Charles Hudson.

History of the town of Lexington, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, from its first settlement to 1868 online

. (page 1 of 62)
Online LibraryCharles HudsonHistory of the town of Lexington, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, from its first settlement to 1868 → online text (page 1 of 62)
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The history of Lexington, unlike that of many other com-
munities, has more than local significance and value, because
of the far-reaching event which took place within the bor-
ders of the town. Upon other grounds, however, the story
of such a typical New England village is of national impor-
tance; for in the development of the community life of Lex-
ington and in the growth of her town meeting, so graphically
set forth by Mr. Hudson, is presented a faithful picture of
the forces which not only brought to a successful termination
the Revolutionary and the Civil wars, but also contributed
in extraordinary measure to the industrial, political, and
moral power of the United States.

Lexington was fortunate in having among her citizens, at a
time when questions of local history and genealogy were little
regarded, a pioneer in the difficult work of preserving the re-
cords of the past. So widespread, fifty years later, is the in-
terest in every detail of early American history and of family
descent that it is almost impossible to appreciate the diflScul-
ties under which Mr. Hudson labored in preparing his monu-
mental History and Genealogy of Lexington. Those diflScul-
ties he overcame with remarkable skill and patience; and an
examination of the result leaves one astonished that, with
such meagre resources, he produced a volume so free from
major errors.

Since Mr. Hudson wrote, a new school of historians, to
whom wealth and accuracy of detail are fundamental, has
arisen; and under their stimulus many American cities and
towns have begun to rescue their records from neglect, and,
in a number of cases, have caused those records to be pre-
served in print. Moreover, in the period since the Civil War,
there has developed a new spirit of interest in the beginnings
of the American States and in those who helped to build
them up. Consequently, in the last half -century, not only
have there been published many town and family genealogies
containing material not available to Mr. Hudson, but the
whole science of genealogy has made great advances. There-
fore, while much information that he secured would have been


lost forever had he failed to record it, much other material,
since brought to light, was, in 1868, quite beyond his reach.

Because of this, and because Lexington is in the process of
transition from rural to semi-urban conditions, it seemed ap-
propriate to mark the two hundredth anniversary of its in-
corporation — March 20, 1712, 0. S. (March 31, 1713, N. S.) —
by a re-publication of Mr. Hudson's history, with such re-
vision, extension, and amplification as might prove desirable
and possible. The matter was brought to the attention of the
Lexington Historical Society; and at a meeting held October
13, 1908, it was voted: "That the Council be instructed and
authorized by the Lexington Historical Society to appoint,
as soon as possible, a committee to have entire charge of the
work as outlined by this report and subject to the direction,
by vote, of the Society."

The undersigned committee was appointed to carry out
the will of the Society; and, since November 10, 1908, when
it organized with Mr. Munroe as chairman, it has held fre-
quent meetings and has given much thought and time to the
task of revision. Securing the aid of Mr. William R. Cutter,
formerly of Lexington but now of Woburn, a genealogist of
experience and reputation, the Committee first undertook
the revision of the genealogical tables, changing their form
from that employed by Mr. Hudson, in order to conform to
modern usage, verifying dates and names, adding new data,
expunging superfluous matter, and greatly amplifying the
tables by information covering the later generations of both
the older and the newer Lexington families. For the latter
purpose, blanks to be filled out were sent to all families resi-
dent in the town as well as to representatives, living else-
where, of many that have moved away. Persistent effort was
made to secure in this way full information; and those fami-
lies whose names do not appear owe such omission to their
failure to comply with the Committee's requests.

As is commonly the case, the labor and expense involved
in the undertaking have proved greater than was anticipated.
The revision of the Genealogy resulted in a growth from two
hundred and eighty-two to nearly nine hundred pages. The
revision of the history itself required not only the preparation
of material covering the period from 1868 to 1912, but also
a verification of all extracts from old records, and a study of
new sources, in order to supplement Mr. Hudson's facts


by additional discoveries gleaned through later researches.
Special care has been taken to examine the many volumes
dealing with the Battle of Lexington, with the result, however,
of proving that, while some new light has been thrown upon
that event by modern historians, few, if any, narrations of the
Battle are so comprehensive, so well balanced, and so accu-
rate as is Mr. Hudson's. In revising his History, therefore,
the Lexington Historical Society not only pays deserved
tribute to a man who, at much personal sacrifice of time and
money, performed with exceptional skill a service of great
value to his adopted town ; but it gives new life and value,
through revision, to what is a real and lasting contribution
to the history of the United States.

Because of the great improvement in the art of illustrating
since 1868, none of the pictures in Mr. Hudson's History has
been retained. Great care has been taken, however, to use
everything available in the way of important illustrative
material, with the result that not only the interest, but the
historic value, of the volumes is greatly enhanced by the
illustrations. These have been chosen by the Committee
and paid for by the Society, quite apart from any personal
or property considerations; and the rule of excluding all por-
traits of living persons has been rigidly observed. The other
members of the Committee are under great obligation to Dr.
Piper, upon whom solely has rested the difficult duty of find-
ing the originals for the illustrations, and of having them
prepared for the press. Attention is called to much valu-
able data contained in the "List of Illustrations" pub-
lished in each volume.

The paper used is that specially made for the New England
Historic-Genealogical Society, and is so free from chemicals
and adulterations as to insure it against deterioration.

It should be observed that the unsigned footnotes are those
of Mr. Hudson; while those signed "EcZ."have been added
by the Committee on Revision. Since in a work of such magni-
tude it is impossible to avoid mistakes, readers are earnestly
requested to make a note of all such mistakes observed and
to report them at once to the Lexington Historical Society.

The Society, and the special committee placed in charge
of this work of revision, could hardly have undertaken to pro-
duce these volumes had it not been for the money available
through the generous bequest to the Society of its former


president, Mr. George O. Smith, and the benefaction from the
estate of Mr. Robert C. Billings. While the cost of the under-
takuig will be eventually defrayed, it is hoped, by the sale
of volumes, the temporary use of these funds, together with
the advance subscriptions secured from citizens of Lexington
and others, has enabled the Society to meet the considerable
cost of revision and of printing. There should first be recorded,
therefore, the great obligation of the town to its late citizen,
Mr. Smith, and to Mr. Thomas Mmns, one of the executors
of the estate of Mr. Billings, through whom a share of the
distributed surplus came to the Lexington Historical Society.
The thanks of the Committee are due to those who have so
generously contributed material (such contributions being
recognized in appropriate footnotes) ; to Miss Mina K. God-
dard, for much conscientious labor and research, especially
upon the Genealogical volume; to the New England Historic-
Genealogical Society, for valuable advice and use of its
archives; to the Massachusetts Historical Society, for refer-
ence to its collections; to the Department of the Secretary
of the Commonwealth and to the War Record Office of the
Adjutant-General for access to and assistance in consulting
the State Archives; and to Mrs. Lillian A. Hall, expert in
genealogical research, for much valuable help, freely given.

James P. Munroe.

Mary E. Hudson.

Sarah E. Robinson.

Charles F. Carter.

John N. Morse.

Fred S. Piper.

Albert S. Parsons.

January 1, 1913.


In preparing the following History, I have labored under
the embarrassments felt by every one who undertakes to
compile the annals of a town, arising from the meagre and
imperfect character of municipal records. This is particu-
larly true of the records of births, deaths, and marriages.
There is scarcely a family whose genealogy can be accurately
traced, in our public archives, through two generations. There
will be omissions of births and deaths, or a minute so brief that
it is next to impossible to determine whether the child born
belongs to this family or that; or whether the person who
died is the father or the son in the particular family, or
whether he belongs to this family or another of the same sur-
name. So of the entry of many marriages, — there is nothing
to determine whether the parties belong to the town where
the marriage is recorded or not.

It is the fortune of those who compile our local histories,
and especially if they deal with the genealogy of families,
to rest under the imputation of being inaccurate; when the
fault is in the record, or in the absence of all record, rather
than in the compiler. In fact any person who undertakes to
write a local history from the records of the town alone would
confer no favor upon the public, unless it be to show how de-
fective those records are. It is well understood by all those
who have had experience that the labor of gleaning from the
towa or city books constitutes but a small portion of the ac-
tual labor to be performed. While gleaning from the records,
the compiler's work is before him ; but when he goes elsewhere
to supply defects or explain what is recorded, he enters an
unexplored field, and many fruitless days must be spent in
search of the needed information. And it is not till he has had
experience that he learns where and how to direct his inquiries
and to separate facts from fiction.

In some of our towns, a portion of the records are lost.
Lexington town records are continuous from the first. There
is, however, one serious defect in the list of marriages. In past
times the records of deaths and marriages were generally
kept by the clergymen. Rev. Mr. Hancock, who was a clergy-


man in Lexington more than half a century, was very full and
accurate in his entries. And while we have his lists of deaths
and baptisms from 1698 to the time of his death, we have no
account of his marriages till 1750. He must have kept a full
record from the first, which is destroyed or lost. This has
proved a great embarrassment in preparing the genealogy,
though many of these defects have been supplied from other

There is also a general defect in records, arising from the
brevity of the entries. When an event is recent, and the de-
tails are fresh in the memory of the people, a concise memo-
randum may apparently answer the purpose. But when the
event is forgotten, such a brief entry becomes almost useless.
All records should be self-explaining; so that they can be un-
derstood at any future day. Another defect arises from the
fact that reports of committees, appointed to obtain the facts
in a given case, are not recorded. The record may say that
the report is accepted and "placed on file." But in the country
towns, where they have no permanent place to deposit their
papers, such reports are soon lost or destroyed.

I do not apply these remarks to Lexington in particular,
for I find her records better than those of some other towns.
But in examining town records in various places, I have found
the defects which I have stated; and fidelity to the cause of
history has prompted me to make these statements, in the
hope that the evil, which every historian has experienced,
may be avoided. Records are not made for the day or year
in which they are written, but for posterity. An important
historic fact may turn on a single line in the record of an ob-
scure town. A name or a date may enable a writer of bio-
graphy, or a genealogist, to give a connected narrative,
which would be broken or disjointed if the name or date were
omitted in the record. It is an easy thing, in entering the
birth or baptism of a child, to give the name of the parent;
or in recording the death of a person, to give the age; or in
recording a marriage, to state the residence of the parties,
or the parents of the bride. A little care in adding these
particular items would materially increase the value of our
records. And in regard to the reports of committees, they
should be entered in a book kept for that purpose, and be pre-

An embarrassment peculiar to the preparation of this his-


lory has arisen from the fact that for half a century after the
first settlement of what is now Lexington, no records were
kept within the place. This territory being a part of Cam-
bridge, when an event worthy of notice occurred therein, it
passed unrecorded, or if it were recorded at Cambridge, there
is nothing to show whether it occurred at Old Cambridge, or
at "Cambridge Farms." If Lexington had been a separate,
independent settlement, she would have had a common centre
and records of her own from the first. The fact that Cam-
bridge Farms were thus isolated, and that there was no com-
mon centre around which the settlers could cluster, induced
those who were coming into the territory to locate near- some
permanent settlement, that they might enjoy the advan-
tages of intercourse and association with the surrounding
towns. And hence the first settlements were generally near
the borders of Cambridge, Watertown, Woburn, or Concord.
This circumstance would naturally tend to postpone a cen-
tral organization ; and even after such an organization was ef-
fected, their old associations would partially continue, and
their marriages and baptisms would to some extent be entered
in the border towns. These things have tended to make the
early history of the town more meagre than it otherwise
would have been.

But these embarrassments I have labored to overcome by
consulting the records of the neighboring towns, and having
recourse to the published town Histories, and the Genealo-
gies of other families. The files of the Probate OflSce, the
State Archives, and the County Records have enabled me
to supply many defects. In the Revolutionary history I have
been materially aided by the American Archives and Froth-
ingham's Siege of Boston. I have endeavored to give a full
and impartial history of the town, and an ample Genealogy
of the families. How far I have succeeded, I leave the public
to judge.

It only remains for me to make my acknowledgments to
those who have kindly favored me with facilities for informa-
tion. My thanks are due to many individuals within the
town, who have furnished me old family papers from which
much intelligence has been derived. Among those, I will men-
tion Colonel Philip Russell, William Chandler, Esq., Messrs.
Charles Tidd, Elias Smith, David Harrington, Bowen Har-
rington, Jonas Gammell, and the late Deacon Mulliken. Nor


should I omit the kindness of Miss Mary Merriam, who has
ever manifested a strong desire to render all jK)ssible aid; and
who has furnished valuable books and papers bearing upon
the subject of the history. Many other persons have readily
supplied facts relative to the genealogy of their respective
families. I must also make my acknowledgments to Mr.
Charles BrowTi for the loan of a list of deaths, covering a
period of nearly forty j^ears, kept by his father, from which
many defects in our record of deaths have been supplied. A
similar acknowledgment is due to Mrs. H. Pierce, for a list
of deaths kept by the venerable Jonathan Harrington, nearly
up tO'the time of his decease.

My thanks are due to Albert W. Biyant, Esq., the accom-
modating Town Clerk, for a free use of the books and papers
in his custody, to the Librarians of Harvard College, of the
State Library, and of the Boston Athenaeum, for facilities
rendered in consulting authorities. Nor should I neglect to
mention the kindness of Francis Brown, Esq., of Boston, in
lending me a large quantity of valuable papers left by his
uncle, Edmund Munroe of Boston, which have been of great
service; or the readiness with which Henry Clarke, Esq., of
Boston, granted me the use of several volumes of the Diary
of his honored father. Rev. Jonas Clarke, kept in an inter-
leaved Almanac, which liave proved of great value.

Charles Hudson.

Lexington, June 1,. 1868.


I. From the First Settlement to the Incorporation as

A Town 1

n. From the Incorporation of the Town to the Close

OP the French Wars 45

m. Civil History from 1763 to 1775 66

IV. Causes of the American Revolution 88

V. Governor Gage's Administration 107

VI. The Battle of Lexington 123

VU. The Battle of Lexington, continued 177

Vni. The Effects of the Battle of Lexington . . . 206
IX. Froji the Commencement to the Close of the Revo-
lution 225

X. From the Peace of 1783 to the Year 1830 . . . 248

XI. From the Year 1830 to 1867 262

Xn. From the Year 1867 to 1912 280

Xin. Ecclesiastical History, from 1692 to the Death of

Rev. IVIr. Hancock 304

XIV, Ecclesiastical History, from the Settlement to the

Death of Rev. Mr, Clarke 318

XV. Ecclesiastical Affairs, from the Death of Mr.

Clarke to 1867 333

XVI. Ecclesiastical Affairs, from 1868 to 1912 .... 351
XVn. Education, from the Settlement to 1867 .... 378

XVni. Education, from 1868 to 1912 396

XIX. Military Affairs, from 1700 to the Close of the

Civil War 412

XX. Military Affairs, from 1868 to 1912 444

XXI. Municipal Affairs 457

XXn. Topography 466

XXni. Statistics 475

XXIV. Civic Organizations 483

XXV. Other Organizations 497

XXVI. Benefactions 516

Appendix 526

Index of Names 569


Seal of the Town of Lexington Cover Decoration

Designed by Rev. Edward G. Porter, drawn by Harry M. Stephenson;
adopted by the town, 1875.

Seal of the Lexington Historical Society . . . HaJS title-page
Drawn by Miss Bertha E. Saltmarsh; adopted February 13, 1912.

The Battle of Lexington Frontispiece

Drawn by Hammatt Billings, engraved by Smith and Knight, Boston, 1861.

Map of Cambridge in 1644-55 22

Showing townships into which it was afterwards divided.

Major Pitcairn's Pistols, used April 19, 1775 32

In the possession of the Lexington Historical Society.

MuNROE Tavern 38

Built in 1695; Earl Percy's headquarters in Lexington; owned by the Lex-
ington Historical Society.

BucKMAN Tavern 38

Built in 1690 by Benjamin Muzzey; the rendezvous of the Minute-Men,
April 19, 1775.

Hancock-Clarke House 38

Built by Rev. John Hancock in 1698, enlarged in 1734 by his son Thomas.
This old parsonage was the home of Rev. Jonas Clarke with whom Samuel
Adams and John Hancock were visiting April 17 to 19, 1775. The house
is now owned by the Lexington Historical Society.

The House of Jonathan Harrington 38

Who was mortally wounded by a British bullet on the morning of April 19,
1775, and died on his doorstone.

Daniel Harrington House, formerly standing on Elm Avenue 60
Erected in 1750; taken down in 1875.

Home of Marrett and Nathan Munbob 60

Built in 1729.

TiDD House, formerly on North Hancock Street .... 60
Built about 1670; taken down in 1891.

Bowman House, formerly near the Arlington Line .... 60
Built about 1649 by Nathaniel Bowman; destroyed by fire in 1905.

Tongue of the Bell which sounded the Alarm in Lexington,
April 19, 1775 106

In the possession of the Lexington Historical Society.

Fac-simile of Title-page of De Bernicre's Narrative . . . 126
Original publication in the possession of the Lexington Historical Society.


Samuel Ad.ois 134

From an oil portrait by Copley in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Governor John Hancock 134

From an oil portrait by Copley, in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

DoROTm' QuiNCY 134

From an oil portrait by Copley, in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Paui, Revere 134

From an oil portrait in the Gary Memorial Library ; copied from the paint-
ing by Gilbert Stuart, 1813.

William Dawes 134

From an oil portrait in the Gary Memorial Library; artist unknowTi.

Map OF THE Centre of Lexington 145

The Battle of Lexington 148

" M. Swett, invt. et del. — Pendleton's Lithography, Boston," about 1834.

The Battle of Lexington 148

Drawn by Earl and engraved by A. Doolittle, 1775.

"The Da\^t^ of Liberty" 148

An oil painting by Henry Sandham, 1886; canvas 6 xlO feet; owned by the
Lexington Historical Society.

Colonel William Munroe, Sergeant in Captain Parker's
Company 152

From an oil portrait by Greenwood ; owned by the Lexington Historical

Amos Muzzet, Metvibeb of Captain Parker's Company . , 152

From a pastel by Doyle, 1813; owned by the Lexington Historical Society.

Jonathan Harrington, the Last Survivor of the Battle of
Lexington 152

From a daguerreotype.

Samuel Bowman 152

From a miniature by Williams.

BouLDEB ON Lexington Common, marking the Position of the
Minute-Men, April 19, 1775 152

Earl Percy 176

From an oil portrait by Pompeo Barton!; copy by Pope, 1879. Pre-
sented to the Town by the Duke of Northumberland. In the Gary Memo-
rial Library.

Major John Pitcairn 176

From a miniature in the possession of the Lexington Historical Society.

The Old Belfry . 190

Built in 176}. It stood on the Common and held the alarm hell, April
19. 1775.


Revolutionary Monument, erected on Lexington Common,
1799 190

"Executed by Thos. Park." The first revolutionary monument erected.

Drum used at the Battle of Lexington by William Diamond 190
In the possession of the Lexington Historical Society. The long roll beaten
on this drum was the first overt act in the Revolution.

Captain John Parker's Deposition 218

Made April 23, 1775. The original is in the possession of the Lexington
Historical Society.

Db, Joseph Fiske's bill against the Province of Massachu-
setts Bay for Medical Attendance upon the British Sol-
diers wounded April 19, 1775 224

The original bill is in the possession of the Lexington Historical Society.

Hayes Memorial Fountain, unveiled April 19, 1900 . . . 280
Henry H. Kitson, Sculptor.

Rev. John Hancock and Mrs. Hancock 304

From oil portraits by Smibert, owned by the Lexington Historical Society.

Rev, Jonas Clarke 334


Rev. William G. Swett 334

From an oil portrait by Francis Alexander, 1839; in the possession of
the First Parish Church, Lexington.

Rev. Jason Whitman 334

From an oil portrait painted in Portland, Maine, about 1845, by J. G.

Online LibraryCharles HudsonHistory of the town of Lexington, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, from its first settlement to 1868 → online text (page 1 of 62)