William T[homas] Davis.

Plymouth memories of an octogenarian online

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Divinity school in 1829, and was settled in Concord. He
married in 1830, Lucretia Ann, daughter of Benjamin Marston
Watson of Plymouth, and had Wm. Watson, 1831. He
married second, Amelia Mackie of Boston, and had Amelia
and Hersey Bradford, and died in 1836.

Rev. Thomas Weston, son of Coomer and Hannah (Doten)
Weston, was born in Plymouth, August 30, 1821. He pre-
pared for the ministry at the Meadville school in Pennsylvania,
and was settled at various times over Unitarian societies in
Northumberland, Penn., Bernardston and New Salem, Mass.,
Farmington, Maine, and Barnstable and Stowe, Mass. He
married April 29, 1852 Lucinda, daughter of Ralph Cushman
of Bernardston, and died in Greenfield, Mass., March 29, 1904.

Rev. James Augustus Kendall, son of Rev. Dr. James and
Sarah (Poor) Kendall, was born in Plymouth, Nov. i, 1803,
and graduated at Harvard in 1823. He was settled in Medfield
six years, and after spending a short time in Stowe and Cam-
bridge, he removed to Framingham, where he married May 29,
1833, Maria B., daughter of Col. James Brown, and died May
16, 1884.


Rev. Sylvester Holmes, son of Sylvester and Grace (Clark)
Holmes, was born in Manomet Ponds April 6, 1788, and was
ordained as minister in 181 1. He was for many years engaged
in the service of the American Bible Society, especially in the
South, where he was everywhere known among leading men
of both church and state. From 1861, until 1866, he was set-
tled over the church at Manomet Ponds, where he married in
1810 Esther Holmes. He married a second wife, Fanny King-
man of Bridgewater, and died in New Bedford at the house of
Ivory H. Bartlett, November 27, 1866.

Rev. William Faunce, son of Solomon and Eleanor (Brad-
ford) Faunce, was born in Plymouth about 181 5. In 1840 he
organized a Christian Baptist Society, and built a meeting
house near the Russell Mills. After a long pastorate he re-
moved to Mattapoisett, where he died about ten years ago. He
married Matilda, daughter of Josiah Bradford, and had Ma-
tilda B., 1835, who married Weston C. Vaughan, William,
1837, and Ellen, 1840.

Rev. Lewis Holmes, son of Peter and Sally (Harlow)
Holmes, was born in Plymouth, April 12, 181 3, and graduated
at Colby University. He had settlements at various times
over Baptist Societies in Edgartown, Scituate, Leicester and
other places. He married Lydia K., daughter of Pickels Cush-
fng of Norwell, and died May 24, 1887.

Rev. Russell Tomlinson, son of David and Polly (Sherman)
Tomlinson was born in Newtown, Conn., October i, 1808, and
after fitting for the ministry was settled pastor over a Univer-
salist Society in Buffalo, N. Y. In September, 1838 he
came to Plymouth, where he was settled in May, 1839, pastor
of the Unversalist church as the sucessor of Rev. Albert Case.
In 1867 he resigned his pastorate, continuing to live in Plym-
outh until his death, and devoting himself to the practice of
homeopathy, and the advocacy of the cause of temperance.
He married Harriet W., daughter of Charles and Mary Ann
(Williams) May, and died March 4, 1878.

Rev. George Ware Briggs, son of William and Sally (Pal-
mer) Briggs, was born in Little Compton, April 8, 1810, and
graduated at Brown LTniversity in 1825. He graduated at
the Harvard Divinity school in 1834, and was soon after set-
tled in Fall River. In 1838 he was installed colleague pastor


of Rev. Dr. Jas. Kendall of the First Church in Plymouth, con-
tinuing in that pastorate until 1852. January 6, 1853, he be-
came pastor of the First Chuch in Salem. On the first of
April, 1867, he resigned the Salem pastorate, and in that year
became pastor of the Third Congregational Church in Cam-
bridge, located in Cambridge Port, where he remained until his
death, having a colleague in his later years. He married first
Lucretia Archbald, daughter of Abner Bartlett, and second
in 1849, Lucia J., daughter of Nathaniel Russell of Plymouth.
He received the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from
Harvard in 1855, and died in Plymouth, September 10, 1895.

Rev. Daniel F. Goddard, son of Daniel and Polly (Finney)
Goddard, was born in Plymouth about 1828, and married in
1854 Mar\' E., daughter of Ellis Barnes. He studied for the
ministry, and was settled in various places, including, I think,
Harvard and Weymouth. He died in 1883.

Rev. Dr. Daniel Wooster Faunce, son of Peleg and Olive
(Finney) Faunce, was born in Plymouth, January 3, 1829, and
graduated at Amherst in 1850. He studied for the ministry
at the Newton Theological Institute, and was ordained in
1853. He married, August 15, 1853, Mary P. Perry, and in
1871 Mary E. Tucker. He was settled in Washington, D. C,
and Pawtucket, R. I., and was the author of a number of re-
ligious works. His home is now in Providence, near that of
his son. Rev. Wm. Herbert Perry Faunce, President of Brown



Mention of Plymouth grave yards has been confined thus far
to a slight allusion to Cole's Hill. Of the many within the
limits of the town two are burial places of the aborigines,
Watson's Hill and High Cliflf, and the numerous skeletons ex-
humed at those places from time to time, make it conclusive
that they were places set apart for the burial of the dead. The
grounds in and about the central town have been thoroughly
explored in laying out streets, in excavating cellars and digging
trenches for water, gas and sewer pipes, and not enough Indian
bones have been found to warrant the conclusion that any other
burial places were used by the Indians than those above men-
tioned. The discovery of the burial ground at High Cliff was
brought to my knowledge by an incident in my own experience.
I met one day in the autumn of 1844 on Court street a little
girl about six years of age, crying and bleeding at the mouth.
An older girl leading her told me that she had a pin in her
throat. I led her to her home on South Russell street, stop-
ping on the way at Mr. Standish's blacksmith shop to borrow
a pair of pincers, and soon relieved her from her suffering.
The next day Mr. Orin Bosworth, learning that I was his little
daughter's friend, gave me as a reward for my service a stone
pipe, which he said a gang of laborers, of whom he was fore-
man, had found in the railroad cut at High Cliff. I visited
the spot at once, and found that seven or eight skeletons had
been found, indicating an extensive burial ground, undoubtedly
antedating the days of the Pilgrims. Some years afterwards,
after the establishment of the Agassiz Museum in Cambridge,
the pipe was examined by the experts of the Museum and
pronounced of European workmanship, probably brought over
and given to the Indians, either by European fishermen, or
by one of the early adventurers like Champlain, John Smith
or Thomas Dermer. It is made of stone about eight inches
long, with a bowl about an inch square, and is in perfect order.
I have quite recently seen a drawing of a fragment of a similar
pipe which was found between the floor timbers of the Spar-


row-hawk, wrecked on Cape Cod in 1626, the timbers of which
have been put together, and are now in Pilgrim Hall. The
burial ground in question owes its escape from forgetfulness
to the pin in the throat of little Hannah Elizabeth Bosworth.

Passing by Burial Hill and Cole's Hill to be mentioned later,
there are Oak Grove and Vine Hills cemeteries ; the Catholic
cemetery; two burial grounds in Chiltonville, one at Bram-
hall's corner, and one at the Russell Mills meeting house;
three at Manomet, one where the first meeting house stood not
far from the residence of the late Horace B. Taylor, one at
the present meeting house, a modern Indian burial ground,
on an Indian reservation on the westerly side of Fresh Pond ;
one at South Ponds, near the Chapel ; one at the head of Half
Way Ponds ; one at the head of Long Pond ; one near Bloody
Pond, and one at Cedarville There are also burial places in
the South part of the town, which have been devoted to fam-
ily uses and single graves may be found near Hospital land-
ing at Billington Sea, and on the South Pond road, where
the old pest house stood. At the last place there i? a head-
stone at the grave of Mary, wife of Thomas Mayhew, who
died September 3, 1776, aged 54 years. She was a daughter
of Thomas Withereli, and as her husband was one of the most
prominent men in the town, it is probable that she died of small
pox, and that the removal of her body to a grave among her
deceased relatives was thought dangerous.

I take the liberty to suggest that the selectmen set up a
bronze tablet in the Indian burial ground at Fresh Pond with
the following inscription, including an extract from a poem
by the Rev. Theodore Dwight ;

"Indian Burial Ground."
"This tablet is erected in memory of the Indian tribes whose ex-
tinction, beginning in the Plymouth Colony, is now almost complete."
"Indulge my native land, indulge a tear.
That steals impassioned o'er a nation's doom ;
To me each twig from Adam's stock is dear,
And sorrows fall on an Indian's tomb."
With regard to Cole's Hill, the impression has prevailed
that burials there were confined to the winter of 1620 and
1621. After a somewhat thorough examination of evidence
ond probabilities. I have reached the conclusion thai this im-
presssion is not correct. I have already stated that no record


exists of the discovery of the remains of white men except on
Cole's and Burial Hill. Pretty thorough explorations beneath
the surface of the ground, in or near the main town settle-
ment, prove with reasonable certainty that one of these two
places was during the early years of the Plymouth Colony the
place of burial. It is an interesting fact that the Pilgrims,
unlike the Puritans, followed the English custom of burying
their dead in the church yard, a spot as near as possible to
their place of worship. In Duxburv the first meeting house
was built near the shore, not far from the base of Captain's
Hill, and the first burials were made immediately about it. In
Marshfield the first meeting house was built near the tomb
of Daniel Webster, and what is called the Winslow burial
ground, which incloses that tomb, was the church yard. There
is every reason to believe that the same custom prevailed in
Plymouth. The Common house was for many years used for
public worship, except in times of impending dangers when
resort was temporarily had to the fort, on what is now Burial
Hill, and Cole's Hill, sloping down to that house lying directly
at its base was the church yard. As long then as the Com-
mon House was the place of public worship, I cannot doubt
that Cole's Hill was the burial place, and that when the first
meeting house was built on the North side of Town Square,
Burial Hill sloping down to its walls, became the church yard
and the place for depositing the bodies of the dead.

In this view of the case it becomes important, in deciding
when burials ceased to be made on Cole's Hill, to ascertain
when the first meeting house proper was built. Upon this
question there has been a difference of opinion, some writers
saying 1637, and some 1647. Those fixing the time at 1647
have based their opinion, so far as I can discover, on the his-
toric record that the town meeting held in May, 1649 was held
in the meeting house, and on the fact that the meeting house
was then for the first time mentioned as the place for holding
town meetings. The meeting held on the loth of July, 1638, is
recorded as having been held in the Governor's house, and it is
asked by the advocates of the later date why should that meet-
ing have been held in the Governor's house if the meeting
house was built in 1637. It must be remembered that the pur-
pose of the meeting house was not to furnish a place for civic


meetings, but a place for religious worship, and that only the
increasing numbers of the settlement in 1649 outgrew the
capacity of the Governor's house, and rendered the use of
the meeting house at that time one of necessity. And again
it must be remembered that with the single exception of
the meeting, July 16, 1638, no meeting place is mentioned until
May 17, 1649, ^"cl for all that is known to the contrary, meet-
ing after meeting before 1649 "^^Y bave been held in the meet-
ing house without any record of the meeting place. Mr. Good-
win in a foot note on page 231 of the "Pilgrim Republic,"
makes it appear that the record states that the meeting of May
17, 1649, was held in the new meeting house, but the word
(new) is not in the record, and therefore adds no weight to
the argument in support of the date of 1647. The question
may be pertinently asked, "Why, if the meeting house was
built in 1647 was its occupation for town meetings delayed
until ^lay 17, 1649?" a"*^ this question is as difficult to answer
as the other, "Why was it not earlier devoted to civic uses if it
was built in 1637."

The probabilities in favor of 1637 are too strong to be
overcome. Until 1636, after the settlement of Duxbury was
made, it was a mooted question whether the meeting house
should not be built in some place midway between the two set-
tlements. A decision was reached in that year, and at once the
meeting house in Duxbury was built in 1637, making it probable
that Plymouth followed and built its meeting house in the
same year. It would be a severe reflection on the religious
spirit and enterprise of the Plymouth people to suppose that
Duxbury built its house of worship in 1637, and Marshfield in
1641, while the erection of the meeting house of the parent
church of which Wm. Brewster was the Elder, was delayed
ten years longer.

But we are not left alone to probabilities. In the will of
William Palmer, executed in November, 1637, and probated
in the following March, is a clause providing for the pay-
ment "of somewhat to the meeting house in Plymouth."

Thus then in my opinion Burial Hill became the church yard
in 1637. It retained its name of Fort Hill many years, and
under that name extended across what is now Russell street
along the rear of the estates on the west side of Court street.


At a town meeting held on the 14th of May, 171 1, it was
voted to sell "all the common lands about the fort hills reserv-
ing sufficient room for a burying place." From that time
Burial Hill has remained practically within its present limits.
But it is asked why is the headstone of Edward Gray bearing
the date of 1681 the oldest stone on the hill. The answer is
to be found first in the undoubted fact that for many years it
was not the custom to mark the graves with stones, and sec-
ond, in the depredations to which stones were subjected by neg-
lect and rough usage. In the early days of the Colony slate
stone was not found within accessible distances, and when they
were finally imported from England, their cost undoubtedly
precluded their general use. Many of those imported were
creased and opened to the weather, and finally were disin-
tegrated by frost and broken up. I, myself, by the permission
of the selectmen, and of course at the cost of the towii, devised
a kind of hood made of galvanized iron with which I have
protected seventy or more from both the influence of frost and
the no less destructive invasions of relic hunting vandals. So
far as neglect of the hill is concerned, I can find no sugges-
tion in the records of any proposition to protect the hill until
1757, when it was voted to fence it. Nothing was done, how-
ever, until 1782, when it was voted to permit Rev. Chandler
Robbins to fence and pasture it with the right at any time to
remove the fence and possess it as his own. Then for the first
time the hill was fenced, and Mrs. Robbins, after the death of
her husband petitioned the town to buy the fence. In 1800 it
was voted to permit Rev. Dr. Kendall to pasture the hill and
build a fence on condition that no horses be permitted within
the inclosure. Before that time it is evident that horses were
permitted to pasture it, and the treatment to which the stones
were thus exposed, is easily imagined. In later times, decayed
and fallen stones have been piled up behind the hearse house,
Avhere masons in want of covering stones have taken them at
their pleasure. Of late years, however, th,e hill has had better
treatment, and the stones v/hich have fallen have been reset at
the expense of the town. It is unnecessary to say that the most
vigilant care on the part of the town should be used, for
aside from all sentimental reasons, and aside from the duty of
the town to realize that it holds the hill in trust for all our


country, the hill and its stones form a commercial asset of in-
calculable value. An attempt was made in 18 19 to plant orna-
mental trees on the hill, but either nothing was done, or the
attempt to carry out the vote of the town proved a failure. In
1843 another more successful attempt was made, and a large
number of trees were planted, and the duty of keeping them
well watered was assigned to the scholars in the High school.
Many of these survived, and others have at various times been

Among the conclusions to which I have been led by the
foregoing review, is this, that Elder Brewster, Governor Brad-
ford and John Rowland, and the other Mayflower passengers
who died in Plymouth after 1637, were buried on Burial Hill.
With regard to the burial of the Elder, I am obliged to reverse
the opinion heretofore expressed by me, that he was buried in
Duxbury. There are on record two inventories of the pro-
perty of Brewster, one of his house and its contents in Dux-
bury, and the other of his house and its contents in Plymouth.
The contents of the former are so meagre and unimportant as
to make it certain that the Duxbury house was only an oc-
casional 'residence, while those of the latter, consisting of cloth-
ing and a full household equipment, prove that he died in
Plymouth, and that there was his permanent home. Besides
Brewster was the Elder of Plymouth church, and of course
lived among his people, and further, Bradford says in his his-
tory, that Mrs. Brewster died before 1627, before the Duxbury
settlement began, and of course was buried in Plymouth, near
whose grave the Elder would have sought for himself a final
resting place.

The inscriptions on the gravestones, though not quaint, are
interesting to others besides the antiquary, and a few of them
I shall include in this chapter without either alphabetical or
chronological order as follows :

"Priscilla Cotton, widow of Josiah Cotton, born September
30, i860, died October 4, 1859."

Mrs. Cotton lived and died in a house which was removed
when Brewster street was opened, and now stands on the
North side of that street. She told me that at the time of the
Boston tea party in 1773 she attended a boarding school a little
below the Old South Meeting house, and remembered some of


the incidents attending the destruction of the tea. A man ser-
vant brought home some of the tea, but some of the scholars
refused to drink it. After her husband's death in 1819, she
bought an annuity at the office of the Massachusetts Hospital
Life Insurance Company, which after forty years of payment
was terminated, much to the satisfaction of the company.

"In memory of Samuel Davis, A. M., who died July 10,

"From life on earth our pensive friend retires ;
His dust commingling with the Pilgrim sires ;
In thoughtful walk, their every path he traced;
Their toils, their tombs, his faithful page embraced ;
Peaceful and pure, and innocent as they,
With them to rise to everlasting day."

The above inscription and the following one were written
by Judge John Davis.

"In memory of George Watson, Esq.,who died the 3d of

December, 1800."

"No folly wasted his paternal store,
No guilt, no sordid avarice made it more ;
With honest fame, and sober plenty crowned.
He lived and spread his cheering influence round.
Pure was his walk, and peaceful was his end.
We blessed his reverent length of days.
And hailed him in the public ways
With veneration and with praise,
Our father and our friend."

"F. W. Jackson, obiit., March 23, 1799, aged one year, 7

"Heaven knows what man he might have been,
But we know he died a most rare boy."

"In memory of Mrs. Tabitha Flasket, who died June 10,
1807, aged 64 years."

"Adieu vain world, I have seen enough of thee,
And I am careless what thou say'st of me ;
Thy smiles I wish not, nor thy frowns I fear,
I am now at rest, my head lies quiet here."

"Died, Captain Simeon Sampson, June 22, 1789, aged 53

Capt. Sampson was an early hero of the revolution, who
commanded the Brig Independence, built in Kingston, and the
first vessel commissioned by the provincial Congress.

An obelisk over the supposed grave of Governor William
Bradford contains among other inscriptions a Hebrew sentence


which translated is "Jehovah is the portion of mine inheri-

"Here lyeth buried the body of that precious servant of God,
Air. Thomas Cushman, who after he had served his generation
according to the will of God, particularly the Church of Plym-
outh for many years in the office of ruling elder, fell asleep
in Jesus, December, ye lo, 1691, & in ye 84 year of his age."

Elder Cushman was brought to Plymouth in the Fortune,
fourteen years of age, by his father, Robert Cushman, and was
the second elder of the church.

"Here lyes ye body of Mr. Thomas Clark, aged 98 years, de-
parted this life March ye 24, 1697."

The mate of the Mayflower was John Clark, and not the
above Thomas. A part of the colony grant of land in Chilton-
ville to Thomas Clark was called by him Saltash. An outlying
suburb of old Plymouth is called Saltash, and the name of
Clark is common there.

"Here lyeth ye body of Edward Gray, aged about 52 years,
& departed this life ye last of June, 1681."

The stone bearing the above inscription is the oldest stone
on Burial Hill. Mr. Gray became a prominent business man
and owned lands in Rocky Nook, some of which is still owned
by his descendants.

"Here lyes the body of Mr. Thomas Faunce, ruling Elder of
the First Church of Christ in Plymouth, deceased February
2"]. An : Dom, 1745-6, in the 99th year of his age."

"The fathers where are they :
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord."

"Ruth D., wife of Edward Southworth, died May 8, 1879,
aged loi yrs., 10 mos., 13 days."

Mrs. Southworth's maiden name was Ozier, and she came
from Duxbury. She lived all through my boyhood on the slope
of Cole's Hill. I called on her on her hundredth birthday, and
she told me that she had not worn spectacles for twenty years.
Her son, Jacob William, is now living in Plymouth.

"Here lyes the body of Mr. Francis Le Barran, phytician,
who departed this life August ye i8th, 1704, in ye 36 year of
his age."

The above Francis LeBarran is the hero in the "Nameless
Nobleman." 1


"In memory of James Thacher, M. D., a surgeon in the army
during the war of the Revolution ; afterwards for many years
a practising physician in the county of Plymouth ; the author
of several historical and scientific works ; esteemed of all men
for piety and benevolence, public spirit and private kindness.
Bom February 14, 1754. Died May 26, 1844."

"Gen. James Warren died November 28, 1808, aged 82."

General Warren succeeded Dr. Joseph Warren as President
of Provincial Congress, and married Mercy, sister of the so-
called patriot, James Otis.

There are also on the hill stones at the heads of the graves
of James H. Bugbee, pastor of the Universalist Society who
died May 10, 1834, aged 31 years; of James Kendall, who died
March 17, 1859, aged 89 years, after sixty years' service as
pastor of the First Church ; of Ephriam Little, pastor of the
First Church, who died Nov. 24, 1723, aged 47 years, two
months and three days ; and of Chandler Robbins, pastor of
the First Church, who died June 30, 1799, at the age of sixty-

It may not be out of place to present to my readers by way
of contrast with the foregoing somewhat sombre inscriptions a
few of a quaint character to be found in grave yards in other
towns. Omitting names of persons and places and dates, I
give merely the inscriptions as follows :

Accidentally shot, as a mark of affection by his brother.

Beneath this stone our baby lays,

He neither cries nor hollers.
He lived just one and twenty days,

And cost us forty dollars.

Online LibraryWilliam T[homas] DavisPlymouth memories of an octogenarian → online text (page 29 of 49)