John Wallace Hutchinson.

Story of the Hutchinsons (tribe of Jesse) (Volume 2) online

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and trust which so endeared him to all who knew him, and as he clung
to our hand, half-lightly said at i)arting, 'If we see you not again, we'll
sing for you in heaven.'

"Some of our exchanges sjn^ak liglitly of Judson — charge his death
to his 'spiritualism.' Not a word of truth.

In 1848. A\liile in New York City, tlie qnartet bought
a new scrap-book, and on llie fly-leaf Jud.son inscribed
the following lines :

The pages of this book are blank —
We may be so though now we re crank.
We'll fill it soon with music sweet,
And when our catalogue's complete


Each tune isliall be of tlif liigliest order,

Or else I'm not a true recorder.

It cost the buyer half a doUar :

I wish lie'd got one rather sniaUer —

Yet this will do quite well indeed,

For I'm a poet, and with speed

"\YiIl fill the title-page with rhyme

That won't look bad in after time.

May future generations look

Witli jdeasure on this old blank book, —

And think of seasons past and gone,

Wlien Asa, Abby, Jud and Jolni

Were giving concerts in old York —

Eating their food with knife and fork —

And had full stomachs and full liouses,

Enough to buy tliree pair new "trouses."

I now submit these few l)lank pages

To be perused in after ages.

Oh! may a better poet rise,

Wlien tliis (lid critter's in the skies;

Anil if you ask who w.roti' tliese lines:

It wasn't Shakespeare nor ( )ld (irinies.

Jildsoii's most famous satirical song- '"Jordan." writ-
ten during tlie Bell and Everett eamjtaign, in 1856, is
still often quoted. It was as follows:



I looked to the South, and I looked to tlie West,

And I saw old slavery a comin'
With four Northern douglifact's hitched u]) in front.
Driving Ereedom to tlie otliiT side of .loidan.
Then take olT coats, boys, roll u]i slci'vi^s,
Slavery is a hard foe to liattle, I believe.

Slavt'ry and Freeiloni, they both had a figlit.
And the whole Xortii came ii]> bcliind 'em.

Hit .Slavery a few knocks, with a free ballot-lmx,
Sent it staggering to the other side of Jordan.
Take off, etc.

■2C)() Till-: IirTClllNSoN FAMILY.

If I was the Le.uislatiuT of tliusi' rniti'il Stati's,

I'd settle tills great question aeeonlin' ;
I'd let every slave ffo frt-e, over land and on tin- sea,
Let 'em liave a little liope tliis side of Jordan.

Tlien muse u]), ye freeman, the sword nnslu'athe ;
FreiMliini is tlie liest road to travel, I ludieve.

The South have their school, where the masters learn to rtile,

And they lord i*^ o'er the Free States aeeonlin';
But sure they'd quit, ere they rouse the Yankee grit,

And we tinnlile 'em over t'otlier side of Jordan.
Take off, etc.

Pennsylvania and Vermont have surely come to want,

To raise such scamps as Buck and Stejiheii,
And they'd better hire John Mitchell with shillalah, cluh and switchel,

Drive 'em down t(j .Vlahama, and leave 'em.
Take off, etc.

Edward Everett oped his mouth for the votes of the South,

Rut his wishy-washy speech was so rotten,
That it struck to his spine, and he took a hee-line
Lodged in State Street Lehind a l)ag of cotton.
Take off coats, hoys, roll uji your sleeves.
Cotton bags are hard things to battle, I believe.

But the day is drawing nigh that Slavery must die,

And every one must do his part accordin' :
Then let us all unite, to give every man his right,
And we'll get our pay the other side of Jordan.
Rouse up, ye freemen, the sword unsheathe.
Freedom is the best road to travel, I believe.

By liis marriage with Jeruslia Hutcliinson, Judson
had two (laughtei's, only one of wliom, Kate Hutchin-
son lUirney, of ]\Iilfoi'd, is now living.

Rliocla was the twelfth child of our family, and com-
ing, as site did, inti) a home where most of her hrothers
had never seen a sister, she was welcniiu-d \\ ilh exceed-
ing jov. Slie possessed a liigh contralto, or mezzo-so-
prano voire, strong and melodious, with unusual flexi-
bility. tShe always lived at llie old homestead, and


there her descendents remain. She was compelled from
lack of physieal and nervous strength to spend most of
her life quietly, l)ut nevertheless often in her younger
clays appeared \\ ith her brothers in convention work, and
was the "sister" of the family quartet which sung
through New England and New Yoi'k State, while the .
other quartet was in JCurope. She was twice married.
Her first husband was Isaac A. Bartlett, and second,
Matthew Gray, to whom she was married in 1855.
^Marietta Caroline liartlett, her first child, was born
]\Iarch 17, 1844. Nellie Gray was born January 2,
1860. Two otlier cliildren died in infancy.

It is unnecessary to give a further sketch of John and
his tribe at this point, for our history is fully covered
in this volume. As ap})r(^priate here, I will sim})ly add
a picture of the family group — John, Fanny, Henry
and Viola — who sang together so many years after
the "swarming."

Asa was the youngest son. I have spoken of my
close relations with Judson, and it is true that we were
nearer to one another in some senses than to the other
brothers, but it is als(^ true that for eigliteen years I
was always associated with Asa in concert enterprises,
and meanwhile, as this volume lias sliown, we joined
in many transactions of a business character. In fact,
until the latter })art of my life, there were fcAV lai'ge
l)usiness enterprises in which one was interested that
did not also engage the interest of the other. As
miglit have been expected, he was as a boy his father's
favorite. Joshua records tliat while yet a child he
would sit in church as the choir Avas singing, and in-
dulge in moving his head against the old pew railing,
producing a vibration so iuie, that when the violoncello
was in full blast, the feat, especially in the heavy cho-



rals, AViis as effective as the sub-bass of a big organ,
— guided entirely 1)y las intuitive musical sense aiul in-
nate love of liarmoiiv. Asa's voice, as he m^e^y to man-


hootl, Avas a strong and heavy bass. While lie had a
good baritone register, he Avas able to descend to low C
and double B flat with accuracy and ease, and liis notes
were a line foundation lor the liarmony of the (|uartet.



With the exception of m^-self, none of the family were
so long- and eontinnously in the concert-tield as he. As
long as his Avife and children lived, the songs of Asa,
Lizzie, Fred, Abby and little Dennett were as Avell
known in the West as those of the tribe of John in the
East, and each tribe often sang- in the other's territory.


lie died, at TTntehinson, ]\Iiiin.. November 2o, 1884. Dni-
ing his later yeai-s, he made that town liis 2:)ermanent
residence, and did mnch to develop it, temporally and
in meiital and religions lines. In the early '70\s, he
devoted the entire proceeds of an Eastern concert
tonr with my family to the erection of the Methodist
chnrch in his town. It was not strange that snch a
man died lamented. Undci- the caption, "His Mnsic is
Stilled." the ITfffrJtinsoii LntJer, which came ont with


tunu'il rules. ])riiiU'(l tlit_- fnllowiiiL;' ucH'ouut of liis deatli
and t'luicral :

" Hardly Inid tliis little cDiumunity rt'CoveriMl from the sad slioek it
I'Xjii'rieiici^d by the sudden taking away of the late Lewis Harrington
and it is again i>lunged in griid' over the death of Asa f>. Ilutrhinson,
one of tlie founders of the village. .Mthough it was not unexpected,
still many of us lujped against liope, trusting that He who doeth all
things well might see fit to delay the call that would take him home.

" For some weeks liis condition has been such as to excite the
anxiety of his friends, but it was not until about two weeks ago that
any great fears were felt for the result. Then it was that alarming
symjjtoms began to betray tlicmselves, and he continued to grow worse
mitil Death finally claimed its victim on the evening of the 2oth.

"!So widely was he known, and so universally beloved it hardly
comes within our ])rovinee, neither is it necessary for us to attempt
eulogistic remarks concerning him. His life was like an open book —
all might read — all might criticise. Yet so circumspect was he in all
liis dealings that criticism was completely disarmed. In earlier years
he became one of that noble band of brothers and sisters that com-
posed the celebrated family of vocalists that has made their name
loved and revered in every household. Shortly after their organization
they felt that they had been given a mission — fraught with danger,
yet none the less inviting — the freeing of an enslaved race. Under-
standing and fully realizing their peril, their voices were lifted up in
sweet song in every handet and city in not only this but in foreign
lands as well. Singing, praying, begging for the time when the dark
blotch should be wiped from off our statute books. They lived to see
their great work accomplished. Freedom reigned supreme thro\ighout
the land they lovi'd so well.

" With this great mission perfornu'd the band virtually disbanded,
but so strong was their love for music, also the desire to meet old
friends, that the deceased, in company with members of his own family,
still kept up occasional visits to different States, and during the mem-
orable Centennial year one of the greatest attractions at riiiladelphia
was the sw'jet voicings of this honored family. Even now, within a few
weeks of his death, he was planning a visit to New Orleans, there to
nu'i't and sing to those freedmen for whom he labored so long.

" In order that friends living at a distance might assist in the last sad
rites the funeral did not take place until Friday at one o'clock. On
this occasion it was fully attested how high in the public's alfection ami
estei'in he stood. The chiirrli was literally packe(l with sincere
mourners, and fully as many more lingi'reil on the outside, all di^siring
to honor with tiieir presence the one whom they all loved. At the ap-


pointc'il tiinc, after a vohmtary l)y thi' rlioir, Mw. J. AV. Kkpper dt-
livurt'd a l)rii'f jiraycr, wliicli was tdlldwi-il ]>y a liyiiin. Hon. I^ibiTty
Hall, by iXMiiU'st of friends, tlu-n cUdivered the following short but
beautiful eulogy :

" ' This is the third time witliin the past few months that I have been
ealliMl to aiilyou in conveying to their final rest the remains of our dear
friends who have fallen by the way. First, Mrs. Anderson, the beloved
daughter of the kind and devoted father whose remains now lie en-
shrined before us. A few weeks later we conveyed from this house to
that silent home prepared for all the living, all that was mortal of your
distinguished fellow-citizen, Lewis Harrington, and now, before wr have
had time to recover from the sjiock of that sudden and untimely
death, we are again summoned to jierform the same sad dut}' for an-
other old and dear frieml, whosi.> de]iarture leaves a vacaiu'v in our so-
ciety' that cannot and never will be tilled. 'I'ht're was but one ; tlu-re
will never be another Asa I>. Hutchinson. I'nicjUe in character, one
had to study him closidy to know and appreciate his solid worth as a
man and a citizen. Endowed with an excitable nature, his impulses
were generous and noble. C^uick to resent a wrong, he was equally
quick to appreciate and reciprocate a kindness. Malice found no abid-
ing place in the heart that for nearly sixty-tive years sent the generous
life-blood through the veins of that now inanimate body.

" ' Thirt3'-live years ago, on the banks of the Merrimac, in New-
Hampshire, near the place of his liirth, I first met Asa B. Hutchinson.
Older than myself by live years, he had already entered on that career
that was to make his name familiar at every fireside in this broad
land; possessed of that rare gift of song, that subseciuently made him
and his gifted family famous throughout the world, I remember as dis-
tinctly as if it were but yesterday, the impri'ssion that the ardent and
enthusiastic natureil young man made ujxm me. The bright world was
then all before him, resplendent under a cloudless sky, and so full of
joy and hope that it did not seem possible to him that clouds and tem-
pests could ever arise. I see him now, as I saw him then, standing with
four of his brothers, and that favorite sister, who still survives him —
and by telegram requesting the reading of that beautiful psalm to
which you have just listened — before an audience that filled the great
hall, over the depot in Concord. I had never before been perfectly
charmed with the melody and harmony of human voices, and from
that day to this, there has been to me no music like the music of the
Hutchinson Family.

'"The songs that Asa IovimI and sang were songs of sentiment, a]>pli-
cable to the tinu's in which he liviil. The anti-slavery sentiment that
was destined ill a few years to fuse the thought of New England in the
wl.ite heat of indignant protest against that gigantic crime of the nation.


liuinan slaviTv. \va?^ Just hi'gimiing to Ijc faniu-d intu a lilazt', and
notluiiL;' that was said or done contributed more to the final contlagra-
tion tlian the anti-shivery songs of the Hutchinson family, as they
were sung in every town and hamlet from tlie Kennebec to the Missis-
sij)])i. The influence for good that our friend has exerted upon the age
in which lie has lived, will never be known or appreciated, but the
silent, yet persuasive influence of his life will be felt long after his
name is forgotten ; for the songs that a people sing make a deep and
abiding imjjression, and are potent influences in the formation of the
character of society. If they are light and trivial they lead to triviality
and folly ; if they are imbued with a deep moral sentiment, their influ-
ence tends to develop and strengthen a healthy moral tone in society.
"We all know the general character of the songs sung by the Hutchin-
sons ; their echoes have partially died away during the last decade, but
not before they had accomplished the mission whereunto they were

" ' For ten or fifteen years before the war, the Hutchinsons furnished
the music to which the great anti-slavery army marched to its wonder-
ful conquests. It was their songs that inspired the hearts of the great
anti-slavery leaders with the courage of hope. They were constant
companions and co-laborers of Garrison, Phillips, Parker, Douglass,
Gerritt Smith, and scores of other scarcely less distinguished leaders,
and while these great reformers and orators appealed to the intellect
and reason of the people, the songs of the Hutchinsons stirred the
hearts of the great public and aroused the sentiment of sympathy for
the slave. It may well be questioned whether the song was not more
jioteiit in the great effort that resulted in the emancipation of four
million of slaves, than the cold argument addressed to the reason of
man. Who of us that listened twenty-five years ago to that pathetic
wail of Topsy, as rendered by the Hutchinsons, can ever forget the
mingled feelings of indignation and pity that it inspired ? Topsy
stood out before us as a real character, the natural product of a system
that made chattels of human beings.

" ' But human slavery, with all its horrors, "vas too firndy rooted and
grounded on our government to be either talked or sung out of its
plact', and when finally, in its desperation, it sought to rend in twain
the government it could no longer control, and the friends of liberty
and union were marshalled in its difi nee, there at the very front, be-
side the cami)-fires beyond the Potomac, were the songs of the llutch-
iiisDus lienrd, cheering the hearts of the despondent and inspiring the
timid and wavering to deeds of honor and glory.

" ' We have no standard by wliich we can ineasin-e the influence for
good upon the generation so rajiidly passing away, that our frii'ud lias
e.xerted. For more than forty years he has stood mure or less iinmn-


ncntly in tlie public gaze, and, in his way, has made tlie most of life,
and has faithfully used the gifts with which nature endowed him to
make the world happier and better. That his efforts have been
crowned with more than the average measure of success, those of us,
who have for years known him intimately and felt the kindly influence
of his genial nature, believe. .\ud now tiiat he has gone from us for-
ever, we begin to feel iiow much of real, positive good and how very
little of bad, we have lo>t. We are so constituted as to find a sort of
pleasure in criticising the conduct of our best friends while they are
living, but, when they die, the blemislies that we flattered ourselves we
had discovered, all tlisappear, and only their virtues and good deeds are

" ' I have thus far spcjken of the deceased in his relation to the world
through his profession. I should not do his memory justice did I fail
to speak of him as a citizen, neighbor and friend. Asa 15. Hutchinson
was something more than a singer. He was a man of positive charac-
ter, with brfjad views of life and its duties ; a man who found his
greatest pleasure in the prosperity and happiness of his fellow-men.
He was devotedly attached to his home, and it was his oft-e.xpressed de-
sire to be buried here in tlie " \'alley of the Hassan," that he made al-
most as famous throughout the United States as have the Hutchinsons
the "Valley of the Merrnnac," from whence they came. He was
among the very first to make a home here, and the town that bears his
name will forever remain a fitting monument to his memory. We are
here to-day to fulfil his oft-repeated desire to lay his weary body away
beneath the sod of the valley that loved him so well.

" ' You, who for more than a quarter of a century have been accus-
tomed to meet him in your places of business, in the church and at your
firesides, will miss him. You will miss him in your social circles. You
will miss the stimulating influence of his earnest and enthusiastic
spirit that never quailed before any obstacle, however formidable, pro-
vided the object to be attained was one of public utility. If a church
or a school-house was to be built, it was his quick and fertile brain that
suggested the means to be used for raising the funds. It will be hard
for you to think of any enterprise that has had fur its object the
moral, intellectual, or physical good of this peojile that has not re-
ceived his hearty support. But his earthly work is done, and he has
gone to that "mysterious bourne from which no traveller returns."
Let us think of him as we knew him at his lu'st estate, before the
clouds of disease had closeil in around him and obseured his mental

" ' Our friend was a firm believer in the immortality of the soul, and
regarded deatii as but the door to another and better state of existence.
With religious creeds, formulated bv mi-n, he had little to do. Ileli-


^noii w itli him was a iiractical, nut a tluMiretical affair, ami tlic sjiirit of
true religion as ilisplayi'd in tlu' cliaractur and life of honest and good
men, was always recognized hy him whether exhibited in Protestant
Catholic or Agnostic. Jt was a remark often made by him within the
last few montiis, "My family and friends have nearly all passed over
the dark river, and are beckoning me from the other shore." We can
follow him no farther than the hither shore, and, having gone thus far
and given l>ack Ids body to the embrace of mother earth, our sad duty
is done. Let us c'lerish his memory, and profit by the valuable lessons
that his life has taught us.'

" lie was followed by IJev. J. W. Klepjier in a few jiertinent re-
marks, in the course of whicii he alluded with inucii warmth to the
time he had first met the deceased, the great love he hail for him then,
and how he had since met him, and always found him working for the
right. lie also alluded briefly to the life services of one who had al-
ways been to the departed friend a shield and guide; spurring him on
to nobler deeds. He was pleased that God had called him to assist in
])lacing all that was mortal beside the remains of her whom he had so
fondly cherished. AVhile it was a painful duty, still it was pleasant to
think that now they would sleep side by side until the grand and glori-
ous awaki'uing.

"Miss Lizzie Pendergast then read a selection entitled 'Not
Changed, but Glorified.' At first her friends feared she would not be
equal to the task, so great was her love for the dear friend dejjarted,
but rallying, she seemed to throw her whole soul into the UKUirnful
duty, as if speaking to the silent one, reading better than we have ever
heard her before.

" The singing of another hyjnn closed the exercises at the church
and the solenm cortege slowly filed out of the edifice, following all that
was mortal of Asa B. Hutchinscm to the village cemetery, where the
remains were deposited by the side of his honored wife and loved sons
and daughters.

"In cduclusion we would aild : Mr. Hutchinson was inili't'd a re-
markable man in many rc'Sjiects. In iiis business dealings he was
thouiiht to be close, yi't he was generous to a fault when the hand of
the truly ni'edy was t'Xtiiided toward liim. As a citizen of tliis ])lace
he was j)ulilic-si>irited in all that would redound to tiie gent-ral good.
JJut for his efforts it is (juite ]irobable the \'ineyard Methodist-Episco-
pal Cliurcli would never have been built. All reuuMubi-r his utter disre-
gard of si'lf in liis elforts for tlu' High School liuilding. With children
"•rown \\\) he seemed to forget that he was l)urdeuing himself with un-
necessarv cares and taxes. He was in his sixty-tiunl year, and leaves
one son, .Mr. (>. 1). Ilutehinson, and a brother and sister, to mourn his


Asa and I looked very nuirli alike. Our friend
" Noggs '" oiiee said that one of us went to bed Asa and
got up John. \Ve were at the Marlboro Hotel at one
time. A gentleman came in and engaged me in eonver-
sation on a matter of business. Me wanted us to sing
for an out-of-town concert. Before arriving at any tle-
cision. he hap[)ened to glance away from me for a mo-
ment, and caught sight of Asa coming down the stairs,
some two rods away. With a look of surprise o\er-
spreading his features, and evidently chagrined to thiidc
I had got away fi'om liim so quickly, he left me and
started after Asa, to stop him until he had decided the

Asa married Elizabeth ]>., daughter of Frederick I),
and Plicebe B. Chase, of Xantucket, Mass. Their
children were Abl)y, born March 14, 1849; Frederick
Cdiase, born February 4, 1851 ; Oliver Dennett, born
January 15, 1856 ; Ellen Chase, born May 22, 1861,
died January 24, 1867.

Elizabeth, the tifteeuth cliild and third daughter,
lived but four years, and then left us. Her coming
brought joy, her death the deepest sorrow, for a little
child of four twines its affections in unbreakal)le cords
around the loved ones in its home.

The fourth sister and sixteenth cliild Avas Al)l)v, des-
tined to become in many respects the most notaljle of
the group. Her brother Joshua says : " A })eculiar
charm hung about her existence. Pier gifts and devel-
opment were watched witli the greatest assiduity bv the
fond pareu-ts, while twelve brothers and sisters were
guarding her childish steps on to virtue and excellence.
She had scarcely entered upon her teens Ijefore she was
brought into puljlic life. Even at the age of eleven
she was initiated into tlie (piartet, and had given many


public concerts. Possessing a large share of the 'gift,*
aiul l)len(liiig witli her genial nature a smiling face
radiant witli the joys of conscious innocence, she modu-
lated her voice in the harmony perfected by her own
su'eet contralto, or chanted her little ' Spider and the
Fhf " so naturalh' that it gave the highest emotions of
[)leasure to the multitudes that heard it ; as also her
' '/((tiiie's on the Storm// Sea,' with the finale. ' Home re-
turned to Love and Thee,' given with that touching
naturalness peculiar to those bewitching sounds."

Abby died November 24, 1892. On December 7th, of
the same year, in the New York Home Journal, Frank
B. Carpenter wrote a triliute to her memor}* of several
columns, from which I quote :

Online LibraryJohn Wallace HutchinsonStory of the Hutchinsons (tribe of Jesse) (Volume 2) → online text (page 22 of 36)