Fitchburg Historical Society.

Proceedings of the Fitchburg Historical Society and papers relating to the history of the town (Volume 3) online

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V* 3




The Friends of the Library

of the

University of Massachusetts

at Amherst










Sentinkl Printing Company,




Frederick 1\ Woodward, Jamics I'\ D. Garfieed.

Ebenezek Bailey.

Frederick A. Cirrier.

J. F. D. Garfield.


Officers for 1902, 3

Proceedings, 5

Capt. Thomas Cowdin, . . . liy Miss Ada L. Howanl, H)

Asa Thurston, the Pioneer Missionary, . By Ebenezer Bailey, 39

The Division of Worcester County, . By Henry A. Willis, 70

George Trask, the Anti-Tobacco Apostle,

By Atherton P. Mason, 84

The Verse Writers of Fitchbukg, By Henry A. Goodrich, 104

Geological Features of Fitchbukg, By E. Adams Ihiriwcll, \',V.)

The Old Stores ok Fitchbukg, Part I.,

By Frederick A. Cnrrier, 159

Till'; ()li> Storks ok Fitchbukg, Part II.,

By Frederick A. Currier, 188

Inscriptions from the Burial Grounds ok Lunenburg:

South Burial Ground, 224

North Burl^l Ground, 269

Goodrich Burial Ground, 322

Arnold Burial Ground, 323


October 18, 1897. — The regular monthh' meeting of
the societ3', the first after the summer vacation and fifty-
eighth since the society's first organization, was held at
the common council room. President Henry A. Willis pre-

Mr. Frederick F. Woodward read a paper relating to
the Woodw^ard ancestry, and in connection presented some
interesting letters written during the Revolutionary period
by John Woodward, a RevolutionarA^ soldier from West-

November 15, 1897. — The regular monthly meeting
Yv^as held at the common council room. President Willis
in the chair. Mrs. Frederick F. Woodw^ard, Mrs. Leander
W. Cumings and Mr. Harold M. Dean were elected to

Judge Charles H. Blood read a review of the Adams-
Cunningham correspondence, a series of letters written by
ex-President John Adams and William Cunningham, Esq.,
of Fitchburg, during the early years of the last century.
The letters were published in 1823, during an exciting
political campaign when John Quinc\' Adams was a candi-
date for president. A sketch of the existing political par-
ties of that day and brief notices of prominent men men-
tioned in the correspondence, lent additional interest to a
valuable paper.

6 Proceedings.

December 20, 1897.— The regular monthly meeting
was held at the common council room, President Willis
presiding. Mrs. Elijah M. Dickinson and Mrs. Robert N.
Wallis were elected members of the society.

Announcement was made that the society's second
volume of Proceedings had been issued from the press
and was ready for distribution to purchasers.

Mr. Robert N. Wallis read an instructive paper on the
history, objects and methods of the organization known
as Tammany Hall, or the Tammany Society of New York.


January 17, 1898. — The annual meeting of the society
was held at the common council room, President Willis in
the chair. The secretary read his annual report, from
which the following extracts are taken :

There are at present upon our roll of membership 131 names.
Twenty-one of these are corresponding members, six are life members
and one honorary. * » *

It may be safely said that our organization has passed the experi-
mental stage, and has demonstrated its usefulness and vitalit}'. The
approval of the public, shown by its steady increase of membership,
indicates that our citizens are willing to endorse and encourage its
work as worthy and commendable.

One of the chief objects of our society, as suggested b\' the motto
of its seal, and also as stated in its by-laws, is to gather up and pre-
serve the materials for history ; and while we strive to rescue the rec-
ords of the past from oblivion, it should not be forgotten that the pres-
ent generation is making history as truly as did our fathers in their
day; and a transcript of passing occurrences of the present will be as
important for the use of the future historian as are the musty records
of the past to the historian of the present day. * * ♦

If the old Fitchburg Philosophical Society had had a historical
plank in its platform of by-laws, it might have gathered up and saved
the transient and ephemeral productions of the press of its day and
generation — including files of the local newspapers from 1830 to 1838,
only scattering numbers of which are now known to exist.

Proceedings. 7

Much useful material for local history has been gathered together
by this society, and some has been put into an enduring form for pres-
ervation; but much more has been irretrievabl}' lost for the want of
some safe depositor^' in the past for its reception and safe keeping. For
the first third of the present century there is very little of written or
printed history' relating to the town of Fitchl)urg. except what is con-
tained in the l)rief records of the town clerk and in the records of the
two churches of that time. The coming local historian will here find
substantially untrodden ground awaiting his labors, and much of the
information he will seek will not be easy to obtain.

Through the courtesy of its publishers, our file of the daily Sentinel
has been kept complete. • The historical value of newspapers is unques-
tioned. The}' contain current history more complete than can elsewhere
Ije found. To all seekers after historical data the newspaper files are
veritable mines of information. The newspaper press of this city, from
its commencement in 1830, covers a period that has no parallel in his-
tory—a period that has produced the locomotive, the telegraph, the tele-
phone and the wonderful development of electrical science as applied to
commercial and domestic uses; a period that has developed the sewing
machine and brought forth the manifold improvements in machinery as
applied to the mechanic and industrial arts; the improved methods in
agriculture, the steam plow, the mower, the reaper, and the thresher;
and last, but not least, the power printing press of lightning speed,
which has made the great city dailies of the present time possible.
Surely this society should make special efforts to secure as full files as
possible of all newspapers that have been, or are now being, published
in our city.

In calling attention to some of the needs of our institution it would
be a singular omission if I should fail to again refer to the greatest of
all our needs — that of safe and commodious rooms in which to store
our accumulations, and to arrange them for the convenient use of those
seeking the information they contain. On the principle that "all things
come to those who wait," we ma}' venture to hope that the time is not
far distant when we shall be permanently located and in a condition to
accept some valuable material which we know is now withheld because
of the lack of such suitable accommodations. And then, as people
become more and more assured of the permanency of our institution,
and of the safet}' of its archives, we may confidently look for a more
generous flow of historical material into our custody than we can hope
for under the present conditions.

8 Proceedi)iirs


The treasurer presented his sixth annual report, show-
ing receipts for the year $224.50; expenditures $77.12;
with total amount of funds on hand of $366.30.

The librarian read his annual report, showing addi-
tions to the societ3^'s collections of 15 bound volumes,
113 pamphlets, besides several files of newspapers, maps,
manuscripts, and other miscellaneous donations.

A ballot for officers for the ensuing year resulted in
the election of the following:

Executive Committee: Henry A. Willis, Henry A.
Goodrich, Frederick F. Woodward, Atherton P. Mason,
and James F. D. Garfield.

Clerk : James F. D. Garfield.

Treasurer and Librarian : Atherton P. Mason.

Committee on Nominations (three years) : Ebenezer

At a subsequent meeting of the executive committee
the following officers were elected :

President: Henry A. Willis. •

Vice-Presidents: Henry A. Goodrich and Frederick F.

Interesting letters were read by Frederick A. Currier
and Dr. A. P. Mason, from corresponding members.

February 21, 1898. — The regular monthly meeting
w^as held at the common council room. President Willis
presiding. A large audience was present, consisting of
members and invited guests.

The president announced as the subject of the even-
ing's paper, "The Life and Public Services of Capt. Thomas
Cowdin," one of Fitchburg's prominent citizens in the
early days. He then introduced Mrs. Lillian Upton Law-
ton of Brattleboro, Vt., who proceeded to read an ex-
ceedingly interesting account of Captain Cowdin, which
had been prepared by Miss Ada L. Howiird, ex-president
of W'ellesley college, who was unable to be present. The



Online LibraryFitchburg Historical SocietyProceedings of the Fitchburg Historical Society and papers relating to the history of the town (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 24)