John W. (John Waters) Proctor.

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

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,■: fi:E L E B R A T I 6' N;


,-, (•• ' ■ JUNE 16, 1852


"Lives there a man with soul so dead,

Who nevei- to liimself hath said,

This is my own, my nathe land?"


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Welcome, friends of Danvers, to the land of your hirth, and
of your choice !

It gladdens the heart to meet so many cheerful countenances
on this One Hundredth Anniversary of the independent munici-
pal existence of our town,

In behalf of my fellow-citizens, 1 bid you all a hearty wel-
come here. Your presence gives assurance that we have not
mistaken your sympathies with the occasion of our meeting.

Why these thronging crowds in every avenue of the town ?

Why has the farmer left his plough, — the tanner his vat,—
the currier his beam, — ^the trader his s/iop,— the shoemaker his
bench, and every one his employment ?

Why this gathering of thousands of children, — the future
men and women, to govern and adorn, — and the interest that
beams in every expression of their animated countenances ?

Why have our friends from the North, the South, the East,
and the West, favored us with their presence ?

Is it not to bring to mind the virtues, the toils, the sufferings
of our fathers ?

"It is a privilege to learn what shall be from what Has been, —
to turn experience into prophecy, — -to view in the m^irror of the
past, the vision of the future. ^^

The settlement of Salem, early known as Naumkeag, was
begun by Roger Conant and others, in 1626, and much in-
creased, in 1628, by the arrival of John Endicott and others,
all emigrants from England.
1 a

It llicii iiicludt'd Salem, Daiivcrs, Beverly, Marblehead, Wen-
ham, and parts of Topsfield, Manchester, Lynn, and Middleton,
bounding northerly by Agawam, southerly by Saugus, westerly
by Andovor, easterly by the Atlantic ocean. Then Saugus,
Salem, (lloucester. Agawam, and Newbury, extended all along
the coast of Essex to the Merrimack : and Andover was the
only interior town south of that river.

Whoever would do justice to the topics brought to mind by
the occasion, should trace the origin of each of the towns that
have sprung from Old Naumkeag. Time will not now admit
of this. My purpose is, to pass over the first century of Naum-
keag, excepting as to the part included in the act of the Legis-
lature, passed "Anno Regni Regis Georgii secundi, &c., vices-
simor quinto," — or, in plain English, the 25th year of George
the 2d, our then Roijal Master, — or Anno Domini, 1752. By
this, Danvcrs was set off from Salem, as a distinct municipal
district, with all the privileges of a town, except that of choos-
ing representatives to the General Court, which restrictive con-
dition was taken off by an act passed June 16th, 1757. Upon
a view of these acts, the town determined to date their inde-
pendent corporate existence in the year 1752, — which determi-
nation we take to be conclusive of the matter.

Our then Royal Master did I say ? By the grace of God,
and the pleasure of the King, then came all our privileges. I
know that the generations which have since arisen have but an
imperfect idea of this obligation to the king, but a grievance it
was, and so our fathers felt it to be.

What do we most desire ? Is it not independence ? In the
language of the most gifted mind* of the age, (I say it with
emphasis on this 16th day of June, A. D. 1852,) when the
aspirations of millions are turned towards him with anxious
solicitude, " Hail, Independence ! Hail, that best gift of God
to man, saving life and an immortal spirit !" That Indepen-
dence, which gave us

" A Church without a bishop,
A State without a king."

» Daniel Webster, the farmer of Marshfield, Mass.


Whence came the name of Danvers ? why applied to this
territory ? are inquiries often made, but never, to my knowledge,
quite satisfactorily answered.

For years before the separation, the name Danvers was occa-
sionally applied to the middle precinct of Salem. Among the
settlers, prior to the separation, were several by the name of
Osborne, — a name connected, by marriage, with the Dmivers
family in England. Earl Danvers was one of the regicides,
the fifth who signed the death-warrant of Charles. Sir Henry
Danvers, the last of this family, died in 1643, a man of wealth,
as is to be presumed from his liberal donation of £5000 and
more for the advancement of learning in the University of Ox-
ford. It is highly probable, the name of the town was derived
from this family. This name has one merit, — it is not found
anywhere else. Mr. Felt, the careful annalist of Salem, thinks
the name was suggested by Lieut. Gov. Phipps, from gratitude
to one of his patrons, and refers to a letter that so states the
fact. It may have been so. But if the people of Danvers were
then so obedient as to adopt a name because a Governor sug-
gested it, it is a characteristic that has not remained one of
their distinguishing qualifications. Few towns have been less
disposed to follow the lead of any master. This example was
early set by their file leader. Gov. Endicott.

If the noble Earl, for whom the name was probably given,
had anticipated the perpetuity to accrue to his name in this
humble district of these Western Wilds, and the present wants
of its High Schools, now sheltered only in hired tenements of
cast-off chapels, he would, without doubt, have contributed of
his abundance to the relief of their necessities.

This era of separation has not been chosen for celebration
because of the severance. Though severed in name, we have
ever been united in spirit ; and though our good old mother,
Salem, nursed us at her bosom all of one century, she has not
failed to feed us with pap of various kinds, ever since. Some-
times we have given her sauce in return, but oftener the sub-
stantials of life.

Notwithstanding our fathers thought many inconveniences
would be remedied, and many advantages gained, by being a
distinct town, as appears by their petition to the General Court,
it must be apparent to every reflecting mind that the balance of
benefits, consequent upon separation, was against us. True,
being a distinct corporation created a few municipal offices, for
the gratification of ambitious aspirants ; but generally speaking,
a review of the lives of such office holders will show, that those
who have least, fare best ; and those who strive to do most,
instead of receiving benedictions, are usually loaded with the

'The petitioners were a scattered population of about 200
families, containing from twelve to fourteen hundred persons,
chiefly occupied in the cultivation of the land. Those from
whom they sought to be separated, were mariners, traders, and
merchants, densely located, with interests, in some measure,
clashing with those on the borders. The busy hum of mechan-
ical and manufacturing industry had then scarcely begun to be
heard in the village of Brooksby, as the region hereabout was
then called, where the brooks from the hills united with the
waters of the ocean.

At first, towns assumed to own all the lands within their
limits not specifically granted. Grants were made, by the
colonial authority, or by towns through the agency of seven
men, or selectmen, according to the standing of the grantees, or
services rendered, — as seats in the church were assigned, first
to the Captain, then to the Lieutenant, not omitting the En~
Hgn, and the Corporal. Thus the records speak of

Captain Samuel Gardner,

Lieutenant Thomas Putnam,

Ensign Cornelius Tarbell,

Corporal Samuel Twist,

Deacon Malachi Felton,

Daniel Eppes, Esquire,
arranged in the order of the consequence of the titles they sev-
erally mounted.

These are referred to as illustrations of the style of the times,

— as our kind friends from the school districts have shown us
cocked hats, hooped petticoats, and high-heeled shoes, as illustra-
tions of dress in times gone by.*

It was of little consequence what the title was, as Corporal
Twist said, on his return home after his election, ''if it had the
ril to it, — so that when the bell tolled at his funeral it could be
said, Corporal Ticist is dead.''''

Who will presume to say, that, in the term Corporal, there is
not as much body, aye soul to, as in that of Genei^al 7

" Worth makes the man, the want of it the fellow.^''

But three instances of colonial grants are known to have been
made on our territory, viz. : — 1. To John Endicott, in 1632
and 1636 ; 2. To Samuel Shelton, in 1634 ; 3. To John
Humphrey, in 1635.

The grant to Endicott is thus described. " A neck of land
lying about three myles from Salem, called in the Indian tongue,
Wahquameschock,^^ situate between the inlets of the sea, now
known as Waters River on the south, and Crane River on the
north, bounding "westerly by the maine land." Such was the
precision of early grants.

* My recollections of the " Jlge of Homespun" impresses my mind strongly
with the propriety of the following passage in a Centennial discourse by Dr.
Bushnell, at Litchfield, Conn., in August last: — " The spinning-wheels of wool
and flax, that used to buzz so familiarly in the childish ears of some of us, will
be heard no more forever, — seen no more, in fact, save in the halls of the anti-
quarian society, where the delicate daughters will be asking what these strange
machines are, and how they are made to go ? The huge hewn-timber looms,
that used to occupy a room by themselves in the fa"mhouses, will be gone,
cut up for cord wood perhaps, and their heavy thwack, beating up the woof,
will be heard no more by the passer-by. The long strips of linen bleaching
on the grass, and tended by a rosy-cheeked maiden sprinkling them each hour
from her water can, under a burning sun, thus to prepare linen for her own
or her brother's marriage outfit, will have disappeared, save as they return to
fill a picture in some novel or ballad of the old time." Who will presume to
say, that, in these labors of our mothers, will not be found the hidden power
that gave firmness to the muscles and vigor to the constitutions of their de-
scendants ? I would give more for the lessons learned on orie spinning-wheel,
or over one milk pail, than those acquired on ten piano fortes. I have often
thought that girls would profit more by learning to jump over fences or clamber
ledges, than by dancing polkas, or practising other fashionable amusements, —
many of which are better calculated to excite the passions, than to improve the
health of body or mind. There is much propriety in the admonition, " Lead us
not into temptation."


On a beautiful eminence be'tween these livers, Captain E.,
who, as acting governor, was chief magistrate of the colony-
previous to the arrival of Winthrop in 1630, established his
residence. The selection of this site speaks favorably of the
judgment of the man. It would be difficult to find one more
eligible. For two hundred years at least it remained in the
Endicott family ; and when the ability of many of those, who
still bear the name, is considered, it is matter of surprise that
they should have suffered it to pass from the family. How can
a man better do honor to himself, than by venerating his ances-
tors who were worthy of it ? I know, our republican notions
cut across the doctrine of entailments ; but still, there is some-
thing impressive in the contemplation of those venerable
abodes, in our fatherland, that have remained in the same
family for centuries. The fortunate possessor, thus advised of
what his fathers have done, is prompted to endeavor to " go
and do likewise."

From this position, before roads were laid or bridges con-
structed, the Governor was accustomed to go, in his own
shallop, to and from the seat of government at Boston, while
engaged in the government of the colony, either as chief magis-
trate or as one of the assistants.

On this orchard farm (so it was called) in front of the man-
sion about sixty rods, now stands the celebrated Endicott pea?'
tree, celebrated not so much for the fruit it bears, as for the
time it has borne it. It is probably the oldest cultivated fruit-
bearing tree in New England, — itself brought from Old Eng-
land, — thereby constituting a direct connecting link with the
mother country. The fruit is called B071 Chretien, — whether
so called from its own merits, or the merits of its owner, I am
not advised. It is of mediimi size and fail* quality, but not
quite equal to the Seckel. In 1850, the tree bore one and a
half bushels of fruit, as I myself witnessed, and new shoots
grew upon it, more than six inches in length. One thing is
made certain by this tree, viz., that a pear tree will last two
hundred years, — how much longer may be told at the next

On this same Endicott grant, now stands the Parris house (so
called) from which sprung other fruits^ not quite as worthy the
name of good Christian as the Endicott pear.

The grant made to Rev. Samuel Skelton, — the spiritual father
of Endicott, and associate pastor with Higginson, at the First
Church in Salem, — was situate between Crane and Porter's
Rivers, bounding westerly, also, by the "maine land." So at
first, these grants to the Captain and the Parson gave them
a presumptive title to all the town northerly of Waters River.
This section between Crane and Porter's Rivers was long
known as Skelton's Neck ; — then as New Mills ; — and recently
as Danvers-port.

The natural advantages of this part of the town are second
to none other. Free communication with the ocean by water,,
and with the interior by railroads, its facilities for business are
first rate. It only needs energy and capital to go ahead.

In 1635, a grant was made by the colonial authority to John
Humphrey, in the westerly part of the town, — whence came
the name of Humphrey's Pond, situate on the line between
Danvers and Lynnfield ; a beautiful sheet of water, containing
165 acres, about 100 feet above tide water; — in the midst of
which is an island of five acres, on which the first settlers had a
fortification as a retreat from the Indians. The recent location
of a railroad from Salem to Boston, by this pond, has probably
laid the foundation of a thrifty village in this vicinity, — as soon
as the lands shall pass from the hands of visionary speculators
to the control of men of sound, practical common sense.

December 31, 1638. "Agreed and voted, that there should
be a village granted to Mr. Phillips and his company, upon such
conditions as the seven men appointed for the tovv^i affaii'es
should agree on." Hence the origin of Salem Village. This
Mr. Phillips was a clergyman. He did not long abide in the
place. He removed to Dedham, and thence to England, in
1642. Probably Putnam, Hutchinson, Goodale, Flint, Need-
ham, Bnxton, Swinnerton, Andrews, Fuller, Walcott, Pope,

* See the story of the Salem Witchcraft, that follows.

2 h


Rea, Osborn, Felton, and others, were of the associates in the
settlement of the village. Their business was farming. Labor
in the field for sis days of the week, and going to meeting on
the scvoifh, was their chief employment. Companions of
Endicott, the puritan principles they imbibed, even to the third
and fourth generations, bound them to their meeting. He that
cut the cross from the Jlag-, would not allow his attendants to
sail under any other banner than such as he chose to hoist, or
any deviation in their voyage. He was one of those lovers of
liberty who was not unwilling to engross the largest share of it
himself Sure that he was right, he felt it to be his duty to
see that others acted according to his notions of right. He
Avas indulgent to those who were obedient.

One of the grievances alleged by the petitioners, as a reason
for separation, was, that their children could not conveniently
attend school. This was indeed a grievance. Situate four,
jive, and six miles from the school, how could they attend ?
Early taught by Endicott himself the value of these institutions,
it is not surprising, when they found the superior advantages
enjoyed by the children of their fellow townsmen, in part at
their expense, that complaint should have been made.

Be it remembered, the first free school in the land, if not in
the iDorld, ivas established at Salcf?i. The language of the
selectmen's order, by which this was done, is worthy to be
inscribed on the same tablet with the Declaration of Independ-
ence. It reads thus : —

" Sept., 1641. Ordered, that a note be published on next
Lecture-day, that such as have children to be kept at schoole,
would bring in their names, and what they will give for one
whole year ; and also that if anie poor bodie hath children, or
a childe, to be put to schoole, and is not able to pay for their
schooling, that the toicne ivill pay it by a rate.''''

Here is the seed whence sprung the free schools of Massa-
chusetts. It contains the germ of freedom itself. Here it was
planted, on the orchard farm of the Governor, under his own
care, as Governor of the Colony, and Chairman of the Select-
men of Salem. Governors in those days were well employed


in looking after the fruits of the field and the children of the
household ; — the oozings of the still did not then trouble them*

In 1634, one of the earliest grjftits was made to John Putnam
and his three sons, Thomas, John, and Nathaniel. They came
from Buckinghamshire, England, settled, cultivated, and peopled
it. This was situate in the Village Parish, westerly of the
grants to Skelton and Porter ; probably along the line of what
is now known as Whipple's Brook, extending from Judge
Putnam's Mill to the house of Daniel Putnam, — famous as the
birth-place of Gen. Israel Putnam, who made his mark on
Bunker's Heights, at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775, witnessed
by Warren, and many others, and sealed with their blood ; — he
who nobly exclaimed, " My sons, scorn to be slaves ! "

No name is more prominent in the annals of the town than
that of Putnam. Although hundreds have gone out in all
directions, still, from the beginning, there has been more of this
name than any other. By the kindness of Col. Perley Putnam,
— who has taken unwearied pains to ascertain the facts, — I am
informed that he has the particulars of between five and six
hundred families of the name ; many of whom had from te7i to
seventeen children, — amounting in all to 3500 descendants of
John, in 220 years, an increase worthy of the highest com-
mendation of Adam Smith, who considers numbers the first of
all national improvements. If all the settlers had done as well,
both in quantity and quality, there would have been no occa-
sion for further importations. I should be glad to notice the
worthy, particularly ; but if all should be thus noticed, the
world would scarcely contain the books that would be written.
I am happy to see so many present, of age and ability, to speak
for themselves ; and from them I hope to hear an account more
full than is in my power to give.

Another grant, purporting to be 500 acres, (covering, at least,

* In Felt's Annals, (Vol. I., p. 253,) it is stated that William Trask ex-
changed with Governor Endicott 250 acres of land for 500 apple trees, from
his nursery ; — a pretty good bargain, if trees grew then as readily as now. It
is highly probable that the space between the mansion of the Governor, and
the bank of the river, in front, was used for the growing of a nursery. I am
well assured of this fact by S. P. Fowler, Esq., an intelligent cultivator of
fruit, residing on Skelton's Neck.


700,) was made in 1635, to Emanuel, a descendant of Sir
George Downing, and known as the Downing Estate, (on
which it was my lot to be born;) This extended southwesterly,
from the head of Waters River, to what is now known as
Proctor's Brook ; and in 1701, passed by deed from Charles
Downing to Benjamin and Thorndike Proctor, sons of John,
(of 1692 notoriety.) This included the tract of tillage land,
in times past known as Hog-hill, but recently chvistened Mount
Pleasant, — and with great propriety, if fertility of soil and
beauty of prospect are considerations worthy of this appellation.

Another grant, of 300 acres, southerly of this, was made
to Robert Cole, — extending from Gardener's Bridge to the
Downing Estate, — which passed through Jacob Reed to Daniel
Eppes, Esq. On this tract sprung the celebrated Eppes Sioeet-
ing, better kno^vn as the Danvers Whiter Siceet : a variety of
apple more extensively cultivated than any which has originated
in Massachusetts, — excepting the Baldwin and the Hubbardston
Nonsuch. This tree stood on land now belonging to the Hon.
Richard S. Rogers. The original stump is now distinctly to
be seen, with a sprout from it ten inches in diameter, yielding
the genuine apple ; clearly indicating the fruit to be natural, —
not grafted. The tree is thrifty and hardy, the fruit excellent ;
as all lovers of apples and milk will cheerfully testify.

It would be easy to enumerate many other grants of land
to individuals, all of which would be interesting to those of the
same name, or to those claiming under them ; but my limits
will not admit of anything more than a specimen of the manner
of doing the business in olden time.


The events of the year 1692, commonly spoken of as Salem
Witchcraft, made an impression so deep on this community,
that they cannot with propriety be overlooked, in any complete
notice of the town. More than twenty citizens, some of the
first respectability, were, in the course of a few months, ar-
raigned charged with capital offences. Half this number suf-
fered the severest penalty of the law. For this precinct, con-


taining at that time probably not more than five hundred souls,
to be thus decimated in a few months, was a calamity tremen-
dously awful. Now-a-days, when one man* is arraigned, tried
and executed, for good cause, (if there ever can be a good cause
for execution,) the whole state, as well as states adjoining, are
agitated to their centre. What could have induced the apathy
that endured such things then, it is impossible to conceive.

This mortal mania is said to have originated with children,
under twelve years of age, in the family of the Rev. Samuel
Parris, of Salem Village. A part of the identical building in
which Mr. Parris then lived, it is said, now remains, situate
on the easterly side of the Ipswich road, about twenty rods
northerly of the Collins house. It then was a part of the par-
sonage, standing a few rods northwesterly of the village church.
It should ever remain a monument with this inscription, ^'■Ohsta

Although this delusion may have begun with children, it was
not the work of children alone. It is chargeable upon those of
an older growth, — upon those whose station in society demand-
ed from them better things, — clergymen and magistrates. I am
sensible that I speak plainly of those in authority ; but nothing
less plain will meet the case. I use the words of "truth and

When these extravagances in the children were first noticed,
the Doctor was consulted, and gave his opinion ^'■that they
were under an evil hand.''' "This," says Cotton Mather,
"the neighbors took up and concluded they were hewitchedy
Whether he was a doctor of medicine, of laiv, or of divinity,
who gave this opinion, I am not advised. Of the name of the
doctor, history gives no information, — not even the learned Dr.
Mather's Magnalia, which tells all that was true and something
more. This is certain, the Reverend gentleman, in whose
house the malady began, and his associates of the neighbor-
hood, did very little to suppress the evil ; much less than they

Online LibraryJohn W. (John Waters) ProctorCentennial celebration at Danvers, Mass., June 16, 1852 → online text (page 1 of 41)