Lucius R. (Lucius Robinson) Paige.

History of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register online

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Online LibraryLucius R. (Lucius Robinson) PaigeHistory of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register → online text (page 19 of 73)
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22, 1747, aged probably about 60 ; his wife Patience died October
27, 1746. In 1749 the farm passed out of the possession of the
Thomas family, and gradually all traces of the ancient graves
were obliterated.

1 This spot is about a mile and a quar- twenty rods southeasterly from the house
ter southerly from tlie Furnace Village, marked " C. Paige" on the II. map.
and nearly three miles southeasterly from ^ Daughter of Deacon James Paige,
the Common; it is'a gravelly knoll, about and mother of Deacon James N. Brown.

She died June 16, 1880.


This was never a public burial-place, and no reference to it on
the Town Records need be expected. Mr. Thomas had posses-
sion of this farm and occupied a house thereon as early as Decem-
ber 13, 1732, and how much earlier does not appear. Before
the public burial-place was established, before any saw-mills were
erected, as is indicated by some remnants of " boards, split from
the logs instead of being sawed," and possibly before he had any
neighbors nearer than Rutland and Brookfield, some member of
bis family may have deceased ; and in such case it was natural
that he should use a portion of his own land as a private ceme-
tery ; it was natural, also, that he and his family, as long as they
retained possession of the farm, should bury their dead in the
same place. It is a part of the tradition, and the large number
of skeletons indicates the same fact, that some of the neighboring
families were buried in this rural spot, so much more easy of
access than the public burial-place on the highlands, even after it
was prepared for use. There may have been a special reason for
the clustering of graves in this spot, if there be substantial truth
in another tradition, communicated to me in 1838, by a very in-
telligent lady,^ then ninety years old, namely, that before the
first meeting-house was erected on the Common, meetings for re-
ligious worship were for some time held in or near the house of
Mr. Thomas. If this were so, it was natural that his neighbors
should desire to bury their dead here rather than on their own
farms.^ Except the theory mentioned in the note, I am not
aware that any other explanation has been offered concerning
the bones, which having rested undisturbed for more than a cen-
tury, until the memory of them had nearly perished from the

1 .The widow of Major-General Jona- the logs instead of being sawed ; " nor is
than Warner. it probable that so many women and

2 A theory gained temporary currency children were camp-followers, and died
that these skeletons were " the relics of a in one winter, as the skeletons indicate,
portion of the Shays Rebellion ; " that Moreover, there is no evidence tiiat the
after the attack on the arsenal at Spring- Shays army ever entered Hardwick, after
field in January, 1787, " the Shays party the retreat from Springfield. On the
retreated to Hardwick where they en- contrary, all the authorities agree that
camped and kept quiet. That winter was instead of encamping and keeping quiet,
severe, and many died, being buried in here or elsewhere, through the winter,
rough wooden boxes." But this theory the troops were utterly routed and scat-
is incredible for several reasons: — What- tered at Petersham, February 4, 1787,
ever may have been the scarcity when the just ten days after their abortive attempt
first deaths occurred in the families of at Springfield. Indeed, they did not even
Mr. Thomas and his neighbors, there was pass through Hardwick on their retreat,
certainly no lack of saw-mills half a cen- but fled from Petersham in the opposite
tury later, in 1787, nor any necessity to direction through Athol.

construct cofiins of boards "split from •


earth, were accidentally disinterred in 1871, to the great astonish-
ment and bewilderment of the living inhabitants. After due
examination, they were placed together in a box and again depos-
ited in the earth, under the direction of the selectmen.

The oldest public burial-place in Hardwick is in the centre of
the town, on the east side of the Common. It is not a part of
the " ten acres," devoted by the proprietors, February 21, 1732-3,
to public use ; but it was probably substituted for the original
grant, about 1741, when the second meeting-house was erected.
How early this burial-place was used does not appear. The most
ancient date now to be found on any head-stone, is on that of Han-
nah, wife of Thomas Haskell, who died. May 16, 1749, aged 25.
Deacon John White, the father of Rev. David White, was born
at an earlier date (1663) than any other person known to have
been buried in that ground ; he died November 13, 1750, in the
eighty-eighth year of his age. Next to him in seniority of birth
was Daniel Warnei', the progenitor of almost all who now bear
that name in Hardwick, who was born in 1666, and died March
12, 1754, in the eighty-eighth year of his age. Both of these pa-
triarchs were born in Hatfield. Far exceeding them in age, and
the oldest person ever buried in that ground, was Mercy, widow
of Deacon William Paige, who was born at Brookfield January

8, 1720-1, and died here February 19, 1823, having completed
more than one hundred and two years of life.

This burial-place has been sadly shorn of its original propor-
tions. In 1768 tlie northerly line was 15^ rods in length ; the east
ei-ly line, 14 rods ; and the southerly line, 11 rods. The westerly
line appears to have been a continuation of what is now the east-
erly line of the road running northerly from the Common towards
Petersham.^ The first mutilation was authorized by a vote
passed May 9, 1791, when a committee consisting of sixteen
prominent inhabitants, previously appointed " to view the Com-
mon and the lands adjoining, and see what alterations may be
convenient and necessary to be made ; also to inquire of the pro-

1 These dimensions are gleaned from were several depressions in the surface of
a deed of the meeting-house lot to the the ground on the easterly side of the
town, executed hy John Howe, May 30, present Common, wiiich were then re-
1768, and another deed of the adjoining puted to be indications of ancient graves;
premises to Daniel llnggles, from the but whether their contents had been re-
heirs of tlie same Joim Kowe, dated July moved to the present contracted limits of

9, 1803. Wore. Reif. Deeds, lix. 113; the burial-place, is not certainly known.
cliv, 126. In my school-boy days there



prietors of the lands adjoinging, to kiio\y of them on what condi-
tions they will dispose of their lands, provided the committee
shall think it expedient to enlarge the Common ; also to exam-
ine respecting the expediency and propriety of removing the
Burying-yard wall, and laying a part of the present Burying-yard
common," submitted a report which was accepted; and the town
thereupon voted to enlarge the Common by taking in a portion
of the burying-ground on the easterly side of the Common, and
a strip of land on the westerly side, given by General Warner on
certain conditions to which the town assented. No further mate-
rial encroachment seems to have been made until August 22,
1836, when the town instructed its committee to erect a Town
House " on the northwest corner of the old Burying-ground."
At this time a new cemetery had been established, and an inclina-
tion was exhibited by many, not only to discontinue their accus-
tomed use of this place, hallowed for a century by the dust of the
dead and the tears of the living, but to sell it outright, for
" thii'ty pieces of silver," more or less, and permit it to be utterly
perverted from its original destination.^ It was thought to be
a desii'able location for dwelling-houses, and especially for stores
and public buildings. The Town House had covered several

1 While this spirit of vandalism was
rife, the town celebrated its centennial
anniversary. In the address on that oc-
casion my fellow citizens were besought
to refrain from the proposed alienation of
this " God's acre " from the use to which
it had been piously dedicated. I venture
to republish the appeal in this note : —

" Of those who commenced the settle-
ment here, not one remains. Most of those
who were active, during the first fifty
years of our history, have also departed.
They sleep in the grave, — all that was
mortal of them, — chiefly in the inclosure
near this house, which was devoted as a
burial-place, bj' the proprietors of the
township. I exceedingly regret that a few
individuals have manifested a disposition
to appropriate it to other purposes en-
tirely. I know not how some persons
may feel on this subject. But my fathers
sleep in that ground ; and I would gladly
preserve their remains from indignity. In
regard to most of my fellow citizens, I
may say your fathers sleep there, and it
becomes you to watch over them. They
who converted a howling wilderness into

fruitful fields and pleasant gardens, sleep
there. They sleep there, who labored,
suffered privation, and freely perilled
their lives in contests with savage beasts
and more savage men, that we might en-
joy plenty, and liberty, and peace. Of all
which they once possessed, they withheld
nothing from us, but that small spot of
ground, where, with their fellow-laborers
and fellow-sufferers, their wives and their
children, they might rest in peace till the
resurrection. Let us not grudge them
this scanty pittance. They gave us their
houses and lands ; — do not deprive them
of their graves. Let not their ashes be
scattered to the four winds, nor their
bones be thrown out, to be trampled
under foot by the unthinking multitude.
Let not that spot of ground, already shorn
of its original proportions, be further des-
ecrated. Let it rather be neatly and sub-
stantially inclosed, and planted with trees
and shrubbery. It will then be a pleas-
ant retreat for meditation, an ornament
to your village, and a perpetual monu-
ment of your respect for the memory of
your ancestors."


graves, without disturbing tlieir contents ; and this was regarded
by some as a sufficient excuse for digging to any required depth
for the construction of basements and cellars. After the project
had been freely discussed for several months, it took definite form
March 5, 1838, when an article was inserted in the warrant for
the annual town meeting, " to see if the town will dispose of a
portion of the old burying-ground to Joel S. Marsh, lying be-
tween the elm trees near the Town House, 44 feet in length,
north and south, and 34 feet in width, for the purpose of erecting
a store ; " to the honor of the town, I glady copy the record that
" a motion that the town consent to sell the land to Mr. Marsh,
as requested by him, passed in the negative." It does not ap-
pear that a similar proposition was afterwards presented to the
town by any individual ; but an attempt was made December
30, 1840, to purchase a part of the burial-place for a very differ-
ent purpose, which could be carried into effect without disturbing
the bones of the dead. At that date, the second article in the
warrant was " to see if the town will sell to the First Universal-
ist Society, for a reasonable compensation, a spot of land in the
old burying-ground, sixty feet deep and fifty feet front, lying
directly back of two elm trees between the Town House and
Mixter and Delano's store, for the purpose of erecting a church
thereon. . . . The subject contained in the second article of the
warrant was discussed at considerable length, and many objec-
tions having been made to granting the spot referred to in said
article, it was voted to dissolve the meeting." ^ This was equiva-
lent to an absolute refusal to grant the request. Such decisive
action by the town, after full discussion, settled the question for
one generation at least, and it may be hoped for all generations,
that neither individuals nor societies should be permitted to dis-
turb the ashes of " the rude forefathers of the hamlet." Up to
this time, no further attempt has been made to diminish the size
of this old grave-yard. It has long ceased to be used for the
burial of the recent dead, partly because it would be difficult to
find a spot not already occupied, and partly because a more com-
modious and more attractive cemetery has been provided ; but it
has not been unduly neglected, nor is its appearance, as a disused
burial-place, discreditable to the town.

1 A similar application had been re- the northwest corner of the burying-

jectcd, May 5, 1828, when it was "voted ground, or on the southerly part of the

not to grant the First Calvinistic Society Common."
a spot for a meeting-house lot, either on


As early as 1804 it was found tliat the burying ground had
been made too small by its recent reduction in size, and a com-
mittee was appointed to select another place. At a town meet-
ing, May 6, 1805, it was " voted that the committee chosen last
year for the purpose of procuring a suitable spot for a burying-
yard, be empowered to purchase one as central as they can find."
No purchase was made, however, until January 11, 1815, when a
committee reported in favor of buying one acre and a half ^ of
the Rev. Thomas Holt, and were authorized to close the bargain
on the proposed terms. This lot has been several times enlarged
by the purchase of another acre on the north side, November
12, 1849, afterwards of an adjoining tract, on the east side, of
Mr. John Paige, and April 3, 1876, of somewhat more than two
acres on the south side, of Mr. Joseph C. Paige. No lack of
care or attention in regard to this cemetery is chargeable to the
town or to individuals. It is very substantially fenced and orna-
mented by trees. Many monuments have been erected, and the
head-stones are generally of a good character, and preserved
clean and erect. Altogether, it is one of the neatest, well-ordered
cemeteries in that section of the country. The first person
buried here was Mr. Lendall Whipple, who had a few days pre-
viously assisted in erecting the stone inclosure, and who died
November 21, 1817, aged nearly twenty-two years. The oldest
person was probably Mrs. Sibillah Dexter (successively the wife
of Mr. Samuel Thurston, and of Captain Samuel Dexter, both
of Hardwick), who died at New Braintree, July 13, 1849, at the
age of one hundred years, as inscribed on her head-stone, and on
the Town Record of New Braintree. The head-stone of Mr.
Asahel Billings, who died July 16, 1838, represents him to have
attained the age of one hundred years ; and the Town Record
calls him 99; both overrate his age, which probably did not ex-
ceed 97, and was equalled or exceeded by that of three others,
at least : Mrs. Mary, widow of Daniel Billings, who died June
8, 1835, aged 97 ; Mrs. Hannah, widow of David Aiken, who
died July 28, 1887, aged 97 ; and Mrs. Olive, widow of Ephraim
Ruggles, who died August 3, 1858, aged 98.

About the commencement of the present centurj^ a burial-
place was established in the southwesterly part of the town, near
the place where the Baptist meeting-house stood. It contains

^ Situated about a quarter of a mile of the roads leading to Petersham and to
north of the Common, at the intersection Barre.


many graves, a reasonable proportion of which are designated by
suitable raemoi'ials. The earliest date which I observed is on the
head-stone of Abel Burt, son of Rev. Ebenezer Burt, who died
June 23, 1803, aged 9 months. The greatest age denoted on any
head-stone is that of Mr. Samuel L. Robinson, who died January
18, 1863, aged 95 ; and nearly approaching this is the age of Mr.
Henry Higgins, who died March 15, 1837, aged 94. It is highly
probable that Mr. Jesse Snow, who died in June, 1825, aged 96,
was buried here, but no head-stone is found where it might be ex-
pected to stand, near that of his wife, Mrs. Mar}'^ Snow, who
died February 5, 1813, aged 77.^ Much credit is due to those
who have charge of this cemetery for keeping it in so good condi-
tion in all respects.

In the northerly part of the town, near Barre, is a very neat
inclosure, apparently a private burial-place belonging to the
Taylor family. The earliest date is on the head-stone of Seth
Taylor, who died July 7, 1811, aged 66, and the greatest age is
inscribed on that of Sylvanus Taylor, who died April 5, 1849,
aged 75.

In the old cemetery, near the Common, in addition to the
poetical inscriptions, common to others at the same date, a few
are found which appear to be original : —

In memory of Capt.
Ebenezer Cox who died
March y" 2M768 in y^
42*^ year of his age.

Beneath this stone a noble Captain's laid

Which for his King and Country was displayed

His courage that no terrors could disarm

Nor when he fac'd ye foe his fears alarm

But now he's conquer'd and ye silent grave

Can boast that power ye French could never have

Under his care his soldiers were secure

Equal with them all hardships he'd endure

In six campaigns intrepid trod ye field

Nor to ye Gallic Power would ever yield

At last he's gone we hope where Wars do cease

To spend a whole Eternity in Peace.

On a large head-stone, erected agreeably to a vote of the town,
the following epitaphs are inscribed in parallel columns : —

1 It is not unlikely that the Rev. Eben- by the side of his wife and two sons, and
ezer Burt, who died at Atliol, November near the spot where he had faithfully
25, 1861, aged nearly 96, was buried here, preached the gospel for many years.


Sacred to the memory of the Sacred to the memory of Mrs.
Rev" David White who died Susanna White consort of the
Jan^ y* 6"^ 1784 in y'' 74"' year of Rev" David White who died July
his age. He was the first minister y" 17"" 1783, in the 69"* year of
settled in the Town and faithfully her age. She lived a life of un-
and conscientiously performed the exampled Piety and Virtue and
sacred functions of his office for al- of the greatest Patience and Res-
most 50 years to the great edification ignation under her long continued
and enlargement of his Church and bodily indisposition and died in
the universal peace & tranquillity of the firm hope of a Glorious Im-
the Town. mortality.

Adieu to sickness pain and death With heartfelt Joy I yield my breath

Adieu to vanities and cares And quit a life of pain and woe

Submissive I resign my breath Rejoicing pass the scene of death

And rise to Bliss beyond the stars. To live where Joys forever flow.

Almighty Father hear my prayer New transports now inspire my frame

And send salvation to this land With joys celestial and sublime

May this my people be thy care O may you catch the heavenly flame

And ever dwell at thy right hand. And soar beyond the reach of time.

Hail kindred spirits of the etherial skie
We come to visit your divine abode
To spend a long Eternity on high
To love adore and bless our Saviour God.

A large stone of peculiar shape stands near the centre of the
cemetery, denoting the grave of a " beloved physician," and bear-
ing this inscription : —


In memory of Doct'
Charles Doolittle who died
June 12"^ 1785 in the 37"^
Year of his age.

Beneath this dust in ruin lies
A man once virtuous just and wise
He view'd his death approaching near
And gave his life without a tear
Now we commit with sacred trust
His body to the mould'ring dust
His soul we trust has wing'd its way
To realms of light and endless day.

At the grave of Rosamond Winslow, who died September
13, 1803, aged 18 (long commemorated by her contemporaries


as a maiden of remarkable beauty and amiability), a head-stone
bears a stanza which expresses the idea so frequently found in
early grave-yard literature, but clothed in a form of simplicity
and tenderness which I do not remember to have seen else-
where : —

Oh, my dear friend, I once like you

Did stand such monuments to view ;

But with me here you soon must be

And others stand and read of thee.



Meeting-house and Ministry. — Mr. Ephraim Keith. — Church organized. —
Rev. David White ordained. — First Meeting-house. — Sharp Controversy-
concerning the Location of the Second Meeting-house. — Unwillingness to
contract Debts. — People seated anew in the Meeting-house. — Deacon
Paige absents himself from the Communion and is censured. — Ecclesiastical
Council. — Deacon Paige resigns Office, and unites with the Church in
Petersham. — Deacon Robinson resigns Office, and becomes a Deacon in the
Separate Church. — Changes in the Manner of Singing and also in the
Versions of the Psalms sung. — Deacon Allen absents himself from the
Communion, alleging a lack of Discipline in the Church ; but is afterwards
pacified, and returns to his Official Duty. — Third Meeting-house, a Mag-
nificent Structure. — Abortive Attempt to settle a Colleague Pastor. —
Death and Character of Rev. David White, and of his Wife. — Deacon
Allen elected Moderator of the Church. — Attempts to settle a Pastor. —
Rev. Thomas Holt ordained. — Confession of Faith and Covenant. — Rev.
Mr. Holt appeals in vain for an Increase of Salary ; his Dismission and
subsequent Labors. — Pastorate of Rev. William B. Wesson. — Division of
the Original Parish. — The Congregational Society settle Rev. John M.
Merrick and Rev. John Goldsbury ; afterwards unite with the Universal-
ist Society. — New Meeting-house. — Pastors. — The Calvinistic Society
settle Rev. Martyn Tupper. — Confession of Faith. — Meeting-houses. —
Pastors. — Deacons.

When the General Court, in June, 1732, granted to the pro-
prietors of this township a little more than one third part of the
territory which their ancestors had purchased from the Indians,
the boon was conferred " on the conditions following, viz. : That
they within the space of five years settle and have on the spot
sixty families (the settlers to be none but such as are natives of
New England), each settler to build a good and convenient
dwelling-house of one story high, eighteen feet square, at the
least, and clear and bring to four acres fit for improvement, and
three acres more, well stocked with English grass, and also lay
out three shares throughout the town, each share to be one sixty
third part of the said town, one share for the first settled minis-
ter, one for the ministry, and the other for the school ; and also


build a convenient meeting-house, and settle a learned and ortho-
dox minister within the term aforesaid."

In conformity with these conditions, the proprietors voted
February 21, 1732-3, "that ten acres of land be reserved, near
the centre of said tract, to set a meeting-house on, and for a
burial-place, and a training-field." On the next day they directed
a committee to "lay out one hundred and eleven lots, . . .
viz., four lots to each proprietor's share, sixty settlers, and the lots
for the ministry, and school ; " also, " unanimously voted, that
each settler pay into the hands of the committee, upon his draw-
ing his lot, the sum of five pounds towards the defraying the
charges of surveying, &c., and the further sum of ten pounds,^
each for the building a meeting-house within the space of three
years after his being admitted." It was also voted, December
27, 1733, " That the proprietors pay the sum of forty-eight
pounds, which is to be raised equally out of each whole share, to
help pay a minister for preaching the gospel amongst the in-
habitants there, for one year next after the 2d day of May
next. Also voted that the settlers, both resident and non-
resident, pay fifteen shillings each, as their part and proportion
of a further encouragement for a minister to preach ; and that
Mr. Timothy Ruggles be desired to procure some suitable person
to serve them for the same."

The first person employed, under this arrangement, was ap-
parently Mr. Ephraim Keith, who probably commenced his
labors at the time specified, May 2, 1734, and continued through
the year. At a meeting of the proprietors, September 10, 1735,
it was " voted, that the parcel of land lying between Draper's
lot, No. 1, and Esq. Willis's lot, No. 2, about fifty or sixty
acres, be granted to the Rev. Mr. Ephraim Keith, for his preach-
ing to the people at a place called Lambstown last year, in full
discharge of his due from said proprietors, his accepting the
same, and likewise a note of fifteen pounds ten shillings of Mr.

Online LibraryLucius R. (Lucius Robinson) PaigeHistory of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register → online text (page 19 of 73)