Edmund Wheeler.

Croydon, N.H., 1866 online

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It has been the purpose of the editor to gather up in this volume, the
proceedings at the Croydon Centennial Celebration and embody them in a
permanent form, for the benefit of all those interested in the town — but
more especially the very many who were unable to be present — and for
after generations.

So far as was within his reach he has endeavored in the Sketches here
presented to give a brief account of all the leading men of the town
during the first century. He has aimed to do equal justice to all, and if
in any instance he has done less it was because the requisite information
could not be obtained. And for the same reason, doubtless, many others
equally worthy of honorable mention have been entirely omitted. He can
only say he has done the best he could.

For many of the facts contained in the Historical portion of the volume,
especially the earlier ones, he is under obligations to John Cooper, Esq.,
who has very kindly granted him a free use of his " Historical Sketch."

In relation to the Illustrations, he has endeavored to induce one at least
of the descendants of each of the old, prominent families to represent his
race personally to the next centennial through the medium of a lithograph.
And his invitation to the one judged to be the representative man of the
family to make the contribution has in most instances been very promptly
and generously responded to. He would have liked more of the early
fathers, but unable to procure them he has given the sons. It is believed
that the very considerable expense attending them will be more than
repaid by the additional interest they will impart to the work.

The editor would here express his obligations to the natives and residents
of Croydon, for the general sympathy and lively interest manifested in the
undertaking during its progress. May the result of his labors be the
means of awakening a thousand pleasant memories.


June 13, 1866.

The one hundredth anniversary of the settlement of
Croydon was celebrated on Wednesday, June 13, 1866. It
was a jubilee long to be remembered in the annals of
the town. Invitations had been extended "to all the
natives and former residents of the town to be present and
mingle in the festivities of the day." At sunrise the boom-
ing of the cannon, planted on the very spot where stood the
first dwelling, echoing and re-echoing among the hills, and
the merry pealing of the bells announced that the day had
dawned, summoned all to be in readiness, and awakened
anew in a thousand hearts a long train of sweet, sad mem-
ories-joyous when they thought of home, the unbroken
circle, the innocent sports of childhood, and a mother's love ;
but sad when they remembered how the destroyer had been
there and the hearts that once made them so welcome are
now still in death, and the loved forms are sleeping in the

Long before the hour when the exercises were announced
to commence, an immense throng, numbering fully three
thousand persons, had assembled. At 10 o'clock the proces-
sion was formed under the direction of Capt. Nathan Hall,
Chief Marshal of the day, and escorted by the Croydon
■ Band, led by Baldwin Humphrey, marched to the stand.

Col. Otis Cooper, Chairman of the Committee of
Arrangements, on calling the assembly to order greeted them
with the following welcome si^eech.
Mr. Cooper said :

Ladies and Gentlemen : In behalf of the citizens of
Croydon I have the pleasure of bidding you aU a most hearty
welcome to your dear old native town. I most cordially
welcome you all to these green fields, these beautiful valleys,
these charming hills, and these grand old mountains. I
welcome you to the churches where you once worshiped, the
school-houses where you were taught, and those sacred
inclosures where sleep the dear, honored dead. I welcome
you to your dear old homes, and especially do I welcome
you to this old family table, which has been so liberally
provided for by the ladies.

What though the skies above us are Overcast with clouds,
all around us is sunsliine, and warmth, and joy. Let us
then enjoy the greeting, the hand-clasp, and the interchange
of smiles. Again I welcome you all individually and col
lectively to all the innocent pleasures which this day is
capable of affording.

Ladies and Gentlemen : I now have the pleasure of
introducing to you the President of the day, the Hon
William P. Wheeler of Keene.

The President on taking the stand made the followino-
remarks : °

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Ladies and Gentlemen :

It was a happy thought on the part of that portion of
the household abiding here at home, to take note of the
close of the first hundred years in our family history ; and
to mark the transit from the old to the new century by a
holiday at the old homestead. And it was .especially kind
and thoughtful of them to recall, on the occasion, those
members of the Croydon family who from necessity or choice
have been drawn to other fields of labor. That they have
come with alacrity and in full force, is sufficiently evinced
bv what we here see. Some have come with increased
households ; while others whom we would gladly have wel-
comed, have recently passed beyond the reach of an earth-
Iv summons. Yet while we grieve for those who for the
present seem to be lost to us, we may mingle our congratu-
lations ; and unite in commemorating what the first centu-
ry has wrought for us.

We are here to-day upon a stand-point where three gen-
erations are to pass in review before us. Their work is
finished, but the lesson therein taught, remains to us and
to our children. And this day will not be lost if our minds
are refreshed, and stimulated to higher action in the future,
by what is most noble and heroic in the past. The dead
century is before us. Its history can not be changed. Let
us listen reverently to its teachings. The living century is


already beginning to unfold. Who will say that a recital
of what was suffered and achieved by the early fathers and
mothers, may not animate us with a spirit which shall leave
its impress on another generation ? Let us to-day rekindle
the fires of patriotism on the altar of our forefathers.

The wanderers have gathered at their native home to-
day, because it was not in their hearts to resist the kindly
summons. They are here to renew ancient friendships, to
listen again to voices once familiar to them, and to look
once more upon the face of nature as she greeted them in
childhood. Here truly are the streams and lakes, the hills
and valleys of our early days, unchanged by the lapse of
time. And the grand old mountain, with its dark forests,
still looks down upon us as of yore. Our country boasts of
mountain peaks which attract pilgrims from distant lands,
but I have seen none which can for a moment compare
with the familiar one under whose shadow we now stand.
There may be little to attract to it the eye of the stranger ;
but every true son of Croydon can testify that " the sacred
mountains " are those upon which the eye was accustomed
to rest in childhood.

The strong love which involuntarily attaches one to the
home of his youth may not be easy of analysis ; but it is a
fact everywhere existing and recognized. It is but slightly
dependent upon outward circumstances. The humble cot-
tage in the forest, or upon the bleak mountain side, has
attractions not surpassed by the lordly mansions of wealth
and luxury. The place of one's birth is not less dear be-
cause it is humble : and the memory of it is not effaced by
time or worldly cares. You may immerse one in business
or pleasure until his time and all his waking thoughts are

wholly absorbed in the present. Nature is still true to her-
self. There will be moments in that life, if at no other
time, in his slumbers, in the quiet hours of night, when
the visions of childhood and of the early home will return.
Again the brothers and sisters are with him. Again he
mingles with his youthful playmates. He once more hears
the voice of his sainted mother ; and he is again the gentle
and confiding child, unspoiled by the follies and vices of

The query has sometimes arisen, what is it that entitles
Croydon to the distinction which she has always claimed
among her neighbors ? What has given her the position
which is generally conceded to her ? Her territory is small,
and her soil in the main unproductive. Her inhabitants are
few in number ; and her mercantile and manufacturing
interests are of small account. Her religious privileges have
not been large, neither her schools numerous nor always of
the highest order. Yet wherever you meet a Croydon boy,
young or old, you meet one who is proud of his native
town. I have met them in the crowded city, and far up
among the sources of the great rivers of this continent ;
yet in their new homes I found them the same indomitable,
hard-working and well-balanced men as those who now
cultivate these hills and valleys. What then is their true
claim to distinction ? It is not that they are men of great
genius or extraordinary acquirements. A few have over-
come the difficulties in their way, and have obtained a
liberal education ; while others with less school culture,
have found positions of honor and usefulness abroad. But
it is not to these alone, or mainly, that the town owes her


All the sources of her strength may not readily be com-
prehended or stated. But some of them are sufficiently
obvious. In the first place all accounts agree that the first
settlers here were men and women of great nerve and
endurance ; and many of them of unusual size and physical
strength. They found here a soil and climate which called
forth their best energies. They breathed a pure and invig-
orating air. The breezes — not always warm or mild —
which swept the White or Green Mountains and came
pouring over the rugged sides of our great mountain barrier,
brought with them health and mental soundness.

Thus from a noble ancestry, early accustomed to struggle
with Nature in her sterner moods, and to take an active
part in public aifairs in the stirring times in which they
lived, a race of men has been trained and developed who
still uphold the honor and dignity of their native town. As
we have seen them in the present generation, they have
appeared to be men, not perhaps in all cases over-devotional
or religious, but self-reliant and ready for work ; men of
integrity who could compete successfully with their neigh-
bors or rivals in whatever business or profession they were
engaged. Many of them still retain the stalwart forms of
their ancestors. The original types of the Bartons, Coopers,
Halls, Humphreys, Powers, Putnams, Whipples, and their
compeers of a century ago, have not wholly disappeared.
And it is to be hoped that those who assemble here at the
close of another century may find among them the physical
and mental peculiarities of those who began their work here
in 1766.

As a township Croydon has, from the beginning, been out-
stripped by her more prosperous neighbors. To say nothing


of other flourishing towns about us, Claremont and New-
port, with their water-power and broad acres of interval,
have grown in wealth and population until they may look
upon this little community as a humble tributary to the
stream of their prosperity. But Croydon points to her
sons and daughters — not supposed to be numerous until
to-day — as the tower of her strength ; and claims equality
of rank. ^

We hope on this occasion to hear something of the history
of the founders of this town ; and of the later generations who
have borne an honorable part in all our great struggles. In
the war of the revolution Croydon sent her full share of men
of strong arms and resolute wills, to battle for independence.
The sacrifices which were made to achieve what we have
so recently been called upon to defend — our national unity
and independence — never seemed greater to me than when,
as a boy, I listened to the recitals of my venerable grand-
father, Nathaniel Wheeler, senior, of the toils and privations
endured by him and his companions in arms, and their
families, during the dark days of the revolution. Truly,
there was no lack of patriotism on the part of the man who
could, at the call of his country, march to the field of battle,
while he left behind him in the wilderness his wife and
infant children, dependent upon the good will of the neigh-
bors to scare the wild beasts from the cabin door, and to
cultivate the patch of cleared ground which was to furnish
the scanty supply of bread for hungry mouths. Yet we have
the concurrent testimony of many, that such instances were
not rare in the early history of this town.

In the second war with Great Britain Croydon sustained
her part nobly ; and I count it a thing to be proud of, that


when a call was made upon the town for soldiers, the pro-
ceedings commenced for a draft were at once set aside by
the voluntary enlistment of its citizens ; and that the first
man to offer himself as a private soldier for the service, was
Nathaniel Wheeler, jr., then holding a high commission in
the State militia. And in the terrible ordeal through which
our beloved country has just passed, and from which she is
rising, purified, we trust, as by fire, it was not inappropriate
that a later descendant of the same family should surrender
up his life, far from kindred and home, at the call of his
country. But the history of one family is the history of
many ; and I would not give an undue prominence to the
services of one, while so many family records have been
illuminated by the noble deeds of more than one generation.
Let us, at the risk of being egotistic, tell what we know of our
fathers that is worthy of record ; what we are doing or
striving for ourselves, and what we hope of our children.
Then will this be a day long to be remembered by the sons
and daughters of Croydon.

A very able and appropriate prayer was then offered by
Rev. Luther J. Fletcher of Maine.

The following Greeting Hymn, written for the occasion
by Lizzie P. Harding of Croydon, was sung by the Glee
Club, led by Capt. E. Darwin Comings :


We welcome thee ! we welcome thee

"Who long from us have strayed,
With joy we grasp the hand where oft

In childhood thou hast played.

Our granite hills unchanged shall stand,

Though distant ye may roam ;
Like them our hearts remain as true,

And kindly greet thee home.

But there are voices, hushed in death,

Whose tones in other years
Rang out with friendship's sweetest notes

Upon our ravished ears.

Behold them ! bending from the skies

To watch thy coming feet,
List'ning to catch our song of joy,

With memory's incense sweet.

Great God ! guide thou our wandering steps,

To reach that blissful shore.
Where loved ones wait, with star-gemmed crowns,

To greet us evernftire.

Then welcome, welcome dearest friends,
Who from us long have strayed,

With joy we clasp thy hand where oft
In childhood thou hast played.

The President. — I am not unmindful of the one great
attraction which has brought you here to-day. You have
come to listen to one who is everywhere heard with pleasure
and nowhere with more pride and satisfaction than here in
his native town ; whose presence always calls forth love and
admiration, and whose eloquent words and blameless life
have exerted an influence which has been felt in a circle
wider than has been reached by any other son of Croydon.
The Rev. Baron Stow, of Boston, who will now address
you, needs no introduction to this audience.


Hugh Miller of Scotland, says, " The mind of every man
lias its picture-gallery — scenes of beauty, or magnificence,
or quiet comfort stamped upon bis memory." And he
might have added, that often a very small thing, or a very
trivial incident, will serve as a key to open that gallery, and
let in the light of day upon long darkened reminiscences.

Seven years ago about this time, I was in the heart of
Europe, in Munich, the capital of the kingdom of Bavaria.
One bright, cloudless afternoon, wearied, with sight-seeing,
I walked into the countr}'', partly for physical refreshment,
and partly that I might turn away from the works of
human art, splendid and beautiful as they were, and con-
template the richer beauties and. glories of Nature. The
air was balmy and charged with perfume from fields and
gardens in full bloom. When far enough away, I ascended
a knoll and turned to view the landscape. It was one of
the loveliest. Away at my right, on the slope of a ridge,
was the famous national monument, the colossal statue of
Bavaria, towering with its pedestal one hundred feet from
the ground. Towards my left was the city, the gem of
continental Europe. In front along the south loomed up
the serrated range of the Tyrolese Alps, snow-clad, and
glittering in the sunlight like burnished silver. The whole
scene was one of blended beauty and grandeur. There was

* Owing to the rain that greatly incommoded the larger part of the andience, consiilorable
portions of the Address, as now published, were necessarily omitted in the delivery.

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much to remind me of God, and awaken feelings of adora-

But soon a very small object changed, suddenly and com-
pletely, the current of thought, and set it running in a new
direction. Seated on the turf, I noticed at my feet a flower
which I had familiarly known, in my early childhood, as
" yellow weed" or "butter cup." I remembered when the
fields of my native town, in the month of June, were golden
with its bloom, and how the farmers classed it with the
" hard-hack" and the " Canada thistle/' as a nuisance nof
easily abated. I had learned to regard it as a pest, but
there, in the outskirts of Munich, I did not dislike it ; I
hailed it as an old acquaintance ; my heart sprang towards
it ; I read " Croydon" on its every petal ; it was suggestive
of a hundred fold more than I can now tell. In space, I
was instantly transported nearly five thousand miles west-
ward to my New Hampshire home, five degrees more south-
ward than Munich, yet colder in climate and more rugged
in scenery. In time, I was taken back nearly sixty years,
and looking at things as they were when Thomas Jefferson
was President of the United States, and our Government
was quarreling, diplomatically, with England about Orders
in Council, embargoes, and non-intercourse laws ; and when
Napoleon I. at the zenith of his power, had the sympathy
of all in our country who wished to see the British Lion
humbled ; and when party spirit in New Hampshire, Croy-
don not excepted, was at fever heat. How vivid, how
minute, were my recollections all revived by the suggestive-
ness of that little, unpretentious flower ! I stood, once
more a boy of seven years, in that semicircle of high hills,
sweeping round from north-east to south-west, with slopes


partly wooded and partly dotted with small rocky farms,
and within which lay, not indeed a prairie, but an undulat-
ing plain, having in its center a dark forest, the haunt of
night-prowling animals, the terror of the cornfield, the hen-
roost and the sheepfold. Around that forest were cultivated
farms, not very productive, but yielding to industry and
economy support for a hardy yeomanry, not then disturbed
by visions of better acres in the opening West. Had I
actually been at the old homestead of Peter Stow, near the
western border of that black forest, hardly could I have seen
more distinctly the outline and the filling up of that semi-
circle, with its encompassing hills, than I then beheld them
in .the "picture-gallery" of the mind. What then to me
were the magnificent Alps witli their lofty peaks and deep
gorges, and their thundering avalanches ? I had before me
" Croydon Mountain," identified in the memories of child-
hood with my first ideas of elevation and greatness, and of
isolation from all that was beyond, a barrier separating
me, not from classic Italy, but from far off Cornish and

It was midsummer in the memory, and the warm blue
sky was flecked with detached clouds that dappled with
shade the sunny landscape. The shadows of those clouds,
moved by the lightest, softest winds, as they passed down
the mountain side and crossed the plain ; aind the grass and
grain waving in gentle undulations ; and the smoke curling
aslant from the chimneys of farm-houses — all these had
given me, notwithstanding Dr. Darwin's theory, my original
impressions of natural beauty. Herds and flocks were graz-
ing quietly in rocky pastures. The atmosphere was loaded
with fragrance from clover blossoms, white and red, sweeter


than any perfume from Araby the Blest. No sounds fell
upon the ear but the music of birds, or the hum of insects,
or, at the hour of twelve, the housewife's horn calling the
hungry " men folks" from the field of toil to her prepared
table ; or, at night-fall, the hoarse cry of the night hawk and
the inimitable hoot of the " boding owl," both relieved by
the plaintive notes of the hidden whip-poor-will. And that
house of my nativity, as innocent of paint as a Croydon
maiden's face, very small, quite rustic, with few con-
veniences, yet the palace of an independent lord and his
wife and four children — how particular were my recollections
of its exact structure, gable-end to the street ; of its every
apartment, every article of furniture, every fireplace, door,
window, stairway ; of the floor and ceiling ; of the cupboard
and dresser ; of

" The family Bible that lay on the stand ;"

yes, and especially of all the inmates, the permanent and
the -occasional !

"Fond Memory, to her duty true,
Brings back their faded forms to view;
How lifelike, through the mist of years,
' Each well-remembered face appears!"

There was on the one side the wood shed, in one part of
which was the platform for spinning, quilling, warping,
weaving, with all the implements of domestic manufactur-
ing. On the other, through " the stoop," was the well,
with " crotch," and "sweep," and " pole," and "curb," and
"old oaken bucket," and crystal water of arctic coolness.
There was the garden, inclosed by a stone wall, with its
fringe of currant bushes, and a thrifty nursery, and patches
of vegetables, and in the center the large granite boulder
smothered with roses. In the roadwav was a still lartjer


boulder, the " pulpit rock" of the future preacher. A little
further down was a brook where cousins of two families met
and childishly sported. In front of the house was a row of
Lombardy poplars, tall and luxuriant, never cropped for fagots
as I have seen them on their native plains in Northern Italy,
In the rear was the apple orchard, laden with unripened,
and therefore, forbidden, fruit. At a suitable distance were
the barns for the storage of farm products, and for the
housing of " stock." At the foot of a small declivity near
by was a swamp in which frogs, at certain seasons, gave
free concerts — batrachian types of certain classes of my own
species whom I have everywhere met — peepers and croakers.
The dwellings to be seen from that memorable stand-point
were few, some of them hung on the sides of the ragged
hills, far apart, and, but for domestic affections, isolated
and lonely. I remembered not only the homes, but the
faces and the employments and the habits and the tempera-
ments and the reputed characters of all the neighbors
within the circle of a mile radius. I remembered the low,
flat-roofed school-house of the district, hidden in a small
forest nook, fringed with birches and briars ; and the names
and faces of m}' teachers — Grod bless their precious mem-
ories — and the name and face of every fellow-pupil. I
remembered nearly all the roads and fjirms in the town, and
most of the residences of the nine hundred inhabitants, and
such family names as Metcalf, Wakefield, Stow, Ward,
Fletcher, Town, Smart, Carpenter, Rawson, Straight,
Powers, Goldthwait, Marsh, Frye, Darling, Thresher,
Walker, Ames, Winter, Barton, Carroll, Putnam, Stock-

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Online LibraryEdmund WheelerCroydon, N.H., 1866 → online text (page 1 of 12)