Calvin S. (Calvin Stoughton) Locke.

Other men have labored: a sermon preached December 7th, 1879 online

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Preached December 7th., 1879,




|) u b i i s b c b b n ft c q nc s t .


i 8 So.




Preached December 7th., 1879,



u b 1 1 s b e & b g Request.



Amer. Ant. Soc.
25 Jl I90i


THEIR LABORS— John iv : 58.

One hundred and fifty years ago, the thirty or forty
families living in this part of the town went to meeting in a
building standing on the site of the one now occupied by the
First Parish in Dedham. Those who were in affluent cir-
cumstances rode, perhaps, in chaises, while others went on
horseback, ladies riding behind their husband or brothers
on pillions, while others still, wended their way on -foot,
back and forth, through the majestic oaks and maples and
chestnuts of the primeval forest. The homes which they
left were different from ours. A huge fire-place, capable of
receiving on its heavy andirons' logs four feet long, occupied
a part of one side of the living-room. Sometimes this fire-
place was large enough to have a seat within its limits,
where the children could sit and catch a glimpse of the stars
passing overhead, or hear the snow hissing through the
smoke, or pop corn and roast chestnuts in the ashes ; or, if
inclined to learn, study their arithmetic by the blaze of a
pine knot, while other members of the family mended, knit
and sewed, by the dim light of a tallow candle.* Near

*I :im informed that kitchens were also lit by a hake, (provincial Eng-
lish for hook.) This consisted of a wooden crane fastened above the fire-
place'. From the end of the crane hung a notched iron rod on which an
irou bowl containing urease might be raised or lowered. A wick lay in
the howl and thus a lamp was furnished, very convenient for change of
position, hut perhaps more primitive iu form and construction than the
ancient ones exhumed at Cyprus.

Another local word, whichei', (orthography uncertain), means a hut
constructed of poles brought together at the top and covered with sods.

the fireplace stood the dye-tub where the yarn was colored^
for the frocks and the stockings. Connected with the chim-
ney was the huge oven, which evciy Saturday was well
heated, and yielded to the good housewife a rich store of
brown bread, and pies, and baked beans. On a crane in
the lire-place hung kettles in which moat and vegetables
were boiled. Coals raked out upon the hearth served for
broiling or frying, and a Dutch oven or kettle with a con-
cave cover for receiving coals was used for occasional baking,
and the roasting-jack cooked the beef or turkey for Thanks-
giving dinner, or perhaps more frequently the fowl was
suspended by a cord before the tire, and the luscious gravy
distilled into a dripping-pan beneath. There were no
matches to light the tire in the morning. At night the glow-
ing back log was carefully covered with ashes, and usually
furnished a fine bed of coals as the day began. If by acci-
dent the fire was extinguished, the only resource was to send
to a neighbor for a dish of live coals, or to have recourse to
the aggravating process of striking fire with steel, flint and
tinder. Looking about the kitchen, you saw the large wheel
on which the mother or older daughters spun the wool
which the father and sons had carded into rolls, the small
wheel with a treadle, on which an aged aunt or grandmother
spun the flax for sheets and towels, and in the rear a loom
on which the cloth for the family was woven. At one end
was the cupboard, or, as it was sometimes called, the
dresser, on which stood the shining pewter plates and tank-
ards, with possibly a few pieces of earthen ware. Over-
head, at certain seasons of the year, hung festoons of quar-
tered apples or circles of pumpkins, and in a room near by
you could see the long rows of cheeses, objects of house-
wifely cart 1 and pride. Over the fireplace hung the powder-
horn, shot-bag and musket, ready for use against prowling
foxes, Avolves, or Indians, or more pleasantly employed
against the deer, rabbits and partridges ; while, perhaps on
some quaint three-legged stand lav the family bible, almost

the only book in the household. From these plain dwell-
ings, homes of hard work, of unremitting industry and close
economy, your ancestors and their New England contempo-
raries went to the house of woTship with an effort which we
cannot realize, and with a constancy and interest which we
should do well to emulate.

In Dedham, they went to a meeting-house, the second
built on or near the same site, which is described as beinir
"a singular structure," with its double row of galleries ; a
raised platform with seats along the north and south walls ;
the floor also occupied with seats, a few pews only being
erected at the sides. There was a platform, as it is ex-
pressed, "above the outside covering," or roof. A cupola
or rude turret rose from the centre, surmounted, not by a
steeple proper, but by a short pole or staff, as it appeared to
the eye, serving merely to support a vane. The bell was
rung by a person standing in the body-seats, or in the aisle
between them, in the central part of the house below.
There was no ceiling above, nor were the sides plastered,
and the whole interior seemed to be studded with spars.
Four persons occupied the deacons' seat in front of the pulpit,
and the deacons' wives had a special place assigned them in
another part of the church. "At three corners of the house
were staircases leading to the galleries." The lower gallery
on the north was "for women and lads," the gallery above for
"young women and maids," the south gallery for men, and
the seats in the lower part of the house were parted in the
middle by an aisle, — the men to be ranged on one side, and
the women on the other. — [Dr. Lamson's Sermon, preached
the Sunday after fortieth anniversary ot his ordination, pp.
33 and 34.]

Boys at that time were sometimes troublesome, and seats
were constructed for them, at different times, in different
parts of the house, some of them in the aisles, and some at the
foot of the pulpit stairs, where they could be watched over.
In many meeting-houses, constables or tithingmen were


employed to keep the boys in order and the people awake.
Each constable had a wand with a hare's foot on one end,
and a hare's tail on the other. " If any woman went to
sleep, the constable touched her on the forehead with the
hare's tail, but if a small boy nodded, he was rapped with
the other end not quite so gently." Services were some-
times three or four hours long, the sexton turning the hour-
glass before the minister at the end of every hour. The
congregation was expected to stand during the prayer, which
sometimes continued thirty or forty minutes. The hymns
were given out line by line by a deacon, and sung by the
congregation. rf The whole number of tunes known to the
people did not exceed ten, and few congregations could go
beyond five." The extreme strictness which prevailed in
many settlements never existed in Dedham, whose inhabi-
tants seem from the first to have been rather liberal in their
religious views, and incliued^to grant considerable personal
freedom to those whom they, by vote of the town, admitted
to their number. In many places people were not allowed
to stay at home from religious services. Men were fined
for every unnecessary absence, and if they staid away a
month together, they might be put into stocks, or into a
■wooden cage. — [Higginson's Young Folks History, p. 76.]
About 160 years ago, the people in the south part of the
town, now Norwood, and in the part where we live, became
uneasy at the inconvenience of going to meeting in Dedham.
The violent dissensions which then prevailed in the Dedham
church may also have exerted a disturbing influence. At
various times from 1717 till 1728, petitions were presented
from citizens in this part of the town, requesting to be freed
from paying the minister in Dedham, that they might have
preaching among themselves. In May, 1728, money was
granted by the town to support preaching in the southerly
part, and perhaps under this grant meetings for religious
worship were held in the house now inhabited by Newton
and David Ellis, near Ellis station. The first house on Sum-

mer street, now nearly in ruins, and owned by Mr. Henry
Draper, formerly by Mr. Lemuel Gay, was used as a place
of worship by the first members of the Episcopal church in
this town, who, in consequence of a petition presented March
18th, 1734, had part of the tax payable to the pastor of the first
church remitted. The action of the town setting off the
south and west portions of it as a parish or precinct was con-
firmed by the Geueral Court in 1730. The great subject of
discussion among those who inhabited this place one hundred
and fifty years ago, was where the meeting-house should be
located. So great was the difference of opinion on this mat-
ter, that in 1733 the inhabitants of West Dedham separated
from those in South Dedham, and returned to the " Old
Precinct." The agitation for a distinct society, however,
continued. The frame of a meeting-house had been erected
as early as 1731, not far from the house now occupied by
Mr. Greenwood Fuller, on land given by Mr. Joseph Ellis,
whose descendants of the fourth, fifth and sixth generations
we still number among our congregation. This frame was
purchased and roughly covered. A church was organized
January 4, 1735, and Rev. Josiah D wight was installed as
pastor, and had for his residence the east part of the house
of Greenwood Fuller, which tradition reports was purchased
and finished off by the parish for this purpose. The mem-
bers of the old parish were unfavorable to the separation,
and did not comply with the invitation to be present at the
installation of Mr. Dwight. And it was not till January
10th, 1736, that, after a struggle of twenty years, an act of
incorporation was passed, giving this parish a distinct exist-
ence. After the first meeting-house had been occupied for
nearly three-quarters of a century, it became necessary to
make large repairs or to build a new house. Which course
to take and where to locate the house were questions which
violently excited the society, and almost equally divided it.
The majority, however, decided to build a house on the spot
where we now worship. Others withdrew and began the
formation of what is now the Baptist society.

Mr. Aaron Baker, a carpenter, purchased the old house,
and disposed of it to the seceding members, who moved it to
the place on which it now stands, and fitted it for their own
use. This meeting-house had a gallery, a high pulpit with
sounding-board above it, three aisles and square pews. The
upper portion of the panel of the pews was made of open
work by the insertion of upright turned pieces of wood which
may have been nine inches long, and set six inches apart.
The seats were raised when the congregation stood during
the long prayer, and their noisy downfall probably marked
the one supreme moment of the day to the younger portion
of the audience. Chairs stood in the pews for the use of
older members of the family.

On the 26th of February, 1809, seventy years ago last
February, Rev. Mr. Thacher delivered a discourse on taking
leave of the ancient house, and on the subsequent Sunday
the new house was dedicated, ministers from the South and
First Parish taking part in the exercises. I quote from the
former discourse a passage, both as a specimen of Mr.Thach-
er's style and as pertinent to the present occasion :

"We are already informed," he says, "that this house has
stood for seventy-eight years. Not a head which planned, nor a
hand employed in building it, but what has long been mouldering
in the dust. Very few, either in the parish or town, now survive,
who then existed : nor is there a single person now living who
was then the head of a family. Of those who signed the first
church covenant, one only was alive after my settlement in this
place. The same has been dead for more than a quarter of a cen-
tury. Since the above-named period, what numbers in this incon-
siderable hamlet have been born, formed connexions, and expired !
Families then the most flourishing and prosperous in this parish,
long since blasted by misery and depression, by their remains,
give us an affecting picture, — of man born to few days and full of
trouble. And though this place be more stationary than any within
my knowledge, as to the sameness of names and families, houses
and inclosures, yet, were the first settlers to rise from the grave,
they could scarcely trace out their former residence and situation."

This house which we now occupy, an elegant one if we
consider the time when it was erected, and a substantial one
if we consider how well it has sustained the violence of the
winds to which its elevated situation exposes it, stands on
land given by Deacon Ichabod Ellis, (three-quarters of an
acre) and by Mr. Newell Ellis, (one-quarter of an acre.)
The first bell was the gift of Hon. Joshua Fisher of Beverly,
and the pulpit was decorated by the ladies of the parish, at
the expense of seventy dollars.* Although the society was
weakened by the secession of a part of its members, and
had recently borne the heavy expense of erecting a new
building, it took early measures shortly afterwards to en-
sure its perpetual existence on or very near the spot where
we uoav worship, by the establishment of a fund. In 1811,
about $2000 was subscribed by members of the parish.
Three thousand dollars were added by the bequest of Hon.
Joshua Fisher, and at the decease of Rev. Thomas Thacher,
his real and personal estate fell to the parish. In
1836 the money value of the fund was $5252.82. By
the liberal bequest of Mr. Lusher Gay the fund was
largely increased in 1866, and is now $15,606.66. The in-
terior of the church, dedicated in 1809, probably remained
without much alteration till the year 1855. At thai? time
the floor was about two feet lower than at present. The
pulpit, although it had twice been lowered, was very high,
and was reached on each side by formidable flights of stairs.
The floor of the house was occupied by oblong pews.
Stoves were put in this meeting-house not before the fall of
1817. Previous to that time, both in the old building and
this, heated bricks and foot-stoves containing pans of coals,
were the only heating apparatus which your ancestors used
during the long Sunday services. During the summer and
autumn of 1855, repairs (costing $1230.30) were carried on

*For this bell a larger cm- was substituted in 1838, ami the difference
in value, $200, was paid by Deacon John Richards.


under the direction of a committee chosen by the parish,
services being held meanwhile in Nahatan Hall. The floor
was raised ; a lower and more elegant pulpit was substi-
tuted for the old, and the scattered, uncomfortable and
uncomely pews were exchanged for the concentric seats,
which both bring the members of the congregation nearer
one another, and face to face with the minister ; the bare
walls and ceiling were handsomely frescoed ; and it is worthy
of note that these repairs were accomplished without the
alienation of a single member, and that they gave geueral
satisfaction. The Ladies' 'Benevolent Society carpeted,
cushioned and otherwise furnished the church at an expense
of $577.68. At the same time " Hymns for the Church of
Christ" was substituted for Greenwood's collection. Recently
the Hymn and Service Book, published by the American
Unitarian Association, has been introduced. The new horse-
sheds were built in 1869, and a portion of w r oodland be-
longing to the parish was sold to pay for their erection. In
1854 the choir consisted of persons who, for many years,
with hardly a Sunday's absence, had furnished the musical
part of the religious services. Mr. Merrill Ellis led the
choir, and accompanied it with a violin. Mr. Rufus French
played on a bass viol. The choir was accustomed to take
the pitch, before beginning to sing, by sounding the first,
third, fifth and eighth notes of the scale. Mr. William King
Gay, Mr. Horace Gay, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Gay, Mr.
Theodore Gay,* Mrs. Mary Gay, Mrs. Bunker Gay, Mr. and
Mrs. Anson Gay, Miss Delia White, Mrs. Caleb Ellis,
Mrs. Martha Ellis, Miss Abby Baker, Mrs. Joshua
Spear, were then, and for several years after, members of
the choir. In 1857 the organ, which was built in 1821 for
the First Parish in Dedham, was purchased for this society.
It was opened Ju\y 12, and is noticed in a sermon delivered

Mr. Theodore Gay was postmaster or assistant postmaster from
March I. L824, when the Tost Office was first opened in West Dedham,
till L879.


ou that day. Twenty years later, in the spring of 1877, a
Tw tan costing $1500 was substituted for the old one.
"hundred dollars were allowed for the old organ,
Eight hundred and eleven dollars -and seventy ^ cento . «.e
given by the Ladies' Benevolent Society, and the balance
one Lied and ninety-seven dollars and thirty cento was
furnild by the liberality of a member and frequent bene-
factor* of this society. .

The money given by the Benevolent Society was ong.-
mll ,y devoted to the enlargement and decoration of the
" metery.t but the action of the town rendering it .unneces-
sary to apply the money to the purpose first intended it
21 used l "d in the purchase of an organ Some years
since, a cabinet organ was purchased tor the us o the
Sunday school. Lamps were put ,n perhaps as early as
1866. It was the custom for several years to decorate the
church with evergreen at Christmas, and to celebrate that
festal in the evening with a tree, and with songs and rec-
"s by members of the Sunday School. The church wa
also used for lectures during two or three winters. Ihe
£eX of the hall in the new Colburn school-house, and
the convenient accommodations furnished by Baker's Hall,

I SSna't^ center, was ha>f an acre phased I. 175,

o f x:^ »*™™~j%££ t j%z:r£

lwntnptnfland purchased ot Josepn *isuei.
was enlarged b a ract of land L p ..^ and the pro-

joint fair was held by the Baptis .aim ,.„ niPterv The Ladies-

Lds were used for building the fence* Mfl» u etery. T^ ^ ^
Benevolent Society, m , ddition to ^^' of Proprie tors

care and decoration of he cemetery The ^ Corpor

was organized January 5th and Julj 9th UbU,

tionmade by the town tor the ^^g^^ t , the location

"»■ * ^ ° UtSet ' g r Wh" M • a Xt,a to pacify two

of the burying gronnd. V< hi n B ■ .i ■ . burie(J ^

SStoTSe^^^r^-W*.- «

"if God Almighty spares my lite, I will.


now render such a use of our place of worship unnecessary.
This place has never known a pleasanter occasion than
that afforded by the meeting of the Norfolk County Confer-
ence in the summer of 1877. The house was crowded with
delegates from the various societies in our vicinity. An
eloquent discourse was delivered by Dr. C. A. Bartol in
answer to the question, How shall we obtain knowledge
of God? And the subject was discussed by other ministers.
A marked feature of this conference was the collation given
in a barn west of the church, which had been handsomely
trimmed and decorated for the occasion. Seats had been
placed along the floor and on the scaffold. Tables were
erected at one end of the barn, and although the company
assembled was twice the number anticipated, ample provi-
sion was found for all.

I have now given a brief history of our meeting-house.
Let me next speak of the successive ministers who have
been settled in this parish. More extended notices of their
character and ministry than the limits of this discourse will
allow, will be found in the centennial sermon of Rev. John
White, and in the discourse delivered at the funeral of Rev.
John White by Rev. Dr. Alvan Lamsou. The first minister
of this society was Rev. Josiah Dwight. He was installed
June 4th, 1735, and was dismissed, on account of dissen-
sions between him and the parish, May 20th, 1743. Mr.
Thacher writes of him : "Mr. Dwight was supposed by his
contemporaries to be a man of good natural abilities, and
considerable acquirements in ancient learning. He was
well versed in Old School Divinity, and was respected by
the more enlightened as a scholar and a gentleman. Though
a man of piety and virtue, he was singular in his manners.
His peculiarities increased in his old age."

In 1743, just before the beginning of King George's
war, Mr. Andrew Tyler was ordained as minister of this
society, and continued in that relation till December 17th,
1772, almost exactly a year before the tea was thrown over-


board in Boston harbor. During his ministry occurred the
French and Indian war in tills country, and the Seven
Years' war in Europe. The burdens imposed upon the
colonists were heavy, and were increased by dissensions
among themselves. Private animosities were carried into
the churches, and distracted the attention of their members
from the religious and moral culture which are the true
ends for which churches are organized. Mr. Tyler and
this society had their full share in these dissensions. He is
described "as a man of handsome personal appearance, of
polite and engaging manners and graceful address, highly
gifted in prayer." From a perusal of two of his discourses,
he seems to me to have been a well-educated man, and
possessed of great fluency in the use of language. His sen-
tences are long and involved, and full of parentheses. His
discourses must have been difficult for his hearers to follow,
and his style forms a striking contrast to the short, sharp-
cut sentences of Mr. Thacher. The temper of the times,
and the unpleasantness of the relation between Mr. Tyler
and this society, may be judged by this extract from the
parish records of 1772 :

''The laws of the province require that a minister should be
learned, orthodox, able, pious, and of good conversation, but your
committee is humbly of the opinion that the minister of this parish
is very deficient in some of these qualifications. As to his learn-
ing, the committee, not being judges in that matter, can only say
that some men of learning have given intimations that he was
reckoned at college a very indifferent scholar, and ministers in
general are looked upon to be much his superiors in that respect.
As to his orthodoxy, the parish have never made any complaint,
nor clo the committee. As to his ability, which we take not to
imply the same thing as learning, but is understood by us to
mean the same thing as an able minister of the New Testament,
that is, one apt to teach, who always feeds his flock, one able to
convince gainsayers, who can comfort as well as reprove, one
who can govern his own temper, and bear with the infirmities of
others. In all these particulars, we consider Mr. Tyler deficient.


But what is most exceptionable, Air. Tyler does not appear to be
a man of piety and good conversation. He is frequently guilty
of rash and unguarded expressions, of a disregard to truth. He
has handled the word of God deceitfully, in order to level his
artillery against those with whom he has been offended. He has
been noisy, boisterous, and turbulent. In administering the dis-
cipline of the church, he has been partial through prejudice."

— Worthington,

We rnay well suppose that the controversy connected
with Mr. Tyler's dismission, and the burdens which the
parish had borne during the colonial wars, left it ill pre-
pared for the severer struggle of the Revolution. After
Mr. Tyler left, it does not appear that any money was
granted by the parish for the supply of the pulpit until
March 8th, 1774. "A committee was then chosen to confer
with members of the South Parish on the subject of congre-
gating together on Lord's Days, three months from the suc-
ceeding April, in their meeting-house, and in the meeting-
house of this 2~>arish , alternately. It does not appear from
the records that this scheme was carried into effect."
Large sums, (at one time £1200,) were levied on the polls
and ratable estates of the parish in order to carry on the
war, and its young men were called away to engage in mili-
tary service. For seven years this society was without a
minister, but just a century ago, in 1779, the year when the

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Online LibraryCalvin S. (Calvin Stoughton) LockeOther men have labored: a sermon preached December 7th, 1879 → online text (page 1 of 3)