D. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) Hurd.

History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) online

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ninety years. Maj. Griffith's maternal great-grand-
father was Bartlett Murdock. His maternal grand-
father, John Bent, was one of the oldest manufacturers
of the town of Carver, cominenciug business at what
was known as Bensou's Forge, making wrought-iron
bars, drawing them out with a hammer. This was not
fur from 1792. Iu 1798 or 1799 he went to Pope's
Point und ran a blast-furnace until about 1817, when
he sold out, aud in company with Timothy Savery he
purchased the Federal Furnace, and had charge of
that works till about 1830, makiug hollow-ware, such
as pots, kettles, etc.

Maj. Griffith was brought up on a farm till he was
seveuteeu years of age, when he went on a whaling
and merchant voyage to South America. Returning,
he was employed as a clerk in Cincinnati, Ohio, in
1842-43, wheD he came home to Massachusetts, and
being somewhat out of health he embarked od another
whaling voyage, from the tuwu of Wareham, iu the
bark " Montezuma," this time to the Indian Ocean,
cruising most of the time along the eastern coast of
Africa, calling at the ditfereut villages along the coast,
which were mostly inhabited by Arabs and Hotten-
tots. During this voyage they stopped at the Isle of
St. Helena, aud Maj. Griffith visited the tomb of
Napoleou. He also assisted at the burial of Mrs.
Judson. one of the India missionaries. This lady,

with her husbaud and two children, had taken pas-
sage to India on the ship "Sophia Walker," com-
manded by Capt. Codman, sou of Rev. Mr. Codman,
of Dorchester.

Upon Maj. Griffith's return from this voyage he
was offered a clerkship in New York City, which lie
accepted for a short time, when he returned to Carver
and took a similar position with Benjamin Ellis &
Co., where he continued eight years. In 1852 he
headed an enlistment roll for a military Company,
which was chartered as Company K, Third Regiment
Massachusetts Volunteers. Matthias Ellis was cap-
tain, and his father, Benjamin Ellis, exhibited much
interest in this, as he did in all things tending to
improvement or progress in his town. Maj. Griffith
was still a militiaman when the war broke out. and
in 1861 he started to Fortress Monroe, but was
ordered back as a recruiting officer to till the Third
Regiment. In 1862 he was mustered into this regi-
mcut as captain of Company B, nine mouths' vol-
unteers. He served his time in North Carolina,
stationed much of the time at Ncwberne, was iu the
battles of Kingston, Whitehall, Guldsboro', and
Blount Creek, aud did such other duty as the regi-
ment was called ou to perform. The regiment was
mustered out in 1863, at the expiration of their term
of enlistment, and Maj. Griffith returned to Carver
and again devoted himself to manufacturing, having
in 1853, in compauy with George W. Bent, Jesse
Murdock, and Matthias Ellis, under tin- firm-name of
Bent, Griffith & Co., engaged in the manufacture of
parlor grates. This partnership continued till 1868,
when Bent retired, and the firm was called Murdock
& Co. This copartnership was terminated in 1S75
by Mr. Murdock's death. A stock company was
then formed, with Maj. Griffith president and Samuel
Shaw treasurer. Maj. Griffith gave his personal
supervision to the manufacturing department, getting
up such patterns as were required, and furnishing
designs and supervising construction. Changes were
frequent aud radical in the style of goods, which
embraced everything in the line of iron goods for
furnishing dwelling-houses, hotels, stores, aud any
institution where stoves, fireplaces, or other iron fur-
nishings were required. He gave much of his time
to fixing and setting grates and fireplaces where the
best results were desired iu the way of heat and
draught. When France, England, and Germany
begau putting on the market brass goods to supply
the place of those formerly made of iron, Maj. Grif-
fith was one of the first in the United States to give
attention to that branch of manufacturing. In 1877,
before much progress had been made in the matter,



he went to Europe, inspected and familiarized him-
self with the various processes, and gained such in-
formation as was likely to prove beneficial to the
business of the firm. Upon his return to the States
he at once applied the knowledge he had gained, and
it is not saying too much when we assign to this
establishment a front rank in the vanguard of prog-
ress in their specialties. It is their aim not only to
keep pace with the requirements of the advanced
taste of the age, but to lead and cultivate the popular
taste to a still more advanced standard, in combining
the beautiful and artistic with the useful in the fur-
nishing and ornamentation of their homes. A visit
to their beautiful salesrooms in Boston will justify in
the mind of the beholder the most extravagant praise
we could bestow on their wonderful handiwork.

Maj. Griffith's military record did not end with his
service in the war. In 1868 he was commissioned
captain of what was denominated the Eighty-sixth
Unattached Company. In the fall of that year they
were placed in the Third Regiment, and in 1870,
Capt. Griffith was elected major of the regiment. He
held this position till 1875, when he resigned. In
his political views Maj. Griffith has not suffered him-
self to be the blind adherent of any party name or
alliance, but has endeavored always to vote for the
men and measures he deemed purest and best. His
first vote was for Gen. Taylor for President. He then

voted for Bell and Everett, hut when the Stars and
Stripes were fired on at Fort Sumter, he entered the
contest a defender of the banner that his forefathers
had reared and sustained. Prior to this he had, in
unison with other generous- minded men of the North,
advocated the idea of a governmental emancipation
of the slaves with a reasonable compensation to their
owners. Since the war he has affiliated with the
Republican party in most elections, provided the can-
didates were men he could indorse. In religious
belief he is a convert to the doctrine denominated
Spiritualism, having, as he believes, received proofs
which he cannot ignore that there is a medium of
communication existing, however imperfectly devel-
oped at present, between the spirits of those who have
crossed the dark river and those remaining on the
shores of time. He accepts this as to him the most
reasonable explanation of that wonderful phenomena
of life and death, which has baffled the wisdom of
sage and scientist alike.

Maj. Griffith has been selectman and assessor in
the town of Carver, and is a director in the Stand-
ard Navigation Company. He was a member of the
State Legislature in 1870, and has held various minor
positions. He married Hannah M. Dunham, daughter
of Isaac L. Dunham, of Carver, Dec. 22, 1S52. She
was born Dec. 15, 1827. They have but one child
living, Hannah B., born Nov. 14, 1S55.



The first grant of lands in this town was made by
the Plymouth Colony, in 1054, to Nathaniel Souther,
who was the first secretary of the colony ; afterwards
grants were made to various persons, among whom
was Peregrine White, the first person born in the
colony. The first settlements commenced about the
year 1008. Its Indian name was Manamooskeagin,
which signifies many beavers. 1

The first settlement in town is said to have been in
the north part. The colony granted to Nathaniel
Souther two hundred acres of land on the west side
of Hatherly grant, running in Hatherly range two
hundred rods nearly south and one hundred and sixty
rods nearly west. James Lovell, of Weymouth, for
himself and Andrew Ford, purchased Souther's title
to this grant of land, and subsequently (1679) Lovell
conveyed to Ford his part of this grant, which was
at the time of conveyance, and always had been, in
the possession of said Ford, and was kuown and called
by the name of Ford's farm.

In Lovell's conveyance to Ford this laud is de-
scribed as lying " by the road that goeth from Wey-
mouth to Bridgewater." It seems that this convey-
ance was thirty years after the first purchase of the
title from Souther. At that time there were other
inhabitants ou the Ford farm, tor in 169- the in-
habitants on Ford's farm were taxed fifteen shillings
by the colony. This tract of land was situated west-
erly from Deacon J. Cleverly's. The ancient house
of the Fords, or oue of them, was near a broken pile
of rocks, a little westerly from a brook which ruus by
said Cleverly's house.

Abingtou is very pleasantly situated ou the highest
lands between Narragansett Bay and Bostou harbor.
The centre of the town is about equidistant from
Boiton, Plymouth, and Taunton, a little over eigh-
teen miles from each, eight miles from Weymouth
Landing, twelve from Hingham harbor, and seven
from North River, in Hanover. There arc iu this

1 From Huy ward's " Gazetteer of Massachusetts," in 1846.

town two large intervales, of about five hundred acres
each, surrounded by high lands, mostly covered with
water in the winter and beautifully green iu the
summer; around them, and overlooking them, are
many of the principal settlements. At the easterly
part there is a range of elevated lands, comprising
over two thousand acres, called Beach Hill, a beauti-
ful tract of laud, susceptible of great improvement.
From this hill the waters flow northeast and south-
west. No large rivers water the town, though Beaver
Brook, Streame's and Uersey's River and French's
stream afford good mill privileges. A part of Accord
Pond is in this town; the remainder of it is in
Hingham and Scituate.

The soil of the town is strong, aud good for pro-
duction, though rocky and hard of cultivation It is
generally better for grazing than tillage. The sur-
face is rough and broken. The meadow land abounds
in peat. Some bog-iron ore has also beeu found in
it. The blue-slate stone prevails ou some parts of
the upland.

The population of the town in 1790 was oue thou-
sand four hundred aud fifty-three; it was iu 1880
ascertained to be over three thousand six huudred
and ninety-seven, aud is rapidly increasing.

The Old Colouy Railroad passes through the whole
length of the town, over six miles, running north and
south, which was completed and in full operation in
January, 1846. This road brings Boston or Plym-
outh within less than one hour's ride of Abing-

East Abington is a very flourishiug part of the
town receutly built up; its locatiou is very central
and iuviting, the centre of which will be but a little
over a mile from the railroad.

There are ten school districts iu town. The
number of scholars from four to sixteen years of
age is about nine huudred. Two thousand seven
huudred dollars is annually appropriated for public
schools, and nearly oue thousand dollars is expended
in private schools, including an academy or high



school, established by a private company, they having
erected an elegant building for that purpose.

The population of Abington is strictly of the Pil-
grim family, as there is scarcely an inhabitant in the
town of any other race or natioD. Perhaps no other
town in the vicinity of Boston holds out greater in-
ducements for country-seats and settlements, for men
of business or leisure who wish for quiet retirement
or a summer residence.

As early as July 4, 1700, an order was passed re-
quiring " the proprietors, purchasers, and inhabitants"
to ascertain what they were willing and able to pay
annually " for the support of an able, learned, and
orthodox minister." In 1710 the erection of a
meeting-house was effected, and " on the 8th of De-
cember, 1711, Mr. Samuel Brown came to Abington,
by a unanimous call from the people there, to settle."
He was ordained Nov. 17, 1714.

This town has been celebrated for introducing sev-
eral important irou manufactures. Meeting-house
bells were cast here as early as 17G9. A deserter
from the British army, a bell-founder, was employed
by Col. Aaron Hobart in this business, which was
contiuued by him for years. The bell now in Centre
Abington meeting-house was cast by him. When he
gave up the business he sent one of his sons aud a
blacksmith, and taught the late Col. Paul Revere, of
Boston, to mould and cast the first bell which he ever
made. The copper company in Boston is named after
this individual.

In the year 1775-70, Col. Aaron Hobart con-
tracted with the State to make cannon and shot, and
the State furnished him with a large amount of mate-
rials to begin with, as pig-iron and coal ; this was a
bold undertaking. Col. Hobart had no knowledge of
the business. He cast bells, it is true, and was the
owner of a blast-furnaee for casting hollow-ware, etc.,
but the exigency of the times required a powerful
effort. The Revolutionary war had just commenced,
and there were but a very few caunon in the country ;
hundreds of merchant ships were in want of cannon
to go out as privateers. The first attempts (aud they
were the first that were ever made in the country)
proved very unsuccessful. In proving the cannon,
they split ; the iron could not be kept sufficiently
hot ; it chilled too quickly. So disastrous was the ex-
periment that all the stock provided by the State was
expended, and his own fortune besides. This disap-
pointment was severely felt by him and by the public.
But, providentially, at this dark hour, the cause of
his failure was discovered. A Frenchman, in passing
through the town and stopping at a public-house,
hearing of the colonel's want of success, inquired the

cause, and being told, he said there was no difiieulty
in keeping the iron sufficiently hot. On inquiry he
stated that he had worked iu a cannon-foundry in
France. He was instantly invited to inspect the fur-
nace, and stated at once the cause of the failure, which
was that the flue or draft of the chimney was made
large and the chimney above small. He said the re-
verse ought to be the case, — the flue small, and the
chimney large above. No time was lost in making
the change, and the success was complete, the con-
tract with the State was fulfilled, and individuals
were supplied extensively. About three years after
this the concern was disposed of to the State, under
the care of the late Col. Hugh Orr, of Bridgewater,
and removed to that town.

Another important manufacture took its rise early
in this town, — the manufacture of cut tacks and
brads. In this manufacture a large capital is in-
vested, and from seventy-five to one hundred hands
are employed. It is computed that about three hun-
dred tons of iron are annually wrought.

To show the necessity of protection on American
inventions and domestic industry, we give a brief his-
tory of the manufacture of these useful and indis-
pensable articles.

The making of tacks by hand commenced very
early. The first attempt was to cut up old iron
hoops into points, by a very imperfect kind of shears,
and take them up, one by one, and place them iu a
common vise, and screw up and unscrew for the pur-
pose of heading each tack with a hammer. From
this process they were called " cut tacks ;" but the
mode of making by hand was much improved by
movable dies, placed in an iron frame, in the shape
of an ox-bow, the two ends, in which were placed the
dies, being brought together by a lever pressed by
the foot. In the first process a man might make a
thousand tacks per day ; in the latter, eight thousand
per day. This was a great improvement, and the
iuventor, Mr. Ezekiel Reed, was entitled to a pateut.
He made some attempts to conceal the operation, but
it was so simple and so easily applied that others soon
got it, and it came into general use.

With machines, or " tack tools," as they were
called, thus improved, from three to four hundred
men and boys were employed making tacks in this
town and vicinity.

In 1815 and 1816 a machine was invented by Mr.
Jesse Reed, son of Ezekiel Reed, to make tacks at
one operation. Mr. Melvil Otis, of Bridgewater,
claimed and received a considerable share in the in-
vention. Soon afterwards the machines were much
improved by the inventions of Messrs. Thomas Blan-



chard, of Springfield, and Samuel Rogers, of East J
Bridgewater. For the exclusive patent-rights of these j
inventions, Elihu and Benjamin Hobart, Esqs., paid !
thirty thousand dollars, iu the first instance, to coin- I
nience the business of making tacks. The price of I
tacks was reduced over fifty per cent, immediately,
and one mau could make more tacks iu a day on one
of the patent machines than fifteen could by hand,
even iu the last improved mode, by movable dies.
One machine has turned out over two hundred aud j
fifty thousand in a day.

When they had just not their machines into oper-
ation the}' learned, with astonishment, that a large
consignment of tacks had been received in this coun-
try from England. On inquiry they found that a
model of their " patent tack-machine" had been
taken from this country and patented and the tacks
sent here for sale. One or two individuals went
from this country to England for that purpose. The
effect of this was to stop the manufacture of this arti-
cle here entirely and ruin the proprietors of the

Under these circumstances they were led at once
to look to our government for relief and protection.
It was asked, " Shall the British take our inventions
and our market without paying for them to the ruin
of our own citizens?" They referred to their models
in the Patent Office, aud stated that the price of tacks
was already reduced fifty per cent., and that machines
could be easily multiplied, not only to supply the
United States, but all Europe.

A bill was immediately passed fixing the duty on
importation of tacks at five cents per thousand, up to
sixteen ounces to the thousand ; utter that at five
cents per pound, and also including brads and spara-

Without this tariff the business must have been
given up in this country. Iron and labor were lower
iu England than iu this country, and the English
had nothing to pay for patents, and, having silenced
competition here, they would have charged their
own prices. It would have bceu difficult to have
revived the business. Indeed, it never would have
succeeded without protection iu its infancy.

The boot and shoe manufacture is the most exten-
sive business done in the town. By a statistical ac-
count lately made it is found that over one million two
hundred and fifty thousand pairs of boots and shoes
are made annually, of the value of one million two
hundred and fifty thousand dollars, aud that eighteen
hundred aud fifty persons are employed iu this busi-
ness, including women and children. There are other
extensive manufactures iu the town, such as brads,

tacks, sprigs, shoe-nails, leather, boxes, etc. The
value of the whole manufactures in the towu amounts
to at least one aud a half millions of dollars annually.
The amount paid for the transportation of goods and
passengers to and from Abington is estimated to exceed
twenty-five thousand dollars annually.

Old French War. — This war was waged between
England and France, continued seven years, and
was terminated in 1763. Massachusetts contributed
largely to carry on this war for the defense of the
colonies and the conquest of the dotuinious of France
on this continent and in the West Indies. She had,
iu 1758, six thousand nine hundred and twenty-live
men in the field actually engaged in this war, and
about the same number through the whole period of
its continuance, besides a large number of artificers
and seamen. This force was about one-third of the
whole effective force of the province. The State
expended in this war over.fuur millions of dollars,
aud received, by way of reimbursement from the
mother-country, about three millions.

The provinces were stimulated in their great exer-
tions by opposition to the French. On the ocean they
were our rivals, iu the fisheries on the coasts aud ou
the Great Banks, whilst our settlements, fiom Nova
Scotia around to the lakes, were subject to alarms
through their iuflueuee, by which the Indians were
excited to war, murder, and continual depredations.
There were, too, deep-rooted prejudices against them
ou account of their religion.

Abiugtou contributed largely of her .strength to
carry ou this war. The following persons were iu the
service, aud died therein or on their way home :
Abraham aud Humphries, sons of Capt. John Bur-
rill ; Joseph Clark; Peleg Cain; David (colored),
son of Anthony Dwight; Noah, son of Jacob Ford;
James, grandfather of the late Col. D. Gloyd ; Jacob,
sou of Capt. Elijah Hearsey, drowned near Cape
Sable harbor; Nathauiel Joy; Noah, sou of Gideon
Parkuiau ; Asa, son of Deacon Samuel Poul, died at
Halifax, 1702 ; Ichabod, son of Capt. Ebenezer
Reed ; Ezekiel, son of John Reed ; Samuel, son of
William Sprague ; Job, son of Samuel Tirrell, killed
by the Iudiaus while crossing Lake Outaiio in a ba-
teau ; Jonathan Torrey, Jr.; Robert Townsend, Jr.,
died of a wound received iu the Crown Point expe-
dition ; Jacob White.

The following persons survived the service : Chris-
topher Askins, Jr. ; George Askins ; Jeremiah Camp-
bell, at St. Johus, N. S., 1759 ; Caleb Chard; Jona-
than Chubbuck, at Newfoundland, 1702 ; Greenwood
Gushing, at Halifax and Newfoundland ; Elisha Hor-
sey, captain of a company iu the Western expeditions ;



EJuiuud Jackson, Jr. ; Abraham Josselyn ; Peter ',
Nash ; Samuel Noyes ; Jacob Pool, at the taking of :
Fort Frontenac, uuder Col. Bradstreet, 175S, and at j
St. Johns, N. S. ; Samuel Pool; Joseph Richards;
Isaac Stetson, under Gen. Wolfe at the taking of
Quebec; Jacob Tirrell, at Halifax, 1759; Prince
Stetson ; Kzekicl Townsend ; Robert Townsend, en-
sigu of Capt. Benjamin Pratt's company, at the west-
ward ; Jeremiah White.

This list is very incomplete, as will appear by the
following, extracted from the journal of the House
of Representatives :

" Dee. 2S, 1703. There was presented a petition of
Elisha Heraey and sixty others, all of Abington, who
bad been in his Majesty's service in the late wars,
praying for a grant of laud for a township, eastward
of the Penobscot River, in consideration of their
services rendered."

Slavery. 1 — Slavery once existed in this town.
There were slaves here before the Revolutionary war
under the British colonial government. My grand-
father, Isaac llobart, had several. My father in-
herited two of them ; they were made free soon after
aud left ; but in a few mouths returned and requested
to be taken back, saying they could find no employ-
lueut and no place that looked like their old home.
They (Jack and Bilhab, man and wife) were per-
mitted to take up their old quarters, aud occupied
them for many years. They lived to a great age,
over ninety years each. They were maintained by
the family mauy years after they were past labor.
They had several children, none of whom are now
known to be liviug.

Mr. Brown, the first minister settled in town, had
five slaves ; their names were Tony, Cull', Kate, Flora,
aud Betty. They all lived to be very old. Touy's
age, at his death, is put down at one hundred years,
aud all the rest are supposed to have lived over eighty
years each. There was Poinpey, in the south part of
the town, once a slave of Mr. House; Moses, at the
centre, a slave of Mr. Nash ; Jack Bailey, who lived
on Beech Hill, once a slave of Mr. Bailey, of Han-
over. The late Dr. Gridley Thaxter had one (Frank)
who was formerly owned by Gen. Lincoln, of Hiug-
Iiaui, of revolutionary memory. Frank came into
Dr. Thaxter's care and keeping by meaus of his wife,
who was the daughter of the general. He bavin"
been a slave in the family before her marriage, was
much attached to her, and called her his daughter.
He was very aged, — well-nigh one hundred years.

A Mr. Cary, of North Bridgewater, had a female

1 llobart'a " lliitory of Abington."

slave, named Patience, whose age exceeded one hun-
dred years.

After receiving their freedom these colored persons
lived in small buildings of their own, but most of
them with the descendants, the children aud grand-
children of their old masters. Not one of these, to
my knowledge, was ever supported by the town. In
my early days I knew many of these once slaves.
They were, with one exceptiou, quiet aud peaceful,
and some of them were smart and active. There were
probably from fifty to seventy-five slaves in town

Online LibraryD. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) HurdHistory of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) → online text (page 103 of 118)