Dedham (Mass.).

Proceedings at the celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Dedham, Massachusetts, September 21, 1886 online

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Online LibraryDedham (Mass.)Proceedings at the celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Dedham, Massachusetts, September 21, 1886 → online text (page 10 of 13)
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Norwood Band on the Church Green.

A collation was furnished by the Committee of
Arrangements to the Cadets, upon Mr. Warren's
grounds on High Street, during the afternoon, and
their band gave a complimentary concert to a large
company of ladies and gentlemen there assembled.

At four o'clock, p. m., the Cadet Band gave a
concert on the Church Green.

At sunset a national salute was fired and the
church bells rung, and a concert was given by the
Norwood Band on the Common.

At seven o'clock, p. m., a very elaborate display of
fireworks, under the direction of Mr. George R.
Johnstone, was made on the Common, followed by
a general illumination of the town, the burning of


tar-barrels, etc. A reception and dance at Memo-
rial Hall, with music by Baldwin's string band,
closed the festivities of the day.

A final meeting of the Committee of Arrange-
ments was held on Saturday, September 25, when
the thanks of the Committee were tendered the
Secretary for his efficient and valuable services, and
the Chairman was requested to extend the cordial
thanks of the Committee to the Chief-Marshal,
Orator, and Presidents of the Day, and to the vari-
ous committees and others who had assisted in the
very successful celebration.


" I ^HE collection of articles of local and historic
interest which was displayed in the Unitarian
Vestry attracted much attention, and proved to be
one of the most interesting features of the celebra-
tion. Notwithstanding the short time allowed for
preparat'on, the Committee were able to present a
collection of rare merit and value. The response
to the appeal of the Committee was prompt and
enthusiastic, and the extent and variety of the col-
lection was a genuine surprise and a source of
gratification to a very large number of visitors.

A prominent feature of the exhibition was the
representation of an old-fashioned New England
kitchen, the tasteful and intelligent handiwork of
some of the young ladies of the Committee, illus-
trating the primitive habits and simple life of those
who dwelt in the Dedham of a century ago.

The Picture Room contained more than forty
portraits, many of them of rare artistic merit, of
persons identified with Dedham families. The
collection of miniatures, photographs, engravings,
and small paintings in oils and water-colors was
also large and valuable.


The main hall of the building was almost entirely
filled with a collection of more than a thousand
specimens of ancient articles, embracing very valu-
able contributions of Indian and Colonial relics,
silver, glass, china, plated and wooden ware, chairs,
furniture, household utensils, embroidery, fancy-
work, wearing apparel, etc., tastefully arranged and
displayed, the mere enumeration of which would
fill many pages of this volume.

It had been the intention of the Committee in
charge of the Historic Collection to further mark
the day of the celebration by planting two trees in
the rear of the Unitarian Church ; but the season
proving too early for their safe transplanting, that
interesting ceremony was necessarily postponed.
Hon. Theodore Lyman, of Brookline, having gen-
erously given the Committee two beautiful Norway
maple-trees, taken from his nursery, they were set
out under the direction of the Chairman of the
Committee on the 5th of November. May the
three hundredth anniversary of the town's incorpo-
ration find them flourishing in vigor and beauty !




*' I ^HE Committee appointed by the town, to whom was
assigned the agreeable duty of erecting tablets or
monuments to mark places and objects of historic inter-
est, and of restoring and preserving any such existing
monuments in the town, in the discharge of that duty
aimed to use the sum placed at their disposal for the
preservation and perpetuation of such historic objects and
places as have public and permanent interest. While such
localities may not be numerous in Dedham, the number
might with propriety have been extended further, had the
appropriation been more ample.

Two historic monuments are dear to the memory of all
who were either born or reared in Dedham. The old
brick Powder House " on the great rock in Aaron Fuller's
land " is a place where several generations of Dedham
boys and girls have delighted to resort, and whither they
turn after years of absence to view again the charming
landscape. The plain unfinished stone which has stood
in the corner of the court-house yard during the memory
of those now living has had a mystery about it which
few could solve, if it has not escaped the observation of
many who have passed it daily for years. It did not re-


quire much deliberation to determine that these monu-
ments of ante-Revolutionary times were worthy of especial
attention. The ancient burial-place where reposes the
dust of all the first generation of Dedham settlers also
called for some permanent designation. The original
training-field, known in later times as the " Great Com-
mon," for the preservation of whose boundaries there has
been in former times a singular indifference, although it
is perhaps the only ground in Dedham to which the pub-
lic have an indisputable right, certainly deserved to be
marked in such a manner that its original purpose should
not be wholly forgotten. And finally, the location of the
first mill and dam has a great interest, since in their
erection was signally shown the great enterprise and fore-
sight of the founders of the town.

To these five places and monuments the Committee
have been obliged to confine their attention. Bronze tab-
lets bearing simple historic inscriptions in polished raised
letters, made by M. H. Mossman, of Chicopee, Mass., have
been placed on the Powder House and " The Pillar of
Liberty ; " and a third has been inserted in a stone specially
selected for the purpose, and placed in the wall of the old
Parish Burial-Ground.

The Committee also on the day of the anniversary
celebration, with a moderate sum drawn from the gen-
eral appropriation by the authority of the Committee of
Arrangements, were enabled to designate by temporary in-
scriptions a number of interesting places where old houses
and buildings formerly stood, and to give the dates of the
erection of some prominent houses now standing. A list
of these will be found at the end of this report.



At the first recorded meeting of the proprietors, Aug.
18, 1636, before the settlement had been named Dedham
by the General Court of the Colony, while it was yet called
by the settlers themselves Contentment, lots were set out
and measured by Thomas Bartlet to seven persons named,
each lot containing twelve acres, — all of which was con-
firmed at this meeting; and from the description of these
lots in the Book of Grants it appears that the lot of Nicho-
las Phillips, one of the seven men, was abutted upon
Charles River towards the north, and the swamp and
burying-place towards the south, the high street running
through the same.

From this record it seems that a lot was set apart as a
resting-place of the dead before even the homes of the
living were provided for. Under date of " 6 of y^ 2 Mo.
1638 " in the first Book of Town Records, —

" Nicholas Philips and Joseph Kingsbery upon
other satisfaction in Lands layed out from
the Towne unto each of them doe laye downe
each of them to the Towne one p'cell of y"
south end of their house Lotts and betwixt
the same and the swamp thereby as it is
at p'sent set out for the use of a public
Buriall place for y^ Towne forever."

The lot of Joseph Kingsbury was that originally granted
to Ezekiel Holliman, and by him sold to Joseph Kings-
bury, and was described in the original grant as


" Twelve acres more or lesse as lyeth betweene
the way (Court St.) leading from the Keye to
y^ Pond towards the East and Nicholas
Phillips towards the west and butts vpon
y^ said way wynding towards y^ North
and the waye leading to y^ burying place
(east end of Village Avenue) towards the South,
the high Street through the same."

In 1638 Joseph Kingsbury sold to the town a part of
this lot " for a Seat for a publique Meetinge House," the
very lot on which the first church now stands.

The ancient burial-ground is that part of the old ceme-
tery bounded by Village Avenue on the north, by the
Episcopal Church land on the east, by what is known as
the new part added by the late Dr. Edward Stimson on the
south, while the west line is within or very near the pres-
ent main driveway from Village Avenue, and contains
about one acre.

In 18 1 3, '14, '15, about an acre was added on the west
by purchases from the estate of John Bullard and from
Timothy Gay. In 1859 and i860 an important addi-
tion was made by Dr. Edward Stimson, who purchased
lands south of the ancient grounds, which he divided into
lots and conveyed to different persons for burial-lots. After
the death of Dr. Stimson, his son Frederic J. Stimson, Esq.,
conveyed in 1880 to the town the avenues and paths and
other open spaces not occupied for burial-lots upon the
land which his father had purchased and laid out; and in
1885 a small corner was added by purchase from Mrs.
Elizabeth S. Adams, not for burial purposes, but for use
in the care of the grounds.

The way from the Meeting House to the burial-ground
(Bullard St.) was laid out in 1664, under the following
vote : —



" It is ordered and granted that a sufficient
Beere waye one Rodd broade shall be layed
out upon the West side of the Church Lott
on that side next M'- AUins house Lott from
the Meeteing house to the Buriall place and
that the said buriall place and waye be
clered from shruffe. 2-1 1-64."

In 1671 a committee consisting of Leift. Fisher and
Elea' Lusher " are deputed to enforme themselves so far
as they well can where the fence should be set about the
burial-place, and direct Cornellius Fisher to set it up ac-
cordingly, or who else are concerned in that work."

The first death recorded in Dedham is that of John
Fisher, deceased the " i5"'of y" 5""° 1637." The gravestone
of the earliest date now standing is that of Hannah Dyar.
It is a fine specimen of imported dark-blue slate two inches
and a half thick, and there is also a footstone of the same
material, with the initials H. D. thereon. The inscription
on the headstone is as follows : —


This unfortunate young wife, the daughter of William
and Margaret Avery, was born 27-7-1660, and married
Benjamin Dyar, 22-3-1677.

A few years ago the superintendent of the old Copp's
Hill Burial Ground in Boston discovered beneath the sur-
face (where, he says, it had doubtless been covered for
more than a century) a double stone containing an in-
scription six months older than any other original inscrip-
tion in the ground. It was erected in memory of the
grandchildren of William Copp. One inscription bears
date of 1661, but the other of July 25, 1678, the very
year of the inscription on the headstone of Hannah
Dyar above given ; but more remarkable still is the
marked similarity in the form of the letters and figures
on these two stones, which are very peculiar, as though
cut by the same hand. The character and shape of
the two stones are also similar, except that the Copp's
Hill stone, being a double stone, is wider; the design
also is the same.

The late Dr. Danforth P. Wight, in a very interesting
paper read before the Dedham Historical Society a few
years ago, stated that for a long time but four tombs were
built here, and these at different times. The first was by
Timothy Dwight, about the year 1700; the second, that
of Daniel Fisher. The third tomb was built by Samuel
Dexter after the death of his father, the Rev. Samuel Dex-
ter, in 1755 ; and the fourth is of Edward Dowse, who died
in 1828. The parish tomb was built in 18 16, and since that
time the range of tombs connected with it and those on
the west side have been added.

The matters concerning the cemetery were recorded on
the Town Records until the formation of the Second Parish.
After that time, 1730-31, they were recorded in the Rec-
ords of the First Parish ; but for the past twenty years or
more the town has made appropriations to keep this and


the other cemeteries in town in repair, and has taken the
whole care thereof.

In September, 1881, after Brookdale Cemetery had been
laid out, the Board of Health, under the General Statutes,
upon the application of the Cemetery Commissioners,
passed the following regulation : —

" No interments hereafter shall be made within the limits of the
Old Parish Burial Ground, or of the grounds added thereto, and
enclosed therewith, outside the boundary lines of lots, the legal
title to which is held by individuals, or which are now enclosed or
marked by bounds and reserved for the exclusive use of families
for burial purposes."

This regulation was made because portions of this ceme-
tery were so over-crowded, and also on account of the impos-
sibility of providing for the burial of persons outside of lots
enclosed or reserved in some way for the use of families,
and for the further reason that in Brookdale Cemetery ample
provision had been made for all the needs of the town.

The number of persons buried in this old burial-ground
is unknown. Here rest the bones of the founders of this
town, and of the men in the generations following, — citi-
zens of the town who have been distinguished for their
acts of charity and devotion to their fellow-men, and for
love of and labors for the town and for the whole country,
a record of whose deeds would fill volumes.

Over the Dwight tomb in the cemetery there had been
for many years a stone bearing this inscription : —

Here lyes Intombd the Body of

Timothy Dwight, Esq' who

Departed this Life Jan' the 31.

Anno Domini 1718.

Aged 88 years.

This stone, as the inscription indicates, marks the last
resting-place of Timothy Dwight, who, when a lad of but


five years of age, came to Dedham with his father, John
Dwight, among the first settlers, in 1636. Both father and
son were conspicuous and honored men in their day, and
their descendants have been in every succeeding genera-
tion prominent in pubhc affairs and especially identified
with the educational institutions of the country.

In the judgment of some of the officers of the Dedham
Historical Society it seemed desirable that the fact of the
direct descent of this distinguished family from the first
settlers of Dedham should be inscribed on this memorial
stone ; and in compliance with their request the following
appropriate and felicitous inscription, prepared by a mem-
ber of the family, was cut thereon : —

The Ancestor

Of the Dwight family in America:

A family like himself,

Truly serious and godly

Of an excellent spirit ;

Faithful and upright;

Among men of renown

In Church and State,

In Halls of Learning

And in War.

The line of descent from John Dwight to Rev. Dr.
Timothy Dwight, now President of Yale University, is as
follows : —

1 . John Dwight, the settler, of Dedham, Mass.

2. Capt. Timothy Dwight, of Dedham, Mass.

3. Justice Nathaniel Dwight, of Northampton, Mass.

4. Col. Timothy Dwight, of Northampton, Mass.

5. Maj. Timothy Dwight, of Northampton, Mass.

6. President Timothy Dwight, of New Haven, Conn.

7. James Dwight, of New Haven, Conn.

8. President Timothy Dwight, of New Haven, Conn.


In the wall at the left of the main gate at the entrance
of the cemetery from Village Avenue, and in front of the
ancient grounds, the Committee have caused to be placed
a neat block of Dedham stone unhammered, in which
has been inserted a bronze tablet with the following
inscription : —




Several years before the settlement of Dedham, in the
very infancy of the Colony, the General Court passed an
order " that every Captaine shall traine his Compaine on
Saterday in everie weeke ; " and from time to time there-
after other similar laws were made requiring the settlers to
become familiar with military practice and discipline, and
but few were excused from this duty ; and so frequently
were the men called upon to " traynee " that the proprie-
tors of towns set apart grounds therefor.

The land set apart in Dedham for that purpose included
what is now known as the Great Common at the upper
village. Although the exact date when this lot was first
used as a training-ground cannot be determined from the


record, yet as the law no less than the necessities of the
situation required them to train, it seems reasonable to in-
fer that it was at the very beginning of the settlement, and
that the place first designated continued to be used ; for
the records show that in 1637 there was a " trayned band
organized with Clerk and other officers." In 1644 ^ grant
was made to the military company of " two acres more as
it lyeth on the westerly end of the trayning ground ; " and
in 1648 a confirmatory grant was made to the company,
its officers and successors, of the free use of all that parcel
of land commonly called the training-ground ; and this
grant provided that the same could not be sold except by
the consent of the company and the selectmen. In 1677
a portion was sold off, and in 1687 the town being short of
funds proposed to sell the training-ground ; but no one
seemed disposed to pay the price fixed. From 1773 to
1836 a part of the grounds was used for the almshouse,
and in the latter year the house and a portion of the land
were sold by order of the town. Since that time the
remainder has been improved as a common.

There is much cause to regret that the town should
have suffered a street to be laid out directly through this
lot, thus dividing it into two small lots, instead of allow-
ing the same to remain as one entire common ; but so it
is that the people of one generation seem to have widely
different tastes and views from those of another generation.
There are but few landmarks left so intimately connected
with the early settlement of an ancient town, and so sug-
gestive of the trials and dangers which the first settlers
endured, as the old training-field.

That coming generations may not forget the location
of the training-ground, nor the dangers and hardships
endured and overcome by the founders of this town
even from the very beginning, and as a simple memorial
thereof, the Committee have erected upon the east cor-


ner of the field, at the junction of High Street and Com-
mon Street, a plain block of Dedham stone, bearing the
simple inscription, —






The first public enterprise of vital importance to the
original settlers of Dedham was to provide for a corn-mill.
Abraham Shaw, one of the original proprietors, undertook
the work; and for his aid and encouragement the town as
early as Feb. 21, 1636-7, passed the following order: —

" Whereas Abraham Shawe is Resolved to erect a
Cornemill in our towne of Dedham, we doe grante
vnto him free liberty soe to doe. And for that
purpose we have nowe assigned Edward Alleyn,
Samuell Morse, Ezechiell HoUiman, Thomas Bartlet
& Nicholas Phillips, or any 4 or 3. of them to accom-
pany him & his workmen to find out a con-
venient place : And viewe what fitting (timber)
is about y' place soe found for y' purpose :
As also to order every thing concerning y^ per-
fecting of y^ same."

We have only to call to mind that the new settlement
was a considerable distance from the older ones, without
roads thereto ; that the people had their own houses to
build, their lands to prepare for cultivation, with the count-
less other difficulties necessarily incident to such a settle-
ment, — to understand that the erection of a corn-mill was
no small undertaking, even with all the encouragement the
town could give. A month later, March 23, 1636-37, the
following vote was passed : —


" Whereas ther hath ben made some proposition by
Abraham Shawe for y*" erecting of a Come Mill in
our Towne We doe nowe graunte vnto y*" sayd
Abraham Sixty Acres of land to belong vnto y*
sayd Mill soe erected provided allwayes y' the
same be a Water Mill, els not. We order also
y* every man y* hath lott w"" vs, shall assist
to breng the Milstones, from Watertowne Mill by
land vnto y* boateing place neer M' Haynes his
farme. It is alsoe further graunted vnto y*
sayd Abraham y' the sayd grownd & mill soe
to be builte shal be at his owne disposeing in
case of sale or other alienation at his pleasure.
Saveing y' our Towne shall have y^ first
Refusall of it, at such a price as an other man
wold Realy give for any such alienation accordingly,"

Before Abraham Shaw had accomplished his work he
died ; but considerable progress had been made, and a plan
devised by which the mill could be run by water. It was
a bold enterprise ; but boldness of enterprise was one of
the leading virtues of the early settlers. They undertook
a work which would be considered almost impossible now,
and that was literally to create a water-power by the fol-
lowing vote passed March 25, 1639, only ten years after
the settlement at Boston of Governor Winthrop and his
company : —

" Ordered y' a Ditch shal be made at a Com'on
Charge through purchased medowe unto y"" East
brooke, y' may both be a partition fence in y'
same : as also may serve for a Course unto a
water mill : yf it shalbe fownd fitting to set a
mill upon y" sayd brooke by y^ Judgement of
a workeman for y' purpose."

This is the origin of Mother Brook, or Mill Creek as it
is sometimes called ; and the result accomplished thereby


was to turn a portion of the water of Charles River into
Neponset River, down a fall sufficient to accommodate
several large mill privileges.

On the same day the above vote was passed, the pro-
prietors made the following proposition to any one who
would undertake to complete the work which Shaw had
begun : —

" Ordered y' yf any man or men will undertake
& erect a water Cornemill shall have given unto
him see much grownd as was formerly
granted unto Abraham Shawe for y' same
end & purpose with such other benefitts and priv-
elidges as he shold have had in all Respects
accordingly. Provided y' y^ sayd Mill doth
grinde Corne before y" first of y^ tenth month
as it is Jntended."

In order, then, for any one to avail himself of this
offer it was necessary to have the mill constructed by
Dec. 10, 1639.

The person to avail himself of this offer was John Elder-
kin. The exact date of the completion of the dam and
mill is unknown, but it was certainly before July 14, 1641 ;
for on that day a committee of three, consisting of Francis
Chickering, John Dwight, and Jonathan Fairbanks, was
appointed to " search out, appoint, determine, and lay out
a cart-way to our water-mill for a common leading way,
where they shall by their discretion judge most convenient
for the town."

A grant was made to Elderkin of eight acres on the
south side of the mill-pond, jointly with Nathaniel Whiting,
for a house-lot. At the same time twenty acres more of
upland and ten acres of meadow were laid out to him.
There is no date of this grant, but the next entry on
the same page of the record is the sale by Elderkin to
Nathaniel Whiting of half of the mill : —


" John Elderkin alienateth & selleth to Nathaniell
Whiteing & his assignes forever his part in the
land granted for a house Lot to the mill
with the house and buildings thereon & the
part of the Dams & ditchings belonging
to halfe the Mill as appeares by a deed
dated the 22 of the 9 month 1642."

The next entry in the record is the sale of the other half
as follows : —

" John Elderkin allienateth and selleth to Mr.
Jn? Allin pastor & Nathan Aldus and John
Dwight and to their assignes for ever all
his rights & interest in the Water Mill
standing upon the East Brooke in Dedham

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Online LibraryDedham (Mass.)Proceedings at the celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Dedham, Massachusetts, September 21, 1886 → online text (page 10 of 13)