Otis Olney Wright.

History of Swansea, Massachusetts, 1667-1917; online

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him living on the third floor, west side of the east entrance of Hoi worthy
Hall, in which in those days only seniors were allowed to room.. During his
college course the Doctor was elected a member of the Phi Beta Kappa
Society for his rank in his studies. For diligence in his studies he was given
a "detur, " two volumes of Burns' poems. At one of the annual class
exhibitions he read an original Latin Oration, and at another a Latin
translation; and he took a prominent part in the commencement exercises
of his class. While he was a junior he was present the first time that " Fair
Harvard" was sung. This was at the celebration of the two hundredth
anniversary of the founding of the college, in 1836. He was also present at
the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary in 1886 and has attended com-
mencement whenever he could, being present when his grandson was in
college in 1900.

In 1842 Dr. Wellington graduated from the Harvard Medical School,
where he was a student under Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, In the summer
school of that institution his instructors were Drs. Holmes, Bigelow,
Reynolds, and Storer. During his course in the Medical School he was a
member for two years of the Boston Cadets.

Preferring not to settle in his native town. Dr. Wellington came to
Swansea in 1842, and was associated with Dr. Artemas Z. Brown, whose
wife was Dr. Wellington's sister. At that time there were only six doctors

Personal Sketches 229

in Fall River, where now more than a hundred successful physicians are
located. In the summer of 1 846 Dr. Wellington took the place of a physician
in Templeton while the latter enjoyed a short vacation, and the
people there were so pleased with his work that they wanted him to stay,
but he still did not wish to practice in the town where his childhood had
been passed, and thus interfere with his friend the Templeton physician,
so he returned to Swansea, where for seventy-four years he made his home.
During the lirst year he rode horse-back carrying the traditional leather
saddlebags with his stock of medicines ; later he used a chaise, and still later
a buggy. On the removal of Dr. Brown to Cambridge, Dr. WeUington
succeeded to a practice which extended for miles around into the towns of
Fall River, Somerset, Rehoboth, Seekonk, Dighton, Mass., and Warren,
and Barrington, R. I., and in all those towns he was the famiUar and wise
councilor, a true representative of that fast disappearing but beloved and
useful type, the family physician. He was a natural mechanic, of the
inventive sort; and to meet the necessities of certain cases in which surgical
operations were urgent, in the earher years of his practice, before the day
of perfected instruments, he anticipated some of the later inventions by
making for his own use such implements as served his purpose. He con-
tinued to practice until 1904, having Served most faithfully in his pro-
fession for sixty -two years; and during the later years of his work, four
good horses were necessary to take him to his patients.

August 7, 1845, Dr. Wellington married Charlotte Sisson, a native of
Warren, R. I., born Aug. 19, 1825, who died June 30, 1881. Their children
were: Arthur Wellesley, born Nov. 4, 1846; Helen Lloyd, Oct. 31, 1847;
Julia Russell, Jan. 3, 1849; William Henry, April 9, 1861; and Charles,
Aug. 27, 1864 (died May 20, 1866). Of these Arthur Wellesley married
Jan. 17, 1877, Nellie (Ellen) Read Mason, and has a son, Charles Fred-
erick, born Dec. 4, 1877, who graduated from Harvard University, 1900;
and William Henry married, Oct. 12, 1887, Ethelyn Rounseville Allen, and
they have had five children: Charlotte Sisson, (born May 26, 1888, died
Aug. 26, 1888), Lloyd Allen, (born Oct. 3, 1890, died Sept. 11, 1891), Roger,
(born June 16, 1894. died Dec. 3, 1900), Rosamond B. (born Oct. 18, 1901),
and Reginald G. (born Jan. 8, 1905). From 1840 to 1842 Dr. Wellington
was assistant surgeon to the 7th Massachusetts Infantry; and during the
Civil war was examining surgeon for recruits. He was a member of the
Massachusetts Medical Society, and of the Bristol County Medical Society.
In poUtics a Repubhcan. He was also an honored member of the Harvard
club of Fall River. Among his treasured relics is his christening cap, em-
broidered by his mother. He died February 11, 1916, in his 99th year.

The venerable Doctor left a Ust of eleven families which he had served
four generations; six, for five generations; two six generations, and one
seven generations. It is estimated that he was present at 3,000 births. He
had owned 100 horses, sometimes having five in his stable at once; and
that he had ridden at least 250,000 miles, in his practice; occasionally
covering sixty miles in a day. November, 1915, he went to the polls, and
cast his ballot for Governor the 76th consecutive year. On the 98th
anniversary of his birth, Jan. 27, 1916, he received callers as usual, and was
the recipient of many tokens of admiration and affection.

Mason Barney

Few hving can recall Mason Barney to mind with his peculiar voice
full of impatient energy, his sharp brusque manner, and his wiry powerful

In 1802 he built his first vessel a sloop of about 50 tons. He was only

230 History of Swansea

19 years of age, a fact which renders his enterprise extraordinary and all
the more so, as he was not a practical shipwright. No doubt he saw the
advantage of the situation, surrounded as the place was by a forest of
heavy timber, from which the entire frame work was easily obtained, and
for years he used this timber for his vessels, but at a later date he received
some portion of it from a distance by water.

His operations extended from the time of his first venture to about
1861, a period of 59 years, during which he annually sent down stream
crafts of various sizes — in some seasons only one, but oftener two or three.
In 1829 he built the ship Warren of 383 tons. This was looked upon as so
large a vessel that some anxiety was felt as to the difficulty of getting her
down the crooked channel, and finaUy got stuck in the draw way of Kelly's
Bridge (Warren) and lay there a week or two, delaying travel by the old
stage route between W^arren and Providence. In 1831 the brig "Whim"
was built and owned by Capt. Lee of Warren and was considered the
fastest vessel of her time hailing from any Rhode Island port. She traded to
the coast of Africa and was afterwards sold there. The ship " Luminary " of
432 tons, owned in Warren and intended for the whahng business was
launched in 1832. She was regarded as a monster, being the largest vessel
which the obscure shipyard in the woods had up to that period sent down
the so-called eel track. But the tonnage of Mason Barney's new ventures
increased from year to year, and in 1839 he launched the ship "Ocean" of
566 tons. This was commanded by Capt. Gardner Willard of Bristol. The
last vessel launched was a ship of 1023 tons, and it appears that while the
earlier craft, which was much smaller, had great difficulty in getting down
stream, the later and larger ones went somewhat easier.

It was interesting to w atch the progress of any one of these new vessels
as they were slowly worked along from day to day, in a channel sometimes
hardly wider than herself. It might be a Providence ship Uke the Oroon-
dates, or the Carrington or it might be a Boston or New York craft which
to the beholder on shore would loom up, morning and evening for a week
or fortnight apparently in the same position, getting clear from one mud
bank only to become fast on another. The intricles of the channel were
generally staked out, but this did not obviate the difficulty, when the ship
was deeper than the water.

Finally the big new ship would be floated down to some Warren wharf,
there to receive her spars and be rigged from deck to truck, prepeiratory to
being sent to her owners in Providence, Boston or New York as the case
might be.

The only spar which the new vessel brought down with her was the
bowsprit, all the others being hauled to W arren by ox or horse power. Such
was the story of many a tall ship, perhaps in a few months to be reported
off the Naze of Norway or far up the Mediterranean or beating against the
monsoon in the China Sea.

So the "Bungtown" ships as they were called, issuing from the marshes
and making their way to deeper and clearer waters, were to be found in
every port of the navigable globe and the name of Mason Barney became
as familiar along the Atlantic seaboard from Boston to New York as was
his stout sinewy figure to the people of his immediate locality, where he
hustled about in his "one horse shay. " The names of his crafts sometimes
suggested their local origin as in the case of the brig Miles, afterwards
rigged into a ship — a remembrance of the good old pioneer minister and of
MUes' bridge. There were the Mason Barney, the Esther G. Barney and
the Mary R. Barney — all of which carried the stars and stripes to distant

The launching of a ship which was then considered to be so large, drew
hundreds of spectators from the neighboring towns.

Personal Sketches 231

So the ship building went on until the breaking out of the Rebellion,
when the stirring sounds of axe and mallet that had so long enlivened the
Barney ville marshes were silenced forever, and there remains nothing now
to tell of the activity which once prevailed there.

James H. Mason

James Harding Mason, son of Olney and LiUis (Pierce) Mason, was
born in Swansea, August 18, 1817. He learned the trade of wheelwright.
He married Mary E., daughter of the Hon. George S. and Betsy (Nichols)
Austin; and their children were Frederick A., George Eugene; and Ellen
Beed who married Arthur W. Welhngton, and they are the parents of
Charles Frederick, mentioned in the Wellington family records. About
1844 he was chosen selectman, and served three years. He removed to
Taunton soon after, where he resided until 1867, when he returned to
Swansea Village where he worked at his trade, having a shop near Gray's
Corner, until an advanced age. He was many years engaged in the public
affairs of the town, being selectman from March 1869, until March 1891;
and the last 16 years he was Chairman of the Board — the longest term
known in the history of the Town. He was also tax-collector several years,
and in 1882, he represented the (Tenth Bristol) district, of which Swansea
was a part, in the legislature of the Commonwealth.

He died in Swansea, June 11, 1893. In his church affiliations he was
associated with the IJniversalist Chapel at Hortonville.

Hon. Frank Shaw Stevens

On Aug. 5, 1827 there was born in Rutland Vermont to Chauncy and
Lucinda Stevens a child who in his maturer years became the fedthful
adopted son of this town.

Frank Shaw Stevens, the subject of this sketch, saw for the first time
the old ]New England Village of Swansea on Christmas morning 1858
coming from California with his wife, who was a native of this town, and
living here until the time of his death April 25, 1898 — a period of nearly
two score years.

Varied and unusual influences in the life of Mr. Stevens made a man
quite unlike a bred New Englander.

When the great gold fever of '49 swept over the country his young
blood responded to the challenge and he was among the first of the Argo-
nauts to cross the Plains leaving his home in Westfield, N. Y., and making
his way with other seekers of gold over the Lakes down the Mississippi and
up the Missouri to Omaha in a stream craft — thence across the Plains and
over the Bockies by saddle and the "Prarie Schooner" to Sacramento — a
journey of four months.

Many were the thrilling phases of California hf e in those days ! Dagger
and revolver were as essential to a man's equipment as pick and spade.

Mr. Stevens was a member, probably one of the organizers, of the
renowned Vigilance Committee of San Francisco, an organization that in
1851 owed its conception to the absence of effective protective laws. It
held in its hands legislative, judicial and executive powers. Its history is
a brief and thrilling one.

The gold fields did not long hold the attention of our young pioneer.
His love of horses was a stronger influence^and we find.he drove with his own
hand the first mail stage between Sacramento and Portland Oregon, and
in 1854 became the Vice-President of the Consolidated California Stage

232 History of Swansea

Company. Four years later he came to Swansea. The rural village offered
few opportunities to a Californian of those days and Mr. Stevens' natural
activity found a field for expression in the neighboring city of Fall River
and he soon became associated with its business interests, filling important
positions both as banker and manufacturer.

After a residence of twenty-six yeeirs in this town he was elected to the
Massachusetts Senate. It was said of him he had a rare combination of the
qualities which go to the making of a good legislator. He was at the head
of the committee on Federal Relations and practically shaped the pohcy
of the other important committees on Banks and Harbors of which he was
a member.

A memorial tribute paid him by a vote of the delegates of the fifteen
corporations of Fall River with which he was identified as President,
Treasurer and Trustee, perhaps, is a fitting close to this personal sketch : —

"Mr. Stevens was a man of marked individuahty, strong force of
character, uncommon business sagacity and of spotless integrity; a man of
generous impulses, of broad hberahty and systematic benevolence.

For a third of a century he had been largely interested in the
great industries of Fall River. From his wide and varied experience and
extended business interests he erected in this community a potent influence
for good and in his death it has sustained an irreparable loss.

We, his surrounding associates, appreciated the value of his wise
counsels and were often assisted through troublesome perplexities by his
cheery and inspiring personality, and have profited by his sound judgment,
executive abiUty — and clear business insights."

Mr. Stevens' wife died in 1871. In 1873 he was married to Elizabeth
Richmond Case, who is living at this writing, (1917). She and her sister
Mary A. Case, natives of this town are the surviving children of Joseph
and Eliza Gray Case and the eighth generation from William Case
who came from England in the seventeenth century and in this locality
he and many of his hneal descendants have hved.

The genealogy of the Case family from this ancestor is: William II
whose wife was Abigail; William III whose wife was Francis Davis;
WiUiam IV (1730-1777) was a resident of East Greenwich, F. I., and his
wife was Abigail Bell (1735-1836); his son was Joseph Case (1757-1843)
and his wife was Jane Kelton (1760-1843) and his son was Aaron Case
(1788-1871) and his mother was Lovina Pierce. (1792-1870). The last
named were the Grandparents of Mrs. Stevens and Miss Case. On the
maternal side they are the great grandchildren of Col. Peleg Sherman of the
Continental Army. His services to the Town are recorded in another place
in this history.



THERE are many points of interest in this town which are
upon the line of the electrics and others which can be easily
visited in that way, but are more remote. Near the Somer-
set line is Lee's landing, where shipbuilding was once carried on
to a small extent. Soon we come to "Eben Sherman's Hill,"
from the summit of which there is a fine view of the river and
surrounding country. Abram's Rock is a large boulder north
of the village. It commands a view of Mt. Hope bay with
Mount Hope in the distance. The rock stands as a sentinel
over the village. The oaks at its base whisper of the Indians
who once trod the ground beneath them or rested under their
shade. Philip himself might have rested here when hard
pressed by his enemies. Farther than eye can reach were the
lands of Massasoit. The legend which has been handed down
to us with other folklore is this: Many years ago a poor Indian
who deserted his tribe came to this settlement and made his
abode among the inhabitants. For some time he lived here at
peace, but King Philip, fearing the Indian was treacherous,
resolved to take him prisoner and Abram sought this rock for
a hiding-place. On the west side is a room formed by rocks,
which is still called "Abram's bedroom." He is supposed to
have lived here for some months, when the traits of his
people, perseverance and cunning, proved too much for him,
and he was captured. Then he was given a chance for his life.
The verdict was "death at the stake or three leaps from the
top of the rock to the ground below. " He took advantage of
his chance and the legend states that the first and second leaps
were safely made, but the third proved fatal. It is also said
that a white child was born here in later years.

This is today a simple New England village. There have
been many changes in recent years. It would be hard to find a
locality more pleasant, with its streets bordered by the stately
elms forming arches overhead. A blessing should be daily
breathed upon those who planted them. The beautiful church.
Town hall and library all speak of the generosity of their donor,
the late Hon. Frank S. Stevens. In the church are many
memorials to departed friends. In the Town Hall is the tablet
prepared with so much care by Job Gardner, South Swansea.
This tablet of white marble with gilt letters bears the names of
22 patriots of Swansea who served in the Civil war, one who

236 History of Swansea

served in the war of 1812 and four who served in the War of the
Revolution. Therecordof King Philip's war, 1675, is: * 'To the
memory of the brave men who fell in the war with King Philip.
Their names are unknown, but their deeds are not forgotten. "

A shield is placed at the top bearing the motto: "Not for
conquest, but for country." This tablet was erected by the
Town of Swansea in 1896, with appropriate ceremonies. The
public library contains about 8,000 volumes and has a yearly
circulation of more than 10,000.

In the village, near Gray's corner, is a house owned by
Mrs. Frank S. Stevens, said to be over 250 years old. Town
meetings were held in this house in early days. An old tavern
once stood near here where the passengers from the stage coach,
running between Providence and Fall River, were transferred
for Somerset and Taunton.

At Milford was formerly an old tavern. The property
here is now mostly owned by the Braytons of Fall River.

At Swansea Centre are the Christian church and the car
bam of the Providence and Fall River street railway.

Further on is Mason's corner. Nearby was Graham's
tavern, where a change of horses was made in the time of the
stage. Next Myles' River Bridge is passed, and in this locaHty
was the old garrison house of John Myles, in which Mr. Myles
lived at the time of attack on Swansea by King Philip's
warriors, June 24, 1675.

At South Swansea was another garrison house of stone
which was ocupied by Jared Bourne in 1675. This was about
one-half mile north from the South Swansea station and was on
land now owned by Miss Annie Bird. In the meadow is the old
garrison spring. This locality lying between Cole's and Lee's
Rivers was in colonial times called Mattapoiset, later Gard-
ner's Neck. This part of the town once contained only
ancestral farms, but has in later years been built up by
summer residents. Some of these, however, have permanent
homes there now.

If one has an affinity for the old cemeteries, one is found
at the east of the bleachery on the brow of a hill where bush
and briar have over-grown the graves therein. Here he Dr.
Ebenezer Winslow and Ehzabeth, his wife, also Dr. John
Winslow, names which have been household words to old resi-
dents for many years. There also is the name of Peleg Eddy,
who died in Surinam in 1758, aged 32 years. In the cemetery
at rear of Town hall is the monument erected to the memory of
Rev. Aaron L. Balch, who died at the age of 37, and was for six
years a preacher of the "everlasting gospel." One inscription
here reads: "In memory of Mr. John Trott, died June 25,

Tree Where Roger Williams Found Shelter

Dorothy Brown Lodge Hall

Places of Interest 237

1824. Aet. 90. Nantucket gave him birth, Warren death, and
Swansey a grave."

On visiting Christ Church cemetery we find the graves of
Col. Peleg Shearman of Revolutionary time and Richard
Altham, who was a member of the 26 Mass. Regt. Co. C, dur-
ing the Civil War. On the Wood monument is the name of
Capt. Levi S. Wood, 10th 111. Cavalry, 1861-1863, who was
buried at Iron Mt., Mo. In a small cemetery at the rear of
Royal Fisk's house on the Hortonville road, is a stone.


to the Memory of

Col. Peleg Slade,

who was a kind Husband,

and tender Parent, and a

warm friend to his Country,

he was called upon to

fill many Important

OfiBces of Town and State,

then died in peace,
Dec. 28th, 1813. Aged 84

Near the Baptist Church at North Swansea is an old
cemetery said to contain some of the victims of King Phihp*3
war. A stone here has the inscription: "Here lies ye son of
Jerimiah and Submit Pearse died June 20, 1731 in ye 14 year of
his age and ye first buried in this burying place. "

Near the Rhode Island and Massachusetts line on the
Warren road was the boyhood home of Hezekiah Butterworth.
Here in later years he built a Queen Anne cottage. The poet
and author was a lover of Swansea.

A party of Fall River boys who with Orrin A. Gardner
made the trip to Washington in April 1915, held a reunion tramp
Saturday afternoon, June, 1916, starting from Touisset. They
first went to " Riverby, " where they were told about the begin-
ning of King Philip's war. The house at "Riverby" now
stands on the spot where the first house burned by the Indians
in that war then stood. According to traditions, the house
stood on an old Indian cemetery, and the Indians had become
very much incensed about it. Hugh Cole, the owner, was a
friend of King Philip, who had held them back from injuring
him. Finally he told Mr. Cole that he could hold them back
no longer, and advised him to flee. Mr. Cole and his family
started down Cole's River on a raft, and when they were about
opposite the present home of Jefferson Borden, they looked

238 History of Swansea

back and saw their house in flames. The old copper kettle
that was thrown into the well at the time was recovered several
years after. The farm at "Riverby" remained in the Cole
family, and no deed, except the one signed by the Indians
giving the place to Mr. Cole, was ever passed until the farm
was sold to the present owner, Henry A. Gardner, in 1874.

At "Riverby" the boys also saw a chair that was in the
church at Monmouth the day before the battle of Monmouth.
The chair was removed the night before the battle, and on the
day of the battle, the church, and everything that had been in
it, except the chair was burned.

The boys next visited the noted rocks and other points of
interest in Swansea, first going to Hiding Rock, where during
the Revolutionary war some of the Gardners who lived at
Touisset (the old Indian name for *'Land of Corn") and the
Luthers, who lived at Swansea Center and who were loyal
Englishmen, or Tories, hid, as they did not want to fight the
rebels, and their wives brought them food while they were
hidden. The next rock was where Uncle Jeremy Brown wrote
his verses so well known to the men and women of Swansea
200 years ago. He used to go to this rock and compose his
poetry standing on its topmost pinnacle, and reciting it in a
loud voice ; then he would go back to the house and write it.
The boys went past the old cemetery, where he, with one of the
passengers on the Mayflower, is supposed to lie buried.

Stopping at the home of Mr. Maker who is known all over
the country for his herb medicines, they were shown the old
house now nearly 225 years old, and in which can be seen the old
beams hewn from the oak forest that was then in front of the
place where the house now stands. The old brick oven is still
there, and the old fireplace, to which yokes of oxen used to draw
the logs, yawned at the boys as they did at the Indian visitors
200 years ago. The boys were much interested in the wonder-
ful collection of Indian arrow heads exhibited by Mr. Maker.
It is probably the largest one in New England, outside of a
museum. Their walk then took them to "Devil's Walk."
Here in solid rock can be seen what is said to be the devil's
footprints. The boys trieftl their own feet in them and were

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