George Wingate Chase.

The history of Haverhill, Massachusetts, from its first settlement, in 1640, to the year 1860 online

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while they alarmed many, provoked the just indignation of others. The
writer well remembers frequent and warm discussions upon the sub-
ject in the place where he was then employed, and the repeated and
earnestly expi-essed wish of one ardent believer in " free speech, "f that
these hypocritical threats might be rebuked by petitions from the North,
praying for the very thing so fiercely threatened by members from the
South. Acting upon the hint, as we have no doubt, Benjamin Emerson, 2d,
who was frequently present at these discussions, drew up such a petition,
which was signed by forty-four persons, and duly forwarded to the Hon,

° The next year, the town accepted the code of By-Laws adopted by the Engiueers.
t Deacon Tappan Chase.




John Quincy Adams, the fearless and uncompromising defender of the right
called in question. The following is a copy of the petition : —

" To the Congress of the United States. The undersigned, citizens of
Haverhill, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, pray that you will
immediately adopt measures, peaceably, to dissolve the Union of these

First, Because no Union can be agreeable or permanent, which does
not present prospects of reciprocal benefit.

Second, Because a vast proportion of the resources of one section of the
Union is annually drained to sustain the views and course of another sec-
tion without any adequate return.

Third, Because (judging from history of past nations) this Union if
persisted in, in the present course of things, will certainly overwhelm this
whole nation in utter destruction.

Benj Emerson 2d
John P. Montgomery
Osgood G. Boynton
Elisha Hutchinson
Prankliu Currier
Edward E. Dike
Elijah S. Tozier
Wm Hale
Joseph Flanders
Alfred S, Parmlee
George O. Harmon
N. P. Dresser
James Harmon
Otis W. Butters
John Philbrick

Wm H. Noyes
Edwin A. Sargent
Herman Kimball
Washington Johnson
Thomas Ball
Joseph B. Spiller
J. Henry Johnson
Francis Butters, jr
Sewell E. Jewett
AViilibee H. Currier
Daniel Brickett
Cornelius Jenness
AVm N. Davis
Ezekiel Hale, jr

Samuel Stuart
Samuel Plumer
Kathaniel Foot
Leonard Parker
Francis Butters
Geo. F. Bailey
Elbridge G. Davis
Alfred Gage
Truman M. Martin
Oliver H. F. Delaware
B. Greeley
Nathan Webster
Charles Fitch
John L. Head."

Tappan Chase

On the 24th of January, 1842, Mr. Adams presented the petition in
the national House of Eepresentatives, and moved its reference to a special
committee, with instructions to report an answer to the petitioners. An
exciting scene followed. Mr. Hopkins asked if it was in order to move
to burn the petition in presence of the House ; Mr, Wise, (of Va.,) asked
if it was in order to move to censure any member who presented such a
petition; and Mr. Gilmer, (of N. C.,) offered a resolution censuring Mr,
Adams for presenting it. After an exciting discussion, the House abruptly
adjourned. Nearly the whole of the next four days was spent in discuss-
ing resolutions offered by Mr. Marshall, (as a substitute for Mr. Gilmer's)
declaring that " a proposition to the representatives * to dissolve ' the
Union, is a high breach of privilege, contempt offered to the House, a
proposition to commit perjury, and involves the crime of .high treason ;


that John Q. Adams, in presenting a petition praying the dissolution of
the Union, has oflFered the deepest indignity to the House, and insult to
the people of the United States ; " and " that John Q. Adams might well
1)0 held to merit expulsion from the national councils," for oifering such a
petition. On the 29th, the resolutions were " postponed for the present ; "
and February 5th, the whole subject was tabled, by a large majority.

In view of recent developments, and the present condition of our
national affairs, we have deemed the history of the "Haverhill Disunion
Petition" entitled to a place on the pages of this work, and have therefore
given it. As we distinctly understood it at the time, the petition was
intended as a rebuke for what were believed to be hollow threats of dis-
union, and its effect certainly seems to have proved the shrewdness of the

The Fourth of July, 18-12, was celebrated by the " Washington Street
Washington Total Abstinence Society," by a procession to the common,
where an address was delivered by Charles T. Woodman, Esq., followed
by a collation, at the same place.

At the annual town meeting in 1843, it was voted to divide the " sur-
plus revenue" equally among the inhabitants of the town, each giving his
individual note to the town, promising to return the sum received by him,
on demand. This was in direct violation of the terms upon which the
town itself held the money, and an injunction was immediately issued,
restraining them from making such a distribution. A meeting was there-
upon called, (June 5) and it was voted to apply the interest of the fund to
the support of the schools in town.

The Anniversary of the National Independence was celebrated in 1843,
by a Ladies' Levee, on the vacant lot, corner of Summer and Stage Streets,
the proceeds of which were applied " for the benefit of the Poor." The
day was also observed by the Sabbath School connected with the Second
Baptist Society, in a procession, an address by Piev. Benj. Wheeler, of
Plaistow, and a collation on the banks of the Merrimack.

The subject of temperance still continued to occupy a prominent place in
the public mind, and at the annual meeting in 1 844, the town passed reso-
lutions similar to those it adopted in 1842.

Though the common was purchased and leveled several years previous to
this time, it was not yet suitably enclosed and laid out. But in 1844, the
ladies of the village took hold of the matter, and, in September of that
year, held a levee, at the Academy Hall, to provide funds for that
purpose. The effort was successful, and the public spirited maids and mat-
rons are fully entitled to this honorable mention for their seasonable
services in improving this beautiful park.


In 1845, a new temperance organization was introduced into town,
under the form of a semi-" secret society," known as " The Independent
Order of Eechabites." A " Tent " was formed here in the early part of
that year, and so rapid was the increase of its members, that in Au"-ust
the large hall in Duncan's Building, Main Street, was leased, and dedica-
ted to their use. 'Ih3 new organization continued to flourish for a few
years, when it rapidly fell into decay, and soon ceased to exist.

At the time of the organization of the Eechabites, the Washingtonian
Society had ceased to be an active body, and it soon after became extinct.
In October, of the same year, an effort was made to revive the interest in
the Washingtonian plan, by organizing a new society, under the name of
the " Pentucket Total Abstinence Society," but it proved to be short

The same year, another of the so-called "secret" societies was intro-
duced into the town. September 4th, " Mutual Eelief Lodge " of the
" Independent Order of Odd Fellows" was instituted, and on the 17th of
October, the hall over the lecture-room of the Centre Congregational Society,
on Vestry Street, was dedicated to their use. The new order took vigorous
root, and flourished for several years. It is still living, and by means of
its brotherly aid in sickness, and the liberal appropriations from its fund
to the " widow and orphan," is quietly diffusing its genial influence to no
small extent.

In August, of the same year, a new burial ground was laid out on
the north, and immediately adjoining, the first one laid out in the town.
It was purchased by a company, and was dedicated April 21st, 1846,
under the name of " Linwood Cemetery." It was tastefully laid out and
embellished, and is now among the neatest and pleasantcst places of the
kind in New England.

The wide contrast between the neat and orderly appearance of the new
cemetery, and the neglected and dilapidated condition of the old buryiug-
ground immediately adjoining it, naturally excited a desire to see the
latter improved and cared for. In this improvement, as in the case of
the old common, the ladies were the most active and zealous workers.
Foremost among them were Mrs. (Jeremiah) Stickncy, and Mrs. (Rufus)
Longley. Enlisting the aid and sympathy of others, a levee was held
April 10th, 1845, which proved highly successful; contributions wore
SDlici ted, and freely bestowed; and in the course of the next two years,
more than one thousand dollars was raised and expended in beautifying
and improving that ancient burial-place. A neat granite monument was
erected to the memory of the beloved Eolfe and his family ; the old wooden


fence in front was exchanged for one of iron, and tliat upon tlie sides gave
place to the more appropriate and durable hedge ; and every part of the
grounds felt the magic touch of woman's hand. The homely and ancient
name, " Burying-Ground," was exchanged for that of "Pentucket Ceme-
tery," by which name it will ever after be known.

In June, 184G, the steamer Lawrence, _ a side-wheel boat, about one hun- •
drcd and fort}' feet long, and built at Newburyport expressly for the route,
commenced running between that place and Haverhill. She proved to be
too large and unwieldy for the purpose, and after running two seasons,
was sold to parties in Connecticut. June Gth, 1848, a new stern-wheel
steamer, of the same name, also built for the Merrimack, at Waterville,
Maine, made her first appearance at Haverhill, and the same day went up
as far as the new city of Lawrence. This was the first and last trip made
by a steamboat so far up the river. The intention about that time, was,
to clear the river above this place, so as to allow light draft steamboats to
make regular trips between Newburyport and Lawrence. "With that view,
the legislature had granted (April, 1848) an act of incorporation to
James R. Nichols, James H. Carlton, and others of this town, under the
name of the " Pentucket Navigation Co.," giving them the exclusive right
to navigate the Merrimack, between Haverhill and Lawrence, by steam-
boats, for twenty-five years, provided they made it so navigable within
five years. The only impediment to such navigation, was the rapids in
this town, known as Mitchel's Falls, to clear a channel through which it
was estimated would cost only about five thousand dollars. But for want
of sufficient inducement to warrant even that outlay, the project was

Besides the steamboats mentioned, several others ran transiently be-
tween Newburyport and this town, at various times, from 1848 to 1854.
Their names were, the Sarah, California, 31errimac, Ohio, C. B. Stevens,
Narraganseft, and Grace Darling. The latter was owned by Haverhill
men, and was put upon the route in August, 1854. The opening of the
Georgetown railroad, about this time, diverted the travel to so large au
extent in that direction, that the steam navigation of the river was given
up in the fall of the year last mentioned, and will never, in all probability,
be again resumed.

In October, 1847, a society was organized in this town, under the name
of the " Fraternity of Shenstones." The object of the society, was, to
provide means for setting out and taking care of " ornamental trees, in
the streets, squares, and other public places in the town." Isaac Ames,
Esq., was chosen President, and Thomas M. Hayes, Esq., Secretary and


Treasurer. The fee for membersbip was one dollar per year. The name
was adopted in honor of an English gentleman, who, many years
before, labored zealously for a similar purpose in his own country. Through
the exertions of the Shenstones, many hundred trees were from time to
time set out, which have already become a beautiful " ornament" to more
.than one street in our village. A large share of the credit which justly
belongs to that society for their thoughtfulness, good taste, and large suc-
cess, is due to the efforts of its originator, and first Secretary. Though
long since laid beneath the sod, the beautiful trees he planted, and watched
with so much tenderness and interest, will long remind us that he lived
not in vain.

The subject of a Town House, or Town Hall, began to be agitated soon
after the town found itself obliged to hire a place for its meetings, in
1828. In May, 1831, a meeting was called for the special purpose of con-
sidering the matter, but the town voted not to build. Two years later, a
committee was chosen to see about a site for such a building, and the prob-
able cost, but nothing definite was done, and the next year the committee
was discharged. At the annual meeting in 1835, the town voted to build
a Town House, and a committee was chosen to see about a site, &c. Two
years later, a proposition was made to purchase the Christian Union
Chapel, on Washington Square but it was not accepted. Another two
years came and went, and the subject of building such a structure again
came before the town, but was indefinitely postponed. Here the matter
rested until the annual meeting in 1847, when the town voted to erect a
suitable building for their use, on the " south part of the Harrod lot, so
called," at an expense of eight thousand dollars. A steeple was to be
placed upon the building, provided a clock and bell were provided by priv-
ate subscription. A plan was presented and agreed upon, for a building
seventy-six feet long, forty-two feet wide, and twenty-six feet high above
the cellar. The latter was to be seven and one-half feet deep in the
clear. The work was immediately commenced, and the building com-,
pleted early in the following year. Though the town- adopted a plan, with
the express understanding that parties had offered to erect a building
according to that plan for $8,000, the actual sum expended was $ 1 6,382.44.
The clock and bell were purchased as proposed, — by private subscrip-
tions, — and the proceeds of a public levee.

At the annual meeting in 1848, the town voted to allow the county the
free use of the hall for the County Courts, if the latter should be removed
from Ipswich to Haverhill. It was also voted that the hall should be
kept exclusively for the use of the town, except that it might be let " for


sucTi lectures or meetings as shall in tlie best judgment of tlie Selectmen
kave a tendency to improve the morals and intelligence of the citizens."
Subsecj[u.entlj, the selectmen were invested with the full control of the .

At the same meeting, a committee was chosen to appear before the Gen-
eral Court in aid of the petitioners for a railroad from ISTewburyport to
Bradford.-' It was also voted that future town meetings should be warned
by publishing the warrant in each of the newspapers in town two weeks,
and posting a cojjy in the office of the town clerk. This has continued to
be the practice to the present time. At the same time a committee was
chosen to superintend the laying out of the Common, and the setting out
of trees. f The hay-scales were ordered to be removed from the Common,
and they were accordingly transferred to their present location. A safe
was purchased for the better protection of the town records ; and the first
two books of the records were ordered to be copied. The latter task was
performed in a most faithful and beautiful manner, by Mr. Josiah Keely.

At the same meeting, a proposition was made for the town to pay the
difference between the cost of a five-inch and an eight-inch iron pipe, from
the Eound Pond to the top of the hill on Main Street, — The Acqueduct
Company being about to re-place the old logs with an iron pipe of the for-
mer diameter. The subject was referred to a committee, who subsequently
reported in favor of the town's paying the difference between a five and a
six-inch, pipe, which was agreed to, and the present six-inch pipe was
accordingly substituted.

In December, (18th) of the same year, a town meeting was called to
consider the expediency of placing a restriction upon the keeping of dogs.
It was voted that dogs should not run at large without a muzzle, and the
town clerk was authorized to pay one dollar for every dog killed, not so
muzzled,* provided no man was to be paid for killing his own dog. This
regulation proved to be too stringent for practical execution, and, Decem-
ber 30th, another dog meeting was held, when the above vote was re-con-
sidered. J

The committee were Alfred Kitredge, J. H. Duncan, W. R. Whittier, Rufus Longley. and Caleb

t The committee were Wm. Taggart, J. H. Duncan, Wm. Merrill, Wm. D. S. Chase, and Thos. N.

1 Gov. Banks, in his annual address to the General Court, in 18C0, ventured the opinion, that there
were more dogs than sheep in the State of Massachusetts. We are inclined to believe that the estimate
is a reasonable one ; and also that their exiermina^jow would be a positive blessing to the State. The
loss of a single life by hydrophobia, now fearfully common, will more than outweigh the good done by all
the dogs in the Commonwealth in a generation.



In 1848, " Primrose Lane" was widened and straightened, and elevated
to the dignity of a street ; and in the following year, Emerson, Vestry,
and Cross Streets, were formally accepted by the town.

We have already alluded to the erection of a small school-house on
Washington Street, in 1838. In 1843, the school was changed to a Gram-
mar School. In 1845, the building was enlarged by the addition of
twenty feet in length, but the rapid growth of that section of the village
soon outstripped even that liberal addition, and, in 1849, the building was
removed, to give place to the present neat and substantial brick structure.
The present school building is thirty-eight by sixty feet, and two stories
high. The first floor is used for a primary, and the second for a grammar
school. The cost of the building was upwards of three thousand dollars.
The school was for several years in charge of Luther Emerson, of this
town. It is now under the efficient direction of Mr. J. B. Smith, to whose
earnest efforts we are largely indebted for its present excellent standing.
The old school building was subsequently removed to White Street, near
Portland Street, where it is still occupied for a primary school.

There were at this time in the district five primary, and four gi-ammar
schools, besides the High school. The amount paid by the district for
their support in 1848, was $3,164,86. The average weekly cost per
scholar, based upon actual attendance, was, nine cents and four mills for
primary ; fifteen cents for the grammar ; and thirty cents for the High

In the early part of 1850, the small-pox broke out in the western part
of the town, and for a time raged fearfully. It was confined principally
to the northern part of the West Parish. In School District No. 2, there
were between thirty and forty cases, several of them fatal. The loathsome
disease was introduced into the parish by a young lady, on a visit from

About this time, the town began to make large appropriations for its
Eire Department. We have already noticed the organization of the de-
partment, in 1841. In 1843, the town voted to build a house for the
hook and ladder company ; in 1848, a new engine was purchased for com-
pany No. 1 , and a new engine house was built for them the next year ;
in 1849, the old engine of company No. 4 was exchanged for a new one,
and a new engine was purchased for company No. 2; in 1851, a new
machine was procured for company No. 3, and a new and commodious
house erected for their use. At the same time, it was voted to pay the
firemen, (or, as they were then called, " engine-men,") five dollars each,
annually, and twenty-five cents per hour each, for labor at fires — alarms


to be considered as one hour each, if the engine was taken from the house.
In 1852, the selectmen were authorized to sell the engine house on Pleas-
ant Street, (about midway between Fleet and AVinter Streets, on the south
side,) " and the three Fire Engines therein." Other and liberal expendi-
tiu'es have been made from time to time for the purchase of machines,
buildings, &c., until we now have a fire department, which, for character
and efficiency is second to that of no town in the Commonwealth. There
are now four companies, • — three in the central village, and one at the
Eocks' Village, — each supplied with excellent machines, and commodious
buildings for their exclusive accommodation. Besides these, we have a
^ ' Hook and Ladder Company," (organized in 1860) well supplied with
appropriate carriages and materials, and the occupants of a fine building,
erected for their special use, on Fleet Street.

At the annual meeting in 1852, the town voted to place the highways
of the town under the general superintendence of one person, who was to
be appointed by the selectmen. This plan proved to be decidedly unpop-
ular, and after one year's trial it was abandoned.

In 1853, the town appropriated $300 toward the expenses of celebrating
the Fourth of July. This, we believe, is the only instance in which such
an appropriation has been made by the town ; the usual course having
been to raise money for the purpose by private subscription.

The same year, the streets of the village were for the first time lighted
by gas — a gas company having been previously organized in the town,
and in successful operation. =••'

At the annual town meeting in 1854, the following preamble and reso-
lutions, ofi'ered by Hon. J. H. Duncan, were adopted : —

" The Inhabitants of the Town of Haverhill, in annual Town Meeting
assembled, having seen with mingled emotions of surprise, indignation,
and grief, that a provision has been introduced into the bill creating the
Nebraska Territory, designed to repeal that section of the Act, known as
the ' Missouri Compromise,' by which slavery was forever prohibited in
all that part of the territory acquired from France, North of 36° 30', ex-
cept that contained in the limits of the State of Missouri, and that the
same has passed one House of Congress ; do, in the exercise of their rights
as Freemen, solemnly and earnestly protest against the passage of that
provision ;

Because, it is an uncalled for and unnecessary violation of a solemn
compact, made as a condition of the admission of Missouri as. a slave
state, which has been held sacred for thirty-four years ;

* The gas works of the company are located on the south side of Winter Street, adjoining Little River,
and on the east side of the latter.


Because, it is a flagrant brcacli of faith with the free states, by which
the slave states, having secured their part of the compact, would deprive the
free states of their rightful share of its benefits ;

Because, it is a gross departure from the j)olicy of the founders of the
Eepublic, which was to limit and restrain, with a view to its final extinc-
tion, and not to foster and extend, slavery ;

Because, the passage of this provision will destroy all faith in compacts
and compromises made in Congress, on the subject of slavery, and while
it justifies the friends of freedom to take all measures, not forbidden by
the Constitution, to curtail and restrain slavery, and the slave power, it
invites, and, without cause, provokes renewed and interminable agitation,
which will threaten the permanency of the Union. Therefore

Resolved, That the measure above referred to is not demanded by the
people of the United States ; it is a violation of a compact vrhich ought
to be held sacred and inviolate ; that it tends to destroy confidence in
public faith ; is fraught with alarming evils and puts at hazard the integ-
rity and stability of the Union :

Resolved, Thai^a copy of this preamble and resolutions, signed by the
moderator, and town clerk, be forthwith transmitted to Hon. N. P. Banks,
the Eepresentative of this district, to be by him presented to Congress,
and that he be requested to use his efi'orts to defeat the passage of this
odious and unjust provision."

At the same meeting the town voted to prohibit all dogs from running
at large, unless collared and muzzled, and the inspector of police was
instructed to kill all not so provided. The act of the Legislature, estab-
lishing a Police Court in the town, was formally accepted at the same

In 1855, the subject of a town High School again came up- for consid-

Online LibraryGeorge Wingate ChaseThe history of Haverhill, Massachusetts, from its first settlement, in 1640, to the year 1860 → online text (page 55 of 74)