- Digital Scholarship
- NRP Sagres Visit
- Beginner's Drawing Class
- Summer 2015 Family Programs
- Free Fun Fridays
- New Bedford Mansions Book Launch
- July Painting with a Splash FOR KIDS!
- Jewelry Trunk Show & Lecture
- Over the Top Gala
- Members’ Trip to Porto, Portugal
- The Second Half: Fall Lecture Series
- The GAEA Summit
- Annual Family Activities
- Community Programs
- Annual Events
- Moby-Dick Marathon
- Past Programs
OLD DARTMOUTH HISTORICAL SKETCH
Being the proceedings of the Fall meeting of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society, held at Padanaram (South Dartmouth) on September 30, 1903
by Hon. Wm. W. Crapo
LANDMARKS OF RUSSELL'S MILLS
by Miss Myra B. Howland
TRADITIONS OF PADANARAM
by L. A. Littlefield
THE SALT INDUSTRY OF PADANARAM
by Ellis L. Howland
[Note.--The Old Dartmouth Historical Sketches will be published from time to time and may be purchased for a nominal sum on application to the Secretary, Ellis L. Howland, at New Bedford.]
Proceedings of the Fall Meeting of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society
September 30, 1903
September 30, 1903
The fall quarterly meeting of the society was held at Padanaram in the afternoon, in two sessions: first a clambake at "Laban's Folly" Hotel, and second, a historical meeting, held in the Yacht club house, by courtesy of the club. At the clambake the following were recorded as present, though many more attended the meeting in the club house:
Charles W. Agard William B. Fisher Charles W. Clifford
George H. H. Allen Henry S. Hutchinson Annie H. Wing
Clara R. Hussey W. R. Wing George A. Briggs
Clarence R. Sherman Clara E. Sherman William H. Humphrey
Sophia W. G. Pettey Miss E. M. Gould Winston Stephens
Mrs. Winston Stephens Gardner T. Sanford Mary B. Sanford
Maria E. Maxfield Mrs. Ellen M. Lapham Mrs. Elizabeth J. Howland
William E. Hatch Mary Gibbs Littlefield L. A. Littlefield
Nancy P. Delano Mrs. Esther D. Dunn B. Penniman
Harriet A. Church Harriet E. Tripp Juliet A. M. Barney
Annie M. Washburn W. K. Wagner M. B. Wagner
Henry B. Worth Mrs. Clara P. Lawton Ellis L. Howland
Mrs. Mary M. Howland James H. Hathaway Mrs. Mary E. Hathaway
Thomas R. Plummer Almeda R. Watson Sarah W. Seabury
Elizabeth Watson Nellie L. Thompson Mrs. Benjamin Wilcox
Mrs. Walter S. Allen Frank Wood Mrs. Frank Wood
Mrs. Annie E. Sherman Gilbert N. Collins Benjamin Anthony
Celia L. Anthony Mr. and Mrs. William H. Matthews
Mr. and Mrs. B. J. Potter Mr. and Mrs. Mayhew R. Hitch
Mrs. Helen C. Gifford Mrs. William Prescott Hunt Charles H. Gifford
Mr. and Mrs. S. T. Hawes Amelia B. Sears Miss S. E. Seabury
Miss C. O. Seabury Sarah E. Worth Isaac B. Tompkins Jr.
Sarah E. Tompkins W. J. Nickerson M. E. Nickerson
James L. Sherman N. D. Phinney Annie C. Phinney
Dora F. Terry Maria F. Tripp Helen C. Tripp
George H. Tripp E. N. Milliken Lucy Milliken Burt
Henry P. Burt C. H. Gifford Edith B. Gifford
Charles E. Benton J. M. Simms Mr. and Mrs. Harry M. Church
Joseph S. Swaim Frederic G. Hillman Emma R. Hall
Mrs. Rufus A. Soule Mrs. Garry deN Hough Mrs. N. A. Stanley
Mrs. William A. Russell Mrs. Elizabeth P. Paige Estelle M. Hurll
Mary E. Bradford M. Alice Fish Mary Burritt Sheldon
Emma R. Anthony George S. Anthony William H. Waterman
J. K. Hayes Abbie D. Whitney S. C. Church
L. M. Church Mrs. H. L. Hayes Mrs. S. R. Crowell
Miss Mary B. Seabury Miss Helen H. Seabury J. V. Spare
H. M. Spare Charles H. Lawton Mrs. Mary E. Lawton
Thomas P. Gordon Mary E. Allen M. E. B. Mosher
Mr. and Mrs. John Howland Susan G. Howland
Alice W. Howland Mrs. William A. Kirby William A. Kirby
Amy A. Kirby J. Arnold Wright Helen G. Luce
Charles T. Luce George E. Briggs Job C. Tripp
Mrs. Job C. Tripp Mrs. B. H. Waite William F. Williams
Martin L. Eldredge Elizabeth L. Perry Anna L. Williams
Ida M. Elliot E. R. Hussey E. M. Hussey
E. B. Gillingham James L. Gillingham Mrs. E. B. Gray
B. Franklin Wordell H. C. Vaughan William A. Wing
Patty Wilcox George W. Wady Mr. and Mrs. E. T. Covell
Elmira M. Watson Mr. and Mrs. John L. Baylies
Mr. and Mrs. George R. Stetson Mrs. William B. Macomber
Mrs. Charles M. Taber Mrs. Arthur H. Jones Charles S. Kelley
L. D. Eldred Albion T. Brownell William F. Potter
Alice W. Potter Dr. and Mrs. M. H. Leonard
Mr. and Mrs. Franklin E. Smith
When President Crapo rapped to order there were few available places in the hall, the entire room being occupied and portions of the piazza. President Crapo used a gavel made from a whale's tooth, which was presented to the society by William A. Wing. Mr. Crapo made a brief historical address in introducing the speakers, and following him three papers were read: "Landmarks of Russells Mills," by Miss Myra B. Howland of Russells Mills; "Traditions of Padanaram," by L. A. Littlefield of Padanaram, and "The Padanaram Salt Industry," by Ellis L. Howland of this city, secretary of the society.
The papers were listened to with interest and applause, and a vote of thanks rewarded the speakers.
Opening Address by Hon. W. W. Crapo
"The Old Dartmouth Historical Society comes today to the mother town to hold its September session. The locality is full of historical interest. The ancient town was organized by virtue of an order from the Plymouth court, in 1664, and it embraces the territory conveyed 12 years previous by Wasamequin and Wamsutta to William Bradford and others. It was called Dartmouth by order of the court. Two years before the organization of the town, however, the people of Plymouth called on King Philip to appoint an agent to specify the boundaries. This he assented to and appointed an Indian to do this work. I have thought that perhaps the Pilgrim forefathers had some other purpose in mind than the mere defining of the boundaries; that as the deed was signed only by Wasamequin and Wamsutta, they may have desired to secure King Philip's assent to it. The work was done and the boundaries declared to be: Three miles east of the banks of the Acushnet River; running west to a flat rock on the west side of the Acoaxet River, and extending inland eight miles.
"In 1787 the territory's area was reduced by the setting off of Westport and New Bedford, and in more recent years the exigencies of New Bedford have resulted in taking off slices and annexing them to New Bedford. But this, the present town of Dartmouth, is one of the largest in area of the commonwealth. Plymouth, I believe, leads in the number of square miles of territory, and Dartmouth comes next.
"It was a wise custom of the Indians to make yearly visitation to this locality for clambakes. You have adopted this custom, and after partaking of an old-fashioned clambake, in harmony of the habits of your ancestors, you are here to listen to accounts of the early history of the town. I do not wish to anticipate the narratives you are about to enjoy. I only wish to call attention to the rich store of historical material to be found in the present town of Dartmouth.
"About 1662, Ralph Russell and Anthony Slocum came here from Taunton. Russell had previously made iron at Taunton, in company with the Leonards, who went there from Middleboro. He settled at Russells Mills, where he manufactured iron from the bog ores of that vicinity. Who can tell the spot where his forge was located, or how many years the business was carried on?
"Anthony Slocum went down on the neck, and established his home on the west bank of the Paskamansett. Who can tell the spot where he met his death? He was killed by the Indians in 1675, during King Philip's War.
There was formerly a fulling mill at Russells Mills. Who was its original constructor, and for how many years did it do service? Who built the dam at that picturesque spot in Russells Mills, and who first used the water as power for a saw mill?
"In my boyhood I remember the old grist mill in the vicinity. The miller was a genial old man, and the little boys were very fond of him. When he was not watching the work of the mill wheel, he was engaged at his workbench, making hand-made hay-rakes for the farmers, who considered them much superior in quality to those made elsewhere.
"Then the Russell garrison at Apponegansett and the location of the stockade should be noted. Not enough prominence has been given to Dartmouth's part in the Indian wars. Where are the records of the victims, and the devastation wrought by the savage warriors?
"Then there is the inexhaustible mine of historical exploration to be found in the conflict between the Plymouth church and the Quakers of Dartmouth, with bigotry on one side, and grim, stubborn resistance on the other. Every incident in this struggle for religious liberty should be gathered and preserved before it is lost in oblivion.
"At Padanaram, too, shipbuilding was once a flourishing industry. Who can tell us what whalers, fishing craft and coasters were built here, and the history of these vessels?
"I remember an occurrence which took place in Padanaram harbor. It was told to me by Joseph Grinnell years ago. It happened at the time of the embargo in the War of 1812. Congress passed an act prohibiting the departure of vessels from our ports, and the law proved distasteful, especially to the people in this region. But British cruisers were about, and our shipping was liable to capture. Mr. Grinnell, at the time was a young man, about 23 years of age, deputy collector and surveyor of the port of New Bedford. At Padanaram, Bradford Howland had a vessel which was fitted for sea, and he was determined that she should sail. Mr. Grinnell was ordered by the collector to take a squad of men and prevent the sailing of the vessel. This occurrence had its humorous as well as its serious side. One of the mistakes of my life--I am willing to confess to one--is that I did not write out the facts, but I didn't. I think some of the older people here may have heard the other side of this story. There is a wide field for investigation right here, and it may prompt Dartmouth men and women to gather up the traditions which remain.
"We are making a beginning today in that direction, and what the Old Dartmouth Historical Society desires is your sympathy and co-operation."
Landmarks of Russells Mills
By Miss Myra B. Howland
In reading an intensely interesting historical paper by Ellis L. Howland, I was forcibly moved by these words: "When in 1746 the legislatures of Massachusetts and Rhode Island determined the boundary line between the two states and cut off from old Dartmouth the towns of Little Compton and Tiverton, they robbed Massachusetts of one of the most interesting historical sections of all her area." As I have already said, I was "forcibly moved," but cheered to think we still had enough of charming scenery left to make our little village one of the most picturesque little hamlets in eastern New England. This pretty little village, seven miles from New Bedford, and 13 miles from Little Compton, and her wealth of "colonial relics," nestled among the trees, commanding a fine view of the fair Paskamansett River, is one of the prettiest villages one can find.
This tiny village was settled in 1650 by Ralph Russell, who in company with John Russell and Anthony Slocum operated the iron forge so long extinct. How we can almost hear the busy hum of machinery, and catch a glimpse of the busy workmen as they hammer the metal. To the Russells truly belong the honor of having founded our historic Russell Mills, and so many of us feel like saying, Hail to the Russells! We learn from history "that from the early date over 250 years since there has been no date in the annals of the old mother town of Dartmouth or of the vigorous branches of the parent tree, when the name of Russell was not borne by many who proved worthy founders of our dear hamlet." "On the 29th of November, 1654, a conveyance was made by an Indian chief, Wasamequin, and Wamsutta, his son, of the territory now comprising the towns of Westport, Dartmouth, New Bedford, Fairhaven and Acushnet to William Bradford, Captain Standish, Thomas Southworth, John Winslow, John Cook and their associates." In 1664 Dartmouth was incorporated, and John Russell was sent as the first representative to the general court at Plymouth.
The occupation in the early days was the running of mills--grist mills, shingle mills, woolen mills; also a carding machine where wool was carded into rolls. The Indians were here before 1654. Very recently I was shown a small basket, made and given by an Indian to Philip Gidley when he was six years of age. Mr. Gidley was born in 1791. The relic of the early days--112 years old--is now in possession of Mr. Benjamin Gidley, a son of the late Philip. Our esteemed citizens, Job Scott Gidley, and Angeline Ricketson, were also children of the late Philip Gidley. One of the old landmarks of Russells Mills which I think I should mention first is the grist mill owned and operated by James Allen 2nd, formerly owned by Elihu Howland, whose country residence is still near the spot, and we may go back one more generation to Allen Howland, the father of Mr. Elihu Howland, who formerly ran the same mill. I know of no more charming spot in Russells Mills to visit. Not only does one become interested in the industry of grinding the corn, the meal of which has become to be in such great demand at the present day, but the scenery around the mill is simply beyond description. The peaceful water dotted here and there with the lily and cardinal flower, the overhanging branches of the trees, the whole forming one grand picture, which one is unable to describe, but the beauty of which is ever with them. It is near this spot that Mrs. John Q. Howland and Miss Sara have selected their home for the summer months. One is ever finding new beauty in Russells Mills. Very truly has it been said, "God made the country, while man made the town." One Sabbath recently I found a little brook, the same stream which furnishes the power to run James Allen's mill, and I am told 100 years since a mill was erected on the spot. This pretty little brook has been carefully cleaned, a water-fall has been made, also a rustic seat been arranged, the work being done by of our town's boys, Carlton Smith, who was twelve years of age when he took such an interest to furnish to seekers after rural life this charming spot.
Most of you who have ever visited Russells Mills are familiar with "Observatory Rock." This place is of particular interest to me from the fact that I am told my father, in 1842, climbed to the top of the observatory which was held by iron bolts to the rock, and threw a flag to the breeze. This place was visited by many, an admission fee being charged to ascend the many steps, where from the top one was rewarded by a fine outlook. In April, 1852, it was blown down and deposited; it remains in the cemetery below. At own time there were two bowling alleys at Russells Mills. But they seem to be older than the oldest resident. I can obtain no date of their being erected, but they must have been here for more than a century. One was at the residence of William A. Smith; the other near the residence of the late Alfred Leonard. One little spot in Russells Mills, known, perhaps, the best of any place in the village, must not be forgotten, viz., "Gammage's mountain." Thereby hangs a tale, and while bringing chagrin and mortification to me, will ever stand out as a monument to my ignorance. When I was perhaps eight years of age and attending the very old schoolhouse, which has since been converted into Grange Hall, our lesson in geography one day was upon "Mountains." Finally our teacher said; "How many in the class have ever seen a mountain?" Now I had never heard this elevation called other than "Gammage's mountain," so I had become to believe it really was a mountain. Imagine my waving my hand in ecstasy, the only one in the class who had ever seen a mountain, and very likely ashamed of my fellow pupils, who were so ignorant and had not reached my goal. Before I had waved my hand from my body in my eagerness to impart my knowledge, the teacher said very calmly, "Well, Myra, what mountain have you seen?" And I was not one bit modest of my knowledge, but exclaimed with a great deal of assurance, in tone loud enough to be heard by the whole school, "Gammage's!" "How hath the mighty fallen!" The pupils laughed me to scorn until the teacher had to stop the uproar and all the time I was so innocent, simply believing what I was told. This eminence is just opposite the Paskamansett River.
Another place of interest is the Old Meeting House bridge. Everyone is familiar with it; it is very near the old Apponegansett Friends Meeting House. When the report of the bicentennial was give, in July, 1899, I quote these words: "Few religious societies in America are privileged to look back over a period of 200 years and furnish to the present generation and unbroken record of their transactions for two centuries." To Dr. E. T. Tucker we are indebted for the History of the Friends.
The old mill near the Cummings estate is to many of interest, one of the earliest recollections of the oldest resident. While we sigh with regret to see the old water-wheel going to destruction and the whole spot looking so dilapidated we feel very thankful that Mr. Tirrell gave us an opportunity, let what may happen of decay, to keep fresh in our minds by the aid of a camera, the old "Cummings Mill." We must not forget to speak of the "Fresh River." It has its rise in the Watuppa Ponds near Fall River, pursuing its flow to Smith Mills, down by the old Friends Apponegansett Meeting House, still flowing on and affording the power which formerly ran our mills, going on and on, and meeting the Paskamansett River, and at last getting lost in the crooked channel beyond.
"Weren't ships fitted from Russells Mills?" I hear someone say. Yes the shipyard was just below the landing. We have a beautiful story which has been preserved for our entertainment, of one ship which sailed from Russells Mills [Dartmouth] and was never heard from. The story is called Grandfather's Pocket Book. The story is founded on fact, of the ship which never returned to old Dartmouth, but which sailed from its port. The pocket book which I borrowed for the occasion is the property of the late Gideon Smith of Dartmouth.
Grandfather's pocketbook, faded and old!
Years three score and ten have over it rolled
Since the day and the hour when it was new,
And the sheen on it wore its glossiest hue.
Now 'tis gray with the touch of time's moldy fingers,
The hard prints of which on it still lingers.
'Tis made of morocco, once shining and red,--
Grandfather bought it the day he was wed!
He looked on its contents with little less pride
Than he gazed on his fair, his beautiful bride;
For that he well knew would keep want from the door,
And a welcome would give to the weary and sore.
'Tis a joy to gaze on this pocketbook old--
With its cavernous cells for silver and gold.
It brings to our thoughts the time far away
When these were plenty as the script of today;
When sovereigns and guineas of genuine gold,
And great silver dollars were made in a mold.
Look! Here's a letter, all blotted with tears,
Yellow with age, and stained by the years:--
'Tis a love letter and reads much the same
As letters this day of a similar name:--
It begins with "My Darling," and tells of a love
Earnest as that of the angels above;
'Tis directed to grandmother, her maiden name,
And there seems to be in it a shadow of blame
That their wedding day is so far away--
['Tis just a year from the date to the day].
It says: From Cape Cod to Boston he rode in a stage--
And grandfather's name's at the end of the page.
And here's a lock of grandfather's hair!
As curling and black, as shining and fair,
As when grandmother's scissors it cut from his head,
On his twenty-first birthday, when he lovingly said,--
"Take, Susan, I pray, the whole of my head."
And that was the way he asked her to wed.
Here's their marriage certificate, crumpled and torn.
See where 'twas folded, how it was worn!
'Twas the year eighteen hundred the ink was wet,
Just two years from the time my grandparents met;
When they to each other gave heart to heart,
To cherish and love till death should them part.
A sailor was grandfather, brave hearted and bold,
And fearless of danger as I have been told;
Energetic and active, to all ports he went,
And short was the time that at home he spent,
But sweet were the hours there that he passed,
Though the shadow of parting was over it cast.
He sailed out of Dartmouth, one bleak winter's morning,
Just as the break of the day was first dawning.
Grandmother's lips he touched with a kiss,
And gave her the pocketbook, saying "Take this.
There's enough for whatever you'll want to buy--
Take care of the babies, and dearest, good bye!
Of that vessel and crew not the slightest word,
From that day to this has ever been heard.
Grandmother waited, year out and year in,
'Till her hair turned gray and her eyes grew dim;
But the loved came not, her sad heart to cheer,
Nor tidings of him e'er did she hear.
But one night in a dream as she quietly slept,
Grandfather came in and over her wept.
Over her leaned, his clothes dripping wet,
And told her then, that his sun had set;
In his face, icy cold, distinctly she read
That his body forever and ever was dead.
Time brought to grandmother offers of marriage,
A house in town and a handsome carriage;
But to each and all grandmother said--"Nay!
In patience I'll wait till the coming bright day,
When the mansion in heaven is ready for me,
And the face of my husband again I shall see."
And now she has gone at eighty odd years,
To the home that she yearned for thro' misty tears,
And I think of the meeting on that other side
Of grandfather's greeting his long ago bride.
And I wonder, if there the perfect joy given,
Compensates for the happiness here that was riven.
The babies, two boys, are old men now,
And silver hair crosses each furrowed brow;
Father and grandfather each have become,
And their journey on earth almost is done;
But thro' life's evening shadows a fair white hand
Beckons them on to the Better Land.
Grandfather's pocketbook faded and old!
Its leaves in reverence I tenderly fold,
And lay its treasures back in their place,
Putting them up in the old-fashioned case;
For, mid the choicest things I have and hold
Is grandfather's pocketbook, faded and old!
Traditions of Padanaram
By L. A. Littlefield
Mr. President and Members of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society--Our secretary came to me a short time ago and asked if I would write a historical sketch of the village of Padanaram. I felt reluctant about making the attempt, owing to a lack of knowledge of the subject, but finally decided to do so and will give you the few facts and traditions I have been able to obtain from the histories of Ricketson and Ellis, and from a few of my friends who have been lifelong residents in this delightful hamlet.
We all know that the Apponegansett tribe of Indians had dwelt around the shores of the bay and river for no one knows how many centuries, and we can imagine that sturdy race, with their wigwams clustered about the shores of the river, over the hills, and in the forests, in the neighborhood of this village.
We can also imagine their feelings when the first rumors reached their ears, of the arrival of a strange race of men with white skins, and who can blame them for their fear and hatred of the white man as he advanced step by step into their domains.
The original tract of land comprising Dartmouth was purchased from the Indians by William Bradford and 33 others of the Plymouth colony in 1652, although there were a few white settlers in the territory previous to that time.
John Cook, the Pilgrim, was one of the company of that colony who settled in this locality and no doubt he and his associates named the place Dartmouth after the old English township.
What courage, and strength, and perseverance, it required of those first settlers to face the trials and discouragements in order to exist in this wilderness. They must have been men of iron, and do you ever stop to think what a magnificent structure has been reared upon the foundation those first settlers laid?
In the year 1675 the Indians under King Phillip invaded the town, and we read in the histories that they wrought great destruction, killing and torturing many of the settlers.
Some, however, were fortunate enough to obtain shelter in "Russell's Garrison," the ruins of which can be seen at the present day, about a mile north from this spot on the north side of Apponegansett River, on land now owned by Mary A. Gifford. (I would suggest that this society take steps to buy this site, if possible, and erect a tablet or place a boulder, suitably inscribed, on the spot.)
This garrison was built by John Russell, the first representative from the township of Dartmouth to the Old Colony court, Plymouth, and John and Joseph Russell, twins, were born in the garrison November 22nd, 1679.
The following story is taken from Barber's Historical Collection:
"The Indians, so it is stated, had a fort on the opposite side of the river, and used to show themselves and act all manner of mockery to aggravate the English, they being at more than a gunshot off.
"It is related, however, that an Indian came out at one time as usual, and exposing himself in a contemptuous manner, someone having an uncommonly long gun fired and put an end to his mockery."
The Indians finally surrendered to the garrison on the strength of certain promises made to them by Captain Eels and Ralph Earl, but the Plymouth Colony, hearing of the distress of the Dartmouth people, sent Captain Benjamin Church, the celebrated Indian fighter, with a company of soldiers to their relief, who took matters into their own hands, and is spit of the entreaty of Captain Eels and Ralph Earl, Captain Church marched the Indian captives, about 160 in number, including King Philip's wife and son, over the forest road to Plymouth and sold them into slavery to the Spaniards.
We do not find much of historical interest pertaining to Padanaram between the Indian ward and the Revolution. We naturally presume that the town enjoyed a comparatively quiet time for a good many years.
As near as can be ascertained the name "Padanaram" originated with Laban Thatcher, who came from Harwich, Mass., about the year 1805 and carried on a shipyard here.
The first mention of Padanaram occurred in a deed given by him in 1828, and it is supposed that the circumstances of his life corresponding with the Bible story of Laban who lived in Padanaram prompted him to give the place that name.
It seems to have been the custom of our ancestors to apply fictitious names to villages, streets, and other localities.
I remember that in my native town of Weymouth we had the names, "Old Spain," "Misquito Plain," "Sheep Street," etc., and the old town of Scituate has a place called "Egypt."
East Taunton has been called "Squawberry" for many years, and no doubt those of you who are natives of New Bedford can recall many places nearby that had such names.
The village had its share of troubles at the time of the British invasion, Sept. 5th and 6th, 1778, as we read that the enemy landed here and destroyed several buildings owned by Mr. Elihu Akin.
This was supposed to have been the result of a desire for revenge on the part of Richard Shearman, Eldad Tupper and William Castle, they having been expelled from the village for their Tory sympathies through the influence of Mr. Akin.
The first two were said to have been acting as pilots for the British.
The British set fire to Mr. Elihu Akin's sister's house three different times and she succeeding in extinguishing the flames each time, the soldiers refrained from pushing the matter further on account of the extraordinary courage shown by the woman.
It was very kind of the British to make this visit to Padanaram, as otherwise we would have lost these valuable historical facts.
One of the prominent early settlers was Captain John Akin, who first settled at Nonquid [?Nonquitt}, and afterwards lived at Padanaram.
He was captain in Colonel Benjamin Church's company. He was also town clerk, representative and selectman.
His sons, James and Elihu, owned a vessel that the British burned on the stocks when they raided the town.
Benjamin Akin, son of Captain John Akin and Hannah (Shearman), was town clerk in 1789; representative delegate to colonial congress at Watertown; leading man in town. He lived at the head of Apponegansett River, a little to the west up the road. Died at his son's home (Bartholomew) in East Fairhaven.
The old Akin homestead still stands at Davis Corner, where Elihu lived and died. His son, Joseph Akin, was born in 1790, in the old homestead, and died there Feb. 8th, 1863.
The children of Joseph Akin and Hannah (Howland) were all born in the homestead, and only two are now living, Mrs. Rhoda Howland Waterman, and Mrs. Eliza Bennett. Mrs. Eliza Bennett is now living in the old homestead.
The first church erected in the village was the Congregational, now standing on the hill, and was organized in 1807, and the building built between 1816 and 1821.
The oldest records we have pertaining to this church are as follows, taken from a manual published in 1882:
"In the great gale and inundation of September, 23rd, 1815, the records to that date were swept away with the dwelling of Dr. Sturtevant, en which they were kept, and lost. On Sabbath evening, the 26th of the succeeding May, a meeting was held at the house of Mr. Laban Thatcher, of which the Rev. Peter Crocker was moderator, to supply, as far as possible from recollection, those records."
"The subjoined statements were regarded as authentic."
"In the spring of 1807 the church was organized by the Rev. Curtis Coe, the Rev. Mace Sheperd and the Rev. Isaiah Weston, with the following members: David Thatcher, Joel Parker, Laban Thatcher, Harmony Packard, Betsey Howes, Phebe Nickerson and Mehitable Kelley.
"Joseph Packard was chosen deacon and David Thatcher scribe. Rev. Curtis Coe during the next six months received 16 members, when in October the Rev. Daniel Emerson of Hollis, N.H., was ordained the first pastor. He was a graduate of Harvard University in the class of 1794, and for a time studied in the law department, but left to engage in a successful mercantile business. After his conversion he abandoned his flattering worldly prospects for the gospel ministry, and was called to the pastoral office here, the first and the last which he filled. He died Nov. 16th, 1808. The impression made by his brief pastoral work is indicated by the strikingly beautiful epitaph upon his plain headstone in the cemetery, the only one there of a pastor of this parish."
"His disposition was singularly mild,
His deportment lovely, his judgment
Sound, his labors assiduous, his death
The Baptist church, next above what was the Lawton House, was built in 1831, but has not been used for meetings for some years.
As the maritime interests and whaling industries developed, Padanaram took a hand and we find that shipyards sprang up on the river banks and for quite a period of years, from about the year 1820, the blows of the ship carpenters and calkers' mallets were heard shaping and fitting the solid oak timbers for sturdy ships that were destined to plow the seas all over the world, bringing home the products of the Indies and in search of the whales.
Messrs. Mathews & Thatcher (Charles Mathews and Mathews Thatcher) were engaged in ship building at what was called "Deep Water Point," about a mile above the bridge, about 1826 or 1827.
Another shipyard was conducted near where Mr. Tryon's summer house now stands, by Daniel Homer; the ship Nimrod, quite a large vessel for those days, was built by him.
About 1845, Alonzo Mathews, John Mashow (who learned his trade of Laban Thatcher), James Madison Babbitt and Frederick Smally carried on a shipyard near where the pavilion now stands.
They built large whaleships. The bark A. R. Tucker, which lately arrived in New Bedford disabled, was built by Messrs. Mathews, Mashow & Co., besides the Benjamin Cummings, Eliot C. Cowdin [or Condin], Morning Light, Norma, Tropic Bird, Cape Horn Pigeon, Jireh Swift, Morning Star, Matilda Sears, and others.
Mathew, Mashow & Co. went out of business in 1858, building in all 14 barks, one brig, 19 schooners and one sloop. (See appendix.)
The first bridge over the Apponegansett River was built between the years 1834 and 1836.
The corporation was composed of Nathaniel Howland, Caleb Anthony, Gilbert Howland, Joseph Bailey, Richard Sandford, Clark Ricketson and Luther Kirby.
It was maintained as a toll bridge until May 6th, 1870, in which year it was made free to the public.
The tolls were: Four cents for each foot passenger; eight cents for horse and rider; 10 cents for horse and wagon; 16 cents for each horse and chaise, chair, sulky or sleigh; 25 cents for each coach, chariot or phaeton; 20 cents for each cart, sled or other carriage of burden, drawn by more than one beast; four cents for each without rider and for neat cattle; one cent for each sheep and swine.
Before this bridge was built, Charles Slocum ran a ferry across the river and charged 4 pence-half penny per passenger.
Steps were taken towards building a new bridge at a town meeting held October 18th, 1895, and after the usual delays in such matters it was voted to build the present bridge proper, and the same was completed in 1902.
Padanaram was quite a whaling port at one time, having a fleet of seven or eight barks and ships, besides some smaller vessels engaged in the business.
Among the larger whaleships were the
Ship South Carolina,
Ship Grand Turk,
Brig Governor Hopkins.
The Forester was returning home from her second voyage with about 2,000 barrels of sperm oil when she was wrecked on Block Island.
An old wind mill for grinding corn stood for many years on land that was owned by Frank Bourne and now owned by Captain John Simmons.
Frederic Smally operated the mill at one time. The mill was finally moved to Captain Michael Baker's place on Fremont Street, about 1850, and was tended by Herman Nickerson.
There were two tailor ships in the village at one time, kept by David Plummer and John Gray.
There were six stores in the village at one time.
1 large store on the lot opposite the pavilion.
1 where the library stands.
1 near the corner of Bridge Street.
2 on the street leading from the library down to the water front, and one about one half mile up on the road towards Apponegansett.
There were two blacksmith's shops nearby, opposite Mr. Tryon's summer home.
One was carried on by Isaac Newton Babbitt, who is still living in Fairhaven, and is over 90 years old.
Mr. Charles A. Davis, the oldest resident of Padanaram, being 91, carried on the coopering business from 1833 to 1841 quite extensively.
His shop was situated near Akin's Landing.
The town maintained an academy about 1845 to 1850, which was situated on the Davis lot, north of the Cummings house, and finally torn down and the material taken to New Bedford and used in a dwelling house.
The first teacher in the academy was William Hobbie.
Among the other industries in the village was a hat shop, carried on by a Mr. Stimpson, about the year 1835, in a building which stood where Mr. O. R. Gifford's stable now stands.
This hat shop was finally moved and made into a dwelling house and is now occupied by Mr. John Nickerson.
He relates that in the year 1815 a severe gale came in September and a tidal wave came into the river and carried a large vessel that was riding at anchor about opposite the club house up over the head of the river road and was left high and dry with her bow-sprit rammed through the side of the dwelling house which is standing there today and occupied at that time by Warren Thatcher.
The Cummings house, diagonally opposite the library, was built by Deacon Sylvanus Bartlett, the first deacon of the Congregational Church, for his son, David H. Bartlett.
We all know what the village of Padanaram is today, one of the most delightful and popular summer resorts to be found in New England. With its pure breezes coming from the bay, quiet and shady streets, and picturesque scenery, it is destined to grow in beauty and popularity as people become acquainted with its many attractions.
Vessels built by Matthews, Mashow & Co. (Referred to above).
1845. Schooner Mosell.
1846. Schooner Pearl.
1846. Schooner John Mashow.
1847. Schooner _____ Baker.
1847. Schooner Henry Payson.
1847. Schooner General Worth.
1847. Sloop Abby Gould.
1847. Schooner Sophia Wieley.
1848. Brig China.
1848. Schooner Luther Childs.
1848. Bark Norma.
1848. Schooner Mirah Theresa.
1848. Schooner Ocean Queen.
1848. Schooner Empire State.
1849. Schooner Bay State.
1849. Schooner J. S. Hopkins.
1849. Schooner Lucy Baker.
1849. Schooner Ella Frances.
1850. Schooner Fanny Bourne.
1850. Schooner Allen Dale.
1851. Bark Tropic Bird.
1851. Bark A. R. Tucker.
1851. Bark Sea Queen.
1851. Schooner W. H. DeWitt.
1852. Bark George and Mary.
1852. Bark Henry H. Crapo.
1853. Bark Jireh Swift.
1852. Schooner Charles and Edward.
1853. Bark Morning Star.
1854. Bark Cape Horn Pigeon.
1854. Bark Benjamin Cummings.
1855. Bark Eliot C. Conden.
1856. Bark Morning Light.
1855. Schooner Boquet.
1856. Bark Aurora.
1856. ____ Matilda Sears.
1858. Schooner J. W. Flanders.
Bark Victor, built in Fairhaven. This is the last ship which was built by John Mashow.
This is an incomplete list.
The Salt Industry of Padanaram
By Ellis L. Howland
At the outset let it be said, in palliation of the offense of your committee, that I was not originally selected for the presentation of this important subject. When another dropped out of the task at the last moment it became my legacy, presumably because I knew nothing whatever about it. However, since that day I learned that I must pose as the historian, I have been living in an atmosphere of antiquity, delving among musty volumes and the mustier memories of nonagenarians, till I think that perhaps I may be able to suggest something of the origin and career of Padanaram's salt industry.
Few people have any ideas nowadays what importance salt held among the necessities of life a century ago. Not only was it the favorite flavoring ingredient of the kitchen, but it was the great preservative used universally in lieu of the ice of the present day. Modern refrigeration had not been dreamed of, and even remotely ice did not enter into the utilities which salt did. To a considerable extent the colonists had long manufactured it from sea water, but by far most of it was imported then, as now, from the strong saline deposits on the shores of the Bahamas and West Indies. Some came from Spanish ports, Azores, and a great deal from English possessions.
As nearly as I am able to discover, the Padanaram salt industry had its rise in that great conflict of 1812, which swept down on maritime New England with such severity. But while it brought destruction, it also brought a new business enterprise, which soon became a very important one for this village. The exact date of that origin I am unable to place, but it was immediately previous to the year 1810, as I shall try to show by tangible records. History is not usually entirely lost; there always remains some scrap of tradition or record for whoever will search for it, though in this case the search is fraught with a remarkable paucity of material.
Strictly speaking, the local salt makers operated on the shores of Smiths Neck and Mishaum almost a century before Padanaram actually started, but of that phase of it I can find no trace whatever, save in slight references in deeds. As early as 1720 reference was mad to the "road leading to the Salthouse Point." The road in question was unquestionably that leading from Russells Mills eastward to what we know today under its modern contraction as "Salters Point." We know the road as the "Rock o'Dunder Road,"* but all trace of the salt house from which the point took its name has long since passed away. Presumably it was on the farm of Hezekiah or Eleazer Smith, and if anyone happens to know anything tangible of it, I am sure it would be a welcome addition to our fund of information.
*This road is variously known as "Rocky Dunder," "Rock o' Dundee," etc. In searching for an authentic version, the writer in informed by Commander William P. Randall, U.S.N., that it probably came from "Rock Rodondo," a remote island of the Galapagos group, about 750 miles west of Ecuador, South America, and almost on the Equator. This island was often visited by Dartmouth whalemen, who called it "Rocky Dunder," and it was about as near the extreme south end of the Galapagos islands as is the "Rocky Dunder" road at the south end of Dartmouth. Hence probably the name.
But the first distinct origin of what is strictly Padanaram salt making dates from those troublous and unsettled days just preceding the war of 1812. Today, when our nation is taking her place in the front rank of World Powers, it is hard for us to conceive the helpless condition the infant republic found herself in when England made her second attempt to subjugate the rising young nation in the west. It was the state of dissension and public unrest then prevailing here which probably encouraged England to step in and try to regain her lost colonies. In 1806 Great Britain declared the American coast in a state of strict blockade. In retaliation, the next year, congress passed the embargo act, forbidding exportation from American ports. It was designed as a measure to prevent the wholesale impressments of seamen England was then practicing and save our sailors and their cargoes from capture. Actually it stirred up one of the most tremendous protests New England was ever guilty of. In New England in particular, where shipping was most general, there was a loud clamor. I found in the issue of the old New Bedford Mercury next following the passage of this act in 1807, a wild protest, a part of which reads thus: "Americans, talk no more of liberty, for it is gone; talk not of your constitution, it is trampled upon; talk not of your republic, you have the most tyrannical of despots for your chief rulers." In the same issue appears a black-ruled page in the center of which is a black coffin, surrounded by a mock funeral lay-out and headed: "Died--At Washington on the 9th instant, American Liberty, twin sister of Columbian Independence, and protector of free commerce." The action of congress was so unpopular that in this city Madison received in the presidential election only 13 votes, while Clinton, the opponent, had 399.
Congress saw the futility of its action and modified it in 1809 by repealing the wholesale embargo and passing instead a restricted commerce act, which compelled non-intercourse with England and France. All this had its effect on commerce and on nothing more than the importation of salt. The duty on salt was 12 cents per bushel in 1809, and for several years preceding, but immediately it jumped to 20 cents, and remained so till after the war. When the importation of so important a staple as salt was cut off and its home production stimulated by an increased tariff, it is not strange that the home manufacture of salt should receive a tremendous impetus. And somehow Padanaram took a prominent part in the new industry.
At the opening of the 19th century the larger part of the end of Ricketson's Point was the farm of Clark Ricketson, and there the new enterprise had its start. Just when is a matter of some question, at least so far as I have been able to trace it in the registry, the town records and in current publications. Within two days, however, I have learned that the Ricketson family have certain old deeds and leases bearing on the subject, which, fortunately, I am able to use to some extent.
The earliest reference to salt works here, in the local registry, is under date of February 17, 1810, when Clark Ricketson leased a certain tract of his farm to Isaiah Small for $26 a year. The tract leased was "sufficient to contain 80 cranes of salt works with two open cisterns." Inferentially, it might be set up that this was the start of salt works on the Ricketson farm, for it is apparent that it meant the coming of a new industry. But in the same lease appears the further privilege, "To improve the pump mills and salt stores on the premises." The term was "for and during the term of time salt works shall be erected and improved on the same."
There is further evidence that certain salt works were there previously, found in a second lease, dated September 18, 1812--Clark Ricketson to David Thacher of Dartmouth, Lothrop A. Thacher, merchant, Benjamin Gorham and William Dunn, druggist, the three later of Boston. That leases speaks of the line of the leased premises starting "30 feet from their magnesia factory" and including certain wells and a passage between certain wells, "so as not to disturb the spouts." This consideration was $6 a year for a period of 14 years. This lease would tend to show the existence of magnesia works, and therefore salt works there previous to that date. Who built them I am unable to say, though inferentially, the Boston capitalists and druggists may be fairly suspected of the magnesia part. Whether they built the salt works or not is a question, but from the fact that no mention of salt works is made in the deed of partition by which Clark Ricketson obtained the farm from his father's estate, in 1800, and mention of them was made in the lease of 1810, I infer that Mr. Ricketson built them himself, though probably not a very extensive scale.
As for the magnesia company, I suspect that it was not a success. The four lessees named above apparently unloaded their rights in the 14-year lease, for on December 11, 1812, they deeded the lease to the company for 100 shares in the so-called "Magnesia Company." I find no further reference to the concern, but its life did not apparently exceed five years. At least two of the partners in it came to grief. Under date of March 15, 1817, is entered an order of arrest sworn to by one Thomas Cushing of Boston, who sets up that he obtained judgment against David R. Thacher of Tuckerton, N.J., and Lothrop R. Thacher of New Bedford, doing business as David Thacher & Son, for $20,000 remained unsatisfied. To complete his seizure of collateral Mr. Cushing took the salt and magnesia works and due entry of the appraisal appears on record.
Several old residents have referred to Mr. Cushing as the originator of the salt industry here, but the record does not seem to bear out such a theory. He did apparently become deeply interested, for in 1817 he appears to have acquired certain interests in the works from Isaiah Smalley (the name appears to have change from Small since the lease was first made) and other owners, and apparently settled down making salt. How long he continued I cannot say, though presumably he was limited to the 14-year term, which expired in 1824.
There is some indication that Mr. Cushing did not complete even that term. At least, Mr. Ricketson commenced making other leases as early as 1822, two years before the old one expired. The Cushing works were on the shore, I should suppose, not far from the exact end of this road. On December 10, 1822, (book 26, p.396) Mr. Ricketson leased two acres and 70 rods of land to Joseph A. Bailey for salt works. This tract was directly north of the Cushing works. To all intents and purposes it was a sale of the land, the term being "999 years, or as long as he shall improve the premises for salt work." The consideration was $18.50 a year.
On January 3, 1823, (book 26, p. 368) leased two acres and 84 rods of land next north of this, to his brother-in-law, Stephen Taylor, for salt works. This was for 999 years, conditioned like the other one, the consideration being $20.20 a year.
July 1829, (book 156, p. 153) Mr. Ricketson leased three acres still further north to Stephen Taylor, for 999 years, in consideration of a lease price of $24 a year. Thus Mr. Ricketson had leased three tracts of land, embracing eight acres of land on the west side of this road, for 999 years, at an annual rental of $62.70 a year. Imagine the luck of anyone who could own it today on those terms. It is not strange that the Ricketson family have gradually absorbed the leases in recent times. How long these original lessees continued operating the works I cannot say. The Bailey lease of 1822 was apparently vacated previous to 1879, for on May 1 of that year B. T. Ricketson sold the lease to one Jonas Travers, probably of a part of the Bailey works. On August 23, 1882, Travers sold the lease to Abner D. Sherman, and on October 5, 1892, Sherman sold it to Lucy F. Davis, wife of S. M. Davis.
The two Stephen Taylor leases of 1823 and 1829 descended on Mr. Taylor's death to his son, William C. Taylor of Chicago. In 1873 he transferred them to Abner D. Sherman, and in October, 1893, Sherman transferred them to Mrs. Davis. Thus, in 1892, Mrs. Davis owned them all, and after two years transferred them to Myron D. Potter, who has operated the works ever since.
There was a set of salt works further to the eastward on the Clarks Cove shore of Ricketsons Point, on land owned by Henry Ricketson. I can find little or nothing of them, save that they were at one time operated by one James Lawton and were torn down considerably more than half a century ago. The Bailey works of about 40 cranes were town down about two years ago and within a month the destruction of the Taylor works will be accomplished, for the Ricketsons have purchased them within a few weeks.
There were other salt works in Dartmouth, at one time, I am told, no less than seven distinct locations on this one inlet of the Apponegansett River. There were works at Mishaum Point (destroyed about 1815 and later partially rebuilt by John Cornell); at Salters Point (last known to have been owned by Thomas Smith); at "Bare-kneed Rocks," now Nonquitt, (owned and operated by Caleb Anthony); on the Gulf Road (now standing and owned by Nathanial Howland, of which works more anon); on the Bakertown road (run by Barrett Beard); and on the Padanaram side of the river, above the bridge (owned and operated by Matthews Thacher). Most of these have now gone to decay and but little of their history is available.
There must have been a merry whirl in progress along the shores of Buzzards Bay early in the century. Daniel Ricketson says there were on the Apponegansett alone 13 works, though I cannot find them all. On the Acushnet River were many more. I am told by those who had the privilege of seeing the old Russell's panorama of a whaling voyage, that one of its interesting, though crude scenes, was a picture of the shores of the Acushnet River, in which whirling wind mills and mushroom villages of salt works hoods were the main features. To digress a minute, I want to say that this society ought to have that famous panorama spread on the walls of its museum, and if anyone would place us in communication with its present custodians, he would confer a favor of no small magnitude.
In the foregoing descriptions I have spoken of works as of so many "cranes." In order that this may be understood as well as something of the process of making salt, I will divert your attention for a minute to a study of methods. As you all know, the salt was made from sea water by evaporation. A "crane" was a post set up between two vats of "rooms," as they were called, bearing on its top a long arm of timber about 35 feet long, balanced in its center on the post. On the ends of this arm were built two conical roofs, or hoods, so placed that when swung into position they would cover two tanks and protect the saline solution from rain. Rain would ruin the entire process, and the work of a month could be lost by a five minute bit of inattention to the weather. A "crane" indicated two tanks.
These tanks were about 18 feet square and perhaps a foot deep. They were arranged in tiers, the first processes being set higher than the subsequent ones, in order that the water from one might run through the wooden spouts by gravity into the next. There were in the best salt works about four processes. The water was pumped from the sea into the first "room" by wind mills. The pumps and pipes were all wooden affairs of the crudest type. Of course, salt making depended on the weather; hot dry weather was what the salt men wanted, and in this description I shall assume ideal weather.
The first "room" was called the slime room. Here the water was retained about three days, when there would rise to the top a thick green slime which was worthless. The water was drawn off from this to the lime room, where whatever lime there was in the solution (it was usually very slight) settled to the bottom. In from three days to a week, this water was again run off to another tank, in which the Glauber salts were allowed to settle to the bottom. Once more the water was drawn off to allow the Epsom salts to be precipitated, and then to the final process, where the very strong brine would deposit clear salt in the last vat. This would be four or five inches deep all over the vat, and would be shoveled out and dumped in the salt house to dry thoroughly by a circulation of air which was allowed to blow over it through cracks in the walls.
In the third and fourth of these processes, there was another product between the precipitated Glauber and Epsom salts and the water which was later used for salt. This was what was known as "bitter water" for obvious reasons. It was carefully drawn off and from this was made magnesia by a process I have been unable to discover. Incidental to it, the product was boiled down to a thick consistency, then put in crucibles and furnaces and baked or cooked to the form of commercial magnesia. The presence of magnesia works at the point was a sure indication of the previous existence of salt works. I am told that the site of these works is still discernible on the shore at the foot of this road, though the only mark is a few scattered bricks.
The deposits in these processes were also manufactured into chemical salts, so long as there was a paying demand for them. Glauber salts (used in certain processes of glass making) were manufactured in winter and Epsom salts (of familiar medicinal properties) in the summer. How they were made I do not know, save that the heavier waters were boiled and strained and skimmed and settled till they emerged finished. In the old days the manufacture paid, but long ago it ceased to. Comparatively recently waster for making Epsom salts was shipped from Padanaram in barrels, but so penetrating was it that scarcely more than half of it reached market, the exudations through the wood being a heavy loss.
The process I have described is that of the low works. "Bush works" were another kind of plant. The "bush works" across the river on the Gulf Road will soon be all that remains of Padanaram's salt industry, and I am glad to say that we have a very complete record of these works. Bush works were a departure to hasten the process of evaporation, and they certainly did it, though some claim it was at the expense of purity of product. The works across the river and a similar plant in New Bedford along the line of what is now Cove Street between the old Orphans' Home and the east shore of Clarks Point, were the only ones of the kind in this vicinity.
The works across the bridge were built in 1826-28, on what was then called--before the bridge spanned the Apponegansett and the Gulf--Nonquitt Point (to use the more correct Indian term, "Nomquid" Point). They were erected by a company in which James Arnold of New Bedford owned one half; certain members of his family one fifth; Nathanial Howland one fifth, and Samuel Leonard one tenth. In June, 1826, the first lumbar arrived, and before it was completed several cargoes had come from Maine and two years had been consumed in the erection. As first constructed the works were twice their present size, there being a wing substantially like the present one, extending southerly from the east end of what remains. The present rack is 680 feet long, 26 feet high and perhaps 10 feet through. This main rack was filled with scrub oak bushes, and I am told by Nathanial Howland, who owns them by inheritance from his grandfather of the same name, that some of the bushes placed there 75 years ago are still doing service. Besides the bush racks there were 104 "rooms," spreading out over the whole point and making an establishment of no small magnitude. Report has it that the works cost the promoters between $30,000 and $40,000. The first salt was made in the works in June, 1828.
There is but little difference in the process here and in the flat works. It took perhaps two or three weeks to get salt down to the depositing consistence in the flat works. In these works, water starting at the top with perhaps 10 percent salt, would reach the bottom in fifteen minutes reduced to 25 to 35 percent salt. It happened in this wise: Salt water was pumped into a large tank at the top of the rack. On either side of this tank were rows of holes plugged when not in operation. When the works were running, the plugs on the windward side were pulled out and the water was allowed to run out. Directly underneath it was caught on shallow troughs, running lengthwise of the works and perforated at intervals of three or four inches with little lead channels running over the sides. This made the water distribute itself in tiny rivulets the whole length of the works. The wind catching it would drive it through the bushes, opening it to thorough evaporation, and in a few minutes accomplishing the work of weeks in the other works. After it reached the tank at the bottom of the rack the processes were identical.
Salt was made usually between the middle of May and the late fall. Usually works like those across the river would require the services of only two men, with an extra hand in the rush season. It has been estimated that 360 gallons of sea water in bush works will produce a bushel of salt, worth in the palmy days perhaps 50 cents. In full operation, these works would average 10,000 to 12,000 bushels of salt a year, and in one season turned out 14,000 bushels. Considering that during the Civil War salt was worth a dollar a bushel, it is not difficult to figure out a handsome profit for the owners of the works. Both kinds of works still pay, but nothing in comparison with what they once did.
Just one more landmark in the old salt industry and I am done. You have old heard of "Laban's Folly," but perhaps do not know its origin or its relation to salt industry. Laban Thacher was a man of enterprise if not always good business discernment--this same Laban who came to this village and unconsciously gave the village its characteristic name for all time by one of his little jokes. When he saw the salt works springing up all along the shore he conceived that it would be a paying enterprise to build a mill to grind their product for domestic use. He also figured that wind power was too fickle to be depended upon and, being an original genius, started out on a radical departure. He reared from the bottom of the harbor a pier of stone and on it erected the old building in which we have all been eating a clambake this afternoon. The wharf and building were not connected with the main land, why I cannot conceive, but I have the word of at least two nonagenarians that it is a fact that it stood by itself, divided from the landing by a channel of water. In later years it was joined into one continuous wharf, but in Laban's day it was an island.
He built the top story of the building as a huge tank, perhaps five feet deep and the whole size of the building, and at the four corners erected wind mills and pumps, which he calculated would fill the tank when the wind blew fresh enough to work them. Then he figured that he could defy a calm by simply letting the water down onto his turbine water motors and drive his grinding mills. It was an admirable theory and it worked out well, save that all the water he could pump up in four days would run out in about four hours. The result was that the tank scheme was abandoned and the place was ever afterwards known as "Laban's Folly." The tank planking can still be seen in the upper story, but I am told the only use the tank ever served was during the war of 1812, when volunteer coast guards used it as a fortress and patrolled around inside it, watching for British marauders to come by sea and burn the town.
Early in this paper I said that within a few weeks the last remaining lease to the old salt works had been repurchased into the Ricketson family, and the 999-year lease brought to an end in its tender infancy of 80 years. It means the passing of what was once a great hope of a flourishing community. In fragmentary way I have tried to present something of its career. If it is incomplete, I simply urge your co-operation in completing it; if you have learned anything from my studies of the question, I shall be pleased.
At the close of the speaking a short business meeting was held. George H. Tripp reported that the museum section of the city has now a room, and that it is hoped before long to have a suitable exhibit, which will give the section something to do. Steps have been taken toward a loan exhibition, to be held sometime in November. "In order to make this a success," Mr. Tripp said, "every one of us must contribute everything of interest possible. If this is done, there is no question but that we can make the exhibition a magnificent success. It is hoped that enough outsiders will be attracted to ensure success financially."
Mr. Tripp read the following report from the special committee on loan exhibition:
"The exhibition should be held in the first two weeks of November."
"It should be held in the rooms of the society."
"The sub-committee on approval and rooms should select the various committees to have charge of the details of the exhibition. Such committees should include committees on printing and advertising, collecting and arrangement."
"Suggested classes or divisions of classes of exhibits are articles representing the development of the whaling industry, old furniture, family portraits, old laces, silver and pewter ware, old china, old brasses, East Indian relics, samplers, shells and natural history specimens native to this section."
In speaking of East Indian relics, Mr. Tripp said that New Bedford and Dartmouth whalers were credited with having done more to open the Pacific Ocean to commerce than any other section of the world.
"The society so far," he said, "has had phenomenal success. We own an island, with a monument on it, almost the first site of the settlement of the United States. We have a room--empty, but it is for you to fill it, and thereby do honor to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society."
Secretary Howland reported that the society's membership is 587, and expressed a hope that a total of 1000 would be reached by its first anniversary. Mr. Howland said he thought a misunderstanding had arisen regarding loan exhibits, and explained that anything loaned would be as safe as if at home.
The meeting adjourned after passing a vote of thanks to the speakers of the day, and the members took special cars for home.
Beside the one mentioned above, two gifts have recently been received by the society. Walton Ricketson has presented the copy of Daniel Ricketson's History of New Bedford, with the author's notes, which was used at the dedication of the Gosnold memorial. Judge Charles Almy of Cambridge, formerly of New Bedford, has donated to the Gosnold memorial committee the original painting of William A. Walls's picture of the landing of Gosnold at Cuttyhunk. This picture was painted in 1843, and hung for many years in Standish Bourne's office.