Oliver N Bacon.

A history of Natick, from its first settlement in 1651 to the present time; with notices of the first white families, and also an account of the centennial celebration, Oct. 16, 1851, Rev. Mr. Hunt's address at the consecration of Dell Park cemetery, &c. .. (Volume 2) online

. (page 11 of 22)
Online LibraryOliver N BaconA history of Natick, from its first settlement in 1651 to the present time; with notices of the first white families, and also an account of the centennial celebration, Oct. 16, 1851, Rev. Mr. Hunt's address at the consecration of Dell Park cemetery, &c. .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 11 of 22)
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linger around the graves of departed friends. Not a tree to cast
its shadow amid the fervor of summer, or its leaves in the melan-
choly months of autumn ; not a flower to shed its fragrance around


its lowly bed, to adorn and cheer bj its loveliness, and invite our
necessary care and culture : it has not be^n so strange that men
have so soon forgot their nearest friends, and so soon lost the benefit
that might have been hoped for from the more vivid and cherished
recollections of the buried objects of their former love.

Let, however, the tasteful cemetery be laid out, with ample lots
for each family, with all the guaranties of exclusive, permanent
ownership, protected by an adequate enclosure, under the shadow
of the overhanging forest, planted with shrubbery and flowers, and
marked with the " sepulchral stone ; " let it be so easy of access
that it can be visited in the freshness of the morning, while the dew
sparkles on the grass and the birds make melody in the grove, or
under the fervor of the noonday sun, or amid the quiet of eventide
when the stars are out in their beauty, or the moon is clothing all
nature with her flood of silver radiance ; let it be so retired that we
can " go to the grave to weep there," and at the same time bold
silent convei'se with the sad but gentle memories of former days,
secure from intrusion or the unfeeling gaze of an unfeeling world ;
let this be so, and will it not be a powerful auxiliary in perpetuating
the memory of those we are too prone to forget ? And if there is
benefit to be derived from such a remembrance thus kept alive in
the soul, — and who can doubt it ? — then will that benefit be greatly
promoted by carrying into execution the enterprise you have this
day commenced under auspices so favorable.

Such a spot as a place of resort will exert a chastened and sub-
dued injiuence upon the jnihlic mind. I would, however, make no
unfounded claims. I know how readily men can become accus-
tomed to the most powerful influences, and how often we see them
fail of being favorably affected by those agencies whose legitimate
tendency it would seem must be good. The Bible, the Sabbath,
and the sanctuary, adapted and designed to become a savor of life
unto life unto the human soul — how often do they become but a
savor of death unto death ! So have we reason to fear that even
the sacred influence of this solemn spot will often fail of leaving
its legitimate impression upon the character, and yet we have reason
to hope that the general eflect w'ill be good.

To one source I have already referred, in speaking of the agency
of such a place in perpetuating the memory of departed friends.
Sad, indeed, butxDf a softening and subduing power are the solemn


remembrances of the lost, but unforgotten dead. They steal over
the soul, dark and chill it may be as the shadow of the passing
cloud of an autumn day, and yet shedding upon us influences that
make us prize more highly the bright sunshine thus temporarily
obscured. The sorrows and afHlctions of life have been called the
medicine of the soul. Well then would it be if the hallowed sad-
ness of the death of friends could be perpetuated, and its chastening
influences be extended a greater distance along its pathway. What-
ever breaks the power of the present and exalts either the past or
the future, in our contemplation, is doing a good service to the soul.
The brute lives only in the present, remembers but little of the past,
and thinks not at all of the future. Man too much resembles the
brute. He lives too exclusively in the present, and it requires a
voice, more potent than any earthly voice, to wake him from his
trance and make him recognize his spiritual and immortal nature.
That voice, next to the call of religion, comes loudest from the
grave where lie buried his fondest hopes, his strongest affection.

Here, then, let the sorrowing children of grief often come, to
•wake up in their souls those mournful but salutary emotions Avhich
maT/ do them good. Here let the bereaved husband come, and by
the grave of his youthful love call up the sad but grateful recollec-
tions of the past. Let him come with his motherless children, and
by that grave recall to their memory the virtues of the sleeper there,
and speak of that future hour when they too must make their lowly
beds close by her side ; and will his race after honor, wealth, or
pleasure, be quite so keen and absorbing ? Will not those children
leave that spot with some healthful impressions for the future ?
Let parents often come here to bedew the graves of their fondly
loved and early lost. Let the brother here stand by the grave of a
sister, and a sister of a brother. And shall not healing influences
gently distil upon their souls while here ? Will they not follow them
as they go away ?

But not alone from the sad remembrance of c^r\y frie>i,ds may we
hope for salutary influences from a place like this. The solemn
associations that necessarily cluster around the last resting-place of
the congregated dead can hardly fail of doing him good who is often
found lingering within the sacred precincts of the tomb. Here let
the votary of pleasure, seduced by the syren voice of the subtle


charmer — here let him who is hasting to be rich, or him whose
fevered brain throbs with the mad schemes of ambition — let them

Come view the ground
Where they must shortly lie ;

And can they leave the place without having their hold on this
world weakened, and themselves made more thoughtful on topics of
greater and more worthy moment ? Here too let the child of sorrow
and disappointment, whose plans have been thwarted, and whose
most cherished hopes have been blasted, who, sick at heart, is ready
to despair of ever again seeing good — let such a one come and
stand here as on the dividing line between the two worlds, time and
eternity; let him view the infinite disparity between the two — the
one he must so soon leave, the other he is so soon to try, with all its
strange and mysterious uncertainty ; and will ho not find in the
contemplation something to rectify his inadequate conceptions of the
relative value of things present and things to come — the light afflic-
tions of the present moment with that immortal destiny that awaits
him in the world to come ?

For it is surely pertinent in this connection to say that it will be
of little value to form correct notions of the uncertainty of earthly
things, and the infinite folly of fastening our afiections on objects so
fleeting and unsubstantial, if tliis he all. That, of itself, will but
reveal wants we have no means of supplying, and dangers we have
no means of averting. If now this were all, if we could look no
farther than the tomb, if death interposed an impenetrable barrier
between us and the future, and the grave covered all our hopes as
well as the objects of our love, then perhaps it were aycII to forget
as soon as possible the sorrows of life, the bereavements of Provi-
dence. When grief is so bootless perhaps it were well not to grieve.
And yet it is not to be concealed, that whatever adornings you or
your posterity may bestow upon it, this will be to you and them a
mournful spot. You may rear the monumental marble of more
than Parian whiteness and beauty, the funeral cypress may bend
over the ashes of the sleepers here, and the choicest flowers may
here shed their sweetest fragrance, and yet no other place will be so
sad as this. Here more than anywhere else will life's fondest hopes
fade from the soul — here will earth's bitterest tears be shed. And
often to this spot will your thoughts and mournful gaze be turned,


as if all of hope and joy "were buried here. If now no light from
any source shall illumine this darkness, how great is this darkness ;
if no hope shall dawn on this scene of desolation, then perhaps it
were well for us to turn our eye as much as possible from its gloom,
and with the epicurean exclaim. Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow
we die.

But the prospect is not so cheerless. Christianity has dawned
upon this dark world. The Sun of Righteousness has arisen with
healing in his wings, and has shed its light not only on the pathway
of life^ but has pierced the darkness of the tomb, and opened up to
the believer's eye a rich inheritance in reserve for him above — an
inheritance of joy, unspeakable and full of glory. Yes, in the lan-
guage of the poet, once sceptical, now believing, and who when
sceptical could exclaim, with pathetic doubt.

But when shall spring visit the mouldering urn ?
O, when shall day da^vn on the night of the grave r

but believing, could say, with the ecstasy of the Christian's joy :

Now darkness and doubt are flying awaj'',

No longer I roam, in conjecture forlorn ;

So breaks on the traveller, faint and astray,

The bright and balmy effulgence of morn.

See, truth, love and mercy, in triumph descending.

And nature all glowing in Eden's first bloom !

On the cold cheek of death smiles and roses are blending,

And beauty immortal awakes from the tomb.

Yes, Christianity points to another world. It has brought life and
immortality to light, and in the glorious track of the ascending
Saviour has revealed the only ivay by which we may enter upon this
rich and enduring possession.

How solemn the scene, how affecting the service in which we are
engaged. We stand upon the spot, now to be -conscrated, for all
coming time, to the undisturbed repose and possession of the dead.
Many of you stand among your own future sepulchres, your feet
press upon your own graves. After a few more brief years of
weary toil and anxious pursuit, of short-lived joy and bitter disap-
pointment, you are here to make your lowly beds. Here you are
to sleep that long and dreamless sleep that knows no waking, till,
startled by the archangel's voice, you hear, as


Nearer yet, and yet more dread,

Sounds the loud trump that wakes the dead,

the summons to appear before His bar, from wliose lips shall fall
the irreversible sentence that shall decide your destiny for eternity.
Change, progress, and decay, shall mark all else ; but they will
pass lightly over this abode of death. Generation after generation
will come on to the stage of active life, to cultivate, enrich, and
adorn the dwelling places of the living, and pay their yearly tribute
to this place of sepulchre ; and yet light change will be witnessed
here. The forest over your heads will indeed in the spring put on its
garniture of flowers, and in the autumn be dressed in the " sober
livery" of the waning year; and by its successive growth and
decay will stand an expressive monitor of man's destiny on earth ;
while new and more beaten paths, new graves and new monuments,
shall speak of the ceaseless ravages of the great enemy, and pro-
claim that the unrevoked doom is still in force — " Dust thou art and
. unto dust shall thou return;" and yet all the marked and beau-
tiful features of Dell Park Cemetery will remain the same as you
see them now — aye

Till the last syllable of recorded time

shall bring to an end the drama of life, and usher in tlie tremen-
dous scenes of the eternal world. Happy will they be, who, sleep-
ing here, shall meet with joy that final consummation of all things,
and gladly welcome

That great day for which all other days were made.

At the close of the services, the choir united in singing the hymn
composed by Rev. John Pierpont, for the consecration of Mount

To thee, O God ! in humble trust,

Our hearts their cheerful incense biu-n ;

For this thy word, " Thou art of dust,
And tinto dust shalt thou reti^i-n."

The exercises were closed by prayer by the Rev. Mr. Watson, of
the Baptist church, and the benediction by Rev. Nathaniel Norris.
There are two burying places in town once used by the Indians,

" Where the rude children of the forest sleep."


The one on Pond street is enclosed, and the boundaries of it are
marked bj a picketed fence. That at South JSTatick, is the vacant
space around the monument to John Eliot. Its boundaries have
been ascertained to be nearly as follows :

Beginninw; at the oak tree on the east side of the South meetinci;-
house, by a straight line running north of the meeting-house, to the
northeast corner of the front yard of the house recently owned by
Dr. Chandler ; thence following the fence in front of ^-hat dwelling
house, and a few feet in front of the neighboring house, m a straight
line by the Eliot House and store adjacent ; thence in a straight line
towards the present residence of Moses Eames, Esq., to the centre
of the front yard of the house opposite Mr. Eames's ; thence east
by a straight line to the place of beginning.


Statistical Histohy. Ixhabitaxts of Natick, Population at Different
Periods. Valuation. Taxation. Education. California Emigration.

The inhabitants of this place are hardy, frugal, and industrious
mechanics, and cultivators of the soil. The facilities enjoyed here
for mechanical -pursuits, have gathered a somewhat dense population,
mostly from New Hampshire and Maine.

By recurring to the list of the proprietors of the town, in 1782,
and to the list of voters of 1855, it will be seen that the names
which were the most numerous then, are the same now ; while there
is scarce a name which appears on that list, but it may be now found
among the voters. The Travises, Sawins, Morses, Broads, Perrys,
Bacons, Drurys, who took care of Natick in its infancy, have repre-
sentatives guarding it from harm in its manhood. "While there can-
not be said to be any prevailing name in town, the dweller of almost
any place would feel as though among his own kindred. An inhabi-
tant of Wayland might find his next-door neighbor a Heard or a
Sherman. One from Sherborn would be thronged by Coolidges and
Lelands, and the hand of a Fuller would be grasped by a visitor
from Newton or Needham. We have Rices, Eameses, Moultons,
Hemenways, to remind us of Framingham ; Moores, Bartletts,
Wheelers, Browns, of Concord ; and Smiths, to extend our thoughts'
over the whole earth.

The name of the first clerk and first selectman of the town, was
Eben Felch, whose grandson, now living, is the oldest man in town.
This name has alwa3^s been numerous in town, and now numbers
10 on the list of voters. One of the three villages has received
the name of Felchville, from its having been the residence of this

Samuel Morse was for many years town clerk, the first repre-
sentative of the town, and largest land-owner. Those who bear his
name are more numerous than any others of one name in town.
They number 26 on the list of voters.



Capt. David Morse settled on land near the village in South Na-
tick, in the year 1727. His name appears among the first white
settlers of this town, in the published Memorial of the Morses.
When the white inhabitants had become numerous enough to form a
military company, he was appointed captain. In 1746, when the
plantation of Natick was to be erected into a parish, he was em-
powered' by the General Court to call the first meeting. He seems
long to have been a leader among the whites and Indians.

The descendants of the first white settler, Thomas Sawin, who
bear his name, are not as numerous as some others. They still occupy
the farms formed from the tract of land he obtained from the Indi-
ans, and are, as was their ancestor, tillers of the soil as well as
owners of mills. The first settler, mentioned above, with three
brothers, came over to this country from England soon after the
restoration of Charles II. They first settled in Watertown. Not
being fully satisfied with their place of residence, they soon moved
toother parts. One of them, Thomas Sawin, went to Sherborn,
and built a saw-mill in the western part of the town. The Natick
Indians becoming acquainted with him, and being desirous of
having . a corn-mill within the limits of their own plantation,
entered into an agreement with him to remove to Natick. They
granted to him a lot of land, including a mill-site in the south part,
now owned by Mr. Thomas Sawin. The conditions of this grant
were such that he was to erect a mill for the benefit of the Indians.
White men could have their corn ground, but Indians were- to have
the preference. They could even demand that the white men's corn
should be taken from the hopper to give place to theirs. This condition
is to-day inoperative only because the Indian race is extinct. The
deed conveying the land and the mill-site is dated March 17, 1685-6.

The first grant not being adequate to his wants, another was ob-
tained, the deed of which is dated August 18, 1686. Both deeds
are still preserved.

The property conveyed by these two deeds to Thomas Sawin, was
inherited hj his son John, by his son Thomas, by his son Moses, by
his son Moses, who sold the same to its present owner. The fifth
generation was the first to alienate the property by a new deed. It
is now, however, in the hands of a lineal descendant of the first

From the great grandson of the first settler about 100 persons
have descended, 86 of whom are still living.


Twelve persons are found among the voters, of the name of Bacop.
This has always been a numerous family, and now numbers more
than any others, except the Morses.

The legal voters, descendants of the Perrys, number 10 ; of the
Travises, 6 ; of the Manns, 7 ; of the Coolidges, 9 ; of the Broads,
5 ; of the Fisks, 8.

The names of Stone, Drury, Goodnow, Biglow, Jennings, and
Jennison, may still be traced on the records ; while of those whose
names have been heard in town at only a comparatively recent date,
those of Walcott and Hays are the most numerous. Five brothers of
the former name, the eldest of whom came to this place about twenty-
seven years since, have been actively engaged in manufacturing

We have many George Washingtons in reserve for future patriots,
Lincolns for Generals, Howards for philanthropists, and John
Adamses, John Quincy Adamses, and Benjamin Franklins, for states-
men and philosophers ; but it is believed that should the times and
circumstances not give them the reputation accorded to those whose
names they bear, they will not generally consider it the result of
envy or of ingratitude on the part of their fellow citizens.


The I'jopulation of Natick has increased more rapidly than that of
most towns in the State, since the commencement of the present
century. Previous to 1790, it was always less than 600. The
Indian population, we have seen, attained its greatest height about
the year 1700. From that time, cut off by sickness, and fleeing
from the restraints of civilization and the neighborhood of the Eng-
lish, they slowly diminished, until in 1749 they numbered only 166.
The white population increased very gradually from 1722, the date
which marks the time of its settlement by white families in any
numbers, to 1800, at which time it amounted to 694 individuals.
From 1800 to 1855, it has added 3,441 to its population. In 1810
it contained 766 ; in 1820, 849 ; in 1830, 890 ; in 1840, 1,285 ;
in 1850, it had a population of 2,816. The census of the State
just taken, makes its population now 4,135.

Some items of interest relating to the population prior to the
taking the first United States census in 1790, I have gathered from


several State censuses, which, although they have long since disap-
peared from the office of the Secretary of State, have been found,
some entire, others in fragments, among the private manuscripts of
men deceased, and in the newspapers of that period.

The first census taken in Massachusetts was in the year 1764.
Although required by the British government, it encountered much
opposition and superstitious fear. The same results to the colony as
followed the numbering of the people of Israel were predicted.
When the opposition had been overcome the following form was de-
cided upon, which I have filled out for Natick :

White people under 16 years of age, It, ' ^\^
^ ^ ^ ° ' ( Females, 120.

White people above 16, \ „ ' * ^
^ ^ 'I Females, 122.

Total white population, 450.

Negroes and Mulattoes, ! ^^^®^' ■^\' | Total, 24.
( Females, 13. )

Indians, \ ^^^^^' ^^' \ 37 families. Total, 185.
( Females, 95. )

In 1776, when the revolutionary war begun, the population was
635. In 1777, there were 126 males more than 16 years of age.
In the valuation of 1778 there were 120 polls. In that of 1781,
there were 140. In 1755, Natick contained three slaves only.

Slavery, which for some time was an established institution of
Massachusetts, never prevailed to any extent in -Natick. The soil
and climate were unfavorable to the existence of this class of persons,
and the " peculiar institution " quickly died out within its limits.
The adoption of the State constitution which abolished slavery in
Massachusetts, found very few, if any, within the limits of Natick.


Since the year 1783 decennial valuations have been made by the
authority of the State, the year after the taking of the census.
From the returns of the assessors and the census reports I have
compiled the following facts in relation to the past valuation of
Natick. This valuation gives the following for each decennial period


since 1790. For 1791, $4,221.22 ; for 1801, $6,093.07 ; for
1811, $8,020.93 ; for 1821, $10,487.39. For the valuation of
1831 a different basis was adopted. Previous to this it will be seen
that the amounts must have been six per cent, of the whole property
of the town. In the valuations of 1831, 1841, and 1851, the entire
estimated value of the property of the town is presented. They
were respectively $234,624, $282,935.65, $916,210.


There is no subject which awakens so general an interest in town
as that of taxation. When taxes are levied by the citizens for
objects in which all may be supposed to have an interest, there is
nothing degrading in the act of payment. When imposed by
others, for objects unexplained, or foreign to themselves, their town
or country, a sense of debasement follows those who are the subjects
of it, marking them as slaves to themselves, and to all who possess a
knowledge of the transaction. It is no wonder then that the most
intense interest has ever been manifested whenever new taxes have
been levied either upon town, country, province, or State.

Natick paid its first State tax in 1746. The amount of it was
£28 10s. Other taxes had been assessed on the other towns
in the province as far back as 1633, but Natick, from reasons
apparent to every one, escaped until the date above named. Prop-
erty being then as now the basis of taxation, a statement of the
taxes paid at the same time by surrounding towns, whose compara-
tive standing now is well known, will give an idea of the present
increase of property in town.

The year above named in which Natick paid the tax mentioned,
Medway paid X94 13s. 8d. ; Needham, X99 18s. Id. ;• Hull, X63
13s.; Holliston, £82 8s. 3d.; Weston, £137 16s. 6d. In 1751
Natick paid a province tax of .£41 4s. Hopkinton paid, the same
year, £74 10s. ; Sherburne, £83 17s. In the year 1755 Natick
paid a tax to the Province of £50 2s. ; Lincoln at the same time
was assessed £106 8s. 4d. ; Stow, £88 4s. ; Needham, £132
18s.; Hull, £61 13s.

The proportion of Natick in a tax of £1000, levied in 1761, was
£1 14s. 9d. In a similar tax of 1772, £1 lis. 6|d.

After the close of the revolutionary war and the adoption of the








Federal Constitution, the debt incurred by the war -was to be paid,
and the assessments on the towns in consequence were greatly


Natick was assessed in the year 1781, £561 5s.
" " " " 1786, X184 18s. 3d.

" " " " 1791, X41 Is. lid.

On the 81st of May, 1794, Congress assumed the State debt of
Massachusetts, and thus put an end to such heavy assessments on
the towns. Since that time until the present. State taxes at different
times have been levied.

In the year 1796 Natick paid $181.11
" a 1810 "

a a ;1820 "

" " 1830 "

u u 1844 "
" " 1853 "
u u 1854 "
The present year the State tax is 796.50

In the last item, at the year 1796, we are agreeably surprised by
a change in the currency. " Exeunt pounds and enter dollars ! "

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Online LibraryOliver N BaconA history of Natick, from its first settlement in 1651 to the present time; with notices of the first white families, and also an account of the centennial celebration, Oct. 16, 1851, Rev. Mr. Hunt's address at the consecration of Dell Park cemetery, &c. .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 11 of 22)