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work were taken by those who chose to buy them, and some of them now
adorn fine houses in Sharon, Conn. At last it became unsafe, and its walls
were partly torn down, to reappear in the buildings of the Hotchkiss School.
The sight of the pathetic ruin must bring regret to every lover of colonial
homesteads and of our historic mementos.

Another lawyer of genius and eccentricity was Colonel Adonijah Strong,
a pupil of Swift. Stories still linger of his rather boisterous wit. His suc-
cessor in his profession and ability was his son, the Hon. Martin Strong, whose
son, the Hon. Therou Strong, continued the family reputation in the state of
New York. Another pupil of Colonel vStrong, was Joseph Canfield, an able
lawyer, and a noted contemporary of the latter was General Elisha Sterling.
All of these men filled various positions of trust in state affairs many times
and were truly well-tried "public servants."

The medical profession was not left behind in the list of noted men. The
first one to take his rounds over the hills with his saddle-bags was Dr. Solomon
Williams, who probably emigrated from Labanon, Conn. Little is known of
him except that he died in 1757, to be succeeded by another Lebanon man, a
Yale graduate (,1754) Dr. Joshua Porter, whose highly succeshfu! '=ibors in
his profession and in public life made his career a long succession of benefits
to his fellow-citizens. What ceasless energy was his ! For half a century, one
of the best physicians of his time ; during the war, a colonel of militia and
an efficient agent for the Continental Congress; for thirteen years, an Asso-



ciate Judge of the County Court ; for sixteen years, a Chief justice of
the County Court ; for twenty years a Selectman ; for thirty-five years
a Justice of the Peace ; thirty-seven years, Judge of Probate for the
district of Sharon; for fifty-one sessions, from 1764, a member of the As-
sembly, — he yet found time to live ninety-five years, and to be loved and
honored throughout that long period. If anyone did, he must have deserved
a "well done" when he went up higher. Verily, there were giants in those

He is buried in the old cemetery. His house is still standing in Lakeville,
the chimney bearing the date of its erection, 1774. The tall sycamore which
rears its unswerving trunk in front, is one of two trees planted by the doctor
himself. His son, Peter B. Porter, was, with De Witt Clinton, of great in-


flaence in promoting the Eric Canal. His services in the field, in the war of
1812, won for him thanks and medals from Congress, and he was asked by the
President to be commander-in-chief of the army. He was Secretary of War
under President John Ouincy Adams.

Another interesting figure in the medical annals of the town was Dr. Sam-
uel Cowdray, who lived near " Camp's Forge," now Chapinville. He became a
naval surgeon, and was on board the fated " Philadelphia" when she fell into
the hands of the Barbary pirates in those days when their atrocities paralyzed
the powers of Europe. The weary months spent in Tripoli as a slave were
perhaps cheered by the company of another Salisbury man, who was a captive


in Tripoli, and was inspired to describe his sufferings in verse, under the name
of " The Horrors of Slavery."

Three brothers, Caleb, Luther, and Benajah Ticknor, all became doctors
of high repute. The first was interested in the beginnings of a library in
the town, was the author of several medical works, and had a large practice in
New York. Dr. Luther Ticknor remained here, being at one time president
of the State Medical Society, while the third, the oldest of eight children had
a romantic career. A struggle with poverty and with various conditions
antagonistic to the pursuit of knowledge seems to enhance the magnificent
results that he achieved. His extensive travels as a naval surgeon made him
conversant with men and things, and persistent study made him proficeint in
eight languages. He is said to have conversed in Latin with a Hindoo Brah-
min. Neither adversity nor success seemed to diminish his greatest charms,
a benevolent heart and courteous manner.

It was of such times and such people that Dr. Bushnell spoke when he
looked backward from the days of 1851. "If our sons and daughters should
assemble, a hundred years hence, they will scarcely be able to imagine the
Arcadian pictures now so fresh in the memory of many of us, though to the
younger part already matters of hearsay more than of personal knowledge or
remembrance. The spinning wheels of wool and flax that used to buzz so
familiarly in the childish ears of some of us, will be heard no more forever,
seen no more, in fact, save in the halls of Antiquarian Societies, where the
delicate daughters will be asking, what these strange machines are, and how
they were made to go ? The huge, hewn-timber looms, that used to occupy a
room by themselves, in the farmhouses, will be gone, cut up for cord wood, and
their heavy thwack, beating up the woof, will be heard no more by the passer-
by, not even the Antiquarian Halls will find room to harbor a specimen. The
long strips of linen, bleaching on the grass, and tended by a sturdy maiden,
sprinkling them each hour, from her water-can, under a broiling sun, thus to
prepare the Sunday linen for her brothers and her own outfit, will have disap-
peared, save as they return to fill a picture in some novel or ballad of the old
time. The heavy Sunday coats, that grew on sheep individually remembered,
more comfortably carried in warm weather on the arm, and the specially fine-
striped, blue and white pantaloons, of linen just from the loom, will no longer
be conspicuous in the processions of footmen going to meeting, but will have
given place to showy carriages, filled with gentlemen in broadcloth, festooned
with chains of California gold, and delicate ladies holding perfumed sun-
shades. The churches, too, that used to be simple brown meeting-houses, cov-
ered with rived clapboards of oak, will have come down, mostly, from the bleak
hill tops into the close villages and populous towns, that crowd the waterfalls
and the railroads ; and the old burial places, where the fathers sleep, will be
left to their lonely altitude, token, shall be say, of an age that lived as much
nearer to heaven and as much less under the world. Would that we might
raise some worthy monument to a state which is then to be so far passed by,
so worthy in all future time to be held in the dearest reverence."

Dr. Bushnell's prophecies seem a little archaic, but his experience enabled
him to give a sunnier picture of New England life than we see in the heavy
shadows of Miss Wilkins.


And then the Holleys, "shall they be forgot?

Who shall be named, if they're remembered not?
The vigorous offshoots from a sturdy stem, .

Where will you find a brotherhood like them?
Strong as the iron wherein their townsmen deal,

Ay, and as true and springy as the steel.*

Seldom has one family so many able men : Luther Holley, one of the best
specimens of the self-made man, one, too, who could repeat " Paradise Lost"
from memory ; John M., the surveyor ; Rev. Horace Holley, D. D., one of the
most brilliant pulpit orators of Boston, and afterwards the president of Tran-
sylvania University ; Orville, distinguished as a lawyer and editor ; Myron,
lawyer and reformer, of whom it is said that without his great executive
ability, the Erie Canal would have been a failure, and whose work as a pioneer
in the Anti-Slavery work is commemorated by a fine monument at Mount
Hope, Rochester, paid for by one cent contributions of the Liberty Party ;
Governor Alexander Hamilton Holley, who was a landmark in the town and
state for many years ; his son, Alexander Lyman Holley, the metallurgist and
engineer, who introduced to this country the Bessemer process of making steel,
and whose brilliant achievements as a writer, orator, and scientific man made
him famous on two continents.

Salisbury has given us men of note in the educational field, too ; Caleb
Bingham, the compiler of the famous old school reader, "The National
Preceptor ; " the Rev. Chauncey Lee, Professor Church, the mathematician,
of West Point ; Professor Chester Averill, the chemist, of Union College, and
many others. One of the early inhabitants was Sergeant Samuel Moore. His
eldest son and namesake was a famous mathematician in his day, and has the
honor of having written the first American work on surveying, a work long used
and highly esteemed. It was his renown as an instructor in surveying that
brought hither Alexander Hamilton for a brief time of study.

Perhaps, all unconscious of the brilliant career before him, the precocious
youth, who was to win the friendship of that great man who had looked into
surveying, too, in his youth, then gathered some strength from Nature's calm-
ness before the plunge into the whirl of his life. He lived in a small house,
opposite the present house of Mr. Silas Moore, and in the second story front
room, he studied, taking his meals across the street, in a larger house where
Mr. Moore's house stands now, the old house being at present a yellow
barn in the rear. He was to young and undeveloped then for people to think
of laying away wine-glasses and plates as soon as he had touched them as was
already happening with Washington ; but these facts are scrupulously remem-

Salisbury has had its share of the strange and marvelous. Ghosts have
enjoyed the moonlight here with great freedom. The " moving rocks" on the
banks of Washining Lake can probably be explained ; but for the mystery of
the famous stone throwing, no solution has ever been found. On November
8, 1802, suddenly, in the midst of bright days and calm nights, three
houses in Sage's Ravine suffered a bombardment of pieces of mortar, and of
stones of a kind not known in that region, continuing several days and nights,
fifty panes of glass being broken. The direction and violence of the missiles



was such as to forbid the supposition that they had been dropped from the
roof of the house, and although vigilant watch was established, no possible
human agency could be discovered for the attack which seemed to come from
the sunlit air itself with the force of demoniacal possession : and yet, the stones
stopping unaccountably within the limits of the window sills, appeared to be
held in control by the same magic. There was a fine text for the lovers of
blood-curdling imaginary tales, and amply was it "improved."

When the Western Reserve became a subject of popular interest, the men
of Salisbury were especially aroused ; in fact the track was surveyed by
Augustus Porter, a son of Dr. Joshua Porter, one of his assistants being John
M. Holley. The map of Ohio still gives Salisbury reminiscences in the names
of the towns of Canfield and Johnston, in Trumbull county. The Everts
family was prominent there, too.

The name of the town, in spite of a clinging, absurd tradition that it has
given honor to a transient inhabitant, of little importance beyond being con-
victed of murder, seems to be another instance of the fondness of the New
England people for the sweet names of the mother-country. Of all the villages
within the town limits, — Lakeville, Lime Rock, Chapinville, Hammertown,
Ore Hill, — few seem to have had Indian names. On the west bank of the
Housatonic is Weatogue, a repetition of the Weatogue which is a part of Sims-
bury, on the banks of the Farmington. This is sometimes explained by
the flight of Indians friendly to the English, from the center of the state
during King Philip's war, and by their transference of the old name to the
new home ; and sometimes, by an exchange of lands between the settlers.

Salisbury street in not adorned by Stately colonial houses, and yet it has a
self-possessed air, with not a trace of neglect or thriftlessness about its com-
fortable abodes. The arching canopy of trees, that surest mark of a true New
England village, and the well-kept paths make the loiterer quite indifferent
to summer sun or shower. It does not command the far reaching prospect of
meadows and blue hills, or the glint of a parallel-rolling river, but at one end
it is crossed by the generous, sparkling WochocastigoOk, gem of woodland
streams, with its airy bridge, and at the other, the Cobble, a rocky knoll, a
hundred feet high, lures you with its easy nearness, and the imposing front of
Barack Matiff towers over you, bearing aloft its curious cross-shaped tree, and
recalling by its name the fact that there was a large proportion of Dutch fam-
ilies among the early inhabitants. A little upward stroll in the sunset-time
will bring you to lovely harmonies of hill and dale each step disclosing new
beauties. The Ball house, the oldest inhabited one in town, is just in sight,
but is two or three miles away from the street. The house was built by Dea-
con Luke Camp, a pioneer of the town, and a man prominent in church and
town affairs. Lois Camp was born, was married, and always lived in the
house, where she died when very old. Thomas Ball died in 181 2, of a fever
which was epidemic then.

The Vandusens, one of the Dutch families that migrated from New York
in 1720 to Weatogue, and other families, were attached to the Church of Eng-
land ; and after various efforts, their descendants built the tasteful St. John's
Church, in 1824. This "red church." (in village parlance,) and the "white
church," built in 1800, with its harmonious combination of gables, point across
the street to the tiny lock-up, about large enough for a doll's house, but quite


sufficient for the incarceration of transgressors in Salisbury, as the visible
token of the restraining influence of their work ; and a little farther on, the
grey, granite walls of the Scoville ^lemorial Library, make a picture in a
green frame.

Did I say that the shaded street was a trait of a New England village ?
Truly, it is the token of the careful forethought of former generations. The
tasteful modern library might almost as surely be called a hall-mark of a
Connecticut or Massachusetts town, and it tells of the loving remembrance of
the men of to-day.

This library has a history which runs far back of the attractive modern
building. The Englishman, Richard Smith, who was the owner of the ore-bed
before the Revolution, was evidently a man of advanced ideas. He was not
wholly absorbed in mining and money-making ; for he had at least two hun-
dred books sent from England for the beginning of a library ; and he so inter-
ested his neighbors that a Library Association was formed, November 18, 1771.
Thirty-four persons subscribed sums varying from ;£i to ;^5 each. The book
which contains the original agreement and subscriptions of the founders has
been preserved. The diction may seem as old-fashioned as the paper, but the
standard of good citizenship, which led men, within thirty years of their
first struggles with bears and wolves, to contribute money for a public library
can bear comparison with that of the inhabitants of flourishing cities at the
present day.

The preamble is as follows : " Whereas, we the subscribers looking upon it
consistent with our duty to promote and encourage every rational Plan that
may be proposed for the Encouragement of true religion ; for the Promoting
of Virtue, Education and Learning : for the Discouragement of Vice and Im-
morality ; and whereas the fitting up of a Library of Books upon true Piety,
Divinity, &c., hath been proposed by a Number of Gentlemen in this town ;
Taking the above mentioned Plan into Consideration and maturely considering
of the same judge that a Library of Books on Divinity, Philosophy, and
History, &c., may be condusive to bring to pass the above laudable design, we
therefore do, for the obtaining and procuring the said Library, mutually cov-
enant and agree with each other to pay the several sums," etc.

" Signed : Joshua Porter, Nathaniel Evarts, Lot Norton, Samuel Moore,
Jun.," etc.

A generation passed, and a native of Salisbury, the Caleb Bingham before
mentioned, once the owner of the farm between the lakes which was after-
wards the home of Mr. Frederick Miles, removed to Boston, and from his new
home, in January, 1803, he sent back a token of interest in the form of one
hundred and fifty books, which formed the " Bingham Library for Youth."
Thus :Mr. Bingham has the honor of being the first man in this country to give
a library, especially devoted to the interests of the 3'oung. The next addition
was the "Church Library," the gift of iliss Harriet Church, the daughter of
]\Ir. Frederick Church, and the niece' of Judge Church. After some years,
these beginnings were gathered together, with additional purchases, and the
Town Hall became the shelter of the collection.

Then came the happy thought of another man of Salisbury birth, Mr.
Jonathan Scoville, of Buffalo, who bequeathed a sum for a library building.
Members of the family of Mr. Nathaniel Church Scoville took up the cause


with zeal, gave more money, and have since borne the running expenses of
the Library, and have contributed large numbers of books. The work of
building was completed in 1894. The cool grey granite of which it is made
was given by the owner of a home quarry, within three-quarters of a mile,
for Salisbury is rich in marble and other building stone. Taste and liber-
ality have made it beautiful without and within. Chimes ring out the hours
from the tower, and the books go forth every day to bless all who live or even
sojourn in the town. Many objects of local and historical interest have been
in the cases of the reading-room ; dainty pieces of old china, silver, and needle-
work, old books, old newspapers, etc. Over the fireplace is a small bit of carved
stone from the cathedral in Salisbury, in old England. It was given by the
Dean and Chapter of Salisbury, at the request of the Rev. John Calvin God-
dard, of Salisbury, Conn. Over the slab is an inscription : " A Gift from the
Cathedral of Salisbury, England, carved in the XV Century." Probably the
panel was once a part of the Hungerford Chapel, as it has the chained raven
of the Hungerford family, and the coat-of-arms, a lion rampant amid three
fieurs-de-lis, which belonged to a family that intermarried with the Hunger-

The building" includes an attractive hall, with a piano, and a small stage
suitably equipped for private theatricals, and, below stairs, a kitchen, and
pantries ; all forming a central and convenient place for various festive, liter-
ary, and musical occasions.

When you explore the yellow pages of the original book of records of the
"Smith Literary Association," you find curious entries. The language, spel-
ling, and punctuation, are careful and scholarly, and the regulations show that
the books were regarded as treasures to be cherished. Number 11 says that
"No Partner shall take out of the Library at one time more than three Books;
and if any Person shall be uneasy about a Book, he shall have it for one Cop-
per more, and so on to the highest bidder." It is not only in the days of
" Trilby " and " Quo Vadis " that there has been competition for a desired
book. Two or more inspectors were appointed, who were to " carefully exam-
ine all books returned and assess damages." That their duties were scrupulous-
ly performed is made evident by the closely written pages of reported injuries
and subsequent fines. The utmost accurac}' was observed in setting down the
date, the number of the book, the character of the damage inflicted, and the
page which had suffered ; as, " 1773, Jan. 18, 173,22,99, Jared Everett, greas'd
P. 28, — ^o, s. o, d. 9. 1774, May 14, Samuel Moore, Jr., — Leaves doubled
down, jQo, s. o, d. 2.

Some men, probably the inveterate readers, seem to have wasted their
substance grievously in book-fines, being frequent transgressors. The necessity
of holding a candle in the hand, near the page, probably explains the numer-
ous cases of "greasing," and the occasional "drops of tallow." There is a hint
of driving over rough roads to return the books when the monthl}' opening of
the library occured, in "muddying several leaves, 2s.'' Some people were
evidently really careless, for we see "dirtying and tearing, 2s ; " " leaves cut
and doubled, 6d ; " " nastying with ink ; " " tearing civers and outside leaf ; "
(cover is invariably spelled with an 'i.') And so the list runs on. The heaviest
fine is 5s. for " tearing the civers and dirtying." It must have been an aggra-
vated offence. Undoubtedly much heartburning and many hot disputes arose


from this exact inspectian ; but it taught the proper care of books, and people
always value most that which is not too easily secured.

The books were quite worth the care which was given them, and the
selection shows great taste and discrimination. With few exceptions, the list
reads like one prepared now for a course in literary classics, and the two hun-
dred volumes comprise history, travels, poetry, essays, philosophy, religion,
biography, mythology, and, — two novels: " Pamela," (spelled Parmelia) and
"Sir Charles Grandison." It is no wonder that Salisbury produced so many
intellectual men, when the circumstances of their youth were such as to make
them carefully read such books as " Paradise Lost," " Paradise Regained,"
"Pope's Homer," Dryden's Virgil," the "Spectator," and "Tatler," the letters
of Chesterfield, the works of Smollett, Montesquieu, Goldsmith, (and Whis-
ton's Theory !) and translations of Josephus, Seneca, Cato, Fenelon. One book
is comprehensive in subject, " The World;" and great liberality in religious
taste is shown. The Koran is in friendly companionship with a Dictionary of
the Bible, a Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, and an " Impartial History of the
Church of Christ."

One of the oldest books is " A Collection of Articles, Injunctions, etc.,
London, Printed for Robert Paulet, at the Bible, Chancery Land, near Fleet-
street, 1675." The frontispiece is the " Seales of the Armes of the Bishops of
England," and among them is that of "Sarum," afterwards to be made famous
by Reform Bills and Macauley. The book is partly in English and partly in
Latin. "Echard's Ecclesiastical History, 1718," " Neal's History of the Puri-
tans, London, 1754," in two large volumes, and "Hutchinson's History of
Massachusetts Bay " show traces of much reading. You almost hear the voice
of Jonathan Edwards coming across the mountain, when you pick up the first
edition of "The Freedom of the Will" ending "Your obliged Friend and
Brother, J. Edwards, Stockbridge, July 25, 1757." Here is also his "Origi-

nal Sin," " re-printed in London in 1766."

The books in the " Bingham Library for Youth " were read with great
avidity. Some of them are in existence now. " Plutarch's Lives," "Chivalry
of the Crusades," "The Barbary States," "George Washington," are sobered
by eminently proper work like " Address to a Young Lady," and " Human
Prudence," which would be sure to be well preserved in almost any library.

Ideas do go "marching on;" and when you look about the attractive read-
ing-room, with its rugs and window seats and pictures, you feel that the idea
which animated Richard Smith and those who followed him, found an expres-
sion fuller than would have been possible for them in those days, in the beau-
tiful gift and fostering care of the Scoville family; and you feel sure that the
resulting pleasure and benefit which are evident already will not find their
bounds of time and place here, but in those far reaching circles of influence
which we contemplate in imagination.

Among the features of Salisbury Street are the Soldiers Monument, the
old Stiles house (1770), and another old house with the double piazzas that
are often seen in this part of the country, which was once the " Bushnell
tavern," and the watering place for horses, known as "The Kettle." This is
one of the large iron kettles once made on Mt. Riga for use in farmers.' estab-
lishments, in boiling large quantities of vegetables, etc., for stock. The water
which pours into the kettle is from pure mountain springs, and the saying is


that if you drink of it, you will certainly return to Salisbury. Lakeville and
Salisbury Center really form one continuous street of more than two miles,
and the variety of trim lawns, groves of forest trees, and picturesque reaches
of water is very pleasing. Near the banks of Lake Wonoscopomuc are the

Online LibraryWilliam Columbus FerrilThe Connecticut quarterly (Volume 2) → online text (page 38 of 46)