Danvers Historical Society.

Historical collections of the Danvers Historical Society (Volume 9) online

. (page 1 of 15)
Online LibraryDanvers Historical SocietyHistorical collections of the Danvers Historical Society (Volume 9) → online text (page 1 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Class JQ4^_.




From a daguerreotype






Under Direction of the Committee on Publication





Harriet Silvester Tapley

Printed by

Newcomb & Gauss

Salem, Mass.



Hon. Samuel Putnam, LL. D., A. A. S., by Elizabeth
C. Putnam and Harriet S. Tapley. {Illustrated.)

Pegged Boots and How They Grew, by Robert S
Rantoul •

Extracts from Rev. Dr. William Bentley's Diary

Some Personal Characteristics of Dr. Samuel
Holten, by Harriet S. Tapley. {Illustrated.)

Direct Tax of Danvers in 1798.

Amos Pope and His Almanacs, by Jasper Marsh.

Blacksmith's Bill, 1857. ....

Bill for Binding Shoes, 1812.

Sarah Frances Richmond — A Memorial.

Tavern Notes.

Family Records of Jonathan Porter, by Mary
Arvedson Barker.

Peirce Family of New Salem, Mass.

Danvers "Welcome Home" to Boys, 1918, by Wil
liam B. Sullivan.

Buildings Erected in Danvers in 1921.







President, Charles H. Preston.

Vice Presidents, George B. Sears, Lester S. Couch.

Secretary, Harriet S. Taplet.

Assistant Secretary, Alice F. Hammond.

Treasurer, Annie G. Perley.

Collector, Mrs. H. Freeman Kimball.

Curator, Capt. Henry N. Comey.

Assistant Curator, Mrs. George W. Towne.

Librarian, Lt. Col. Lawrence W. Jenkins.

Historian, Andrew Nichols.

Executive Committee, Walter A. Tapley, Loring B. Good,
ale, George W. Emerson, Olive F. Flint, and Annie
W. Hammond.

Committee on Publication, Andrew Nichols, Harriet S.
Tapley and Charles H. Preston.

The Treasurer will gladly receive subscriptions for
the much-needed fireproof annex which will be built
as soon as sufficient funds are forthcoming.




Vol. 10. Danvers, Mass. 1922


Sketch of His Life, to which is appended "Some Recol-
lections of the Old Home at Danvers," written
in 1921 by his Granddaughter, Mrs. Louisa
(Crowninshield) Bacon.

Compiled by Elizabeth Cabot Putnam and
Harriet Silvester Tapley.

Samuel Putnam, without doubt the most distinguished
member of the legal profession that Danvers has ever pro-
duced, — an honor to the town, county and Commonwealth,
and of wide influence throughout his long life, — was born
May 13, 1768, the son of Gideon and Hannah (Browne)
Putnam. His father was a man of ability and a leader in
the community, and as Samuel was the only child of a family
of ten to survive to maturity, it may be imagined that the
fondest hopes of the parents were centered in him. His birth-
place was the old Nathaniel Putnam house, which occupied
a part of the farm just back of the house which Judge Putnam
later built on Holten street as a summer residence. His
winter residence was at the so-called Assembly House, Fed-
eral street, Salem, until his removal to Boston in 1833. He
died in Boston, July 3, 1853, and was buried in the family
lot at Walnut Grove Cemetery, Danvers.

The story of his life was told so well by Rev. C. A. Bartol,
who delivered the funeral eulogy at the West Church, Boston,
that extracts from it are inserted here:

"A just man, the most aged in this Society, and the oldest
male member of our church, has lately gone from us. His
hoary head was a crown of glory in the ways of righteousness ;



his erect, unstooping figure was a true emblem of his upright
-and unswerving mind. Samuel Putnam was born in Dau-
vers on the 13th of May, 1768. He was the son of parents
of superior intelligence and worth, the line of his ancestry
in that place running back into our greatest American an-
tiquity. His father, Deacon Gideon Putnam, amid the emer-
gencies of an early settlement, seems to have exercised a
variety of those needful functions devolved upon men of most
native sense and energy. His mother, who united to keen
wit most acute feelings, having, of ten children, only this
one spared, would often betray the smile and tear in the same
moment ; and this only one left of her offspring was naturally
of so very slender constitution, that faintly, indeed, in his
youth could his after-career have been anticipated, and only
a bold casting of the horoscope have meted out to him his
coming years or attainments.

"Samuel went to school in Beverly, where for a time the
family removed, and afterwards, at the age of ten years, he
studied in the Academy at Andover. He saw the soldiers
under Arnold as they passed through Danvers on their way
to attack Quebec ; and they were pleased that the little boy, '
who appears to have had melody born in him, even at his ten-
der age, so rarely cultivated was his faculty, could play the fife
for them as they marched by. Before the Bevolution, too, he
had seen a regiment of soldiers in the command of General
Gage, the British governor, while encamped in Danvers. But
his vocation was not the turbulence of battle, but to the
serener air of peaceful studies; and having entered Harvard
College, with others a classmate of John Quincy Adams, he
received his graduation in July, 1787, and continued an
enthusiastic friend of his alma mater to the end of his days.

"His father had destined him to be a teacher, but moved
by the aspirations and other destiny of his own nature to a
different sphere of greater intellectual struggle among men,
he went to Newburyport to study law with the distinguished
Judge Parsons, yet was by him, his class of pupils being full,
directed to Master Bradbury, as he was called, a sound and
learned lawyer. He established himself in the practice of
his profession, soon very extensively at Salem, — became the
champion and peer of great men, mostly now withdrawn,
whose names have been like household words in our legal and
political speech, — held a leading rank as an advocate, and
against eminent opponents, was prompt, acute, ready and able


with all the ingenuity at command needful to serve his client.
No advocate of the time is understood to have been better
versed in the principle of the Common Law. He had pecu-
liar skill and fame in the branch of mercantile or commercial
law, which was a rare reputation at that period, so that the
great Samuel Dexter in an important case sent his client to
Essex, to Mr. Putnam, as the man to consult in that early-
school of the law in Massachusetts ; and the renowned Justice
Story, who has been his pupil, dedicated one of his works to
his former teacher, with a high tribute to his sagacity and
knowledge, as well as unspotted integrity. He took a decided
and ardent part in the political questions of the time, but
it is believed, in all the fire of parties that during his early
manhood so hotly blazed out, he had no zeal that was not
matched bv his fairness, or at the core and in the end outdone
by his charity. But so did he retain his earnestness, and so
determined was he in his opinions, that he always to the close
considered it a duty, even at personal inconvenience, to cast

1 "Upon the death of Chief Justice Sewall, in 1814, he was,
by Governor Strong, for whom he had a great reverence,
appointed Judge of the Supreme Judicial Court of this Com-
monwealth, and he continued to exercise this high office tor
twenty-eight years. None was ever more intent on making
righteous decrees, none ever more fearless and independent
in his decisions, none more solicitous for the deliverance of the
wrongfully accused, and none more indignant against trick-
ery lying and fraud. There is here, in order to extol no
need to exaggerate. I have no desire to make more or other
of him than he was. ... But he had, what is almost as
uncommon as splendid gifts of intellect, a pure judicial mind,
formed by steady application, inspired by the moral quali-
ties of his own nature, balanced by a peculiarly delicate con-
scientiousness, which, as a wise witness on this matter has
told me, means more than is ordinarily apprehended m a
judge, and moving to the mark of substantial honesty m
affairs with unerring sureness not to be exceeded by men
who in particular directions, might be more astute or pro-
found. He was a just man, which is great and mdispensible
in a judge. It is the award of another sincere observer of
his course that, engaged as he had been in politics, with his
whole heart espousing one side, on his becoming judge he put


the politician entirely off, and in his place knew no distinc-
tion of fellow or foe.

"The mildest, most affectionate man in the world, his face
became flint against all iniquity, and the smiling and playful
air that was his family habit, turned to a guise sublimed into
awe. In 1825 he received from the University in Cambridge
the title of Doctor of Laws. In 1842 he retired to private

" 'Oh, I like him,' was always the word. . . . This liking
for him was no accident with a superficial occasion. It
only corresponded with the breadth and generosity of his
own nature, for he was indeed a very kindly, social and
humane man. I suspect he would not have been pleased with
a recluse and solitary life. He loved to see others happy,
and was organized to enjoy himself in the enjoyment of those
around him. He was exceedingly hospitable, kept open door,
cordially invited his friends to come in, delighted to serve
them at his table. He was glad to go with his guests over
his old paternal estate, which it was a special pleasure to him
to increase and improve. He cherished and fondled his farm,
but had not the ambition of some to accumulate wealth. He
loved to set out trees, whose growth and full flourishing only
his posterity could see. I remember he once showed me how
much a limb had grown on one of his trees; he had, I think,
brought the branch to town, assuring me it afforded him as
much satisfaction as another man would have derived from a
dividend. . . . These hours at home, in the midst of the
numerous family, through several generations, with which
God had blessed and prospered him, were perhaps the seasons
of his deepest and most undisturbed happiness. . . . If he
coveted anything, it was concord. He desired kindly con-
structions of the deeds and motives of others, and would
allow no ill intent to be ascribed where any excuse was pos-
sible, while all unfairness everywhere met his steady dis-
approval. Respecting harshness of remark, he often quoted
a saying of his own father, 'That may be true, my son, but
you should not say so/ ... He had a great love of music.
He had a very sensitive ear to the precision of the note, could
scarce abide any falseness of tune, was never more pleased
than when some beloved old hymn rang up to heaven.

"I must add to what I have said in detail, the grand stroke
of his worth in his religious character. This began, as I
suspect it is very apt to begin, where subsequently it becomes

(Mrs. Samuel Putnam)

From a daguerreotype


very strong in filial piety. Let me venture to cite, in evidence
of this, one or two of those simple, homely incidents which
tell more than would much sentimental rhetoric. When a
mere lad, being ridiculed by his older schoolmates because
his clothes bore marks of having been mended with the
needle, he replied, 'I am very thankful that I have a mother
who is willing to take so much pains for me.' When his
father was old and weak, he went to Danvers, four miles from
his residence in Salem, every day, to dress the patriarch's
beard. Think it not strange that I speak of such familiar
things, for in them, simple and lowly as they are, I find the
roots of that sublimest of sentiments, which tends toward God
and flowers in the skies.

"A human life, especially a very long life, is the finest
measure of earthly things, the best index and aid of advance-
ment. How much on these western shores did the career of
our friend and father span! He was born when the first
troubles were arising between the mother country and the
Colony in which he saw the light, and, while he was a babe,
the voice of Otis was thundering, commercial difficulties were
occurring, storms of trouble lowering, and the citizens of
Massachusetts coming together in convention to assert, or
making ready in their fields to defend their rights. He was
over seven years of age at the date of the battles of Lexington
and Bunker Hill. . . . During the stormy period of our
public affairs, before and after 1812, he was among the stir-
ring spirits. He repeatedly represented, in both branches of
the Legislature, his section of the State, and we may not
doubt, uttered always without compromise the deliberate con-
clusions of a thoughtful mind and the deep sentiments of a
guileless heart."

Mrs. Louisa Crowninshield Bacon's
Personal Reminiscences of the Old Home at Danvers.
"It must have been about 1848 that I first remember going
to stay with Grandpa and Grandma Putnam, but afterwards
the visit became annual. We went in the train to Salem,
where we took the real old-fashioned stage-coach for Danvers.
It was a very hot day in May, and I sat on the middle seat
of the coach. This seat folded over to let in the more favored
passengers who sat in the back seat, after which it was folded
back and a rather wide leather strap was fastened at the end
with an iron pin, making a back for the occupants, but too


high to be of any comfort to the very young, who could hardly
reach it. We drove through Salem and South Danvers, pass-
ing the large house on one side of the road and the brick
woolen mill on the other belonging to Richard Crowninshield.
J think we passed the old Judge Collins house, as it was
then called, then Danvers Plains and Mr. Berry's tavern,
where we once passed a summer. Mr. Berry was much inter-
ested in my mother's collecting old-fashioned furniture and
crockery. We still have in the family a fine old oak arm-
chair, much carved, and some very beautiful old Chinese por-
celain, highly decorated, that he found in Andover, I think.
Then came a hawthorne hedge on the right side of the road,
soon followed by a privet hedge which made one side of
Grandpa's garden, when we turned into the yard and stopped
at the front door, which was on the end of the house.

"The garden was very shady, with large trees growing all
over it, so that flowers did not do well there. One of these
trees was a wide-spreading apple tree, grown from a seed
Grandpa had sown when a boy. There were double white
daffies, however, but we children used to peel off the paper-
like cups of the buds and blow them up and snap them, so
that flowers were scarce. There were gooseberries and currant
bushes in the garden and we often picked them for a sort of
dumpling pudding the cook made with the green currants ; a
pleasing contrast was the frothy, sweet sauce that was always
served with it. We sometimes ate the gooseberries, but there
were not many. Between the house and the road to Tapley-
ville there was a fenced-in yard full of large trees that almost
touched the house, a mountain ash and some locust trees
among them. From the top story of the house you could
look directly into the birds' nests in these trees, count the eggs,
and watch for the young birds to be hatched, and you could
smell the delicious scent of locust blossoms.

"On the opposite side of the Tapleyville road there was a
large barn that had once been painted red, and it must have
been very large, for one year forty cows were kept there.
Then came the road to the mill, a delightful place, with a
real dusty miller, and we were sometimes allowed to hold out-
hands in the warm meal as it came out of the hopper. We
used to stand on the bridge in front of the mill and watch
the fish in the pond; they were pickerel, I believe, and they
used to keep very still in the deep water, as if watching us
as well. Behind the mill the stream rushed under a little


bridge where you could fish, or try to fish, armed with what
my sister called "angry" worms, fastened onto bent pins. I
never caught a fish, but always hoped to some day. This
brook also flowed through the pretty cemetery, where we loved
to go and count the brothers and sisters of Grandpa whose
names were on the table-like gravestones. There were seven
or eight, and all died under twenty-one or two, so that he was
the only one that survived. I am glad to hear the cemetery
is still lovely and well-kept after so many years.

"Following the Tapleyville road from the house, you came
to a small hill with trees set out by Grandpa, always called the
plantation. Many wild flowers grew there, which made you
forget the smell of the pig-sty just at the corner where you
turned off the road. There were checkerberries, early violets,
white and purple, the low-growin g cornel with its cream-white
flowers, anemones, star flowers, small Solomon's seal, partridge
berries and columbines. Between the plantation and the house
was a meadow in which sometimes arethusa could be found.
On a sloping hill beyond this meadow was a fine large oak
tree with a swing under it, so that when you were swinging
you seemed to be flying out into space, a most thrilling expe-
rience. Not far from this oak, and quite overgrown with
short grass and indian tobacco, we were shown the founda-
tions of the old Putnam house where Grandpa was born. He
told us how, when the troops marched by, he marched too,
playing the fife, when quite a small boy. He was unusually
musical, and always sang with us while my mother played
the old piano in the parlor, and she sang with us, too.
Grandpa was a short man, but carried himself with much
dignity and had great charm of manner. We all loved him,
but would never have dared to take any liberty with him.
When of a suitable age he studied law under Judge Parsons
of Newburyport, with John Quincy Adams as a fellow stu-
dent. Adams, according to his journal, seems to have thought
Putnam rather a frivolous character, because he loved music
and had a weakness for the fair sex. I wonder what Putnam
thought of Adams. Grandma Putnam was much beloved by
all the family. She was very affectionate, gentle and kind.
She used to embroider quite wonderfully, and always made
her own designs. I once met Mrs. Candace Wheeler many
years ago, and was surprised to learn she was a third or
fourth cousin. I wondered if she inherited her talent at de-


signing from some common Pickering ancestor of hers and

"When we arrived at the house we found ourselves in a
sort of vestibule with doors leading in different directions,
but no staircase in sight. To the left was the dining-room,
pretty well filled with the large dining-table, set round with
old wooden chairs painted white, with little blue lines for
decoration. They were not very steady and once in a while
one would tip over, much to the delight of us children. There
was a quaint old clock on the mantel-shelf, one picture on
the wall, of a cottage, which might have been a Morland, but
probably was either a copy or the work of some amateur. On
one side of the dining-room was a secretary, with books inside
and glass doors lined with silk, once green, but faded to an
olive color. Then there was a small mahogany ice-chest,
where Grandma used to keep cream and other goodies.
Grandpa was very fond of small green onions, that he used
to cut up very fine with a sort of French dressing, and eat
with his toast or biscuit for what was then called a relish.

"Next beyond the dining-room was the parlor, rather a
dark room with forbidding-looking portraits of the Rev.
Thomas Prince and the Rev. Mr. Barnard, a man who looked
like an owl. The wall paper had a sort of dull gray ground
sprinkled over with small landscapes done in a few brighter
colors, representing horses drinking at a trough. There was
a closet in this room in which Grandma kept a tin of cake
and a decanter of sherry, always offered to visitors. This
cake, which was much like sponge-cake, was called diet-bread,
and was not always quite fresh. One old lady who was call-
ing, when Grandma apologized for the cake not being quite
fresh, smiled sweetly and, as we thought, hypocritically, and
said she preferred stale cake. We never forgot that speech
and always spoke of her as 'that hypocritical' Mrs. C. The
chairs in this parlor were what are called Windsor chairs.
They were painted white, the seats stuffed and covered with
brown leather, which had probably once been green, as the
fringe which ornamented them was green. In one of the
seats there was a small hole, so that if anyone sat on it rather
carelessly an audible squeak could be heard. How many times
I have watched, hoping some large fat person would take that
particular chair, so that we could hear the squeak and at the
same time enjoy their dismay. (These chairs are now at
Pride's Crossing and much prized by my cousins, Miss Kath-

x,tN\': r


erine and Miss Louisa Loring.) The old piano was one of
those very small square ones, with pretty turned legs and old
yellow ivory keys; it had a real, shallow drawer on one side,
and a sham one with gilt handles on the other. It served well,
however, to foster whatever was musical in us, and we much
enjoyed singing, with Grandpa's fine bass voice as an accom-
paniment. It was about the time when negro songs were
much in vogue and we used to sing "Uncle Ned," "Lucy
Long," "Old Dan Tucker," "Camptown Races," "Carry me
back to old Virginie," and, of course, "Old Folks at Home."
So many of the children and grandchildren inherited from
Grandpa all the music that is in them. Poor Grandma was
quite unmusical, as was also my father, but my mother and
TJncle Charles (Dr. Putnam) were unusually musical.
Grandma used to tell how she went to singing school when a
girl, and was told she had better not come again ! There was
a queer old lounge in this parlor, such as is called a day-bed.
It had a cane seat, no back or sides, but a slanting head-board.
As there were so few garden flowers, Aunt Louisa (Mrs.
Augustus Peabody) always went for long walks and brought
back wild flowers, which she arranged in vases on the mantel-
piece. There was a small door, with panes of glass instead
of wooden panels at the top, which opened out of doors to a
brick walk which led to the entrance yard. Grandpa used to
sit out on this walk and watch the clouds gathering for a
thunderstorm, and Grandma used to pick up any bits of
paper or rubbish that might have fallen there. She was
always busy.

"To get upstairs you had to go through the parlor to a
small entry just outside, and the rather narrow stairs covered
with a Venetian carpet, went straight up. This and other
inconveniences of the old house were no doubt owing to the
fact that Grandpa designed it himself, and probably did not
shine so much as an architect as he did as judge.

"There were four large bedrooms on this floor and one
small one, where Cousin Augusta Peabody slept, always known
as the "corner chamber." It had inside slat curtains to the
windows. Aunt Louisa's room came next. It was a beautiful
room and would be the delight of anyone interested in "an-
tiques" today. There was a large four-post bedstead with
white draperies, a fine old mahogany high case of drawers,
lovely old chairs, and a white muslin draped dressing table.
Two windows looked out on one side to the entrance yard


and garden, and two to the front fenced yard. Aunt Louisa
always passed the summer with Grandpa and Grandma at
Danvers. I remember one year that Thackeray's 'Vanity
Fair' was coming out in numbers and used to arrive there for
her. She was so fond of the place that, having been a widow
many years, she wished to be buried in the lovely cemetery at
Danvers. Next this room, toward the road, was the middle
chamber used for company, and with the same sort of furni-
ture, also portable steps to climb to the high bed. I used to
wish I might be allowed to sleep in one of those delightful
feather beds, but was never permitted. Then came Grandma's
room, with windows toward the plantation, the same four-post
bed, high case of drawers, etc. Grandma had a closet in
which she kept medicines, and the labels instead of being

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Online LibraryDanvers Historical SocietyHistorical collections of the Danvers Historical Society (Volume 9) → online text (page 1 of 15)