Me Monson.

Semi-centennial address of Chas. Davison, poems online

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favorable an impression as possible upon his mind concerning the
place. But unfortunately they had no bread nor materials with
• which to make any; and their neighbors were as destitute as
themselves. Neither could they furnish their guest with any
meat, but there were potatoes in the ground, and corn in the field.
These thev gathered and cooked for dinner. On this food, and
the butter afforded them by their cow, they and company feasted.


Neighbors were few and far between. Often many days would
pass, and no individuals except members of the family would be
seen. At one time, after Mr. Stanchtield's family moved into their
house, three or four weeks passed without their seeing any one ;
when, seeing some neighbors approaching, they were frightened,
supposing them to lie Indians. But these fears were groundless,
for the settlers in this vicinity were never troubled by the red man.

The nearest place where the inhabitants could get their grain
ground was Sangerville, and the first settlers were compelled to
carry their corn and wheat, often on their backs, twelv< miles,
most of the way through the woods, following a spotted line,
returning in the same way with the meal. It was considered a
day's work for a man thus to carry one bushel -to mill and return
witli the same at night.

Joseph D. Jackson says, when he was a boy it was his stent to
go to Sangerville and back with one-half bushel of corn or
wheat on his shoulder. As he grew larger he was required to
take three pecks, and when any boy could perform the journey in a
day and carry a bushel, he began to think himself a man. Much
of the time they were required to perform this task as often as
once a week.

In December, 1810, James Stanchfield, Jr., went to Sangerville
to null with a horse, carrying about three bushels of grain on the
horse's back. He got his grist and started for home about noon ;
had to ford the river and one brook, doing which he got wet.
This was the day long known as the "dark day, 1 ' when something
obscured the rays of the sun, so that soon after noon it began to
grow dark. When Mr. S. get as far as Capt. Chapin's, in Abbot,
he stopped, thinking to spend the night, but on finding the time
of day, he thought he could get home well enough and started on.
The remainder of the story I will relate, as nearly as possible, in
his own words: "When I got within about five miles of home,
I came to the green woods. There was but little more than a
spotted line. I found I could not follow the path and trusted to
the horse to find the way. I soon became satisfied that we were
going wrong. The horse refused to go. The darkness of night
now came on. I tried to go forward, but soon got entangled in


some trees that were blown down, find I could not tell which way
to go. I had flint and spunk in my pocket, and tried to kindle a
fire, but soon dropped my flint and could not find it. I unloaded
the bags from the horse and made my supper of dry meal. I was
wet and grew very cold — a sort of ague fit attacked me, so that my
teeth chattered against each other. I was obliged to keep myself
from perishing with cold by stamping and walking around. In this
way I spent the night, not daring to sleep for fear of perishing.
As soon as it was light, I tied the horse, and went to look for
the path. I found thai I had wandered about half a mile out of
the way. I made my breakfast of dry meal and started for home ;
reached Mr. Rowe's about nine in the morning, suffering very
much with cold and fatigue."

The mode of traveling through the country in those days was
quite different from what it is now. No less than three families
came all the way from Monson, Mass., a distance of some three
hundred miles, with ox teams. Mr. Hiram Vinton and Calvin
Colton were three weeks making the journey, and Mr. R. Day
was four weeks, being detained on the road one week by sickness.
Deacon Cushman was fourteen days coming with his family from
Oxford, with the same means of conveyance, in February, iSiii',
finding the roads obstructed with snow part of the way.

Mrs. Sherman says : " One year, just about harvest time, we got
out of breadstuff, and so did our neighbors ; and for some days
we were obliged to live on potatoes, until we could thrash out a
little rye, which we dried in a kettle over the fire. The first
apples I saw in Monson, Mr. Sherman bought in Sangerville,
paying a bushel of corn for a bushel of very poor apples, and
bringing them home on his back ; and I suppose he carried the
corn from home in the same way." %

Mr. Joseph Jackson at one time went to Bangor with a horse,
and bought four bushels of corn. Finding this too much load
for his horse, he shouldered one bushel himself, and putting three
bushels on. his horse, in this manner transported his corn to his
home, a distance of fifty miles.

One spring, Deacon Goodell, after preparing his land for a
crop, was without a sufficient quantity of seed. So, leaving his


home early in the morning, he went to Sangervill'e, a distance of
at least ten miles, and purchased Four bushels of wheat. This he
put in two bags, and shouldering one of them started for home.
When he grew weary with his load, he laid it down beside the
path and rested himself while returning for the other bag. This
he carried past the first, and again recuperated, his strength while
going back for the other bag of grain. Thus alternating between
carrying his load and returning for the same, he reached his
home the evening of the same day ; having traveled on foot not
less than forty miles, and one-half of fche distance with two
bushels of wheat on his back. This seems almost incredible, and
I would not relate it here were it not so well authenticated as to
leave in ray mind no doubt of its truth.

In the autumn of 1S'22, Hiram Vinton and Abel Janes, after
spending the summer here, started for their homes in Massa-
chusetts. They walked to Hallowed, where they took a boat for
Boston; arriving there they again started on foot. They spent
the night a short distance out of Boston. In the morning,
starting before light, they walked to Worcester, a distance of
thirty-five miles, before breakfast. Then stopping to buy some
gingerbread, they kept on their way, eating as they went. Mr.
Janes stopped in Brimfield, having walked only about sixty-four
miles, and just as the shades of night were coming on, Mr. Vinton
reached the village of Monson, having gone on foot during the
day, seventy-five miles.

Quite a number of families have lived in houses where only
part of the roof was shingled ; with only a part, and perhaps
none, of the ground covered with a floor ; and with no windows, the
light coming in through the cracks or through oiled paper. I
have heard my mother say that many times, while in her bed, she
lias looked out through the cracks in the sides of the house and
seen the stars. I might multiply these instances of hardship and
privation on the part of the early inhabitants of this town, but
these are sufficient to show us something of the difficulties to be
overcome in the settlement of a new place fifty years ago.

Half a century has passed since our town commenced its
existence, and what mighty changes have taken place within


those fifty years. In the world of letters And of science, great
advancement has been witnessed; discoveries and inventions
have been made, which would have been pronounced impossible
by our fathers. The application of steam to machinery has
wrought a complete revolution in the method of traveling, both
by hind and by water, ami also in many of the manufacturing
interests of our country. The electric telegraph now, on light-
ning's wings conveys, from shore to shore, and from land to
land, the intelligence, which fifty years ago was weeks or months
in being transmitted. The implements used by our fathers in
agricultural and manufacturing pursuits, have long since been laid
aside as useless, and others, vastly superior both in appearance
and utility, have taken their places.

In the moral sentiments of the community, changes no less
important or noticeable have taken place. Fifty years ago, and
scarcely one, even in our own New England, had ventured to
raise his voice against that oppression which was even then
working for the destruction of our political and religious institu-
tions. Fifty years ago, and no one thought it any harm to use as
a beverage, intoxicating drinks; it was only the man who became
entirely drunk that was supposed to be in any danger; the
moderate and careful use of alcoholic drinks was then thought to
be not only harmless but absolutely necessary. In these and
many other matters, great changes for the better have been made.

It is true, that we cannot speak of growth in population or in
wealth, in any measure equal to that of many places, especially
of many parts of the western portion of our country. In the
rural towns of New England, growth in these respects is com-
paratively slow. There is in most of these towns — and that has
always been the case with us — a constant drain of the population
going to occupy the rich fields that are ever opening in the far
West, and inviting our young men to come and occupy them. A
very large portion of those who have been reared in our town
have gone to other parts of the land and some to foreign countries,
to find for themselves homes, while those that have remained and
those who have come among us, have but little more than kept



good the population of the place*. This constant emigration of
our citizens, and especially of the young, seems discouraging ; but
we do well to remember that they are gone to exert an influence
upon the character of the communities where they dwell; and
many of them are helping to form'the sentiment of the young
and rapidly growing places in our western States. Thus is the
circle of influence which pervades our own and most New England
towns, extending itself and being felt all over the land.

I have often wondered what would be the condition and the
prospects of our western States, if the influences which have gone
and are continually going from New England, were cut off. We
have been considering the condition of our town fifty years ago,
and comparing in our minds then with now. Let us look forward
as far as we are able into the years to come, and ask ourselves
what shall be the future of our community? It is for us largely
to shape the destinies, and to mould the characters of our posterity.
We have received a rich legacy from our fathers, not of gold and
of silver, but rather of piety and of true moral worth. This it is
for us to hand down to our posterity, unimpaired and improved.
If we cultivate those virtues, and imitate those traits of character
which we admire in those who have gone before us, then may we^
expect that those who shall come after us will cherish our memories
with affection, and be made better by striving to imitate our

Fifty years hence, and who will be the actors on the stage of
life in this place ? This we cannot tell; but of this much there
can be but little doubt: the voice that now addresses you, and
most of the ears that now listen to me, will be still and dull in
death. We shall most of us have passed away, and others will
have taken our places. The seasons will come and go, the sun
will shine as brightly and the showers descend as softly as now.
The earth will annually yield its reward to the toiling husband-
men, but another generation will reap the fruits of the earth and
rejoice in the beauties of nature and the bounties of Providence,
while we shall be sleeping in our graves and our names perhaps
almost forgotten. But the influence of our lives will still live.


Rev. A. II. Tyler and Hon. S. A. Patten, followed the address

with happy and appropriate remarks, alluding to the christian
character of the early settlers, and the results of their teaching
upon the present generation.

TV". S. Knowlton set the house in good humor by reading the
following poem :


Would you of the old times hear,
The times of Auld Lang Syne ?
When gloomy forests, dark and drear
With spruce and hemlock, birch and pine,
Were hiding place for deer and moose,
And wolf and bear and " luncumsloose ? "
Where now your happy dwellings are
With pastures, fields and gardens fair ?
Would you like to hear the story
How they fought their savage foes
Till with blood the shirt was gory
Killing fleas and musquitoes ?

Their homes they built within the wood,
Where lofty pine in beauty stood ;
Beside the lake, whose foamy spray-
Like bridal vail hung o'er the way ;
Where oft, with line and baited hook,
To tempt the froutlet from its nook,
They sought relief from every care,
But oftener sought a breakfast there.

Well, listen now and I will tell,

How each performed his labor ;
How uncle Joseph dug his well

For every friend and neighbor.

From early dawn till darkness set,

They heard his pickax go ;
Not fast enough to make him sweat,

But force in every blow.


So, when a neighbor was athirst, '

In dubious hesitation
He sent for uncle Royal first,

To make examination.

He felt Dame nature's beating pulse,

To find her water courses,
And made, with pliant hazel sprout,

A sort of "diagnosis."

And when he'd found the jugular,

Straight to the fountain leading,
Good unele Joe would seize the bar,

And soon would set it bleeding.

For uncle James they next would go;

He'd put a pump within it.
Zounds! how the water it would throw —

A barrel in a minute.

How uncle Ben the mail "put through ;"

Was coach and horse and driver too ;

And how, for miles, at night and morn,

Tie waked the babies with his horn —

Bought sugar, tea and household stuff,

Tobacco, pipes, and spice and snuff

For all the town, then homeward tramped in happy glee,

And echoes waked with sweet "Dundee."

How uncle O r sold rum,

Tobacco, gin and candy,
Bought shingles, clapboards, wheat and gum,

And paid for them in brandy.
He never aid to runners lent,

But bought his goods in "Bostin,"
And always thought that three per cent.

Meant three times what they cost him.

Their luxuries were scant and few,
But they would .sit and chew and chew


And chow spruce gum, at work or play,

From early dawn to close of day;

And then to bed reluctant creep

And lie and chew themselves to sleep.

So when a lover went to see

Sweet Sally Jane, or Naomi,

She always smiled to see him come

If he had pockets filled with gum.

And they would sit and chew and talk,

And "cuds" of gum would slily "swop."

And how those awful "tything men,"

With faces puritanic,

The idle boys and godless men

Dispersed in sudden panic.

And if a beau by chance was seen

With her he most did care for,

They sternly asked " Where have you been ? "

"And what have you been there for?"

They gave their children scripture names,

Rebecca, Ruth and Hannah,

Xehemiah, Solomon and James,

Naomi and Susanna.

And sometimes I have heard them tell

What things at raisings oft befel,

What piles of pork and beans they'd eat,

And pumpkin pies and pounds of meat,

How they would wrestle, dance and jump,

And use the jug much more than pump.

If right my memory serves me still,

It took a drink to lay the sill,

Two drinks to raise a post upright,

One to lift and one to sight.

To raise a beam they needed two

To keep their nerves both staunch and true,

And every rafter you must see


Required not less than two'or three.
Thus when they'd got the ridge-pole up,
They had to tip the jug straight up.
And once when they'd the building raised,
A liking took to husking maize,
And so they cut the half-ripe corn,
And husked and danced till early dawn,
But then they found by break of day
The cobs were much less corned than they.

The hoys were taught to chop and hoe,
To hold the plough, to reap and mow,
To ride the colt, the steers to break,
To use and not to play the rake,
To pile and burn, and "spud in" corn,
And rise from bed at early dawn
To tend the pigs, and cows and flock,
And go to bed at eight o'clock,
And ne'er allowed to " sparking" run
Till they arrived at twenty-one.
But when a lover felt at last
An awful longing for a las-,
He'd first to ma' and daddy hie
> With blushing cheek and sheepish eye,

And ask, as though in colic pain,
"Please — Sir — may — I — have Sally Jane?"

The girls were taught to knit and sew,

To card the wool, and spin the tow,

And weave the dress they wore to dance,

Or Church, or school, and when, perchance,

A lover called, as sweetly looked in homespun tow

As costly silk or calico.

They tied their hair up in a knot,

Each satisfied with what she'd got,

And never tried their looks to spoil,

By " rats" or "mice " or " waterfall.''


They milked the cow and butter make,
In haying helped the old man rake;
Drop all the corn and pumpkin seed,
The hens, and ducks, and goslings feed.
They'd on old Dolly's bare back hop,
Take her to mill or blacksmith shop;
And then to qnil tings how they flocked;
Of household 'fairs so glibly talked —
How many skeins had Betsey spun !
What awful washings Jane had done!
How many turkeys they had got
Besides the ten a skunk had caught.
Much better thus the time to spend,
Than whispering scandal of a friend.

Thomas N. Lord, Preceptor of the Academy, who had been
engaged to prepare a poem for the occasion, remarking that ill
health had prevented him from preparing such a production aa
he had intended, read the following poem on Life :


The firmament above to firmament
Beneath permits, at God's command, the
Lain to fall. The venerable hill, stretching
Its cloud-capt summit heavenward, detains
Ere is begun its course, the water drop,
And into that channel to man's mind
Comprehensible directs it. To the
Hidden spring it hies its way, and there finds
The starting point of its terrestrial
Pilgrimage. Mingling and commingling with
Its kind, it is now one of the ocean bound
Necessities; teaching to man the fact
That the mighty whole is of little things
Composed. And small the beginning
Of mighty results. Such, methinks, is man's beginning.
From the same source he springs, and by the same


Direction finds himself at the source of
Life's boundless ocean — Eternity. Through the rivulet
Of childhood, over sandy and flower strewn
Courses; through the shady nook which
Shields from the sun's too hot rays ; protected
From circumstances too harsh and grating,
That no compunctious visitings of Nature
Rest too heavily upon it ; by its
Surroundings admired for its purity,
Smoothly it glides on, all too rapidly,
Its waters, unnoticed, flowing into and
Mysteriously disappearing in the more
Turbulent waters of Youth. Here it is
Dashed about and thrown on rocks that
Fain would stop its course. But still onward,
Over fall and cascade, into eddies where it
Would glad remain and bask in the sun-
Light of misconceived happiness. But its '
Mission is unperformed, and again !
It is whirled into the resistless tide, and beneath
The surface of manhood, where alternately
It laughs and moans beneath its burden, and
With less of novelty it among its kindred passes.
Manifold and varied
In its course, are its constant changes,
Till nearing the mouth of Life's river, it
Finds tranquility. More smoothly runs its
Tide, broader its expanse, widening for
The fuller and more complete crystal drop
That shall so soon enter the broad, boundless
Deep, where Humanity, forgetful of
Itself, shall burst into fullness of glory.
As the drop upon the mountain top, whose
Cradle is the fountain, seeks for its bed —
The ocean, so man, cradled in the arms
Of Time seeks rest, and at last pillows


His head confidently at his journey's
End and sleeps lulled by the tide ripple
Of Eternity.

Anecdotes of the early settlers, pioneer life, and " ye olden
tyme" Avere related by J. D. Jackson, Dea. Cushman and Joseph

The choir, assisted by many of the old singers, enlivened the
occasion by singing the grand old tunes of "Hallowell, New
Jerusalem," &c, and closed the exercises, in the hall, by singing
" America".

The audience were then invited to the room below, and partook
of an old-fashioned supper, prepared by the ladies of the place.
After the guests had indicated their appreciation of the repast
in a satisfactory manner, toasts were drank, responses made, and
good cheer abounded.

Notwithstanding the bad condition of the roads, the attendance
was very good ; and each one felt that the occasion had been one
lomr to be remembered.


Names of those who entered the Army from the town of
monson during the rebellion, 1861-1865.
t John H. Andrews, George F. Dearborn,

Elias T. Andrews, Charles E. Dearborn,

|| Thomas Arnold, Wm. H. Dermott,

George H. Bray, * Ezekiel Elliott,

|| Daniel C. Brazier, Henry M. Folsom,

Wm. Buck, Jr., Thomas W. Flint,

* Wm. H. Buck, || Frank Gates,

•Killed in battle or died from effects of wounds received in battle,
t Sickened and died while in service.
t Reached home to die.
II Wounded in the service.



John Chick,
|| Morrill G. Curtis,
% David S. Curtis,
|| Rufus G. Curtis, Jr.,

Daniel Cunningham,
| Albert W. Chapin,
* George II. Cushman,
| Moses G. Colomy,

Charles E. Coloiny,
f Eben P. Davis,
|| George A. Davis,

George Doughty,

Henry A. Ilussey,

Henry Iliggins,

Lloyd Howard,
|| Bradish B. Jackson,
| John II. Jackson,

Joseph T. Jackson,
*Favel B. Jackson,

Albert F. Jackson,

Thomas W. Knight,

Jack Lam out,

Joseph Lambert, Jr.,
. Charles II. Lord,
*Almon C." Morton,

John MeDermott,

Daniel McKcnney,

John II. McKenney,
f Granville McKenney,

W. D. McKenney,
t Cyrus McKenney,

|| Charles A. Gates,

f Dexter Goodwin,

Samuel Goodwin,

Albert Goodwin,

t f George Goodwin,

Stinson Goodwin.

Merritt Goodwin,

Abram Coding,
|| Ilermon R. Green,

Tliaddeus Green,
||M.'ircellus W.Hall,

Jeremiah Hill,

Sylvan us B. Macomber,
f Melvnnder Packard,

Simeon D. Packard,
f Orin Piper,
t Simon D. Ranlett,
% Seth W. Roberts,

Adelbert A. Simonds,

Edwin C. Stanchfield,

John C. Stanchfield,
t Mark P. Steward,

Moses Steward,
* John M. Steward,

Brown B. Steward,
|| Sylvanus B. Steward,
t William P. Steward,

Seth W. Steward,
f Edward P. Scales,
|| Win. T. Sibley,

Nathaniel Swett,
|| Robert T. Thomas,

Adoniram J. Townes,

John Tebbetts, Jr.,

George W. Tebbetts,
|| Thomas A. Trask,

Charles A. Went worth,
f Dennis II. Witham,

Win. Watt.








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Online LibraryMe MonsonSemi-centennial address of Chas. Davison, poems → online text (page 3 of 4)