Nahum Mitchell.

History of the early settlement of Bridgewater in Plymouth county, Massachusetts, including an extensive Family register online

. (page 1 of 44)
Online LibraryNahum MitchellHistory of the early settlement of Bridgewater in Plymouth county, Massachusetts, including an extensive Family register → online text (page 1 of 44)
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HiSTOPV or Bridgewatep,




President of Leland University, New Orleans, La.






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It is now fifty-seven years since this History of Bridgewater
was published. The original edition was not a large one, and
was soon exhausted. It brought no possible pecuniary profit
to its author, being sold (when not given away) at less than
cost. He was quite content to be rewarded by the conscious-
ness of having rendered a real service to his fellow-townsmen,
at whose urgent request it was printed. The present re-print
has been made through the enterprise of" Mr. Edward Alden of
Swampscott, a native of East Bridgewater, of the family of
Thomas Russell Alden, son of "Isaac 25," (see page 88), and
he has requested me as the eldest living descendant of the
author, to furnish an introductory notice. The object of the
present undertaking is to gratify a widely expressed wish on the
part of those who have found it impossible to obtain copies of
the original work. With this simple end in view, no correc-
tion, alteration or addition has been attempted. To re-edit the
work, or to bring down the genealogical history to the present
date, would be a task of such magnitude as no one is yet
prepared to attempt.

The value of such a labor however cannot be overestimated.
It is to be hoped that, at some time, a successor to the venera-
ble author may arise, who combines the intellectual fitness and
the literary leisure with the pecuniary means to build upon the
foundation thus laid for the benefit of future generations.

In the meantime it would seem fitting to present, with this
issue, some notice of the man to whom we are indebted for the
original conception and early publication of the work.


It will be seen, by reference to the "Family Register" on
page 257, that Nahum Mitchell was a descendant in the fourth
degree, from Experience Mitchell, one of the Pilgrims and one
of the original proprietors of Bridgewater. His grandfather
was Colonel Edward Mitchell, commander of the third regiment
of Plymouth County soldiers in the Revolutionary war (1776-
1779). Colonel Edward's mother was Alice Bradford, great-
grand-daughter of Governor William Bradford of the Plymouth

Mr. Mitchell was fitted for college by Mr. Beza Hayward of
Bridgewater, and graduated at Harvard College in 1789, being
a classmate of John T. Kirkland, afterwards President of the
college, and a college mate of John Quincy Adams. He read
law with the Hon. John Davis, Judge of the District Court of
Massachusetts, and commenced practice in East Bridgewater in
1792. From tSii to 1821 inclusive he was Justice of the Cir-
cuit Court of common pleas, being Chief Justice during the last
two years. He was representative to the General Court from
Bridgewater seven years, and representative in Congress from
the Plymouth district for two years (1803-05); Senator from
Plymouth county two years, 18 13-18 14 ; Member of the Goven-
or's Council from 1814-20 inclusive; Treasurer of the Com-
monwealth five years (1822-27); Representative from Boston
to the General Court in 1839 ^^^ 1840. He was for some years
librarian and treasurer of the Massachusetts Historical Society,
and for several years President of the Plymouth County Bible

That one so modest in self estimation and so quiet in habit,
should have been called to so many public offices, illustrates
the spirit of the times in which he lived. Then, in the "Old
Colony," public service was regarded, not merely as a "public
trust" but as a public benefaction and the persons fitted for it
were sought for. They were not "office seekers."

Judge Mitchell lived to the age of eighty-four years, retaining
to the last a high degree of mental and physical vigor. On the
last day of his life, the first of August 1853, he went to Plym-
outh to attend, by invitation, a celebration of the two hundredth
anniversary of the Embarkation of the Pilgrims. While walk-
ing from the depot in Plymouth to the house of his grandson,


Mr. William Davis, he was stricken with paralysis, and died
almost immediately.

At the Bi-Centennial Celebration of the incorporation of
Bridgewater, which occurred three years after his death, the
Hon. Aaron Hobart of East Bridgewater, delivered an address
in his memory, the concluding words of which are as follows :
"It has been said to be as difficult to compare great men as
great rivers. Some we admire for one thing and some for
another and we cannot bring them together to measure their
difference. But, taking into account, as well as we may, all the
various talents and acquirements that combine to make up the
whole man, I think it may justly be said, without being invidious,
that the old town of Bridgewater, though numbering among her
sons many eminent men has never produced his superior. He
has now passed away, full of years and full of honors ; but his
genial face, his tall, erect, dignified person and elastic step will
not soon fade from the memory of those who knew him. Nor
will the remembrance of his life be limited to the days of his
contemporaries. Another generation will keep his memory

The engraving which faces the title page of this volume was
made from a portrait by Bass Otis, of Boston, a native of East
Bridgewater. It well represents his appearance as remembered
by the writer, who was twenty-four years of age at the time of
his death. The plate, which was engraved by F. T. Stuart,
formerly of East Bridgewater, has been in possession of the
family about forty years, and has been furnished to Mr. Alden
for this re-print.

A few years since there was found, among the papers of
Judge Mitchell, the original deed of Massasoit (or Ousamequin
as he then signed himself) by which he conveyed the territory
of the town of Bridgewater to Miles Standish, Samuel Nash
and Constant Southworth, the committee appointed by the orig-
inal purchasers. A photographic fac-simile of this valuable
document is in possession of Hon. Benjamin W. Harris, who
has now deposited the original in the archives of the "Old
Bridgewater Historical Society." A view of Sachem's Rock,
where this deed was signed and delivered will be found on
page 12 of this volume.


The public generally, and especially those related to the old
town of Bridgewater are under real obligations to Mr. Edward
Alden for having taken the pains and assumed the risk of pub-
lishing this re-print, as well as for the insertion of the illustra-
tions above referred to. There can be no doubt that his
thoughtful endeavor thus to meet the wishes of his former
townsmen and to extend the usefulness of the book will be
gratefully appreciated.

It has been customary in this country to depreciate pride of
ancestry. Our fathers have rightly taught us to estimate a man
by what he is and not by what his grandfather was, but, after all
there are lessons to be learned, from the lives of men who have
preceeded us, which convey wisdom as well as inspiration. It
would be difficult to find, among the pedigrees of European no-
bility and royalty, a line reaching through seven or eight gener-
ations, so unsullied in its record of moral purity and manly in-
tegrity, — the only true patents of nobility — as is that which con-
nects us with our Pilgrim Ancestors. Let us cherish their
memory and emulate their virtues.


Leland University, New Orleans, Oct. 6th, 1897.

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Online LibraryNahum MitchellHistory of the early settlement of Bridgewater in Plymouth county, Massachusetts, including an extensive Family register → online text (page 1 of 44)