ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF CONCORD
WHO DID GOOD SERVICE FOR
TOWN AND COLONY
FOR MORE THAN FORTY YEARS.”
On a bronze plate on the west side of the Square:
“NEAR THIS SPOT STOOD
THE FIRST TOWN HOUSE
USED FOR TOWN-MEETINGS
AND THE COUNTY COURTS
On a stone by the road northwest of the minute man:
“ON THIS FIELD
THE MINUTE MEN AND MILITIA
FORMED BEFORE MARCHING
DOWN TO THE
FIGHT AT THE BRIDGE.”
On a stone at the junction of the Old Bedford and Boston roads:
THE BRITISH TROOPS
OLD NORTH BRIDGE
WERE HERE ATTACKED IN FLANK
BY THE MEN OF CONCORD
AND NEIGHBORING TOWNS
AND DRIVEN UNDER A HOT FIRE
The other arrangements for the occasion included a reception of their guests by the town’s people, on the evening of the day before. And on Saturday, September 12, 1885, the usual procession, oration and dinner. The weather was perfect, in marked contrast to that of ten years previous. The attendance of former residents and natives of the town added to the interest, and the exercises were of a high order of merit. The report upon the historic tablets by Charles H. Walcott, the address by George F. Hoar, the remarks after the dinner by the Governor, George D. Robinson, by James Russell Lowell, William M. Evarts, George W. Curtis and Concord citizens, were appropriate and eloquent. Much of the success of the celebration was due to the chairman of the committee, Henry J. Hosmer, and the chief marshal, Richard F. Barrett.
Rev. B. R. Bulkeley, a descendent of the first minister of the town, was the chaplain, and John S. Keyes, son of the president of the bi-centennial, presided at this anniversary. A gratifying feature of the day was the gift by Hapgood Wright, of Lowell, of a fund, to this, his native town, of $1000, to accumulate for fifty years, the interest then to be spent on the tri-centennial, and the principal to be again invested for terms of the same length; so on indefinitely, thus providing for future semi-centennials. Concord accepted this gift and will keep and use it carefully.
CONCORD –– (CONTINUED).
Courts, Schools, Societies, Donations, Etc.
CONCORD COURTS.–– This was a shire-town as early as A.D. 1692, and the Courts were held here first in the meeting-house. In 1721 a court-house and town house was built on the west side of the square, chiefly out of the materials of the former church. This new building was nearly square, with a hip roof and a turret on the top, in which a bell was hung and the whole surmounted by the vane of the old meetinghouse, bearing the date of 1673, which is still preserved. A new and commodious court-house was built in the year 1794 on the opposite side of the square by the county, and had a double lantern tower rising seventy-five feet from the ground. This furnished room for the Supreme and Common Pleas Courts, the Probate Court and the Court of Sessions, and for the county treasurer’s office. In this, by the gift of the lot of land on which it stood, the town had the right to hold their town meetings, and many other gatherings were accommodated. The militia, or “old shad” companies assembled in its spacious lower entry; the fruits and vegetable [sic]at the cattle shows were here exhibited. Stowed away in its dark recesses were the stocks in which many a poor fellow had sat to expiate his offences, and the gallows on which a man had been hung, the only execution in Concord of which there is a record. This took place in the field east of the burying-hill, and was witnessed by a great crowd, and under circumstances so remarkable as to be worth noting. It seems by the court record that “Isaac Moore and Samuel Smith, both of Sudbury, on the night of the 21st of June, 1799, broke and entered the dwelling-house of William Tucker, in Sherburne, with intent to steal, and stole seven yards of tannin, worth $2.90; five yards shalloon, worth $2; thirteen yards of mode, worth $2; two and one-half yards check linen, worth $1.25; seven yards muslin, worth $5.75; nine yards gauze, worth $3.50; eight pounds sewing silk, worth $8; three pair spectacles, worth $1.25; 500 needles, worth $2.50; three and one-half yards tow cloth, worth $1.16; eight handkerchiefs, worth $10; three yards calico, worth $1.84; six pair hose, worth $2.50; three and one-half yards India cotton, worth $1.16; twelve knives, worth $2.16; 24,000 pins, worth $44.68; two hats, worth $2.12; twelve sticks of twist, worth $0.68; one pound of thread, worth $1; one tea canister, worth $0.50; two pounds tea, worth $1.32; thirty yards stuff, worth $11.68, of the goods and chattels of William Tucker, in the dwelling-house aforesaid. To the indictment Moore and Smith plead not guilty. Levi Lincoln (afterwards Governor) and Timothy Bigelow, Esquires, were appointed by the Supreme Judicial Court counsel for defendants, and they were tried at the October term, 1799, for the offence. The jury found Moore not guilty of the burglary, but guilty of the stealing and found Smith guilty of both. Moore was sentenced to be “publicly whipped on the naked back twenty stripes, to be confined at hard labor three years, to pay William Tucker $170, which, with the goods restored, is treble value of the goods stolen, and to pay the costs of prosecution.” November 9th the attorney-general moved for sentence of death on Samuel Smith, and the Court, after asking him if he had anything to say and his replying nothing additional to what had been said before, sentenced him to be hanged by the neck until he was dead.
The warrant was issued by the Governor and Council November 19, 1799 and the day of the execution was set for the 26th of December 1799. On the day before (Christmas), Smith was taken to the meeting-house and a sermon preached to him by Dr. Ripley, and on the 26th, the dread sentence of the law was executed on him by Sheriff Hosmer.
Smith must have been a hardened offender, or the extreme penalty of the law would not have been inflicted. Tradition “says that he sold his body to the doctors, and while waiting execution spent the money received from them for ginger bread for his own consumption.”
In front of the court-house stood the large elm-tree, planted in 1776, that was used for the whipping-post for the culprits who, at each term of the court, received their thirty-nine lashes on their bare backs, their hands being tied up to the big staple long since grown over by the bark. In this court-house many important trials took place; that of the rioters who burned the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown in 1836, about whom so excited was the feeling of the community that the officers of the Court were armed and juries disagreed, so that only one boy was convicted and punished; and the Phœnix Bank cases, in which Daniel Webster, Rufus Choate, Sidney Barttell and Franklin Dexter were counsel for the president and cashier, who were charged with embezzlement, and Asahel Huntington and Charles Allen, district attorneys, conducted the prosecution.
This court-house was thoroughly remodeled in 1840 and was burned in June, 1849, by an incendiary who wished to destroy a criminal indictment against him.
Previous to the fire Lowell had drawn away from Concord the April term of the Supreme Court and the September term of the Common Pleas. This last had been for years the great holiday of the county. On the farms haying must be done, and corn-stalks cut before the September Court or the hired men and boys could not be spared to attend its sessions. A long row of booths for the sale of eatables and drinkables and for shows of various kinds covered both sides of the square. Crowds of both sexes and all sizes came for the fun, which was often fast and furious. Drinking, gambling and horse-racing went on openly, sometimes ending in fights and rows. The disorder occasionally rose to such extremes that the court would adjourn and the sheriff and his deputies, with the judges and jurors as a posse, would sally forth to put down the riot.
After the burning of the Court-House an attempt was again made to remove the terms of the court to Lowell and Cambridge and prevent rebuilding in Concord. This failed mainly through the sagacity of the town in sending as its Representative to the Legislature the Hon. Samuel Hoar, whose wisdom and influence controlled votes enough in that body to defeat the removal. The present Court-House was built in 1851, and during the interval the courts were held in the vestry of the church. With the change of the Common Pleas to the Superior Court, the March term was removed to Lowell, and only a civil and a criminal term in the summer were left in Concord. In 1857 the Supreme Judicial Court held a session here for capital trials. The presence for a week of Chief Justice Shaw, Justices Metcalf and Bigelow, with Attorney General Clifford, revived the former glory of Concord Courts, while Abbott, Butler, Train, Somerby, Gale and Kelly kept up the old reputation of the Middlesex Bar by successful defences of the accused.
These were the last important trials in this town, and in 1867 the courts were removed to Cambridge and Lowell, and Concord ceased to be a shire. The act authorizing this removal provided that the county property here should be given to the town which had furnished the sites of the county buildings. This was done, and the Court-House was sold by the town to the Middlesex Mutual Fire Insurance Company.
The jail, built in 1791 of split granite, with large rooms, strong doors and safe gratings, frequently crowded with prisoners during terms of the courts had held in its walls Alcott and Thoreau for refusing to pay their taxes, was sold, taken down and used for culverts and cellar walls. This jail took the place of an earlier one built of wood that stood on the rear of the Main Street Burying-Ground, in which Sir Archibald Campbell, lieutenant-colonel of the Seventy-first British Regiment, was confined with other prisoners of war during the Revolution, and his sketch of the building now hangs in the Public Library. There are some traditions of a still earlier jail that is said to have been placed near the Orthodox Church grounds, but it has left no distinct record. The county house near the jail became the property of the Catholic Church, and all traces of the shire-town were taken from Concord.
MILITIA COMPANIES.––The two companies into which the Concord soldiers had been for nearly a hundred years divided were the originals of the two which fought at the North Bridge.
The heavy drafts on the town by the Revolution and the organization of the Light Infantry Company, left but one company of militia, called the Standing Company, in Concord. This continued till the change of the law, in 1840, enrolling the militia. Great consideration to military titles was always paid in the town. These are set out in the earlier records, displayed on the old grave stones and handed down in the speech of the generations. Since the revolution, there have been in Concord three generals, –– Hildreth, Colburn and Buttrick,––a dozen colonels, several majors, and two-score captains, who were always spoken of and to by their titles.
In 1804 a company of artillery was chartered for Concord, and made its first parade the 4th of July of that year. By the charter act it was ordered that two brass field-pieces, suitably engraved, be provided for the company, and in pursuance of this a pair of six-pounders were given them.
The inscription on these cannon reads:
consecrates the names of
Major John Buttrick
Captain Isaac Davis
whose valour and example
excited their fellow citizens
to a successful resistance
of a superior number of
at Concord Bridge
The 19th of April, 1775
which was the beginning
of a contest in arms
that ended in
These field-pieces, after a service of more that forty years in the company, were exchanged for a new pair having the same inscription, pursuant to a resolve passed in 1846. The first pair now stand in the Doric Hall of the State-House, on either side of the statue of Washington. The new pair, after nearly forty years of service, were transferred by the Legislature to the town of Concord, and with all their equipments of caissons, harnesses, &c., are carefully kept in the town-house under the charge of an independent battery of light artillery.
The Concord Light Infantry gave up its charter in 1848, being then the oldest corps in the State next to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery of Boston. The Concord Artillery, about the same time, changed its drill to infantry, secured an armory on Bedford Street and has since become a leading company of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia––Co. L, Sixth Regiment. A few years ago the town built a new and convenient armory on Walden Street, in which this corps take pride and keep up the spirit and drill of their high rank as soldiers. While the two uniformed companies, the infantry and artillery, continued, great rivalry existed between them, and showed in their street parades as well as in their military balls.
These dances were held each winter by the infantry at Shepard’s Coffee-House, on Main Street, and by the artillery at the Middlesex Hotel, and great efforts were put forth by either company to secure the fairest partners, the finest music and the best supper of the season. The rivalry culminated in a grand training in October, 1838, when each company turned out with a full band of music from the city and paraded on opposite sides of the square. The bands strove to drown each other’s music, the soldiers to crowd the ranks of the other company off their line of march as they passed and repassed till hot blood was raised and spilled before the interference of wiser and cooler heads stopped the fray.
The next year “Cornwallis day” was duly honored in Concord by a gathering from all the county. The uniformed companies, under the command of Gen. Joshua Buttrick, as Lord Cornwallis, represented the British army, and the militia companies led by Col. Sherman Barrett as General Washington, the American force. The line was formed on the Common in the forenoon, extending the whole length in double ranks of Continentallers, displaying every old and odd article of dress that could be ransacked from the garrets of the county. They were armed with any and every kind of weapon that had seen service, from the old fire-locks of the Indian wars to the modern rifles and fowling-pieces. A more quaint motley than these presented has rarely been seen in this age and community.
The two armies had a sham fight in the afternoon, that was hardly bloodless, one or two being wounded with ramrods, fired off in the haste of loading, or a bayonet prick in the excitement of a charge. At dark Cornwallis surrendered, and this was duly celebrated at the taverns, where both forces fraternized afterward. The occasion fully proved the truth of Lowell’s lines:
“Recollect what fun we had,
You’n’ I an’ Ezra Hollis,
Up there to Concord plain last fall,
Along of the Cornwallis.”
Twenty years later, in 1859, Governor Banks assembled the whole volunteer militia of Massachusetts for a five days’ muster at Concord. Seven thousand well-drilled uniformed soldiers were present, and were reviewed by the State officers and the Legislature, in the presence of a great crowd of people. This muster helped materially to make the State troops ready for the breaking out of the Civil War. After that war was over, in 1869, Major-Gen. Butler, then in command of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, repeated this general muster of all the force, on the same field in Concord. It was almost a review of the veterans of the Union Army from this State, so many of them who had gallantly borne themselves on Southern battle-fields, had continued in the service to that time.
MEADOWS.––Stretching along the Concord River and its south branch are great meadows, containing more than 10,000 acres. These were the beds of ancient ponds or lakes, now drained by the river, and are covered with deep, rich soil. The early settlers found on these a supply of grass for their cattle, and gradually, as the forest was cleared off, the meadows should have become dryer and fit for cultivation. But in 1793 the Middlesex Canal Company was chartered to make a canal from the Merrimack River to the Mystic River. This was then a great public work, and so much interest was taken in its success that the charter was very loosely drawn, without suitable provisions for damages to private property. It was intended to take the water of the Merrimack and bring it through the canal to the Mystic near Boston. Complete surveys showed the Concord River, where the canal would cross it at Billerica, too much above the level, and the plan was changed. The Concord River had to be used as the feeder, and the water of that stream taken to fill both ends of the canal. To get a sufficient supply a dam was required at Billerica that would hold the water of the Concord in the dry season. An old mill-dam, used only in the wet portion of the year, existed there, and was secured by the canal for its purposes, raised and tightened so that the river was flowed back on the meadows, and they grew more wet every year and of less value. The meadow owners brought various suits for damages sustained by this flowing, but were never successful in getting any pay, because of the insufficient provisions of the Canal Act.
After the Boston and Lowell Railroad was in operation the canal lost most of its business, and was finally given up as a water-way, and in places filled up and the land put to other uses. In 1851 the Canal Company released all their land and rights in the dam and water-power at Billerica to the Messrs. Talbott for $20,000. This was a small consideration if they had a right to maintain the dam after the canal was abandoned. Earlier than this the city of Boston built large reservoirs on the upper waters of the Concord River to compensate for taking the water of Lake Cochituate to Boston. The natural outlet of this lake was through the Sudbury River, and the plan was to make good the supply of water to the mills at Billerica and below. Between the dam below and the reservoirs above these meadows, the wetness so increased that they became worthless, and the owners at last were roused to take measures of redress. In 1859 the citizens of Bedford, Carlisle, Concord, Sudbury and Wayland petitioned the General Court for relief, and a special committee of the Legislature sat in Concord during the recess to hear and examine the complaints and the cause of the trouble. This committee reported their findings and all the evidence, both documentary and oral, to the Legislature of 1860. The case of the meadow-owners was so strong that an act was passed by a great majority appointing commissioners to take down the dam at Billerica to the level from which it had been raised by the Canal Company, and to pay the damages caused by such reduction of the dam, if any, from the State Treasury.
This act was to take effect the next September, in order to give the mill-owners time to substitute steam for the water-power they might lose. When September came legal proceedings were had, and an injunction laid on the commissioners, on the ground that the State might not pay these damages, which delayed their action till winter had set in, and the work was difficult. Meantime a new Legislature had been chosen, to which the manufacturers were incited to send representatives by the alarm that dams were in danger. The Legislature of 1861, although chosen to some extent under manufacturing influence, could not be induced to repeal the act of the former year, so strong was the case of the meadow-owners for relief. The most that could be passed was an act to suspend the former law, and have a commission appointed to examine into the trouble again. This commission sat, surveyed and experimented all summer at an expense of $15,000, and reported to the next Legislature in substance that although the top of the dam was higher than the bottom of the river for its length of over twenty miles, and that there was only thirty-four inches of fall to the stream in that distance, there were so many bars and weeds and rocks in the river that the dam didn’t do all the harm. This report was adopted, and the law taking down the dam repealed in 1862, so that the meadow-owners got no relief for the depreciation of their crops for more than half a century, and the decrease in value of the land from one hundred to ten or fifteen dollars an acre; in all a loss of more than a million dollars by a dam that was never worth or cost more than $20,000, and the improvident legislation under which it was built.
EDUCATION.––The schools of Concord have been from the earliest days objects of great interest. The town had a grammar school before 1680, and in that year the constable returned, on an order of the Council, that he “had made dillegent inquiry and find no defects to return;” i.e., of any children or youth not “taught to read the English tongue, have knowledge of the capital laws, be taught some orthodox catechism, and brought up to some honest employment.” This grammar school has been kept since 1692 to the present time, some years in the centre of the town, and in other years partly in the centre and partly in the different quarters of the town.
After the Revolution the districts were revised, and the money appropriated for schools divided among them according to the taxes paid by the residents, but there never were legal school districts established. In 1831 a new system of division of the school money was made, by which each district received a certain percentage of the sum raised. There were six outer districts in addition to the centre one as early as the present century. In 1799, when new school-houses were built in nearly all of the districts, a School Committee was chosen for the first time, consisting of five citizens, who had the general charge of all the schools, and a prudential committee for each district was usually chosen to provide teachers and sundries for that school. This system substantially continued until 1860, when a larger committee was chosen, consisting of three from the Centre District and one each from the other six districts, one-third of the number being elected annually. Under this new system a superintendent of schools was appointed by the committee, and this plan is still in force. A high school was established by this committee, though the grammar school had been called high school for a few years previous, and a superintendent of schools had been sometimes chosen before 1860. The sum raised by the town for the schools that year was $3300. This has been almost yearly increased, till in 1890 $14,400 was raised for schools, besides $1,000 for text books, and $800 for repairs of school-houses.
Meantime a still greater change in the school system has taken place. The school-houses in five of the six outer districts are closed, and the scholars of each of these districts are brought to and carried from the Centre, so that except at Westvale all the children of the town are taught in the graded Emerson School and in the High School, both new and modern school-houses of eight and four rooms. At the Junction a new four-room school-house was built in 1887, and the children of that village, Westvale and the Reformatory attend there in a graded school.
The teachers of the grammar and High School since 1830, have been, ––
C. C. Field, 1833-34.
Newton Goodhue, 1835-36.
E. J. Marsh, 1836-37.
Frederick Parker, 1838.
Henry D. Thoreau, 1839.
Hiram B. Dennis, 1839.
Mr. Ellison, 1839.
Mr. Brown, 1840.
Mr. Nourse, 1840.
Henry A. Barrett, 1840-42.
James Sherman, 1843-47.
Sereno D. Hunt, 1847-55.
Charles J. Frost, 1855.
Henry Chase, 1856-57.
Charles Carroll, 1858.
Charles A. Allen, 1858-60.
Edward O. Shepard, 1860-62.
G. A. Stone, 1862.
N S Folsom, 1863-65.
Emma F. Moore, 1866.
George W. Neal, 1867-71.
H. K. Spaulding, 1871.
Charles Almy, 1872-74.
George W. Minns, 1874-75.
William L. Eaton, 1875 and since.
PRIVATE SCHOOLS.–– Since the close of the academy in 1834, various private schools have existed in Concord at different times, some of these remarkable for a high order of teaching and scholarship. As an instance of longevity and continuance of families in town, out of twenty-two scholars attending a private school here, sixteen were living fifty years after its close, and twelve of these were present at a wedding in Concord half a century from its commencement.
SOCIETIES.–– Beside those already mentioned, various associations were formed that have had much influence in this town. The first and oldest, growing out of the Committee of Safety of the Revolution, is the Social Circle in Concord. This was formed in 1782 and consists of twenty-five members, meeting at each other’s houses weekly, in the season from October to April. It has, with two slight interruptions, been steadily continued to the present time and celebrated its centennial in 1882. The proceedings of that meeting were printed with the memoirs of the twenty-five original members. During this century of its life it consisted mainly of the leading citizens of the town, and contributed to the improvement of Concord in many ways. Of late years its chief work has been the preparation of memoirs of all its deceased members. In 1889 a second series of these memoirs was printed, containing sixty-two more, concluding with that of Ralph Waldo Emerson, by his son, and completing the list to 1839, the date of Mr. Emerson’s admission, of all who joined the Circle previously. It is of this club that Emerson wrote, in 1844, “Much the best society I have ever known is a club in Concord called the Social Circle, consisting always of twenty-five of our citizens, doctor, lawyer, farmer, trader, miller, mechanic, etc. Solidest of men who yield the solidest of gossip.” Perhaps it should be noted, that of the present members, only one, Hon. E. R. Hoar, belonged to it at the time of that writing above quoted.
In 1879 a similar club of fewer members and somewhat younger men was formed, called the Tuesday Club. Not to be outdone by the gentlemen, last year the ladies got up a club of their own, which, like the other two, meets for the same purpose on the same evenings.
In 1794 a Fire Society was formed, each member of which was required to keep in readiness for use, two leather buckets, a ladder and a large canvas bag. It was expected that each member, at an alarm of fire, would seize his buckets and bag and go to the scene and help save the property from destruction. This society, with its annual supper, paid for by the fines of delinquent members, was for many years a useful and flourishing institution of the town, till superseded by a Fire Department in 1855.
The Female Charitable Society was established in 1814 and has continued ever since its good work of relieving the wants of the poor and needy. It has now more than a hundred members and a fund of two thousand dollars.
Musical, Temperance, Colonization, Anti-Slavery, Bible and Missionary Societies have existed in Concord for many years, changing from time to time as their purposes waned or expired. In recent years church associations, lodges, orders and clubs have multiplied till they include in their membership a large part of the population. The latest society, and destined to become one of the great interest, is the Concord Antiquarian Society. This was incorporated in 1887, and received from Mr. Cummings E. Davis his collection of antiquities and relics valued at many thousand dollars. The society purchased the old Reuben Brown house, near the Square, for a home for their collection, has held regular meetings at which historical papers are read, and by its annual meeting on the 12th of September keeps up an interest in the anniversary of the settlement of the town. The rooms are open daily for visitors, on the payment of a small fee, and its attractions receive much praise. It furnishes a nucleus around which in the future will gather many interesting articles that will whisper of the Past, and become rarer and more valuable with years.
The gift of twenty thousand dollars by Miss Martha Hunt for a Home for the Aged in Concord caused the incorporation of such an institution in 1886. The large mansion of the late Cyrus Snow [i.e. Stow], on Walden Street, was purchased for the purpose, and several inmates have availed themselves of its shelter and support.
The literary epoch of Concord closed with, if it did not culminate in, the School of Philosophy. This was got up in 1879 by A. Bronson Alcott and held its first session in his house. It attracted a class of metaphysical thinkers and speakers from various sections of the land, and was reported largely in the newspapers and quoted as a new departure in Philosophy. A small chapel-like structure, capable of holding several score persons, was built the second year for the purpose, and in this lectures, essays and discussions went on for seven summers. Some old and some new ideas were uttered, some worshiped and some scoffed, and the world outside made fun of its dialectics and lucubrations. Eminent men and women at times read papers at its meetings, but the failure of Alcott’s mind and health, and the secession of some of its leaders, took away from its interest. The attendance fell off, and after a season or two of literary and biographical notices of Goethe, Dante and Emerson, it quietly passed away in 1887 to the oblivion it merited. The outcome, except to those who attended its sessions, was little except the ridicule of the unbelieving world.
NEWSPAPERS.––In 1816 Messrs. Bettes & Peters began the publication of a weekly in Concord called the Middlesex Gazette. This was changed to the Yeoman’s Gazette in 1830, and continued under various editors till 1840. The last editor was William S. Robinson, a native of this town, and well known in after years as “Warrington.”
Meantime in the Anti-Masonic excitement of 1834 another paper, the Concord Freeman, was published here by Francis R. Gourgas, and continued by him and Charles C. Hazewell till about 1850. While these two rival sheets existed, much controversy went on between them, and lively, sharp and personal editorials appeared. A curious instance of their disagreement was shown in September, 1835. The Gazette for several issues was filled with the notes of preparation for the Bi-Centennial of the town, and printed a long account of the celebration. The Freeman of that time makes no mention of the occasion, either before or after that date, although nearly the whole people of the town were present or interested in the great event.
In 1875 the Concord Freeman was revived as a branch of the local newspapers of several of the neighboring towns and still continues to be published.
In 1885, the Concord Transcript was started by Frank A. Nichols, and issued for a single year, printing in the paper of September 19th a full account of the 250th anniversary of the town and a verbatim report of the speeches at the dinner (with the oration of Senator Hoar, in a supplement), making over thirty columns of the paper. More recently the Concord Enterprise was published on the same plan as the Freeman, and still exists, so that the town has the advantage of two local newspapers and their advertisements.
MANUFACTURES––Damon Manufacturing Company–The earliest industry engaged in by the colonists of New England, which could properly be called a manufacture, was the working of iron, established in 1643, in Lynn Mass. Considerable quantities of bog-iron ore had been discovered in the western part of that town, and a company was organized in London to furnish capital for the erection of a furnace and forge, which was effected, and the business was continued for many years, until the supply of ore was so far exhausted that it became unprofitable. The superintendent of the works, about 1658, was Oliver Purchis, who was also one of the most influential citizens of Lynn, as was indicated by his election to various offices of civil trust, such as selectman, town clerk, representative to the General Court, etc. Through his influence, as is probable, a company was incorporated on the 5th of March, 1658, “to erect one or more Iron Works in Concord.” A considerable deposit of iron ore had been discovered in the southwest part of the town. The company was immediately formed, and consisted of Oliver Purchis, who held five thirty-seconds of the stock; John Payne, a merchant of Boston, thirteen thirty-seconds; Edward Bulkley, the parish minister of Concord, Robert Meriam, Timothy Wheeler, Sr., William Buss, John Niles, Joseph Hayward, and Mary Griffin, of Concord, and Michael Baron, of Woburn, being the other stockholders. Operations were commenced in 1660. The company had permission from the General Court, by vote passed May 30, 1660, “to digg iron ore without molestation in any land now in the Court’s possession.” As a further encouragement to the enterprise, a thousand acres of land, on the north side of the North River, as the Assabet River was then called, were granted and became known as the “Iron Works Farm.” A dam was built across the river, and near its northern end the iron works were built, and at once went into active operation.
In 1664, on the 18th of October, John Payne sold eleven thirty-seconds of the stock to Simon Lynde, a merchant of Boston; and in 1671, on the 15th of December, Oliver Purchis sold all of his stock to the same gentleman. In 1670, on the 19th of December, John Payne sold the remainder of his stock to Thomas Brattle, a merchant of Cambridge, and on the 19th of November, 1672, the stockholders sold their interest to Mr. Brattle. So that, before the close of 1672, the whole property was owned in equal shares by Simon Lynde and Thomas Brattle, both of them wealthy and influential men in the Colony.
In 1684, on the 30th of May, the half belonging to Mr. Brattle was sold to James Russell, Esq., of Charlestown. The description of the property is of interest. The deed conveyed “one moyety or half part of all the Iron Mills and Iron Works or Forge at Concord aforesaid, together with one moyety or half part of all the land whereupon the same doth stand, and of all the Ponds, Dams, Gates, Headwards, Waters, Water-courses, Rivers, Fishings, Gears, Harnesses, Bellows, Hammers, Anvills, Houses, Shedds, Buildings, Scales, Weights, Utensils, Tools and Implements whatsoever, to the same belonging.”
The share of Simon Lynde was conveyed, December 13, 1694, to Nathaniel Cary, a merchant of Charlestown. The terms of the deed show that the iron works were still in operation in 1694. On the 1st day of April, 1700, Mr. Cary sold his share to James Russell, who thus became sole proprietor. This deed conveyed “one moyety or half part of all the land whereupon the iron works did formerly stand,” showing that, between 1694 and 1700, the works had ceased to be operated.
In 1702, on the 31st of March, Mr. Russell conveyed to Jonathan Prescott, “chirurgeon” of Concord, “eighty-eight acres on the north side of the North River, adjoining to ye said river, both above and below the old Iron Works or Forge.” This deed makes no reference to any grist or other mill on the premises, but speaks of a road on the south side of the river, leading to Hayward’s corn-mill, which was on another privilege on the brook which enters the Assabet River, a short distance below the Iron Works Dam.
On the 14th of January, 1708-09, Dr. Prescott conveyed the property to Josiah Wood, of Beverly, Mass. The deed embraced “eighty-eight acres and a small dwelling-house thereon standing, as also a corn-mill and a forge or iron-works standing, with all the tools, implements and utensills properly belonging to and for the use of,” showing that some part at least of the old iron-works and tools still remained and were in operation, probably only for the convenience of the people in the vicinity for work ordinarily done in a blacksmith’s shop. The manufacture of iron from the ore had, without doubt, been abandoned some years previously from the failure of the supply of ore. The deed also shows that, before, 1708, a corn or gristmill had been built at this dam, so utilizing a part of the power.
On the 12th of March, 1714-15, Mr. Wood conveyed to Jonathan Herrick and Lot Conant, Jr., both of Beverly, Mass, “the very place or same, which was commonly called the Iron Works Farm, where the old works stood, and the which now doth contain the new dwelling-house that I at present dwell in, as also another small dwelling-house stands upon itt, together with a barn and a shop, as also two mills, the one of which is a grist-mill and the other a fulling-mill, all stand upon the premises with a dam to them belonging.” From this deed it appears that, before 1714, a fulling-mill or clothier-shop for fulling and dressing the homespun and home-woven cloth made in the vicinity, had been established on the privilege, which, after the lapse of nearly a century and three quarters, is occupied for a branch of the woolen manufacture in successful operation.
The property remained in the hands of Mr. Conant and his descendants for nearly a century. His grandsons, Lot and Ezra, on the 15th of June, 1808, sold three-fifths of the privilege to Ephraim Hartwell, of New Ipswich, N.H, and John Brown, of Concord. These persons entered into partnership, under style of Hartwell and Brown, for the purpose of establishing a cotton factory. Ephraim Hartwell was a pioneer in the cotton manufacture in New Hampshire, having, with Charles Barrett and Benjamin Champney, built the first cotton factory in that State, at New Ipswich, in 1804. There is little doubt that they at once carried out their purpose and that one of the earliest cotton factories in New England was then established at what is now called Westvale. It was a considerable enterprise for those times, as in 1813, on the 19th of February, Ephraim Hartwell Bellows, a nephew of Ephraim Hartwell, paid six thousand dollars for one-third of the factory and land, and became a member of the firm, the style being changed to Hartwell, Brown & Company. Mr. Bellows afterwards, by purchase or inheritance––probably the latter, as there is no record of a deed––became the owner of Hartwell’s share of the property. On the 14th of July, 1817, John Brown sold four-fifths of his interest to Caleb Bellows, of Windsor, N.H. who thus became a partner in the firm, the style of which was changed to E. H. Bellows & Co. On the 23d of July 1823, E. H. Bellows purchased from the administrator of the estate of Caleb Bellows, deceased, the interest which had belonged to that gentleman. Messrs. Bellows & Brown continued the business until 1825, when, in consequence of certain disagreements between them, Mr. Bellows determined that the business should stop. This gave rise to a lawsuit, which became one of the causœ celebres of the period. It was decided in favor of the plaintiff, Mr. Brown, and Mr. Bellows sold for ten thousand dollars the whole property to Thomas Lord & Company, commission merchants in Boston, the deed being dated April 14, 1831.
On the 20th of September, 1833, Thomas Lord & Company sold the property to James Derby, of Exeter, N.H., a manufacturer of cotton and woolen machinery. Mr. Derby established his business in a part of the factory, which was then a building of wood, one hundred feet long and five stories high, including the basement and attic. He continued the business there but a little more than a year, and on the 26th of December, 1834, sold it to Calvin C. Damon, of Framingham, Mass., for eighteen thousand dollars. The mill was run by Mr. Damon as described in his memoirs at the end of this sketch of Concord.
The charge of the mill was assumed by Mr. Damon’s eldest son, Edward Carver Damon. He was born in Concord, Mass., July 19, 1836. In addition to instruction in the schools of his native town, he enjoyed the advantage of attendance, for several terms, at the Lawrence Academy, Groton, Mass., and the Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass., both of them seminaries of a high grade. On the occurrence of the sickness of his father and the consequent stoppage of the mill, he closed his attendance on school, and though yet lacking some six months of being eighteen years of age, and with only such knowledge of the operations of the mill as he had gained by employment in it during the intervals of the school and academic terms, he started up the mill. Assuming the entire charge of the business, he continued it with efficiency and success till the summer of 1862. On the 19th of June of that year the mill, which was of wood, was destroyed by fire. Arrangements were immediately made and the new mill, constructed of brick and with reference not only to the essential requirements of the business, but to architectural taste and proportions, was completed in 1863.
Mr. Damon continued the business alone till May, 1864, when he received as partner Henry F. Smith, his cousin, their mothers being sisters, and nieces of James Johnson, the commission merchant of Boston, referred to above. Mr. Smith had had a somewhat varied experience in woolen mills. He was employed by George H. Gilbert, at Ware, Mass. from 1851 till about 1853, when he went to Rock Bottom, Mass., and entered the employ of B.W. Gleason, whose partner, Samuel J. Dale, had recently died. He remained at Rock Bottom some two years, and in the winter of 1854-55 went to Holderness, N.H., and thence, after a few months, to Ballardvale, Mass., where he was associated with J. Putnam Bradley till 1863. In May, 1864, he was received into partnership by Edward C. Damon, under the style of Damon, Smith & Co. On the last of May, 1865, Benjamin Harper Damon, a younger brother of Edward, born in Concord, Mass., September 15, 1843, and having been trained in the work of the mill, became a partner. He lived less than two years after his admission to the firm, his death occurring November 11, 1866.
The firm of Damon, Smith & Company was dissolved Dec., 1876, Mr. Smith retiring, and Edward P. Almy becoming a partner, under the firm-name of Damon & Almy. Mr. Almy was a practical woolen manufacturer, having been educated to the business in the American Mills, at Rockville, Conn. He had also operated a small woolen-mill in Windham, N.H, for about a year and a half before associating himself with Edward C. Damon. This partnership continued about four years, and on the 1st day of December 1880, Mr. Damon purchased the interest of Mr. Almy, and organized a joint-stock corporation under the name of the Damon Manufacturing Company.
The business, in the nearly sixty years since the Damons took control, has been largely increased and diversified, especially in the last ten years. The various kinds of goods manufactured in the past two years comprise one hundred and fifty styles. The annual product is now over thirty thousand pieces, or one million two hundred and fifty thousand yards, in the place of seven thousand pieces, or two hundred and twenty-five thousand yards, made in the old mill. The number of persons employed has increased from forty to one hundred and sixty. The hours of labor have decreased from thirteen in the summer and eleven in the winter season, to ten hours for a day’s work, and the wages have increased in a greater proportion. The present officers of the corporation are: Ralph H. Damon, president; Edward C. Damon, treasurer; Charles E. Manock, superintendent.
The manufacture of lead pipe was begun in 1819 and of sheet lead in 1831, by David Loring, at the falls of the brook into the Assabet, half a mile east of Westvale. This continued till about 1850, when it was changed to a wooden-ware factory, and has been enlarged and the business much increased since. The junction formed by the Lowell and Framingham Railroad crossing the Fitchburg Railroad near this pail factory about 1870, and the building of the prison in the vicinity, have given an impulse to manufacturing in this part of Concord. Several other establishments are in operation or are building there, and the latest, a leather harness factory, owned by Mr. Harvey Wheeler, of Concord, is now in operation. This section promises to become the busy industrial portion of the town, and to build up a new town with these various industries. Meantime the old or central part of Concord is becoming rather more a place of residence than of business.
PRISON.–– In 1873 commissioners were appointed, under a resolve of the Legislature, to build a new State Prison. This was located in the westerly part of Concord by the decision of the Governor and Council. The prisoners were removed here from Charlestown in 1878, and after being here six years were taken back to the old prison. The Massachusetts Reformatory was established in Concord in the place of the State Prison. A few of the best behaved prisoners were returned to the Reformatory and it soon filled up to the maximum. Col. Gardner Tufts was appointed superintendent and has had the charge of the institution to the present time. The inmates are divided into three classes according to their behavior, wear different uniforms and have different privileges. By a recent law, sentences to the Reformatory are made indeterminate, and convicts are to be kept here not more than two years for minor offences and not more than five years for aggravated crimes. There are about seven hundred in confinement, instructed, guarded and employed by nearly fifty officers, who make, with their families, quite a village. Several different industries are carried on for the employment of the prisoners, and the institution is highly commended.
FIRES.––The first and the most serious loss by fire in this town was the burning of the Simon Willard house, at the foot of Nashawtuck Hill, in the middle of the seventeenth century. By this the earliest records of Concord were destroyed, and the names of the first settlers, the division of lands among them, their trades and troubles with the Indians, and with each other, were lost forever. In 1784 Samuel Heald’s house was burned and three lives lost. In 1819 the alms-house was destroyed by fire and the same year the Centre School-house, causing considerable loss to the town as a municipality. In 1823 Col. William Whiting’s carriage factory and part of his dwelling-house on Main Street were consumed. In 1829 a new house, built by Major Samuel Burr on Monument Street, was burned before it was entirely finished. In 1834 another large fire destroyed the foundry and blacksmith-shops of Whiting’s carriage factory. In 1842 the large, new store of Phineas How was robbed, set on fire and burnt. In 1845 the old Middlesex Hotel was consumed by a fire which happened during the June term of the Court, much to the inconvenience of those attending that session. In 1849 the court-house was set on fire and burnt, with the dwelling-house and stable of Mr. Keyes adjoining. In 1859 the large mansion on the Lee farm, on the site of the Simon Willard house, and occupied by Harvard College in 1776, was burnt, and in 1862 Damon’s woolen factory shared the same fate. Several other dwellings and barns and shops have been burned, but those mentioned are the most important. Since the introduction of the water no large fire has occurred in the town, and the losses by fire here have been slight.
MUSICAL MATTERS.–– Some attention was early given to psalmody, and singing-schools were the first and almost the only amusement of the young people of the olden time. Musical societies were formed after this century began, and aided the improvement of this art. Until 1800 the tuning-fork for the church choir was the only instrument used. Soon after that year a bass-viol, a violin, a clarionet and flute were added to the voices in sacred music on Sundays.
On the remodeling of the old meeting-house, in 1841, an organ was procured, and with it came a new interest in the choir: some well-trained, sweet voices made melody never before heard here. The town appropriated money for singing-schools, and these in the winter evenings were well attended by both old and young. Later an instrumental band was formed that for several years furnished pleasing music for public occasions and village concerts. A choral club is the latest and best of the musical societies. This, besides occasional concerts, has as its climax brought out the opera of “Priscilla, or the Puritan Proxy,” an original production of its members, which has been received with favor by several audiences both here and elsewhere, and shows the great stride from psalms to opera.
A play-ground containing four acres of level land was presented to the town in 1887 by the family of Ralph Waldo Emerson. It is situated near the Emerson School on Hubbard Street, and is admirably adapted to furnish a place for out-door games and sports. In the future it will have apparatus for gymnastic exercises and probably a gymnasium within its limits. The control and improvement of the playground is vested in officers chosen by the town, and it affords now almost the only open space in the centre for military drill and the plays of youth.
Of course in these days this town could not fail to take an interest in the national game and form a base-ball club. Under the management of Mr. William Barrett this has become a popular institution of the town. It has played nearly every week of the last season on the Agricultural Grounds and attracted crowds of people to see games with similar clubs of amateurs. In nearly every instance the Concords have been successful, and if they persevere in this course the town will have reason to be proud of this latest achievement of her boys.
TAVERNS.––The earliest tavern in Concord of which there is a record is that of William Buss, in 1660. This stood near the present library building and was kept by William several years, though he objected to selling liquor and asked to be relieved from that part of the business.
In 1666 John Haywood kept a tavern, which, if not the same as that of Buss, stood quite near it. This part of the present Main Street was for two hundred years the site of one or more taverns. The Black Horse Tavern, which in the next century gave the name to the seceding church, if not one of these two earlier taverns, was very nearly on the same site. The Wright tavern, built in 1747, and still standing on the Common, was kept as a public-house till after the Revolution, when it was changed to a bake-house and used as such for the next half century. This change did not take from it quite all its character as “a public,” for while Deacon Jarvis was the baker, it was resorted to on Sunday noons for lunch by many who stayed for afternoon service. After the baking business was given up it held various tenants, both for domestic and trading purposes, until about 1882, it was restored to its original design and is still kept as a tavern under it first name.
Previous to the Revolution Ephraim Jones kept a tavern at the west end of the Main Street burying-ground, in a large, roomy house, that had grown by various additions perhaps from that of John Haywood. The site of this, now the fine lawn of Colonel R. F. Barrett’s residence, was close to the old wooden jail, and feeding the prisoners was part of the tavern-keeper’s business. This tavern continued, under the charge of a son of Ephraim Jones, and under Major Paine, Nathan Patch and Hartwell Bigelow, to be the resort of the teamsters who carried over the highway from Boston to Keene N.H., the bulk of the trade of this section till after the railroad took away their business.
After the Revolution John Richardson opened a public house on the Common in what is now the priest’s house. After the stone jail in the rear of this was built, he swapped houses with the county and took the corner of the Main Street for the tavern, which was enlarged and improved into the Middlesex Hotel. Here he and his successors did a thriving business of a better class of custom than the Bigelow tavern for half a century. This hotel was the sojourn of the lawyers, jurors and witnesses during the terms of court, furnished the dinners for the conventions and cattle-shows, the suppers of the societies and the balls of the village. Its ample bar-room on the front corner was the scene of many jolly carouses, and its public room, overhead, held many gatherings of the more sober and sedate sort, while the large hall in the third story had dancing schools and parties, both numerous and gay. In 1845, while occupied by Thomas D. Wesson, it was burned, and the present building was erected by him the next year. Mr. Wesson, then an old man, long a tavern-keeper, could not see the change made in travel by the railroads, and persisted in rebuilding on the same plan as the old hotel, instead of adopting a newer style. The result was unsuccessful, and the house, under various landlords, has never filled the demand for a hotel of the modern type. After the removal of the courts its business fell off, and for several years past it has been closed and neglected, until now, almost a ruin, it is an eye-sore to the citizens and a disgrace to its owner.
Early in this century a third tavern was opened in the village, and was kept by Major Wheelock, in the house on the Main Street nearly opposite the present library building. This was owned by Dr. Isaac Hurd, and was enlarged by several additions as the business increased, and kept by various landlords for the next twenty-five years. In 1829, Wm. Shepherd, a proprietor of the line of stages from Boston to Keene, bought this hotel, and kept it for the next ten years under the sign of “Shepherd’s Coffee-House.” In his hands it acquired much fame and was noted as one of the best hotels outside of Boston. Mr. Shepherd added a large hall for dancing parties, and had the best custom of the town and the road, while the stage passengers stopped there for breakfast and supper. He left Concord in 1839, selling the tavern, which passed through several landlords, the last of whom Colonel Joseph Holbrook, after keeping it as a hotel till about 1860, moved off the hall, and converted both that and the main hotel into dwelling-houses.
Of course the most profitable part of the business of these taverns was selling liquor over the bar to their thirsty customers. Before the temperance reformation had made such a change in the habits of drinking, a line of customers could be seen daily wending their way from workshops, fields and houses, at eleven and four o’clock, for their forenoon and afternoon bitters. On a still summer day the music of the several toddy sticks crunching the sugar and clinking the glasses could be heard through the main street of the village at the hours above named. But the taverns at last had to yield to the growing sentiment for prohibition and no license, though they kept up the fight stoutly till the law prevailed, the barrooms closed, the taverns shut their doors, and for a time Concord had no tavern in its borders. Since then the Wright Tavern has been re-opened, and in 1889 the Thoreau House was started as a hotel on the north side of the Common.
Mention might have been made of several other houses, some still standing, that for longer or shorter periods were kept as taverns in this town, notably the Wheeler House, on Great South road at the Nine Acre Corner; but this must suffice on the subject.
TOWN DONATIONS. ––Peter Wright, a weaver by trade, in 1718, devised to the town by his will as follows: “Unto ye poore of the Town of Concord that shall be, I do will and bequeath unto their use all the produce and income of all my real estate (after the death of my wife) forever. The ordering of the same I do empower the worthy minister of the said town that either is or shall be, together with the selectmen that shall be successively forever. The minister that shall be to have a double vote to any one that shall be of the selectmen that shall be in that affair.” This was the beginning of the Silent Poor Fund in Concord, and this donation now amounts to $300.
John Beaton in 1776 gave to the poor of Concord the sum of one hundred pounds, and this now amounts to $400. John Cuming in 1782 gave to the same object the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds sterling, which now amount to $900. Abel Barrett in 1802 gave to the Silent Poor the sum of $500. Jonathan Wheeler in 1809 gave a similar amount for the same purpose. Ephraim Merriam in 1844 gave $800 to this fund. Perez Blood in 1857 gave his wood lot to the town for the same object and it realized on a sale the sum of $1200. Charles Merriam, of Boston, in 1864 gave $1000 to this fund. Reuben Hunt, of Charlestown, in 1867 added $1000. Samuel Barrett, of Concord, gave by his will $500 more. Ebenezer Hubbard in 1872 added $1000. Abel Hunt in 1874 bequeathed $1000. The trustees of William Monroe, under his will, in 1880 gave $1000. Cyrus Stow in 1877 bequeathed the sum of $300. Lydia Russell Whiting, the widow of William Whiting, of Boston, in 1882 by her will added $2000. Reuben N. Rice in 1884 bequeathed $2000.Sundry persons have added to this fund $175, and the whole now amount to $14,175, the income of which is distributed annually in the manner directed by the first giver a century and three-quarters ago.
For Schools.––John Beaton and John Cuming gave the same sums as above to the Silent Poor, viz., $400 and $900, and Cyrus Stow gave by his will $3000 to the High School, which, invested in real estate, is now by accumulation $4000.
For Shade Trees.––Reuben N. Rice left by his will for this object $2000.
Semi-Centennial Fund of $1000.––The Hapgood Wright Fund, already mentioned, is to accumulate for fifty years, and the income then to be spent as the town by two-thirds vote may determine, and the principal to be again put on interest for another half-century, and the income then spent, and so on indefinitely.
Cemetery Donations. ––Twenty-six persons have given to the town various sums for the care and preservation of their lots in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and in some cases the surplus income for the general use of the cemetery, amounting in all to $4750. Other persons in 1860 subscribed to a fund for the care and improvement of the cemetery that now amount to $2000. All these funds are in the charge of three Trustees of Town Donations, who are chosen as vacancies in their number occur, and this arrangement has existed for nearly a century.
By the act of 1872 for introducing Sandy Pond water into Concord, the Trustees of Town Donations have the charge of the Sinking Fund for the water debt, and they now hold over $22,000 for that purpose.
Before the Town Library was incorporated donations to the amount of several thousand dollars had been made to the town for the support of the library. These funds were transferred with the books to the Free Public Library corporation and are now held by that institution.
Professional and Official Citizens––Conclusion.
CLERGYMEN.–– Beside those already mentioned as ministers of the First Parish (now Unitarian), Rev. Hersey B. Goodwin was settled as a colleague with Rev. Dr. Ripley in 1829, and died in 1836. Rev. Barzillai Frost succeeded him; settled in 1837, and died in 1758 [sic]. Rev. Grindall Reynolds was settled in 1858, and resigned in 1882, but has continued as honorary pastor since. Rev. Benjamin Reynolds Bulkeley was his successor, and is the present minister.
Over the Second Parish, the Orthodox Society, Rev. Asa Rand preached the first year, 1826. Rev. Daniel S. Southmayd was settled in 1827, and resigned in 1832. Rev. John Wilder was settled in 1833, and resigned in 1839. Rev. James Means was settled in 1839, and resigned in 1844. He was succeeded by Rev. William L. Mather, who resigned in 1849, and Rev. Luther Farnham served till1850, then Daniel Foster till 1851; Rev. Luther H. Angier, from 1851 to 1858; Rev. Charles B. Smith, from 1861 to 1863; Rev. Edmund S. Potter, from 1863 to 1866; Rev. Frank Haley, to 1867; Rev. C. H. S. Williams, 1867 to 1870; Rev. Andrew J. Rogers, 1871 to 1872; Rev. Henry M. Grout, 1872 to 1886; and Rev. William A. Depew from 1886 to 1890.
The Universalist Society had one minister, Rev. Addison G. Fay, who was settled in 1842 and resigned in 1846.
The Catholics who succeeded to the church of the Universalists have had for [i.e. four] priests: Rev. P. J. Canney, from January, 1868, to August, 1870; Rev. F. Delahanty, from August, 1870, to December, 1870; Rev. John O’Brien, from January, 1871, to 1873; Rev. T. Brosnahan, from 1873 to January, 1877; Rev. M. J. McCall, from 1877 to the present time.
Rev. John A. Crow has for some years been in charge of the Catholic worship at the Reformatory. Rev. W. J. Batt is the chaplain of that institution.
An Episcopal chapel was built here in 1885, and services have been conducted in it since by Rev. Mr. Rand, Rev. Mr. Judkins and Rev. Mr. Breed.
At Westvale a religious society is formed, to which Rev. H. G. Buckingham, Methodist, preached in 1886-87, and Rev. Bartlett H. Weston, Congregationalist in 1888-89, and a church is soon to be organized.
LAWYERS.––John Hoar is the earliest lawyer in the town, if not in the Colony, and he was ordered not to practice in 1660, and died in 1704, being noted for his difficulties with the church and his humanity to the Indians.
Peter Bulkeley, son [i.e. grandson] of the first minister, held many places of honor and trust in the Colony, and died in 1688.
Daniel Bliss, a son of the minister, was an ardent Tory, left Concord in 1775, had his property confiscated, and settled in New Brunswick, where he became chief justice.
Jonathan Fay came to Concord from Westborough in 1780, and practiced his profession here till his death, in 18l1.
John L. Tuttle opened an office here in 1799, and was postmaster and county treasurer till he led a regiment to the Canada frontier in the War of 1812, and died in the army, being robbed and poisoned.
John Merrick practiced law here for ten years before 1797, when he died at the age of thirty-six years.
William Jones, a native of the town, had an office here for a few years after being admitted to the bar in 1795, moved to Maine and held important positions there.
Thomas Heald practiced law in Concord from the beginning of the century to 1813, when he went south and became a judge in Alabama.
Samuel Hoar, a descendant of John Hoar, was born in Lincoln, started in practice in Concord in 1807, and took the foremost rank in his profession. He was chosen Representative in Congress in 1836, and sent to Charleston, S. C., in 1844, as agent for Massachusetts to protect negro sailors from being sold as slaves. He was forcibly sent home by the proslavery mob, and narrowly escaped violent treatment. He retired from practice in 1849, after representing the town in both branches of the General Court, and died in 1857, universally beloved and lamented.
John Keyes, a native of Westford, came here in 1812, took the practice and the offices of Colonel Tuttle, held the positions of postmaster and county treasurer for twenty-five years, was Senator and Representative several years and died in 1844, at the age of fifty-eight years.
Nathan Brooks, born in Lincoln, opened his office here in 1811, and became secretary of the Middlesex Mutual Fire Insurance Company in 1826, and continued in that office till his death in 1863. Mr. Brooks beside service in the Legislature and the Governor’s Council, had a large practice in the Probate Court as administrator or executor of a large number of estates.
Elisha Fuller practiced law in Concord in 1823 to 1831, when he removed to Lowell.
John Milton Cheney, who graduated in 1821 at Harvard College, studied law with Hon. Rufus Hosmer, at Stow, settled here in June, 1831, and was made cashier of the Concord Bank in 1832. In 1836 he was chosen treasurer of the Middlesex Institution for Savings, and filled both places till his death, in 1869. While he alone discharged the duties of these positions, the great robbery of the bank safe took place in 1867. In broad daylight at noon the bank was entered, the safe opened, and $300,000 in bills and securities was carried off by two expert cracksmen. Of this, $200,000 was afterwards secured and restored to the institution.
Albert H. Nelson, a son of Dr. Nelson, of Carlisle, graduated at Harvard, studied law and began the practice here in 1836, in partnership with John Keyes. He afterwards opened an office on his own account and continued here till 1841, when he removed to Woburn. There he had a large practice and was district attorney for the northern District for two years, 1846 to 1848. He served two years in the Senate and was a Councillor in 1855. He was that year appointed chief justice of the Superior Court of Suffolk County, and held that office till his death, in 1858.
Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar began practice in Concord in 1839; was appointed justice of the Common Pleas Court in 1849, and served five years; in 1859 was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court, and served there ten years; in 1869 was Attorney General of the United States, and in 1872 a member of the High Joint Commission to settle the disputes with England growing out of the War of the Rebellion. After this he resumed practice in Boston; was counsel in many important causes, and, though partially retired from active work in his profession, still appears in court occasionally. He served one year in the State Senate, and one term as member of Congress, in 1873–75.
John S. Keyes opened an office here with his father, in 1844; was sheriff of Middlesex County from 1853 to 1860; United States marshal for Massachusetts from 1861 to 1866, and since 1874 has been standing justice of the District Court of Central Middlesex.
George Merrick Brooks, son of Nathan, began as a lawyer, in 1847, in Concord; held the office of State Senator in 1859, and of Representative in Congress, in 1869–71; was appointed judge of Probate and Insolvency for this
county in 1871, and still fills that office.
Charles W. Goodnow practiced law here from 1848 till his death, in 1856.
George Heywood studied law with Samuel Hoar; began practice in 1851; has been Representative and Senator in the General Court, member of the Governor’s Council, and is now president of the Concord National Bank and of the Insurance Company, and has been town clerk more than thirty-seven years.
Charles Thompson, a native of Sudbury, has practiced law in Concord since the war, and was trial justice here from 1872 to 1874, and is an associate justice of the District Court.
Charles H. Walcott opened an office here and in Boston, in 1874, and is now chairman of the State Board of Arbitration and Conciliation.
Prescott Keyes, son of John S., has also had an office here and in Boston since 1882.
Henry A. Richardson has recently begun the practice of law in Concord.
Judge Henry F. French resided here from 1870, till his death in 1885, although his duties as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in Washington kept him there for nearly ten years.
George A. King, Samuel Hoar and Woodward Hudson reside in Concord and practice law mainly in Boston.
In 1877 every board of town officers save the Fire Department had a lawyer at its head.
PHYSICIANS.––In addition to the long list of those in Concord prior to 1835, as given in Shattuck’s “History of Concord,” there may be now mentioned: Dr. Edward Jarvis, a native of Concord, who practiced from 1832 to 1837, when he went to Louisville, Kentucky. He returned to Massachusetts in 1843, settled in Dorchester, and made a specialty of the care of insane persons. He took great interest in statistics, founded a statistical society in Boston; was a trustee of the Worcester Lunatic Hospital; wrote voluminous reports, lecture [i.e. lectures], pamphlets and books; represented his society in the International Statistical Congress, in England, in 1860; did much labor for the census of that year and of 1870, and, after a long and useful life, died in 1884, and was buried in Concord.
Dr. Henry A. Barrett, a son of Col. Sherman Barrett, of Concord, began practice here in 1845, in the place of Dr. Isaac Hurd, and continued till his death, in 1889.
Dr. Edward W. Emerson began in 1873 to practice here in partnership with Dr. Josiah Bartlett, who had been the leading physician since 1819, and continued after Dr. Bartlett’s death in 1878, till he gave up his profession in 1884.
Dr. George E. Titcomb succeeded to Dr. Emerson’s practice in 1884. Dr. N. H. Kirby began to practice here in 1888 and Dr. Braley in 1889, and all continue in Concord to the present time. Other physicians have at various times practiced in Concord,––Drs. Gallup, Sawyer, Whiting and Ballou, as homœopathists; Drs. Tewksbury and Dillingham as eclectics, and some others.
GRADUATES.––Since the publication of Shattuck’s “History,” the following Concord young men graduated at Harvard College:
1834, George Moore; 1835, Hiram Barrett Dennis, Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar; 1837, Henry David Thoreau; 1841, John Shepard Keyes; 1844, George Merrick Brooks, Edward Sherman Hoar; 1845, Gorham Bartlett; 1846, George Frisbie Hoar; 1847, George Heywood; 1849, Joseph Boyden Keyes; 1850, Ephraim Merriam Ball; 1851, Nathan Henry Barrett; 1854, Charles Pickering Gerrish; 1856, Nehemiah Ball, George Brooks Bigelow; 1858, Henry Walker Frost; 1864, Charles Henry Hildreth, Gardner Whitney Lawrence; 1866, Edward Waldo Emerson; 1867, Samuel Hoar, William Hammatt Simmonds; 1870, Charles Emerson Hoar, Charles Hosmer Walcott; 1871, Henry Nathan Wheeler; 1873, Francis Hagar Bigelow; 1874, Edward Emerson Simmons; 1876, Frank Wheeler Barrett; 1879, Woodward Hudson, Prescott Keyes; 1882, Sherman Hoar; 1883, George Heywood; 1884, Herbert Wheeler Blanchard, George William Brown; 1886, Thomas Parker Sanborn; 1887, Nelson Macy Barrett.
Making, with the sixty-six whose names are given in Shattuck’s “History,” over one hundred graduated from Concord since John Bulkeley, in the first class in 1642. This gives an average of more than one student in the college all the years of its existence.
STATISTICS.––The population of Concord was: 1840, 1784; 1850, 2249; 1855, 2244; 1860, 2246; 1865, 2232; 1870, 2412; 1875, 2676; 1880, 3922; 1885, 3727; 1890, 4435. Number of legal voters in 1885, 760. Valuation of real estate in 1889, $2,194,020; valuation of personal estate, $1,165, 017; number of polls, 957;
number of dwelling-houses, 639; number of horses, 575; number of cows, 1528; number of other cattle, 259; number of swine, 208; number of acres of land
14,879. Rate of taxation, $10.40 on $1000.
OFFICIALS OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT.––E.R. Hoar, United States Attorney-General, 1869, and member High Joint Commission, 1872; J. S. Keyes, U. S. Marshal, 1861 to 1866; A. G. Fay, Provost Marshal, 1863–64; L. Eaton, assessor internal revenue, 1865-66; Richard Barrett, Edwin S. Barrett, George Keyes and D. G. Lang served as Deputy United States Marshals during and since the war; William W. Wilde, Geo. Keyes, H. H. Buttrick and Lyman Clark were in the Boston Custom-House before and after the war; Samuel Hoar, Representative in Congress, 1835; George M. Brooks, Representative in Congress, 1869; E. R. Hoar, Representative in Congress, 1873. Besides these three, two others: William Whiting, of Boston, and George F. Hoar, of Worcester, have been members of Congress. The five lived, and four of them were born on an acre of land on Main Street, in Concord, and one of these has been a member of the Cabinet, and another is a Senator in Congress now.
Two graduates of the West Point Military Academy, Amiel W. Whipple in 1840 and Elbert Wheeler in 1874, were both appointed cadets from the same house in the southwest part of the town, known as the “Nine Acre Corner.”
OFFICIALS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS––Lieutenant Governor, Simon Brown, 1855; State Treasurer, Joseph Barrett, 1845-49; Councillors: Nathan Brooks, 1829-31; George Heywood, 1880-83; State Board of Arbitration and Conciliation, Charles H. Walcott, 1886; Clerk of the Senate, Henry D. Coolidge, 1889-90; Senators: Joseph Hosmer, 1785-93; John S. Tuttle, 1808-12; John Keyes, 1822-29; Samuel Hoar, 1825, ’32; Nathan Brooks, 1831, 35; Daniel Shattuck, 1836, Phineas How, 1841; Ephraim Merriam, 1842; F. R. Gourgas, 1843; E. R. Hoar, 1846; J. S. Keyes, 1849; C. C. Hazewell, 1852; E. W. Bull, 1856; George M. Brooks, 1859; George Heywood, 1865; Henry J. Hosmer, 1889-90; Trial Justice, Charles Thompson, 1872-73.
OFFICIALS OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY––Justice of Court of Common Pleas, Ephraim Wood, 1785-93; Justice of Court of Sessions, Abiel Heywood, 1801-27; Judge of Probate, George M. Brooks, 1871-; County Treasurers: John L. Tuttle, 1808-12; John Keyes, 1812-37; Stedman Buttrick, 1837-55; Sheriffs: Joseph Hosmer, 1794-1808; William Hildreth, 1809-13; John S. Keyes, 1853-60.
OFFICIALS OF THE TOWN OF CONCORD––Town Clerks: Abiel Heywood, 1796-1834; Phineas Allen, 1834-35; Nehemiah Ball, 1835-39; Cyrus Stow, 1840-48; F. R. Gourgas, 1848-53; George Heywood, 1853-; Town Treasurers: John M. Cheney, 1834-40; Timothy Prescott, 1841; Stedman Buttrick, 1842-51; A. A. Kelsey, 1852; Albert Stacy, 1853; Samuel Staples, 1854- 55; Joseph Holbrook, 1856-57; John B. Moore, 1858-59; Julius M. Smith, 1860-61; George Heywood, 1862-75; Henry J. Walcott, 1876-84; Charles E. Brown, 1884-87; George E. Walcott, 1887-88; John C. Friend, 1890; Selectmen: Abiel Heywood, 1796-1834; Daniel Clark, 1830-44, ’49; Cyrus Hubbard, 1822-34; Joseph Barrett, 1834; Cyrus Stow, 1835-40, ’42-43; Isaac S. Lee, 1835-40, ’42; Timothy Prescott, 1840-41; Elisha Wheeler, 1840-41; Joseph Darby, 1843-48; Francis R. Gourgas, 1844-50; Jacob B. Farmer, 1844-49; Richard Barrett, 1848-49; Nehemiah Ball, 1850; A. A. Kelsey, 1850-56; C. A. Hubbard, 1850, ’76-80; J. S. Keyes, 1851-58; A. G. Fay, 1851-53, ’62-63, ’71-72; Samuel Staples, 1854-55; George M. Brooks 1858-59; B. N. Hudson, 1858-62; J. M. Smith, 1858-60; E. W. Bull, 1860-61; Elijah Wood, 1862-63; N. B. Stow, 1862-65; B. Tolman 1864-65; L. A. Surette, 1867-69; E. C. Damon, 1867-69; L. W. Bean, 1867-69; W. F. Hurd, 1870; Edwin Wheeler, 1870; Joseph Derby, Jr., 1870; A. J. Harlow, 1871-72; H. F. Smith, 1871, ’73-75; W. W. Wilde, 1872-75; J. B. Moore, 1873-75; Charles Thompson, 1876-82; George Tolman, 1876-80; R. F. Barrett, 1881-82; W. H. Hunt, 1883; C. H. Walcott, 1883; Samuel Hoar, 1884-86; H. J. Hosmer, 1884-86; S. G. Brooks, 1884-87; C. E. Brown, 1887- 88; A. G. Fuller, 1887-88; G. E. Walcott, 1888-90; Prescott Keyes, 1889; Woodward Hudson, 1889; John H. Moore, 1890; Caleb H. Wheeler, 1890; Representatives to the Legislature: John Keyes, Joseph Barrett, 1833-35; Cyrus Stow, Stedman Buttrick, 1836-37; Stedman Buttrick, 1838; Stedman Buttrick, Ephraim Merriam, 1839; Ephraim Merriam, Francis R. Gourgas, 1840; Ephraim Merriam, 1841; Francis R. Gourgas, 1842; Anthony Wright, 1843-44; Isaac S. Lee, 1845-47; John Stacy, 1846; Samuel Staples, 1848, ’52-53, ’56, ’83; No choice, 1849; Samuel Hoar, 1850; Aaron A. Kelsey, 1851; William W. Wilde, 1853, ’77; Ephraim W. Bull, 1855; Richard Barrett, 1857, ’76; George M. Brooks, 1858; Simon Brown, 1860; George Heywood, 1863-64. ’66-67; Edwin Wheeler, 1871; John B. Moore, 1874; Samuel Hoar, 1881; Henry J. Hosmer, 1884, ’86-87.
The latest vote of Concord, in a matter of public interest, was that in 1889, when it was learned that one of the new naval cruisers was named for this historic town. Under an article, in the warrant for the annual meeting, it was voted “to present to the government of the United States some appropriate ornament for the new gunboat ‘Concord,’” and an appropriation for the purpose was made, and a committee chosen to carry out the vote. A reduced copy of the minute-man in bronze was suggested to the Navy Department and accepted by the Secretary of the Navy as appropriate for the purpose. Mr. Daniel C. French, the sculptor, kindly offered to make a new model of this famous work, which has been successfully cast at the Chicopee Foundry. It is nearly three feet in height, and presents the same figure, with the musket and plow, as does the original at the battle-ground. It is to stand on the front of the poop-deck of the ship, with an appropriate legend beneath expressing its meaning. The “Concord” has been built at Chester, Pennsylvania, by the Delaware Iron Ship Works, formerly John Roach & Sons, and with all her machinery from the Quintard Works in New York on board, was safely launched March 8, 1890. When the vessel is completed with her armament, and put in commission, the statue will be presented and permanently placed in position to carry on the ship the honor of the name and the victory it represents around the world.
The centre of the town is every year becoming more a place for residence rather than business. Many of those in active life go to Boston daily, and more who have retired from busy occupations seek Concord for a quiet home. The largest farms are secured by persons of taste and wealth for great and permanent improvements. The smaller and worn-out farms are falling into the hands of the industrious and saving of our foreign population. The change that these departures from the old-time ways are fast making in the Concord of to-day can hardly yet be fully estimated. The business activity, the political influence, the literary prominence of the past generations seem to be gone, never to return. What the future will be must be left to the coming men and women to determine.
In the closing words of Senator Hoar’s oration this sketch may well finish: “It may be that the separate municipal and social life which has given this town her character and history is about to come to an end; that this little river is to lose itself in the sea; that the neighboring city will overflow her borders, or that railroad and telegraph and telephone will mingle her elements inseparably with the great mass of American life. I do not believe it. I think the town will preserve for a long and indefinite future her ancient and distinctive quality. But however this shall be, the lives of our fathers will not be lost. The town will have made her impression upon America herself. Among the memorable figures in history shall be that of dear, wise, brave, tender, gentle Old Concord––she who broke the path into the forest––she who delivered her brave blow between the eyes of England––she by whose firesides the rich and the poor sat together as equals––she whose children made her famous by eloquence, by sculpture and by song.”
His son Nathan, the subject of this sketch, was born in Lincoln, just over the Concord line, Oct. 18, 1785, He was one of fourteen children, and, as was the custom and necessity of those days, was obliged to help in the farm work as soon as he was old enough to be of service. He had no other schooling than was afforded by the district school three months in a year until he was seventeen years old. Then, desiring to go to college, he studied with Rev. Dr. Stearns, the clergyman of Lincoln, fitted for college and graduated at Harvard in 1809. He taught school in the winters, and thus earned some part of the expenses of his education, which his father could not afford to pay. He held a fair rank in his class, and taught school a year and then began the study of the law in the offices of Hon. Samuel Hoar, and Thomas Heald, Esq., in Concord, and was admitted to the Middlesex Bar in 1813. He began practice in Concord in a small office on the Lexington road previously occupied by Jonathan Fay, Esq.
Here he got some clients, and, by his faithfulness and care of their cases, soon acquired a fair share of the business of this shire-town. He removed in a few years to a more central office on the Main Street, which he built in conjunction with Mr. Hoar, and occupied his part of it till 1833. His practice, more especially in the Probate Court, increased, and his industry and honesty became almost proverbial.
In 1826 the Middlesex Mutual Fire Insurance Company was organized, and Mr. Brooks was chosen the secretary and treasurer of the company. This employment soon required so much of his time that it interfered with his practice of his profession, and afterwards he confined his legal work mainly to office business and the settlement of estates. He was for many years master in chancery for Middlesex county, and under the “Insolvent Laws” of that time had a large share of that business. He had great industry and capacity for work, and in all his occupations he found plenty to do, as he was a director of the Concord Bank and the president of the Savings Bank from their incorporation. He was early interested in politics, and as a stanch National Republication he was elected representative from Concord to the Legislature of 1823, ’24 an ’25, and was a useful and popular member. After this service he was chosen by the Whigs to the Council in 1829 and 1830, and to the Senate in 1831 and 1835. He was the candidate of the same party for Congress in 1838, and, after nine stoutly-contested trials, his Democratic opponent, Hon. William Parmenter, was chosen. In town affairs he was active and influential, though he seldom had any leisure for town office, and in his office many important town matters were discussed and practically agreed upon.
Why insurance offices should be such centres of talk, news and gossip, it might be hard to tell, but the Old Middlesex was no exception to the rule. In the dark, dingy back-room of the bank building, since Mr. Brooks worked as secretary, more stories have been told, more anecdotes repeated, more politics discussed than perhaps in any other room in the town if not the county. Always there, never interrupted by sickness, uniformly courteous, rarely impatient with the prolonged stay of callers, from nine o’clock A.M. when the mail had come and directors and neighbors collected to read the paper and chat about the news, till nine o’clock in the evening a constant succession of visitors were entertained by Mr. Brooks, till the great wonder was how he ever found time to do his work. In the winter a great open fire of walnut logs tempted any to toast their shins around his hearth, and the warmth of his smiling welcome equalled that of the fire. To all who came he listened patiently, and with a rare fund of humor answered with an apt story or a ready joke or a sound advice, that seldom failed to make them go away the better for the visit. Indeed if those walls could repeat what was said there, it would be a history of Concord, of Middlesex and Massachusetts, if not of the country and the world. Very regular in his habits and so uniform in his ways that the village clock might have been set by his movements, and it has been said that his neighbors used his passing their windows for a time-piece.
Mr. Brooks was interested in all matters of social improvement, especially that of temperance, and while avoiding fanaticism, by his moderation and good sense helped their progress. His fund of humor aided him in many a difficult situation with ultra zealots, and his ready wit and imperturbable good nature often soothed the troubled waters so that without eloquence he was a favorite speaker on all occasions, and as toast-master a great success of many important festivities.
Mr. Brooks married, in 1819, Caroline Downes, of Boston, who died March 1820, leaving a daughter now the wife of the Hon. E. R. Hoar. In 1823, Mr. Brooks married Mary Merrick, daughter of Tilly Merrick a prominent merchant then living in Concord. Of this marriage Hon. George M. Brooks, judge of Probate for Middlesex County is the only surviving child, a younger brother having died in infancy.
In his pecuniary affairs Mr. Brooks was too unable to say no to applications for loans, and lost many hundreds of dollars by his willingness to help those who persisted in borrowing of him without repayment. He bore these losses, as he did the other troubles of life, with great equanimity and without worry or anger. His sunny temperament and his equable disposition, his good health and contented mind, enabled him to go through a long life with less anxiety and more comfort than falls to the lot of many men. His habit was to look on the bright side of everything and to take cheerful views of all subjects, but he had well-considered opinions and the strength of his convictions was not lessened by his courteous listening to opposing views. He had great charity for those who differed from him, kindness for all, and enmity to none. He was a firm believer in the Unitarian religion, a constant attendant on public worship and in his later years joined the church of the First Parish in Concord.
Mr. Brooks was of medium height and size, with dark eyes and hair and a strongly-marked face. Not robust, he had uninterrupted good health and a strong constitution that carried him almost to the four-score limit of man’s life with all his faculties in use. He never wore glasses, and always carried a cane, but invariably under his arm, not as a staff, and for many years bore a lighted lamp to and from his office with a shill to keep the flame burning that only a severe storm could overcome. His health failed very gradually at last, and he died December 11, 1863, after only a week’s sickness, a loss to the community and his friends.
The grandson of the second John Damon, named above, was Benjamin, who was born in Reading, June 4, 1760. He served from 1776 till the close of the war as a soldier in the army of the Revolution, though he attained his majority only some four months before the virtual close of the conflict. He had enlisted when he was only some sixteen years old. He soon afterwards removed to Amherst, N.H., where he married Polly Hesea, the daughter of a seacaptain who had removed, in 1775, from Plymouth, Mass., to Amherst, N.H.
Speaking of his secluded home, without another house in sight or hearing, and approached in all directions through the woods, the historian of the Fiske family says: “There, in the fear of God and in keeping his commands, Deacon Damon, with his young wife, sat him down in peace and content, driving his saw-mill in the spring when water was abundant, working his farm in summer, and enjoying the fruits of his labor in the winter. There he lived and died in a good old age, an humble, honest man, rich in faith and good works, and unambitous of the world’s gilded honors. There his children were born and reared, in all the loveliness of rural simplicity and Christian education. Nor was their training inefficient, since it is believed by those who knew them well that no one of Deacon Damon’s family was ever guilty of a dishonest or dishonorable deed.”
His third son was Calvin Carver, born in Amherst, New Hampshire, February 17, 1803. The son of a farmer, and spending his childhood and youth in what was then a sparsely-settled region, his early opportunities for education were very limited, but he was of an enterprising, ambitious spirit and disinclined to pursuits with which he had been familiar from early childhood. Accordingly he sought and obtained employment in a store in Concord, N.H., where, as clerk and salesman, he acquired experience in mercantile pursuits. He remained there till he had attained his majority. He then decided to go to the city of New York, and to seek employment there. He had, however, formed the acquaintance of John Marland, a young man of his own age, the son of Abraham Marland, one of the pioneer woolen manufacturers of New England. The latter was at the time increasing the facilities of his industry, and his son invited his friend Damon to go to Andover and accept a position in the counting-room of his father. He did so and remained there two years. He then engaged in trade, forming a co-partnership with Edwin Farnham, under the style of Farnham & Damon, doing the miscellaneous business of what was then known, everywhere in the rural districts of New England, as a country store.
He continued in that business till about the close of 1831, and in December of that year went to the village of Saxonville, in the town of Framingham, Mass., on the invitation, again, of John Marland. Mr. Marland was then in charge of the mills there, known as the Saxon Mills. He had, shortly before this time, established a small factory for the manufacture of woolen goods at the outlet of Lake Cochituate, and at this time engaged the services of Mr. Damon as its superintendent, his own time being occupied with the management of the Saxon Mills. Early in 1833 Mr. Damon entered into partnership with Mr. Marland, and soon bought Mr. Marland’s interest, and continued the business alone till early in May, 1835, when the mill was destroyed by fire. In the month of December previous he had purchased the property at West Concord, and now removed to that place.
He had been aided in the purchase by his wife’s uncle, James Johnson, the head of the old and wealthy commission house of Boston––Johnson, Sewall & Co.––who proposed to take the agency of his goods. During the years of his employment in the mills––first in Andover and then at Saxonville––he had become familiar with the manufacture of satinets, a fabric having a cotton warp and wool filling, then used largely in the manufacture of men’s clothing, and made very generally by woolen manufacturers throughout New England. In deciding to engage in this specialty of manufacture he was guided by the advice of Mr. Johnson. He soon found that his business did not pay expenses. The goods, with his facilities for manufacture, cost too much for the price which they would bring, deducting commissions, and he was in competition with long-established and wealthy manufacturers, among whom were Welcome Farnum, Edward Harris, Abraham Marland and others. He determined on a change, at first partial, by devoting a portion of his machinery to the manufacture of white wool flannels. He soon found that it was neither convenient nor economical to carry on in so small a mill the manufacture of fabrics of two distinct classes. He therefore removed all the machinery adapted only to the manufacture of satinets and filled up the mill with flannel machinery. Mr. Johnson, who, when the mill was started by Mr. Damon, had suggested the manufacture of satinets as its business, and still believed that it might be made profitable, was much displeased, and at first was disposed to stop the business––as he might have done, with Mr. Damon’s large indebtedness to him––but this, on the other hand, would involve him in loss. Finding that Mr. Damon was inflexible in his purpose, he offered him a considerable sum if he would induce some other merchant to take the account and to relieve him from all liability. Mr. Damon’s reply was: “No: you have got me into this scrape, and you must get me out.” At this time it occurred to Mr. Damon that a kind of cloth might be made with the flannel machinery which would be likely to have a considerable sale and to afford a more profitable employment for his mill than even all-wool flannels, the manufacture of which had been rapidly developed in the little more than twenty years since it had been first undertaken in this country by Nathaniel Stevens. So many mills had been devoted to this specialty, that the competition in it had become quite active.
The fabric, proposed to himself, by Mr. Damon, was to be woven in the same manner as ordinary flannel, but with a cotton warp and a wool filling. An additional consideration in favor of the experiment was the fact that Mr. Damon had on hand a considerable number of warps of cotton which had been prepared for making satinets. Proceeding with the experiment, Mr. Damon produced some cloth, a sample of which he carried to Boston and showed to Mr. Johnson. It is said that the merchant, on looking at it, exclaimed: “Dom it, that is good cloth; it will sell,” and that this was the origin of the name which slightly changed to domet or domett or dommet, as it has been variously spelled, was at once given to the fabric, and which it still retains, the name being found on the books of Mr. Damon as early as January, 1836. Whether or not this was the origin of the name, the remark was one which might naturally have fallen from the lips of the bluff, hearty, old merchant, pleased with the solution of a question which had caused him much anxiety, viz., the profitable employment of the mill in which he had a considerable pecuniary interest, as well as a good business for a kinsman for whose welfare he was concerned.
The merits of the fabric were apparent. It would shrink but little in washing, and, being both light and warm, was well adapted to be a substitute for the linsey-woolsey, originally of home manufacture, which had been long used for the undergarments of women and children. It was also of domestic manufacture and free from foreign competition. The domett flannels soon assumed the place which they have since maintained as a staple article of American manufacture.
The business, thus placed by Mr. Damon on a basis of permanent prosperity, was continued under his personal management till about the close of 1853, when he was subjected to an attack of pleurisy, which resulted in his death January 12, 1854.
By Rev. W. R. Bagnall.
He graduated at Harvard in 1821, and while teaching, and struggling with very bad health, prepared himself for the ministry and was approbated to preach by the Middlesex Association of Ministers in 1826. Sickness obliged him to journey by sea to Florida, and his health improving, he came slowly nothward, preaching by the way as opportunity offered. On this trip he was brought into contact with slavery. In 1829 he became the associate pastor, with the Rev. Henry Ware, of the Second Church in Boston. The same year he married Ellen Louisa Tucker, of Concord N. H. Mr. Ware’s health failing, Mr. Emerson succeeded to the pastorate of that church. These were years of change and rapid growth in the mind of the young minister and it seemed to him that he and the flock committed to his charge were cramped by usage and tradition. The duty of stated prayer, a perfunctory act, was one from which he shrank, and the communion rite seemed to him foreign and not helpful to Americans of the nineteenth century. He hoped that his people would feel as he did, and welcome the liberating innovations for which he asked after three years’ ministry. The church, however, was not ready for the changes which he proposed in the administering of the rite of the Lord’s Supper, and they parted with regret and affection. His wife had died before this time and his own health had been sorely tried by his loss and his parting with his church, so on Christmas Day, 1832, he sailed for Europe for rest and refreshment. He remained abroad less than a year and this visit was chiefly memorable because it was the occasion of his visiting Landor, Wordsworth, and Carlyle, whose writings drew Emerson to seek and find him far among the Scottish moors.
On his return from Europe, restored in body and spirit, he was invited to become pastor of the Unitarian Church in New Bedford, but the society not accepting his condition that public prayer be not expected from him unless he felt moved to that act of devotion, he refused the invitation.
In the autumn of 1834 he went to Concord and wrote much of his first book, “Nature,” staying with his kin at the Old Manse, which had been built by his grandfather, William Emerson, the patriot minister of the town in the Revolution. In 1835 he bought the house in Concord in which he lived through the remainder of his days, and in September was married to Lydia Jackson, of Plymouth.
The little farm which he acquired, where the Cambridge Turnpike leaves the great road to Boston, (three hours away by stage in those days) had the recommendation, for him, of convenience in reaching the city when he went to lecture or visit, and also of lying on the edge of the village near to Walden and its wide woodland ranges, which became a temple, visited almost daily, and there he waited for the thoughts, the oracles which he was sent into the world to report. Concord was thereafter his home; he loved and honored the ancestral town, and held it a privilege to bear his part of civic duties and neighborly relations, yet held closely to his task of writing, which involved a life mainly secluded during more than half the year; but, as all his essays were first read as discourses before literary societies, or lectures in the lyceums, he was, of necessity, brought into a contact, which he highly valued, with minds and work of all sorts of men and women. He considered the lyceum his wider pulpit, and, though he put off the gown of the preacher, held the larger office of teacher through life.
He was interested in all that tended to emancipate the bodies, the minds, the souls of his race. Hence, he early and constantly allied himself with the protectors of the Indian and the slave, and maintained that woman had only to ask for greater freedom before the law and wider opportunities, and these would be granted her. Although he had rebelled against forms which he had found hindrances in worship, he required religion and reverence in all true men, and had no sympathy with destructive methods. He watched and helped the spiritual and intellectual awakening and growth in his generation. He was one of the founders of the Dial magazine, and for a time its editor. Margaret Fuller, Alcott, Thoreau, Channing, Mrs. Ripley, Agassiz, Hawthorne, Lowell were among his friends and neighbors. Through life a strong friendship existed between him and Carlyle, whose works he had welcomed and edited in America when they were little known in England.
“Nature” was Emerson’s first work, published in 1836, but later grouped with other addresses and lectures in a volume. The other prose works came in the following order: “Essays,” 1841; “Essays” (second series), 1844; “Representative Men,” 1850; “English Traits” (written after his visit to England in 1847-48, for the purpose of lecturing there), in 1856; “Conduct of Life,” 1860; “Society and Solitude,” 1870; “Letters and Social Aims,” 1874; and after Mr. Emerson’s death two other volumes were published by his friend and literary executor, Mr. James Elliot Cabot, entitled “Lectures and Biographical Sketches” and “Miscellanies.”
The office of poet always seemed to Emerson the highest, and even in boyhood he had aspired to express himself in verse, but not until 1847 did he give to the world the volume of poems which he had been rehearsing to himself in the woods through many years. In 1867, “May Day” was published—the poetical fruits of riper years.
Emerson received the degree of Doctor of Laws from Harvard University, and was also chosen an overseer in 1867, and soon after was appointed a lecturer on philosophy there. The failure of his strength at this time was increased by the exposures and exertions incident to a partial burning of his house in 1874 [i.e. 1872]. His many friends rebuilt his house and sent him abroad to restore his health meantime. On this trip he visited England, France, Italy, and made a journey up the Nile. He returned in better health, but, although he read a few lectures after his return, he ceased to write and his public life was at an end. He passed the remainder of his days quietly and happily in Concord, where he died April 27, 1882.
By Edward W. Emerson.
At the death of Mr. Haywood, about ten years after his entering the store, Mr. Rice succeeded to the business, and though without capital, secured a silent partner in David Loring, who furnished the means to carry on the business. This was for a time successful, but in the end Mr. Loring became dissatisfied and withdrew, leaving Mr. Rice deeply involved in debt and out of employment as the store was closed in 1843. R. N. as he was familiarly called, had married, July 1, 1840, Mary Harriet Hurd, the daughter of Col. Isaac Hurd, Jr., and granddaughter of Dr. Isaac Hurd, a leading physician for many years in Concord. Mrs. Rice had a pleasant manner, a happy temperament and a charming smile, that made their home an attractive resort for their numerous relatives and friends, and a centre for many pleasant gatherings. When the reverse of fortune came she bore her share of the burden, and kept her husband’s spirits from sinking into despair by her hopeful joviality.
The opening of the Fitchburg Railroad to Concord in June, 1844 gave Mr. Rice a position as station agent, and he very soon acquired the knowledge of the duties that made him a success in his new employment. His brother-in-law, Chas. Henry Hurd, had gone West to engage in railroading under John W. Brooks, then superintendent of the Rochester and Syracuse Railroad, in New York. After a year’s trial of the station in Concord, Mr. Rice decided to join his brother-in-law, and, furnished with strong recommendations to Mr. Brooks, he left Concord in the spring of 1846. The change was the turn of the tide for him, readily securing from Mr. Brooks a situation in which he could show his ability and real worth, he was soon promoted to higher positions, till, on the completion of the Michigan Central Railroad, of which Mr. Brooks was superintendent, Mr. Rice and Mr. Hurd were assistant superintendents, the one of the passenger and the other of the freight traffic. Mr. Rice’s headquarters were at Detroit, Michigan, and here he soon became as much at home as he had been in Concord, occupying a pleasant cottage on the best street of that city.
His acquaintance with all the Eastern men who had gathered in this growing place was, of course, intimate, and his good qualities were generally made known by his intercourse with the older residents. He took there the same interest in all that was going on, was as public-spirited and ready for work in every useful cause as he had been in Concord. His reverses had not embittered him, but had taught him charity and kindness, and he showed it in many benevolent ways. Many a New Englander going to or through Detroit enjoyed his hospitality and felt his grateful aid and assistance. To any one hailing from Concord there was no attention too great and no trouble too burdensome for him to undertake in their behalf.
These years of prosperity rolled on, the road increasing in its importance, his work for it improving in quality and quantity, until, when Mr. Brooks outgrew the limits of a single State and undertook the great Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, Mr. Rice became superintendent of the Michigan Central. In this capacity of chief manager he showed great tact, energy and ability. He had found his true vocation and the place for which he was fitted and he filled it with success. The Rebellion brought great labor and strain upon his road and his resources, but he was equal to the emergency and aided the Government in the transportation of troops and military stores efficiently.
He had frequent occasion to visit Washington on the business of the railroad, and he became well known to President Lincoln, Secretary Stanton, General Grant and other leaders in the nation’s struggle. He was intimate with Zach. Chandler, the Senator from Michigan, and was often relied on by the Senator for prompt and important services. Though not a politician, he had strong and patriotic convictions on public questions, and his loyalty to the nation and his friends was never questioned. He made few enemies, but nearly every one with whom he came in contact was impressed by his quick-witted, genial cleverness, and, if they saw him often, were sure to become his friends. An instance of this was the Prince of Wales, who, when traveling over the Michigan Central Railroad and its connections, was so much pleased with Mr. Rice’s unfailing courtesies and accommodations, that, on parting, he presented Mr. Rice with a diamond pin forming the Prince’s crest, which the receiver ever after wore with pride.
Another was that of Gen. Grant, who, when President Johnson was “swinging round the circle” at the West, was so annoyed by the calls for him to speak at the stations where the crowds met the President’s party, that he accepted Mr. Rice’s invitation to go to Detroit, and thus escaped a part of the circle. Gen. Grant never forgot this kindness and often spoke of Mr. Rice favorably afterwards.
In the opportunity he enjoyed for investments Mr. Rice had been fortunate, and in 1867, when he resigned the place on the railroad, he had become rich for his wants and for those of his family, consisting of his wife and an adopted daughter. He returned to Concord, and after a trip to Europe in 1867, and again in 1868, in which he went to Palestine and Egypt in the company of the Rev. Dr. Bellows, of New York, he took up his residence here in the town of his youth to pass the remainder of life in ease and comfort.
He had settled with all his old creditors and paid them in full. He purchased a fine estate on Main Street and built the best house in the village, taking great pride in perfecting every detail of its construction. He moved into it in January, 1872, and was happiest when he could welcome an old friend within its spacious rooms. In these many pleasant parties were held, notably the marriage of his daughter, Cora Belle Rice, to Richard Fay Barrett, of Concord, now secretary of the Middlesex Mutual Fire Insurance Co. and colonel on the staffs of Governor Ames and Governor Brackett. The young couple made their home with Mr. Rice and cheered his declining years, especially after the death of Mrs. Rice in 1880, when Mrs. Barrett filled her place in the household.
Another instance was the centennial meeting of the Social Circle, which was held March, 1882, at Mr. Rice’s house. He had been a member of this society before he left Concord, and was re-elected after his return here, in 1870. He took great pleasure in the meetings, and so much interest that the only instance of the presence of every one of the twenty-five members occurred at his house in 1880.
Though not a student Mr. Rice was a great reader fond of books of travel and biography rather than works of fiction, except those of the great novelists. He possessed a fine library of hundreds of volumes of standard works, and he had read most of them. This taste for reading led him to accept the only town office he would consent to fill, that of chairman of the Library Committee when the “Free Public Library” was established in its new building, in front of his home. To this he gave great attention and much time and thought, and he continued to discharge its duties while he lived, and he left by his will a bequest of $2000 to this library.
He took much interest in the historical matters connected with Concord, had a good memory of the traditions and events of its past annals, and gave the plan and paid the extra cost of rebuilding the bridge at the battle-ground in 1875, for a proper approach to the statue of the Minute-Man. He left also a bequest in his will of $2000 to an Antiquarian Society, for the collection and preservation of relics of the past.
In his charities he was so considerate and thoughtful that many received his aid without others knowing from whom it came, but that it was large and generous to all deserving causes was well known by his intimate friends. His will provided for several who had been pensioners of his bounty while he lived, and also liberal bequests to the Silent Poor Fund, and to the Female Charitable Society.
In his religious views he was Unitarian, and both at Detroit and Concord a useful and active member of the societies of that denomination, ready and willing to help in their work. He gave in his life $1000 towards the new Unitarian building in Boston, and at his death he devised his part of the estate adjoining the church of the First Parish in Concord to the Unitarian Society of the town.
In these pleasant lines he spent his last years, gratified by the birth of a grandson who was named for him, and the boy’s paternal grandfather, “Richard” “Rice,” and upon whom he lavished fondness and care without stint. After the death of his wife his own health failed, the asthma, which had troubled him for years, increased, and active exercise became impractical. But he was cheerful and hearty in his greeting of those who called while he was shut up, and enjoyed his games of whist, of which he was always very fond, even playing one on the top of the great pyramid of Egypt with his fellow-travelers. In the spring of 1885 he was confined to his house, and after a few weeks of illness he died June 25th, leaving a pleasant memory to all his friends and neighbors, and after a long, active and useful life.
His large estate, after providing for his dependent relatives and pensioners, and $2000 for the protection and care of the shade-trees in Concord, and the other bequests named, became his daughter’s and his grandson’s.
Thus ended a truly fortunate life, for the only reverse he suffered served to make better and kindlier the many years that remained to him.
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Mounted 18 Sept. 2010. rcwh.