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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gravestone than that of Edward Gray, which bears
the date of 1681, has heretofore led the author to
doubt whether the close of the war, iu 1676, and the
abandonment of the fortification at that time do not
mark the period when the hill became consecrated to
the graves of the dead. But in the face of this
doubt the question must arise, " Where were Brew-
ster and his wife, William Bradford, Samuel Fuller,
Stephen Hopkins, Francis Eaton, Peter Brown, and
others, who died in Plymouth before 1681, laid in
their graves ?" No trace of any other place of burial,
except such as were used by the Indians, has ever
been found within the limits of the present town.
Cellars have been dug, wells have been sunk, water-
and gas-pipe trenches have been excavated, almost
every spot has been turned over and explored, aud



uot a white man's bone has ever been found, except
on Cole's and Burial Hill. If deliberate and method-
ical searches had been instituted, like those which
have characterized the explorations of Pompeii and
Troy, they could not have been more thorough or
better calculated to reveal, if ever such had existed,
the forgotten burial-places of the Pilgrims.

The fact that no earlier stones than that of Edward
Gray are to be found on the hill is to be explained
by the same causes which have been at work in later
times, and have destroyed many of modern date. In
various parts of the town to-day may be found grave-
stones, fifty or seventy-five or a hundred years old,
utilized as covers of drains or cesspools, showing the
extraordinary indifference with which the hill has
been treated almost down to the time of our own
generation. From time to time new paths have been
laid out, and stones removed to a pile iu some obscure
corner ; other stones have become loosened and have
finally fallen, and instead of beiug replaced have been
added to the pile, to which stone-masons and others
in want of covering stones have had free access, until
finally all have disappeared. And more than this, the
records of the town show gross municipal neglect in
the management and care of a locality which, now
next to the rock itself, is the most interesting feature
of the town. The first entry on the town books re-
lating to the hill is under date of May 14,1711, when
it was voted " that the common lauds about Fort Hill
shall be sold under the direction of Isaac Lathrop,
Nathaniel Thomas, and Benjamin Warren," reserving
sufficient room for a burial-place. An article was in-
serted in the warrant for a town-meeting, held May 21,
1770, on the petition of William Thomas, Thomas La-
throp, Thomas S. Howland, Jonathan Churchill, and
Isaac Lathrop, " to see if the town will let out the feed-
ing of the burying hill for a term of years to any per-
sou or persons that will appear to fence the same with
good post- and rail-fence, or whether the town will
fence the same at their own cost, or any other way
inclose said hill aa they please." Thus it will be seen
that as late as 1770 the hill was not even fenced, aud
was therefore constantly subject to depredations by
cattle, and that the town refused to fence it. At a
town-meeting held April 15, 1782, it was voted to
give permission to Rev. Chandler Robbius " to fence
iu the burial hill that he might pasture the same for so
long a time as the town think proper, he to have lib-
erty to take off the fence when he pleases; he being re-
quired to carry the fence aback of the meeting-house
and the barns to his parsonage lot ; and also, as soon as
he can conveniently, shall make a fence from the meet
ing-house to the land of Mr. Sylvanus Bartlett, leav-



134



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH COUNTY.



ing an open way to go over said hill to the lane lead-
ing down by the house of John Cotton, Esq." The
parsonage lot here referred to included the land now
bounded by the Burial Hill and the vacant engine-
house lot on the southeast and on the southwest ; by
Russell Street on the northwest, and on the northeast
by a line running from Russell Street to the Burial
Hill, ninety feet northeasterly from the easterly house
lot on the southerly side of said street. The land of
Sylvanus Bartlett referred to is that on a part of which
the house of Albert Benson stands, and the open way
required to be left is now Church Street. At a town-
meeting, held April 6, 1789, a committee appointed
at a previous meeting submitted a report on the con-
dition of the hill, which was accepted, as follows:
" That the damage to gravestones appears to be done
by some wanton or imprudent men or boys, and to
prevent the like doings in future your committee are
of opinion that it is the duty of parents and heads of
families to restraiu those under their care from doing
the like in future, and that the grammar schoolmas-
ter be desired to take all the pains in his power to pre-
vent the scholars that come to his school from doing
any damage to the stones; and as it is possible that
horses may damage the gravestones at times, it is the
opinion of your committee it would be well for the
Town to desire the Rev. Mr. Robbins, who improves
the hill as a pasture at this time, not to have more
horses there than shall be really necessary." These
votes quoted, not for the purpose of entering into
any general detail of the proceedings of town-meet-
ings, furnish competent evidence of a muuicipal care-
lessness and neglect sufficient to accouut for the ab-
sence of the oldest stones.

Up to 1782 the southeasterly line of the hill ex-
tended to the rear of the High Street lots, as has been
seen by the vote of the town, already quoted, which
required Rev. Mr. Robbins in fencing the hill to leave
an open way. The southwesterly line, as far as the
eugiuc-house lot on Russell Street, has probably never
been encroached upon. On the northwesterly side
the engine-house lot, still belonging to the towu, was,
up to the laying out of Russell Street, in 1834, in-
cluded within the limits of the hill, and below the
line of the parsonage lot, the Hue of which has already
been stated, the hill rau down to the lands of the
county. On the northeast the lots on Main and
Court Streets were originally bounded by the hill,
which sloped down to their southwesterly limits. The
sales of lands on School Street began in 1736, and
probably at that time the street was opened. In 1773
the town granted to the couuty a road of thirty feet
in width through the Burial Hill grounds up as far



as the parsonage lot, and that grant was the first step
in the laying out of South Russell Street, which was
extended when the preciuct sold its lands in 1830.
That portion of the hill which sloped down to this
thirty feet way was sold at various times, — the Stand-
ish lot in 1812, the next in 1799, and the corner lot
in 1812. In these latter years the town has bestowed
more care on the hill. The gravestones and monu-
ments, which are all that make it sacred, are now
sharply watched ; the oldest have been protected by
hoods of iron from crumbling and depredation, and
their permanent preservation for our children and
children's children has been assured.

The only remaining portions of land within the
limits of the town never granted to individuals which
are worthy of mention are those covered by the an-
cient streets, which were laid out over common land.
The first street was that laid out iu lfi20, extending
from the top of what is now Burial Hill to the shore,
and was called First, or Broad, or Great Street, and in
1823 christened by the town Leydcti Street. The
second and third, both laid out before 1G27, were
Main and Market Streets, leading, as an early descrip-
tion states, one to the rivulet (Shaw's Brook), and the
other into the land. Main Street extended to the
Massachusetts Indian path, and Market Street to the
Nemasket path, which after crossing the brook at the
rolling-mill, and there leaving the Agawam path to
run up by the South Ponds to Agawam, followed up
the south side of the town brook, crossing again near
the works of the Plymouth Mills, and running through
the estate of B. M. Watson, found its way by the
most convenient trail to Nemasket or Middleboro'.
During the last century Main was called Hanover
Street, and Market, South Street. Each received its
present name in 1823. Summer Street was the third
street, called at an early date Mill Street, leading as
it did to the corn-mill established at an ancient date
on the site of the works of Samuel Loriug, after-
wards called High Street, and finally, in 1823, Sum-
mer Street. North Street was the fifth, called in the
early deeds New Street, sometimes at a later date
Howland Street and Queen Street, and occasionally
North, and finally, iu 1S23, christened by a vote of
the town by the last name. Emerald Street, called
iu the last century Smith's Lane, was an early street,
connecting at an early date with a ford across the
mouth of the towu brook at low water, and after-
wards with a swing-bridge across the stream a little
higher up, and thus affording connection between the
easterly and southerly parts of the town. It origin-
ally turned with au easy curve into what is now Brad-
ford Street, which was then a part of the lane, and



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH.



135



then gradually curved into the highway. Besides
these streets there are two lanes, both of which were
opened before 1633, Spring Lane, so called because
leading from the fort to the spring, and Woods Lane,
or the " laue leading to the woods," now Sauioset
Street. It may be as well here as elsewhere to com-
plete the list of streets. Middle Street was laid out
in 1725 by Jonathan Bryant, Cousider Howlaud,
Isaac Little, and Mayhew Little, " for and in consid-
eration of the public good and for the more regular and
uniform situation of the town of Plymouth, and to
be forever hereafter called King Street." After the
Revolution the insignificant name of " Middle" was
substituted informally for the ancient appellation, and
iu 1823 it was formally adopted by a vote of the
town. In 1716, Water Street was laid out, connect-
ing North with Leyden. At that time the way over
the brook entered between the Turner House and the
barn of E. and J. C. Barnes, crossing by a ford, and
at a little later day by a swing-bridge also, for foot
passengers alone. Iu 1762 the causeway was built
and Water Street extended. In 1728, Thomas How-
laud threw out land from the " Main road" to the
shore for the laying out of a street which he called
Howlaud Street, the name it still bears. This street,
only laid out at the time as far as the land of the
preseut gas-works, was extended to the water iu
1854. In 1798, James Thacher threw out land and
laid out a street, which he called Thacher Street. In
1803 this street was extended to Ring Lane through
land of Sylvanus Bartlett and Joshua Thomas, and in
1823 the whole street received the name of High
Street, and the old street beariug that name was
changed to Summer Street. Sandwich Street was
laid out in 166C, and should perhaps be added to the
list of streets covering land which never had an indi-
vidual ownership. At that time it crossed the brook
at its level, and entered Summer Street by the present
Mill Lane, what is now Spring Hill being then too steep
for a road. In 1716 Spring Hill was first laid out, as
stated iu the records, " with a convenience to water
creatures" at town brook, though probably until a
much later date, wheu the bridge was raised, Mill
Laue continued to be used for travel. Pleasant Street,
though an old road across private land, was not laid
out until 1802, and not until 1823 did it receive its
present name and lose its old one of Judsou Street.
Court Street was of course only the continuation of
the Main road (Main Street), and probably followed
an old Indian trail, being gradually leveled and
widened and straightened until its present conditiou
has been reached. Ring lane was probably only a
right of way to land of Andrew Ring from the high-



way (Summer Street), and traces its origin to near
the year 1640. Cushman Street was laid out in
1845 by Joseph Cushman and Nathaniel L. Hedge,
through land thrown out by them. Prospect and
Vernon Streets were laid out in 1856 ; Mayflower,
Robinson, and Franklin in 1857 ; Fremont in 1859 ;
the extension of South Russell in 1868; Washington
in 1865; Sagamore, Massasoit, and Jefferson iu
1870; Lothrop in 1872; Allerton in 1S77 ; Oak in
1878; Davis in 1882; New Water and Chilton in
1S81 ; Stafford in 1882; and the Woolen-Mill Street
in 1883. Most of the modern streets, however, were
laid out and opened by individuals before they were
formally laid out by the selectmen and accepted by
the town.

In connection with the common lauds above de-
scribed and the streets, it may be well to refer to
grants of prominent localities made by the town.
Clark's Island has already been mentioned as granted
by the town, in 1690, to Samuel Lucas, Elkanah Wat-
son, and George Morton. In the same year Saquish
was granted to Ephraim and George Morton, and
before 1694 the Gurnet was granted to John Doty,
John Nelson, and Samuel Lucas. In 1693, Plymouth
beach was granted to Nathaniel and Josiah Morton.
These grants or sales, with those of other lands, were
made by the town to defray the expense incurred in con-
testing the grant of Clark's Island to Nathaniel Clark
by Sir Edmund Andros. The grants of land and flats
on which the central wharves of the town are built were
made at various times from 1700 to 1760. Jackson's
wharf was built on land granted by the town in 1746
to Thomas Jackson and Thomas Foster. The upper
part of Long Wharf was built by John Murdock, on
land granted to him in 1732. Isaac Lothrop received
a grant, on which Hedge's wharf was built in 1734,
and David Turner a grant for the Davis wharf lot about
the same time. The laud for Nelson's wharf was
granted to Nathaniel Warren about 1700, and that
for Carver's wharf to Thomas Davis about 1756.
The Barnes wharf was built by Benjamin Barnes on
land probably granted to him, and Robbins' wharf ou
laud which Thomas Davis bought of the town iu
1760. Several of these lots begau at the top of Cole's
Hill, and their deeds contained the reservation of a
way along the base of the hill.

In 1717 the settlement in the neighborhood of
Jones River, containing about forty-eight families, was
set off as a separate parish, bearing the name of Jones
River parish. In 1725 an attempt, once before made,
was renewed to secure the incorporation of the parish
as a distinct town. In the next year an act of incor-
poration was granted, and after some discussion con-



136



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH COUNTY.



cerning the uame of the new town, during which the
name of Ashburtou was strongly urged, Lieutenant-
Governor Duinruer gave it the name of Kingston.
In 1738 the inhabitants of Agawaru, a plantation
within the jurisdiction of Plymouth, petitioned to
become a separate parish, and at a town-meeting held
March 1, 1738/9, it was voted that the plantation
of Agawam be set off from Plymouth and be a sep-
arate township. In 1739, Wareham was incorpor-
ated, including the plantation of Agawam, and a part
of Sippican, or Rochester, to which town a small part
of Plymouth was annexed in 1827. After the de-
tachment of the territory included in the incorporated
towns of Plympton (which included Carver), King-
ston, and Agawam, or Wareham, Plymouth assumed
the dimensions and boundaries by which it may be
described to-day. Its population, and business, and
character had changed as much as its territory. At
the end of a little more than a century more than
twenty towns had sprung from its loius within the
limits of the Old Colony, and it was left with a popu-
lation of about two thousand, comfortably supported
by agriculture, navigation, and commerce. Such men
were living during the first quarter of the eighteenth
century as James Warren, a man holding high mili-
tary office, member of the Assembly and sheriff of
the county ; John Watson, a merchant of considerable
means and the highest character ; John Murdock,
also a merchant, a man of munificent charity, ami a
benefactor of his adopted town ; and Isaac Lothrop,
one of the justices of the Court of Common Pleas,
whose gravestone was thought worthy to bear the in-
scription :

" Hud virtue's charm the power to save
Its faithful votaries from the gruve,
This stone had ne'er possessed the fame
Of being marked with Lotbrop's name."

To this list must be added Josiah Cotton, a graduate
of Harvard, and afterwards preacher, schoolmaster,
clerk of the Inferior Court, justice of the same court,
register of probate, and register of deeds ; Thomas
Faunce, elder of the church and town clerk ; John
Dyer, also school-teacher, and at times clerk of the
town ; John Foster, a deacon of the church, and worthy
mau ; Lazarus Le Barou, an educated and accomplished
physician ; Thomas Howland, a grandson of John
Howlaud and a man of large estates; and Epliraim
Little, the pastor of the church. These were all plain,
straightforward, practical men, representing a com-
munity which was quite as far from illiteracy and
poverty on the one hand as from culture and luxurious
wealth ou the other. With the lapse of time that
peculiar spirit which had marked the Pilgrim char-



acter had gradually been converted into those more
ordinary traits which, inspired by no great obstacles
to be overcome nor sufferings to be endured, are to
be found in every association of men aud women who
are sure of comfort and happiness as the fruit of
earnest but not oppressive labor. James Warren had
his residence for a time at the corner of Leyden and
Market streets ; John Watson lived in the house now
occupied by the customhouse ; John Murdock oc-
cupied the old Bradford house on the north side of
Town Square; Isaac Lothrop lived in the house which
formerly stood on the lot now occupied by the houses
of William P. Stoddard and Mrs. Isaac L. Hedge ;
Josiah Cotton lived first in the old parsonage which
stood where the house of Isaac Brewster now stands,
and afterwards for a time in the house in the north
part of the town recently occupied by the late Thomas
Jackson ; Thomas Faunce lived in Cliiltonville, near
the bridge, in the neighborhood of the Laugford farm ;
John Dyer lived on the lot on Leyden Street on which
the house now occupied by Frederick L. Holmes
stands ; Thomas Howland occupied the lot now occu-
pied by John J. Russell on North Street, and Ephraim
Little lived for a time in the house on the lot after-
wards occupied by the Lothrop house above referred
to.

In 1745, Plymouth raised a company of soldiers
for the expedition against Louisbourg, which was
commanded by Capt. Sylvanus Cobb, a man of marked
energy and heroism. Little is preserved of the his-
tory of this company, besides a list of its members.
Capt. Cobb was the great-grandson of Henry Cobb,
the progenitor of the Cobb family, and occupied the
Rogers house, which until within a few years stood
on the easterly part of the lot occupied by Edward
L. Barnes, on North Street. The following is the
roll of Capt. Cobb's company :



Sylvanus Cobb, capt.
Stephen Hall, lieut.
Natb 1 Faxson, ensign.
Eleazer Holmes, sergt.
Samuel Drew, corp.
Jeremiah Holmes.
Ebenezor Cobb.
Jacob Tinkham.
John Bryant.
Soth Curtis.
Joseph Sylvester.
Nathan Weston.
Natli' Morton.
Joseph Wampum.
Jedediab Studson.
James Pratt.
Barnabas Shurtleff.
Eleazer Faunce.
Peter Stocker.



Anthony Amiable.
Thuinus Iluggins.
Jubez Ilaiuhlin.
Ebenezer Chiptuun.
Silas Blush.
Josiah Scudder.
Joseph Frith.
Nathan Tobey.
Nathan (jihbs.
Bcnjaiuiu Jones.
Ucuben Pitcher.
William Pitcher.
Peter Lewes.
Nathan ltuimcut.
William Uevis.
Joseph Nuiuinock.
Jonathan Jett'ry.
Joseph Cain.
Jacob Paul.



HISTORY OP PLYMOUTH.



137



benjamin Wicket.
Toby Adams.
Solomon Morton.
Robert Decusta.
"William Rogers.



Simon Kete.
Amos Francis.
Josepb Panconet.
Thomas Davis.
Samuel Geneus.



Id the expedition against Nova Scotia, in 1755,
Plymouth took a more conspicuous part. The Mas-
sachusetts troops in the Acadian expedition, as it has
always been called, were commanded by Col. John
Winslow, of Plymouth, who had with him mauy
Plymouth men. Cul. Winslow had already been in
command, in 1740, of an expedition against Cuba.
He afterwards held several additional commissions,
one of general and commander-in-chief of the Pro-
vincial troops, dated July, 1756, from Governor
Hardy, of New York, and another of major general,
dated 1757, from Governor Pownal. It will be re-
membered that Nova Scotia, under the name of
Acadia, was settled by the French, and ceded in 1713
to Great Britain. Those of the inhabitants who did
not remove into Canada were permitted to retain their
possessions upon taking an oath of allegiance to Great
Britain, with the stipulation that they were not to be
called on to take up arms against the French or In-
dians. Thus they received the name of French
Neutrals. After the settlement of Halifax, in 1749,
a requirement to take the oath anew without the
stipulation was resisted, and in 1755, Col. Winslow,
at the head of his Massachusetts troops, was ordered
by Governor Lawrence, of Nova Scotia, to remove
them from the country. Col. Winslow issued a proc-
lamation to the inhabitants of Minas, "requiring all
old men and young men, as well as all the lads of ten
years of age, to attend at the church of Graud Pr<S
on the 5th of September, 1755, at three o'clock in
the afternoon," to receive a communication from the
constituted authorities. Four hundred and eighteen
were assembled, the doors were shut, and the whole
number declared prisoners of the king. Arrange-
ments were at once made for their removal, and on
the tenth of the month four hundred and eighty-
three men and boys were placed on board five trans-
ports in the river Gaspereaux, each vessel guarded by
six non-commissioned officers and eighty privates.
As soon as other vessels could be procured, three
hundred and thirty-seven women, heads of families,
and eleven huudred and three children and unmar-
ried females followed, and the transportation was
complete. Their houses and lands were abandoned,
aud their stock, consisting of seven thousand eight
hundred and thirty-three horned cattle, four hundred
and ninety-three horses, and twelve thousand eight
huudred and sixty-seveu sheep and swine, were left



to perish or become the property of others. These
poor people were distributed among the colonies, and
seventy-six arrived at Plymouth, Jan. 8, 1756, of
whom seventeen remained, and the others settled in
Kingston, Duxbury, and other towns in the county.
Col. Winslow, in this discreditable act, was only the
instrument of others, and as a military officer was
only performing his duty in obeying the orders of his
superior. His residence, while a citizen of Plym-
outh, was the house now standing on the corner of
North and Main Streets, a house which continued to
be famous for many years afterwards as the residence
of James Warren, the successor of Joseph Warren,
as president of the Provincial Congress. In the ex-
pedition against Crown Point, in 1755, Nathauiel
Bartlett and Samuel N. Nelson each commanded a
company in a regiment of which Thomas Doty was
lieutenant-colonel.

The next period of interest in the history of the
town was that in which those preliminary steps were
taken by Great Britain which finally led to the war
of the Revolution. The passage of the Stamp Act
created an excitement which Plymouth did not fail
to share. On the 14th of October, 1765, a commit-
tee, consisting of James Warren, James Hovey,
Thomas Southworth Howland, Thomas Mayhew,
John Torrey, Nathaniel Goodwin, Nathan Delano,
Theophilus Cotton, and Ephraim Cobb, was chosen
by the town to draw up instructions to the repre-
sentative in the General Court as to his action con-
cerning the outrage. On the 21st the committee
reported the following instructions, which were ac-
cepted :

" To Thomas Foster, Representative of the town of Plymouth at
the Great and General Court of the Province of Ma«nachunttt»
Bay, in New Enalund :

"Sib, — As we have the highest esteem for the British consti-
tution, which we think founded on the true principles of liberty,
and to deserve on many accounts the preference to any other
now on earth, we cannot but reflect with pleasure on our uvvn
happiness in being sharers in that liberty, tho9e rights, and that
security which results from them to every subject in the wide
extended dominions of our most gracious sovereign, who has



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 32 of 118)