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 8 of 13)
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peculiar and confined to New England and to those who
have adopted it from us, is strikingly characteristic of our
own people, and is not known in any other part of Christen-
dom, — certainly not to such a marked extent as regards
common, social classes of plain people, comprehensive of the
whole population. Nobles and gentry in foreign countries
are concerned about pedigrees, even though the bar-sinister
often obtrudes itself; but our town histories give us long rolls
of genealogies of people of an ordinary range, in nowise
individually distinguished, — husbandmen, mechanics, arti-
sans, — excellent but commonplace people, the staple crops
of generations of floating humanity, matured and gathered
in the annual harvestings. Hard work, domestic comfort,
frugality, useful and blameless lives and neighborly satis-
factions must have filled out their experience ; the emer-
gencies of peril or war have drawn out their energies and
proved their nobleness and valor. Interspersed among
the pages of these volumes we may mark occasionally a
member of the Great and General Court ; a physician self-


taught, acquiring his skill at the cost of his patients ; an
ingenious and thrifty craftsman or manufacturer, with an
occasional character of tragedy, as in this town, — hardly
many of romance. A vast deal of capacity, pluck, and
enterprise has smouldered in young persons in our quiet
towns, and they have generally had to remove to wider
spheres to exercise their latent abilities. Many of them
are in the habit — and a blessed habit it is — of sending
back to their early rural homes magnificent gifts and pub-
lic libraries. These town histories — and I have looked
over a vast number of them — are abundantly illustrated
with the portraits of the heads and members of fami-
lies. These counterfeit presentments, I am bound to say,
are not generally prepossessing visages. They are not of
classic, Grecian, or intellectual mould ; their type is pecu-
liar to New England, and not found in any other part of
the globe. They even suggest some of Darwin's " missing
links," stronger in feature and fibre than in the graces;
the faces are generally hard and resolute, indicating a
contracted and careworn existence. Of course the por-
traits of ministers of long and faithful pastorates are found
in these volumes ; these are varied in benignity and stern-
ness, occasionally marked by stolidity, but very rarely by
stupidity. Now, my friends, what is it that prompts the
labor and expense, the hearty local appreciation of these
volumes of town history? It is rather curiosity, I think,
than admiration, rather interest than pride, in the descend-
ants of the good sound stock from which they sprang;
honest, laborious, self-governed. God-fearing men, and
feminine, rather than male, women, — those who held and
transmitted title-deeds of land, who cleared the forests
and caught the falling waters and tamed the wilderness ;
opened highways, beautified the pastures and the mead-
ows, built the schoolhouses and the meeting-house, and
could account for all their paternal and filial relations in


the records of their family Bibles as incidents of legal mat-
rimony, which the Old World people cannot always do.
These plain people, keenly set upon their own individual
rights, sharp, but always ready and generous in serving
the common weal, figure in our town histories.

Now, there is one suggestion of a most just and grateful
character which not only warrants, but demands, our high-
est appreciation of our Puritan ancestry. It is this : we
are enjoying in full measure, in the heritage which they
have left to us, the fruits of all their virtues, but are really
in no whit harmed by the peculiar qualities in them which
we cannot love and approve. Only what was good in
them, in their principles and institutions, has left its effects
for us. Their severities and limitations, after giving them
a great deal of vexation, have all died with them ; their
superstitions and prejudices we have given up, if only to
give place for others of our own. We find it very easy to
rid ourselves of all their scruples and to antiquate their
observances. Their Fast Day has become for us a sort of
out-of-door thanksgiving festival ; and if henceforth there
should be a failure of mince-pies for Christmas, it will not
be chargeable upon the Puritans, but upon the Prohibi-
tionists who have laid an interdict upon some of the in-
gredients of that savory viand. While thus we relieve
ourselves from the yoke of our fathers, and are in nowise
losers or sufferers by any incumbrance which they have left
on their heritage, how is it with those principles and insti-
tutions, those habits and usages of the fathers which we
all commend and approve as the security of public virtue
and happiness? It will be a serious subject for some
future orator of a most impartial and generous mind to
discuss, if he will do it candidly, as to what our New Eng-
land would have been if left to the development of its own
original indigenous stock by its own traditions and meth-
ods, and what it is hkely to be from the swarming into it


of foreign peoples so unlike our own. On which side the
balance of the difiference, for loss or gain, for good or evil,
as the alternative may be, it is enough to know that those
who come from our old stock have been moved to make a
stand for their own institutions and their own way of man-
aging them, against alien methods and influences.

This, however, cannot be done by party or race strifes
or animosities, but by calm demonstration of the better
way. On at least four occasions citizens of Boston have
successfully engaged the restraining power of the legisla-
ture to interpose in keeping their municipal administration
in its old paths of economy and responsibility; for pro-
tecting ancient burial-grounds and commons ; for limiting
taxation and indebtedness, and for providing a police not
appointed by those of whom they are to keep a sharp
oversight. There need be no variance or conflict between
those who have succeeded native-born, through their gen-
erations, to this fair heritage of the Puritans and those who
find it so attractive, so free, so prosperous as to seek here
for what they could not have or enjoy on the other side of
the ocean.

The President : The next toast which I have to
present is as follows : —

" The Sons and Daughters of Dedham, and their Descendants
wherever dispersed ! God bless them ! We welcome them with
open arms to the hospitalities of this occasion."

It has always been a pleasant and attractive recol-
lection of the celebration of 1836, the one more
frequently mentioned than any other, that the town
was then honored with the presence of the Hon.
Edward Everett. It will be to us one of the most
pleasing recollections of this occasion that his son


is to reply to the toast which I have just read ; and
I have the very great pleasure and honor of intro-
ducing to you Dr. William Everett, of Quincy.


Mr. President, Fellow-Citizens, — I think I have
a right to call you by that name, because one of my
ancestors was one of the nineteen men that helped draw
up the town covenant to which Mr. WoRTHiNGTON re-
ferred in his address this morning. In the true Puritan
fashion, he and his associates settled what a town ought
to be in advance, and then admitted every one who
would agree to do exactly as they said ; much as I once
heard a Californian describe the process of getting up
a new mining company: "Three fellows get up a con-
stitution, and then assess the rest." In the next genera-
tion my ancestor attained the modest town honors of
which we were told to-day. He was Captain John Everett,
— of course a distinguished man; and he was one of five
who got the right to the town lands confirmed by Jo-
sias, the grandson of Chickatabut. You see the honest
men of Dedham had shrunk from nineteen to five, yet
there was an Everett among them ; and I suppose that
entitles me to claim one fifth of the territory of Old Ded-
ham whenever I ask for it. Then, in the next generation,
we rose a step further; we had had a founder, we had
had a captain, — now we were real good boys, and they
made one of us Deacon John Everett, and beyond that
town honors do not go.

The last of my own race born in this town was my grand-
father Oliver; and as this is a family matter, I should like
to take up a little time with his life. His father was a poor
farmer with nine sons, and only one of them could receive


a college education. Oliver, though by no means strong,
was apprenticed to his brother as a carpenter, and forced
to renounce all thought of a professional life. One con-
solation only he had, — a taste for music ; and had by
some means scraped together money enough to buy
a violin. But my great-grandfather's rigid Puritanism
thought all music a waste of time, and that instrument
in particular an abomination ; so the violin was confis-
cated and burned. The discipline had its effect; music
died out in the blood for three generations. He worked
on in his drudgery till twenty-one ; and the moment he
became his own master resolved in spite of his poverty
to force his way to college, which he did at the age
of twenty-three. When I think of the sacrifice such a
process demanded, I am ashamed to think of our boys,
brought up in every luxury, whose parents cannot per-
suade them to stay at school after fifteen or sixteen
years of age, because they must be in a store making
money, which they will not know how to spend when
made. The labor bore its fruit. My grandfather, after
graduating in 1779, became the honored pastor of the
New South Church in 1781. He there carried out a
character which has belonged to the whole race of Ever-
etts in history or in fiction so far as I know, — a some-
what rebellious nature. Sir Walter Scott has an Everett
in one of his novels, and a very unmanageable person he is.
We have all a streak of revolt. W^hen my grandfather
was a candidate, there was a knot of old ladies, mothers
in Israel, who used to meet with their knitting in the
tower of the Old South and catechise all the young min-
isters. Oliver Everett was the first to raise the standard of
revolt; he would not be catechised by the old ladies, and
his rebellion stopped the practice. He was pastor ten
years ; his health broke down ; he retired to his native
county (we all have to get back to Norfolk), though to


another town ; he lived an honored life, was one of the
first eulogists of Washington in February, 1800, and was
voted for for Congress in November, 1802. But it killed
him, and he died in December at fifty, having made the
name of an old Dedham race loved and honored by dis-
tinguished men all over the country. His son's manu-
script, which I have in my pocket, says he was the kindest
of parents, revered and honored by his children as a sec-
ond Providence, to whom they looked for every impulse
in the home circle.

Now, I have told this audience details, because I believe
it is the story of every Dedham man who has gone out
to do honor to the town. It illustrates the necessity of
" contentment," as Mr. Worthington so well gave it to us.
It does not mean repose or inaction. It means making
the very best and utmost of home ; never leaving home
till you are sure it has no more for you, and then leav-
ing it only to carry its principles abroad, and make new
Dedhams and Concords, new Plymouths and Bostons,
everywhere. I suppose the Dedham settlers were think-
ing of the discontented people at Cambridge and Dor-
chester, who hurried to Connecticut before they knew
the value of Massachusetts. They and the others who
stayed, determined to make the most of her. In this our
birth-year they founded the College, the original New
Towne college, before Harvard came.

The principle of contentment was to stay at home as
long as home had anything to give, — as long as parents
and kindred, the house walls, the home fields, the home
school, the home college, could give anything, and then
go out to spread home wider wherever they went. Ded-
ham men and their children will always keep the thought
of her. I am glad that is her name; it shows whence
we came and what we have to give. I have no sym-
pathy with those who are trying to revive what they


call the beautiful Indian names, which are mostly un-
couth and to us unpronounceable and meaningless. I
am glad we are Dedham and not Chickatabut or Quino-
bequin; it shows that we belong to the great imperial
race which subdued the wilderness here to itself, and
having raised Massachusetts to her present perfection
is leaving her, not yet exhausted, to spread her freedom
and her principles over yet undeveloped lands. I hail
it as the race of my ancestor, who tradition says was
a soldier in the Low Countries before he came here, —
a fighter in the old battleground of freedom and culture
in Europe, a pioneer in the battle of freedom and culture

The President : The next regular toast is two-
fold in its nature : —

" The Common School, the best birthright of every child in Puri-
tan New England I Collegiate education, the noblest gift that the
parent can bestow on her children 1 In the two, fostered and en-
couraged by the law from the beginning, ' lies the secret of the
success and character of New England.' "

I have the honor of introducing to you to re-
ply, Rev. Dr. Timothy Dwight, President of Yale


Mr. President, — I shall be unable to reply to the
toast you have given, because I have to take the train
leaving Dedham at twenty minutes after five. I will only
say, sir, that I came here to worship my ancestors ; and
I find that in the rejoicing in his ancestry which Mr.
Everett has exhibited so strikingly in the remarks which
he has made, he has forgotten one point of history here


recorded in the annals of Dedham; namely, that the
inhabitants felt a disposition to move to the southward.
That disposition, sir, followed in the Dwight family, and
they moved southward into Connecticut, and there they
found the place which you seem to have failed to find
here, although you tried for it; namely, the town where
" contentment " dwells. That is the town of New Haven,
Connecticut. And, as I am obliged to follow my ances-
try this afternoon in their migration southward, and am
sure of finding contentment when I arrive there, with
thanks to you, sir, for your kindness in asking me to say
a word, I bid you farewell.

The President: — The next toast which I have
to propose is, The Orator of the Day ! to which
Mr. WoRTHiNGTON wlll rcspond.


Mr. President, — There used to be a very salutary
rule which it was found necessary to adopt in the old vil-
lage debating-societies, — that no man should speak twice
on the same subject. Perhaps at this late hour it would
be a good time to enforce such a rule. I recognize the
fact that I have had my hour to-day, and I have no heart
longer to detain this company. But I suppose that con-
ventional usage prescribes that the orator of the day shall
be tendered the compliment of a post-prandial opportunity
to speak, with the implication that his speech must be
a short one.

I was reminded by the speech of Mr. Everett of a little
story which I recently found in one of those bright news-
paper paragraphs that appear in the columns of a good
newspaper, and which ran somewhat in this manner: " An


eminent master of the violin was performing on his won-
derful instrument at a private musical party. In the com-
pany were two ladies, one presumably older than the other,
who behind her fan quietly imparted to her younger neigh-
bor the important fact that the violin of the master was
two hundred and fifty years old. ' Ah,' responded the
younger lady, ' if I could make such music as that upon
an instrument two hundred and fifty years old, I would try
to raise money enough to buy a new one." This story,
among other things, well illustrates the difference between
the two kinds of people we meet in the world, — those who
think anything is valuable because it is old, and those
who value anything because it is new.

There are some of us in Dedham who realize that there
is much in the history of the old town which is worthy
of being preserved and perpetuated. We agree with the
elder lady in the story, that an instrument two hundred and
fifty years old has a peculiar capacity for music in it. In
1862 the Dedham Historical Society was incorporated.
Quietly and unobtrusively during all these years it has
been making a collection .which while not extensive is
nevertheless unique and valuable. It has never had any
proper place where this collection could be arranged, clas-
sified, and made accessible ; it has been obliged to depend
upon the permission of the County Commissioners for a
place in the Court House, where it might store that
collection. But notwithstanding these disadvantages the
Society has kept up its organization and meetings, until
now it has the opportunity of taking the position of influ-
ence to which it is justly entitled.

In February last, by the will of the late Miss Hannah
Shuttleworth, the Society came into the possession of an
eligible lot of land in a central location, with the munifi-
cent bequest of ten thousand dollars, expressly designated
by the testator for the purpose of erecting a suitable build-


ing for the Society. Our plans are matured and the con-
tracts made, and to-morrow morning we propose to begin
the new half-century by breaking ground for the new

What is quite significant of the deep and genuine in-
terest taken by many of the people of Dedham in the work
of this Society is their readiness to respond to our recent
request for an additional sum of money. It was found
necessary to supplement the amount of the legacy by a
considerable sum in order to complete the building ac-
cording to the plans and specifications. Three weeks ago
yesterday we opened a subscription paper for this purpose.
Without any extraordinary effort, and asking, besides the
members of the Society, those only whom we supposed to
be specially interested in Dedham history, we have now ob-
tained pledges amounting to nearly fifteen hundred dollars;
and, what gives us a peculiar satisfaction, these pledges
have been given heartily and generously, and with many
words of encouragement.

In this way those of us who realize that not only what
remains of our local history of two hundred and fifty years
should be gathered up, treasured, and perpetuated, but
also those things which must form a part of present and
future history, rejoice in beginning a new half-century
with an appropriate building to be devoted to those

The President : I have now the pleasant duty to
propose a toast which must elicit a warm response
from every heart : —

The Patriot Soldiers of Dedham ! Brave and true men, they
fought not for ambition or titles or fame, but for their country,
for freedom, for humanity.


I have the honor of introducing to you to re-
spond to this toast Colonel James M. Ellis, of
West Dedham : —


Mr. Chairman, — I thank you, sir, for calling upon
me to respond to this toast, because as an humble agri-
culturist I did not expect so much honor, and chiefly
because I wish our honored guests from different parts
of the State and country to know that this town here by
the banks of the Charles, with its many spots of historic
interest, its beautiful streets, its Court House and con-
venient jail, is but a small part of the town of Dedham;
that the aesthetic and agricultural part lies to the west
among the hills, from whose summits one may look on a
panorama of exquisite beauty, with Wachusett and Mo-
nadnock on the one side, and Blue Hill and the waters of
Boston Harbor on the other. On these health-giving hills
we raise a sturdy stock, a fair specimen of which sits by
your side, Mr. Chairman, — our youthful Joseph Colburn,
who at eighty-one has to-day been one of General Weld's
chief aids, riding at the head of the column, and I doubt
not expects to do like service fifty years hence. At one
time we thought of establishing a town of our own, to be
called " Contentment; " but the doctrine of secession hav-
ing been settled by the war, we have decided to stay with
our old mother, who has stood by us so well.

Responding more especially to the sentiment proposed,
it seems to me, sir, eminently fitting that you should honor
the patriot soldiers of Dedham by giving them a place in
the records of this day ; for I believe that the citizens of
Dedham have ever been prompt to respond to the country's
call, and to defend their hearths and homes, from the days


when the first settlers shouldered the old " King's Arms,"
a specimen of which still hangs in the old Fairbanks
kitchen, and the days when Captain Joseph Guild led his
minute-men to Concord, down to the dark days of 1861
and the war for the Union.

The orator of the day, in his address at the dedication
of Memorial Hall, has so well and fully told the story of
the services of Dedham soldiers that I need only to state
briefly a few facts. While there were those from Dedham
serving in various commands on land and sea during the
Civil War, the chief enlistments from this town were in
Company F of the Eighteenth, Company I of the Thirty-
fifth, and Company D of the Forty-third Regiments of
Massachusetts Volunteers. The Forty-third, a nine-months
regiment, served only in North Carolina, taking part in
the battles of Kinston and White Hall. The Eighteenth
served chiefly in the Virginia campaigns, in the Army of
the Potomac, under General Fitz-John Porter, — a brave
and gallant officer, whose recent restoration to the army
rolls gives great satisfaction to his soldiers. In the second
battle of Bull Run the Eighteenth received its first baptism
of blood, and suffered severe loss, more than sixty per cent
of those engaged being either killed or wounded. Here
fell Captain Charles W. Carroll, in whose honor our Post is
named, whose patriotic ardor, bravery in action, and sol-
dier's death will ever give him a tender place in the memo-
ries of his townsmen. The Thirty-fifth Regiment left in
the second year of the war, and formed a part of the Ninth
Corps, under General Burnside. When only a month in
service it took part in the terrible battles of South Moun-
tain and Antietam, and suff"ered heavy loss, more than two
thirds of its officers and one third of its men being killed
or disabled. The Dedham soldiers fought and fell at
Fredericksburg and Gettysburg, in the battles of the Wil-
derness, in the siege of Knoxville, in crossing the bridge


under Burnside at Antietam, in facing the fierce fusillade
of fire from the stone-wall on Marye's Heights, in charging
over the ramparts and into the crater at Petersburg, and in
the closing campaign of the war under Grant. Wherever
placed, these Dedham men showed their bravery in action
and their heroism in death.

And now, sir, this anniversary which we celebrate to-
day, — this decorated town, these flying colors, this flag
of our Union over all, — what would it have been had
these men died in vain, and we to-day a part of a divided
country? Many of you here recall the march of the first
Massachusetts soldiers from the front of Boylston Hall in
Boston, and through the streets of Baltimore. The flag on
Sumter had been fired upon from the city of Charleston;
and in bitter hatred South Carolina and Massachusetts
were face to face in the beginning of a bloody war. To-
day we are indeed at peace, and instead of sending thou-
sands of men to destroy our Southern brethren, we are
sending thousands of dollars to help and comfort them, and
to build up again their shattered and fallen homes. We
can well believe that we are united in brotherhood again
when the editor of the leading Charleston paper can say to
his readers: " What I want to bring up to you now is this
glorious fact, that this city of Charleston, so symbolic of
all that stood for disunion and civil strife in the days of
the past, is in the poignancy of her grief furnishing to-day

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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 8 of 13)