John Leverett Merrill.

History of Acworth, with the proceedings of the centennial anniversary, genealogical records, and register of farms online

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Online LibraryJohn Leverett MerrillHistory of Acworth, with the proceedings of the centennial anniversary, genealogical records, and register of farms → online text (page 9 of 33)
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then indebted to the college indirectly, for all that pertains to our Christian

Shall we reject the ocean because we are not engaged in navigation, or
because we cannot fill our dish directly from the sea ? Shall we be satisfied
with the rain that distills so gently upon the fields, and the spring that gushes
from the hill-side? These daily supply our wants, but whence comes the
water which falls from the clouds, and supplies the springs and streams, so
necessary for the comfort and existence of man ? Without the ocean we
could have no rain, no springs, no rills, no rivulets, no rivers. And so the
college. Dry up this fountain, and the streams of knowledge would soon
be dry also. Our public schools would be closed, instruction would cease,
and ere long our civilization would give place to semi-barbarism.

Shall we blot out the sun from the Heavens, because we enjoy but little
of its direct light, and influence ? We may be satisfied with twilight and
moonshine, the mere refractions and reflections of the glorious luminary of
day. But the sun is the source of all light. Extinguish that and total
darkness would ensue. So of the college, as the source of moral and intel-
lectual light. Destroy this luminary and the darkness of ignorance, supersti-
tion, and barbarism would in time cover the nation as a black mantle.

And still again, the farmer and mechanic are dependent upon the college
for the science of their arts. The implements and tools in common use,
could never have been constructed, without the aid of a high degree of sci-
entific knowledge. Mere skill and experience could never make the modern
plow, or axe. What improvements during the last hundred years ! The
man, who should be found using the plow of fifty years ago, would be re-


garded as almost a .barbarian. Compare the axe of today with the stone
hatchet of the North American Indian. No living white man could make
that stone hatchet. It was the highest reach of human skill unaided by

And even the arts, which science has already invented would die out
without the continued aid of the college. The Pyramids and Temples of
Egypt have survived the science and skill which erected them. And China,
where science was cultivated ages ago, has made no progress in the arts since
science died out. All improvement is at a stand still, as a natural conse-
quence. " Science is the fountain of art; experience and skill are its chan-
nels." Dry up the fountain and the channels will no longer be filled.

Judge ye, therefore, whether your sons who have pursued a collegiate and
professional course of life, are worthy of their noble parentage, and have
done honor or dishonor to their native town.

The next sentiment, was responded to by George K. Brown,
Esq., of Newport, and was as follows :

" Our Common Schools — A noble legacy, bequeathed to us by our ancestors. To
their snccess, has the town been much indebted for its prosperty. May it be their
good fortune to continue to grow in excellence, till none but model ones are to be
found to bless om- native town."

3fr. President: — I have a mind to make the most popular speech of the
day, that is, say nothing, but since the occasion is one of a hundred years,
and the sentiment tendered me is one of much gravity, I will waive the
greatest brevity, Shakespeare's "soul of wit," and claim your indulgence a
few moments. Not having time, to elaborate upon the good and ill, the
merit amd demerit attending our schools, I must proceed to the point at once.

Our common schools! what are they? Institutions established by law'lbr
the education of our youth. That our system of common schools was trans-
mitted to us by our ancestors, we are happy to acknowledge, that in our
schools we all received instruction in the rudiments of learning, is a fact we
each can testify from experience.

The present improved state of society is the legitimate effects of some power-
ful salutary cause ; and that cause is principally our common schools. Pub-
lic prosperity, private happiness, the price of liberty, the security of life and
prosperity and the social condition, in a free country like ours, depend
chiefly upon the intelligence of the people. The truth of this proposition is
so evident, that no process of reasoning or demonstration can make it plainer ;
thorefore, it is an axiom, and established principle in the art of all good gov-
ernments. Where do the j^eople receive the principal and most difficult part
of their learning? History answers "at the common schools." " They are
the college of the masses." Our academies, and institutions dedicated to
the use of students acquiring a knowledge of the languages and sciences,
are the exception, and comparatively few attend them. Could they flourish


as they now do, without the aid of our schools? Are they more important?
and do they do more for education ?

In our highest institutions four years complete a course ; in our academies
three years ; while a course in our common schools involves many years of
hard study and patient drilling. Without the one, the others, as now con-
ducted, would be of no value whatever, for it is impossible in ascending the
" Hill of Science," to leap upon some towering cliff at a single bound; the
ascent must be slow and gradual. The pupil goes to school, at first unlet-
tered. He is a mass of mind and matter united — the material or block from
which the intelligent man is to be hewn. The form is wanting, but the
teacher, like the sculptor plying his chisel faithfully, carves that form, a
living statue, the figure of a man, clad in the costly habiliments of learning.
Thou oh well clad, he is not yet robed in the gold embroidered, royal purple,
for our colleo'es claim only to weave the texture whereon the ornaments
are wrought, in other words, claim only to help the student to make a good
preparation to educate himself.

In literature there is a maxim, often quoted to encourage scholars, that the
"befyinnino- is half the work." Admitting this truth, our common schools,
beino' the beginning, are equal in importance to the academies and colleges,
where one is fortunate enough to receive the benefit of all. But to the mil-
lions who receive no advantages additional to those afforded by our common
schools, the benefit is incomparable. Wheresoever persons migrating from
these -wind swept hills have located, they are the "bone and muscle of
society." Educated, by the discipline of our schools, with their native genius
and their characteristic resolute will, they are enabled to take a leading part
in any community. Then, hail to our common schools. Let us echo the
sentiment in thunder tones throughout the town, " may it be their good future
to continue to grow in excellence, till none but model ones are to be found."

The following sentiment was responded to by Thomas Clark,
Lieutenant-Colonel of the Fifty-Seventh Eeglment of Ohio Vol-
unteers, but a report of his remarks has not been received by the
compiler :

" The Soldiers of the Late War — For the honor of the Nation, the supremacy of the
Constitution, and the integrity of the Union, they left their quiet homes, endured
the privations of the camp, and with heroic courai,^e laid down their lives. May the
flag they fought to save, forever float with ne'er a star obliterated from its folds."

The following " Parting Invocation," composed by Mrs. M. L.
Silsby Johnson, was now sung :

Tune — " Old Hundred."

Lead us O Lord ; Thou art Divine :
Lead us who bear the kindred sign,


Whicli gathers us with joy to trace
Thy blessings on our native place.

Lead us to homes of earthly love ;
Lead us, to that best home above,
Where centuries bear each kindred throng,
To celebrate Thy praise in song.

" Praise God from whom all blessings flow ;
Praise him all creatures here below ;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host ;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."

The exercises at the table were interspersed, and closed with
music by the bands in attendance. The sun which had hid his
face through the day, now looked out pleasantly upon the depart-
ing multitude.

Several sentiments were not responded to for want of time, but
the "responses" have been sent in, by request, for publication.

"The Native Dentists — Pre-eminent in this profession, they have taken away
many of the aches of decaying nature, and added beauty to the human face."

Dr. E. G. Cunimings of Concord, has responded to this senti-
ment as follows:

3fr. President and Friends: — It is a source of great satisfaction and
pleasure to me, to meet so many of my old acquaintances and friends here
to-day, and as I look upon their smiling faces, my mind reverts to the time
when the cares, struggles and issues of human life were unknown to many
of us. It must be gratifying indeed to the people of Acworth to meet so
many of her sons and daughters, who have come from the East and the West,
the North and the South, to congratulate them upon this occasion.

I am proud to stand here to-day upon the soil of my native town, a repre-
sentative of that great profession, which but a few years ago was weak and
small, but now has become mighty and strong among the professions of the
land. I think Acworth has given more of her sons to the dental profession
than any other town in the State, and I know she gave the first student to a
Dental College from the State of New Hampshire.

Six sons of Acworth have given themselves to this profession, viz : D. A.
Cummings, Horace Parker, W. Milton Smith, John Dickey and Ers-
kine Dickey. It is not necessary for me to speak of them individually, as
time will not permit, but they have all been successful in their profession, and
I am proud to say they have honored their native town.

I should not feel that I had fulfilled my duty at this time, if I did not say
one word to the memory of one of our number, who has left this world of




trial and care. I refer to Dr. John Dickey, son of T. M. Dickey. He
studied his profession in New York city ; was a young man whom we looked
upon as eminently fitted for the profession which he had chosen. His dispo-
sition was mild and genial, and he was endowed with great mechanical powers,
and we doubt not that, had he lived, he would have ranked high in his pro-
fession. But God " who seeth not as man seeth," hath taken him to his

Mr. President, you say we have removed many of the aches and pains
of decaying nature, and have added beauty and symmetry to the human
face. We claim that we have done all this, and even more. We have
hid from view that organ within the oral cavity, which, in a toothless
mouth, looks more like a toad striving to relieve himself from the jaws of
an enemy.

By the aid of dentures and other appliances, we have also prevented in
the mouth of many an old maid and old bachelor, many a collision of the
under jaw with the proboscis, which might hjave created serious disturbances
in their lonely life.

Rev. Hiram Houston of Deer Island, Maine, responded as

follovi^s to this sentiment :

" The several Churches and Relifjious Societies of Acworih— Beacon lights on tlie
ocean of life ; they cheer the weary pilgrim on lite's troubled sea, and guide lilm to
the harbor of rest."

Mr. President : — I suppose it is the purpose of every church and religious
seciety to do all it can to relieve the sorrows of this life, and as much as
possible to prepare man for a better life in the world to come. This being
the case, every church and religious society occupies an important place in
the history of towns and communities. Not less in Acworth than in other
places. For a hundred years, pilgrims in their journey to another world,
have been cheered on by the Christian hope. The early settlers of the town
knew that the preached Gospel, sustained by religious societies, was the grand
instrument in the needed work of preparing men for the better world. And
that all might enjoy this means of grace, they laid the foundation of the
church at the center of the town. No sandy foundation here. The winds
and the floods beat upon the house, yet still it stands on its lofty
eminence. Many weary travelers to the Celestial City have turned their
steps to this hill of Zion. They have found it good to " sit together in
heavenly places in Christ Jesus," and then they have gone on their way
rejoicing until they entered the pearly gates, and mingled in the songs of
angel minstrels.

Though this central church has been the principal beacon light, and has
done good service in guiding multitudes to the haven of rest, and the watch-
men on the walls have been faithful men, yet some of tlie pilgrims who
passed this way, thought it advisable to pass through deep waters, in order to


obey the Divine command. This new light shone for awhile on the hill,
and blessed many who might otherwise have made shipwreck of their faith.
But the troubled waters and a clear conscience before God helped them on
their way. And now, like John the Baptist, they are doing their good work
by the river side, because there is much water there.

Another beacon light shone for awhile on the hill beside the old one, and
for a time it was thought the new light would eclipse the old one and render
it useless. Its fires were kindled with great zeal, and many pilgrims warmed
themselves by this fire, and felt new life kindled in their desponding hearts.
Then they shouted for joy because they felt sure they wefe on their journey

But the old light had been shining too long to be easily eclipsed by a new
one, and as the great mass of pilgrims looked at the old light, and felt safe
in steering by that, the new light was removed to a more favorable locality
in the valley, where the Wesleys could sing and pray with none to molest or
iiiake them afraid.

"What could old Acworth do without these lights ? No light on the hill !
Would not weary pilgrims stumble upon the dark mountains ? No light in
the valley ! Would not Apollyou be the terror of all who should pass that
way ? There is enough of sin and wickedness, where the best churches are
found. What then must be the condition of that community where no light
comes to the people through the word of God, none through religious so-

Had no Sabbath bells been heard over these hills and through these valleys
durino- the past hundred years, and had no people observed the weekly
Sabbath, as returns this holy day, it would require no prophet to tell of
shipwrecks, where all on board pei'ished, because no beacon light revealed
to them their danger and their peril. But when the members of these
churches, who are the light of the world, let their light shine, then the voy-
ao-ers upon the sea of life, will have no excuse if they fail of entering the
harbor of rest. For forty years I have watched these pilgrims toiling up
Zion's hill. The youthful and the aged alike finding sweet peace as they
neared the land of rest. Their conquest, their victory, and their triumph
came through Him who is the Light of the world. So when these pilgrims
have passed out of our sight, we have said, "Blessed are the dead, who die
in the Lord."

But no such blessedness, and peace, have I known, where persons have
despised the church, and neglected the ordinances of religion.

A hundred years hence, and many more pilgrims will have passed this
way. Who shall give them light on their journey? Shall not these churches
stand as beacon lights, when the fathers and mothers and the children, now
on the stage, shall all have passed away ? Then " Let your light so shine
before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father
which is in Heaven."

/ r%


The next sentiment was responded to by J. Davis of Hancock,
New Hampshire :

" The Farmers of Acwotih, Resident and Abroad — Their herds and flocks manifest
their kindness and skill; their well cultivated fields and full granaries, their industry;
their greenbacks and bank stock, their economy ; their open doors, their hospitality ;
and their maple sugar, their excellent good taste."

3Jr. President : — In responding to the sentiment just announced, there is
nothing that gives me more pleasure than to speak of this class of men,
whether resident or abroad, who have acted their part so nobly in the dis-
charge of their duties in cultivating and tilling the soil.

No class of people on the face of the earth are more independent than the
farmers of this goodly town. They know their support depends upon their
strict economy and persevering industry, upon the cultivation of their broad
and fertile fields, warmed by the refulgent and genial sun, nourished by the-
gentle showers of rain, and upon the flocks and herds that graze upon your
hills. No town stands higher than this in raising fine horses, cattle and sheep,
of which the sons, who are residents in the old homesteads of their fathers,
may justly feel proud. You manifest your kindness and skill in the man-
agement and protection of your flocks and herds, in constructing warm and
convenient buildings to protect them from the cold and bleak winds of a New
England winter. You derive an income from your flocks as well as from
your bank stock and greenbacks, which you have secured by the prudent
hand of toil and by strict economy.

These beautiful hills and gentle slopes yield their grain and fruit to the in-
dustrious hand of labor, and fill granaries as a reward for your patient in-

The early teachings of your fathers were not in vain, and the influence
which they exerted on the youthful character, was propitious and salutary.
It was felt and realized in every community throughout Christendom, where
they lived.

The seeds of morality, kindness, benevolence and industry -were implanted
in the youthful mind ere they left the parental roof, by the teachings of a
kind and affectionate parent. Those who have left their native soil, and have
gone to the far West, or settled in some of the more enterprising and flour-
ishing towns of New England which gave greater scope to their energies and
a wider field for their enterprise, or easier facilities for the discharge of Ao^ri-
cultural or mechanical pursuits, have not forgotten the instruction they re-
ceived in their early days, that industry and economy give peace and happi-
ness to the mind, health to the body and greenbacks to the pocket.

All useful pursuits are noble and ennobling, but if any distinction is to be
made, that is most dignified which is most useful.

For this, and many other reasons, agriculture has been placed at the head
of all employments. It is the foundation on which all other pursuits rest,
and without it they could not stand a day. The whole human family are


dependent upon the toil and industry of the husbandman for their sustenance.
The rich and the poor, the high and the low, the beasts that roam over your
hills, as well as the insect that crawls at your feet, all must draw their sup-
port from Mother Earth.

The cultivation of the earth brings us into closer communion with nature
and her operations than any other employment. It was the employment of
our first parents, who were placed by the hand of their Creator in the garden
of Eden, to dress it and keep it. It has ever been, still is, and must ever
be the employment of multitudes of the human race.

Aside from the labor of your farms, but intimately connected with it, is
the manufacture of maple sugar, which is a laborious and fatiguing task, but
the purity and good quality of your sugar, showing that in its production you
have manifested skill and ingenuity, repays you for your haixl work.

You, who have remained upon your native soil, are generally more pros-
perous, better contented and happier than those who have led a more adven-
turous life. Still, there are some who have gone to other climes, who have
been fortunate and successful in accumulating a large amount of this world's
goods, by persevering industry and a close application to their business, but
after all they do not possess that spirit of independence which characterizes
the lords of the soil. It is upon the yeomanry of a land that the wealth and
prosperity of a nation depends. It is this that has made your goodly town
to prosper and become what it now is. It has built your churches and school-
houses, the recipients of your fostering care. It converted the wilderness
into fruitful fields, and made them to bud and blossom like the rose. It
built your houses that stand by the way-side and in your villages, where you
now dwell, enjoying all the comforts which nature and your own industry has
given you, for your prosperity and happiness. You realize it, you feel joy
and thankfulness that a kind Providence has showered these blessings upon
you. Your generosity speaks of your kind hearts. Your hospitable man-
sions, whose doors are ever open to the poor and needy as well as to the
stranger, are an index to your charity and benevolence.

Mr. President, the sons and daughters of the resident fiirmers, who left
these beautiful fields and green hills and fertile valleys, where once they
sported in all the innocence of childhood, have now come home, — home did
I say ; how sweet the sound ! how dear to the heart of those, who have en-
joyed its sweet influence ! have come to join in the celebration of the anni-
versary of Acworth, to spend a short time in fraternal salutations — in happy
greetings — in pleasant and cheerful intercourse — to recall innocent sports,
and delightful scenes — to revive old friendships, and meet old friends — to in-
quire after each other's welfare and how it has fared with us during the many
years of our separation — what successes and reverses, what lights and shad-
ows have checkered our lives.

But, sir, the man who stands upon his own native soil, who feels that by
the laws of the land, by the laws of civilized nations, he is the rightful and


c^~^ - 2^^^ ,^k,^<^cy / (7~^-e-cK^^€c)


exclusive owner of the land he tills, is by the constitution of his nature, un-
der a wholesome influence, not easily imbibed from any other source. He
feels, other things being equal, more strongly than another the position of
man, as the lord of an inanimate world, — of this great and wonderful sphere,
which, fashioned by the hand of God, and upheld by his power, is rolling
through the heavens, a part of his, from the center to the sky.

Perchance his farm has come down to him from his fathers, but time, in
his silent and noiseless tread, has completed his work, and they have gone to
their final repose, but he can trace their footsteps as he pursues his daily
labor. Perhaps the very roof which shelters him was reared by those to
whom he owes his being — some interesting tradition is generally connected
with every enclosure. The favorite fruit-tree planted by his father's hand —
the brook which winds through the meadow giving beauty and verdure to its
fertile banks, where he sported in childhood, where lay the path to the vil-
lage in earlier days. He still hears the sound of the church-going bell, from
the window, which called his father to the house of God, and, near at hand,
is the spot where his parents are laid down to their final rest, and where,
when his time shall come, he will be laid beside them. These are some of
the feelings of the owners of their native soil. Language cannot paint them —
they flow from the deepest fountains of the heart — they are the life springs
of a fresh, healthy and generous national character.

The next sentiment, " To the memory of the late Dr. Lyman
Brooks^'' was responded to by E. P. Breed, Esq., of New York

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen : — "While this day so long expected
is made the season of festivity, it, of necessity, calls us to review, with more
or less of satisfaction, the record of the past.

This vast throng of men and women and children coming together to-day
for the revival of old associations and the interchange of friendly orreetinfs,
reminds us that in the bosoms of the sous and daughters of Acworth there
still fondly lingers a filial love for their early Eastern homes.

tSince first the sound of the settler's axe was heard in the grand, old for-
ests which crowned these now cultivated hills — since first the pale face pitched
his habitation on this frontier where now repose the emblems of civilization,

Online LibraryJohn Leverett MerrillHistory of Acworth, with the proceedings of the centennial anniversary, genealogical records, and register of farms → online text (page 9 of 33)