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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 3 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 3 of 22)
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Henry Leland, probably.)

Obadiah Morse.

In 1685, we find an account of a visit to Natick by JohnDunton,
a London bookseller, who was visiting Boston on business. After
visiting IMr. Eliot at Roxbury, who presented him with twelve Indian
Bibles, he says : " On my return I found several of my friends
making ready for a journey to Natick. I was glad of an opportunity
to acquaint myself with the manners, religion, and government of
the Indians. When we were setting forward I was obliged, out of
civility and gratitude to take Madam Rich behind me on horseback.
True, she was the flower of Boston, but in this case proved no more
than a beautiful sort of luggage to me."

In 1693, Cotton, in his Magnaha, Vol. 2, page 282, speaks thus
of Natick. " The Indian church at Natick (which was the first
Indian church in America,) is, since blessed Ehot's death, much
diminished and dwindled away. But Mr. Daniel Gookin has bestowed
his pious care upon it."

In 1679, the Indians making daily inroads on the weak and un-
fenced places (in Maine,) the Governor and Council resolved to raise
new forces ; and, having had good experience of the faithfulness and
valor of the Christian Indians about Natick, armed two hundred of
them, and sent them, together with forty Enghsh, to prosecute the
quarrel with the Eastern Indians to the full. — (Hul)bard History.)

In 1698, Grindal Ilawson and Samuel Danforth spent from May
30th to June 24th in visiting the several plantations of Indians in
Massachusetts. The following is their report respecting the Indians
at Natick.

" At Natick we find a small church consisting of seven men and three
women. Their pastor (ordained by that reverend and holy man of
God, John EUot, deceased,) is Daniel Tahawampait, and is a person



HISTORY OF NATICK. . 27

of good knowledge. Here are fifty-nine men, and fifty-one ^yomen,
and seventy children under sixteen years of age. We find no school-
master here, and only one child that can read.

Grindal Rawson,
Boston, July 12, 1698. Samuel Danfobth."

In 1762 Natick was erected into an Enghsh district or precinct,
by an act of the General Court. In this act the English inhabitants
only were included, the Indians being under guardianship. From
this time the records have been kept v«'ith a good degree of accuracy.
Prior to this date we find the following votes on the Proprietors' book.
1T31-2. Eben Felch receipts for four pounds for keeping school
in Natick.

1737, September 19. Voted to make sale of one hundred and fifty
pounds' worth of common lands ; the income and yearly interest to
be towards the maintenance of a school in Natick.

1752, March 30. Voted to dismiss Frances Fullam, Esq., (who
desired to be dismissed,) and chose Jonathan Richardson in his room,
to procure their rent money of their Magunquog lands and pay it to
each proprietor according to his proportion.

1754, March 12. Voted to sell so much of our common and indi-
vidual lands as will be sufficient to raise money to pay for a lot of land
which we have engaged to procure for our Reverend Minister (Mr.
Badger,) and chose Deacon Ephraim, John Ephraim, Benj. Tray,
a committee to execute legal deeds of the same in behalf of the pro-
prietors. -■ Eighty-three acres were sold agreeably to this vote. Voted
to dispose of the old meeting-house, and what may be serviceable in
the new meeting-house may be used therefor, and the value set to the
Indians' account, and the remainder part of the old-meeting house to
be sold by committee that are chosen to lay out their common lands,
and to be divided amongst the proprietors, and that said committee,
together with the Indian guardian, be judges of the equivalent.
Oct. 2, 1758. Voted to fence the English burying-grounds.
Oct. 1, 1746. Voted not to have a school this year. Granted
£85 to buy ammunition for a parish stock. Granted in 1748, £40,
old tenor, to be laid out in a reading and writing school.

1749_.50, Jan. 5th. Voted to accept Mr. Oliver Pcabody as
the parish minister, and grant him £300, old tenor, yearly salary,
upon condition he will come to the centre of the parish to preach.



28 . HISTORY OF NATICK.

This vote indicates the existence of a difference of opinion as to
the proper place to locate a meeting-house, a difference ■which from
other sources we know actually existed, and divided the town into
two hostile sections during the whole of Mr. Badger's and a part of
Mr. Peabodj's ministry.

The controversy terminated at last in the building of a meeting-
house in the centre of the town. The large building standing on
Summer street, and occupied as a shoe manufactory by Mr. Henry
Morse, was the first meeting-house in the centre of the town.

The zeal of the fathers of the town in religious matters, and the
desire to be accommodated with Gospel preaching, are shown by the
history of this controversy, extending through fifty years of the his-
tory of the town. The sensitiveness of all classes during that
period, on religious matters, is ilKistrated by a fact stated by Neal,
in his " History of New England," that the soldiers composing the
army sent against the Pequods, had to stop in the wilderness and
settle the question, whether they were under a covenant of works
or a covenant of grace, before they could proceed.

There were many individuals of marked character among the
Indians at Natick. The names of Mattocks, Pegan, Boston,
Waban, are familiar as household words to the descendants of the
first white settlers.

Waban, the name signifying in the Indian language " the Wind,"
was one of the most distinguished of the " praying Indians." He
was one of the rulers of fifties, first chosen by the Indians, after-
wards a constable, in which capacity many ludicrous anecdotes are
told of him. He was at first an Indian merchant at Nonantum ;
aftewards removed to Natick and became one of Eliot's most efficient
supporters. At his death he expressed an animated joy in the hope
of heaven, where he should unite with the souls of departed be-
lievers.

His last words were, " I give my soul to thee, my Redeemer
Jesus Christ ! pardon all my sins, and deliver me from hell. Help
me against death, and then I am willing to die ; and when I die, oh
help me and relieve me."

Dea. Ephraim, the first person who held the office of Deacon in this
place, was another Indian of whom we often hear anecdotes. Rev.
Mr. Badger says of him, that " he was a worthy Indian of good



HISTORY OF NATICK. 29

understanding, and from the first of his making a Christian profes-
sion, an example of seriousness, temperance, and regular conversa-
tion, a constant attendant on the institutions of religion." On being
asked why so many Indian young men, while in English families,
although they had free access to liquor, remained steady and exem-
plary, but as soon as they joined the Indians again became dissi-
pated and idle, he made the laconic reply, '' Ducks will bo ducks,
although they are hatched by a hen ; " in broken English, '" Tucks
will be tucks, although old hen he hatch um."

Daniel Takawampait : The grave-stone of this successor of Eliot
is in the wall in front of the south meeting-house. The grandfather
of the author of this work, (Capt. David Bacon, ^ had in his posses-
sion a short time previous to his death, a deed, dated xVpril 8, IGi^iJ,
by which this Indian minister conveyed to John Sawin a piece of
meadow land. This deed may now be seen at the rooms of the Massa-
chusetts Historical Society. The name is there spelled TakaNvompbait.
An amusing anecdote is told of an Indian who went to Boston from
Natick in the fiill of the year with a back-load of brooms and
baskets, and, as was his custom, called into a store and purchased a
dram, paid the price and departed. The next spring, on a similar
errand, ho called at the sa,me store, drank the same quantity of
Hquor, and was charged double the price, the reason being given
that it took as fhuch to keep it as to keep a horse. " Hah 1 " said
the Indian, " he no eat as much hay, but he drink as much water."

But the Indian of Natick who lived the most eventful life, and
whose history is the most romantic, was John Sassamon. Ho was a
subject of King Philip, became a convert to Christianity, learned
the language of the English, was able to read and write, and trans-
lated somo of the Bible into Indian. He was employed by Eliot as
a schoolmaster to his countrymen at Natick. This must have been
about the year IGGO, as he was Bhilip's secretary and instructor in
1GG2, and this Avas subsequent to his becoming a Christian. He
soon became otfended with the English, and went to reside with
Alexander, Chief of the Narragansetts, and afterwards with riiilip,
who employed him on account of hts learning. Sassamon, however,
soon left Philip and returned to the English, at which time Cotton
Mather says of him, that " ho manifested such evident signs of
repentance, as that ho was, after the return from pagan Philip,
reconciled to the ' praying Indians,' baptized and received as a



30 HISTORY OF NATICK.

member of one of the Indian churches, yea, and employed as m-
structor amongst them every Lord's day." In 1673 Sassamon -^'as
sent to preach to the Namaskets. The chief of that tribe, Watas-
paguin, in order to encourage the new rehgion, gave Sassamon a
tract of land, the deed of -which is now extant. It is in the follow-
ing form and words.

" Know all men by their presents, that I, old Wataspaguin, doe
grant unto John Sassamon, alias Yv^assasoman, twenty-seven acres of
land for a house lott at Assawomset necke. This is my gift given to
him the said John Sassamon, by me the said Wataspaguin in Anno,
1673. [1674 if between 1st of January and 25th of March.]

Old Wataspaguin, (G' his mark.
Willum Taspaguin □ V his mark.
Witness alsoe Naneheunt,+ his mark."

An Indian of the Narragansetts had married Sassamon's daughter,
and as soon as Sassamon detected Philip's determination to wage a war
of extermination, he made a will, giving his land to his son-in-law.

There are many deeds and treaties of King Philip's on which the
name of Sassamon is inscribed as witness. When Sassamon de-
tected Philip's intentions, he went to Plymouth and discovered the
design to the English. This proceeding having conft to the ears of
Philip, Sassamon vras considered an outlaw, and his murder soon
after the legitimate result of his friendship for the English.

Early in the spring of 1675, Sassamon was missing, and on search
being made his body was found in Assawomset Pond. Those who
killed him, not caring to be known to the English, left his hat and
gun upon the ice, that it might be supposed he had drowned himself.

Four persons were suspected of the murder ; tried at Plymouth
by a jury one half EngUsh and one half Indian. They were all of
them executed, one confessing the murder, the others protesting
their innocence.

We have thus run through the early history of Natick, giving the
incidents of interest which occurred, and a sketch of the lives of
those who took a prominent part in them. And while the mournful
impression urges itself upon us, that the race is extinct, and that all
our efforts can do but little in perpetuating their memory, we console
ourselves with the reflection that the natural features of the town



HISTORY OF NATICK. 31

and state are monuments which .will -bear their names to the latest
generation. Pegan, Old Massachusetts, Natick, Puncatasket, and
Wachusett, "will cease to be spoken of before the remembrance of
those -who gave them their names shall die out.

The year has just elapsed which brought about the two hundredth
anniversary of the settlement of Natick.

Two hundred years had rolled away since John Eliot had selected
Natick as the site of his Indian town. Its boundary lines had
become established. Adjoining towns had contributed their territory,
their population, and their example, until the child had outgrown in
size the parents. Instead of the dark forest which then excluded even
the summer's sun, rich fields of waving grain decked the surface of
the soil in every direction. The wigwams and rude houses of the
first settlers had given place to dwellings of comfort and architec-
tural beauty. The bridle-paths of the savages had been widened
into gravelled roads, and the whole town threaded by commodious
streets. Instead of the absence of all means of conveyance, each
family was accommodated with his own vehicle, and the " fire
steed," on his steel-bound road, waited the bidding of his masters.
The sphere once so competently filled by John Sassamon, was now
so enlarged that a score of teachers found ample room in its en-
closures.

Wooden bowls, spoons, platters, and plates, were now only remem-
bered as things that had been, while crockery, glass, and silver,
supplied their places ; velvet sofas and stuffed chairs stood in the
places of settles and wooden benches, while five commodious houses
of worship were weekly filled with intelligent and devout worshippers.

Natick had become not slightly known in the wide world around ;
her manufactures were daily on the wharves of all the principal cities
of the Union ; her sons had climbed the Alps, gazed with awe on
the crumbling cathedrals of Milan and Rome, and spent delightful
days musing on the embosomed lakes of Swiss and Scottish scenery.

During the two hundred years that had rolled away, the world
itself had almost become a new planet. The monarchs of Europe
had drawn the car of one who was born a citizen, and begged of
him the right to reign. The United States had broken away from
the control of Great Britain and asserted their independence, and
England herself, from being a secondary power, a rival of Spain and
France, had risen to the ascendency of empire. Gibraltar, Aden,



32 HISTORY OF NATICK.

Good Hope, India, bristled with her bayonets, until, in the "words of

America's greatest statesman, " Her morning drum beat, beginning

with the rising sun, and, keeping company with the hours, circled ihe

earth with one continuous strain of the martial airs of England."

The feeling naturally rose in the minds of all interested, either as

natives or inhabitants of the town, that it Avould be appropriate to

celebrate the anniversary of its settlement, and call back on the

occasion the sons and daughters of the town once more to their native

place. Some of them were cultivating the rich valleys of the West ;

others living on the shores of the lakes, on the savannahs of the South,

and in the thronged cities of the coast. From their homes, efforts

were made to collect them, and on the eighth day of October, 1851,

the First Congregational Church was crowded with invited guests,

citizens, and strangers. The invocation was made by Rev. Mr.

Plorton, pastor of the Methodist society, and the following original

Hymn, composed by Rev. James Flint, D. D., of Salem, was sung

by the Choir : —

I.

Where smiles so soft the landscape round,
And golden harvests deck the plain,
Once gloomy forests darkly frowned —
The wandering red man's wild domain.



His home was with the beasts of prey ;
Like them untamed, by instinct led.
As rudely housed and fed as they.
Alone to war and hunting bred.

III.
A servant of the Crucified
Saw his red brother pass forlorn,
Darkling and sad, as one denied
The bourne for which the Cross was borne.

• IV.
A Christ-like pity touched his heart :
A martyr's soul was kindled there.
The Gospel message to impart.
And win his tribe to faith and prayer.

V.

The sachem with his follower felt
Th' attraction of the good man's love.
As with his flock in prayer he knelt,
And sought a blessing from above.



HISTOUY OF NATICK. 33

VI.

He taught them arts by -which to thrive ;
To build, to plant and till the soil :
A village grew, compact, alive.
And stored with fruits of cheerful toil.

VII.

But most, thy meek apostle, Lord,
Labored to teach his flock to read,
In their own tongue, thy blessed Word,
And in their lives its truths to heed.



And Thou his patient toil didst bless,
And many souls to Christ were led ;
But, such man's doom of transientness,
Tribe, tongue and teacher — all are fled !

IX.

Yet high in Heaven's archives sublime.
Dear Lord, thy meek apostle's name
Shall stand, and there outlive all time,
Above " all Greek — all Roman fame ! "

Prayer was then offered by Rev. Mr. Thurston, of the Second
Congregational Church, and the following original hymn, written
by Rev. Mr. Watson, of the Baptist society, was sung : —



Two hundred years have rolled away,
To swell the tide of time's dark flood,
Since here the red man learned to pray
And praise our Pilgrim Fathers' God.



A man in whom the Spirit dwelt.
Planted with prayer this model town ;
Slowly beneath these oaks he knelt.
And called Jehovah's blessing down.

III.
Our fathers sought. Great God, thy face,
And list thy heavenly voice to hear ;
They learned thy footsteps' aim to trace.
And saw thy light their pathway cheer.

a



34 HISTORY OF NATICK.

IT.

While warriors raged in fierce array,
And many hearts knew but despair,
At sound of drum, on Sabbath day.
They gathered in the place of prayer.



Here to the God who reigns above,
And rules the armies of the sky.
They sung their songs of fervent love,
And sent to Heaven their ardent cry.



Here Jesus' message was revealed.
And by its mild, transforming voice.
The desert turned a fruitful field.
And bade the wilderness rejoice.



For all thy mercies. Sovereign Lord,
Vouchsafe to us the hallowed day ;
Deep on thy altar we record
The thanks our hearts would fain repa

VIII.

All glory to our fathers' God !
Sufiicient is his grace alone :
Come, children, join to spread abroad
The honors that surround His throne.

Professor Calvin E. Stowe, D. D., a native of the town, made the
address. The following is a synopsis of it. Two hundred years ago,
said Prof. S., a singular scene was witnessed in this town, a scene
which angels beheld with joj. A group of Indians assembled on
Charles Hiver, under the guidance of Rev. John Eliot, to lay the
foundation for a " praying town." They had previously a temporary
home of five years at Nonantum, the eastern part of Newton. They
were here too near the white men, some of whom exerted a pernicious
influence upon them. Mr. Eliot removed them away up into the
wilderness, where he thought that they would not be disturbed by
the English.

Here he established his first and most flourishing Indian church.
At one period it contained between sixty and seventy members.
Here he gave lectures on logic and theology. At one time, from



HISTORY OF NATICK. 35

this church he sent forth six teachers, to be pastors in other praying
towns.

Prof. Stowe noticed some of the traits in Eliot's character. He
had perseverance and untiring industry. He did not commence his
efforts to acquire the Indian language until he was forty-six. He
reduced a spoken language to writing, and published two editions of
the Bible. He was devoid of ostentation. Though he labored with
great success, still the spirit of boasting never appears in any of his
writings. He planted fourteen " praying towns," embracing 3,500
Indians.

Eliot sympathized most with the Indians, negroes and slaves.
His great effort was to raise the poor and degraded. Mr. Shepherd,
minister of Cambridge, used to say — " The country could not be
destroyed as long as Eliot lived." Mr. Eliot was a theologian of
much thought. In a letter to Richard Baxter, he speaks of man
being like God, because all his actions are voluntary. He uses the
word " spontaneity," the same that some modern theologian has used
who thinks he has made a great discovery. He speaks also of the
root-sin and actual transgression, or breaking of the law.

Our fathers set forth as one reason why they wished to form set-
tlements in the New World, that they might preach the Gospel to
the aboriginal inhabitants. Eliot seldom uttered complaints relative
to his discouragements.

Prof. S. here went into a discussion respecting the progress civil-
ization has made the last two centuries. The advance has been
slow but sure ; sometimes it has been retrograding, and at others
rapidly advancing. Our Puritan fathers had some faults, but still
they were in advance of the age in which they lived. We must
make advances upon what they did. To make these advances cer-
tain things must be done. 1st. Absurdity must cease to be revered
because it is a theological absurdity. Illustrations were given by
the Catholic faith in the real presence of the body and blood of
Christ in the Eucharist, and the High Churchman's belief in grace
being conferred by apostohc succession. 2d. Christian sects and
parties in their treatment of each other must exercise mutual
charity. 3d. Schism must cease to be a means of reform. 4th.
Popular ignorance must come to an end, 5th. Business and em-
ployments that destroy men must cease. Under this head the
maker and vender of rum were especially enumerated. 6th. Op-



36 HISTORY OF NATICK.

pression of every kind must cease. 7tli. War must cease. Mili-
tary men must not be honored above other men. Men must be
valued according to the real good they accomplish. When the
world is filled with Eliots, its redemption will draw nigh.

A portrait of John Eliot, which had been lately brought from
England by Rev. Edward Taylor, was exhibited in front of the
pulpit.

After the delivery of the address, the following original hymn, by
Mrs. L. S. Goodwin, of Natick, was sung.

I.

Two centuries — their latest tide

Is flowing out to-day,
Since these glad rocks and vales descried

The first enlightening ray,
Unto the "place of hiUs," where then

A howling wild outspread —
Far from the haunts of other men,

His band a hero led.



No peace-destroying clan were they,

On bloody conquest bent ;
But hitherward they took theii- way.

To dwell in meek content.
Sons of the forest — with what pride,

What fihal love and awe
They gaze upon the pale-face guide.

Whose wish to each is law.

III.
Eliot — e'en when has turned to dust

Yon pile which bears that name.
Preserve from faintest touch of rust,

His spotless, well-earned fame !
His memory — let its youth remain

When time so far is gone
That men shall ask, and ask in vain —

"Who was Napoleon"? "



Here on the soil our feet have trod.
The red men reared their homes ;

Here worshipped dauntless Eliot's God,
In unpretending domes.



HISTORY OF NATICK. 37

Give utterance to these hills and dales,

To yonder stream * and lake ; f
And of that fading race, what tales.

Long, long entombed, would wake !



These sods 'neath which their ashes sleep,

These plains, their rich bequest —
Those waters hasting to the deep.

Those in a cradled rest.
Oft echoed to the stalwart pace.

And to the wild halloo,
Or mirrored back some tawny face,

Bent o'er the light canoe.

VI.

But where 's the Indian to-day ?

We ask in mournful tones ;
The spade and ploughshare from the clay

Search out his mouldering bones ;
His trace grows dim o'er all the land.

Like shadows waning slow ;
Naught more is left of that strong band —

Two hundi-ed years ago.

VII.

The axe has felled the pristine oaks

Which crowned this " place of hills ; "
The Sabbath bell, with measured strokes,

Sends forth its grateful thrills.
Here science beams, here wealth has source,

Here art holds mighty sway ;
The sun sees none in all his course,

More blest than we to-day.

VIII.

Yet, glorious as these changes seem.

Ay, glorious as they are.
Pity is seen, with eyes a-stream,

In retrospection's car.
'T is no light thing — a nation built

Upon another's dust !
Een though no wanton blood was spilt.

Betrayed no sacred trust.

IX.

O God ! if at our door lies blame.
Forgive, we humbly pray ;

* Charles River. t Cochituate.



38 HISTORY OF NAT.CK.

And by thy blessings, still the same,

So richly ours this day ;
Let their heart-thankfuluess be proved,

Who in time's farther flow,
Here speak of us, as those who lived

Two hundred years ago !

After singing the above hymn, a procession Avas formed, mi\\ Ed-
ward Walcott, Esq., as chief marshal, in the following order:

Aid. Chief Marshal. Aid.

Flag's Brass Band.

The Victor and Eliot Engine Companies, in uniform.

Aid. Marshal. Aid.

Committee of Arrangements.

Town Clerk.

Select Men and other Officers of the Town.

Aid. ^Marshal. Aid.

The Takawampait Lodge of Odd Fellows.

Sons of Temperance.

Aid. Marshal. Aid.

Citizens with their Families four deep.

Hon. Henry Wilson presided at the table. After partaking of a


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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 3 of 22)