Danvers (Mass.).

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

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though cautioned to do so, — owe, who, when questioned ivhere
he should he on the day of battle, replied, " Where the Enemy is
there you ivill find /«e.'" All who know our country's history
must be aware that I refer to the brave Captain Samuel Flint,
who fell fighting, sword in hand, on the mounds of Bennington,
in the prime of life and vigor of manhood ; leaving descendants,
whose highest pleasure it should be to imitate the patriotism of
their grandfather, and the amiable virtues of their father, — the
late Hon. D. P. King.

On the 18th of June, 1776, it was voted, in town meeting,
"if the Honorable Congress, for the safety of the United States,

* When the troops from Salem, under the command of Col. Timothy Pick-
ering, were on their way to meet the enemy, (the Danvers companies having
started ahead by permission,) they halted at the Bell Tavern, now Monument,
to arrange their places ; and while thus stopping, Hasket Derby, one of the
soldiers, stepped into friend Southwick's, the house opposite, with whom he
was acquainted, where Mrs. Southwick said to him, Friend Derby, thee knows
that my principles will not allow me to do anything to encourage war ; but as
there is a long and tedious march before thee, and thee and those with thee
may be in need of refreshment, this batch of bread, just taken from the oven,
thee may take, if thee please,— ^or it never can he wrong to feed the hungry.
And she put into his knapsack a cheese uiso. The same facts have been
affirmed to me by her son Edward, who, with the soldier from Salem, lived to
be men of the greatest wealth and influence in their respective towns.


declare them independent of the kingdom of Great Britain, —
we, the inhabitants of Danvers, do solemnly jiledge our lives
and fortunes to support them in the measure," — language
smelling strongly of the Declaration made at Philadelphia, on
the 4th of July next following ; — which Declaration was unan-
imously approved by vote, and ordered to be entered, at length,
in the records of the town. Yes, there it is, my friends, in
bold relief, on the page, — for the instruction of future genera-
tions. This little incident speaks volumes of the feelings that
pervaded the minds of the community. This little town, with
less than two thousand inhabitants, thus ratifying the doings
of a nation, and taking upon itself the responsibility. The
spirit of Holten, of Foster, of Hutchinson, of Shillaber, and
their compatriots, is apparent in this thing. When such a feel-
ing prevails, victory or death must follow. No compromise is
admissible. No tory spirit was found here. While these men
lived, there was no doubt where Danvers would be found.
Her sons have every reason to be proud of the patriotic spirit
and determined purpose of their sires. The names of many
brave men are conspicuous in her annals. Let their sons, to
the latest generation, see to it, that a reputation so nobly earned
shall never be tarnished.


On the page of history that shall mark the efforts of Danvers
in the Revolutionary struggle for Independence, will be found
the names of —

Gen. Israel Putnam,

Gen. Gideon Poster,

Gen. Moses Porter,

Col. Jeremiah Page,

Col. Israel Hutchinson,

Col. Enoch Putnam,

Major Caleb Lowe,

Major Sylvester Osborn,

Capt. Samuel Eppes,

Capt. Samuel Flint,
4 d


Capt. Jeremiah Putnam,

Capt. Samuel Page,

Capt. Dennison Wallis,

Capt. Levi Preston,

Mr. William Shillaber,

Dr. Amos Putnam,

Dr. Samuel Holten,

Capt. Johnson Proctor, (my father,)
the last survivor of the revolutionary worthies, who died No-
vember 11, 1851, aged 86. A class of men worthy of the
cause they so ably defended. They were none of your milk-
and-water heroes ; salt pork and bean porridge constituted the
basis of their diet.*


It is interesting to notice the extraordinary length of lives
attained by these patriots. Of those named, their average ages
exceeded 80 years. What could have so extended their lives
ten years beyond the period ordinarily allotted to man ? This
IS an inquiry of much interest. It could not have been quiet,
and freedom from exposure, — for none were more exposed.
The incidents of the soldier's life, under circumstances most
favorable, have little to charm or amuse ; but the Revolutionary
Soldiers, half clad and half starved, as they often were, must
have lived on something not fully appreciated, to hold out as
they did. May it not in part be attributed to their energy and
activity of movement in early years? to that buoyancy and
cheerfulness of spirits that naturally flow from such movements?
Who has not witnessed the animation Avith which the old
soldier adverts to the perils of his youth, and

" Shoulders his crutch to show how fields are won " ?

Who will presume to say that cheerful spirits do not essentially
contribute to the prolongation of life ?

* There are many others, " good men and true," who did much service, with
equal energy and patriotism, but who were content with being brave, without
any proclamation niiulc of it. Those who float readily on the top, have not
always the most solidity.


Aged 33.



But two instances, within the limits of the town, of persons
living to the age of one hundred years, have come to my
knowledge. These were both soldiers, who had seen much
service in many wars.

The first was Thomas Nelson, a native of Scotland, who
died in 1774, at the age of 113 years.

The second was Lemuel Winchester, a native of Brookline,
Massachusetts, who died in 1844, at the age of 100 years 8
months and 5 days.

Of father Nelson, I have heard my grandmother say, (who
herself lived to be almost one hundred,) that when he was
more than one hundred, he often walked from his residence to
Salem, six miles, as upright as any young man.

Both of these gentlemen possessed cheerful dispositions and
active habits. Both of them were free from those excesses so
common to the age in which they lived, though probably not
tee-totallers, — a description of beings that were not common in
revolutionary times.

How important then, to those who would possess health and
long life, to imitate their example in the cultivation of habits
of activity, temperance and cheerfulness. It was remarked by
Lord Mansfield, one of the most sagacious of men, that he
never knew an instance of a person living to extreme old age
who did not rise early ; and he might have added, who did not
live temperate. Temperance and activity are the corner stones
of health and usefulness.


The first settlers of Salem were Puritans. They were men
who aimed to be governed by the impulses of their own con-
sciences, and to keep themselves void of offence.* Such were
Endicott and his associates when they came to Salem. I do

* In the language of Governor Bradford, when a young man, " To keep a
good conscience, and walk in such a way as God hath prescribed in his Word,
is a thing which I much prefer before you all, and above life itself."


not presume to say they were without blemish, — the sun has
spots, — but "their faults leaned to virtue's side." Tliey had
more of merit in them than many men's virtues. Thus moved
by a faith that gives dignity to man, — purity to woman, — and
loveliness to the child, — it would have been strange indeed if
they had neglected to provide all needful accommodations for
the worship of God. As early as 1666, the farmers of the
village were incorporated into a society for religious worship.
This was the Second Parish in Salem. Parish privileges and
rights of citizens were then essentially connected. No man
could exercise the rights of a citizen who did not belong to the
Church. In the meetings of the Church, matters of business
were moulded as much as they now are in caucus assembled.

The first thirty years of the Village Parish covers that period
when the icitch delusion and other controversies were agitated
to such extent that little may be said of the religious influences
then prevalent, — if regard be paid to the text, "By their fruits
shall ye know them."

In 1697, Rev. Joseph Green became the pastor of this society,
and so continued for a period of eighteen years. He died
among his people, universally beloved and respected. He must
have been a very good man to have lived and died as he did,
at such a time, surrounded with such influences.

He was succeeded by. Rev. Peter Clark, who continued to
minister until all those who settled him had left the stage ; a
period of more than fifty years. His funeral discourse was
preached June 16, 1768, by Rev. Thomas Barnard, of Salem.
Such permanency in the ministry speaks well of pastor and
people ; — and is in accordance with our best New England
notions. I know that many have grown up of late who think
they know more than their fathers did, — but I have heard it
said old Doctor Clark once said to his son Caleb, "Caleb! is
there no nearer way to Heaven than round by Chebacco?" —
meaning thereby to reprove the new light infliie?ices then
prevalent. So in modern times, many are not content to pursue
the good old way to Heaven, but want to go by steam ; when
they start thus, there is danger of bursting the boiler.


Rev. Benjamin Wadsworth succeeded Mr. Clark, and minis-
tered unto this people for more than fifty years. My first
impressions of a model minister were taken from this gentleman
when a boy at school! Subsequently, when an older boy,
myself attempting " to teach the young idea how to shoot," I
had the pleasure of a more intimate acquaintance, which con-
firmed my first impressions. He was a gentleman, in the best
sense of the term. He knew what to say, and when to say it.
He too lived a long life harmoniously with his people, and died
beloved and respected. What Christian minister can ask a
better eulogy ? Who that remembers the words of wisdom
that fell from the lips of these venerable men, will fail to
rejoice at their good fortune in being thus instructed? I know
of nothing that savors more of Heaven, than lessons of instruc-
tion from a virtuous, modest, wise old minister. Very few
societies can render so good an account of their stewardship.

Since the decease of Dr. Wadsworth, the increase of popula-
tion has been such as to demand a division, and two societies
are now sustained on the old foundation. Of the living, I
forbear to speak, well knowing that the sound of their own
voices will be their highest encomium. They are favorably es-
teemed wherever learning or piety is regarded.

The inhabitants of the southerly part of the town worshiped
with the First Church in Salem, until 1710, when a new soci-
ety was incorporated, under the name of the Middle Precinct
Parish. This was the Third Parish in Salem. Their first effort
was, to obtain from the town, a grant of '•' a quarter of an acre
of land to set a meeting-house on." This was so located, that,
in process of time, it expanded to more than an acre. Whether
fortunately, or not, involves too many incidents to admit of
discussion on this occasion.

In 1713, Rev. Benjamin Prescott was settled as pastor over
this parish, and remained such for a period of forty years.
His pastoral relations were closed in 1752, (the year of the sep-
aration from Salem,) in consequence of contentions that had
arisen about the collection and payment of his salary. There
were, within the parish, Q,uakers and others, who thought they


could not conscientiously pay for such preaching. The laws
had no regard to scruples of conscience of such a character.
After the dissolution of his pastoral relations, Mr. Prescott con-
tinued to reside in the parish, a worthy citizen and magis-
trate, dying in good old age, respected for his talents and
virtues, and was buried at the foot of the hill bearing his name.

A shrewd observer, with much experience in ministerial
affairs, remarked, in relation to Mr. Prescott's ministry, *' When
a minister and people cannot get along without quarrelling
about his salary, it is better for both that the connection should
be dissolved. God and Mammon cannot peaceably occupy the
same tenement."

The Rev. Nathan Holt succeeded Mr. Prescott, and minis-
tered with good fidelity for a period of thirty-four years. He
was a peaceable, clever man, — deeply imbued with the patriotic
spirit of the times. Of his services in the pulpit, I have heard
but little. His labors among his people Avere highly prized,
and productive of a happy influence. " He was an Israelite
indeed, in whom there was no guile."

Rev. Samuel Mead followed Mr. Holt, and was pastor about
ten years. The record of this period is lost ; it is not safe,
therefore, to speak, where the best evidence is ivanting. I
remember him Avell. His peculiarities were many.

In 1805, the Rev. Samuel Walker was settled, and remained
the pastor for a period of twenty-one years. His life was termi-
nated by a painful casualty. He was faithful to his calling,
discreet in his movements, and died with a kind remembrance
in many a bosom. Since his death, a Unitarian, a Methodist,
a Baptist, and a Universalist society have grown up in the par-
ish, and flourished with various degrees of success, leaving the
Old South Society still one of the largest and ablest in the

For a few years they were ministered unto by the Rev,
George Cowles, who, while on his way south with his lady, in
search of health, was suddenly lost on board the steamer Home,
dying with these last words, " He that triisteth in Jesus is safe,
even among the perils of the sea." He died deeply lamented,


having previously resigned his pastoral care on account of ill

The Rev. H. G. Park followed for a short time.

The Rev. Thomas P. Field succeeded Mr. Park for a period
of ten years, laboring successfully to a harmonious and happy
people, — which labors were unfortunately interrupted by his
being called to a position of more extended usefulness at Troy,
N. Y., with the offer of a compensation better proportioned to
the worth of his services. When it was too late, the people
saw their error. The disappointment experienced in parting
with one so highly esteemed, with no appreciable reason as-
signed therefor, poorly prepared the way to treat with kindness
and Christian sympathy his successor, the Rev. James D. Butler,
who, after a conditional settlement of one year, was croivded off^
without ceremony. May his eminent learning and Christian
humility command a position in which they will be duly appre-

Several other religious societies have grown up in different
parts of the town, and been sustained with varied success. A
Baptist society was organized at the New Mills Village, under
the pastoral care of Rev. Benj. Foster, sixty-eight years since.
The present pastor, Rev. A. W. Chapin. There is also a Uni-
versalist society in that neighborhood, which was organized
thirty-seven years since, now under the pastoral care of the
Rev. J. W. Putnam.

Within my memory, four valuable churches have been de-
stroyed by fire, probably caused by incendiaries. One offender
only has been brought to justice, and he under his own con-

Within the last twelve years, there has been expended in the
construction and finish of churches, more than ^50,000.

The present annual payments within the town, for the sup-
port of religious instruction, cannot be estimated at less than

The predominant faith at the present time, (exclusive of those
who have no faith at all,) is a modified version of the notions
of the Puritan Fathers of New England ; — how far improved


by the modification, must be left to the better judgment of those
who have really experienced its purifying influences. That
there may he such, I cannot doubt, — but something more than
mere profession of religion is wanted, to satisfy my mind. I
incline to the belief, that his faith cannot be wrong whose life
is right. And where the life does not illustrate and adorn the
profession, the profession will be found " a sounding brass and
tinkling cymbal."


Popular education, in the broadest sense of the term, has en-
grossed the attention of the people of Danvers as much as any
other topic. From the time of their first meeting, March 4th,
1752, when Daniel Eppes, father and son, were moderator and
clerk, each year's record shows more or less of interest in the
education of the rising generation.

Previous to the separation, but little attention had been given
to supporting schools for the children on the borders.

In 1783, when revolutionary troubles had subsided, the peo-
ple began to look after the condition of the schools.

In 1793, an interesting report on the reorganization of the
schools was made to the town, by Dr. Archelaus Putnam, which
appears in full upon the records, — a fact worthy of notice, be-
cause many a report, placed on file only., is not now to be found.
Files that are handled by every body, soon become every
body's property.

In 1794, pursuant to a plan proposed by Gideon Foster,
Samuel Page, and John Kettelle, the town was divided into

In 1802, the districts were remodelled, at the suggestion of
Sylvester Osborn. Thus we find Holten, Foster, Page, Osborn,
and others, who were foremost in their efforts to secure our
rights, going ahead in their endeavors to educate the children
to understand those rights.

In 1809, the present system of school districts was estab-
lished, — then nine, now fourteen ; — then containing 800 chil-
dren, now more than 2000, of age suitable to attend school.


It is not easy to understand how schools were supported as
well as they were, with the limited appropriations then made.
Masters must have taught for the love of teaching, and children
studied for the sake of learning. The days of study, and not
the days of vacation, must then have been their seasons of

In 1814, an order was adopted requiring a report of the
condition of the schools, for the year next preceding, to be
made at the annual meeting in each year. This is worthy of
notice, it having become a State regulation since.

In 1820, an order was adopted requiring the names and ages,
of children between four and sixteen years, resident in town
on the first day of May, to be returned by the prudential com-
mittees, and recorded by the clerk. This also was in advance
of the action of the State to the same effect. Both of these
regulations have been found highly serviceable.

The money appropriated for the support of schools has since
been apportioned to the several districts in proportion to the
children thus returned, with donations to the districts containing
a sparse population, to equalize the advantages of schooling as
far as practicable.

High schools have recently been established with good
success. The present year, a new plan of superintendence has
been ordered and entered upon with high expectation of ben-
efit. It remains Avith the person who fills the office whether
these expectations shall be realized. The superintendent enters
upon the duties this day. I cannot doubt the efficiency of
individual superintendence when regulated by competent ability,
with a single eye to the advancement of the schools.

The predominant feeling has long been, that it is the bounden
duty of the town to carry out the free-school principle first
proposed by Eridicott, viz, — to provide for the complete education
of all the children^ at the public charge, in such manner as
their condition in society demands.

Ill this way alone can it be explained that Danvers has edu-
cated so small a proportion of her sons at colleges, according to
her wealth and population. On looking over the list of natives
5 e


of the town who have had the benefit of a collegiate education,
for one hundred years last past, I find six clergymen, three law-
yers, two physicians, five farmers, and two others, — in all,
twenty ; — a number much less than will be found in many
towns with one half the population.* 1 speak of the fact as
presenting considerations worthy of reflection, and not because
I deem such an education an essential qualification to good citi-
zenship. Instance the success of Franklin, of Washington, of
our own Bowditch, to the contrary. The truth is, the people of
Danvers have been anxious to realize a more speedy income on
their investments than is ordinarily found by trimming the mid-
night lamp. A^ a general thing, they value objects in possession
more than those in expectancy ; their faith is not strong enough
to sustain the hope of distinction by means of literary eftbrts.

An elaborate attempt to abolish the district system of schools
was made in 1850, but the people were not prepared to give up
what they deemed a certainty for an uncertainty.

* College Graduates. — Names of natives of Danvers, who have been
educated at Collegiate Institutions : —

F. *Daniel Putnam,

F. *Jame3 Putnam,

T. *Daniel Eppes,

F. *Tarrant Putnam,

P. *Archelaus Putnam,

L. Samuel Putnam,

T. *Israel Andrew,

C. William P. Page,

C. Israel Warburton Putnam,

C. Daniel Poor,

L. John W. Proctor,

C. Ebenezer Poor,

L. ^William Oakes,

P. John Marsh,

F. *Daniel P. King,

C. Allen Putnam,

F. Samuel P. C. King,

C. Ezekiel Marsh,

*Augustus E. Daniels,
*Thomas Stimpson,
' 6 of the above became clergymen ; 3, lawyers ; 2, teachers ; 5, farmers ;
% physicians ; 2, occupation not yet determined.
Ten have deceased ; ten now living.

F. Farmer ; C. Clergyman ; P. Physician ; L. Lawyer ; T. Teacher.
Several other citizens have engaged in professional employments, without
the aid of collegiate instruction. Several are now preparing for such employ-


































, 1831.






, 1850.



There is no town in the connty where the appropriations for
schools are more hberal, in proportion to the number to be
educated and the abihty to pay. Mr. Webster, in his late speech
at Faneuil Hall, says it is the glory of Boston that she applies
07ie quartet^ part of all the taxes assessed, for the support of
public schools, viz., ^50,000 out of $200,000, — there being a
population of 140,000. Danvers applies $10,000 out of $25,-
000, — there being a population of 8000. Danvers has a valua-
tion of $3,000,000;— Boston, $300,000,000. Here is a question
for boys at school to answer, which of these places does best
for the support of public schools, according to its ability ?

If the schools of Danvers are not advanced in proportion to
their appropriation, the defect is not chargeable to the mass of
the inhabitants, — their loill is to have first rate free schools.


The wisdom of the town in applying the surplus revenue,
that came to their use in 1844, as a permanent fund for the
benefit of schools, over and above a prescribed sum of not less
than three dollars per scholar, to be raised by the town annually
for this purpose, must not be overlooked. This fund now
amounts to the sum of $10,000, and is invested in the hands of
trustees chosen by the town. Considering the many jealousies
brought to bear on this topic, the act whereby the investment
was made will ever remain most creditable to the town. No
man did more to bring this about than the late Elias Putnam,
who in this, as in all his other public services, showed himself
a vigilant friend of the best interests of the town. Danvers
will long mourn his departure in the midst of his usefulness.
He was a man of marked energy and decision of character.
Selfish to some extent, — for who is not, — but public spirited,
far beyond most of those around him. Those who knew him
best, valued him highest. It was often my privilege, as on
this subject, to cooperate in the objects he had in view. I knew
him well.




By the generosity of Capt. Dennison Wallis, who died in
1825, a local fund of ^2500 was established for the benefit of
School District No. 1, in which he then lived. He intended
the fund should have been $5000, but the phraseology of the
will so far fell short of the intentions of the donor, when tried
m the crucible of the Supreme Court, as to reduce the amount

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Online LibraryDanvers (Mass.)Centennial celebration at Danvers, Mass., June 16, 1852 → online text (page 3 of 22)