Danvers (Mass.).

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

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With this fund, the Wallis School, for the education of chil-
dren between the ages of six and twelve years, has been estab-
lished, and sustained for twenty years. If the spirit of the
donor could look down upon the cheerful countenances of the
happy group of children, educated by his bounty, on one of
their days of successful exhibition, it would discover abundant
reason for rejoicing in the wisdom of the donation. Happy
spirit that ! which can contemplate a life of toil and perplexity
terminated so gloriously. When another century shall have
passed away, who will be remembered with more admiration
than he who laid the foundation of the Wallis School ? Al-
though his name may not live in the offspring of his own loins,
it shall be immortal in the benefits conferred on thousands.
This crowning act of his life will be cherished Avith gratitude,
even when his heroic exposure at Lexington shall be forgotten.


As a municipal regulation, next in importance to the educa-
tion of the young, is the support of the unfortunate poor. By
the record of the first meeting, it appears that both these sub-
jects were provided for. Still, no well-established system of
relief to the poor Avas adopted, until about the year 1800, when
the attention of friends E. Southwick and S. Shove, moved by
the combined considerations of economy and humanity, were
directed to this subject. To the credit of these gentlemen, be
it said, notwithstanding they belonged to a class of Christians
whose sense of religious duty will not suffer any of their num-
ber to be a charge upon the public, that they did more to alle-


viate the condition of the paupers, as well as to relieve the
town from the expense of their support, than has been done by
any others. Their shrewd observation discerned, what was
not then generally known, that almshouse establishments, with
conveniences for industrial employments connected therewith,
adapted to the capacities of the inmates, were the true means
of benefiting their condition ; — that by thus being employed,
they would be saved from many a temptation incident to their
humiliated position, and the burden of their support would be
greatly diminished.

At this time a house, with about a dozen acres of land ap-
purtenant, was appropriated to this use. But it was soon found
that the locality of the establishment was too central, for the
convenience of those around ; and that the growing wants of the
village demanded its removal. Accordingly, it was transferred
to the extensive farm of two hundred acres now occupied, then
chiefly covered with wood. The selection of this site, although
censured by many at the time, shows the superior discernment
of those who chose it. It is airy, healthy, and easy of access,
and readily made a secure abode, far removed from evil com-
munications, and evil spirits also. Whoever would deal with
paupers, must prepare to guard against the influence of such
spirits with eagle eyes.

The rival eff"orts of these gentlemen, (Messrs. Southwick and
Shove,) to see which could out-do the other in saving for the
town, and the suggestions made by them, from time to time, in
their annual reports, will ever be interesting features for exami-
nation. They were, in fact, a sort of Q^uaker duel, in which
no blood Avas shed, — although occasionally one would say to
the other, " Thee lies, thee knows thee lies, under a mistake^
During their administration of this department, the State allowed
twenty-one cents per day for the support of paupers, instead of
seven, the present allowance ; which materially aided in bal-
ancing their accounts.


The present almshouse, witli^ the farm and its appendages,
cost $25,000. It was erected in 1844. The town was moved


to its erection, by the admonitions of Miss D. Dix, of Boston,
whose generous philanthropy has done so much for suffering
humanity. There were those who thought her officious, mis-
informed as to the facts she stated, and disposed to meddle with
that which did not concern her. I know there were such. But
even those will now cheerfully acknowledge, that she was
actuated by good motives ; and that she did the town a service,
for which she ought ever to be held in grateful remembrance.
Noble soul ! that looks around and sees how many tears of
suffering she has dried up, and how many pangs of distress she
has alleviated. Her own reflections are a heavenly reward.
May her shadow never be less.

There is no town in the Commonwealth where the unfortu-
nate poor are regarded with more sympathy and kindness.
Every rational movement for their benefit has always met a
cheerful approval by the town. Care is taken to secure the
services of intelligent and humane overseers, and the establish-
ment entire is a model worthy of imitation.

A careful analysis of the concerns of this department for fifty
years last past, will show, that at least three fourths of all those
who have received relief at the almshouse, have been brought
to this necessity by reason of intemperance, notwithstanding
the unremitted efforts of the town to stay the devastations of
this debasing vice, — this inexhaustible fountain of suffering and
of crime. May God grant a safe deliverance from it, even
though it should involve the total atinihilation of all that intox-


In the efforts that have been made to advance the cause of
tempci^ancc, for the last forty years, Danvers has taken no mean
position. During all this period, many of her best citizens have
been actively cooperating with the best friends of the cause.

As early as 1812, Samuel Holten, Benjamin Wadsworth,
Edward Southwick, Fitch Poole, Caleb Oakes, and others, were
pioneers in this enterprise. They dared to say, even then,
when it was almost the universal practice to " take a little for
the stomach's sake and often infirmities." that *' the use of


intoxicating liquors, as a beverage, was an evil, and only evil
continually.^'' It is glorious to find these experienced, upright,
and keen observers of human nature, putting forth the doctrine
that total abstinetice, from everything that intoxicates, is " the
only sure guide," the only principle that can be depended upon.
What the zealous friends of law (Massachusetts law, may I
say?) have recently discovered, they seem to have known by
instinct. They preached temperance, and they practised what
they preached. Without which, on any subject, preaching is
" a tinkling cymbal," — an " empty show."

Danvers was the first town that took action, in its corporate
capacity, against licensing the retail of intoxicating liquors.
The motion, (to my certain knowledge,) was drafted in pencil,
at the Village Church, and presented at the annual meeting,
1835, by S. P. Fowler, Esq. To the credit of the toAvn, its
authorities have constantly adhered to the faith then promul-
gated. Not so with all the authorities in towns around, — and
hence has flowed 7nisery and crime. Since 1835, there has
annually been appointed a committee, to watch the progress of
the cause, and to advance its success. What Maine now is to
other states, Danvers has been to other towns, a beacon light on
the eminence of Temperance. May its effulgence be strength-
ened, until the path of duty shall be, as illuminated by the
noonday sun.


Attention to business has ever been a prominent trait in the
character of the people of Danvers. For many years, the cul-
tivation of the land was their chief employment. Throughout
the early records, they are spoken of as the farmers, in contrast
with those engaged in commercial pursuits, for which Salem
has been eminent from the beginning. Among the farmers
best known, will be found the names of Putnam, Preston, Proc-
tor, Felton, and King. Their fields have exhibited samples of
cultivation that will compare with any in the Commonwealth,
They have stirred their soil deep, and aimed to understand the
reason for so doing. The town affords every variety of soil,


from very strong to very shallow. The lands require much
labor, and unremitted attention to the application of invigoratina;
substances. As the population has increased, their labors have
been concentrated ; and it would not be difficult to point out
those who raise as much, and live as well, from the products of
ten acres, as did those before them from the products of one
hundred acres. I forbear to dilate. The story of their farm-
ing has often been told, and can be better told elsewhere.


About one hundred years ago, friend Joseph Southwick com-
menced the business of tanning, in a few tubs or half hogs-
heads. This business has since so expanded, that it now occu-
pies as many thousand vats. It is the staple business of the
place. For many years, it was carried on chiefly by Messrs.
Southwick, Shove, Wallis, Sutton, Poole, and a few others,
who made fortunes in attending to it. The hide and leather
business, in all its modifications, has probably done more to
advance the wealth and resources of the town, than any other ;
especially when the manufactures, of which leather is the prin-
cipal component part, are taken into view. The annual amount
of these manufactures is estimated at not less than |;2,000,000.*


A class of coarse ware, known as Danvers crockery, has been
coeval with the existence of the town. Forty years since, it
was made much more extensively than of late. It is now
thrown out of use by articles of more strength and beauty, pro-
cured at less expense from abroad, — though for many purposes,
it still finds favor with those accustomed to its use. The clay
on the margin of Waters River has been found particularly well
adapted to this manufacture.

The Osborns and Southwicks have done more at this work
than any families within my knowledge. William Osborn, the
fkst of the name, was spoken of as a potter. His descendants,

• See Appendix, for etatistics of this business.


for four generations certainly, have shown their regard for their
ancestor by sticking to his employment.


The right to participate in the making of the laws has ever
been esteemed one of the choicest privileges of a citizen of New
England. As early as 1634, the settlers here had become so
numerous, that they felt the necessity of delegating their au-
thority to representatives of their own choice. It was the jeal-
ousy of the infringement of this right that moved our fathers to
resist the oppressive taxation by the mother country, — and not
the amount of tax imposed. It was the interference with this
right by Lieut. Gov. Hutchinson, under the special instructions
of " Georgius Secundus," at the time of tlie incorporation of
the town, that specially aroused the indignation of the people
of Danvers.* Thus early awakened, it would have been
extraordinary indeed if the citizens had not, at all times, been
careful to be represented by " good men and true," — by those
understanding their duty, and ready to discharge it.

* Lieut. Gov. Hutchinson entered upon the Records of the Council his pro-
test against the act, as follows, viz. : —

" I protest for the following reasons :

" First. Because it is the professed design of the bill to give the inhabitants
who now join with the town of Salem in the choice of representatives, a power
of choosing by themselves ; and the number of which the house of representa-
tives may at present consist being full large, the increase must have a tendency
to retard the proceedings of the General Court, and to increase the burdens
which, by their long session every year, lies upon the people, and must like-
wise give the house an undue proportion to the board of the legislature, where
many affairs are determined by a joint ballot of the two houses.

" Second. Because there being no governor in the Province, it is most agree-
able to his Majesty's commission to the late governor, to the message of this
board to the house at the opening of the session, and in itself is most reasona-
ble, that all matters of importance should be deferred until there be a governor
in the chair.

" Third. Because the board, by passing tliis bill as the second branch of the
legislature, necessarily bring it before themselves as the first branch for assent
or refusal ; and such members as vote for the bill in one capacity, must give
their assent to it in the other, directly against the royal instruction to the gov-
ernor, when the case is no degree necessary to the public interest ; otherwise,
their doings will be inconsistent and absurd. Thos. Hutchinson.

Council Chamhtr, June 9, 1757."

6 /



Of those who have thus served the town, the following may
be named, viz. : —

Samuel Holten, Jr., 9 years, from 1768 to 1780
Israel Hutchinson, 18 " " 1777 to 1798
Gideon Foster, 9 " " 1796 to 1806

Samuel Page, 12 " " 1800 to 1814

Nathan Felton, 15 " " 1805 to 1821
and many others, for periods of from one to eight years.

'One remark naturally arises upon a view of this state of facts,
'compaiing the past with the present. Then, when a man had
been in office long enough to acquire useful experience, he was
continued, while he was willing to serve ; and deemed none
the less qualified because he had done his duty a few years,
with good ability. Now, when he has acquired this experience,
he is kindly reminded that there are those who want his place ;
that rotation is the grand democratic principle, ivithout regard
to qualification ; and if he does not voluntarily abandon the
hope, the probability is, the people will give him leave to vnth-


In the Senate of the State, the town has often been repre-
sented, and thereby been favored with a full share of the
Honorahles. Instance the

Hon. Samuel Holten,

" Daniel P. King,

" Jonathan Shove,

" Elias Putnam,

'' Robert S. Daniels,

" Henry Poor,

" George Osborn, &c.,
varying in their terms of service from one to three years.

In the Executive Council, the town has been represented
by X\y<^ Hon. Samuel Holten,

'• Israel Hutchinson,
" Robert S. Daniels, &c.



Of the County Courts, Hon. Timothy Pickering, Hon Sam-
uel Holten, and John W. Proctor, have been Justices.

Of the Court of Probate, Hon. Samuel Holten was for many
years a Judge.

Of the Supreme Judicial Court, Hon. Samuel Putnam was
for many years an eminent Judge, as his well-digested legal
opinions in the Reports bear testimony.

Of Judges Holten and Putnam, it can in truth be said, what
rarely is true with men in office, that they were more ready to
leave their offices, than to have their offices leave them, — they
having both voluntarily resigned, when their services were
highly appreciated. Judge Putnam still lives, at the green old
age of eighty-five, beloved and respected by all who know him.


In Congress, the voice of Danvers has been heard, through
the representatives of the second district of the State, for about
one eighth part of the time since the organization of the gov-

Hon. Samuel Holten,
" Nathan Reed,
'' Daniel P. King,
have occupied this station. Mr. King was the immediate suc-
cessor of the lamented Saltonstall, of Salem. Few, very few
districts in our land can boast of representatives so unexcejv
tionable in all those qualities that best become a man. They
will long be remembered as stars of the first magnitude in the
constellation of worthies from Essex South District.


In the management of the concerns of the town, there is no
duty of more responsibiHty than that which devolves upon the
clerk. On the correctness of his record rests the tenure of
office, and essentially depends the character and reputation of
the town.


How else is he who caters for the intellectual part of the
centennial entertainments to be advised of facts? What is
now learned of time past one hundred years can be come at
through the records alone. What those present at the next
centennial will be able to present, must be drawn mainly from
the clerks' records. Nothing else will have a character to be
relied on ; unless perchance some floating leaf of this day's
doings shall chance to be preserved by some careful antiquarian.
Fortunately the records of Danvers were commenced by
Daniel Eppes, Jr., and kept for two years in a form highly
exemplary. His chirography was plain, his knowledge of lan-
guage good, so that he used the right words in the right place,
neither more nor less ; — a qualification not sufficiently regarded
by many of those who have come after him : — among these,

James Prince, 6 years,

Stephen Needham, 11

Gideon Foster, 4

Joseph Osborne, Jr., 6

Nathan Felton, 27

Benjamin Jacobs, 6

Joseph Shed, IT

and others from one to three years. Joseph Shed, Esq., the
present clerk, has greatly improved upon the records of his
predecessors by his mode of indexing and filing of papers.
There still remains much to be done to make the records intel-
ligible, without the explanation of those who made them. Let
any one experience the inconveniences I have met in ascer-
taining facts that should be readily understood, and I will
guarantee that he will not come to any other conclusion. A
toivn like this should have their own office for all their papers,
and all their papers arranged in systematic order, under the
care and keeping of the clerk, — and not otherwise.


No educated physician, to my knowledge, resided in town
previous to the separation. Female attendants were at com-
mand, without doubt, in cases of emergency, which often


occurred, as the increase of population fully demonstrates. A
Dr. Gregg is mentioned, as early as the year 1692, as being
consulted in the diseases that then prevailed ; but where he
resided I know not.

Drs. Jonathan Prince, Archelaus Putnam, Samuel Holten,
and Amos Putnam, are the first named physicians in the North
Parish. Drs. Parker Clev^eland, Joseph Osgood, and Joseph
Torrey, are the first in the South Parish. All of these are
believed to have been regularly educated physicians, of the old

Other names have appeared, at different periods, such as Drs.
Chickering, Nutting, Hildreth, Bowers, Carlton, Clapp, Cilley,
Little, Peabody, Gould, Southwick, Porter, Bush, Patten, &c. ;
but they did not remain long enough to leave any distinct im-
pression of themselves or their practice. Within my memory,
Drs. Andrew Nichols,
George Osgood,
Ebenezer Hunt,
George Osborne, and
Joseph Osgood,
have been the medical advisers chiefly consulted. All of these
are well experienced in their profession.

Dr. James Putnam, son of Dr. Amos, accompanied his father
many years.

Dr. Joseph Shed, a pupil of the celebrated Dr. B. Kittridge,
also practised several years.

Drs. David A. Grosvenor, and Samuel A. Lord, have recently
been added to the number of regular physicians.

How many there are, or have been, who have rested their
fame on the new-modeled notions of cold water applications,
hot pepper mdxtures, and infinitesimal divisions, I will not
presume to say ; but I will say I have good reason to believe
that prescriptions of nauseous drugs have essentially diminished,
and probably will continue to do so as people grow more en-
lightened. There is no science in which so little is certainly
known as that of medicine.



I am not aware that any one ever attempted to live by the
law, in Danvers, previous to 1812; since then many have
started here ; no one (except myself) has remained many years.
The order of residence has been as follows, viz. : —

Ralph H. French,

Frederick Howes,

Benjamin L. Oliver, Jr.,
' George Lamson,

John Walsh,

John W. Proctor.

Rufus Choate,

Joshua H. Ward.

Frederick Morrill.

William D. Northend,

Alfred A. Abbott,

Benjamin Tucker,

Edward Lander, Jr.,

Benj. C. Perkins.
No lawyer has ever died in town with his harness on ; and
no one, to my knowledge, has ever realized a living income
from professional business. It is a poorly paid employment,
and not worth having by those who can find anything else to
do. The proximity to Salem, where such men as Prescott,
Story, Pickering, Saltonstall, Cummings, Merrill, Huntington,
and Lord, have ever been ready to aid those in want of justice,
has taken the cream from the dish of the professional gentlemen
of Danvers.


A glance at the last one hundred years of the history of the
town, suggests a word upon the slavery of the African : a
topic that has agitated and still agitates our country to its centre.
Do not fear that I am about to introduce party topics, for I am
no partizan in this matter. True, I am opposed to slavery,


root and branch, — as I presume every genuine son of New
England is, — and am ready to do all that can be done to extir-
pate it from the land, consistent with the preservation of indi-
vidual rights, and the obligations to regard the constitution.

At the time of the separation, there were, within the limits
of the town, twenty-five slaves, — nine males, sixteen females.
These became free by the abolition of slavery in the State, on
the adoption of our constitution. Most of them remained,
while they lived, in the service of their former owners. I am
happy to know that some of them were valuable citizens, and
left descendants much respected ; one of whom, Prince Former,
son of Milo, slave of Mr. William Poole, lately deceased at
Salem. Since the decease of these slaves, scarcely an individ-
ual of this colored race has found a home in Danvers. I do
not now know of any one in town. There are many citizens
who say much about the rights of the oppressed African, and
the wrongs they suffer, and profess great sympathy in their
behalf I have never known of any efforts of theirs to en-
courage the residence of such persons among us. On the con-
trary, I have known some of the most zealous to advise them
to be off.

In 1819, the town expressed a very decided opinion against
the further extension of slavery, in a communication made to
the Hon. Nathaniel Silsbee, then representative from this dis-
trict, in Congress, by a committee appointed for this purpose,
consisting of Edward Southwick, and four others.

In 1847, when considering the expediency of the Mexican
war, a resolve, prepared by myself, was unanimously adopted,
"that the town would not, in any manner, countenance any-
thing that shall have a tendency to extend that most disgraceful
feature of our institutions, — domestic slavery. ^^ These opinions,
deliberately adopted, I believe, express the feelings of a very
large proportion of the citizens, — in fact, nearly all those who
had given attention to the subject. It cannot be doubted, the
anti-slavery feeling is constantly increasing; and it would have
been universal, had it not ha,ve been for the ill-advised move-


ments of some of its advocates. How can it be otherwise?
Who will presume to contend "that man has a right to enslave
his fellow man " ? The laws of nature and of God forbid it.
This is an axiom too clear to be illustrated by argument. He
who thinks otherwise, is unworthy the place of his birth.
Freedom, unqualified freedom, shall ever be our Avatchword.


The numerous burial places scattered over the surface of the
town, amounting to more than one hundred, is a feature so pe-
culiar as to demand a moment's notice. Almost every ancient
family had a deposit for their dead, on their own farm. Nearly
one half the families that were here one hundred years ago,
have run out or removed from town. The consequence is that
their premises have passed to other names, and the deposits for
their dead to those "who knew them not." If there could be
any certainty of continued title, burial among friends would be
a delightful thought ; but when we are constantly reminded that
in the next generation the ashes of friends may be disturbed
by the unfeeling operations of strangers, we are compelled to
give preference to public over private cemeteries.

Even these are not quite secure. A few years since, in mak-
ing a street to Harmony Grove the remains of hundreds of cit-
izens were disinterred in what was understood to be the oldest
burial ground in Salem. One stone marked "R. B. 1640," was
found, supposed to indicate the grave of Robert Butfum, a gen-
tleman of that age.

Near this, on Poole's Hill, is one of the oldest and most ex-
tensive of the public cemeteries. Here rest the remains of

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Online LibraryDanvers (Mass.)Centennial celebration at Danvers, Mass., June 16, 1852 → online text (page 4 of 22)