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fifty feet, the part below, of some forty feet more, was filled
with stones, as useless, and so remains without affecting
the supply.

In 1856 a well was dug near Mr. Pingree's house, about

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twenty-one feet deep and fifteen feet in diameter. Here
water was found about eighteen feet below the surface. The
earth was compact clay and gravel with stones of all sizes.
The whole was thoroughly mixed and and solidified ; no part
of the earth or stones being in a stratified state ; yet there
were small rounded stones that appeared to belong to strati-
fied rocks. Among the mass were also pebbles of white
quartz and of sandstone. In the course of the excavation
there appeared what seemed once to have been a crack, or
rent in the earth, once open and afterwards filled with gravel
and sand. It was about six inches wide ; and though very
firmly filled, could be traced nearly to the bottom of the well.

The lai'ge hills are all composed of similar materials, and
all reckoned good land for cultivation. No ripple-marks
occur in any of those described, save at Round Hill. This
is chiefly loam and gravel, resting on sandy loam, and was
evidently thrown up by the action of currents of water, as
indeed most of the small ridges may have been, ripple-mark&
being found in them as well.

The plains and meadows will repay a moment's notice.
A large plain begins at the river near the Tread well Farm,,
and extends northerly to Prichard's Pond. It has a gradual
ascent at an angle of about one degree. It seems to continue
northerly as far as the Merrimac, and to reach westerly from
Towne's Hill to the hills in Andover, making due allowance
for all the minor elevations as seen from some of the high 'hills.

The plains are apparently all composed of one class of
materials. Soil, answering well for cultivation, forms the
first layer of from two to twelve inches ; coarse and fine
gravel succeeds, with sand and small pebbles in layers, till
at eight or twelve, sometimes twenty feet deep, according to
location, quicksand and water are met with. This is true
of most of the plain land, though near the brooks and mead-
ows clay appears after passing the upper layers of earth.
At many points, brick yards were worked at the time of the
early settlers, but none of them at present. One of these
was near the place once occupied by Jacob Averill.

The meadows here yield a large a large amount of peat of
every grade and texture. In some of them, changed stumps,
and charcoal from small sticks are found three feet or more

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below the surface, indicating that the swamps were burnt
over before the peat was formed.

When we come to the examination of the Rocks and Min-
erals of Topsfield, the first object of attention is what is
known as the " Copper Mine." Most that is known of this
comes by tradition. It is said that an Englishman named
Buntin, came here about 1760, and with some ol the towns-
men begun mining for copper. Three points were selected ;
one near the meadow, on land now of David Towne, and
near the house of Elisha Towne, then living on the premises.
From this they passed to another point near the junction of
the roads, where they, sunk a shaft ; and again going up the
hill to the northeast, they sunk a third one some forty feet
deep, with a considerable chamber at the bottom, made by
removal of this rock in the search for ore. The tradition
continues, that they shipped a large quantity of the ore, or
rock, for England ; but as nothing was ever heard of it, it
was supposed that ship and cargo were lost at sea. About
1838 these shafts were reopened, and in them some of the
old mining tools were found, shovels, picks, &c. An exam-
ination was made as to the utility of again working the mine,
but nothing was done further, as there appeared no prospect
of profit.

The rock at these places is of a green color, and very hard
wlien first broken up, but by exposui*e to the air, it crum-
bles down into slaty or scaly fragments. It can be traced
nearly two miles from the meadow above named, in an east-
erly direction. It appears near the surface just east of the
house of Daniel Towne. It passes under the river at the old
fordway, sometimes called the " Old Weirs." Still to the
east the Newburyport Railroad cuts through it, near the
house of David Perkins, to a depth of fifteen feet. Here it
betrays the presence of copper quite as much as at any of
the other points. In part the rock consists of quartz ; and
the indications of metal ai-e increased very much by the
action of the atmosphere. How much further the formation
extends eastward is not known.

Few extensive ledges of granite exist here. Bowlders,
large and small abound in and upon the hills, scattered and
distributed with little or no order.

In form, size and color, they are of course greatly diversi^

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fied. Formerly, a large one, fourteen feet loug and two feet
ill diameter, iay on the hill nearly southwest from the arched
bridge over Ipswich River, and some forty rods from the
turnpike. It was egg-shaped and almost wholly buried in
the earth. This rock was worked into stones for the above
bridge in 1853. It is a peculiar rock, with ;io other like it
in the region. It may have been one of the " lost rocks" of
which we sometimes hear ; but as. it had lain there some
time and no owner called, it was worked into the bridge..

In building the railroad, on. the north side of the river,
an excavation was made through a hill and ledge near the
bridge. Here the cut was actually carried down thrcmgh
the rock, which was found to rest on sand. It is only a
mass of compacted, reddish gravel ; and on exposure to the
atmosphere, crumbles to dust. It seems very retentive of
water, and is considerably used for grading. A hill of the
like quality is found on the easterly side of the Common ;
and here, also, the rock rests on the sand. Hillocks and
rock of the same kind occur in a pasture north of the Com-
mon, formerly belonging to the parsonage ; but whether
they rest on the sand is not yet known.

At the house of Mr. Small, a well was sunk eighteen or
twenty feet into a ledge, and receives its water through a
seam. A ledge appears on the east side of the Academy
Hill, and into it a well has been sunk some eighteen feet.
Green quartz was found near the bottom, but no spring ;
the water is supplied from seams.

There are three traditionary accounts of gold and silver
having been found and mined for here.

On the eastern side of Rea's Hill is a spring, near the Dan-
vers road. It is said that as Joseph Porter was once clear-
ing it out, he found a lump of gold, or a stone containing
that metal, worth from twenty to forty dollars. Nothing
more is known of it. The ground at the place shows signs
of the action of water, multitudes of bowlders being strewed
in all directions around.

About filteen rods south of the house of Ephraim Perkins,
and four rods or more east of an angle in the road, is the
appearance of an old excavation, now filled up and over-
grown with grass. It is said that one Moses Perkins, then
X)wning the land, mined there for silver, assisted by Buntin*

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One Smith formerly lived at a place called the " Old
House Field," now owned by Silas Lake. While digging
a well, he found what he supposed to be a lump of gold.
One day during his absence, a strange gentleman called
and requested a drink of cider, which the benevolent mis-
tress went to the cellar to draw, leaving the stranger alone:
and the gold lying on the mantel. When she returned,,
both had unaccountably disappeared, nor were ever seen
again. A mysterious circle drawn with chalk on the center
of the floor where she left him, was the only vestige remain
ing. The obvious conclusion, with people at that day was,
that the Devil had thus stolen their gold. This, of course,
is tradition unsupported by otlier proof. The house stood
easterly from Mr. Lake's, on an old way passing by the old
parsonage, which stood in the " Parsonage Pasture." .

Prichard's Brook is a small stream flowing from Prich-
ard's (or Hood's) Pond. It unites with- Pye Brook, and
comes from Boxford, and the resulting stream continues
southeasterly under various names for a considerable dis-
tance. The stream then divides ; and one part, turning eas-
terly, takes the name of Howlet's Brook, and, passing Per-
kin's Mill, falls into Ipswich River. Tlie rest, known as Pea-
body's Brook, keeps a southerly course to what was formerly
Peabody's Mill, thence, by the name of Mile Brook, to the
river. Near the separation of these two streams is an an-
cient house, occupied by Wm. Rogers in 1737, and fifty
years later by Asahel Smith, a son of Samuel Smith, Esq.,
Town Clerk. Of the four sons of this Asahel, viz : Samuel,
Asahel, Jesse and Joseph, there are some strong reasons
for supposing that Joseph was the identical " Jo. Smith "
(or the father of him) who founded the sect known as

Monday^ January 21, 1861.

Meeting this evening at 7.30 o'clock, Rev. C. C. Beamau
in the Chair.

Records of preceding meeting read.

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Donations announced as follows :

To the Library — from S. A. Green of Boston ; George
R. Curwen ; Philadelphia Academy of Natural Scienco ;
American Antiquarian Society ; S. Q. Felt ; 0. W. Swasey ;
0. B. Richardson of New York, N. Y. ; Societe Paleontolo-
gique de Belgique, An vers ; Josepli A. GoldthwaitQ.

To the Cabinets — from Thomas Coleman of Boston ;
George A. Perkins ; S. Q. Felt ; Samuel R. Curwen ; S. R.
Phelps ; N. Berry.

Letters were read from Trustees of BostoL Public Libra-
ry ; S. F. Haven of the American Antiquarian Society ; S.
A. Green of Boston ; Thomas Coleman of Boston.

A paper was read by Jacob Batchelder ; recommending the
adoption of the Decimal System in weights and measures ;
the manufactui'e of coins of an exact measure of diaijieter
with the inscription and devices sunk into the surfaces to
diminish the liability of its being worn by friction ; and the
establishment of a standard of weight by means of the drop-
ping of water from a cone of specified material and propor-
tion, at a stated velocity, temperature, barometrical pressure
and moisture ; such quantity of water in the form of a cube
to be regarded as an unit of weight ; the body, or a multiple
of it, the unit of solid measure ; one side of the cube, or a
multiple of it, the unit of length ; the square of it the unit
of measure of surface, and every coin in circulation to be
made of a decimal weight, measure and value.

Remarks were made by Messrs. M. G. Farmer ; George
D. Phippen and others, in relation to the above communica-


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Monday^ February 4, 1861.

Meeting this evening at 7.30 o'clock, A. C. Goodell, Jr. ,
3n the Chair.

Records of preceding meeting read.

Donations were announced as follows :

To the Library — ^from L. A. Huguet-Latour of Montreal,
C.E.; New York State Library ; Editors of High School Ga-
zette ; John H. Stone.

T(T the Cabinets — from James Bartlctt of Wenham ; Miss
Hannah G. Kimball.

Letters were read from Chicago Historical Society ; Trus-
tees of New York State Library ; Maine Historical Society;
American Geographical and Statistical Society ; Henry B.
Stiles of Brooklyn, N.Y. ; S. P. Fowler of Danvers.

Moses G. Fanner read an interesting paper on the com-
bustion of coal — the amount of heat devolved from a given
quantity of the dilBcrent varieties under similar influences.
This paper was considered a partial result of a series of ex-
periments in process of being performed.

After some discussion, participated in by Messrs. Jacob
Batchelder, the chair and others ; — t;o^erf, that the thanks of
the Institute be tendered to Mr. Farmer for his valuable
communication, and that he be requested to prepare the
results of his experiments for publication in tlie Proceedings.

•H. Wheatland exhibited a piece of wood recently present-
ed by Mrs. T. Cole, purporting to be a piece of a coflSn, in
which was deposited ihe remains of one of the victims of the
witchcraft delusion, and which was dug up by the late Hon.
Benj. Goodhue and Dr. Joseph Drne on Gallows Hill, on the
-2d of May, 1783; also a letter from Jonathan Goodhue of


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New York (son of the above named Benjamin,) giving the
particulars of the same, addressed to Ichabod Tucker, of Sa-
lem, and dated August 19, 1814.

A conversation then ensued on the subject of witchcraft,,
the trials, &c., which took place at Salem in 1692.


Monday^ February 18, 1861.

Meeting this evening at 7.30 o'clock, A. C. Goodell Jr., in
the chair.

Records of the preceding meeting read.

Donations were announced from the following :

To Uie Library — from Henry B. Hooker of Boston ; Sam-
uel G. Drake of Boston ; Samuel A. Green of Boston ; Sec-
retary of State Mass. ; Canadian Institute ; C. B, Richardson
of New York ; Boston Society of Natural History ; B. M.
Stone of Providence, R. I. ; N. J. Lord ; J. B. Alley, M. C. ;
ElUott Society of Natural History, Charleston, S. C. ; Dor-
chester Antiquarian and Historical Society ; W. D. Pickman;
G. C. Chase ; W. Brown.

To the Cabinets — from James B. King; H. M. Brooks;
Miss R. E. Stickney ; W. S. Roberts.

Letters were read from Massachusetts Historical Society ;
Wisconsin State Historical Society ; Trustees of Boston Publia
Library ; Young Men's Mercantile Library Association of
Cincinnati ; FrankUn Bacheller of Lynn ; H. R. Stiles of
Brooklyn, N. Y. ; A. S. Packard, jr., of Brunswick, Me.

Jacob Batchelder read a translation of a paper by M.
Louis Vilmorin. It consisted of a detail of the author's
experiments, undertaken for the purpose of improving tlio>

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saccharine qualities of the Beet-Root, by selecting as seed-
bearers, during several successive years, the specimens of the
Beet, found to be richest in sugar. This point was determined
by boring many individual beets with a metallic cylinder, and
expressing the juice from the pulp thus obtained. The den-
sity of the juice, which is proportionate to the sugar it con-
tains, was ascertained by weighing, in the diflFerent specimens,
a small silver button, carefully securing uniformity of tem-
perature and other conditions which might aflfect the result.
By this method pursued during five years, he secured speci-
mens of the juice which yielded twenty-one per cent, of sugar,
and established the important fact of the hereditary trans-
mission of the saccharine qualities of Beet Boot.

A general conversation on subjects suggested by the above
communication ensued, participated in by Messrs. J. A.
Goldthwaite ; G. D. Phippen ; H. Wheatland ; the chair
and others.


Monday^ March 4, 1861.

Meeting this evening, A. C. Goodell, Jr., in the Chair.

"Eecords of preceding meeting read.

Donations announced from the following : —
To the Library — from' J. F. Allen ; James A. Gillis ; Ohio
Mechanic's Institute at Cinciimati ; J. Linton Waters of
Chicago, 111.; H. F. Shepard; Alfred Stone; Samuel R.
Ourwen ; C. Allen Browne ; A. G. Browne, Jr. ; Frank-
lin Bacheller of Lynn ; Miss Mary R. Kimball.

To the Cabinets — from Jacob 0. Hiltz ; J. B. King; W,
G. Webb; M. C. Martins of Bissau, W. C. A. ; Charles
JMillett, 2d.

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Letters were lead from Historical Society of Pennsylvania ;:
Chicago Historical Society ; J. Colburn of Boston ; W. Q-
Webb ; George Ropes; G. P. Flint.

Abner C. Goodell, Jr., read a memoir on the life, literary,
and historical labors of Alonzo Lewis, the historian of Lynn.

Henry Wheatland presented, in behalf of W. G. Webb, a
specimen of Phyllium rfccifolium, from the Seychelle Is-
lands, accompanying the same with some remarks upon the
habits and history of the orthopterous insects, and alluding
in a general manner to the collection of Insects belonging to
the Institute.

Jacob Batchelder read a paper from Vilmorin, on the Ulex


Monday^ March 18, 1861.
Meeting this evening, A. 0. Goodell, Jr., in the Chair.
Records of preceding meeting read.

Donations from the following announced : —

To the Library — from N. J. Holden of Lynn ; G. Andrews;:
C. B. Richardson of New York ; Pitch Poole of South Dan-
vers ; O. C. Marsh of Lockport, N. Y. ; J. Kimball ; W.
Briggs; W. S. Roberts ; Miss D. Andrews ; J. Chadwick.

To the Library — ^from S. V. Shreve; N. Berry; J. B.
King ; W. G. Webb ; P. Webb ; W. S. Roberts.

Letters wore read from New Orleans Academy of Science ;.
W. J. Howard of Central City, K. T,

^diourned to meet on Wednesday evening next, at the
same hour.

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Wednesday/, March 21, 1801.

Adjourned meeting this evening. Vice-President H. M.
brooks in the Chair.

Records of preceding meeting read.

George D. Phippen occupied the hour in giving an inter-
esting account of Fibrilia or Flax Cotton, in connection
with the Bast tissue generally, as found in trees and plants,
accompanied with numerous specimens, which called forth
considerable discussion from members and others present,
whereby two hours of the evening were pleasantly and prof-
itably passed by such as were fortunate enough to attend.
Much information was elicited upon this important subject,
which, ere long, by new appliances of inventive genius, may
materially aflFect our peace, comfort and prosperity.

The manner of the formation of plant tissues, particularly
the Bast tissues, so called, as laid on by the plastic hand of
nature, was illustrated ; it being deemed important to a cor-
rect understanding of the analytic and eliminating processes
employed in the manufacture of fibrilia. Results prove that
a careful and microscopic inspection of the manner in which
the minuter fibrils of this tissue are deposited by concealed
and mysterious operations within the sap vessels and around
the stem, was suggestive of a course of manipulation, which,
as is believed, has at last been crowned with success.

From the'se peculiar tissues do we derive both material
for the strongest cables and stoutest canvass, as well as
thread for the finest needles and muslins which vie with
gossamer in texture.

This tissue, where of sufficient strength for manufacture,
is found chiefly within two of the principal groups or natu-
3ral orders of plants, and are designated by botanists as the
Nettle and Mallows families.

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The tall nettles and wild hemp by the road sides are fa-
miliar examples of the former, and the Althea and HoUj-
hoek of the latter.

Any person who has seen the Cotton plant in blossom,
would at once associate it with the Mallows family, and not
only does it furnish Cotton within its capsules, but from its
stems can be manufactured a. fair quality of fibrilia.

Jute of commerce, is of this order, and it is known in
some parts of the world as ffews' Mallow ; its leaves being
cooked by that people for food.

The genus Linum, or flax, is not strictly of this fanodly
but is closely allied.

Hemp and China grass belong to the nettle group.

Fibrilia or Flax Cotton can be wrought either alone, or
with wool or cotton. Various fabrics were here exhibited
together with the article in the raw state and mixed with
other materials both manufactured and unmanufactured.

The calico prints were very brilliantly colored, and it is
well known that when madp of this material they both take
and retain colors better than all cotton goods. It is found
also that fibrilia is the only material that can be wrought
with wool, without injury to the fabric made ; on the con-
trary, it imparts lustre, strength and durability to it.

It has been supposed by some that articles made of fibrilia
would be cold in the wear ; as is known to be the case with
linen goods, but this quality is almost entirely overcome by
the fineness of elimination to which the fibre is* subjected
before spinning ; this is chiefly performed by a newly in-
vented brake, which reduces the flax to the shortness and
tenuity of cotton staple, after which it can be wrought upon
cotton machinery. This brake, the invention of Mr. Stephen
Randall, of Rhode Island, it is believed, will work as great
a change in the manufacture of flax, as did the Cotton Gin
of Whitney with cotton.

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The immense quantity of flax and hemp raised in our
-western country, was alluded to, and the cheapness with
which it could be reduced to fibrilia and conveyed to the
mills ; much of the former being raised for seed only, while
the plant containing the fibre was little better than wasted.
Allusion was also made to the great variety of plants which
contain this fibre, and which grow spontaneously all 6ver
the country ; and among us particularly the Asclepias and
Indian Hemp were cited.

Beautiful specimens of the fibre of the Asclepias, or com-
mon MilkWeed, were here shown, which were of great length
and of a silvery lustre.

Here was positive proof that some of our most common
weeds contain this fibre in large quantities, and without
doubt a few of them would repay cultivation for this pur-
pose, should Yankee ingenuity but continue its exertions in
pursuit of a substitute for the arrogant pretensions of King

Remarks were then offered by Messrs. A. C. Goodell, Jr. ;
M. G. Farmer and others. [Mr. P. spoke principally of the
process of separating the fibre.]


Monday^ April 1, 1861.

Meeting this evening, H. M. Brooks. Vice President, in
the Chair.

The usual business for the evening was suspended, in order
to pay a tribute to the memory of our worthy and honored
President, Daniel Appleton White, who died at his resi-
dence in this city, on Saturday^ March 30, 1861, at 2 P. M.
He had been the President of the Institute from the organ-
ization in March 1848, to the time of his decease ; and for
the eleven years previous had held the corresponding offio^

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in the Essex Historical Society. He had been a liberal
contributor to the funds, and also to the Library, having^ at
various times, presented some 4,500 volumes in the several
departments of literature, the arts, and the sciences.

On motion of Mr. Goodell, it was voted, that a committee
be appointed to report a series of resolutions in memory of
our deceased President, at an adjournment of this meeting.

Before taking the questions, appropriate and suitable
remarks were offered by Messrs. G. W. Briggs; Henry
Wheatland ; A.. Crosby and A. C. Goodell, Jr.

The Chair appointed on this committee, Messrs. A. Hun-
tington ; A. Crosby, and A. C. Goodell, Jr.

The committee were further instructed to consider the
propriety of appointing some person to prepare a memoir of
our late President, for publication by the Institute.

Voted^ — That when this meeting adjourn, it adjourn to
the call of the committee.


Monday^ April 8, 1861.

An adjourned meeting was held this evening, to act upou
the report of a committee appointed to prepare resolutions
on the decease of their late President, the Hon. Daniel
Appleton White, — and who were also authorized to invite
some member to write a memoir of the departed. James
Kimball, Esq., presided.

Hon. Asahel Huntington, chairman of the committee^
previous to. the reading of the Report, oflfered some very
appropriate remai'ks, principally explanatory of some of the

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leading facts stated in said report, with a view to point out
how much Judge White had been identified with the educa-
tional, benevolent and other reformatory movements in this
his adopted city, for nearly half a century and more than
the life of one generation. When called upon to aid in any
of tlie objects of the day he did not enquire what others had
done, but acted independently, upon liis own sense of right
^nd duty in the premises.

Mr. H. also alluded to the reforms he was instrumental in
making in the probate business of this County. This sub-
ject was appropriately referred to at the previous meeting
by A. C. Groodell, Esq., the present Register of Probate.

Mr. H. also described two interviews he had with Judge
White during his last sickness. The first was with a friend,
who was connected with Dartmouth College, atd the minute
und graphic account he gave of the controversy between the
Trustees of Dartmouth College and President Wheelock,
wliich occurred some forty or fifty years since, was wonder-

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Online LibraryLeeds Philosophical and Literary SocietyProceedings of the Leeds Philosophical and ..., Volume 7, Issues 3-4 → online text (page 5 of 23)