Danvers (Mass.).

Centennial celebration at Danvers, Mass., June 16, 1852 online

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habitants. Old Reading recollects the days of ancient times, and the
people of former generations. Slie recalls to mind that from Salem —
then including Danvers — from Lynn and from Ipswich, she formerly
received the chief and best part of her permanent settlers. She also
hopes, Mr. President, that you will not refuse to acknowledge in return,
that while she has sent her rivers of population to Ipswich and Lynn,
she has also done something by supplying with her little rivulets the
villages and " DishfuUs" of Danvers.

}f time permitted, I might go into particulars, and ask where Danvers
obtained her Uptons, but from old mother Reading ? — and the spirit
of enterprise they have infused into your community ought to serve to
Neach out any specks, if any could be found in her good name, and
gJue us more strongly together.

I might also ask you, Mr. President, where your ancestors, before
the Revolution, would have obtained their leather gloves and small
clothes, had not William Poole, the leather-dresser of Reading, who
was born there in 1726, emigrated to Danvers, and settled down by
the side of Sti'ong-water Brook ? It was to his ancestor that the earliest
settlers of Reading were indebted for the staff of life. John Poole
was the first mill owner in Reading, and from his pond Pooles in abun-
dance may be found sparkling all over the broad surface of our country.

I mi<2;ht go on and show you many other instances of family rela-
tionship, but my purpose in rising is fulfilled when I propose the fol-
lowing sentiment :

Danvers and Readi:is; — May the iron bands, the leathern cords, and friendly
ties, which now exist, continually grow stronger and stronger, so long as the
waters run in our rivers or sparkle in the pools.

o »:ri"'^'^


Djed Jan.SS. 1838. Aged G6 ve.-irs.


JOHN WEBSTER, Esq., of Newmarket, N. H., one of the Vice-
Presidents of the day, responded to the following : —

The Public Schools of Danvers — Excelsior their motto, their aim perfection.

Mr. President : — It is a source of satisfaction to those of us here
present, who claim the old town of Danvers as the home of our child-
liood, but whose lot in manhood has made lhem wanderers on the sea,
or sojourners by the granite hills of the North, or the sunny climes of
the South, to witness the evidences of prosperity and progress which
we see around you.

By the unique and skilfully devised procession which has been
escorted through your streets to-day, you have exhibited to us, Mr.
President, the past in contrast with the present. We have seen the
maiden and the matron of olden time, the witches of the past, as well
as the witches of the present, the farmer and mechanic of old, with the
rude implements of their pursuits, the gentleman citizen, with his long
cue and hair, made white by fashion, not by age, the honest quaker,
with no hybrid habiliments, the military officer, as much over covered
with coat as deficient in his nether garment, the reverend clergyman,
his parish then a life estate — all these, in the varied costume of the
times, have been called up from the grave, and passed before us ; —
still more, sir, distinguished and eloquent speakers, here present, have
told us of your early history, of your deeds of bravery in defence of
our country, and have traced your progress in population, in wealth, in
enterprise, in intelligence from the time that was, to the time that is —
they have told us of the public interest felt in your public schools, and
of their present efficient condition — and, in the words of the sentiment
which has now been proposed, that your motto is Excelsior, your aim
so high even as perfection. It would have been interesting and in-
structive, sir, if you could also have brought up from the oblivion of
the past the school and the schoolmaster of the olden time, to pass ex-
amination before us. It is not for me, Mr. President, to go any further
into the past, than is within the knowledge of many others here present
— say some thirty-five years ago.

There then stood by the side of the Old South Church a little one-
story, one-room schoolhouse, known as Number One, in Danvers.
At the time to which I refer, the teacher of this school was a quaint,
eccentric, corpulent old gentleman * A broad rimmed hat, on which
time had made wrinkles, as well as on the face of the wearer, a dark
colored, broad skirted coat, somewhat S3edy, while that part of his dress
now called jmnts came only to the knees, and were ornamented with
a huge buckle, his feet encased in a pair of coarse cow-hide shoes, or,
at times, in boots of the same material, which came nigh to conjunc-

* Master Benj. Gile, whose virtues as well as eccentricities are well known
to the inhabitants of Danvers. He was a brother to Rev. Dr. Gile, of Milton.
After retiring from the office of teacher he was appointed to an office of trust
in town, the duties of which he performed with great fidelity. He died April
Ifi, 18.34, aged 70, and caused the following line to be inscribed on his grave-
stone, which stands in the Monumental Cemetery: — "I taught little



tion with the nether garment, was the usual costume he wore, a fashion
somewhat antecedent to the time of which I speak — all which gave
him the appearance of a gentleman of the old school. And now,
Mr, President, let me introduce you inside the schoolhouse aforesaid.
It is a cold, winter morning — a little box cast-iron stove stands near
the centre of the room — the seats around bear evident marks of that
trait of character, industry — for which your people still maintain so
favorable reputation — and true is the saying, sir, that " scissors cut as
well as knives," for the side of the room occupied by the gentler sex,
is not free from these marks of labor. Well, sir, the master stands at
his desk, and the school is opened with the salutation, — ^oys, I am
10,000 years old. You see I hie got my old coat on to-day, and I
always tell you, when you see that you must look out. I hope I shall
not have to kill any of you to-day. The time at which I take you into
the school, as I have said, was a cold, stormy morning in winter. The
little stove is crammed with wood, and its influence, as the school
opens, is only felt in its immediate vicinity. The snow drifts are too
high for the girls to be out, and the boys are permitted to cluster round
the stove, the usual routine of exercise omitted, and the morning hours
devoted to reading the Bible ; such of the scholars reading a verse
each, alternately, that choose to do so, while others, with the Bible at
hand, ai'c playing Pins — head to points — and others practising the in-
structive lesson of Spin Sparrow — but, alus ! for the lad who has not
the right verse in succession, to read, if called to do so by our master;
the heavy cow-hide whip rings over the back of the unfortunate one,
and a general whispering inquiry, from one to the other, is — Where is
the place ?

In the course of instruction pursued by our teacher, it was a matter
of no trifling importance that every one in the class should exactly toe
the line or crack in the floor. Failing to do so, as was sometimes the
case, it was no unheard of practice of the master to apply his huge
shoulders, vigorously, to the one standing at the head, and a good pro-
portion of the whole class were tumbled in a heap on the floor ; as
you have seen, sir, a skilful player at ten pins, by striking the head
one, score the other nine.

In addition to the distinctive names which parents usually give to
their children, our teacher had quite a number of pupils that he dis-
tinguished by favorite, additional titles of his own. One girl, now the
wife of one of your wealthy citizens, was usually addressed as the girl
who came out of the clouds ; one boy was called Wisdom, one Bona-
parte, another Old Buck, &c.

Nor were the modes of punishment for school offences any less
original, ingenious and impressive. Among these, were standing on
the platform with a piece of wood partially split, which was placed
across the nose of the offender, the effect of which was something like
placing the nose in a vise. This was called wearing the spectacles,
after wearing which an hour a boy could, undoubtedly, see to study

Holding a heavy stick of wood in the hand, with the arm extended
perpendicularly, was another method of punishment, and others, still
more original, were practised, which I will not take up your time
in relating.


The course of instruction was limited to Reading, Spelling, Writing,
and Arithmetic, in which latter branch our teacher was wonderfully
skilled. Near tlie close of his administration, which continued several
years, the first germ of progress began to be developed, a portion of
the parents thinking it necessary their children should be taught
English grammar. Murray's Grammar was accordingly introduced
into the school as a reading boo/:, and this was the method by which
we were initiated into this mysterious science, and it may suffice to
say — our knowledge of this branch was very soon fully up to the
standard of perfection to which our teacher himself had arrived.
The schoolmaster of the present applies the screw to develop the
boy's bruins, he of the past applied the cow-hide to develop marks on
our backs. The teacher of to-day is inquisitive, he requires a Why or
a Wherefore ; the former one never gave offence to his pupils in this

Well do I remember the fear that fdled my youthful heart, at tlie
oft-repeated warning given us to beware and dread the last day,- — not
of the duration of the world, — but the last day of school term. So im-
pressed was I with the fear of what the cow-hide was to do, that I pre-
vailed on my parents to allow me to be absent on this eventful day,
and great was my astonishment, when meeting my school companions
after the close, to hear how the day had been passed. The exercises
were commenced with a spelling match ; two of the elder lads choos-
ing, alternately, the most skilled in this important branch, and so down
till rows were formed, facing each other for the battle, the whole
length of the room. The crooked and uncouth words of the Dictiona-
ry were selected for the contest, and the side, which had recorded
against it the most errors, was pronounced the vanquished, and the
victors were allowed to hurra, scream, shout, hisa. and stamp their feet
and clap their hands, to their heart's content.

After this, all the jack-knives, tops, pop guns, spin sparrows, and
other boyish valuables, which had been seized for their several offences
during the year, were taken from the depot, the master's desk, thrown
on the floor, and scrambled for by all the boys.

Mr. President, I have detained you longer than I intended. The
imperfect sketch which I have given is no fancy, no embellished pic-
ture of our school, as several I see present, who were fellow-pupils at
the time, can bear me witness.

Sir, a distinguished writer has said, ^^ to interpret the present thor-
oughly, we must understand and unfold the past.''"' The historian, the
antiquary are searching the world over, among musty parchments and
fragmentary documents, for record of deeds of the past. Should not
the school and the teacher of other days be brought up to the light,
that our youth may more highly estimate the advantages of the
present .' Great men are giving the work of their heads and the
work of their hands to popular education. Our towns, even those of
limited, pecuniary means, are taxing themselves, with no grudging or
stinted measure, for this object.

A history of the public schools of New England, their origin, their
progress, their present condition, it seems to me, would be no unwel-
come volume.


What the record will be of the schools of Danvers at a second cen-
tennial celebration, is not for us to inquire. Only let your motto con-
tinue to be " Excelsior, your aim perfection."

I close, sir, by proposing the following sentiment :

The Pupils of the Public Schools of Danvers — Let them profit Ijy a compari-
son of the present with the past, and make the best use of their increased
advantages of instruction, always venerating those whose highest ambition it
was, to " teach little children to read."

Rev. FRANK P. APPLETON rose, and spoke as follows :—

I am glad, Mr. President, to see that on this interesting occasion
the public schools of Danvers have not been forgotten. Perhaps there
is no feature of the day more full of beauty, meaning and hope than
the long ranks of our public school children. They moved then as
the ambassadors, the messengers, from us to the coming generation,
those through whom the old men of the next centennial shall know us
— the bond between us of the then Past, and those of the then Present
— midway over a space we cannot cross. Through them our thought
and life shall then speak. Their children telling of what we now do
— their life stretching onward far beyond our own. The battle,
God grant them faith to make it the victory, of life fast gathering
around them. Was it not a touching thought, that of all those un-
changed locks and faces, unworn by thought and care, not one
could be remembered by the younger lives of the next centennial,
other than as with whitened head and time-stamped brow ? Was it
not a pleasant thought to have, that many of them would then be the
venerated and the honored and the gratefully remembt^red ? Yes,
they were those, around whom, in their utter unconsciousness, gathered
the meaning, the virtue and the character of the second centennial.
As children they were all this and more, but as representatives of the
public schools, another and weightier meaning lay upon their presence.
They spoke of what is to us, and I say it with due thought, of what
is without reservation or exception the most pure, most Christian,
therefore most powerful institution in our midst, worth all the rest ten
times repeated. The most pure, powerful Christian institution in our
midst — the Public School ; better and stronger than constitution, law
or church. Yes, I am sure of that. You may say, without these last
public schools would never have been. Be that as it may, here they
are, and if thus born it will not be the first time the child has been
better and nobler than the parent, and become in turn, guardian, sup-
port and protector. Such our common schools now are. The founda-
tion of our future prosperity — the one outward institution upon which all
our others must depend, free from party or sectarian rule. Kept sa-
credly free from all such poison, and the best trait in our New England
character is that we, however else we differ and quarrel, join in guard-
ing our schools against these Satans of public and social life. To the
public school system I look as the last and best hope for our country
and our race. There lies the heart of all republicanism, all true
equality, and all free religion. And the more you do for that, the
more I solemnly believe you do for God and man, and true duty. It


is a growing power, one whose calm and yet tremendous energy has
never before been tried on earth : the great new feature of American
civilization. With all its present errors, — for it is just dawning upon
us now, — its spirit is right. And if I were to sum up in one sentence
the word 1 would speak to the coming generation, I would say — Be
TRUE TO Conscience and your Public Schools.

Dr. EBENEZER HUNT responded to the following sentiment : —

The principle of Total Ahstinence — It found its earliest friends and warmest
advocates among the citizens of Danvers : they will be among the last to
abandon it.

Mr. President : — It is with reluctance that I arise to respond to the
sentiment just given ; not that I am not satisfied of its truth, but be-
cause I feel confident that I shall not be able to do justice to the subject.
It is not an easy task, especially for one unaccustomed to public speak-
ing, in an after-dinner speech adequately to portray the labors and.
sacrifices of the early friends of temperance.

The evils intemperance is capable of inflicting on a community have-
been so often and so ably described, that I shall be pardoned for not.
touching upon that subject. And yet only those who have already-
passed the meridian of life know fully what it was and what it
threatened to become in the earlier days of the temperance movement.
It is difiicult for those not living at the time to conceive of the strong'
hold which the love of intoxicating drinks had taken upon the people
indiscriminately. Though fashionable, how constant and how enormous-
in quantity was its consumption.

Only such Can duly appreciate the honors due, and the gratitude
which we ought to feel, for those who made the first successful effort
to stem the torrent of evil which seemed destined to subvert and over-
whelm the social fabric.

As early as the year 1817, if my memory serves me, a society was
organized in the town of Danvers, having for its object the suppression
of intemperance and its kindred vices. For more than twenty years
this society waged an uncompromising and almost single-handed
combat against the giant evil. And may we not confidently assert that
it is, under Providence, mainly owing to the action of this society, that
Danvers, as regards temperance, is among the foremost if not the first
town in the Commonwealth }

Active in the organization of this society we find the names of Judge
Holten, Rev. Messrs, Wadsworth, Walker and Chaplain, Dr. Torrey,.
Elijah Upton, Fitch Poole, Eleazer Putnam, Caleb Oakes, Ebenezer
Putnam, and Samuel Fowler. These were the early fathers of the
society. Associated with them we find the names of younger men, but
not less ardent friends of the cause : such as Jesse Putnam, Andrew
Nichols, Archelaus Putnam, Elias Putnam, Arthur Drinkwater, Rufus
Choate, John Peabody, Alfred Putnam, John Porter, and many others,
some of whom, I rejoice to say, are now present, and others, although
dead, yet speak to us by their influence and example, urging us to
renewed efforts in the cause in which they so faithfully and so success-
fully labored.

23 w


It was no easy task in those early days of the temperance movement
lo face the frowns of public opinion, to bear the scoffs and sneers of
the thoughtless and the indifferent, and to pursue a course so diamet-
rically opposite to the fashion and the prevailing custom of the com-
munity in which they lived. It is this consideration that should
especially entitle them to our warmest gratitude and thanks.

It would be not a little creditable to these worthies, and to the town,
if, when the true history of these events shall be written, it should
appear that the Temperance Reformation^ so called, which subsequently
pervaded the whole length and breadth of the land with healing in its
wings, at the time of the VVashingtonian movement, and which carried
in its train joy and gladness to so many hitherto wretched homes, —
should have had its origin in the efforts of these early advocates of the
cause. However this may be, they can never be deprived of the
honor of having organized in Danvers the first permanent society for
the suppression of intemperance, that, so far as has come to my
knowledge, ever existed.

While we cherish the memory of these heroic and philanthropic
men, let us be careful to imitate their example. Let us see to it that
our efforts are not wanting to sustain and uphold our present anti-liquor
law, from which so much is anticipated by the friends of temperance
in this and the neighboring states. Let us do this, and the blessings of
those that are ready to perish shall come upon us. And at the next
Centennial Celebration in Danvers, long after we shall have gone to
our reward, our names shall be freshly remembered along with those
who have preceded us in the warfare against one of the monster evils
of the age, and in meliorating the condition of mankind.


There were numerous letters received and read, from gentlemen
who were unable to be present.

A sentiment complimentary to Robert C. Winthrop was responded
to by the reading of a letter, from which the following is an extract : —

" Danvers has just reason to be proud of her history. After more
than a hundred years of honorable connection with the ancient Town
of Salem, — the very Plymouth of Massachusetts Colony, where John-
son and Saltonstall and Winthrop landed, and where Endicott lived, —
it has now enjoyed another Century of distinguished independent ex-

The annals of the town, during the whole period, are replete with
mteresting incidents, and with the acts of patriotic men. As the birth-
place of the lion-hearted Putnam, it would have no ordinary claim to
the regard of us all. But Putnam seems only to have been a type of
his towns-people, and the hills and plains of our Revolutionary struggle
have borne frequent witness to the bravery of Danvers men.

I cannot forget, too, that you have furnished excellent and eminent
men to the ranks of civil life ; and it would have given me peculiar
pleasure, on this occasion, to have borne testimony to the fidelity and
patriotism of your late lamented Representative in Congress, the Hon.


Daniel P. King. But his memory, I am sure, is still fresh in all your
hearts, and his fidelity and patriotism require no other testimony than
that which he has abundantly impressed on the records of his public life.
I regret, gentlemen, that imperative engagements will- not allow me
to be with you. I pray you to present my best respects to your fellow-
citizens, and my best wishes for the continued prosperity and welfare
of the town, and believe me,

"With great regard and respect.

Your obliged friend and ob't serv't,
Hon. R. S. Daniels. ROBERT C. WINTHROP.

James H. Dukcan, M. C, in a long and interesting letter, says : —
" I am vividly reminded, while I write, of one, — your late esteemed
fellow-citizen and representative, and my colleague, — who, had he
lived, would have taken tho liveliest interest in this celebration. For
everything concerning the interests of his native town, county or state,
was near his heart. He was removed to a higher sphere too soon for
his country and his friends, but not until he had earned an honorable
and enduring reputation and an abiding-place in the hearts of his fel-

The following toast was then drank in solemn silence, the whole
company rising :

The Memory of the Hon. Daniel P. King — His memory is still fresh in all
our hearts, and his fidelity and patriotism require no other testimony than that
which he has abundantly impressed on the records of his public life

The following toast was then submitted :

The Clergy — In the annals of our town we have had briglit examples of all
that is profound in learning, eminent in piety, and pure in the private relations
of life — those who " allure to heaven and lead the way."

Rev. Mr. Field, who was expected from Troy, New York, not being
present, the following letter was read : —

Troy, June 14, 1852.

Gentlemen : — It would afford me the greatest pleasure to attend, in
compliance with your kind request, the approaching centennial cele-
bration in Danvers. My duties here, however, will make it impossible
for me to be with you on that occasion. That it will be an occasion of
deep interest, I do not doubt.

There are many events connected with the history of Danvers that
will furnish themes pleasant and profitable to contemplate, — themes
that will impart eloquence to the orator and inspiration to the poet, and
awaken in the hearts of all who consider them, a love of liberty, of ed-
ucation, and of religion.

To myself, personally, Danvers must ever be a place of the most
interesting associations. Having passed there many happy years, in
duties that brought me near to the minds and hearts of many of its
inhabitants, having been called so often to rejoice with them in their
joys and to weep with them in their sorrows, memory must cease to
perform its office when Danvers and its people shall fail to have a large
place in my thoughts and affections.


Please accept my best wishes for the prosperity of the town of Dan*
vers, in all its interests^ and believe me,

Gentlemen, sincerely and respectfully yours,


The following letter was read from Hon. RuFus Choate, formerly
of t)anvers :—

Boston, May 26, 1852.

Gentlemen: — I had the pleasure to find your letter, of the 20th, on

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Online LibraryDanvers (Mass.)Centennial celebration at Danvers, Mass., June 16, 1852 → online text (page 18 of 22)