working order : —
Dr. S. D. York, president ; Dr. Ira Weston, secretary and treasurer ;
James Armstrong, Theodore Dinsraoor, and John HiUs were chosen direc-
tors ; Loren Thaj'er and Samuel W.
No policies were to be issued till applications were received to
the amount of $40,000. This amount was soon reached, and Jan.
80, 1857, the policies went into effect. For a number of years
the affairs of the company were in a flourishing condition. The
losses were few, the assessments were light, and the members
were satisfied. But the tide turned, losses came in ((uick succes-
sion, and the company became involved in a lawsuit, on account
of an over-insurance of a set of buildings whicli were destroyed
by fire, and succeeded in getting tlie amount reduced.
But it was a rope of sand that held the company together.
Its constitution and regulations contained some gharing defects,
not discoverable till the stress and strain of controversy revealed
them. So it was decided to close up the affairs of the company;
and after an existence of twenty years, at 9 o'clock, r. m., Dec.
12, 1876, the policies of the members of the com)>any were can-
celled, and the comjjany ceased to exist.
DEBATING SOCIETIES, OR LYCEUMS.
The earliest society of this n.itiire dates back forty or more
years. This and kindred socii'tics in town have been instituted
for tlie intellectual entertainment and improvement of our citi-
zens, '^rhey had their corjis of officers elected foi" longer or
shorter intervals, but usually for four weeks. Tiie mei'tiiigs in
late years were once in two weeks, and took place in the old
meeting lioiise, or in diil'ereut school-rooms, or in Bartley's Hall.
SOCIETY i(»K Tin; Ki;r(»i;.MA iKi.N <>i M(>i:ai.s. 233
This was in the okl li:ill, which was siil»si'<|ueiitly C()iisiirnc<| hy
tiri'. The cxi-rciscs consisted of (Icclaniatioiis, a pajter usually
edited hy some hidy iiicmher being read, and a discussion of
some suhject of general interest to its mcmlters.
Early societies were carriiMl on l»y the active men of the town.
There was a gri-at deal of interest manifesteil in the lyceum
between iSo^J and 180(1. Often the subjects discussed were po-
litical topics, and many of the debutes were aide, interesting,
and instructive. The audiences were usually good, sometimes
large, and they were usually entertained. For quite a number of
years there was in town a plenty of young men who could con-
duct the lyceum successfully. The interest has died out largely,
and there has been no del)ating society in town for several years.
From memory, and from information from others, I am able to
give some of the names of those who in different years were
active members of these organizations. Some of them were not
natives, but were teachers in town at the time.
Rev. Samuel Harris. Robert B. Jackson.
Jacob Harris. Samuel W. Simpson.
Samuel Campbell. William ('. Harris.
(Gen.) A. F. Stevens (teacher). Aaron T. Hughes.
Aaron Sawyer (teacher). Samuel Morrison.
Robert P. Morrison. Charles Cochran.
W. D. Cochran. Rufus Morrison.
James Whittaker. Christopher M. Morrison.
Edwaril P. Morrison. Dr. Ira Weston.
Dr. S. D. York. Jonathan Parker.
John L. Hai'dy. Leonard A. Morrison.
Dr. Henry S. Davis. John H. Dinsmore.
WINDHAM SOCIETY FOR THE REFORMATION OF MORALS.
In tlie spring of I8I0, this oi-ganization began, and on April 3
of that year it elected its first board of ofhcers. The object of the
society "was the suppression of immorality of every description,"
and "to correct existing immoralities, or any customs and prac-
tices which have an immoral tendency." Its members agreed "to
refrain from offering ardent spirits in ordinary cases, at funerals,
which may take place at our homes, agreeably to the advice and
recommendation of the Presbytery." They agreed to keep a
"constant watch" over themselves, "to shun every vicious prac-
tice, and to be patterns of good morality."
It was the duty of members to exert their influence to suppress
"Sabbath-breaking, intemperance, ])rofaneness, falsehood, and in-
justice; to endeavor to reclaim the immoral by friendly admoni-
tion ; to aid Tytheing Men, and all civil officers in the execution
of tlie laws; and finally, to encourage the rising generation in a
constant attendance on public worship, and in habits of sobriety,
morality, and industry."
This was the general character of the articles of the constitution
of the society. The first board of officers were, Rev. Samuel
234 HISTORY OF WINDHAM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE.
Harris, president ; l)ea. Robert Dinsmoor ("Rustic Bard "), secre-
tary ; Dea. William Davidson, treasurer, and an executive com-
mittee of four persons. Among their resolutions is the following
in respect to intemperance : —
'■'•Resolved, That we will watch over ourselves and guard against
every appearance of this great evil, and that we will endeavor, so
far as we can consistently with performing the duties incumbent
on us, to keep out of the way of temptation to this sin ; and
that we will strive by instruction, advice, and restraint to guard
our families against this most destructive vice."
Their resolutions were equally positive for the right upon other
Oct. 23, 1815, "Voted that the money now in the treasury be
laid out to purchase primers and religious tracts to be distributed
to children through the town, to encourage them to learn the
In Ai)ril, 1816, they resolved unanimously "to use our influence
to promote the reading of the Scriptures and other religious books
in the meeting-house a reasonable part of the time of intermission
of public service, on Lord's day, by young men and others who
may please to attend to it."
If the spirits of the departed could look down upon those who
were dear to them here, and be cognizant of the customs between
services in these days at meeting, they might not think them
strictly in harmony with their resolutions.
In 1816, the executive committee reported "their belief that
the state of society was gradually improving; that the o])en prof-
anation of the Lord's day and othei- vices do not abound to so
great a degree as they have done heretofore " ; that there was
" more of a disposition to hear religious instruction, and a greater
degree of solemnity in our ])ublic assemblies than in years past,"
and they recognized with satisfaction the formation of female
reading societies, and the attention that is ])aid to reading the
Holy Scriptures and other religious books in the intermission on
the Sabbath. They were "pleased to learn that in many of the
schools much attention is })aid to catechetical instruction, and that
many of the children are in the habit of committing to memory
and reciting passages of Scri]>ture from time to time." But they
were not satisfied with the result of tlieii labors, and say, "Still,
there are many things t(» be dejilored and deeply lamented. Ini-
quity now abounds to an alarming degree ; many |)rofane the Holy
Sabbath ; many pi-ofane the great and veneral)le name of Ji'hovah ;
some even in childhood are addicted to the use of profane lan-
guage ; some are apparently ruining themselves by an intemperate
use of ardent spirits. . . . We greatly regret that so many in-
divi<luals among us neglect the puldic worship of (iod, and that
family worship is so much neglected." I'poii the history of this
society, after 1817, no light Comes.
I have copied copiously from its records, as they throw a flood
LADIKS- bKNKVOLLNT SOCIKTY. l!35
of light upon tlie cnstoTiis of society in this town, upon its im-
nioralitics and sins, and also shows the motives of good men, and
the cdiTeit sentiments of their resdjutions of nearly three fourths
of a century ago. These sentiments of right and justice, of
purity, of goodness and truth, of temperance, of love to God
the Father and love to men his children, which animated their
hearts, are still working powerfully in the hearts of men. They
are linking together all trihes and classes and conditions of men
l»y the strong ties of a universal love and a universal brother-
hoo<l. They will continue to work, purifying, elevating, and
FEMALE BENEVOLENT SEWING AND MORAL-REFORM SOCIETY, 1841.
Oct. 5, 1841, this society was organized, and a Ijoard of officers
elected. Its ohject was to aid benevolent objects. It met once
a month, and the time occupied in each meeting was employed
in working for these objects. Also, some ])erson would read for
a short time, for the entertainment and benefit of the members.
Mrs. K. L. Cutler was the first chief manager. For various
reasons the interest in this society did not continue to that extent
as to make it a power in the community. Zeal in the work
flagged after a time.
During these years, the Rev. Loren Thayer became pastor of
the church. His companion, Mrs. Jose])liine Thayer, took a great
deal of interest in the society, and infused new life and energy
through the organization. It became a "sewing circle." The
ladies belonging to the society would meet at the house of some
mem!)er in the afternoon, once in two weeks, to sew, to knit, and
manufacture various articles which could readily be turned into
cash, or given to the needy. The gentlemen would be invited in
the evening, and the time spent in social intercourse, in reading and
singing. These meetings were participated in by a great part of
the community, and were interesting, enjoyable, and beneficial.
The gentlemen were expected to contribute yearly ; and indeed
the intelligent portion of the community, those who would aid
any good work, took an interest in this, became members, and lent
a helping hand.
The society underwent some change, and the present Ladies'
Benevolent Society was formed in 185U, and exists to-day in a
flourishing condition. It has done a noble work, and under its
auspices the whole community has rendered assistance. Poor
families at home and in more distant j)laces have been aided ;
money has been given to "Foreign Missions." In 1857, $30 was
contributed towards the first melodeon in the church. It made
Kev. Loren Thayer a life-member of the Bible Society, in 1858.
Boxes of clothing have been sent to the unfortunate and needy
in different pai'ts of the country. The liearts of destitute and
suffering ones have been gladdened, and their pressing wants
236 HISTORY OF WINDHAM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE.
alleviated, by the remembrances of this society. And when the
Avar came, with its sacriticcs, the brave soldier was not forgotten.
The soul of many a war-worn and suffering soldier was gladdened
by receiving articles which added to his comfort, and eased the
agony of cruel wounds. The amount of value contributed in
clothing and in money, by this society, and in the proceeds of
festivals by our citizens, for the Sanitary and Christian commis-
sions, was nearly -$650.
After the war their attention was turned to the freedman, and
he was aided. Since that time the society has aided in freeing
the Religious Society from its debt upon the parsonage. Since
1873 it has contributed for repairs made uj)on tlie church in 1874 :
for the parsonage, 11,130 ; for the churcli, 82,176. The amount
contributed by this organization for different benevolent purpo-
ses, is $4,730. This does not include the cost of the )>ul])iL about
1853, nor the proceeds of some of the earlier "tea parties."
Taken all in all, this society has done a work upon which it can
look with eminent satisfaction. Its members have sought out the
suffering ones and given relief ; they have cheered tlie hearts of
the destitute by timely gifts ; the missionary at home and abroad
has felt their aiding hand ; the brave men who bore aloft the star-
emblazoned flag of the Kepublic, during the assaults of treason
upon the government, received many tokens of kind remem-
bi'ance; and those members of a long-suffering and enslaved
race, the freedmen, have been recipients of their kindness.
" They have found the Lord in their suffering brothers,
And not in the clouds descending."
SI.AVKKY IN Ni:\V HAMl'SHIUK. 237
Slavkry in Nkw Hampshire. — Another Census in 1775. — The Anti-
slavery Movement. — Antislavery Society in Windham, April 8,
Slavkky was never k-galized, or established by authority of
law, in New Haini»shire; l)ut as it existed in other colonies, it
crept in here, was tolerated, and regulated by law, so that Indian
and negro servants or slaves were owned and held as propertv.*
They were taxed as other property. In 1728, each negro,
mulatto, or Indian slave, being male, was assessed at £'H) ; each
woman slave was excluded. t In fact, slaves were taxed to their
owners like horses, oxen, or any other ]troperty, till the adoption
of the State Constitution in 1784, and even till 1789, when by the
new ajijiortionment of taxable property, passed Feb. 8, 1789,
"male ami female servants were expunged " from the list. Kev.
Nathaniel Bouton, d. d., comjiiler of Provincial and State Papers
of New Hami)shire, thinks that l>y the adoption of the first
and second clauses in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution
of the State, virtually and in effect slavery was abolished in New
The first clause is, 1. " All men are born free and independent ;
therefore, all enforcement of right originates from the people, is
founded in consent, and instituted for the general go.od." 2.
" All men have natural, essential, an<l inherent rights, among
which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring,
])0ssessing, and ]trotecting proj)erty, and in a word, of seeking
and obtaining happiness."
By the passage of this act, Feb. 8, 1789, slavery ceased to be
known as an institution of the State. No enactments on the sub-
ject can be fouml subse(juently ujion the statute-books of the State.
The institution had been weighed in the moral balances l>y the peo-
ple of the State, and found wanting. It had been l)rought before
the moral sense of a Christian people, and decided to be wrong ;
when so decided, it was' by legislative enactment consigned
to death, and buried.
The fact, that by the adoption of the State Constitution, in
1784, " slavery was in fact terminated, and a very large proj)or-
tion of those held as slaves availed themselves of their liberty,
* Towu Papers, vol. ix, p. 896.
t Provincial Papers, vol. iv, p. 499.
288 HISTOliY OF WINDHAM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE.
or were discharged ; yet, as a portion of them still remained in
the families where they had lived, and perhaps did not desire a
chauiie, they were inadvertently reckoned by the census-takers
under the head of ' slaves,' no disei-imination l)eing made in re-
gard to their condition, though in reality free. Xo other sup])0-
sition can explain the inconsistency of the census returns at dif-
ANOTHER CENSUS IN 1775,
In 1775 the number of " negroes and slaves for life " in New
Hampshire was 657 ; in 179(1, six years after the adoption of the
Constitution, 158; by 1800, 8; by 1810, 0; in 1830, 8; in 1840,
1, — mistake of census-taker.
While such is the history of the institution in the State, we
shall have brief notices of its existence in Windham. Allusions
are occasionally made to "slaves" u])on the records of the town.
In 1767, there were four slaves in town ; in 1778, there were
thirteen, five males and eight females. Sept, 15, 1775, the num-
ber of "negroes and slaves for life " was thirteen.
In 1785, Windham voted the use of Pew No. 86 in the church
for negroes, if their masters would pay rates.
On the second day of June, 1786, there were " nine Blacks
living with there masters."
In 1788, Dec. 15, the town again voted the use of Pew No. 36
in the church for slaves, if " their masters " aj^ply to the said
committee for the same.
In censuses taken after 1790, no slaves are mentioned, but
colo-'ed ])ersons are alluded to.
So ends the history of the peculiar institution in New Hamp-
shire ; but it did not die so easily in the nation. It developed
with wonderful rapidity, till State after State was controlled
utterly by it. It became a dominating power in the nation ; its
demand become so obnoxious, that the (;onsciences of good men
and women were aroused, and an agitation on the subject com-
menced, wliich ceased not till the manacles of four millions of
slaves were melted away by the fiames of the great rebellion.
THE ANTISLAVERY MOVEMENT.
William Lloyd Garrison, the a])08tle of this crusade, started a
|)apei- called "The Liberator," Jan. 1, 1881, and advocated im-
luediate and unconditional emancipation of the slaves in the
country. It caused intense excitement. Saints and sinners for-
got their warfare, and for once were united in condemnation of
his <locti-ines, and tliat the abolition movement sliouUl cease.
Benjamin Chase, in his History <»f Chester, N. H., says: "Eccle-
siastical bodies ])assed resolutions denouncing abolition, and
religious newspapers and theological quarterlies published long
:inil laliore<| .irticies defending slavery from the Bible." George
ANTISLAVKKY SOCIKTV IN WINDHAM, 1834. 239
Thomiison, tlu- cL-kljiatefl P^nixlisli cliatiipion of liuinan rights,
was iiiol.bed in Concord, N. H. Oct. "Jl, is;^;'), almut five thou-
sand i/entltmen of wi-altli and intlncncc turned out in a mol) and
quelled a ini-etinn- of the Female Anti.shnerv Society in Boston.
Politicians and cieri^ynien vied with each other in their devotion
to slavery, and in their effort to squelch the emancipation move-
In explanation of the position taken by many of the Presbyterian
clergymen at that time, the Hon. John C. Park, of Boston, says :
'' Tliey were Bible men. They found slavery unrebukcd in the
Bible, as was concubinage, and other social evils, which the spirit
of Christianity has redressed. They did not a])j)reciate the
advance which society had made under the light of the Gospel.
This is the only sc^lution I can give to such a strange, but acknowl-
edged, state of things.''
An American Antislavery Society was formed, "The Libera-
tor'" found its way to Windham, and Dea. Jonathan Cochran
and others were its readers before 1834. They became convinced
of the monstrous wickedness of human slavery, and never ceased
their opposition to the same till .Vbraham Lincoln, by the stroke
of his pen, Jan. 1, 1863, declared it abolished, which a million of
loyal bayonets made certain u))on the battle-field, and which was
afterwards made forever secure by Xational enactments, and by
adoption into the Constitution of a redeemed and purified nation.
ANTISLAVERY SOCIETY IN WINDHAM, APRIL 8, 1834.
The friends of antislavery in Windham met on the twenty-
eighth day of Aj)ril, 1834, and formed a society with the follow-
ing constitution : —
We, the undersigned, hold that every person of full age and sane mind
has a right to freedom from personal bondage, of whatever kind, unless
imposed by the sentence of the law for some crime.
We hold tliat man cannot, consistently with reason, religion, and the
immutable principles of justice, be the property of man.
We hold that whoever retains his fellow-man in bondage is guilty of
violating the laws of God. and injuring the best interests of society.
We hold that a mere ditlerence of complexion is no reason why any man
.should be deprived of his natural rights, or subjected to any political
While advancing these opinions as the principles on which we mean to
act, we declare that we will not operate, on tlie existing relations of
society, by any other than peaceable means, and that we will give no
countenance to violence or insurrection.
With these declared principles, they formed the " Windham
Antislavery Society, auxiliary to the National Antislavery
The object of this society was, "by all means sanctioned by
law, humanity, and religion, to effect the abolition of slavery in
the L^nited States ; to im])rove the character and condition of the
240 IlISTOItV OF WINDHAM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE.
colored people ; to inform and correct public opinion in relation
to their condition, and to ()l)tain for them equal privileoes with
Kev. Calvin (Aitler, Jeremiah Morrison, Dea. David Campbell,
and Dea. Jonathan Cochran were among 'the most active leaders
in this movement. Among its members were tlie following per-
sons : Rev. Samuel Harris, Rev. Calvin Cutler, Dea. Jacob
Harris, Dea. Jonathan Cochran, Jeremiah Morrison, Dea. Theo-
dore Dinsmoor, Dea. Samuel Anderson, Giles Merrill, Dr. Daniel
L. Simpson, Dea. J)avid Camjjbell, David Cam))bell, 2d, John
Hills, J. A. Burnham, James Buruham, Stephen Fessenden, and
The solid, substantial men of the town were the active mem-
bers of this society. The society had frequent meetings, and
succeeded in awakening and keeping alive a strong and healthy
public sentiment on this great question, now settled. And here
let the fact be recorded, to the everlasting honor of the town,
that from the organization of that society till the settlement of
the slaA'cry <piestion, the public sentiment of Windham was over-
whelmingly antislavery. It was positive, earnest, aggressive. It
believed in no compromise. And when treason against the
nation, in the form of the slaveholders' rebellion, endangered the
life of the republic and the liberty of man, it said. Let slavery, the
monster, die ! When slavery was dead, it uttered songs of thanks-
giving over its accursed grave.
IMl'iiKIANT EVKNl'S !• UOM i;i!» H) 18-21. 241
Important Events from 1719 to 1821 — Colored People — Witch
Story — Strange People — Anecdotes — The Minister's Disap-
pointment — First Death and Burial in Windham, about 1721
— Fever and Ague — First Framed House — Incorporation of
Windham, 1742 — Change of Dates krom Old Style to New, 1752
— The Dark Day of May 1!), 17'.iO — The Willow Tree, 17«0-82.
— The Great Frost, May 17, 17'J4 — The Great Muster Storm
OF 1801 OR 1802— The Cold Friday, Jan. 19. 1810 — Spotted
Fever, 1812 — First Wa(}on, 1813 — The Great September Gale
OF 1815 — The Liberty Pole and Fourth of July Celebration,
1815 — Poverty Year, 181G. — Sabbath Breaking in 1818. — Great
Gale, Sept. 9, 1821.
This town has never been largely populated with colored peo-
ple. Near the commencement of the present century, a family
of negroes lived in a liouse Avhich stood on the road from George
Copp's liouse, over his hill to Isaac Emerson's.
Rose, Pomp, and Jeff, three negroes, lived in town. Rose
lived and <lied at 'Squire John Dinsmoor's (the John Kelley
jilace). Jeff died at 'Stjuire John Nesmith's (Horace Berry's
place). When he went to church he did not go inside, but sat in
the porch. Pomp died in town. They were all buried in that jtart
of the original cemetery on the liill, in tlie southeasterly corner,
near tlie highway. In the grave they find perfect equality, wliich
they never found while living. In its unbroken silence there is
no distinction between white and black, l»ond or free, cultured or
ignorant, and the quietness of peace resteth over all.
Peter Smith was brought from Salem, Mass., and was always
called I*eter Thom, because he lived with Benjamin Thom, in the
Range. He was killed by a falling tree.
The " Old Harry House," which in a ruined condition still
stands a short distance north of Jacob A. Nesmith's, between the
two roads. It once stood ojjposite Mr. Nesmith's house, and was
used and occupied as a. millinery room by Maria Dinsmoor,
daughter of the " Rustic Bard." It was afterwards moved to its
present position, and occupied by a colored man named Harry
Chew. He married a colored lady of Exeter, and they had two
children. One daughter grew up, and they removed to Salem,
Mass. The daughter became quite a musician ; could " play on
the piano " ; her mind was filled with pride, in which her mother
shared, and the father they would not permit to live at home ;
242 HISTORY OF WINDHAM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE.
and in his old age and in poverty he found a place of refuge in
the almshouse of that city, where he died.
"Old Rif" was a colored man, and slave of Robert Smith's.
One day, while out gunnmg with George Simpson, they became
lost. They thought they knew every inch of the ground. The
sun was fast sinking behind the western hills, and they came to a
halt. At that moment they saw" a rabbit standing u])()n its hind
legs, looking at them ; they tried to frighten it away, but it would
not away at their bidding. "Old Rif" knew that the rabbit was