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The Granite monthly, a New Hampshire magazine, devoted to literature, history, and state progress (Volume 53) online

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the audience stood, the uncushioned
seats in the old square pews being
raised on hinges. At the close of
the prayer, these seats were drop-



with no fire, through those intermi-
nably long sermons, in midwinter.
The caretaker used to be required
to wash the meetinghouse twice a
year and sweep it six times.
Neither of the first two meeting-
houses had a spire or bell.

In spite of discomforts, the old
meetinghouse endeared itself to
the people. The following lines
written on the day of the last church
service in the above described




Sullivan Meeting-House. Dedicated Dec. 7, 1848.



ped almost simultaneously, with an
uproarious clash.

The outside of the building was
painted in a yellowish tint with
white trimmings.

In 1826 a stove was allowed for
the first time, and the meetinghouse
caretaker was required "to provide
fuel for the stove, and keep a fire
when necessary." Previous to this,
the only heat was furnished by foot
stoves carried by the women who
usually obtained their live coals
from the open fireplace of Enoch
Woods, near the meetinghouse. It
required strong moral courage on
the part of our forefathers to sit,



building are from a poem by
Dauphin Wilson, one of the faith-
ful attendants at the old church.

LEAVING THE OLD
MEETINGHOUSE.

Farewell, these old gray walls, farewell ;

Farewell each foot-worn aisle.
How many score the friends who here

Have met us with a smile.

Like autumn leaves torn from the trees,
They're scattered far and' wide.

Some rest in yonder burying ground,
There sleeping side by side.

Some chose a home still further north.
Where 'neath the frosts and snows,

Far from their early childhood's home,
Their bodies now repose.



290



THE GRANITE MONTHLY



Some made the distant west their home,

Nearer the setting sun,
And on the prairies sank to rest,

Their earthly work well done.

Some, too, passed through the "Golden
Gate,"

A fortune there to gain.
Where gold is found in shining sands,

On California's plain.

Some made the sunny South their home,

In days long since gone by,
And sleep their last long dreamless sleep

Beneath its genial sky.

And some of those who now remain,

Who oft have met us here,
Have heads all silvered o'er with age,

With frost of many a year.

Their life lamps burn but dimly now;

The flick'ring soon will cease;
And heavn'ly light will guide their steps,

Where all is rest and peace.

These old walls, too, must soon come down

Be levelled with the ground ;
Like those who once did worship here,

1 hey'll soon be scattered round.

Whene'er a fragment I shall see,

"i Will in my mind renew .
The thought of friends, so near and dear,

Who sat in every pew.

The Sullivan minister enjoys the
use of a good parsonage, beautiful
for its situation, which commands
a fine view of Monadnock and many
hills and mountains to the .south
and south-east, with views of peaks
in Massachusetts and Vermont.
This parsonage was willed to the
societv by Asa Ellis who died Feb.
14, 1874.

One of the early ministers stipu-
lated that 35 cords of wood should
be annually drawn to his house by
the parish. Similar arrangements
were made with some of the later
ministers. The provision for the
pastor's wood was finally made
permanent by the will of James
Comstock, who died April 6, 1861,
and willed to the society a valuable
woodlot.

Cemeteries, Funerals, Etc.

On March 4, 1797, a committee
of six men was chosen to lay out



the burying-ground in form. They
proceeded to do so, and a chart of
the ground was prepared on sheep-
skin parchment, which was then, or
later, fastened to stout cloth. On
this chart, the lots were properly
delineated and the names of lot-
takers inserted from time to time,
as they were taken. As a result of
this extraordinary foresight on the
part of the founders of this town,
it has been possible to identify
every grave in the old cemetery,
with possibly the exception of those
in a single lot of which the lot-
taker's name had become illegible
upon the old chart.

On March 13, 1827, the town vot-
ed to purchase a hearse and build a
house to keep it in. On the eighth
day of the preceding December,
Samuel Osgood died. There had
been a heavy fall of snow, which
had been melted by a thaw, and the
roads were exceedingly muddy.
It was decided to convey his body
to the grave upon the body of a
wagon, in consequence of the bad
travelling. This was the first corpse
in town which had been carried to
a grave upon a wheeled vehicle.
In winter, however, when the snow
was deep and drifted, a few bodies
had been conveyed to the cemetery
upon ox sleds. The body of
Nathan Bolster, whose funeral oc-
curred in the midst of a howling
snow storm in February, was thus
carried to the grave.

The hearse was built within a
month from the day the town had
authorized its construction. It was
hurriedly finished at the last, that
it might be used at the funeral of
Sparhawk Kendall, who died on
April 4 of the same year. His body
was the first which was borne to its
grave in Sullivan upon a regular
hearse. The hearse-house was built
the same year exactly where the
gate of the cemetery is now placed.
Forty dollars was paid for making
the hearse and hearse-house.



SK WARD'S VILLAGE



291



- During its existence that hearse
called at nearly every door in Sulli-
van. It was a clumsy vehicle, for
one horse, with heavy hlack cloth
curtains at the sides and rear end,
the bottom of the curtains being
edged with deep black fringe. Dur-
ing the funeral service, the coffin
was covered with the heavy black
pall, called the "burying-cloth."
The service, anciently, was of great
length, the sermon alone often oc-
cupying an hour, not to speak of
the Bible reading, prayers and
hymns. Few flowers were used,
only simple bouquets or wreaths of
common garden flowers in their
season, or perhaps a few wild
flowers. At the funeral of Mrs.
Daniel Wilson, in 1825, a bunch of
tansy in blossom was laid upon the
pall. In winter, the absence of
flowers, the chilly air, and the
dreary services rendered such an
occasion a most gloomy procedure.

All the citizens of the town, as a
rule, attended funerals in olden
times. At one funeral, a town
meeting was adjourned, for a time,
to afford all an opportunity to be
present. Mourners were seated,
during the services, with a math-
metical precision, beginning with
the "head mourner," (because plac-
ed at the head of the coffin), and
proceeding according to the vary-
ing grades of blood relationship.
Complaints were not infrequently
heard of those who were "not plac-
ed as near the corpse as they should
have been." Errors on the part of
the "conductor of the funeral" were
likely to be forcefully brought to
his notice.

After the long service was con-
cluded, the assembled friends "took
leave of the departed." This leave-
taking called forth a certain mor-
bid curiosity to watch the chief
mourners as they took their leave,
to see "how they took it," to quote
the current expression. After all
had taken their last look at the



face of the deceased, a white cloth
was placed over the face of the
corpse, and the coffin was then clos-
ed and the pall wrapped about it.
It was then fastened to the bier, on
the ends of whose legs were rude
castors. This bier, surmounted by
the coffin, was then trundled into
the body of the hearse. This action
produced a squeaking, grating
sound, strikingly noticeable on such
an occasion. Children were some-
times frightened with the thought
that the corpse was screaming.

As a rule there was no committal
.service, nor any special religious
service at the grave. The minister
rarely went to the grave, except
upon some occasion of unusual in-
terest. After the coffin had been
deposited in thq grave, the con-
ductor of the funeral thanked the
bearers and all who had assisted in
any way upon the solemn occasion,
and usually invited all to return to
the late home of the deceased,
where it was expected that a
bountiful dinner would be served,
often largely or wholly provided by
neighbors, and of which the greater
portion would partake.

Until 1827, it had been the cus-
tom to serve liquors at funerals.
Sometimes they were set upon a
table, where anyone could help
one's self. Sometimes a punch was
served. The "parson" was polite-
ly served first, who sometimes al-
lowed his glass to be replenished,
and who rarelv refused to be serv-
ed.

After the bell was placed in the
church belfry in 1860 it was cus-
tomary to toll for the death of any-
one in town. The bell was tolled
for a quarter of an hour or more,
with long intervals between the
strokes of nearly a minute in
length. At the conclusion, the age
was struck, by giving as many
strokes as there were completed
years in the deceased person's age.
After another pause, a single stroke



292



THE GRANITE MOXTIII.Y



was given if the person were a
male, and two strokes if a female.
It was not customary to toll for
infants under three years of age.
On the day of the burial, if the
procession passed the church, the
bell was tolled while it passed.

Tragedies, Casualties, Fires, Etc.

Grim tragedy entered this peace-
ful village, as it is wont to do in
every locality. It made no dis-
tinction of persons, and often laid
low an individuality which the vil-
lage least desired to spare. Both
old and young were victims. On
Nov. 2, 1897, occurred one of the
saddest and most shocking trage-
dies which ever occurred in Sew-
nrd's Village. Leland Ernest
Heald, a little boy two years of age,
was fatallv shot, while sitting: on
his mother's lap. A neighbor was
calling upon Mr. Heald, and they
were looking at guns. While ex-
amining a gun, the man happened
to discharge it.

The muzzle by an unlucky
chance, was so pointed that the
bullet pierced the little boy's heart
and he soon expired. It was an-
other of the many cases of "I did
not know it was loaded." Nothing
could induce the mother to ever
afterward live in the house where
the accident occurred.

Insanity was the cause of two
murders in town, and carelessness
was responsible for several casual-
ties.

In May 1842, James Estey lost an
eye. He had been suffering from
an acute pain in the eye for some
time. It was thought, at first, that
he had scratched it with the thorn
of a gooseberry bush near which
he was playing, but later circum-
stances disproved this view. The
eye had begun to obtrude from his
head when the surgeons advised its
removal. The operation was per-

♦Frorn a poem by Dauphin W. Wilson,



formed by Amos Twitchell, M. D.,
one of the best and ablest surgeons
of New England. It was before
the days of ether. The poor fellow
was fastened into a chair and the
operation lasted thirty-five minutes.
The agony of the boy during the
operation was almost indescribable.
His screams were heard a long
distance. On removing the eye it
was found that seven tumors, of
varying sizes, had begun to de-
velop in the eye-socket, and had
nearly pushed his eye out of his
head. Young Estey was then
eighteen years of age. He surviv-
ed this ordeal many years.

In 1809, the dwelling of Daniel
Wilson was burned. Two daugh-
ters, Sally and Betsey, were "fix-
ing" to get married. The flax
wheels were humming and tow and
flax were much in evidence. While
they were busily spinning, a dog
chased a cat through the room.
His tail brushed through the open
fire and caught afire. He switched
it into the flax, of which there was
an abundance lying around, and no
human power could save the house
which was soon in flames. Very
little was saved from the wreck.
The household goods, including a
fine outfit for the two girls, "went
up in smoke." Sally expeditiously
renewed her preparations and was
married "inside the frame of the
house being erected on the new
site," Jan. 1, 1810.

WAR-TIME LADS OF
SEWARD'S VILLAGE.*

"They heard their country calling

Upon her sons for aid :
With patriotic fervor,

They cheerfully obeyed.

They left their friends behind them —
Their homes where they were born ;

Where passed their early childhood,
Their youth's bright, happy morn.

Where balls flew swift and thickest,
1 hey stood in firm array :

Esq.



SK WARD'S VILLAGE



293



Where steel met steel the fiercest,
They onward forced their way.

They fought for right and freedom,

And not for worldly fame.
No stain's on their escutcheon ;

Each left an honored name."

One of our lads, Asahel Nims,
marched from Keene, on that event-
ful Friday morning, April 21, 1775,
under Capt. Isaac Wyman. After
the men were enlisted, a faint-
hearted fellow showed cowardice,
and wished to be excused. There
was opposition to this, but young
Nims, overhearing the argument,
exclaimed, "Let the coward go. I
will take his place." He did so.
He left his little clearing and the
young woman who was to have be-
come his wife, and marched with
Captain Wyman, and was made a
"sergeant" in his company. Cap-
tain Stiles commanded the company
at Bunker Hill, and there young
Nims offered up his life, the first
man, from that soil which now con-
stitutes Sullivan, to lose his life in
battle. His name, with others of
the slain, is on a bronze tablet, plac-
ed upon a gate of the Bunker Hill
enclosure.

There were about 67 men, who
came to the little village of Sulli-
van, and settled farms during or
soon after the war, who had seen
service in the Revolution.

An interesting feature in the his-
tory of any town was its military
company or companies. In the old
colonial days and until the Declara-
tion of Independence, the militia
consisted practically of all effective
men. During the Revolution, and
for some time after, the militia was
divided into two classes, the train-
ing band and the alarm list. The
"training days" were occasions of
much merriment for the boys. It
was the custom for the subordinate
officers of the company to rally the
men at some convenient point, at
a very early hour of the morning,



and march to the captain's house
and fire a salute to waken him,
which was regarded in reality as a
complimentary salute. Sometimes
the fun was carried too far.

When Josiah G. White was the
captain, not contented with firing
the salute in his yard, some of the
"boys" entered the house (houses
in those days were never, or rarely,
fastened) and discharged their
firearms up the chimney, in the old
fashioned fireplace. Mrs. White
had her "baking" lying upon the
hearth, and the soot which was dis-
lodged utterly ruined all her pies,
bread, beans, etc.

The regimental muster occurred
in September or October of each
year and was the great holiday of
the season. Venders of fruit,
candy and gingerbread, and hawk-
ers and peddlers of all descriptions
frequented the field. Men, women,
and children came from all the
towns whose militia was represent-
ed. It was more exciting than the
modern circus. Cider and strong
drinks were freely sold and used.
The canteens of the soldiers, which
held a quart, were usually well
filled in the morning, and, it is fair
to presume, were empty before
night, in some cases at least.

A brigade muster was an unusual
event. There were several thous-
and men in line and thousands of
people came to witness the spec-
tacle.

One notable occasion of that
character was the great brigade
muster in Swanzey in 1810,
when Philemon Whitcomb of that
town was the major general of the
3rd Division. Swanzey was Whit-
comb's home and he took the great-
est pride in making this one of the
most remarkable events of his life.
There were as many as 4,000 sol-
diers in line and twice as many
spectators were present. The last
muster of the old time militia in
this vicinity was at Keene, October



294



Till-: (iRANITE MONTHLY



2, 1850. The companies had fine
and brilliant uniforms, but the rain
I loured down in torrents during a
large part of the time. The in-
spection and review took place, but
the ceremonies were much curtail-
ed and the heavy rain spoiled the
appearance of everything.

Of the men and lads who served
in the Civil War from Sullivan,
nearly half lost their lives in battle
or by disease incidental to army
life. The sacrifice was very pre-
cious and costly for a little town
of this size. They were sincerely
mourned, but no relative has ever
been heard, to wish that they had
remained at home and avoided the
danger.

Silas L. Black, an ''only son of a
widowed mother," enlisted Sept.
6, and was mustered in Sept. 17.
1861. He died of disease at Budds
Ferry, Md., Dec. 20, 1861, and his
body was the first soldier brought
back to town for burial. The event
occasioned much sympathy and in-
terest.

Of Lieut. Milan D. Spaulding it
is said "with the exception of chills.
he did not see a sick day in the ser-
vice. He was in every engagement
(and the list is an exceedingly long
one) in which his company was en-
gaged, except First Bull Run and
Drury's Bluff. He was never in
the hospital, never rode a step on
any march, and came home without
a scratch." This regiment was in
many of the greatest battles of the
war. No Sullivan man ever had a
liner war record.

Ormond F. Nims was connected
for six years, as lieutenant, captain,
and major, with the old Boston
Light Artillery. In the Civil War
he served three years and five
months as the captain of the fam-
ous "Nims Battery," and "for gal-
lant and meritorious services dur-
ing the war," he received the three
brevet ranks of major, lieutenant



colonel and colonel. lie attained
the most distinguished rank of any
native of the town during the Civil
War. His battery has an honor-
able place in the history of that
great conflict.

There were in the Civil War, 23
men who belonged to the town of
Sullivan, 33 who were natives or
former residents, and 19 more who
came there to live afterwards, mak-
ing a grand total of 75, connected
with Sullivan, who participated in
that memorable conflict.

July 4, 1867, a soldier's monu-
ment, the first in the .state to be
dedicated, was appropriately dedi-
cated to Sullivan's "unreturning
braves," ten of them, who gave
their lives for their country.

On this monument are inscribed
the names and records of those ten
men ; at the dedication of the monu-
ment an address, by Captain C. F.
Wilson, closed with these words :
So long as that granite rests on its
foundation, so long as those inscrip-
tions remain in the marble, so long
as that spire rises toward heaven,
long after our bodies have gone
back to dust, and our spirits return-
ed unto God who gave them, will
generation after generation rise up
and call you blessed."

Literary "Lights" of Seward's
Village.

The village has produced a few
writers who were endowed by
nature with a natural genius for
poetry and prose composition.

Captain Eliakim Nims was a
born humorist, in the most proper
sense of that term. Hi.s wit was
original and harmless, yet pointed
and entertaining. He was a ready
versifier and could produce poetry
on the spur of the moment. He
was a .natural rhymester. One day,
Benaiah Cooke, the editor of the
Cheshire Republican, meeting him
upon the street in Keene, said to



SEWARD'S VILLAGE



295



him : "Mr. Nims, I hear that you
can make a poem on the spot, as
quickly as ever Watts did." Mr.
Nims replied: "I can sir." Then
said Mr. Cooke. "Give me one now."
Immediately, Capt. Nims began:

"Of all the villains whom God forsook,
His name, — it was Benaiah Cook.
The earth was glad, and Heaven willin',
To let the Devil have the villain."

There was no ill feeling between
the men and Mr. Cooke enjoyed the
joke (for it was only intended as
such ) and appreciated the readi-
ness with which Mr. Nims reeled
off the poetry.



with regard to courtship. After
meeting with a refusal from that
same young lady, he was ashamed
to go where any of the boys would
see him and crawled into a shed.
Eventually he fell asleep, and roll-
ed into the hog pen. He was then
obliged to go home at once, in that
sorry plight, and, on the way, he
encountered some of the boys and
was obliged to confess the affair.
Captain Nims immediately compos-
ed a most humorous poem upon the
subject.

The citizens of the town long
preserved a riddle invented by




Representatives of Sullivan families at the Golden Wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Dauphin

W. Wilson, at Keene, November 3, 1886.



If anything happened that was
ridiculous, he was quite likely to
describe the subject in verse. A
certain young fellow of the olden
time desired to pay his addresses to
a proud-spirited young woman who
would not listen to him. The fel-
low, not doubting that his company
would be acceptable to any lady,
had made known to the boys that
he was going to the house "to stay
with the young lady," as the ex-
pression was used in olden time



Captain Nims. A black boy, nam-
ed David, went to Keene one day
and bought a kettle. He came
home, mounted on a brown horse,
carrying his kettle on his head, with
the three legs up. It was a comical
sight, and Mr. Nims, who saw it,
immediately composed this riddle :

"Black upon black,
And black upon brown ;
Three legs up
And six legs down."

Cynthia Locke was a lyric poet-



296



THE GRANITE MONTHLY



ess of much credit. One of her
poems appears in this article.

Dauphin W. Wilson was a bal-
ladist, and the true spirit of poetry
was in his nature. He was par-
ticularly attached to his native
town, and every object of interest
which ever existed in the town was
treasured by him in memory. The
old meetinghouse, the schoolhouse,
of his childhood, the old cemetery,
the old halls and stores, all re-ap-
peared in his imagination over and
over again. Extracts from several
of his poems have already been
given.

Rev. Josiah Peabody was a
satirist who did not always spare
the feelings of those whom his
satire hit. He was a graduate of
Dartmouth College, belonged to a
family of great distinction in New
England, and had inherited a fond-
ness for wit and sarcasm which
characterized much of his literary
work. He published several poems
in the local county papers, some of
which were deserving of a place in
a permanent collection of literature.

Marquis DeLafayette Collester,
a young man of great promise, who
died before he had fully developed
his latent powers, early evinced a
poetic talent of a high order. At
his graduation at Bernarston,
Mass., he read an original poem,
which was a production of much
excellence, graceful in form, and
stately in movement. He graduat-
ed from Middlebury, Vt., College,
became a lawyer, also the principal
of a .seminary in Minnesota, and
died early in life. He was a bril-
liant young man whose light was
too early extinguished. The fol-
lowing is an extract from his
graduation poem :

HEROES OF PYMOUTH ROCK

There is a spot of fair ancestral name,
Rich in historic narrative and fame,
The home of purity, — New England's
pride, —



The place where exiled heroes lived and

died.
Where once was wilderness and gloom and

strife,
See villages and cities spring to life;
Where once was ignorance and vice and

crime,
Now hear the merry church bells weekly

chime ;
Where threats of savage vengeance filled

the air,
Now list the] sweet persuasiveness of

prayer.
Methinks with less preliminary talk
You would anticipate "Old Plymouth

Rock,"
The spot where truth first lit her beacon

fires,
And with a dauntless zeal that never tires,
Did struggle to maintain on every hand
Religious freedom and the rights of man.
Her sturdy champions left upon our shore
Impressions that will live forevermore.
Undying records of their deeds we find
Within the grateful hearts of all mankind.
Man's right to worship God as he might

choose
Was once a theme for critical reviews ;
But when the Mayflower's weather-beaten

keel
Its stormy way toward Plymouth Rock

did feel,
When first upon our bleak, deserted soil,
With courage rare, and persevering toil,
Undaunted by the storm or billows' toss,
They reared the standard of the Chris-
tian cross,
An era dawned upon the sin-stained earth,
Surcharged wiih blessing, and replete with

worth ;
"Freedom to worship God" did then en-
gage
The rapt attention of that haughty age;
Along the brow of heaven, with words of

fire,
The sacred motto mounted higher, higher,
And, like the star of Bethlehem, stood still,
The prophecy of ages to fulfil.

By far the best writer of verse
whom Sullivan has yet produced is
i Mrs. Edwards, whose maiden
name was Ellen Sophia Keith.



Online Library1884 numbers of the Bay state monthlyBe the first and subjects of first 10 volumes and List of porThe Granite monthly, a New Hampshire magazine, devoted to literature, history, and state progress (Volume 53) → online text (page 31 of 57)