- Digital Scholarship
- The Second Half: Lectures
- WJEC Grand Opening Celebrations
- 3rd Annual Haunted Whaleship
- Book Signing: "A Genius at His Trade"
- Film: "Most Likely to Succeed"
- Lecture Series: Whales in the Heart of the Sea
- Cartography Conference
- An Evening of Yoga & Music
- The GAEA Summit
- Annual Family Activities
- Community Programs
- Annual Events
- Moby-Dick Marathon
- Past Programs
OLD DARTMOUTH HISTORICAL SKETCH
Being the proceedings of the Meeting of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society, Water Street, New Bedford, Massachusetts, on September 29, 1908.
by Rebecca Williams Hawes
[Note.—The "Old Dartmouth Historical Sketches" will be published by the society quarterly, and may be purchased for ten cents each on application to the Secretary and also at Hutchinson's Book Store.]
Proceedings of the Meeting of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society
New Bedford, Massachusetts
September 29, 1908
New Bedford, Massachusetts
September 29, 1908
At the 21st regular meeting of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society the feature was the reading of a paper on "John Hawes." The paper was written by Miss Rebecca Williams Hawes, a grand-daughter of John Hawes, and was read by Miss Mary Hawes, his great-granddaughter, who is a cousin of Miss Rebecca Hawes.
There was a large attendance, when President Edmund Wood called the meeting to order.
President Wood touched briefly upon the two distinct branches of the society's work, the collection of objects of interest especially connected with the history of this locality; and the historical research. Of this first department, President Wood said the society was to be congratulated on having accumulated so extensive a museum collection in so short a time. He alluded to the reputation which it had given New Bedford, and said that a visit to the rooms was a most proper pilgrimage for former residents to make while visiting this locality in the summer.
With the approach of winter, the president said, the other department--that of historical research, was again coming to the fore, in the preparation, by members, of papers on the history of the past and the men and women connected with that past. The speaker said that the taking up of this work did not mean that the efforts of the museum section were to cease, as a very interesting program for the winter was being laid out. He concluded by expressing the hope that the owners of many valuable objects of historical nature would realize the appropriateness of the society rooms as a dwelling place for these properties.
President Wood then introduced Miss Hawes, who read the following paper:
By His Granddaughter, Rebecca Williams Hawes.
In his family Bible, now belonging to his great grandson and namesake, we read that John Hawes was the second son of Shubael Hawes, a captain in the Second Bristol County Regiment of Massachusetts in the Revolutionary army, who died in 1781, in his 43d year, and Elnathan, his wife, daughter of Robert Wrightington, also a Revolutionary soldier. She died in 1779 in her 40th year.
Nothing further was known of his ancestry until, within a few years, through the zeal and perseverance of his oldest grandson, a full record has been obtained, beginning with the pilgrim Edmund Hawes, who sailed from Southampton, England, in the ship James, April 6, 1633. He settled, in Duxbury, Mass., and later removed to Yarmouth. In the Yarmouth records he is set down as "late of London." He served in Yarmouth as deputy of the court 16 years, selectman 23 years, town clerk 25 years, and as assessor and chairman of land committee for short terms. The record further says: "He survived all the first settlers of Yarmouth and died June 9, 1693, about 80 years old. He was a man of education and good parts, and was a leading man in the town and county."
His grandson, Hon. Benjamin Hawes, born in Yarmouth, 1662, removed to Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, about 1700, and married there. Their son, Samuel Hawes, born in Edgartown in 1717, moved to Dartmouth, where he married, in 1736, Elizabeth, daughter of Lettice Jenne, of the Plymouth Colony settlers. He was the first of the name to establish a homestead in Dartmouth. He bought several acres of land, inherited by his wife's family, from John Ward, who owned 1000 acres in the northwestern part of the township, now Acushnet. This land was situated about half a mile north of Lund's corner, on the west side of the road leading from East Freetown. Here he built a house, afterward owned and occupied by his son Shubael Hawes, who died there in 1781, leaving the estate to five children, his wife having died two years before. In this house John Hawes was born. One room of the part originally built by his grandfather, Samuel, still remains, but is entirely built over by the house now standing on the original site. Shubael Hawes was a devoted father to his motherless children, and his son John always spoke of him with respect and affection.
Beyond the personal recollections of his widow, who survived him 35 years, we have no account of the early life of John, who was 13 years old at the time of his father's death. It was my privilege to be much with her in my childhood, and I never tired of hearing stories of the Revolutionary days and of my grandfather's early life. These last she repeated again and again, the last time on her 90th birthday, when she added "You must remember this for them all." Now, at "three score and ten" I have endeavored to recall as many as possible, and there is no one living to help me.
Shubael Hawes was a shipbuilder by trade, and had charge of the yard where many ships were built for the Russells and Rotches. His son often spoke of going to the yard at noontime, and sitting on the timbers while the father told him stories of the sea, and counseled him to learn all he could from his teachers and be a good boy, adding, "Perhaps you will live to command some of these ships I have built,"—a prophecy that was afterwards fulfilled.
At his death in 1781, John was given into the guardianship of an uncle who was about to emigrate to Saratoga County, N. Y., then a wilderness, who carried the boy with him. Of his life there he rarely spoke, but it was very evident that it was one of hardship and much unjust treatment, and that the boy, who later became the stern foe of injustice, found the situation unbearable on that account, and not because of physical trials. He was evidently a thoughtful, intelligent boy, and it was one of his greatest troubles that he was allowed no "schooling." When he was 15 years old, without money, he left his uncle's house at night, in midwinter, and walked and worked his way, "sometimes with bleeding feet," he said--back to Acushnet. On his arrival there he received a scant welcome. His sisters were married and gone, and his two uncles either could not, or would not, help him. In a letter to his oldest son written 20 years after, he says: "My greatest anxiety in life is for my children, having myself experienced the want of parents in my youth. I often reflect on the sufferings I endured; even those who professed the greatest friendship for my father when living, when he was dead they would hardly let me come into the house. However I have since both fed, and clothed, and educated some of their children."
The homeless orphan then took to the water, and at 19 years old, during the last years of the Revolutionary War, was master and part owner of a small coasting vessel, which carried supplies for the American army into Long Island sound, where it was once captured by a British frigate, and its crew held prisoners for a short time. The details of these experiences have faded from my childish memory, and I find no other record of them. During these years he made every possible effort to educate himself, studying and writing, and copying at night in his cabin, and receiving instruction, when on shore, from everyone who could teach him anything.
"When he became of age in 1789, his father's estate was settled, and he not only claimed his part, but bought out the other shares for which I find receipts dated 1793. In 1792, when 24 years old, he married Marcy, daughter of Stephen Taber of New Bedford. I find bills of this date, and again 1797, for 'repairs and painting of my house,' the one where he was born, built by his grandfather. They probably went to housekeeping immediately, and the family Bible records the birth of two sons and a daughter in the next ten years.
"His wife dying in 1803, he married in 1804, Mary Tallman Willis, daughter of William Tallman. To them were born four children, one dying in infancy, and the home became an ideal one for the seven children, who realized no distinctions of blood in the faithful care of both parents. As long as they lived, they recalled gratefully the incidents of their life together there.
"After his second marriage, he gradually gave up a seafaring life, and for the next twenty years lived in Acushnet— excepting two years in New Bedford, 1815-17 — fulfilling all the highest duties of a father, citizen and patriot. We do not find the date of his first appointment as justice of the peace, but it was probably about that time that his old title of Captain Hawes was changed to 'Squire Hawes.' In this capacity he became one of the leading men in the community. It was a post for which he was eminently fitted. Everything shows that he had a judicial mind, and that a stern sense of justice ruled every action. His widow said of him at this time, "For years and years, everyone, both in the church and out of it, came to Squire Hawes for advice and help. They brought him all their affairs, from fights over their fences to the settling of their estates, and he was like the good Samaritan, he never 'passed them by,' but was patient and helpful, even with unworthy." His office, as justice, was in his own home, a home that was the center of innumerable interests for nearly 30 years. He often brought from his office amusing stories of the people who consulted him there, and the children always responded eagerly when their elders were summoned to the parlor as witnesses to a marriage ceremony. From the list of these it would seem that he 'joined in the bonds of matrimony,' as the record phrases it, more people than did the ordained ministers around him. He had many firm friends among the Quakers, whose children, when marrying out of meeting and not wishing to employ a hireling for the service, generally came to his home instead, and he officiated often in the homes of his friends and relatives. Many of these certificates, some of them 100 years old, have been returned to the descendants of the parties. His reverent and impressive manner at such times was always remembered by those most interested. His was a home of boundless hospitality, and for many years, both before and after the founding of the Methodist church, was the headquarters of all the Methodist preachers within a large circuit. At the earliest conferences, not only was the house filled, but the barn was so filled with saddle horses that the squire's horses and cows were turned into the meadows. Father Taylor was a constant visitor, and so was the eccentric Rev. Dr. Maffit, who once made a long stay with his wife and large family, including twin babies. Another eccentric visitor was the celebrated Lorenzo Dow, whose delivery of his sermons here was punctuated by throwing the cushions from the pulpit in his excitement, and who was so absentminded that he walked directly by the chaise waiting for him at the door to take him to Fairhaven, and started on foot, across the fields, in a heavy storm. It is also recalled that on their way to a conference at Nantucket, 15 ministers left their saddle horses to be taken care of for the week.
There are many pleasant stories of him at this time, from which to form some idea of his personality. In his home, in church meetings and in his public and private business he seems to have shown a native dignity that never failed. He was of medium size, stoutly built, and extremely neat in person, with fair skin and light brown hair. His daughter-in-law describes him, as he drove up to the custom house in his bellows-topped chaise, "He was a man of stately presence, gracious and serene, ever careful in his dress, wore bottle green broadcloth--only parsons wore black in those days--a buff vest, white neck cloth and a ruffled shirt." The only picture ever taken of him, a small oil painting made in Liverpool when he was about 30 years old, repeats these details of his dress. His children remember playing with the tassels of his "Wellington boots" brought from England. Daniel Ricketson writes of him. "He was a retired and respected shipmaster, a man of commanding presence, well dressed in the style of that day, and wore a white beaver hat." My father, his youngest son, said of him: "He was always firm, but never harsh. I never heard him laugh aloud, but his smile I can never forget. It was always reward enough when we pleased him." A daughter of Abram Smith, my maternal great-grandfather, for 20 years postmaster of New Bedford, told me when she was 80 years old, "as a child I often went from the post office room to the next one, used for the custom house. Squire Hawes always made me welcome with a pleasant smile; I have never since heard the word 'serene' without thinking of him." Another, the daughter of an old sea captain, on hearing a few years ago that he had a living namesake, said: "I am glad to know someone lives to bear that name: it is one I was taught to reverence."
"The history of this interesting household would not be complete without special mention of the "house mother", his second wife, Mary Tallman Willis, who for 20 years as his helpmate, and after his death, fulfilled all the duties bequeathed to her, surviving him 35 years, and dying in New Bedford where she was born, in her 91st year.
"At the time of their marriage she was the widow of Samuel Willis, with one daughter, ten years old, afterwards the wife of Dr. Alexander Read, and he was a widower with one daughter and two sons, and to these seven children she was a mother so just and loving that her youngest stepson never knew, until he was 19 years old, that he was not her own son.
"In appearance and temperament she was a direct contrast to her husband. She was of medium size, with marked features, dark complexion, with bright dark eyes, quick in her movements, had a "quick wit," a positive genius for seeing the bright side, and an unfailing cheerfulness and patience in dealing with the inevitable cares and anxieties of this large family, as well as those of the varied interests of her husband's public and private business. For 20 years she was the "main spring" of the Acushnet home, regulating it with unfailing tact, and joining her husband in its unbounded hospitalities. Their last Acushnet home, still standing and well preserved, was sold at his death, 1824, to his neighbor, Mr. Russell, whose son, George Russell, when very old, told me, "I remember them well, and they were fine people. My father who had always known her, said Mrs. Hawes was a high stepper and a good manager." I remember once, after Captain Hawes had started on a voyage to London, she made up her mind that the house was not big enough; "her new baby crowded the other children." So she sent for a carpenter the very next day, and had another story added to the back part of the house, which was very old. When he returned the bill had been paid and the rooms were in use and when she asked him if she had done right, he, answered, "you always do right, wife."
"From her childhood she had a pleasant gift of rhyming, and after her death I found little rhyming notes, written in 1769, when she was ten years old, to her playmate Hannah Pope. The Tallman and Pope homesteads, on the present Acushnet Avenue, were separated by a brook, and a hollow tree, overhanging its bank, was their post office. In later years she always carried paper and pencil in her pocket, and often stopped in her work to "set down her thoughts." Gifts to her children and grandchildren all had a bright loving verse added to them. Often a gift of food to a sick neighbor would have its "line," and long, interesting, beautifully written letters to her children were carefully preserved. When she became blind, in her last years, she often called me to her and said "Bring pencil and paper, I have some thoughts to set down."
If John Hawes ever entered the whaling service, it must have been soon after the close of the Revolutionary War, but there is no record of it. His first voyage to Europe of which I find a record is in 1793. He made several voyages there before 1795, and was once one of only two survivors of a shipwreck. Later he was given charge of a shipping agency in Dunkirk, France, in company with William Rotch Jr., of New Bedford, Thomas Macy of Nantucket and Jeremiah Winslow of Portland. On the breaking out of the French revolution Mr. Rotch left France with Mr. Hawes, bringing a large amount of specie hidden in the ceiling of the ship's cabin, none but those two knowing of its existence. They were chased by pirates, and Mr. Rotch, losing confidence in his sailing master, gave the command to young Hawes, who brought the ship and treasure safely to New Bedford.
"After his return from France he became a successful captain in the foreign and coasting merchant service, in the employ of New York and New Bedford merchants. There are letters from the Posts, Grinnells, Howlands, Minturns, Hazards, Rotches, Russells, Fishes and others, and as carefully preserved copies of his replies to many of them. They form a collection that any man might be proud to leave to his children. Would that all his children could have lived to see them! While the majority are on business, all have personal expressions of their reliance on his judgment and 'integrity'—that good old fashioned word is often used—and many have postscripts about personal matters that are very pleasant reading. One letter from Gilbert Russell, afterward his brother-in-law, in formal business words, ends impulsively, 'I regret to hear you are not well. I beg you to take good care of yourself, for good men are scarce.'
"Soon after his first marriage, during one of his visits in London, he happened one evening into a crowded religious meeting, where he was greatly interested by the fervor and eloquence of the speaker. On his return to his lodgings, in the house of an old Quaker lady, on telling what he had heard, she said, 'Why, thee has been among the Methodees!' On his return to Acushnet he found that the trustees of the Congregational church, of which he was a member, had, according to the church law then in force, levied on the property of some aged neighbors, unable, through sickness and poverty, to attend services or pay their church tithes. Choosing what seemed to be their most valuable personal effects, the officers had literally 'despoiled their very hearthstone' by carrying off the brass andirons from their only fireplace, and offering them for sale in the village store. He immediately bought and returned them, and severed his connection with the church that seized them. The very next Sunday his pew was empty, and remained so. He soon turned definitely to the faith which realized his personal principles of love and justice. The stern Puritan doctrine had never been acceptable to him, and the new atmosphere of Christian fellowship was very grateful. Methodist preachers from Boston were invited to hold meetings in his house, and a class was formed of which he was the first leader. In 1805, Rev. Epaphras Kibby held the first public services, followed by Father Taylor, Mr. Maffitt and others, and when the church was finally organized in 1807 he gave a lot, timber, and money for the first building. The deed of the lot stipulates that it should revert to his heirs if ever diverted from the use of this church, and his children were pledged to fulfill his wish. To their loyalty to this pledge, this congregation now owes the present church at Acushnet on the spot now consecrated by 100 years of the faithful service of five generations.
"The original contract for the first building, signed by Henry Remington and Stephen Davis, housewrights, and John Hawes, Esq., was found among his papers, and has been given, with others, to the present church trustees, to be preserved with the later records. The only description of the building that I recall is that it had one door in front, one aisle in the middle of the plain benches which served for seats. Being hard of hearing ,Mr. Hawes sat in a large chair in front of the pulpit, among the singers, who sat on the front bench, and Capt. Gordon, with his pitch pipe, led the tunes.
"When he gave up his seafaring life, he became interested in many business enterprises. In his shipyard on the Acushnet River, he was builder and part owner of seven vessels, and he formed several business partnerships, besides building salt works at Bellville. At one time, in partnership with Joseph Wheldon, they carried on their business in the building, now in ruins, afterward used as one of the first cotton mills in America. This partnership of Hawes & Wheldon was begun in 1819. There are papers of Hawes & Taber (his brother-in-law, Stephen) from 1811 to 1814; Hawes & Haskell, no date. In 1813 the shipyard 'on Sam.'l Perry, Esq.'s, land,'--John Hawes, part owner,--was leased by William Kempton. At this time he was nominated collector, and disposed of his ship interests. In 1822 there are accounts of his interest in 'candle works,' and contract for building 'salt works,' the only business papers I find at this time outside of his collectorship.
"For ten years, from 1805, he felt the general depression of business preceding and during the war with England, 1812-15. In political matters he early took a firm stand, and in 1807 was elected representative to the Massachusetts legislature from New Bedford for one term. Political excitement was intense, and he was defeated as a candidate for the same office in 1808. As ship owner and merchant, he suffered much from the Embargo, both of France and England. He writes to his son in 1811, 'I am unable to collect from my many interests enough to defray the necessary expenses of my family, and there is absolute need in the community which I am unable to relieve.' In the same year he writes: 'I devote much time to the farm and the boys (then 9 and 11 years old) have been of real service to me in getting in the harvest. It is, however, so small that I shall send you, by packet, a quantity of bags which I wish you to ship promptly to be filled with corn in a southern market.'
"As justice, he had waged a steady war against the universal persistence of smugglers, and as ship owner he lost heavily, saying, 'I would rather all my vessels would rot at the wharf than to trade with the enemy, or ask my captains to take a false oath at the custom house.' Of course he incurred the lasting hatred and opposition of disloyal custom house officers, and when his name was first presented for appointment as collector of New Bedford, in 1808, he was defeated by his political opponent, who became his bitter, personal enemy.
"In 1812 he was one of the organizers of the New Bedford Bible society, and was chosen its first president, and the same year he was authorized to issue a warrant calling on the inhabitants of Fairhaven to vote upon the question of establishing the township, and to preside at the meeting until the election of a moderator. He was also head of the committee appointed to build a 'Town House' in Fairhaven, then New Bedford. There seems to have been no limit to the calls upon his time and strength.
"On taking possession of the custom house he soon revolutionized the administration of its affairs, fighting within it, as he had long fought without, against all disloyalty, and establishing there the orderly, painstaking, loyal service he had always given to his private, judicial and church work. That he was utterly fearless in the discharge of his duty is shown by copies, in his own handwriting, of letters written to both friend and foe. The bitter opposition of his political enemies, beginning with his first election to the legislature in 1807, was continued entirely through his collectorship and was ended only by his death in 1824. A personal letter from his 'good and true' friend, Thomas Hazard Jr., written in 1818, when he had held the office four years, warned him of fresh attempts of his enemies to have him removed. Charges of dishonesty and disloyalty among the employees of his office were also reported, and he was urged to watch carefully, lest there might be some grounds for them, which would result in injury to himself.
There are many other interesting letters from this good old Quaker, who left all his business interests in New Bedford in the care of John Hawes. In one he says, "Do as you judge best in all matters, I trust you entirely." Among other long ones are those of the old Quaker, Capt. Preserved Fish, many of them political, in which he strongly, but in a friendly spirit, objects to Friend Hawes' opposition to the old Federal party. The letters of these sterling friends show them to have been intelligent, loyal, practical men, and personal matters, freely discussed in them, show a close friendship, valued by them all.
The issuing of the Embargo Act marked the beginning of several years that tried men's souls, especially those of government officers, who tried faithfully to perform the duties of their offices. A recent article on the condition of affairs at that time says: "They were hard days for revenue officers. Many of the most prominent merchants of the largest seaports, when their trade was practically ruined by the embargo, sent out their ships as privateers. Many of them honestly and firmly believed in their right to seize all they could, and enter it free of duty, and many more, utterly devoid of principle, preyed on friend and foe alike." I find many copies of search warrants issued by John Hawes, justice, giving authority to search for smuggled goods in New Bedford and Fairhaven. This was the beginning of the general opposition to Mr. Weston, who was appointed collector in 1808. I find receipted bills of a Boston lawyer to "John Hawes for services in his contention with Isaiah Weston."
The Centennial number of The Morning Mercury, issued in 1907, gives an account of this long contention, and adds, "It was not long afterwards that Mr. Weston, the collector, was removed, and John Hawes, Esq., appointed in his place." This was five years after he had been first nominated for the office and defeated by Mr. Weston. Meanwhile, he had again served as a member of the Massachusetts legislature, for Fairhaven, in the session of 1813-14. His honorable and faithful service there, convincing his fellow citizens of his fitness for the service of the United States government, he was again nominated for the collectorship. A copy of this petition, sent to Washington at this time, records that some of the signers, "being convinced of the unfitness of the present collector for the office, and that all his charges against Mr. Hawes were unfounded," asked the appointment of John Hawes, etc.
After building his house in Acushnet, in 1817, Mr. Hawes rode daily to the custom house, returning at night. Up to a few weeks before his death he dined at Nelson's tavern, and I find numerous bills, one only two inches square, which reads:
Esq. Hawes, to 17 dinners, $3.12.
In April, 1815, he removed his family to New Bedford, to be nearer the custom house, renting there the house of his friend, Thomas Hazard, now standing on Water Street, but he was greatly annoyed by the constant opposition and abuse of his disloyal neighbors there. This, added to the strain of his official duties and his personal business and home duties, affected his health seriously, and by the advice of physicians he took a long rest and change of scene, travelling from New Bedford to Saratoga Springs, N. Y., in a chaise, accompanied by his wife, who kept a daily journal, which we now have. Neatly written in ink, sometimes on her lap in the chaise, while the horse was fed, often at night, when her husband slept, it is an interesting and amusing manuscript. The chaise was new, also the horsehair trunk strapped on behind; the horse was strong and trusty, and the return journey was made in six weeks from their departure, in September. But a few miles from the Springs stood the home of the uncle from whom he fled in his boyhood. His uncle's aged wife was still living, and when he one day made himself known to her she showed great emotion. The journal says: "With streaming eyes she welcomed the honored and beloved man, who, 40 years before, a helpless, unhappy orphan, left her door to begin a new life. Now he stood before her a noble, loyal, successful man, in his prime."
The use of the water at the Springs did not seem to benefit him, and they remained but a short time, but the rest and change strengthened him, and he resumed his official duties. In 1817, he returned to Acushnet, bought an old homestead, and added to it the large house now standing east of the stone bridge and next to the home of Judge Spooner. He and his family gladly returned to a country home, and the change was a happy one. Here he passed the last seven years of his life, riding daily to New Bedford and enjoying, when there, the companionship of many valued friends.
A chronic dropsical affection of the chest, caused by exposure in his early life, slowly and steadily increased, but almost to the last he went to his office in the custom house where his faithful deputy kept watch during his absence. He bore his increasing weakness and pain patiently, calmly setting his household and business cares in perfect order, as he had always done. On his death he delivered to another guardian the property left by his two brothers which he had held many years for their children; principal and interest were untouched, although he had clothed and educated them meanwhile. Squire Spooner, to whom the charge was given, said: "It was a most affecting sight to see this good steward of the Lord give up his stewardship, faithful unto death."
He died on the evening of Dec. 29, 1824, aged only 56 years.
"Behold the upright man! For the
end of that man is peace."
In the summer of 1906 I was requested by a committee of the Methodist Episcopal church of Acushnet, of which John Hawes was the founder, to prepare a short personal sketch of him to be read at the centennial celebration of that church in September, 1907. At that time I gave what small help I could to Mr. Franklyn Howland, for the history of the church he was then preparing. It was always a great regret to his children that there were no records of his later life, and there was very little reliable material for any account of him.
All his books and papers were given, at his death, to his oldest son and executor, John A. Hawes, of Fairhaven, who duly administered the estate and was then supposed to have destroyed them. He died three years after his father, in 1827, leaving two very young sons who never knew anything of their grandfather's affairs. By a very strange and remarkable coincidence, at the very time the first steps were taken to mark this centennial, all these letters and papers were accidentally found by the widow of his grandson, John A. Hawes Jr., in a chest stored in the old Fairhaven Academy. Instead of destroying, the executor had carefully preserved and refiled them, adding many of his own letters from and to his father. At his death, others of his own papers had been placed above them, and although some of these were afterward referred to by his heirs, the oldest ones, those of John Hawes, remained at the bottom, unknown and untouched for 82 years. As I happened to be in New Bedford at the time they were found, they were all given into my care, the first thought being merely to obtain dates, etc., connected with this church anniversary and Mr. Howland's history of Acushnet, but I soon found that a much larger trust had been "laid upon me," as the Quakers say.
I have since carefully sorted and read more than two thousand of these letters and papers, varying from small bills and receipts not more than two inches square, to long legal papers. Beginning in 1792 at the time of his marriage, when he was twenty-four years old, the oldest are marked "My accounts since I became a householder." They furnish a minute history of the last thirty years of his useful, busy life. Most of them were in his own handwriting. Printed forms were few in those days, and paper was scarce and expensive, and hundreds of pages of carefully copied legal papers and business letters show how the "unlettered youth" developed into the well-trained, intelligent, painstaking, upright business man.
There are copies of business and political letters from his tried and true friends, neatly kept small books of his personal expenses, copies innumerable of local and government papers, yearly files of bills and receipts, accounts and contracts connected with the Methodist church, papers relating to his administration of several estates--a wonderful record of his faithful stewardship of the affairs of his fellow men.
I have attempted no extended history of his life, nor any eulogy of his honored name, but have tried, in connection with this memorial, and from written and spoken words, simply to show to his children's children here, and to you his successors in this household of faith, the personality of the man himself. Would that I could also make plain to you what I have read between the lines of these papers committed to my care, and, more than all, the fragrance, so real to me, that has exhaled from those dusty and worm-eaten records of a "just life."
REBECCA WILLIAMS HAWES.
"Do as you judge best in all matters,
I trust you entirely."
In a letter to John Hawes from Thomas Hazard Jr.