OLD DARTMOUTH HISTORICAL SKETCH
Being the proceedings of the Meeting of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society, held at Christian Endeavor Hall, Smith Mills, July 1, 1905.
HISTORICAL ASSOCIATIONS IN NORTH DARTMOUTH
by Edward T. Tucker
HISTORICAL GLIMPSES OF DARTMOUTH SCHOOLS
by Job S. Gidley
PILGRIMAGE OF THE OLD SOUTH DARTMOUTH HISTORICAL SOCIETY TO OLD DARTMOUTH
[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.]
Christian Endeavor Hall, Smith Mills
July 1, 1905
The ninth regular meeting of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society was held in the Christian Endeavor Home at Smith Mills.
The members of the society left the city on a special car at 2:30 o’clock and the meeting was called to order at 3. The committee in charge of the arrangements was William W. Thatcher, Job S. Gidley and George M. Eddy. William W. Crapo, the president of the society, was in the chair.
Mr. Crapo, in his opening address, told of his first visit to Smith Mills when, as a small boy, he accompanied his mother, who came from New Bedford for the purpose of shopping at the famous store of William and John Cummings, whose stock of goods exceeded in quantity and value that of any single establishment in New Bedford.
He described the large country store of seventy years ago, where every article wanted by a town or rural community, from a keg of nails to silk dress goods, could be obtained as readily as can now be done at the modern department store. He also told of Joseph Gifford, who was for many years Town Clerk of Dartmouth, and a search made in the garret of his house for a document relating to the layout of one of the ancient roads of the Town. In a number of barrels there had been placed from time to time records, contracts and documents relating to the town’s business, without classification or order, dust-covered, time-stained and some worm-eaten. The absence of care in arranging and preserving the record of the town’s doings in its early years, has caused the loss of much information which would now be regarded of value.
Mr. Crapo alluded to the opinion expressed by him at a former meeting, that the first town house built in Dartmouth was located at Acushnet. A recently published article on “Town Houses,” prepared with great care by Henry B. Worth, giving dates and references to deeds and official records, leads to the conclusion that Dartmouth’s earliest town house was located near Smith Mills. It is certain in 1686 inhabitants voted that the town meetings be held at or near the Mill in Dartmouth until otherwise ordered. This Mill was the Grist Mill at Smith Mills, erected in 1684 by Henry Tucker and George Babcock, under an arrangement entered into with a Committee appointed by the Town. It appears that for several years town meetings were held in private dwellings at or near Smith Mills. In 1714, upon the petition of Henry Tucker and others, the inhabitants laid out a lot of land on which to build a Town House. Mr. Worth places this lot at or near the present Perry’s Grove, which is near Smith Mills village. On this piece of ground the Town House was undoubtedly built. The erection of the first Town House in Dartmouth two centuries ago is an event of historical importance. It was the symbol of local self-government for which the Colonists contended. Such an event should be commemorated. The spot having been defined, there should be placed upon it a tablet or simple monument or boulder with suitable inscription to remind coming generations of the work done by the founders of Dartmouth in behalf of popular government. Mr. Crapo urged that steps to this end be taken by the residents of Smith Mills and the Old Dartmouth Historical Society.
Historical Associations in North Dartmouth
By Edward T. Tucker
We have gathered today within the limits of one of the most interesting townships of Massachusetts, and yet, by way of correction, I may say within the territory of the old Plymouth colony; a town of beautiful rivers, forests and meadows, peopled by an enterprising body of inhabitants, a town of comfortable dwellings and well tilled farms.
We are familiar with its present history, but to a slight extent with its earliest; and yet that particular period of the town’s life, the record of its beginning, is the one most earnestly desired.
The same enthusiasm to preserve every detail of the life of this old township, which is characteristic of the opening of the new century, would, if practiced one hundred years ago, have rescued from extinction many interesting historical facts which have been swept into oblivion.
The aged have died, the manuscripts have perished, the farms have passed from the control of the original occupants, the ancient dwellings have crumbled or have been supplanted by those of a modern type, and too often financial considerations have probed stronger than the attachment to things of an ancient character which we are now endeavoring to cultivate.
The word “Dartmouth” is suggestive of English life and people, and such our ancestors were. The voyagers in the Mayflower and the first settlers at Massachusetts Bay were English to the core, and Dartmouth received valuable contributions from both sources. There was a transplanting of English ideas, habits and business methods to the Plymouth colony from the mother island.
But it is not by purpose to digress upon national traits and topics, but allude to a few spots in this particular locality of perhaps more than average interest.
On the northwest corner of Allen Street and Slocum Road stands an unpretentious farm house which occupies perhaps nearly the site of the homestead of Holder and his wife, Abigail Slocum. The former was born March 17, 1748, and his wife, Abigail Tucker, February 18, 1751. It is fair to presume that their occupancy of this place dated from a period just preliminary to the war of the Revolution, presumably about 1770. It is a beautiful spot for a home, and today, in spite of the external changes, our vision rests upon an attractive landscape, and yet how differently the natural surroundings appear when compared with those of a century and a third ago. The eye falls upon the prosperous city at the eastward, which contrasts most strikingly with the mingled prospect of field and meadow and woodland, which was spread before the gaze of the early settlers. But the interesting feature connected with Holder Slocum is the historical fact suggested by his Christian name, none other than the surname of his grandmother, who was the daughter of Christopher Holder, at one time a household word among the early sufferers for his unflinching testimony to the principles of the Society of Friends. A young Englishman of good birth and family, an ardent advocate of the new sect, a public minister of the faith, which gave birth to such number of eloquent and consecrated men and women, he had with many others crossed the Atlantic on a mission of good will to the colonies to encounter the narrow spirit and intolerance and persecution which had fallen to the lot of many of his fellow disciples.
The man who had preached the gospel in the thoroughfares of Great Britain, who had caught the enthusiasm of George Fox, his great leader and exemplar, was now to experience a measure of Puritan severity and illiberality.
To present in a vivid manner a narrative of his sufferings at Boston, I may quote of the lines of William Sewell, of Holland, the great historian of the Quakers, whose work is a monument of painstaking care and toil, and can be accepted by subsequent generations as one of most minute accuracy.
As early as 1656 Christopher Holder had landed at Boston for the first time, and after an imprisonment of eleven weeks was returned to England, although a request by him from Governor Endicott for a copy of the law compelling this action had been denied. But in 1657 he was again in the Massachusetts colony, and in the following year was apprehended and brought before the court at Boston.
To use the words of Sewell: “in the foregoing year mention was made of John Copeland and Christopher Holder. Not long after John Rous came to Boston, but was shortly after taken and committed to prison. On the 17th of September, 1658, he, with Holder and Copeland, were brought before the magistrate in the court, where the deputy governor informed them that they, in contempt of the magistrates and ministers being come there again to seduce the people, might know that whatever befell them, whether the loss of their ears, or of their lives, their blood would be upon their own heads. They denying this and saying that the Lord had sent them hither, the governor, Endicott, said: ‘You are greater enemies to us than those that come openly; since under pretense of peace you come to poison people.’ Then John Rous, whose father was a lieutenant colonel, in Barbados, said: ‘If we were evil-doers the judgments of God would be heavier upon us than those we suffer by you.’ To which Major Denison replied: ‘Mr. Rous, (for so I may call you, having heard your father is a gentleman), what judgment of God do you look for greater than is upon you, to be driven from your father’s house and to run about here as a vagabond with a company of deceivers, except you look for a halter?’ To this Rous said: ‘I was not driven from my father’s house, but in obedience to the Lord I left it, and when the Lord shall have cleared me of this land I shall return to it again.’ Then Endicott called to the secretary to read the law, who thereupon read this clause in it: ‘That if any that had suffered the law should presume to return again they should have one of their ears cut off.’ Endicott called the three prisoners by name and said in great passion: ‘It is the sentence of the court that you three have each of you his right ear cut off by the hangman.’ On the 16th of September the marshal’s deputy came to the prison, and the said marshal read the following order:
“’To the marshal-general, or his deputy: you are to take with you the executioner, and repair to the house of correction, and there see him cut off the right ears of John Copeland, Christopher Holder and John Rous, Quakers; in execution of the sentence of the court of assistants, for the breach of the law, entitled Quakers.
The historian goes on to say that the sentence was duly carried into effect, although John Rous declared that they had appealed to the chief magistrate of England, and also declared that such an act should be done in public, for otherwise it was contrary to the law of England, and demanded that the marshal, who had shown symptoms of weakness and turned his back so that he might not be a witness of the action, should turn about and look upon Christopher Holder, while the barbarous sentence was executed. Afterwards, says Sewell, “these persons were again whipped, but this practice becoming so common in New England, as if it was but a play, I will not detain my readers with it.”
It is pleasant to add that he ultimately returned to this home, in far-off Britain, bearing to the end of his days a memorial of his American experiences, which could not be concealed.
How much Holder Slocum shared in this legacy of heroism transmitted from his undaunted ancestor we cannot judge, but the sufferings of Christopher Holder were not lost upon his descendants. We may conclude that in his boyhood days this subject would frequently be mentioned in his hearing, and the life and record of his great grandfather presented to his youthful mind, as one to be cherished and revered. He would vividly realize that the days of persecution had passed, and that he with others was enjoying the fruits of the sacrifices on the part of those who had trodden the dangerous and untried paths at an earlier period. The designation “Slocum” as applied to the highway passing in front of this dwelling was derived from the residence here of Holder Slocum.
Leaving this place and proceeding to the westward, we ascend a hill and enter upon a level space of many acres, where once stood the homestead of Abraham Tucker Jr., and his wife Hannah, the great-granddaughter of that eminent martyr, Mary Dyer, who perished in Boston in the year 1660. Hannah Tucker, before marriage Hannah Hull, was, as we have stated, the great-granddaughter of Mary Dyer, and numbered in the same generation as the latter among her great-grandparents, Tristram Hull and Robert Harper. Tristram Hull was a shipmaster of Barnstable, and is said to have been one of the group of sea captains mentioned by the poet Whittier in his beautiful poem of Cassandra Southwick. The name of the subject of this ballad was “Provided,” but the poet with the license of his profession has substituted the more striking name, Cassandra, borne by her mother at Salem, for the more prosaic one of “Provided.”
Tristram Hull stood upon the beach among the group of mariners and repelled with scorn the proposition from Endicott and Rawson, to transport the Southwick children, to be sold at Barbados as slaves.
We quote again from Sewell: “I have already made mention of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick and their son Josiah, of whom is to be said hereafter; but first I will speak of Daniel and Provided, son and daughter of the said Lawrence and Cassandra. These children, seeing how unreasonable their honest parents and brothers were dealt with, were so far from being deterred thereby, that they rather felt themselves encouraged to follow their steps, and not to frequent the assemblies of such a persecuting generation; for which absence they were fined ten pounds, although it was well known they had no estate, their parents being already brought to poverty by their rapacious persecutors. To get this money, the following order was issued in the general court at Boston:
“Whereas Daniel Southwick and Provided Southwick, son and daughter of Lawrence Southwick, absenting themselves from the public ordinances, have been fined by the courts of Salem and Ipswich, pretending they have no estates, and resolving not to work, the court upon perusal of a law, which was made upon the account of debts, in answer to what should be done for the satisfaction of the fines, resolves that the treasurer of the several counties are, and shall be fully empowered, to sell the said persons to any of the English nation, at Virginia or Barbadoes, to answer the said fines, &c.
The spirited lines of the poet Whittier can be quoted briefly in this connection:
“At length the heavy bolts fell back, my door was open cast,
And slowly at the sheriff’s side, up the long street I passed;
I heard the murmur round me, and felt, but dared not see,
How, from every door and window, the people gazed on me.
Then the dreary shadows scattered, like a cloud in morning’s breeze,
And a low, deep voice within me seemed whispering words like these:
‘Though the earth be as the iron, and thy heaven a brazen wall,
Trust still His loving kindness whose power is over all.’
We paused at length, where at my feet the sunlit waters broke
On glaring reach of shining beach, and shingly wall of rock:
The merchant-ships lay idly there, in hard clear lines on high.
Tracing with rope and slender spar their network on the sky.
And there were ancient citizens, cloak-wrapped and grave and cold,
And grim and stout sea-captains with faces bronzed and old,
And on his horse, with Rawson, his cruel clerk at hand,
Sat dark and haughty Endicott, the ruler of the land.
I cried, ‘The Lord rebuke thee, thou smiter of the meek,
Thou robber of the righteous, thou trampler of the weak!
Go light the dark, cold hearth-stones,-go turn the prison lock
Of the poor hearts thou hast hunted, thou wolf amid the flock!’
Dark lowered the brows of Endicott, and with a deeper red
O’er Rawson’s wine-empurpled cheek the flush of anger spread:
‘Good people,’ quoth the white-lipped-priest, ‘heed not her words so wild,
Her master speaks within her,-the devil owns his child!’
But gray heads shook, and young brows knit, the while the sheriff read
That law the wicked rulers against the poor have made,
Who to their house of Rimmon and idol priesthood bring
No bended knee of worship, nor gainful offering.
Then to the stout sea-captains the sheriff, turning, said,-
‘Which of ye, worthy seamen, will take this Quaker maid?
In the Isle of fair Barbados, or on Virginia’s shore,
You may hold her at a higher price than Indian girl or Moor.’
A weight seemed lifted from my heart, a pitying friend was nigh-
I felt it in his hard, rough hand, and saw it in his eye:
And when again the sheriff spoke, that voice, so kind to me,
Growled back its stormy answer like the roaring of the sea,-
‘Pile my ship with bars of silver, pack with coins of Spanish gold,
From keel-piece up to deck-plank, the roomage of her hold,
By the living God who made me!-I would sooner in your bay
Sink ship and crew and cargo, than bear this child away!’
I looked on haughty Endicott; with weapon half-way drawn,
Swept round the throng his lion gaze of bitter hate and scorn;
Fiercely he drew his bridle-rein, and turned in silence back,
And, sneering priest and baffled clerk, rode murmuring in his track.”
Robert Harper stood at the gallows in Boston and received in his arms the body of William Leddra, when removed by the executioner, another martyr among the early Quakers. Lastly Mary Dyer, the third of this honored trio, also laid down her life at this same spot at an earlier period, a woman in life’s prime, of an honored position, whose husband, William Dyer, was the secretary of the colony of Rhode Island. Her name has been recorded upon the highest page of the annals of the society to which she was attached, and her noble life and tragic death have been rehearsed for two and a half centuries.
Leaving this homestead and descending a few steps to the Tucker Road, we are confronted by a landscape of surpassing beauty. The hillside at our feet falls precipitately to the lowland of the river valley, and a mingled panorama of forest, sky, stream and woodland lies before us. The Paskamansett, like a band of silver, appears at the northern edge of our field of vision and winding away to the southward is lost in the distant forest. The beauty of this prospect does not appeal in vain to the traveler, and if he tarries here during an afternoon in autumn, when the trees are clothed in their attractive foliage, a scene of unrivaled splendor is exhibited for his enjoyment. We sometimes wonder whether our forefathers realized the beauty of the old town and whether nature appealed to them with her attractive mood in the charming manner with which she seeks to win our attention in these later days. Down the hillside, over the pastures on our way toward the river, we halt for a few moments at a place but little known and almost never visited, and which a stranger at this day, in spite of careful landmarks and close scrutiny, would with great difficulty discover, namely, the slave burial ground. So completely has this interesting spot reverted to its natural condition, surrounded by no barrier and used year after year as a grazing spot for cattle, that we have to scan the ground closely for the external evidence of the graves which lie beneath our feet. But here they are, one row after another, giving us no clue other than their presence, as to the origin of this burial place, and the tradition that it was a last resting place for slaves. As year succeeds year the traces of this burial ground are disappearing, and eventually its distinguishing features will be lost. It would seem that a due regard and respect for a plot of ground appropriated for such a purpose would suggest an effort for its preservation. Its pathetic interest appeals to the passer-by as he recalls possibly the fact that these servants of our forefathers rendered a willing and cheerful service during their lives, and now rest in this sequestered and well-nigh forgotten site. The Paskamansett River flows quietly by on its journey to the ocean but a few rods away from their last resting place, typical of the current of human life flowing onward day by day into the boundless ocean of eternity. The lines of Gray cannot truthfully be quoted here:
“Their name, their age, spelt by the unlettered Muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply,
And many a holy text around she strews
To touch the rustic moralist to die.”
No visible memorial rises above them. No inscribed tablet furnishes a history of the names, the ages, and the origin of this apparently forgotten race. In whose service they lived and died, must to all intents and purposes remain unknown.
Climbing the hill once more, we reach the Tucker road again, which received its name from being formerly included within the domain of the Tucker family, and serving at one time, for a long extent of its course, as a line of division between the acres of the two sons of the first proprietor.
We resume our journey and proceed northward along the highway, for perhaps half a mile or more, when we again cross the meadow and, passing within sight of the former homestead of Abraham Tucker Jr., shortly before we reach the Slocum Road, we stop at a spot where once resided Henry Tucker, the brother of the latter. He was the grandson of the first settler of that name, and was born in 1680. Hither he brought his young wife, Phebe Barton, in the year 1704, whom he had married in Greenwich, Rhode Island, the daughter of Benjamin Barton of Warwick, and the granddaughter of Samuel Gorton, the founder of that town and a prominent historical character in the early annals of New England. Various historians have pronounced upon his character and influence. While he was opposed to and bitterly disliked the Quakers, yet his daughter Susanna, in spite of all, married Benjamin Barton, one of the sect, and Phebe, daughter of the latter, after her marriage to Henry Tucker, became a prominent member of the society in Dartmouth, as the records of the denomination will testify.
Mary, a sister of Phebe Barton, married Jabez Green of Rhode Island, and her son, Nathaniel Green, was the father of another Nathanial Green, the famous general in the American Revolution. Andrew Barton, a brother of Phebe, was the grandfather of William Barton, another officer in the same war, who led the expedition to Newport in the middle years of that struggle, capturing the English general Prescott, by night, and conveying him a prisoner to the mainland. Whether Phebe (Barton) Tucker ever saw her grandnephews, Nathanial Green and William Barton, in the days of their childhood, we cannot tell, as the date of her death is not given, but it is not unlikely that they visited on more than one occasion their great-aunt at her Dartmouth home with their parents. One branch of her descendants in New Bedford (a portion of the Ricketson family) has shown an attachment to the name Barton, and it has been used more than once as a Christian name in that family of latter years.
The farm adjoining at the north, beautiful in its location, and known in latter time as the “Ryder Farm,” is now occupied by the family of the late James T. Wilbur, its owner at the time of his death, and purchased by him from Barton Ricketson Jr., the proprietors in each instance being descendants of the family now under consideration.
The afternoon is passing, and the lengthening shadows remind us that we must continue our journey. Passing down the slope and proceeding backward along the road for a few steps we enter the gateway of Job S. Gidley, and stop before an excellent type of the New England farm house, dating in the opinion of an excellent authority on old buildings, Henry B. Worth, to a period as remote as 1720. On the site of this present dwelling two centuries and a quarter ago there stood the stone dwelling of Henry Tucker, whose son, John, was an occupant here at the opening of the eighteenth century. Hither came Thomas Story in the summer of 1699, and paused to rest while on his way to the old meeting house at Aponegansett. He was a minister of the Society of Friends, an acquaintance and associate of William Penn in the year 1700 as a member of the “Council of State,” and soon afterwards “Keeper of the Great Seal,” “Master of the Rolls,” and one of his “Commissioners of Property.” Two years later he was appointed first recorder of the city of Philadelphia. He subsequently, however, returned to his native land, where he spent his last days. Thomas Story was born of an opulent family in Cumberland. Becoming dissatisfied with the ritual of the established church, and entering upon a deeply religious life, the historian tells us that his sword which he had worn as a manly ornament was laid aside. His instruments of music was committed to the flames, and superfluous apparel no longer adorned his person. He felt it his duty to discontinue his attendance at the national place of worship, and a secret impression arose in his mind that one day he should be called upon to oppose the world in matters of religion. About the year 1691 he became identified with the Society of Friends, and shortly afterward became a leading minister among them. It was in this capacity that he was traveling through the Plymouth colony in the year 1699.
We quote from his journal as follows:
“On the 7th I went to Scituate. The day following I rode thirty miles near to Sandwich, and hearing that my companion was to have a meeting next day at Dartmouth, about thirty-five miles off, after some concern and consideration, I resolve to go hither. Accordingly, in the morning, about the break of day, we set forward, and arrived at John Tucker’s, three miles from the meeting house, about half an hour after the ninth hour. Here we rested a little, and then went to the meeting, and were there before my companion; who, when he came, was glad to see me, for the meeting was large, and he had almost lost his voice by a great cold.”
What experts in horsemanship they were in those times. We think with surprise of a person riding more than forty miles on such a trip in the early morning of a summer’s day, for we must recollect that the distance between Dartmouth and the point from which our traveler began his journey, was greater than today. No bridge crossed the Acushnet River, other than the one near Lunds Corner, and consequently Thomas Story was compelled to follow such a circuitous route as this. In those days it was quite a circumstance to travel from even Padanaram to Mattapoisett, which required one to proceed northward to Acushnet Village and then down upon the other side of the river, and yet this zealous gospel visitor, simply speaks of resting a short time after this long and tedious ride, before proceeding to the meeting house at Aponegansett, then newly erected. The visits of such men from the mother country were highly prized by their Quaker brethren in Dartmouth, and we can imagine the cordial welcome which he received on that bright June morning. The visit of this English minister would be looked upon as an event of unusual interest. He was a man of broad culture, varied attainment, and with a profound knowledge of the Scriptures; and we find upon reference to the meeting records that he gave them valuable advice in the matter of securing a proper title of the meeting house land at
Within a few years subsequent to this time, he visited Nantucket, and was instrumental in the establishment of a meeting of Friends upon that island.
How rapidly time flies! Two centuries and more have passed since that beautiful June morning when the distinguished visitor from England was a brief sojourner here, and among the thousands who have passed through the gateway since that time, no one has surpassed Thomas Story as a type of noble English manhood. Down the lane, through the meadows and the cornfield, our journey now takes us, to the Paskamansett once more, sparkling in the sunshine, where its current, deep and slow-moving, sweeps southward between high banks with the shadows of overarching trees reflected in its bosom, over the stone bridge with wide arches and solid piers, standing as firmly as upon the day of its completion. More than once of latter times the sojourner from the city has planted his camera on the bridge and carried thence many reminders of this beautiful stream. Over the bridge, on toward the Chase road, our footsteps lead us, but our progress is arrested by a spot which tradition and history unite in assigning as the abode of an old slave, who after his manumission chose this as a residence and was granted the privilege of passing his last days in the rude hut which he erected. A depression in the ground discloses today, unmistakably, a trace of the cellar of his home. Nearby was his garden, and a keen scrutiny of the adjacent ground reveals the space which he once tilled. Here he lived year after year and was a resident at this place as late as the opening of the last century. The writer has been told that his grandfather, as a boy, more than once visited the old patriarch and doubtless listened to tales of by-gone days. His name is unknown, but he was undoubtedly one of the slaves owned by Joseph Tucker, and consequently after obtaining his freedom was granted the privilege of passing his last days as a free man within the domain of his former owner. Several slaves were at one time held by members of the Society of Friends in Dartmouth, but the spirit of humanity and the strong testimony borne by that sect against the injustice of holding their fellow men in bondage, contributed to secure freedom for these slaves at a comparatively early period. Here old Cuffee or Sambo, as he may have been called, lived quietly, cultivating his garden to satisfy his simple wants, and paying frequent visits to his white neighbors to secure such added comforts as he needed, for the Friends with their humane and hospitable spirit would pay due regard to any request for assistance that these old servants might call for at their hands. But the cabin has disappeared, the woodland has encroached upon the old man’s garden, the former sojourner at this spot has long since passed away, and nature now holds in her embrace all traces of his occupancy. It is pleasant to call up these associations, serving as they do for connecting links between our present age of bustling activity and the quiet even tenor of the lives of these old people who have departed forever.
Our forest path leads onward to a gateway at the Chase Road, and nearly directly opposite we enter upon a road to Westport. At the corner of this road was in earlier days the homestead of Adam Mott, a resident of Dartmouth of more than ordinary prominence, and a minister among the Friends. He was born in the year 1692, of Rhode Island parentage, and died in 1767. He was, moreover, the uncle of General Nathanial Greene, as the latter’s mother was a sister of Adam Mott, and he was also the great grandson of Lawrence Southwick of Salem, and the Daniel and Cassandra Southwick previously mentioned in the lines quoted from Whittier, were the brother and sister respectively of his grandfather. His name is found frequently in the records of the Society of Friends, and he appears to have traveled extensively to other parts of the land while engaged in ministerial service. Thomas Mott, his son, who died in 1818, was the last one of this line to bear the name in Dartmouth. But while the name has gone, his descendants are still here, and can look back with pride to such an ancestor.
Adam Mott was undoubtedly representative of the substantial class of people who made the old township what it was, and still more, what it is today.
How much we regret that we have only pen pictures of the old inhabitants. What a train of associations their names call up. How often we wonder and speculate as to how they seemed and what they did. What a privilege to have had but a glance at the interior of the Aponegansett meeting house when filled with worshippers two hundred years ago. Their quaint apparel and dignity would have impressed us; and then to follow them to their houses and witness, for a few hours, the character of their domestic life. But these days have gone forever.
Adam Mott pursued his callings as a blacksmith in a little shop close at hand, and his account book with daily transactions is still preserved by one of his New Bedford descendants. We may conclude that he tolled faithfully day by day, at his chosen calling. His home was upon the direct road from Dartmouth to Newport, a thoroughfare of great importance in colonial days; and as the majority of travelers pursued their journey on horseback, there were countless horses to be shod as the years went by.
In the year 1755 he made, for those days, a long journey into the middle states with Nicholas Davis, attending the meetings of Friends in their course, and it was upon their return that his companion sickened and died at the house of William Russell at Oblong, in the New York colony, a former resident of Dartmouth, and a brother of Joseph Russell, the founder of New Bedford.
How much of historic interest comes up as we pass from one place to another in this section. I might have mentioned that the mother of Abraham Tucker Jr., to whose homestead we recently paid a visit, was before her marriage, Hannah Mott, the aunt of this Adam Mott, and consequently a great-aunt of General Nathanial Greene. And another peculiar circumstance in this family is that her youngest daughter, Hannah Tucker, married Dr. James Green, an uncle of the general.
It seems remarkable that a man of such warlike temperament should have been related to so many families in Dartmouth among the peaceful Society of Friends, and that he himself, born of and reared by Quaker parents, should have chosen such a calling.
The Motts and the Slocums were among the best of the early Dartmouth families. They intermarried at an early period and were leading people in their time. Adam Mott, first of the name, and great-grandfather of the Adam under consideration, was born in Cambridge, England, in 1596, and came to America in 1635. Elizabeth Mott, a granddaughter, married William Ricketson, and they were the ancestors of all who have that surname in this vicinity. For her second husband, Elizabeth (Mott) Ricketson married Matthew Wing, and they were perhaps the ancestors of nearly all who bear the name of Wing in this locality. As the writer happened to be a descendant of Elizabeth Mott, through both of her marriages, Ricketson and Wing, he was enabled to ascertain her maiden name, and shortly before his death communicated his discovery to the late Daniel Ricketson, to the latter’s great satisfaction, who had hitherto endeavored unsuccessfully to obtain this information.
With the death of Adam Mott in 1767 there passed away one of the best representatives of the Dartmouth Friends, a society which was rich in noble men and women during the eighteenth century, and which wielded a far greater influence in the social, the business and the political life of the community than in these latter days.
We have thus visited a few of many localities in the town, which afford a degree of interest and serve as connecting links to the years which have long since passed away. The day is waning and we pursue our homeward journey. In the distance an electric car travels swiftly along in its flight toward the city, and for a moment we stop to consider what our forefathers would think if they could for an hour only be introduced into our modern ways and methods. What a contrast the opening years of the twentieth century afford to the days and years which have vanished? But the comforts of their domestic lives and firesides, their religious sincerity, their lofty ideas, their loyalty to principle, are not surpassed in their descendants.
Historical Glimpses of Dartmouth Schools
By Job S. Gidley
It is somewhat difficult to get accurate information of our schools previous to the war of the Revolution. It would be very desirable to know more about them than what has come to us by tradition or may be learned by delving among the ancient records of the town. As the town did not in its corporate capacity erect any school buildings from 1798, when it was first divided into school districts, till 1866, when the district system was abolished, very little allusion is made to schoolhouses upon our records. It is generally supposed that most, if not all of the public schools of Dartmouth previous to about 1816 were taught in dwelling houses, for even as late as 1841 and 1842 this was the case in some of the school districts.
In looking over the old records I have found many interesting little items, and if it were not straying too far from my object, I am sure they would prove interesting to you, as glimpses into the town affairs of those old-time days. Here is a very short item that I think I must quote:
“At a Legal Town meeting held at the Town house in Dartmouth on Monday the 214th Day of May, A.D. 1798:-
Voted: that Daniel Peabody’s Dark red ten year old Cow may be permitted to Go at Large on the Commons or highway the year ensuing.
Attest: John Smith, Town Clerk.”
This generous act on the part of the town would show that her people were mindful of the poor, as well as of the education of the children.
At the annual town meeting in 1798, it was “Voted that the Selectmen shall divide the Town into School Districts and make returns to the adjournment of this meeting.” At the adjournment of said meeting, which was held on May 14th, the people not only made provision for Daniel Peabody’s cow, but they also voted to accept the report of the selectmen who had divided the town into eleven school districts. They also appropriated $250 for the support of public schools. The next year only $100 was appropriated. From 1800 to 1810 inclusive the town appropriated $200 per year for schools; in 1811, $150; 1812, $200. For the next three years, $150 a year was appropriated; for the next two years, $200; for the next two years, $300 a year; for the next six years, $200 a year; in 1826, $600. Through the thirties about $1000 or more a year was the sum given.
I have reached the conclusion that houses for the public schools were not erected until after the town was redistricted in 1816. It is generally supposed that the first schoolhouses that were built after the town was divided into districts were built by the people living within each district, and thus becoming property of the districts and not of the town itself.
Tradition says that the first schoolhouse for the public was erected at the Head of the Gulf Road, so-called, also known as Seth Davis Corner. This was a small building having a Dutch-cap roof, and in this respect it differed from all the others in the town. This, like all the rest of the schoolhouses at an early date, stood by the side of the road without any yard as playground for the scholars. It would seem, from the location of these schoolhouses that in the good old times the public road was considered the ideal playground for the children who attended school. It seemed to be the usual custom to have all the schoolhouses with doors opening directly into the highways. If the road proved too narrow for the building, so that the latter would interfere with the traveling public, a small piece of land would be procured, large enough so that the house would stand with its front about in the line of the roadside. I can call to mind several schoolhouses so situated, even up to the time of the abolishment of the districts in 1866. One was at the Head of the River, near the old Town House; another at Seth Davis’s Corner; one at Allen’s Neck; another at Hixville. The last is still standing, I believe. After about 1830 to 1840 the prevailing custom was to have a school yard of about a half-acre or less. I think no houses were built in the town after 1840 without yards.
The internal arrangement of the primitive schoolhouses did not show that either time or money was wasted in the embellishment of them. The usual custom of seating was to have long benches, usually on three sides of the room, with shorter ones in the middle. A sloping desk for the teacher and a chair or two made up about all the furniture that was necessary. No paint or varnish was seen either on the outside or on the inside of the building.
The schoolhouse at Seth Davis’s Corner, which I have mentioned above as being probably the first public schoolhouse built, is now standing in the dooryard on the farm of the late William R. Slocum, where formerly lived Benjamin Gidley who, with his son Philip, were instrumental in having the house built. This tiny schoolhouse in now in a very dilapidated condition. One side has been partially removed, some of the window panes are broken, and the low door has sagged so that it does not open. I was reminded, as I looked at it, of Whittier’s poem:
“Still sits the schoolhouse by the road,
A ragged beggar sunning;
Around it still the sumacs grow,
And blackberry vines are running.”
But within this building “the master’s desk, deep-scarred by raps official.” Is no longer to be seen, nor the “battered seats” of the children.
I took the measurements of this room, where, as I have been informed, sixty children went to school for at least one year of its history. The floor is 15 feet 8 inches by 15 feet 4 inches. The height of the room, 7 feet 8 inches, and there was formerly a little entry 3 feet 8 inches in width.
The school committee, even as late as the report of 1853, have described one school building after this manner:
“In No. 2 there is hardly an apology for a house. It is so very poor that the district was not able to have a school in it the past winter. We do not consider it fit even for a sheep cote, showing as it does the marks of the skill of several generations of boys on the walls and benches, but we forbear description.”
As the early schoolhouses were all built by the districts, the old records of the town give us nothing concerning them, and whether any of the school district records are now in existence is not known to the writer.
It has been already noted that in the early days it was the districts, not the town itself, that had the direct charge of school buildings; and I have been unable to find any reference to schoolhouses in the town records earlier than 1842. This first reference is the following:
“To Henry S. Packard, Town Clerk:
“We, the subscribers, Assessors of the Town of Dartmouth, do hereby certify that we have determined and assessed a tax on the Real Estate that the following named persons have, situated in Dartmouth, viz.: Reuben Russell, Frederic Kempton, Harriet Burgess, Estate of William Russell, Thomas Kempton on and for Harriet Burgess (again) Zenas Whittemore Randall and Haskell Julius Mayhew, Joseph Kempton and William Roach, all of New Bedford, and David Buffinton and H. Wilbur of Swansey.-To assist in raising the sum of three hundred and seventy $3.100 Dollars to build a school house in District No. 29.
“Given under our hands the first day of July, 1842.
“Henry S. Packard,
“Assessors of Dartmouth.”
The year 1827 marks a change in the school system, when the town elected its first board of school committee, containing five members, William B. Mason, Jonathan King, Simon P. Winslow, Isaac R. Gifford and Henry H. Crapo. Previous to this time the schools had been in charge of a prudential committee, of which each district chose one member. After the election of the board of school committee the prudential committee was still continued, and there are indications in the old school reports that there were sometimes conflicts between the two. The prudential committee looked after the immediate needs of the schools, each member for his own district. They also chose teachers, usually subject to the approval of the school committee. In these days the teachers were frequently changed,-a fact which the school committee deplored. I quote from an old school committee report as follows: “We are thoroughly convinced, and would earnestly recommend, that the power of selecting and contracting with teachers, should be left in the hands of the school committee. They know better what kind of a teacher a school needs than nine tenths of the prudential committees selected by the districts, and they know far better what teachers are adapted to the several schools.”
From the minutes of the town meeting in 1827, the year when the first school committee was elected, I quote as follows:
“Voted, That each district choose their own prudential committee and make return to the adjournment of this meeting.”
Only seven districts complied with the requirement of the town to choose their prudential committee, so the town at the adjourned meeting elected the remaining fourteen.
At this time $400 was voted for the “10-months’ school.” This school was of the highest grade, as distinguished from the other schools, which were usually kept about four months in the year.
Also it was “voted that the 10-months’ school be at or near Hixes meeting house, Smith Mills, and Padanaram or the head of Aponeganset river as the committee shall determine.
“Voted to raise the sum of seven hundred dollars for schools (that is, the schools in general, not the 10-months’ school). Voted to pass a vote to exempt said town from being obliged to have Greek and Latin schools. Voted to raise the sum of four hundred dollars for the 10-months’ school, to annex the 10-months’ school to the four-months’ school.
“Voted that the general committee Proportion the time of the four months school to the several districts in Said town.
“Voted that the Prudential Committee call on the Town treasurer for money to pay the teachers for the time assigned to each district by the aforesaid committee. Which when paid shall be allowed in said Treasurer’s account on a Settlement with the town by his Producing Said Prudential Committee’s receipts for the same.”
In the year 1866, just before the annual town meeting, a few of the people of Dartmouth conceived the idea that it would be an excellent thing to do away with the school district system and a few preliminary meetings were held in the village of Smith Mills to take the initiatory steps, and the following was prepared to be inserted in the warrant: “Article, To vote upon the abolition of the school district system as required by the 4th section of the 39th chapter of the general statutes, and take such action as may be necessary.”
At this town meeting there was considerable opposition to the proposition, and when the article was considered and the time came to vote upon the same, the vote was taken by a division of the meeting, resulting, as declared by the moderator, as follows: “For abolishing the school district system, 120 votes; against abolishing, 113 votes.” The vote being doubted, it was voted to determine the matter by ballot, and the school district system was abolished by the following vote: Yeas, 108; nays, 100. Next it was voted that the school district property be appraised by a committee of three, and that the assessors be that committee.
Thus passed away the dual system of schools and the door was opened into a clearer atmosphere.
The next step was to choose a schoolhouse building committee to divide the town into a smaller number of sections and build fewer schoolhouses. The conservative party succeeded in electing some on the committee whose ideas were not quite up to modern methods; but with all the mistakes made, we can see that all this was a step in the right direction. Under the district system it sometimes happened, as I have before noted, that a teacher who had been engaged by the prudential committee was, after being examined by the general committee, found not qualified for the position, and that such occurrences as this often caused friction between the two boards.
Again, under the new system, the old method of mechanical teaching was to be done away with. Under the new system, teachers’ meetings were held under the direction of the school committee and a remarkable change was made for the better. Among other things that had passed their usefulness, the old style of schoolhouses was relegated to the past, and a gradual improvement in buildings and furniture went on.
The first board of school committee, whose names I have read, contained five members; afterwards the town elected three members each year from 1827 till 1858, when a change was made according to which one member was elected for three years, one for two years and another for one year, and afterwards one each year was elected for a period of three years. It was the practice of school committees to read their reports at the annual town meetings, as we often find on the “Records of Town Meetings” the following: “Voted, to accept the report of the School Committee.”
Isaac R. Gifford, who was one of the men first elected to the school board, was re-elected six times afterwards in succession, and in various years he was elected as school committeeman thirteen different times. Thus he was elected more times than any other person in the history of the town.
In the years 1851 and 1852 the school committee were Theodore Wilbur, James N. Macomber and Jesse Tucker, who conceived the idea that it would be an advantage to have the school report printed. They took the subject of printing them into their own hands.
Our record does not give the number that was issued; neither did my informant give me that information, but he admitted that the reports were printed at the expense of the school committee.
Doubtless the citizens at large were satisfied with the new arrangement, for we find this recorded: “Voted that one thousand copies of the Report of the School Committee be printed at the expense of the Town.” This means for the ensuing year.
Having said so much about our early schools, we must not forget that there is much to be said about our early school teachers, many of whom were earnest, faithful workers, although their opportunities were so limited.
In 1798, when the town was first divided into school districts, it was
“Voted, that there shall be one school master employed at the Town’s expense.”
The following shows that all the people were not satisfied with the new arrangement, for we find also the following record:
“At a Town Meeting legally warned and held at the Town house in Dartmouth on the 19th day of June A.D., 1798, Voted: not to reconsider the vote that passed at the adjournment of the Annual Meeting respecting schools.”
The teachers in these early times, as you all know, laid great stress upon the three Rs. In an especial manner did they emphasize mathematics, for very often not only arithmetic, but also surveying and navigation received attention. Good mathematicians were by no means uncommon, and many problems were worked out in our schools which would vex many a college youth of the present day. I have here a book which bears the date of 1830 and the name of Thomas K. Wilbur, an early teacher, which will show to those of you who care to examine it some of the care which was bestowed upon the old “ciphering books.”
Here are also a few leaves from another ciphering book made by a lad of sixteen, Abraham Tucker, who attended school in Dartmouth during the War of the Revolution. This book was certainly in its way a work of art. The neatness of the penmanship and figuring, and the elaborate flourishing done with his quill pen are quite marvelous. It is not surprising that his teacher recommended the preservation of this book, and we find on one of the margins the following inscription: “This work has been kept by Abraham Tucker in memory of Amy Shearman, wife of Paul Shearman, his Instructress, by her request.”
I have just mentioned Thomas K. Wilbur as one of the early teachers, and I want to read you a few of the sixteen rules which he drew up for his school. In his own words:
“The following Rules and Regulations are for the purpose of supporting that harmony which (in and out of School) may be conducive to literary improvement in its several branches which, if pursued, may enable us to become useful members of Society:
- Therefore it is concluded that no Scholar idle away or waste more than 10 minutes about the School house in the morning after I get to it.
- That no one wait to be called into School the second time at any time in the course of the day, nor wait after being called to exceed 10 minutes.
- That every Scholar that comes into School has the privilege of going to the stove to warm without asking liberty if he or she goes before taking his or seat.
- That after Scholars have taken their seats they do not leave them on any occasion without liberty.
- That no one indulge the habit of smiling or laughing in School except something should occur that would render it allowable.”
The other rules prohibit whispering; marking or cutting the school property; leaving school without liberty; throwing snow “at any other Scholar, or in the schoolhouse”; quarreling and fighting; taking part in a lottery or gambling; or writing letters or billets in school without permission.
From the memorandum kept by a young woman teacher of one of the public schools of Dartmouth in the year 1841, it appears that she had 25 pupils, five of whom were at the tender age of three years, while two were aged 18, and the rest were of various ages, indicating that she had all the different grades. The following year in the same district, she had 30 pupils, seven of whom were only four years old and three others only two. Doubtless this young woman besides having the ability to teach a good school, also had the happy faculty of pleasing the mothers, who, judging by the memorandum she left, thought the public school an ideal place for a day nursery. I was not at all surprised after looking over the account of this school, to find in the records of the town meeting the following year that some who were more considerate than to have the teachers care for all the babies in the districts made an effort to have the age limit of pupils raised a little, but as is usually the case, great changes are brought about gradually. The town in 1843 “Voted not to exclude children from attending school under four years of age.”
Among the men whom our schools were educating up to future usefulness during the early years of the last century was Henry H. Crapo, who was afterwards to become governor of the state of Michigan.
In the winter of 1824-25 Henry H. Crapo taught school in the twelfth school district in Dartmouth. At the close of this school he delivered an address to his pupils, from which I quote as follows:
“Once more, respected audience, I am bound by duty to arise and leave my parting counsel with you; * * * I am but a youth, not yet arrived to the age of manhood. My passions are strong; my feelings are tender; and yet I, with some degree of confidence, presume to address you on the important subject of education. My experience with the world is small, my knowledge of men and things is small, my acquired qualifications are small, and my natural, still less.
“From this you might conclude it to be presumptuous confidence in my own abilities. Surely not! From what reason then will you conclude I am induced to undertake a task so much above my capacities? I will tell you, as I have ever told you, ‘a sense of duty’ * * *
“Our beneficent Author, wise Creator and powerful Upholder has endowed us with ideas suited to our being, and the purpose for which he intended us. He hath bestowed on us a capacity for great and noble purposes, and certain geniuses for particular arts and sciences. But these are like the uncultivated forest; they will produce nothing without culture; cultivate them and they will bring forth fruit. But they must be pruned and reared in youth, as a tender plant in the opening of spring; and that by your own toil.
“You may have assistance from others, but without your own endeavors they can avail you but little. You must not expect to mount the hill of science on your instructors’ backs, and then look down with contempt on the inhabitants below. No; if ever you expect to arrive there, you must begin in youth, and continue the pursuit to advanced age.
“When you have attained the summit of your destination in scientific researches, by a strict application to study in any particular art or science, you can then enjoy the crown that is allotted to the persevering and industrious. But without this (your own toil) you can never arrive there. Some, with personal confidence, presume to say: ‘If I am to endure the fatigue in order to obtain the reward, I shall never enjoy it; it will never repay my time, pains and fatigue.’ Excellent characters these, undoubtedly! And yet, the greater part of our citizens are of this class. Even the greater part of that rank of men called farmers have an idea that education ruins their children; and if they can compute the amount of a few bushels of potatoes, and write their names with as many heads and horns as the beast spoken of in the Scriptures, that will suffice. Wonderful critics, these! Who would have their posterity fall back into ignorance, to save a four-pence, and thereby become an easy prey to despotic power? No, I shall teach you different language. Whether as a farmer, a mechanic, a doctor, a lawyer, a statesman, or a man of pleasure, education is alike essential; and to a farmer especially; for, in a form of government like this, free and independent, there is nothing but what depends on this class of citizens for support. * * * I would recommend to you the frequent perusal of books. And in this perusal, endeavor to enter into the author’s feelings and comprehend his meaning. You will by this means form a taste for reading and study and improve your judgments and store your minds with useful knowledge. * * * Now is the season of life to form the basis of your future eminence, and the fabric of your future character must be reared on such principles as you may form at this period of life. * * * Devote the precious moments of your youth to what I have been here recommending, viz. Study; and when once your mind has become engaged, you will not be disturbed by many a vice that would otherwise corrode you. Should you then want to amuse yourselves, you could, with pleasure, flee to some author, and at the same time what little knowledge you might acquire would well compensate for the time * * * And now, by the compulsion of duty, I must drop a word of counsel to you respecting that which perhaps I have been deficient in, viz., obedience to parents. My advice to you with respect to this is that you gratify their wishes, and comply with their requests, even when they require a sacrifice of your own passions and desires, so far as they claim obedience from you. They are your seniors by many years. Hearken to their counsels, for they are dictated by tender feelings * * *
“But, about all things, deride not the holy precepts of Religion. Listen with profound veneration to its voice. Conduct yourselves with the utmost reverence at the house of worship, and indulge not the ungrateful idea of the non-existence of a supernatural being, whose omniscience and omnipresence is not to be doubted. * * *”
Such a stirring appeal as he made to his pupils more than 80 years ago I doubt not has borne much good fruit in stirring up not only his pupils but all who came into personal contact with the man to greater faithfulness, and doubtless went a great way in the improvement of the schools of his native town. His energy, his plain speaking, show that the people of the town made no mistake in electing him as one the first board of school committee two years later. And this account is given of him in relation to his service in the capacity as a school committee.
He was visiting a farmer who had a large family of children. This man had recently bought a farm with little of it cleared for farming purposes, and did not see how he could spare his children to go to school in the spring of the year. But he who could make such an address to his own pupils had no doubt a good way of impressing this old farmer with the advantages a good education would bring to his children, for when the committee man left him the farmer said: “Well, you may have 11 of them.”
Henry H. Crapo was 23 years of age when elected to the school board, and doubtless was its youngest member, but having been a teacher in the public schools since he was 18 years of age, he was without doubt the right man for the place. In his early youth he had desired to be a land surveyor, but not having the money to buy a compass, he made one during the winter of 1829-30, when he was teaching the High school at the Head of Westport.
I wish this compass could be found and placed in the rooms of the Dartmouth Historical Society. It would make a valuable addition to its collections. The following memorandum, kept by Henry H. Crapo while teaching the school alluded to, shows that in the nineteen weeks of its session he made out 108½ days. During twelve weeks the school was kept six days per week, during three weeks five and a half days, during four weeks he taught five days per week. He boarded around. The longest time in any one place was seven days two meals; the shortest time one day. He boarded at thirty-five different places.
108½ days – 4 months 20½ Days.
Therefore H. H. Crapo’s bill for tuition, viz., 4 41-44 months at $18, $88.78
Allowance for board, 1.22
102 days board by the parents.
6½ days he paid his own board.
In conclusion, I will say that to these early day educators to whom I have alluded and others like them who labored industriously in encouraging the young people to greater faithfulness, we, I believe, owe a great debt of gratitude. Who of us would be willing to say that without their faithfulness we should have had all the improvements which have been made in our public schools during the past century?
In place of the little schoolhouse by the road,
“A ragged beggar sunning,”
We have some like the one in this village with far better accommodations, with a large playground, and better equipment for school work.
Now if the young people who are in attendance of our public schools at the present day will acquit themselves as well in proportion to what they have to work with as did the scholars in the olden time, doubtless the essayist who writes “Historical Glimpses of Dartmouth Schools” a hundred years hence will be able to add many interesting pages to our history.
Pilgrimage of the Old South Historical Society to Old Dartmouth
The members and friends of the Old South Historical society, 150 strong, made Old Dartmouth the destination of their annual pilgrimage on June 24th, 1905.
The day’s program included a visit to the Old Dartmouth rooms, a speech of welcome by President William W. Crapo of the local society and a response by President George G. Wolkins of the Old South; an inspection of the objects in the Old Dartmouth museum, a trip to Fort Phoenix and a luncheon, an inspection of the Fairhaven public buildings and of the grounds of Henry H. Rogers, exercises in the Fairhaven town hall, at which speeches were made by George H. Tripp, Edwin D. Mead, Ray Greene Huling and Rev. Paul R. Frothingham, and finally a sail down the bay on steamer Martha Vineyard as far as the island of Cuttyhunk, the scene of the first settlement in what is now New England, 303 years ago.
The visitors arrived in the city on a special train which reached New Bedford about 10:30, and were met at the Pearl Street station by a committee comprising George H. Tripp, Charles F. Shaw and Charles W. Walker. Special cars were taken to the center of the city, where the visitors assembled in the Old Dartmouth Historical Society rooms.
The members of the local organization had been busily at work all the morning preparing for the Old South pilgrims. The large room adjoining the museum was furnished with chairs for the reception of guests, and in one corner tables were set for a light luncheon consisting of crackers, cheese and lemonade. In the directors’ room visitors were able to sign their names in register with ink dipped from an historical inkstand, although the historical quill pen was for show purposes only, a modern steel affair being used when it came to signing. Little buttons, like those used at campaign time, were provided-those for members bearing a detail from one of the old whaling prints, those for the visitors a picture of the Gosnold Memorial shaft at Cuttyhunk.
President William W. Crapo called the gathering to order by ringing a historical bell. It was the bell, he explained, that was used by the old town crier; and he recalled having heard it, as a boy, the crier ringing it at the street corners to announce a lost child or some other event of public interest. It was this bell, too, which was tolled from the balcony of Liberty Hall on the day that news was received here of the execution of John Brown.
“The Old Dartmouth Historical Society,” said Mr. Crapo, “extends a hearty welcome to the members of the Old South. This visit, from one of the oldest and most prominent historical associations to this, which is perhaps the youngest in New England, is especially gratifying. We appreciate here the excellent work of the Old South in the promotion of historical research and the education of the younger members by pilgrimages which afford an opportunity for the personal inspection of places of historical interest.
“You example is an encouragement to us. Boston and its vicinity are rich in historical material. But there are other places that have a local history that is interesting and important, and chief among them is the old town of Dartmouth. Within a few miles of where you are now assembled is the spot where the first attempt was made to establish an English colony in New England. Bartholomew Gosnold in the little bark Concord, anchored off the island of Cuttyhunk 303 years ago, and on an island within the island built a structure for abode and defense. During his tarry in this neighborhood he visited the mainland where you now are and entered into dealings with the friendly natives.
“Later the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth. The early settlers of Dartmouth were dissenters from the church at Plymouth. Desiring a larger religious liberty and greater freedom of conscience than was there allowed them, they made their way 30 miles through the wilderness and settled on the banks of the Acushnet and the Apponegansett. Persecutions followed. The arbitrary and austere leaders of the church at Plymouth imposed fines on the settlers here, and they suffered further through the savage warfare carried on by the Indians under King Philip.
“During the Revolution a British army invaded New Bedford and burned stores, vessels, and docks. For 100 years New Bedford was noted as the foremost whaling port in the world. The whale fishery, an occupation requiring extraordinary hardihood and daring brought the town prosperity and wealth. The old slogan of the sailors as they lowered their boats from the ships’ davits and pulled out on the ocean in pursuit of the leviathan—‘A dead whale or a stove boat’—expressed the grim determination and fearlessness of the men engaged in this most hazardous vocation.
“I suppose that on this occasion what is desired in a speech is brevity. We regret that time will not permit our showing you all the sights of interest which we would like you to see. The members of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society will act as guides. In the museum section we have a collection of whaling implements which is more complete than any to be found elsewhere. We have with us also three whaling masters, Captain George O. Baker, Captain Joshua G. Baker and Captain Ezra Lapham, who have had experience in the Arctic, The Pacific and the Indian Oceans. You need only ply them with questions to find out all you wish to know about the whale fishery. You will find also curios from the South Sea Islands.
“As you sail down the harbor this afternoon you will pass Fort Phoenix, which was built before the War of the Revolution, and which is associated with the gallantry of Major Israel Fearing. You will sail over waters which were the scene of the first naval battle of the war of the revolution, and at Cuttyhunk you will see the monument erected in commemoration of the landing of Gosnold.
“We are glad that you have come to see us, and hope that the experience of the day will prove so agreeable that it will prompt you to come again.”
On behalf of the Old South Historical Society, President Wolkins made a brief response. He thanked Mr. Crapo for the warmth of his greeting. He said that it was especially appropriate that the greeting should come from Mr. Crapo, who he recalled as a man prominent in public life when he, Mr. Wolkins, was first beginning to read the newspapers. “Probably most of you,” he said, addressing the visitors, “will associate New Bedford chiefly with Mr. Crapo; you will recall him as being proposed as a candidate for governor for the old men, and will agree with me today that he might well be the candidate of the young and the old.”
Ellis L. Howland, who is chairman of the committee on arrangements of today’s pilgrimage, furnished some information as to the program. He announced that through the kindness of Henry H. Rogers, an opportunity would be given the pilgrims to inspect the grounds of his residence in Fairhaven on their way from the fort to the town hall.
The gathering then broke up and the members of the party filled in the time until noon partaking of refreshments and inspecting the museum. Captain George O. Baker was much in demand by people who wanted to see a real, live sea captain. One man who was introduced to him looked him over carefully, and then asked: “And you actually used to go to sea?” Thus cornered, the captain was obliged to own up. To other people he laughingly explained that since a recent illness he had begun to reflect seriously on life and was a little afraid to tell some of the stories he used to tell.
At noon special cars were taken for Fort Phoenix, where a luncheon in individual boxes was served. The self-constituted guides of the Old Dartmouth Society pointed out the objects of interest visible from the fort, and explained the part played by the fort in the War of the Revolution.
After lunch the visitors, at their leisure, made their way to the center of town. Many of them visited the grounds of Mr. Rogers on the way. All the Fairhaven public buildings were thrown open to their inspection, including the Unitarian Memorial Church, the library, and the town hall.
At 2:15 the pilgrims gathered in the Town Hall, Fairhaven, where short speeches were made. George H. Tripp, librarian of the New Bedford free public library, was the first speaker.
“It has been confidently reported that when Columbus landed at San Salvador,” said Mr. Tripp, “the natives threw up their hands and cried, ‘At last we are discovered.’ Today we can utter the same sentiment. The people of Old Dartmouth know its history, the larger works notice the main facts in its records, but the popular historian knows us not.
“Though Gosnold made the first attempt at English colonization in the new world within sight of our shores, though this section suffered severely in King Philip’s War, when every house was destroyed and many people lost their lives, one man within a stone’s throw of this building, though Dr. Increase Mather inveighed against the sins of the religiously independent citizens of Dartmouth and displayed a pious regret which veiled a feeling of satisfaction at the retribution which fell upon the old town for her independence, though our towns had at least two garrisons in the 17th century, though on this side of the river dwelt the last survivor of the Mayflower pilgrims, John Cook, whose body lies in a grave overlooking our river, our history is little known to the outside world.
“Though we were invaded during the Revolutionary War, 4,000 men, among them young Major André, marching through Bedford, destroying shipping, around the river and through Fairhaven, burning and pillaging as they went, history has very little to say about it. So we are doubly glad to welcome you today to our city and town, to pay respect to the organization which you represent, and to mention briefly a few of the historical facts concerned with the settlement and progress of Old Dartmouth, which from 1664 till today has never been inactive.
“We want the younger members of your society to know that it was the ship Dartmouth from Bedford (now New Bedford) on which was held the most famous and the most extravagant tea party in history. We want them to know that Fairhaven was only saved from destruction by the brave stand made near the old fort by Major Fearing and his determined followers. They should know of the exploit of Daniel Egery and Captain Pope early in May, 1775, a month before the battle of Bunker Hill, who recaptured two sloops which had been taken by the British sloop of war Falcon. The captain of the Falcon intended to use the sloops to transport sheep from Martha’s Vineyard to Boston for the British army stationed at that place. This Yankee naval expedition, the first in the war, interfered with his plans, and instead of sheep being sent to Boston, thirteen prisoners were marched there, as the result of the bold night assault of Captain Egery’s Fairhaven sailors. The whole affair was quite dramatic, a horseman bringing the news of the location of the prizes, just in back of West Island, the selection of a crew of twenty-five out of many eager volunteers, the dark night, the crew concealed below decks, the capture, the attempt of the non-combatant Quakers to secure their release lest it should spell trouble and bloodshed, the march to Cambridge and the delivery of the prisoners to the American authorities-this might be elaborated into a stirring tale. Again Fairhaven harbored a net of privateers, who did valiant service and were likened by the English to a ‘nest of hornets.’
“Is it generally known that in 1814 an invasion of the British was halted by a stage coach? Reminding one of the Battle of the Kegs in its amusing features, the boat loads of marines and sailors who were to land at Fairhaven and destroy the privateers which were on the stocks, were frightened away be the warlike sound of the Boston stage coach, which at 2:30 in the morning was starting from New Bedford. Rumbling across the bridge it threatened apparent disaster to the British crews, who supposed it must be artillery from New Bedford going to reinforce Fort Phoenix.
“It is known that New Bedford was a great whaling port, and the geographies and histories mention that fact above all others. We are proud of the fact that the city and towns of Old Dartmouth have helped to illuminate and improve the figures of the world’s people, but possibly a due proportion has not been observed in balancing the facts and the fancy. Possibly we should not have been discovered before had not timid ones dreaded the possible consequences of collision with the whales which are popularly assumed to revel around the wharves, and occasionally bump into the ferry boat and bridge in our harbor. But the new bridge should remove all danger of such a disaster. We welcome you to the locality which was and is now the chief whaling port of the world, but also to the cotton city of the United States, whose looms turn out the graduating dresses of a continent, and the finest cloth produced by machinery in the world. Also to the town which contains the largest factory for the manufacture of small nails and tacks. Old Dartmouth objected to the imposition of the hated English tax, and now we impose our tacks upon the householders of the world, and they are gladly accepted.
“But your president says we must be brief, so just a word about the rock at the old fort, where you have recently dined.
“Forming as it does the firm foundation on which the two friendly communities on opposite sides of the river have built their homes, it has also proved a rock of defense in time of war. And now, as if prophetic of the time when all wars shall cease, this same rock is being built into the churches and schoolhouses, which are to engage in the nobler conflict with ignorance, irreligion and vice.”
Ray Greene Huling, of the Cambridge English High School, at one time principal of the New Bedford High School, followed Mr. Tripp with one or two interesting stories. He alluded briefly to the expedition to Cuttyhunk by Gosnold in 1602, and to the purchase of lands hereabouts from the Indians by John Cook. He then touched on the value of historical study and of the excellent work in this line that is being done by the Old South and the Old Dartmouth associations.
Rev. Paul Revere Frothingham, who, with Mrs. Frothingham, was among the Boston pilgrims, made a pleasant speech. He spoke in praise of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society, and in admiration of New Bedford and the neighboring towns. He admired the wisdom of Gosnold in selecting a good harbor for his landing place, and said that it was in marked contrast to the bad judgment of the Pilgrims who sailed into Plymouth where there were mud flats at low tide. The energy, perseverance and patience of the people of New Bedford were alluded to by Mr. Frothingham. It was shown, he said, in the way they had dropped the whaling industry when it died out and in selecting the manufacture of cotton fabrics and making so much of it.
Edwin D. Mead, the next speaker, referred in opening to the observation of Immanuel Kant, the German philosopher, upon the advantage and education which come to those who live in a seaport town, and are reminded every day by the ships at their wharves of their connection with all parts of the world. Nothing can broaden men’s outlook more. Dr. Hale has often spoken of the breadth and variety of interests of the New Bedford people of sixty years ago, as compared with the people of most other New England towns at that time. The talk at the dinner tables was less of petty local matters, and vital in relation to picturesque things and impressive experiences which had come into the life of somebody in the family at the other side of the world. The story of the old whale fishing days at New Bedford and Nantucket was certainly full of romance. It constitutes a distinct and important chapter in our Massachusetts history, and is to be the theme of special study by the Old South young people the present year.
Mr. Mead spoke briefly of the relations of various interesting people to New Bedford, especially Emerson, Frederick Douglass and Dr. Henry M. Dexter. Emerson had considered taking the pulpit of the New Bedford Unitarian Church. He made warm friends in New Bedford, especially Miss Mary Rotch. It was in New Bedford that Frederick Douglass found refuge as a fugitive from slavery, and interesting incidents in his life here were noted. It was said that there was no other place, north or south, in those days, where Negroes were so kindly treated as in New Bedford. To Dr. Dexter, whose home was here during his last years, warm tribute was paid as one of the most devoted and thorough students of New England history. No other had followed so lovingly and carefully the footsteps of the Pilgrim Fathers, in England, Holland and New England.
The speaker congratulated New Bedford upon its historical society. It would do much for the life and culture of the city. Its field is a most interesting and important one. The larger devotion to historical study and the multiplication of local historical societies throughout New England are most satisfying and pleasing to note. He was glad that it was at the Old South meeting house that the suggestion of a Gosnold monument at Cuttyhunk was first made, and was glad that the Old South Historical Society and the Old Dartmouth Society had this day been brought into such close touch.
After the exercises in the town hall the pilgrims proceeded to the Fairhaven wharf, where they embarked at 3:15 on the steamer Martha’s Vineyard, which had left her dock in this city at 3 o’clock. The steamer proceeded down the bay far enough to give the passengers a good view of the Gosnold memorial, and returned to the wharf in New Bedford at 5:40 o’clock, where the visitors took a special train back to Boston.
The committee in general charge of the pilgrimage comprised Ellis L. Howland, Rev. William B. Geoghegan and Miss Elizabeth Watson. The reception committee was made up of the chairmen and members of the various sections committees. Abbott P. Smith, H. P. Burt and Miss Mary E. Bradford were the committee on luncheon; Charles F. Shaw, A. P. Smith and A. McL. Goodspeed on transportation; and George H. Tripp, Thomas R. Rodman and Mrs. Walter P. Winsor on exercises.
List of Visitors
The following is a list of visitors who signed the register in the Old Dartmouth Historical Society rooms:
- Mrs. O. S. Paige, Taunton
- A. T. Skerry, New York
- Mrs. A. T. Skerry, New York
- Edward Stickney, Chelsea
- Ethel R. Moulton, Dorchester
- Mrs. Granville Austin, Dorchester
- Annie B. Drowne, Dorchester
- Grace W. Pulsifer, Dorchester
- Louise W. Lewis, Randolph
- G. W. Penniman, Peabody
- R. W. Penniman, Peabody
- Mr. and Mrs. M. M. Hancock, East Boston
- George T. Arey, Boston
- Wellington Pool, Wrentham
- Benjamin H. Conant, Wrentham
- Marie C. Hollen, Providence
- Ora V. Hollen, Providence
- Mr. and Mrs. William W. Bartlett, Boston
- Mrs. Mellen Jose, Charlestown
- Dr. and Mrs. F. D. Leslie, Milton
- George F. Williams, Foxboro
- Mary Alice Williams, Foxboro
- Lois Williams, Foxboro
- Amelia P. Simpson, Newton
- Myrtle R. Parker, Boston
- Ruth G. Rich, Boston
- Benjamin C. Bowker, Boston
- Mrs. Joseph H. Barnes, East Boston
- Miss Cora E. Watts, East Boston
- Miss Clara W. Barnes, East Boston
- Miss Susan Williams, Boston
- Ida M. Prescott, Haverhill
- E. W. Prescott, Haverhill
- Helen M. Clarke, Haverhill
- M. F. Kimball, Haverhill
- Jane M. Bullard, Dorchester
- Charlotte K. Holmes, Dorchester
- Susan E. P. Forbes, Byfield
- Cynthia E. Farnham, Springfield, Vt.
- Mary E. Guthrie, Wellesley Hills
- Mrs. E. Patterson, Boston
- Charles Patterson, Boston
- Herbert E. Lombard, Byfield
- Richmond P. Everett, Providence
- William H. Childs, Providence
- Miss A. H. Childs, Providence
- Miss C. T. Childs, Providence
- Mrs. Clara I. Hubbard, Taunton
- Miss A. L. Bonney, Taunton
- Louisa B. Richards, Cambridge
- Clara R. Walker, Wellesley Hills
- D. A. Partridge, Whitman
- Myra A. Shaw, Rockland
- Corabelle G. Francis, Boston
- R. D. Francis, Boston
- Mrs. F. H. Spring, Roxbury
- Lillian E. Fernald, Roxbury
- Mrs. Francis K. Fernald, Roxbury
- Carrie M. Goulding, Roxbury
- Minnie E. Goulding, Roxbury
- Alice L. Jossselyn, East Boston
- L. R. Beadle, East Boston
- Inez A. Perry, Sudbury
- Charles B. Rockwell, Bristol, R.I.
- Miss Patty Rockwell, Bristol, R.I.
- Miss Bessie Cotlen, Flushing, R.I.
- Arelim L. Colburn, Waltham
- Mrs. Sarah Osborn Colburn, Waltham
- Carrie B. Perrin, Boston
- Mrs. Walter Allen, Newton
- Belle A. Floyd, Boston
- Mrs. E. E. N. Leonard, De Pere, Wis.
- Sarah E. Rumrill, Roxbury
- William S. Rumrill, Roxbury
- Miss H. A. Huestis, Boston
- David Floyd, Winthrop
- C. A. Perkins, Wakefield
- Leon W. Bacon, Assonet
- Mrs. Bacon, Assonet
- Mrs. C. A. Briggs, Assonet
- Clara P. Ames, Boston
- Cordelia B. Ward, Cambridge
- Dr. A. Elmerfield, Boston
- Anna L. Threufued, Boston
- Louise C. Hawes, Boston
- Ermina Cutler Leach, Boston
- Edith May Perry, Boston
- Florence H. Luscomb, Boston
- Lydia Emerson Hapenny, Boston
- Hattie L. Todd, Boston
- Alice Simpson, Boston
- Lucia Ames Mead, Boston
- Emma L. Deed, Roxbury
- Edna E. Gray, Roxbury
- William J. Deed Jr., Roxbury
- Eva H. S. Lucas, Boston
- Samuel F. Hubbard, Boston
- Rufus P. Williams, Cambridge
- Mrs. Rufus P. Williams, Cambridge
- Charles A. Reed, Manchester
- Edgar Potter, South Framingham
- Mary H. Potter, South Framingham
- James L. Miller, Boston
- William H. Tower, Boston
- Mr. and Mrs. B. C. Lane, Boston
- Max M. Fritz, Boston
- Horace H. Morse, Somerville
Among the visitors were Hezekiah Butterworth, James W. Seaver, secretary of the Old Colony Historical Society, and Leonard Wolsley Bacon, D.D., LL.D., of Assonet.
Others whose presence was noted in the assembly were Horace H. Morse, Dr. R. H. Brayton, Ermina C. Leach, Albert Ehrenfried, Mrs. Martha A. Gallart, Mrs. Marie S. Foster, Miss Charlotte K. Holmes, Miss Louise E. Holmes, Miss Lillian E. Fernald, Miss Nellie I. Simpson, W. J. Deed Jr., Benjamin C. Lane, Alice G. Ford, E. H. L. Lucas, George G. Wolkins and Frank C. Bowker, the chairman of the pilgrimage committee.
Last modified: May 26, 2014