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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dedicated May 10, 1867. Of the numerous persons
who have been identified with the schools of the
towu for the past forty years, none has held a higher
place, or been more justly esteemed by his towns-
men, than the Rev. Mr. Peckham, who was elected
one of the school committee in 1843, and for the
larger part of the time since has either held the
same office, or that of superintendent of the schools,
until his death, which occurred May 17, 1884, while
this sketch of the schools was being prepared, of
which a portion was at his own suggestion.

The first principal of the high school was Mr. Ben-
jamin Wormelle, and to the present time the follow-
ing persons have filled that position : Addison G.
Smith, George L. Chandler, Horatio B. Lawrence,
C. C. Sheldon, G. B. Towle, and C. E. Ridler.

Of the private schools in the town, none is better
remembered by persons now living than that for
young ladies, of which Miss Deborah Sampson was
the teacher. Many considered their education in-
complete until they had attended this popular school.
Miss Sampson was teaching in 1825, and for about
twenty years afterwards. She removed to Plymouth,
and lived there until a few years before her death,
wheu her mental powers failed, and she died in South
Boston, April 26, 1871, aged seveuty-seven years.

Reformatory Movements. — During the reform-



atory movements which had their rise in the latter
part of the third decade of the present century, King-
ston acted her part. Intemperance had grown to have
been such an alarming evil, that many thoughtful, earn-
est persons all over the land had takeu the matter into
serious consideration, and were devising means and
methods whereby to stay its course. In this town, a
meeting was held Jan. 1, 1830, " for the purpose of
taking into consideration the expediency of forming a
society for the promotion of temperance." Deacon
Seth Drew was chosen chairman of the meeting,
and George Russell secretary. A constitution was
adopted, and the twenty-six names following were
signed thereto : John Allen, John W. Salter, James
Cushman, John Cook, Elisha Stetson, Solomon
Thompson, Levi Waterman, Nathaniel Cuahman
Elisha Ford, Anselm Holmes, Levi S. Prince, George
Stetson, Henry Cobb, William Stetson, Lysander
Bartlett, Jr., James Prideaux, Ira Chandler, Jr., Ja-
son Winnett, George Russell, Seth Drew, Nathan
Lucas, William Brolly, Charles H. Beal, Job W.
Drew, Nathaniel Foster (2d), and Levi Fish, Jr.

The following persons were chosen as officers of the
society for the first year : Rev. John Allen, president ;
Mr. George Russell, secretary ; Mr. James Cushman,
treasurer ; Rev. John W. Salter, Deacon John Cook,
Deacon Seth Drew, Mr. Elisha Ford, and Mr. Henry
Cobb, executive committee. Monday, July 5, 1830,
the society had been organized only six months, yet
the iuterest had so increased that the day was cele-
brated by temperance services in the First Congrega-
tional meeting-house. Mr. Russell, the secretary,
records this interesting fact : " The address was de-
livered by Dr. H. N. Preston, — a very able and inter-
esting address. I notice this, as it is the fir;t public
celebration of independence wc ever had in this towu.
The day was very pleasant and the audience quite
large, and the society has reason fur praise and thanks-
giving to God for his blessiug, which has thus far fol-
lowed its labors and crowned it with unexpected suc-
cess." The American Tcmperauce Society appointed
Feb. 26, 1833, as a day for meetings of the different
societies throughout the United States, and they con-
tinued annually for many years/and became known as
the "simultaneous meetings." The address at the
time just named was by Rev. Mr. Fitz, of Middle-
boro'. For the eleven years succeeding, the names
of the speakers who addressed these annual meetings
will be given : Feb. 25, 1834, John A. Bolles, Esq.,
of Boston ; Feb. 26, 1835, Rev. John Allen (the first
president of the society); Feb. 23, 1836, Thomas
Prince Beal, Esq., of this town; Feb. 28, 1S37,
Rev. Mr. Choules ; Feb. 27, 1838, Rev. Samuel J.



HISTORY OF KINGSTON.



277



May, of Scituate ; Feb. 26, 1839, Rev. Robert B.
Hall, of Plymouth; Feb. 25, 1840, Rev. Russell
Tomlinson, of Plymouth ; Feb. 25, 1841, Rev. George
W. Briggs, of Plymouth ; Feb. 22, 1842, Rev. George
J. Carlcton ; Feb. 28, 1843, Rev. Augustus It. Pope,
of this town ; Feb. 27, 1844, Rev. Joseph Peckhain,
of this town.

On the 12th of March, 1844, the Kingston Total
Abstinence Society was organized as a step in advance
of the old society, that had done so good a work for
fourteen years. The records of the meetings of the
former society ceased at the formation of the dcw or-
ganization, with the exception of some resolutions
passed at a meeting in March, 184G, which virtually
dissolved the old society. Of the first officers of the
new society, Eli Cook was president ; Elkanah Cush-
man, vice-president ; George Faunce, treasurer ; and
Thomas Russell, secretary. For a few years the old
time-honored " simultaneous meetings" were held an-
nually uutil 1S52. After that year they are recorded
as being held occasionally.

In 1S46 the address was delivered by Rev. Nathan-
iel Colver, of Boston ; 1847, Rev. Charles S. Porter,
of Plymouth ; 1848, Rev. Mr. Hawes, of Hingham ;
1849, Rev. Caleb Stetson; 1850, Rev. A. It. Pope,
of Somerville ; 1851, John C. Cluer, of Boston;
1852, Rev. James Richardson, Jr., of Cambridge.
The society continued its labors for more than ten
years from the latter date. The last meeting re-
corded was Jan. 8, 18G3, and there is nothing to
show but what the society was then in active opera-
tion. At that time other organizations were in the
field, all working to advance the cause of temperance.
About 184C the Pacific Division, of the order of Sons
of Temperance, was instituted in the town, and that
had an existence for a few years. In 1860 the Silver
Luke Division, of the same order, was organized, theu
followed the Good Templars ; and these organizations,
together with the Band of Hope for the children,
similar to the Cold- Water Army of 1841 (not here-
tofore mentioned in this article), kept alive the inter-
est in the great question of temperance for several
years.

The Kingston Anti-Slavery Society. — Soou
after William Lloyd Garrison inaugurated the sub-
lime movement for the immediate abolition of Amer-
ican slavery, and the formation of the National So-
ciety at Philadelphia, in 1833, hundreds of State,
county, and town societies in the northern section of
our country were organized and exerting a wonderful
and powerful influence on the minds and consciences
of our people. On the 27th of November, 1834, an
anti-slavery society was formed in this town, the meet-



ing for that purpose being held in the Second Con-
gregational meetiug-house. The officers chosen (De-
cember 3d) were Deacon Seth Drew, president ; Rev.
Abraham Jackson, vice-president; Matthew S. Cush-
man, secretary ; Francis Drew, treasurer ; and a board
of consultation, consisting of five members, viz. :
Rev. John Allen, George Russell, Joseph Stetson,
Stephen Bradford, Jr., and William Stetsou.

The constitution of the society adopted at that
time declared that " this society will endeavor to
effect, so far as its iufluence may go, the immediate,
the total emancipation of the enslaved from their
oppression, and to raise the colored population tu the
enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, that they
may have opportunity for instruction in all useful,
religious, literary, and scientific knowledge ; and this
we will seek to do by argument, by candid discussion,
by the circulation of such publications as may tend
to enlighten the public mind on this subject, and by
all the moral means in our power," etc. It was
voted that an invitation be sent to George Thompson,
the eloquent British abolitionist (who had a short
time previous arrived in this country), to address the
society. Mr. Thompson accepted the invitation, and
delivered an address on the 22d of December, which
was never forgotten by those of the early friends of
anti-slavery whose good fortune it was to be present
on that interesting occasion. One hundred and fifty
names appeared on the records of the society as active
members, and the meetings were held regularly for six
years, and all were attended with increxsing interest.
At last questions arose which divided the societies all
over the North, and no meeting of the Kingston Anti-
Slavery Society is recorded after May 25, 1840. On
the 3d of March previous, " the society met accord-
ing to notice, when the following question was the
subject of discussion : Has the Massachusetts Anti-
Slavery Society departed from its original ground ?
After a very candid and able discussion by Rev. J. S.
White and others, it was the unanimous vote of the
society that the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society
has not departed from its original ground." The
great division in the American Anti-Slavery Society
took place in May, 1840, and the two parties were
afterwards known as old and new organizations.
Then for more than twenty years the battle against
slavery was waged, the different parties working by
means they thought the most effectual, and the great
work is now a matter of history. Many of the orig-
inal members of the Kingston Anti-Slavery Society
lived to see the triumph of their cause, when Amer-
ican slavery went down with such a frightful sacrifice
of blood and treasure in the great Rebellion of 1861.



I ;



ITS



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH COUNTY.



CHAPTER VI.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF REVOLUTIONARY
OFFICERS— KINGSTON MEN IN THE REVOLU-
TIONARY AVAR.

Biographical Sketches of Revolutionary Offi-
cers. — Maj.-Gen. John Thomas. The following
sketch of this distinguished officer is made up chiefly
from an account of his life and services published in
1844 by Charles Coffin. He was born in Marshfield
in the year 1724. In that town his father and grand-
father resided, and were substantial farmers and lead-
ing men there. After receiving a medical education
in Medford, where he studied with Dr. Cotton Tufts,
a distinguished physician, he commenced practice in
his native town, but soon removed to Kingston, where
he was a skillful and very successful physician. He
became a prominent man in the affairs of the town,
and was chosen clerk for the years 1764, 1765, 1766,
and was also one of the selectmen from 1763 until
1775. In March, 1746, he was commissioned as
second surgeou in a body of troops raised to be sta-
tioued at Annapolis Royal. Iu 1755 he was ap-
pointed surgeon's mate in Shirley's regiment, but soou
left the medical staff, and was appointed a lieutenant
in the same regiment. He was appointed a colonel
in 1759, and reappointed by Governor Pownall in
1760, and commanded his regiment part of both these
years in Nova Scotia. This latter year he joined the
army at Crown Point, commanded by Sir Jeffry Am-
herst, the commander-in-chief of the North American
forces. At the close of this French war, Col. Thomas
continued in his profession at home until 1775, when
the war of the Revolution commenced. The Provin-
cial Congress assembled at Cambridge, Feb. 9, 1775,
— Resolved, "That the Hon. Jedediah Preble, Esq.,
Hon. Arteuias Ward, Esq., Col. Seth Pomeroy, Col.
John Thomas, Col. William Heath, be and hereby
are appointed general officers." These all accepted
with the exception of Gen. Preble, of Portland.
Previously to the battle of Lexington, the Provincial
Congress created the office of lieutenant-general, and
appointed Thomas to the office, which gave him rank
of Pomeroy. After the battle of Lexington Ward
was commander-in-chief, and had his headquarters at
Cambridge, while Thomas commanded on the Rox-
bury side as lieutenant-general, but soon after the
Continental Congress assumed the army at Cambridge
as the army of the United Colouies, and appointed the
general officers. Among these, after Washington, were
four major-generals, eight brigadiers, and an adjutant-
general. Ward being the only major-general Massa-
chusetts was entitled to, Thomas should have been



the first brigadier of the army, and is so called in his
commission, but the dates of the commissiou gave
Pomeroy and Heath precedence. This difficulty pro-
duced a great deal of feeling, and the fears that
Thomas would resign caused Washington and other
officers to make a great effort to induce him not to
take such a step, at the same time showing in what
esteem he was held. In a letter to Congress from
Cambridge camp, July 10, 1775, Washington says,
" I am very sorry to observe that the appointment
of general officers in the provinces of Massachusetts
and Connecticut has not corresponded with the wishes
or judgment either of the civil or military. . . .
Gen. Thomas is much esteemed and most earnestly
desired to continue in the service, and as far as my
opportunities have enabled me to judge, I must join
the general opinion, that he is an able, good officer,
and his resignation would be a public loss."

Gen. Lee writes, July 23d : " Sat, — It is with the
greatest concern that I have heard of your intention
to quit the service of your couutry at a crisis when
men of merit can be so ill spared. You thiuk your-
self not justly dealt with in the appointments of the
Continental Congress. I am quite of the same opin-
ion, but is this a time, sir, when the liberties of your
country, the fate of posterity, the rights of mankind
are at stake, to indulge our resentments for any ill
treatment we may have received as individuals ?" etc.

Washington also writes to him July 23d, and
makes a strong appeal to him not to resign, and says
in his communication, " For the sake of your bleed-
ing country, your devoted proviuce, your charter
rights, and by the memory of those brave men who
have already fell in this great cause, I conjure you to
banish from your mind every suggestion of anger and
disappointment; your country will do ample justice
to your merits ; they already do it, by the sorrow and
regret expressed on the occasion, and the sacrifice you
are called to make will, in the judgment of every
good man and lover of his country, do you more real
honor than the most distinguished victory." Gen.
Thomas, however, withdrew from his command at
Roxbury, feeling that he could not in honor serve in
an army and be commanded by those whom he had
so recently commanded. This difficulty was iu a
short time entirely settled, as the Congress passed a
special resolve that Gen. Thomas should have prece-
dence of all the brigadiers in the army, in which de-
cision the army and the public fully acquiesced, aud
he was restored to rank and command. Until March,
1776, Gen. Thomas was in command at Roxbury.
It was determined to take possession of Dorchester
Heights, which would bring ou an action or compel



HISTORY OF KINGSTON.



279



the evacuation of Boston by the British. On the
evening of Monday, March 4th, Thomas marched,
with about twenty-five hundred men, three or four
hundred carts with intreuching tools, and a train of
carts with facines and screwed hay. All night the
men were working throwing up earth-works, and, con-
sidering the fact that the ground was frozen deeply,
the result in the morning was surprising. After sun-
rise people were seen on the house-tops in Boston
viewing the scene with astonishment, and the British
immediately saw that they must make an assault on
Thomas or leave Boston. The general's own account
of this transaction, in a letter written to his wife, will
be given :

"Deau Mas. Thomas:

" Wc have for some time been preparing to take possession of
Dorchester Point, and tost Monday nigbt, about seven o'clock,
I marched with about three thousand pioked men, besides three
hundred and sixty ox teams and some pieces of artillery. Two
companies of the train of teams were laden with materials for
our works. About eight o'clock we ascended the high bills,
and by daylight got tun bills defensible. About sunrise the
enemy aud others in Boston appeared numerous on the tops of
houses and on the wharfs, viewing us with astonishment, for
our appearance was unexpected to them. The cannonading,
which had been kept up all night from our linos at Lamb's
Dam, and from the oneniy's lines likewise at Lechmere's Point,
now ceased from these quarters, and the enemy turned their
tire towards us on the hills, but they soon found it was to little
effect. About ten o'clock we discovered large bodies of troops
embarking in boats with their artillery, which made a formida-
ble appearance. After some time they were put on board trans-
ports, and several of the ships came down near to the castle, as
we supposed, with a design to land on our shore. Our people
appeared in spirits to receive them. We were now in a good
pusturo of defenco, aud had two thousand men added to our
number. The enemy viewed us critically, and remained in
that situation that night. The next day they came to sail, and
returned to town and landed tbeir troops. On Friday, about
two o'clock P.M., they sent a tlag of truce with a paper, a copy
of which I enclose. I have had very little sleep or rest this
week, being closely employed night and day. But now I think
we are well secured. I write in haste, thiukiug you may be
anxious to bear, as there is much firing this way. We -lost but
two men killed in all this affair. How things are in Boston, or
what loss they have sustained from our shot and shells, at pres-
ent wc are not informed, but I am sensible wo distressed them
much, from appearances. I have wrote you enclosed by the
same hand, and am in haste.

"Jso. Thomas.

" Dorphkstek Hills, in a small hut,

" Mar. 9, 1776.

" Your son John is well and in high spirits. He ran away
from Oakolcy privately, on Tuesday morning, and got by the
&entrics, and came to me, on Dorchester Hills, where be has
been cuom of the time since."

This son, John, had been left in care of his father's
colored servant, Oakeley, when they left Roxbury for
Dorchester Heights. Many persons now living well
recollect him (Col. John Thomas), for he lived to an
advanced age, dying Feb. 21, 1853, aged eighty-



seven years. Throughout his life this incident of his
boyhood was remembered by him with much pleasure,
being connected as it was with a famed military
movement in the early days of the Revolution. Bos-
ton was evacuated by the British on the 17th of
March, and as the Congress had been looking for an
officer to command the troops led into Canada by
Montgomery and Arnold, Gen. Thomas was selected
for that purpose. He was promoted to the rank of
major-general on the 6th of March, and after seeing
the British army and fleet leave his native province,
he took his departure for Canada. He made great
exertions to join the army, and arrived there on the
first day of May, where he found his whole force to
consist of nineteen hundred men, but less than one
thousand, including officers, were fit for duty, and
three hundred of these were entitled to a discharge,
so they could refuse to do duty. Even this force
was necessarily divided to occupy different posts on
the St. Lawrence, and had he been attacked, would
not have been able to bring more than three hundred
men together at any one point. Ammunition and
provisions were low, and many of the soldiers were
sick with the smallpox. Under all these circum-
stances, Gen. Thomas considered it useless and dan-
gerous to continue before the town of Quebec with-
out any hope of taking it. He called a council of
war on the 5th of May, and it was determined to
move the army higher up the river than where it
had been stationed. On the evening of the same
day a British fleet came up the river, and the next
morning appeared in sight. In the afternoon, seeing
that the enemy were to attack them, Gen. Thomas,
with the advice of the field-officers, decided not to
risk an action, but ordered the troops to retreat still
farther up the river, and as this was done in great
haste, many of the sick, with the military stores,
were taken by the enemy. It had been the one
great hope and desire of the Congress, and the Revo-
lutionists in general, to take and keep possession of
Canada, but all their efforts failed, and disaster and
misfortune seemed to follow the army in rapid suc-
cession. While waiting at Chamblee. on the River
Sorel, Gen. Thomas fell sick with the smallpox of
the most malignant kind, aud while anxiously wait-
ing the expected reinforcements, he died on the 2d
of June, 177b', aged fifty-two years. Thus died a
noble officer, who only lived to see the very begin-
ning of the war of the Revolution, even before Con-
gress had given to the world the Declaration of Amer-
ican Independence, but within that short period he
acted an important part. Dr. John Eliot, in a note
to a memoir of Gen. Sullivan, says of Gen. Thomas :



2SU



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH COUNTY.



" He was an officer who had acquired reputation in tlie |
French war. He was one of the best officers in our army
in 1775, and commanded the division nearest the
British lines in Roxbury. A more brave, beloved, I
and distinguished character did not go into the field,
nor was there a man that made a greater sacrifice of
his own ease, health, and social enjoyments." Gen.
Thomas left a widow and three children. Mrs.
Thomas died in 1S19, aged eighty-eight years.
Their daughter, Hannah, became the wife of Rev.
Zephaniah Willis, and died Aug. 8, 1834, aged
seventy-two years. John, of whom we have previ-
ously spoken, was the elder son, and Nathaniel died
Auk. 1, 1X46, aged seventy-seven years.

Gen. Peleq Wadswohth was the son of Dea-
con Pcleg Wadsworth, of Duxbury, and was born
April 25, 1748. His father intended that he should
study for the ministry, but after he had graduated
from Harvard College, in 1769, he opened a private
school in Plymouth. Mr. Scammel, afterwards Gen.
Scammel, of Revolutionary fame, was his iutiiuatc
friend in college, and likewise taught in Plymouth.
At the time just previous to the breaking out of the
Revolution he was keeping a store in this town, and
took a great interest in teaching young men in the
use of fire-arms, for minute companies were being
formed in every town in this vicinity. He was chosen
captain of the Kingston company, and the men were
all interested in him, he all the while inspiring them
witli true patriotism. The part he took in the move-
ment against Balfour, at Marshfield, has been noticed
in the " Annals," page 263. In September, 1775, he
joined the army at Roxbury, and was afterwards aid
to Gen. Ward. In 1776 he was appointed captain
in Col. Bailey's regiment, and in 1777 he received
the appointment of brigadier-general from the State,
and had command of the district of Maine. In 1778
he was chosen second in command of an expedition
against the British on the Penobscot River, but that
failed of success. He had the command of a detach-
ment of State troops at Camden, Me., in 17S0, and
there was captured by the enemy and taken prisoner,
and was to have been taken to England for trial, but
he escaped from his confinement. After the war he
became a successful merchant in Portland, aud was a
member uf Congress for eight years. He received
from the State for his services a large tract of land
on the Saco River, and afterwards removed and settled
there, where he died in 1829. His son, Alexander
Scammel, was second lieutenant on board the " Con-
stitution' 1 when she captured the '' Gucrricre." Au-
other sou, Henry, was lieutenant in the navy, and
was under Commodore Preble at the siege of Tripoli,



where he fell, Sept. 4, 1S04, in his twentieth year.
Our late renowned poet, Henry Wadsworth Long-
follow, took his name from this young officer, who
was his uncle. Mr. Longfellow's mother being the
daughter of Gen. Wadsworth. The services of the
general in connection with the Kingston minute
company of 1775, and his interest in the training of
the young men at that time, made his name a familiar
and honored one to all the people of that generation
as long as they lived and remembered bis acts and
labors; and it is hoped that this simple record of his
services will serve to keep his name in remembrance
by the descendants of those who so honored hiui.

M.\J. Seth DltEW. — The subject of this sketch
was born in this town June 13 (N. S.), 1747, and
was the fifth son of Cornelius aud Sarah (Bartlett)
Drew. He learned the trade of a shipwright, and
continued in that occupation until the commence-
ment of the Revolution. He joined the company of



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 64 of 118)