Old Dartmouth Historical Sketch No. 23 - New Bedford Whaling Museum


Number 23

Being the proceedings of the Meeting of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society, Water Street, New Bedford, Massachusetts, January 12, 1909.

compiled by Henry Howland Crapo in 1839-1840

[Note.—The “Old Dartmouth Historical Sketches” will be published by the society quarterly and may be purchased for ten cents each on application to the Secretary and also at Hutchinson’s Book Store.]

Proceedings of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society
New Bedford, Massachusetts
January 12, 1909

The Old Dartmouth Historical Society’s regular quarterly meeting proved of exceptional interest to the members. The feature was the announcement of the discovery, by William W. Crapo, of a series of historical sketches of early New Bedford, written by his father, the late Henry H. Crapo, and their forthcoming publication by the society.

President Edmund Wood called the meeting to order at 8 o’clock. The disagreeable weather kept the attendance down. Comparatively few members were present.

“The society continues prosperous,” continued Mr. Wood. “The membership is holding its own, new members offsetting those who have fallen by the way; and the interest in the society also continues.

“In the first place, the building is being used, and a great many people visit the collections. The museum committee has been active, and have arranged exhibitions that were very successful. The teas have also been held, and a very satisfactory entertainment, a ‘Breton Afternoon,’ given through the kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Clement Swift.

“The research committee is actively at work, and several papers are in embryo, for future meetings. The program for tonight has been arranged by this committee, and it is fairly full, so that the president will not detain you by remarks. Every community has its history, generally written about it; and in nearly every community there have been a great many written histories. Many citizens have an interest that leads them to accumulate facts, sometimes never printed, by old worthies of Dartmouth—narratives written by some of our grandmothers that probably entertained small audiences in the past; and it would be well for the committee to obtain them, if possible.

“The historical matter of tonight is a much more ambitious effort. One of our older inhabitants did, in a more complete way, assemble a great deal of material, and it has come to our notice. It will be introduced to us by the son of the author, who, by his commemorative addresses and his efforts in behalf of the society itself has already taken place as one of the prominent historians of this community. I will introduce William Wallace Crapo.”

Remarks by Hon. William W. Crapo.

“There resided in New Bedford in 1839,” said Mr. Crapo. “a man named John Gilbert. In the directory of that year he is mentioned as a laborer living at 24 North Street. I remember to have seen him and to have heard him tell the story of what he and others of that day regarded as the most notable and exciting event in the history of the town—its invasion by a British army in 1778. When I saw Mr. Gilbert he was about seventy-five years of age. He was short and slight in stature, but active and alert and quick in his movements. He had readiness of speech and clearness of memory. I was told, if I remember rightly, that he was of Scotch birth and that at an early age he was apprenticed or bound out, as it was called, to Joseph Russell, the leading resident and largest landed proprietor of Bedford village.

“When a young man, my father, Henry H. Crapo, entertained the idea that at some leisure time in the future he might possibly be disposed to write a history of Old Dartmouth or of Bedford Village. That leisure time never came. But his fondness for local historical research led him to gather up for reference and preservation whatever referred to the earlier years of the town. He desired to obtain accurate and detailed accounts from those who had witnessed and participated in its memorable events. He knew John Gilbert of whom I have spoken and thought his story had historical value. Mr. Gilbert a number of times came to my father’s office. It was there that I saw him. Encouraged and aided by suggestive questions he told with much minuteness what he saw and learned about the pillage and burning and killing by the British troops. All this was carefully written out. Sixty years had elapsed, but they had not effaced his recollection of those days of alarm and danger.

“He further gave a complete account of all the buildings in the village, the dwellings, stores and shops, at that time, those burned by the British and those that were not destroyed, giving their location and the names of their owners and occupants. This information was made a matter of record.

“There was another narrative. It was told by Elijah Macomber, who was a soldier and a member of the military company that garrisoned Fort Phoenix. He was in the fort on the day it was bombarded by the British fleet. With some minuteness he described the occurrences of that eventful day.

“These narratives are interesting because told by persons who witnessed and had a part in the events they described. They are contributions to our local history which ought not to be lost.

“These manuscripts, carefully prepared and arranged, were placed in a portfolio used exclusively as the receptacle in the collection of whatever data and information came to hand relating to the history of the town. Several months since I came across that portfolio. Its contents have not been disturbed for more than fifty years. As I was unable to read the manuscript, through failure of sight I handed the portfolio to Mr. Worth, the chairman of our Historical Research committee, with a request that he examine its contents and learn if it contained anything of value in the present or worthy of preservation for the future. This he has kindly done. While he will not weary you by reading all it contains, perhaps there may be descriptions and incidents which may interest you.”

Remarks by Henry B. Worth

During the Revolution the towns on Buzzards Bay were neither wealthy nor populous. Dartmouth had been for a century under the domination of the society of Friends and was not especially belligerent. Fairhaven had sent an expedition in 1775 to recapture two vessels seized by the English and anchored in the Bay. During the first three years of the war 120 Dartmouth men had served in the American army. These acts were not so extensive as to furnish a reason for sending a force of several thousand troops to destroy the villages on the Acushnet. The motive, however, was not due to any warlike demonstrations of the inhabitants but to cripple business activity which had given aid to the American cause.

The river between Bedford and Fairhaven had been a safe and convenient harbor for privateers where they could obtain supplies. A fort had been established on the rocky promontory since 1804, known as Fort Phoenix which provided a slight defense against vessels approaching from the ocean but more important than this were maritime enterprises that directly or indirectly assisted the colonial insurrection. In South Dartmouth Elihu and James Akin had a ship yard and in September, 1778, a vessel was ready to launch. There is a suggestion that she was to be a privateer. Then on the west side of the Acushnet from its head south to the bay were ship yards, oil factories, rope walks, wharves, a distillery and other accessories of whaling and commerce beside vessels always at the landings. Here was property that contributed liberally to the support of the continental revolution. Shipping was built, equipped, repaired and supplied, store houses were filled with rum, oil, cordage and other merchandise in demand at every market, for which could be obtained in exchange commodities of which the colonies were in need. Such active assistance to the rebellion was sometimes to be checked and a raid was planned as a military movement to reduce the opportunity for assistance.

According to the records in the archives department in the State House in Boston it appears that at the opening of the war orders were given to prevent vessels leaving the colony without permission. Bedford men who owned vessels were William Tallman, Isaac Howland, Lemuel Williams, Gamaliel Church, John Alden, Joseph Russell, John Williams, Barnabas Russell, Leonard Jarvis, David Shepard, Seth Russell, Joseph Howland, William Claghorn, Patrick Maxfield, Zadock Maxfield, Abraham Smith, Daniel Smith, Ureal Rea.

In October, 1775, William Davis received permission to fit out a sloop for some West Indian port to bring back a cargo of powder.

In the same year the brig Kezia, David Sowle, master, was permitted to sail on a whaling voyage, a bond to bring the oil and bone to Dartmouth having been given by the owners, David Shepard, Seth Russell, David Sowle and Abraham Smith.

During the year 1776 restriction on whaling and commerce became acute. Leonard Jarvis, a business associate of Joseph Rotch, sent the sloop Polly with rum and sugar to South Carolina for a cargo of rice and Joseph Russell sent the Smiling Molly for the same merchandise. At the end of that same year Barnabas Russell stated that provisions were scarce and he petitioned for permission to send to South Carolina the schooner Rouger for rice and Patrick Maxfield sent out the schooner Wealthy for the same cargo.

In April, 1777, there were 75 men at Fort Phoenix and as their time had expired the local authorities asked for a detachment of 40 men and four field pieces— 4 pounders.

A committee of “inspection and safety” was formed with Col. Edward Pope as chairman. Its duties were to detect and report any inhabitants who exhibited Tory sympathies.

Privateers began to make the Acushnet a harbor. The brig Fanny 18 guns, owned by Abraham Babcock and commanded by Capt. John Kendrick was at Dartmouth; also the American Revenue with two prizes, a ship and a schooner.

No systematic attempt was instituted by the English to hinder the Dartmouth merchants conducting whaling and trading. Some of their vessels were captured, but more escaped.

An amusing incident gives a glimpse of a possible reason why the English may have regarded the Dartmouth inhabitants as entitled to favor. In April, 1778, Jireh Willis reported that the British were in the habit of landing on Naushon and taking all [the] cattle there. Holder Slocum, one of the owners, persisted in landing there two pairs of oxen.

Freedom from interference by the English tempted the local traders to engage in commercial ventures and to accumulate considerable property.

Under date of June 16, 1778, certain prominent men of Dartmouth addressed a communication to the General Court representing that the harbor on the Acushnet River is the only one between Cape Cod and North Carolina in control of the Americans and that there were fifty vessels there and the stores are filled with provisions; that several families had moved from Bedford and more proposed to do so unless assistance were given. It was signed by Fortunatus Sherman and Thomas Kempton, selectmen, Edward Pope, Leonard Jarvis, Joseph Rotch, Joseph Russell, John Alden and Abraham Smith.

As a consequence Col. Crafts was ordered to Dartmouth with 50 men and 4 field pieces to act under orders of Col. Edward Pope.

The risk of an invasion into such an unprotected seaport ought to have aroused more caution in the minds of the Bedford merchants and until there could be guaranteed to them sufficient protection such tempting collections of property ought not to have been permitted. Possibly the alluring profits derived from trading in time of war induced them to assume the hazard.

Tory sympathizers kept the British fully informed and two of them piloted the fleet into the bay. A time was selected when the collection of property on the Acushnet was large and valuable and all men capable of bearing arms had gone to Stone Bridge for military defense.

The English expedition was arranged with all spectacular accompaniments calculated to inspire terror and subdue the inhabitants. An army of British regulars fully armed and equipped entered the bay in a large fleet of vessels. The force was ten times more numerous than all the men residing in the region. The grim labor of destruction was systematically conducted. The purpose was to destroy and not to pillage. While the torch seems to have been applied only to structures devoted to manufacturing or mercantile purposes yet there is no evidence that the English endeavored to prevent the flames spreading to dwelling houses. In their tour of fifteen miles from Clarke’s Point to Sconticut Neck they accomplished a thorough work of devastation. The British commander complacently reported to his chief that he had executed the order “in the fullest manner.” Five years later Stephen Peckham, Jabez Barker and Edward Pope, selectmen of Dartmouth reported to the general court that the value of property destroyed exceeded £105,000, or over one-half million dollars.

It was the only occasion when hostile military forces landed on these peaceful shores and consequently it has always been regarded as one of the few occurrences of signal importance in the history of the town. Eye witnesses found eager listeners among succeeding generations. Old men related to children the events of that woeful night and yet for over half a century the recollections of these witnesses were not reduced to writing. A few meager statements were the only results deemed worthy of preservation. Fortunately for the modern historical student before all the participants in that disaster had passed away an efficient and able scribe compiled a collection of greatest use because of its accuracy and completeness. He was the first and only investigator who appreciated the value of seeming trivial facts and with commendable patience wrote down the narratives of the old men giving numerous minute details which other historians had not deemed of sufficient interest to perpetuate.

Henry H. Crapo was born in Dartmouth near the Freetown line in 1804 and died in 1869. The first of the Crapo family in this section came from the town of Rochester and located in the vicinity of the Babbit Forge in Freetown and it was in this locality that the family continued to live for several generations. Peter Crapo had a large family and it became necessary to provide for them homesteads in other places. One of the sons named Jesse married Phebe, the daughter of Henry Howland, and in 1807 the father purchased for his son from Barnabas Sherman the farm on the north side of the [Rock O’ Dundee] Road, a short distance east of the [Bakerville] Road and here was built the house still standing where the boyhood of Jesse Crapo’s son Henry was spent.

Much speculation has existed as to the meaning and origin of the name of that road. Some distance north of the road in the woods is a large boulder resting on a high ledge of rock and this possibly, was named the Rock of Dundee and from that phrase the numerous variations in the name may have originated.

In 1825 Henry H. Crapo married Mary Ann Slocum, daughter of William, who was the owner of the great farm at Barney’s Joy. In early life young Crapo was a school master in Dartmouth and studied land surveying in which he became very proficient and which furnished considerable business after he had ceased teaching school. He possessed to a great degree two traits of a successful man, an unflagging industry and a careful attention to details. As a natural outcome of his environment and heredity he had a taste for local history.

In 1832 he had removed from Dartmouth to New Bedford about the time of the failure of the whaling firm of Seth Russell & Sons. The Seth Russell farm was bounded on the south by the line of South Street; on the east by the Acushnet River; on the north by a line half way between Grinnell and Wing Streets and the farm tapered as it extended westerly nearly to Buttonwood Brook. Russell’s house was located on the southeast corner of County and Grinnell Streets. His son Seth Jr., occupied the house on the east side of Fourth Street and north of South Street, and his son-in-law, George Tyson, occupied the stone house on South Street between Fourth and County.

One of the results of the failure was to bring into the market at once the whole of this farm and it was necessary to have the same surveyed and divided into small lots. This work was performed by Mr. Crapo and was the first extensive job in surveying which came to him after his removal to New Bedford. In 1842 he purchased for himself a considerable tract of this farm on the southwest corner of Washington and Crapo Streets, both of which he laid out and built the house for his residence which later became the homestead of Capt. William H. Besse. During many of the succeeding years he served the town as town clerk and occupied various offices until he removed to Michigan in 1856.

During the early years of Mr. Crapo’s residence in New Bedford he became considerably interested in the history of the town and formed the purpose to prepare and write a more or less detailed account of the events and people of that locality.

With considerable care Mr. Crapo reduced the recollections of these persons to writing and collected from newspapers and other sources a portfolio of historical data relating to New Bedford, but before reaching the stage where he was satisfied to put the material in narrative form, business connections required that he move to Michigan and the subject was never completed, but a portfolio of papers for over half a century has remained in New Bedford in the possession of his son, William W. Crapo, and the same has now been examined and revised for the purpose of publication.

Among these papers are two letters addressed to Mr. Crapo by James B. Congdon, written about the year 1844, and they disclose an interesting situation in New Bedford in reference to a compilation of a local history. It seems that James B. Congdon and Daniel Ricketson were also intending to prepare local histories of a more or less elaborate character and there existed some rivalry between them, each considering the “field” his own.

Mr. Congdon delivered a lecture on the early history of New Bedford before the Lyceum, and some feeling was aroused in the minds of Messrs. Ricketson and Crapo, and during the day of Dec. 27, 1844, there was a considerable exchange of letters, and those of Mr. Congdon have been preserved; but the matter was quickly dropped. Years later Mr. Ricketson published his history of New Bedford. Mr. Congdon collected numerous papers and historical data which have been added to the records in the New Bedford Public Library.

The extracts from old newspapers made by Mr. Crapo may be found in the files of the Medley, Courier and Mercury. His extended interviews with the old men of his day have the greatest historic value. Only a few minor corrections have been necessary, and these appear in the notes; but the bulk of the statements has been found to be in exact accord with contemporary public records. This reflects the greatest credit not only on the accuracy of the narrators, but the scrupulous care of the writer who elicited the facts and committed them to paper.

John Gilbert, whose story is the longest, was a peculiarly voluble witness. By birth a Scotchman, he lived as hired boy in the family of Joseph Russell, the leading man of business and wealth in Bedford village. At his home visitors of standing were entertained, and the household numbered over 20 persons. Here would be heard, even by the servants, discussions of all public events of the day, and such an occurrence as the British Raid would be the topic of conversation for years. While Gilbert was an eye-witness to the facts, yet in this atmosphere he would have a most intelligent appreciation of the relative importance of different details, so, although his account was stated 60 years after, it no doubt contains the salient and principal occurrence that came within his observation, narrated according to their importance.

Although Mr. Crapo seems to have considered the Macomber narrative entitled to great weight, in two particulars it has been criticized.

  1. As to the English troops landing on Sconticut Neck.
  2. That Isaac Howland’s house could not have been burnt because it was a brick house and stood across the end of Pleasant Street on the north side of Union and was standing until modern times.

In order that the landmarks and localities may be understood notes have been inserted in brackets. It should be kept in mind that the narratives were written in 1840 and the word “now” refers to that date.

Other accounts of the Invasion may be found in Ricketson’s and Ellis’ History of New Bedford and in the New Bedford Evening Standard of Sept. 5, 1878.

The Villages of Dartmouth in the British Raid
Compiled by Henry Howland Crapo in 1839-40.

Statement of John Gilbert of New Bedford in relation to the burning of Bedford Village by the British in 1778; and, also, in relation to the number, location, owners, etc., of the dwelling houses and other buildings, including those destroyed at that time.

Said Gilbert was 75 years of age the 16th of September, 1839; was born in 1764, and consequently was about 14 years of age at the time of the attack. He is a man of extraordinary memory, of quick comprehensions, very intelligent, and has resided in New Bedford since he was 4 years of age.

His statement is in substance as follows:

On the 5th of September, 1778, in the afternoon, the British fleet arrived off Clarks point. It consisted of two frigates, an 18-gun brig and about 36 transports. The latter were small ships. The two frigates and brig anchored opposite the mouth of the Acushnet River and a little below the point. The transports were anchored outside the Great ledge and opposite the mouth of the cove. The troops, including light-horse artillery, etc., were landed in barges. The landing was completed a little before night, near where the present almshouse is situated, and the troops arrived at the head of Main (now Union) Street about dusk. A part of the troops were wheeled to the right and passed down Main Street for the purpose of burning the town, whilst the remainder continued their march to the north on County Street. There was not at this time more than 15 able-bodied men in the place, every person that could leave having gone to reinforce the American army in Rhode Island, where at that very time they were engaged, their cannon being distinctly heard here.

I was at this time an apprentice to Joseph Russell, the father of Abraham, etc., and had been sent for a horse to carry my mistress to some place of safety. On my return she had gone, as also the goods from the house, but Peace Akins was there (a connection of the family), whom I was directed to carry with me. The house stood at the present corner of County and Morgan Streets, and a little within the fence on the southeast corner of Charles W. Morgan’s lot.1 By this time the British had appeared in sight. I was upon the horse by the side of the horse block, urging Mrs. Akins to be quick in getting ready. She, however, made some little delay by returning into the house for something, and before she had time to get up behind me four light-horsemen passed us, but without paying us any particular attention. Whilst the head of the British column was passing us and whilst Peace was in the very act of getting upon the horse, a soldier came up and, seizing the horse’s bridle, commanded me to get off. I made no reply, but by reigning the horse suddenly round, knocked him down, which left me perfectly at liberty and headed to the north. The troops occupied nearly the whole of the road, leaving, however, a small space on the west side between them and the wall. Through this open space I attempted to pass by urging my horse at the top of his speed, but before I had gone five rods a whole platoon was fired at me, without hitting either myself or horse. These were the first guns fired by the British since their landing. The troops now opened from the centre to close the space next the wall, which reduced me to the necessity of passing through the centre of the remaining platoons. This I effected without injury, in consequence of the speed of my horse and being so mixed up with the troops as to prevent their firing. About 20 feet in advance of the leading platoon were placed two men with fixed bayonets, as a kind of advance guard. They were about six feet apart, and as I advanced from the rear they both faced about and presented their pieces, which I think were snapped at me, but they did not fire. I passed through between them and made my escape, turning up the Smith’s Mills Road;2 I went to Timothy Maxfield’s, about 1 1/2 miles, and stayed all night.

I afterwards learned that upon leaving Peace Akins on the horse block some British officers rode up and assured her that if she remained perfectly quiet nothing should injure her. She remained in this situation until the troops had passed and the officers left her, when she went over the east side of the road into a field of pole-beans, and thence traveled.

The four horsemen that first passed us on the horse block went into the house and plundered two men whom they found there, the goods have been already conveyed back. These men were Humphrey Tallman and Joseph Trafford, who worked for Joseph Russell.

As I passed up the Smith’s Mills Road, and about one-quarter of a mile from County Street, I met William Haydon and Oliver Potter, both armed with muskets, who inquired where the main body of the British then were. I told them they were nearly square against us. Upon receiving this information they cut across the woods, etc., as I was afterwards told, and came out a little in advance of the British and near the west end of the present North Street. The woods were very thick on the west side of County Street at this place, and under cover of night and these woods Haydon and Potter fired upon the British and killed two horsemen. This I was told by Haydon and Potter, and also by the American prisoners on their return home, who saw them put into the baggage wagon. One was shot.

A few minutes after these men were shot, Abraham Russell, Thomas Cook and Diah Trafford, all being armed, were discovered by the British attempting to leave the village by coming up a cross-way into County Street. When at the corner of this way with County Street, or nearly so, they were fired upon by the British and all shot down. Trafford was 21 years of age lacking 14 days, and was in the employment of Joseph Russell, with whom I then lived. He was shot through the heart and died instantly, after which his face was badly cut to pieces with the sabers of the British. Cook also worked for said Russell, by the month; he was nearly 40 years of age. He was shot through the leg and also through the bowels, the latter bullet passing through his bladder. He died about daylight next morning. Russell was about 40 years of age. He died about 10 o’clock the next morning, at the house of said Joseph Russell, where they were all carried after remaining all night in the road where they were shot. Russell and Cook were buried in Dartmouth (as stated by Macomber); Trafford was buried on the hill by the shore, a little north of the old ropewalk in this town. This was a sort of potter’s field, where sailors were buried; the land was owned by Joseph Russell.3

A company of artillery consisting of about 80 privates had been sent from Boston for the protection of the place. The building occupied by them as a barracks was the “poor house,” which stood near the present site of Philip Anthony’s dwelling house. It was a long, low building, and has since been pulled down.4 The company was commanded by Capt. James Cushing of Boston. Joseph Bell of Boston was first lieutenant, William Gordon of Boston, second lieutenant, and James Metcalf, third lieutenant. The latter was mortally wounded by the British during the night, at Acushnet. This company, although stationed here had a short time previous to the landing of the British been called to Howland’s Ferry to aid the Americans against the British in Rhode Island. But during the day of the landing Lieuts. Gordon and Metcalf had returned with a part of the company and one piece. As the British advanced they were under the necessity of retreating. They had a yoke of oxen of Joseph Russell’s to draw their cannon.

The officers of this company had their quarters at and boarded with Mrs. Deborah Doubleday, a widow, in the house in which Judge Prescott’s office now is, which was then owned by Seth Russell, father of the late Seth and Charles. After Metcalf was wounded he was brought down to this house, where I saw him the next day. I think he lived three days.5 I was at his funeral—he was buried on the hill by the old meeting house at Acushnet, “under arms.”

The evening of the British attack was clear and moonlight. The sloop Providence was very often in here, and I was frequently on board of her. She was commanded by John Hacker of New York (since a pilot through Hell Gate), was sloop-rigged, and I think about 100 tons. She brought in the prize Harriet of London, which was burnt on the south side of Rotch’s wharf, below where the sail-loft now is. This was the wreck recently taken up on the bar. She also took and brought in prize the British-armed brig Diligence, of 18 guns and commanded by John Smith of Liverpool. The engagement was off Sandy Hook and lasted five glasses (2 1/2 hours). The Providence had two men killed—the sailing master, James Rodgers of Conn., and the steward, Church Wilkey, of Fairhaven (north part). Don’t know the number killed on board the brig. She was subsequently repaired here and manned, fitted, etc., as an American cruiser. She was with the squadron in the Penobscot and was there blown up by the order of the American commandant, as was the Providence. The crew of the brig was landed here, but I do not know where they went to.

McPharson’s wharf was at Belville, and was burnt by the British, together with some vessels laying there. A brig called the No Duties on Tea was burnt at this wharf. She drifted down the river after her fastenings were burnt off and finally sunk just at the north of “Dog Fish Bar” and abreast of the Burying Ground hill. Several other small vessels were burnt at this wharf and sunk; they were afterwards got up.

An armed vessel sunk on the west side of Crow Island (which is opposite and near to Fairhaven village). She was afterwards got up. Her guns were got up by some persons diving down and fastening ropes to them upon which they were hoisted up. Benjamin Myrick was drowned in diving down for the purpose of fastening a rope to the last one. There were only two wharves in the village of any consequence. The largest was Rotch wharf (the present Rotch’s wharf), the other was Joseph Russell’s wharf (now Central wharf).

[John Gilbert has been employed in the merchant and whaling service since 21 years of age. His parents resided in Boston. He was left an orphan. His father was lost in a vessel out of Boston, which was never heard of. He was brought to New Bedford at the age of 4 years and bound an apprentice.]—Note by H. H. Crapo.


There were no privateers owned and fitted from New Bedford. They were all owned in Boston, Connecticut and Rhode Island, and rendezvoused here.

A large sloop called the Broom frequently came in here. She was commanded by Stephen Cahoon of Rhode Island and mounted 12 guns.

The Black Snake, a long, low, black schooner, frequently came in here. She was owned in Connecticut and mounted eight carriage guns. Don’t know the name of her captain.

An Indian burying place occupied the present site of the Merchants bank and Hamilton Street. It was a burying ground both before and after the war. It was a high hill, composed of rock covered with a few feet of earth. When the hill was cut down the bones were put into a box and interred in the Friends burying ground by William Rotch Jr. The Friends burying ground was on the shore, at the foot of Griffin Street.

Gilbert says “on the day the British landed they commenced carting goods about the middle of the afternoon, and carried them on to a piece of cleared land, containing about one acre, which was situated in the woods west of the jail and surrounded on all sides by swamp, heavy wood and thick copse. Many others carried goods to the same place. After moving all the goods I was sent for a horse to the pasture west of where the jail now stands.”

Elijah Macomber’s Account of Raid.

Account of the burning of New Bedford and Fairhaven by the British troops, on the evening of the 5th of September, 1778, as given me by Elijah Macomber, formerly of Dartmouth, now resident in New Bedford, Dec. 6. 1839; said informant being in good health, and sound mind. He was 85 years of age on the 14th day of May last, and consequently more than 24 years of age at the time, being born May 14, 1754. He was in the fort at Fairhaven on said 5th day of September, where he served as a private from March, 1778, to December following.

The substance of Mr. Macomber’s statement is as follows:

The fort below Fairhaven village was garrisoned, at the time, by Captain Timothy Ingraham, Lieutenant Daniel Foster and thirty-six non-commissioned officers and privates, making a total of 38 men. There were eleven or twelve pieces of cannon mounted in the fort, and about twenty-five casks of powder in the magazine, twenty casks having been procured a few days previous from the commissary store in New Bedford, which was kept by Philip and Leonard Jarvis, brothers.

About 1 o’clock p. m. Worth Bates (Timothy Tallman, Wm., etc., knew this man) who lived at a place on the Bedford side called McPharson’s wharf6, and who had that day been out fishing, landed at the fort in his boat and informed the captain that a British fleet was in the bay and nearly up with the point. In a few moments they made their appearance by the point. The larger ship sailed up the river and anchored off abreast the fort. About one-half or more of the smaller vessels anchored off Clark’s point and the remainder dropped in to the east of the larger vessels and commenced embarking troops in a small cove, a short distance to the east of the fort, behind a point of woods and under cover of the guns of the larger vessels. The fleet consisted of 36 sail. Immediately upon discovering them three guns were fired from the fort to alarm the country, and a dispatch sent to Howland’s ferry, where a part of the American army then was, for reinforcements. The debarkation of the British troops commenced about 2 o’clock, both to the eastward of the fort, and at Clark’s cove. A company of artillery from Boston consisting of about 60 men, under the command of Capt. — Cushman, was stationed at the head of Clark’s cove, which upon the landing of the British fell back, and retreated to the head of the Acushnet River. — Metcalf was first lieutenant of this company and was shot during the night at Acushnet village. Wm. Gordon, of this town, was second lieutenant, and was taken prisoner by the British, but made his escape before they arrived at the head of Acushnet. The troops continued to debark from the transports lying to the east of the fort until night, but neither their movements nor those landed at the cove could be seen from the fort.

Not long after dark the detachments from the cove commenced the work of destruction. The first building discovered in flames was the ropewalks and the distillery belonging to Isaac Howland (father of the late Isaac Howland Jr.). Soon after all the stores, warehouses, some barns and dwelling houses, together with every vessel they could get at were in flames. There were a large number of vessels in the harbor at the time,—a large English ship having been brought in a prize by the French a few days previous and then lying at Rotch’s wharf, as well as several others a short time before. Every vessel was burnt, excepting those lying in the stream, which they could not get to, and a small craft somewhere up the river. The number of vessels destroyed was 70. Among the dwelling houses burnt was —– Rotch’s and Isaac Howland’s Sr.

A little before 9 o’clock or between 8 and 9, and after some of the vessels which had been set on fire on the Bedford side and their cables and fastenings burnt off, had drifted down towards the fort, the detachment which landed on the east side advanced upon the fort from the eastward. Two guns were then fired at the fleet, and after spiking the guns the garrison retreated to the north, leaving their colors flying. The British supposing the fort to be still garrisoned, opened a heavy fire upon it with their artillery, which soon ceased upon not being returned. The garrison were at this time ranged along a low wall a short distance to the north of the fort, waiting to discover the exact position of the army in order to make their retreat successfully. They were soon discovered by the British who fired upon them and wounded a man by the name of Robert Grossman. A ball passed through one wrist and across the other. A hasty retreat was then commenced and the enemy not knowing the exact position and strength of the Americans did not make a vigorous pursuit. The whole garrison with the exception of the wounded man and two others, John Skiff and his father, who were taken prisoners, succeeded in making their escape to the woods at some little distance north of Fairhaven, where they lay through the night and until the British had passed them from the head. Before the fort was evacuated a train of powder was placed from the magazine to the platform. The British upon entering after destroying the ramrods, sponges, etc. applied a slow match to the magazine, which communicating with the train left by the garrison, was blown up sooner than was intended, destroying one man at least, the fragments of whose gun, cap and accoutrements were afterwards discovered nearby. After burning the barracks, guard house, etc., the detachment moved north, destroying vessels, stores, etc., and formed a junction with the detachment from the west side somewhere towards the head of Acushnet, after which they marched down towards the fort. They were out all night. The next day they re-embarked near the fort. The leading platoons of the detachment on the west side of the river fired upon three men, who were armed, near the house of Joseph Russell (father of Gilbert, Abraham and Humphry), two of whom were shot down. These men were Abraham Russell, about 40 years of age, — Cook, a young man who lived with him, and Diah Trafford, about 23 years of age. The British advanced rapidly upon them with charged bayonets. They begged for quarter which was refused. Russell was killed immediately, his head being entirely cut to pieces with cutlasses. Cook died about daylight, his bowels were ripped open. Trafford (this is the uncle of Joseph Trafford, the continental), was shot through the leg and severely wounded in the abdomen by bayonet thrusts. He died the next day about 10 o’clock, after making some statements relative to their death. They were all carried in to Joseph Russell’s house in the morning.

Mr. Macomber says he saw these men lying where they were attacked the next morning before they were taken up. The sun was up and he was on his way home, the garrison forces having dispersed for a few days until reinforcements should arrive. These men were carried over to Dartmouth and buried on the farm of Jediah Shearman (whose wife was sister to the said Abraham Shearman) a few rods north of the house, where their graves may now be seen. The farm is now owned by Philip Gidly, who purchased it of Samuel Barker. Trafford married Macomber’s sister.

The prisoners taken stated when they came back that the troops which landed on the east side were delayed some hours in consequence of their light horse artillery becoming entangled in a marsh which lay at the head of the cove where they landed. This accounts for their delay in making an attack upon the fort.

On the night following the general attack a number of barges were discovered coming up the river which were fired upon and driven back by the force which by this time had assembled at Fairhaven, a detachment having, I think, arrived from Howland’s Ferry, and a body of militia from Middleborough, making several hundred. It was supposed that their object was plunder and that the expedition was not ordered by any of the general officers.

William Bliss says he was serving at that time at the Ferry. Says troops were sent for, but they could not be spared and none went. Says he moved to New Bedford about 1800.

Mr. Macomber further states that he returned to the fort in two or three days, as did also the rest of the garrison, that he entered the fort on the first of March for ten months and stayed until December, completing said term.

Also, that Wm. Tallman’s father was taken prisoner and he thinks prisoners were taken at Acushnet village.

Also, that the American prisoners on their return reported that the whole force of the British was about 5,500. This, I presume, includes the number attached to the several vessels.

Also, thinks the detachment on the west side must have nearly reached the head of the river before the fort was evacuated.

Also, that both detachments had artillery and he heard light horsemen, too.

Also, says Obed Cushman was here with the militia next day, says he was in the sloop Providence a while, [which] was all cut to pieces during her last cruise.

Mr. Macomber further says that Isaac Howland Sr. stated his loss in shipping to be $6,000.

He thinks the following privateers were owned, fitted and sailed from here: Sloop Providence (— Stoddard’s father was in her) —Fairfield, — Revenue, — Hornet. Don’t know how many were in port at the time.

Mr. Macomber is very intelligent for a man of his age and has a good memory. The facts above stated so far as they relate to himself, to what took place on the east side of the river during the night of the landing, what fell under his observations on the west side relating to the conflagration, and the death of the three men which he saw in the road where they fell the next morning, are personally known to him, and that the others were told him on his return and at various times afterwards by those who saw them here and by the prisoners who returned from the British.

He states that he cannot be mistaken as to a part of the troops landing on the east side, that it looks as plain to him as if it was but yesterday and that the whole scene is constantly on his mind and before him.

Statement of Perry Russell.

Eldad Tupper and Joseph Castle resided in Dartmouth. They were Tories and were driven out of town by the Akins. Capt. Elihu Akins, father of Jacob, Abraham, etc., was a strong Whig, in consequence of which they joined the British and piloted them into Padanaram. They burnt Capt. Elihu Akins’s house and a new brig on the stocks. Inquire of Caleb Shearman. Don’t know whether it was at the time Bedford was burnt or not. Perry Russell says he has seen Caleb who says they burnt Capt. James Akins’s and Capt. Elihu Akins’s dwelling houses and a new brig on the stocks the next morning after they burnt Bedford. They went in with two row-galleys.

Seth Tallman says he can remember when there were but five houses in the village but can’t tell which they are.

Timothy Tallman.

Says his father’s name was Tim, that he was commissary, that on the day of the landing he was at Horse Neck and rode in 9 miles in 45 minutes, just past the British at the cove. His family had got one load of goods back to farmhouse, rest were destroyed. His house stood where Barrows’ store now is on corner Third and Union. He was afterward taken prisoner at farmhouse, his knee buckles and shoe buckles were taken, his favorite horse taken, but afterward restored as also his liberty by the general of whom he spoke well.

Caleb Shearman

Eighty years old, March 15, 1840. British fleet came up the bay Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning several barges came around to Padanaram and burnt Elihu Akins’s house, the father of Abram, a two story house, standing where Akins’s house now stands. Also James Akins’s house, brother of Elihu and father of Justin Akins, set on fire, stood where John Rushforth Sr. stands. Set on fire the Meribah Akins house, called the Stone House. Reuben Smith lived there, and his wife (an Irish woman) put it out several times. Also burnt a brig on the stocks ready to launch, owned by Elihu Akins. Richard Shearman, reputed father of Nathaniel Sherman, and Joseph Castle and Elded Tupper were Tories and went off with the British. The two first were pilots7.

Old Fort, or Russell’s Garrison, up where Thacher’s ship yard was 2/3 the way to head of river—fort opposite was on the Pardon Sanford lot.

John Hathaway

Eighty five in November, 1839, lived in New Bedford since a boy. He was an apprentice to Thomas Hathaway, a boat builder who lived on the Nash farm, afterwards moved downtown and lived in James Davis’ house whilst building the Gideon Howland house. Made whale boats for Joseph Rotch. I was whaling summer before the war and arrived home on sloop about 75 tons, the fall before the war was declared. Sloop Friendship, Capt. William Claggon. Seth Russell, Daniel Smith, William Claggon, Joseph Rotch, Joseph Russell, carried on whaling, brought blubber in in scuttled hogsheads. I enlisted in Capt. Thomas Kempton’s (afterwards Colonel) company volunteers and went to Boston in May, 1775. Stayed there 8 months. Then came home, joined militia 3 months and served in Boston February, March and April, 1776, under Capt. Benjamin Dillingham of Acushnet. Went on board Privateer brig Rising Empire, 16 carriage guns (States vessel) built in Fairhaven. Was in her 4 months, she was in commission but 2 months. She would not sail. Richard Welden, a Vineyard man, commanded her, took no prizes in her. In fall of 1776 enlisted on board of the sloop Broom, Capt. Welden (the same as above). Was out only 11 days and took 3 prizes and brought them in here, one ship and two brigs, loaded with sugar, wine and mahogany, right from Jamaica, think these vessels were all burnt. Took one brig three days out and the other two vessels five days out, which was Sunday morning, no gun fired. Broom had 60 men, 70 or 80 tons. Afterwards the same fall, went on board sloop Sally, 115 tons, of 10 guns and 60 men. Francis Broom, master of Connecticut, owned by Broom & Sears of Connecticut, same as owned the Broom. Was on board the Sally from November, 1776, to February. 1777, cruising all the time; took two prizes, one brig and one schooner fisherman which was sent in somewhere to the east, had no engagement. During the cruise fell in with ship and convoy (of 5 sails in sight) she was a ship and the 5 sails escaped. We fought her 1 1/2 hours, had no one hurt. He hulled us, shot lodged in blankets in forecastle. We hauled off to stop leak and she made sail for her convoy. We afterwards went into Bay of Biscay and dogged a ship in night and got close to 64 gun ship, 2 decker, called None Such. We didn’t think in the night she was a man-of-war. We made her in the night. She fired upon us from sunrise till 8 o’clock and when her shot nearly reached us we gave ourselves up. She carried us into Plymouth and I was a prisoner two years and three months in mill prison at a place close by Plymouth, was afterwards at Howland’s Ferry.

Dwelling Houses Burnt.

Benjamin Taber……….2

Leonard Jarvis……….1

J. Lowden……………1

J. Gerrish…………..1

W. Claggern………….1

V. Childs……………1

Jos. Rotch…………..1

Jos. Rotch Jr………..1

Jos. Russell………...1

[10 total]


Shops, Etc.

Isaac Howland’s


Cooper’s shop……1


Jos. Russell’s



Church’s shop (shoe)….1

J. R. S.


Warehouse (old)….2

2 shops, small…..2


L. Kempton……...1

[15 total]

Rotch & Jarvis



Jos. Rotch


Chaise house…….1

[20 total]

Rope Walk and 1 house

A. Smith blacksmith shop.

Benjamin Taber’s shop.

Ships Burnt, Sept. 1778 by the British Troops.

Ship Harriet.

Ship Mellish (Continental).

Ship Fanny (French Prize).

Ship Heron.

Ship Leppard.

Ship Spaniard.

Ship Caesar.

Barque Nanny.

Snow Simeon.

Brig Sally (Continental).

Brig Rosin.

Brig Sally (Fish).

Schooner Adventure.

Schooner Loyalty (Continental).

Sloop Nelly.

Sloop Fly (Fish).

Sloop Capt. Lawrence.

Schooner Defiance.

Schooner Capt. Jenney.

Brig No Duty on Tea.

Schooner Sally (Hornet‘s Prize).

Sloop Bowers.

Sloop Sally, 12 guns.

Brig Ritchie.

Brig Dove.

Brig Holland.

Sloop Joseph R.

Sloop Roxiron.

Sloop Pilot Fish.

Brig Sally.

Sloop Retaliation.

Sloop J. Brown’s.

Schooner Eastward.

Old Buildings in New Bedford
Described by Henry Howland Crapo

On the northwest corner of Union and Sixth Streets was a house owned and occupied by Caleb Greene, the most westerly one at the time, it being the present John Bailey house. Greene was an apothecary and occupied one of the stores in the building which was burnt on the corner of Union and Water Streets, near the present shop of E. Thornton Jr. He was the son-in-law of Joseph Russell, the first man in the place. His family averaged 21 persons.

A house owned and occupied by Humphrey Howland, situated next east of the last, and being the house now belonging to Wm. Howland 2d and his mother. He was the son of Isaac Howland Sr., and the brother of the late Isaac Howland Jr. He was a merchant, tended store occasionally —worked in the candleworks some, etc. He was rich.

A brick house, owned and occupied by Isaac Howland Sr., standing next east of the last and where Cheapside block now is. He was a merchant and had two sloops out whaling at the commencement of the war.

A house occupied by Richard Bentley, a Scotchman, being the present Wm. Tobey house on the Northwest corner of Union and Purchase Streets. He owned a little schooner and followed coasting along shore in her.

A house owned and occupied by Stephen Potter, the husband of Lydia Potter, now living on Kempton Street, stood8 next west of the last and directly opposite the Eagle Hotel. It was one story and very old at the time. This house was moved to Kempton Street. No. 152, and called the Harper House. Potter was a journeyman blacksmith.

A house built by Elihu Gifford, father of the present Abraham Gilford, standing west of the preceding. Elihu Gifford sold it. Don’t know who lived in it—it is the Jeremiah Mayhew house, now standing.9

A house owned and occupied by Barney Russell, son of Joseph, standing on the north east corner of Union and Purchase, occupying the present site of the Dr. Reed house. This is the house now owned by Edward Stetson, on Purchase Street, having been moved there. Barney Russell was a merchant. He had three or four sloops whaling and several West India men.

A house owned and occupied by Joseph Rotch, and now occupied by Hannah Case.10

It was the first house he built after coming from Nantucket. He was the grandfather of the present Wm. Rotch Jr., and died in this house. Before moving here he examined the depth of water in the harbor, etc. He was a shoemaker by trade, but never carried it on here. After the village was burnt he moved to Nantucket, but returned again at the close of the war.

A house occupied by Avery Parker, as a public house, on the north east corner of Bethel and Union Streets, being the same in which Snell’s fruit shop now is. He was the grandfather of the present Elisha Parker, was a house wright by trade and kept a public house in this building during the war.

A two story store standing on the four corners where Allen Kelly now keeps. It was occupied as a variety store—groceries, dry goods, etc., and was owned by Seth Russell Senior. It was the same building recently standing on Whittemore lot, near his soap works, and now moved south. (The Russell store stood on the northwest corner of Water and Union Streets).

A long store one and one-half stories high, fronting west and occupied by Joseph Russell, son of Caleb Senior, who subsequently moved to Boston. He was the half brother of Caleb Jr. (Caleb Sr. was the father of the present Reuben.) The south part of this building was occupied by Joseph Russell, as aforesaid, as a grocery store including rum, etc. The north part by Caleb Greene as an apothecary shop. The part next south of the last by Charles Church, shoemaker. (This building stood on the northeast corner of Water and Union Streets) and was burnt by the British.

A gambrel roofed house, standing where the William Russell paint shop now stands on the northwest corner of Union and Orange Streets, owned and occupied by Benjamin Taber Sr., (the father of Benjamin Taber Jr. who removed from Acushnet to Illinois.) Taber was a boat builder and pump and block maker, and his shop stood in the rear, or to the north of this house. The latter was burnt by the British.11

The present dwelling house on the southwest corner of Fifth and Union Streets was built and occupied by John Williams, a saddle and harness maker. His shop was adjoining the house on the west.

The house now occupied by Elisha W. Kempton, called the West house12 was built and occupied by Gamaliel Bryant Sr., grandfather of the present Frederick. He was a house wright. He sold the house afterwards to Captain Elisha West, who moved here from Holmes’ Hole.

A house, being a part of the present Eagle Hotel, built by Elihu Gifford, who occupied it at his time, but afterwards sold it to Isaac Howland Jr. Gifford was a house carpenter by trade, but worked at anything. (Eagle Hotel was on southwest corner of Union and Fourth Streets.)

The one-story house now standing on southeast corner of Union and Fourth Streets, and east of the Eagle Hotel, owned and occupied by John Atkins, until his death. He was a cooper by trade, but did not carry it on since I can remember; he followed the seas. He was the son-in-law of Caleb Russell Senior, and the husband of Peace Akins, whom Gilbert attempted to carry from Joseph Russell’s, etc.

The house now standing on the southwest corner of Union and Third Streets, the basement being now occupied by Noah Clark as a grocery, was occupied and owned by Daniel Ricketson, father of the present Joseph. He was a cooper by trade, and married the eldest daughter of Joseph Russell.

A house on the southeast corner of Union and Third Streets, where Barrows’s store now stands, owned and occupied by William Tallman, father of the present William. He was a merchant tailor, and his shop was at the corner of Orange and Centre Streets. He owned a farm up north, etc. This house is the west part of the present Calvin B. Brooks house (on southwest corner of Walnut and Water Streets.

A long block of shops, one story high, opposite the Mansion House, and extending eastward along the south side of Union Street to First Sreet. They were occupied as a barber’s shop, tailor’s shop, shoemaker’s shop, etc. The whole block was burnt by the British.

The house on the southwest corner of Union and South Water Streets, being the Martha Hussey building, was owned and occupied by Elnathan Samson, who was a blacksmith. His shop stood at the west of the house.

A house (now occupied by Robert Taber as a tavern) standing on the southeast corner of Union and South Water Streets, built, owned and occupied by Simeon Nash (father of the present Thomas and Simeon), who was a house wright.

A house on the edge of the bank, standing about where Bates & Haskins paint shop is, owned and occupied by William Myricks, who died in it. He was a cooper and the brother of Benjamin, who was drowned in getting up cannon opposite Crow Island. They have left no posterity. (It stood on the south side of Union, about 50 feet west of Front.

A house on Third Street (the Philips house, corner of Third and Market Square), one story high, built and occupied by Ishmael Tripp, a cooper, and the grandfather of the present Ishmael. It has recently been raised up two stories and repaired.

A house in front of the present dwelling house of William Bliss, on Third Street, standing within the present lines of Third Street. This house was owned by Joseph Rotch, and occupied by Thomas Miles, who was a rope-maker and worked for said Rotch in his rope-walk, the west end of which was near this house. Miles came from Boston. The house was burnt by the British13.

A house standing on the site of the old market, owned and occupied by Joseph Austin, a hatter, whose shop stood on First Street, near Union. This shop was subsequently bought by William Bliss and formed a part of his present dwelling house.14

The house was moved south to the John Coggeshall lot and is the same that was recently occupied by Alfred Kendrick being No. 23 South Second Street15.

A house built and occupied by Silas Sweet, a blacksmith, being the “George Dunham house,” and now occupied by Geo. W. Sherman. Sweet sold out and moved to the state of New York.16

A house built and occupied by James Davis until his death. He was a tanner and currier. This house stood on the east side of South Second Street, opposite the Market—had a gambrel roof and is now owned by Bethuel Penniman.17

A handsome two story house, built, owned and occupied by Wm. Claggon, master mariner, standing on the west side of Water Street, and a little north of the Cory tavern. This house was burnt by the British, and stood at the head of Commercial Street, next north of the brick house.

A house standing obliquely with Water Street, on the west side thereof, at the head of Commercial Street and partly upon the present site of the Cory tavern and partly upon that of the Hill house, two story in front and one in rear. This house was built and occupied by John Louden, formerly of Pembroke. He was a ship-carpenter, and carried on ship building here. His ship yard was on the east side of Water Street, northeast from (now) Cole’s stable and tavern and between Water Street and the present Commercial and Steam Boat wharves. Louden kept a public house here at the time. This house was burnt by the British. Louden moved back to Pembroke soon after the war.

A house built and occupied by David Shepherd, a cooper, standing on South Water Street, at the northwest corner of School Street, now standing and known by the name of the “Shepherd House.” He carried on more business (coopering) than any other person here.

The present Gideon Howland House, three stories high, standing on the hill, southwest corner of South Water and School Streets. This house was occupied by Thomas Hathaway, who built it. He was a boat builder subsequently to the landing of the British moved up to the house, now called the “Nash House.” Immediately after the landing of the British it was let by Mr. Hathaway to one Job Anthony for a rendezvous. The officers of the sloop Providence and other armed vessels, quartered in a part of this house when in port.18

The house built and occupied by John Howland, the father of the late Resolved Howland, by his first wife, the daughter of David Smith, of Dartmouth, and of John and James Howland by his second wife, the daughter of David Shepherd. He was both a merchant and mariner. This is the house now occupied by Reliance Howland, No. 45 South Water Street (and stood on the west side of Water, next south of the corner of School).

The Fitch House, so called, now standing at the south west corner of Water and Walnut Streets. This house was built by Joseph Rotch for Griffin Barney Senior, who occupied it at the time the British troops landed, etc. Griffin Barney Jr. (the late Griffin Barney) was not married at the time and lived here with his father. The elder Griffin was boss of the rope walks owned by Joseph Rotch (being the only ones then in the place) which were burned and carried on business in the same.

The brick house, now standing on South Water Street, between Walnut and Madison Streets. This house was built and occupied by Charles Hudson19, a mason who moved afterwards to Newport, R. I. He built the house himself.

The James Allen house20, so called, standing next south of the last. Don’t know who built this house21—it is very old. It was occupied by Wally Adams, the father of the present Thomas. Adams did not own it–he occupied it as a boarding house—don’t know his occupation.

The “Wm. Russell house,” near the foot of School Street, built by William Russell Sr., who always lived in it. He was a cooper and carried on the business a while.

A house built and occupied by John Gerrish, as a public house, standing where Cole’s tavern now stands. This was burnt by the British. After the war Gerrish built the present house on the same cellar. He was a pump and block maker.22

A small gambrel roofed house, built and occupied by John Chaffy, standing on the lot next north of the John Howland house, and on the lot afterwards owned by Alex. Howard. Chaffy was a refiner of oil in the candleworks and the first man here at that business. He stole the art from an Englishman. He worked in the candle-house belonging to Joseph Russell, on Centre Street whilst he was in company with Isaac Howland. This was all the candle-house at the time. A short time before the British burnt, Russell & Howland had some difficulty and dissolved, Russell occupying the old works on Centre Street and Howland building, etc. After the fire Chaffy was a constable.23

A long building, 1 1/2 stories high, standing on the site of the present yellow store, Commercial wharf. The west end of this was occupied as a distillery (to make N. E. rum of molasses, etc.) by Isaac Howland Sr. The east end was occupied by Howland as a candleworks. This building was erected by Isaac Howland after the dissolution of copartnership between him and Joseph Russell and was the second candlehouse in town, etc. This building was burnt by the British together with a large quantity of N. E. rum. Russell being a Quaker was opposed to distilleries.24

The house next north of Hannah Case’s and now occupied by Walter Chapman built and occupied by Charles Church, who was drowned near Crow Island, say 30 years of age. He was a shoemaker.25

The house next north of the last and now occupied by the Rev. Mr. Mudge. It was built and occupied by Col. Edward Pope, the collector who subsequently sold it to William Hayden.

A small gambrel roofed house standing upon the present site of the Bethel. It was built by Tim. Ingraham (grandfather of the present Robert), who commanded the fort. His son, Timothy, the father of Robert, was a barber and his shop was in the long string of buildings or stores, on the south side of Union Street, between Second and First Streets. This house was subsequently pulled down.

The house where Prescott’s office now is—North Water Street—was built by Seth Russell Sr., and was occupied by widow Doubleday, as already stated. Mr. Russell lived in this house before the war. Upon the commencement of the war, he moved up to his farm, now owned by Timothy G. Coffin. This house was set on fire three different times by the British soldiers, which was as often extinguished, in their presence by the heroic Mrs. D. Upon being asked by them if she were not afraid thus to oppose them, she fearlessly replied that she “never saw a man she was afraid of.” This boldness so pleased the soldiers that they desisted from any further attempt to fire the house, which was accordingly saved, together with a large amount of goods then stored in the cellar—liquors.26

A house standing next north of the last and separate from it by an alley. This house was one story and very old at the time. Don’t know who built it. It was occupied during the war by John Shearman, father of the present Thurston Shearman. It was a long house with the end to the street and its front to the aforesaid alley or court. John Shearman was a blacksmith. The house was called “the old Seth Russell house.”

A house next north of the last standing where the south part of the William H. Allen brick block now stands. It was built by Daniel Smith, who owned and occupied it. He was a tailor and had a small shop on the north side of “Main Street” near where Nathl. Roger’s barber’s shop now is. This shop was not noted among the buildings on Union Street. It was subsequently pulled down.

A house next north of the last occupying the site of the northerly part of the said William H. Allen brick block. It was built by Abraham Smith, who owned and occupied it. He was a blacksmith and his shop was on the north side of Centre Street, a few rods east of Water Street. He was the son of Jonathan Smith, living at the “north end” at this time.

A one story, gambrel roofed house, standing at the north end of the present Commercial Bank—on the hill. It was built, owned and occupied by Joseph Rotch, who came from the Vineyard. He was a master mariner and was called “Capt. Joseph Rotch.” Burnt by British.

A large house 2 1/2 or 3 stories high, standing on the same cellar as the house recently occupied and now owned by William Rotch Jr. It was built and owned by Joseph Rotch, the first settler. He lived in it after he left his old home, where Harriet Case now lives, as already stated; but at the time of the British landing, he resided, Mr. Gilbert thinks, at Nantucket. The house at this time was occupied by Joseph Austin, a hatter, who carried on the hatting business in a shop on Union Street, which now forms a part of William Bliss’ house, on Third Street.27

A house standing on North Water Street, on the north side of the lot occupied by the late Samuel Rodman, and near the edge of the bank between this lot and the present Benj. Rodman lot. It was built by James Smith, who occupied it—and was pulled down some 20 years since. Mr. Smith was a cooper and “carried on the business.” Some say this is the “oldest house, etc.” but Gilbert says the Loudon house is the oldest. James B. Congdon says this house was built by his grandfather, Benj. Taber, etc.28

A large, woolen, one story building standing partly where Mark B. Palmer’s shop now is, and thence extending easterly to the “Horton Bake House.” This was built by Joseph Russell and occupied as a candlehouse by him and Isaac Howland, who were in company during the commencement of the war. But having some little difficulty they dissolved, upon which Isaac built the other, which he had occupied as a distillery and candleworks, but a short time when it was burnt by the British as before stated. This was the first candleworks in town, and was occupied by Jos. Russell after the dissolution of copartnership29.

A cooper’s shop stood at the southeast corner of the last and belonged to Joseph Russell.

A boat builder’s shop, standing upon the present site of the store now occupied by Daniel Perry, extending from the house on the corner northerly to where Joseph Taber’s shop now stands. It was a long building set in the bank two stories in front and one in rear. The first story was occupied as a pump and block maker’s shop, and the second story as a boatbuilder’s shop, which was long enough to set up three boats in a string. The whole was carried on by Benj. Taber Sr., who lived in the house adjoining on the corner where the paint shop now stands. It was located on the west side of Front next north of the corner of Union.30

A two story wooden store, standing on the present corner of Orange and Centre Streets, and where the William Tallman brick store now is. It was built by William Tallman Sr., and occupied by him as a grocery store in the first story, and as a merchant tailor’s store in the second story.

A store standing east of the last and where Orange Street now runs, built and occupied by Joseph Russell. The front was two stories and the rear one. It stood into the bank of rock. The first story was occupied as a grocery and the second as a dry-goods store, and the whole was carried on by his son, Gilbert. This was burnt—goods principally saved. Some powder having been left it blew up with a great report. No one hurt.

The “Try works,” a building one story high—a sort of shed, etc., stood in front of the Joseph Russell house and nearly at the intersection of the present Orange and Centre Streets, leaving a [passageway] between it and the last. This belonged to Joseph Russell and was used for trying out blubber, which was “brought in”, in scuttled hogsheads, in small vessels. Russell was the only person who carried on the whaling business before the war.

Think Russell had no vessel south of the Gulf Stream before the war. Try works burnt by British.

The Joseph Rotch store stood somewhere, Mr. Gilbert thinks, near the east end of the present Andrew Robeson’s candle works—but he cannot say exactly where. Joseph Rotch owned several vessels. Store burnt by the British.31

The present Silas Kempton house, at southwest corner of North Second and Elm Streets. It then stood in the pasture, or meadow. It was built and occupied by his father, Manassah Kempton, who was a shipwright.

A house standing on the present High Street, and a little to the west of the late Benjamin Kempton house at the corner of High and North Second Street. This was an old one-story house and was built by Benj. Kempton Senior, father of the late Benjamin Kempton. He was a caulker. This was one of the Asa Smith buildings of Ark memory—that is, it was moved east of William Ellis’s house and burnt with the Ark. The Ark was the merchant brig, Indian Chief.

House owned, occupied and built by Benjamin Butler, standing on the east side of Clarks Neck. Only house on the Point. Same house which Judah Butler now lives in, and Benjamin was the father of Judah and he was a cooper.32

A house standing at the present foot of Mill Street on Ray Street, east side, two-story house. Built by George East, who occupied it at that time and until his death. He was a mason and came from Rhode Island.33

House standing where Third Street now runs, immediately in front of the house where William Bliss now lives.34

It was two stories and stood near the rope walk which occupied what is now Morgans Lane. The house in which Mr. Bliss now lives, or a part of it, was a hatter’s shop and stood near the “four corners.” This was first moved on the cellar of the above house, but subsequently, on the laying out of Third Street, moved back to its present site. In this shop John Coggeshall, Caleb Congdon and Cornelius Grinnell learned the hatter’s trade. The shingles on the north end of this house were put on before the Revolution.

The long one-story house built, owned and occupied until he died, by Jonathan Smith, stood next south of the present35 Amos Simmons store on North Second Street. He was the grandfather of Asa Smith. He was a blacksmith and his shop stood south of his house and where Jacob Parker now lives. This house was moved up to Nigger Town and is now cut in two and makes the two William Reed’s houses west of Dudleys.36

The two-story house corner of North Second and North Street, now occupied by Amos Simmons. This was built, owned and occupied by Jonathan Russell, a cooper, who carried on [cooperage] in the cellar. He was the brother of old William Russell. They came from Nantucket. (House now standing on northeast corner.)

A one-story house built by George Glaggon, a shipwright, standing right east of the last house, fronting to the west. It is a part of the present house now standing there (the southwest part), now belonging to Andrew Robeson. This gentleman was a colonel in the Revolutionary Continental army. After the war he was employed as head boss of the yard to build the frigate Constitution and for that purpose moved his whole family to Boston. He subsequently moved back again and after moved to Rehoboth. Peter Lewis’s wife of this town was his daughter. Building the Constitution spoilt him.

A house now belonging to and occupied by Susan Maxfield, standing on the northwest corner of North Second and North Streets. It was built by Patrick Maxfleld, the son of Timothy Maxfield Sr., who lived in Dartmouth. Patrick was a master mariner and uncle of the present Humphrey Maxfield. He has no posterity.

A house on southwest corner of North Second and Maxfield Streets, the present Humphrey Maxfleld house. It was built by Zadoc Maxfield, who owned and occupied it. He was a cooper and worked in under part of it, where his son did. Humphrey was his youngest son.

A one-story house on southwest corner of Ray and North Streets, now owned and occupied by James Bates. This was built, owned and occupied by Jabez Hammond Sr. He was a cooper and worked in cellar or basement part of it. He was father to John Gilbert’s wife and came from Mattapoisett. Old John Chace’s wife was this man’s sister, making John Gilbert’s wife own cousin to my grandmother.

A one-story house on the west side of Ray Street, now standing and occupied by Asa Dillingham, (on the northwest corner of Ray and Maxfield.) Don’t know who built it. James Chandler owned and occupied it. He was an Englishman. He was the grandfather of Thomas R. Chandler, who lived with William Rotch. He was a shoemaker and worked in basement. He was a soldier during the war.

A small house now standing on Ray Street and next north of the last. It was built, owned and occupied by Thomas West, a very old man at the time and did not work. Think he was the grandfather of John P. West.

A small one-story house standing west of the last (being the house on Purchase Street below the bank). It was built by Simeon Price Sr., father of the present Simeon. He lived in it and owned it. He was a cooper, I think.37

A two-story house in front and one-story in rear, on southeast corner County and Cove Streets, fronting south and standing on the same cellar as the present Cove House. Was built by Benjamin Allen, grandfather of the present Humphrey Allen. He was a farmer. This house was afterwards pulled down.

The present Timothy Akin’s house. This was built, owned and occupied by Caleb Russell Jr., the father of Reuben. He was a cooper, but followed farming during the war. (It stood on northwest corner County and Rockland Streets.)

The house west of the Seth Russell new house and now occupied by Ichabod Coggeshall, was built, occupied and owned by old Caleb Russell. He was a farmer. (It was on the northwest corner County and Washington Streets.)

A house on the corner of County and Allen, the present Ezekiel Tripp house. This was built, owned and occupied by James Allen, a farmer called “Lazy Jim,” father of Abram and John. (It was opposite the Methodist church).

A small shop standing on the corner of South Second and Union Streets, where William Tallman’s house now is. It was a dry goods store and occupied by them. Gilbert thinks it not here till after the fire. This shop formerly stood at the Tallman farm, was moved down here and afterwards moved back to the farm, and thence moved to east side Ray Street, where the dye establishment now is, and was then torn down and burnt up.

A house standing on west side County Street and near the present residence of Joseph Grinnell. It was two stories and was built and owned by Jonathan Smith, who lived on North Second Street, as above stated. Don’t know who lived in it.38

An old house standing near where William R. Rotch’s house now is, two stories in front and one in rear, fronting south. John Akins occupied it. He was a cooper, but followed the seas,—master. The house belonged to Joseph Russell and was built by his father, whose name I think was Joseph and who was not living during the war. This was his homestead, one of the very oldest houses here.39

The house of Joseph Russell stood southeast of Charles W. Morgan’s on the corner of County and Morgan Streets, and is now owned by William Read, who moved it, as before stated. It was built by Colonel Samuel Willis, a colonel in the French war, who was the father of Ebenezer, who lived by John A. Parker’s present house. The son Ebenezer was a major in the militia in the first of the war. He was uncle to Pamelia Willis, now living, who was the daughter of Jireh Willis.

The Russell house was the headquarters of all gentlemen and troops during the war. There was no other suitable house for gentlemen to put up at. There were in the place three taverns, but they were rough places.

A house near Kempton’s corner, on west side County Street, now occupied by Sylvia Hill, sister of Obed Kempton and married Captain Benjamin Hill Sr. This house was built, occupied and owned by Eph. Kempton, father of said Sylvia, who died in it. He was a shipwright and a caulker. The house was two stories in front and one in the rear, (and stood on northwest corner Kempton Street).

A house standing on the west side of County Street and a little north of the David Kempton house, at the head of North Street, two stories in front and one in rear. Eph. Kempton 2nd, owned it and lived in it. He was a farmer. Don’t know the connection between him and Eph. Kempton Sr. He was the father of the present Eph. Kempton.

A house standing on Walden Street, two stories in the front, west side stuccoed (think John Burgess lives in it). It was built by Colonel Thomas Kempton, in the Revolutionary army. He occupied it till his death. He served through the war. He was brother to Eph. Kempton 2nd.

An old house standing a little west of where John Avery Parker’s house now stands, large two-story house. It was built by Ebenezer Willis Sr., the colonel in the French war, and his son Ebenezer occupied it, and kept a public house in it. Probate courts were held in it. It was burnt during the war, but not by the English. It took fire from an old woman’s pipe, a coal falling into some flax. A house was afterwards built by Ebenezer Jr., on the same spot, which was recently moved onto Purchase Street. Ebenezer Sr. and Jr. were both farmers. Ebenezer Jr. was a major in the militia in the first part of the war. Think this was the only fire before Abram Russell’s.

(Note: There is an error in this account. The first house was built by Colonel Samuel Willis, who died in 1765 and left the north third part of his farm between Franklin and Linden Streets to his son Jireh, as suggested in the next paragraph, and the remainder to his son, Major Ebenezer Willis. Neither had any sons.)

A house standing at the crotch of the County Road and Perry’s Neck Road and north of Robeson’s new house, called the old Willis house. It was occupied by Jireh Willis, a lawyer, and I think the only lawyer in the place. It was entailed, etc., said Jireh owning a life estate. Think it was built by his father, Ebenezer Willis Sr.40

The Benjamin Rodman farm house on Purchase Street, built, owned and occupied by Samuel West, father of Stephen West, the pound-keeper. He was a farmer.41


1. It is the present William S. Reed’s dwelling house.

2. Smith Mills road was Kempton Street, Rockdale Avenue and the Hathaway Road. Timothy Maxfield’s house was on the north side of the Hathaway Road near the junction with Kempton Street.

3. The rope walk stood on the land now Morgan’s Lane and extended from the shore west to Acushnet Avenue.

4. This lot was on the southeast corner of Sixth and Spring Streets.

5. Prescott’s office was on the west side of North Water Street in the building next north of the corner of Union.

6. McPherson’s Wharf was at Belleville.

7. The Rushforth house is in Padanaram, next south of the southeast corner of Elm and Prospect Streets.

8. On the lot of Eddy building.

9. The east part of the Masonic building stands on this site.

10. Stood on the northwest corner of Union and Bethel Streets.

11. Orange was the first name of Front Street.

12. Next west of Ricketson’s block.

13. William Bliss built the smaller house on the west side of Acushnet Avenue, the third south of the corner of Russell Street.

14. The Old market was the central police station of 1908.

15. Northwest corner of Second and School.

16. Northwest corner Spring and South Second Streets.

17. Next south of southeast corner of Union and Second Streets.

18. The Howland house was build about 1795 after Thomas Hathaway had sold the house that he had erected.

19. Edward Hudson.

20. James Allen was a tailor.

21. Moses Grinnell, 1778.

22. This house stood on east side of Water Street at the foot of Spring.

23. This house stood on the northeast corner of South Water and Commercial Streets.

24. The stone block on north side of Commercial Street is on the above site.

25. The Case house stood on the northwest corner of Union and Bethel.

26. At this date Judge Prescott’s office was on the west side of North Water Street next to the corner of Union.

27. The Rotch house stood on the southwest corner of Water and William Streets. It is now the Mariners’ Home on Bethel Street, presented to the Port Society by Mrs. James Arnold, daughter of William Rotch Jr., in 1851, and moved to its present location.

28. The Rodman house stood on the northwest corner of Water and William Streets.

29. It was located on the south side of Centre Street half way between Water and Front.

30. Front street was originally named Orange. Joseph Taber’s shop is the stone building on the west side of Front Street at the corner of Rose Alley.

31. The Robeson candle works was the stone building on east side of Water Street corner of Rodman Street.

32. Standing on the south side of Butler Street now East French Avenue.

33. Ray Street is now Acushnet Avenue.

34. The third house on the west side of Acushnet Avenue south of Russell Street.

35. This stood near North Street.

36. This was Chepachet.

37. Demolished this winter, stood on site of new rink.

38. This was at the head of Russell Street.

39. This stood on west side of County Street at head of Walnut Street.

40. His father was Samuel and the house was on the northwest corner of County and Robeson Street. Robeson’s house was the stone dwelling owned later by Dr. H. M. Dexter.

41. It stood near the southwest corner of Purchase and Weld Streets.