Salma Hale.

Annals of the town of Keene, from its first settlement, in 1734, to the year 1790 .. online

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Ellis, emphaticall}, you must prepare for eternity,
for the [)eopIe of Keene will not permit you to pur-
sue this irregular mode of wreaking vengeance on
any men, even if they are tories. Hearing this
resolute speech, and perceiving the militia prepar-
ed to resist them, the followers of Mack were in-
timidated, and, one by one, deserted him. Finding
himself alone, he went off himself, and the tories
left their confinement.

At a meeting, held July 7, the town chose a
committee to hire and agree with five men to serve
in the continental army, on the best terms they
can ; and the same committee were empowered to
hire two men for the Rhode-Island service, at the
town's charge.

Sept. 7, the town, " after hearing the plan of
government, lately formed by the convention at
Concord, read, and the several articles therein de-
bated, voted unanimously to reject the same, for
the following reason, viz. : — That the mode of
representation is not agreeable to the sentiments
©f the town."

" Voted, further to instruct our delegate to use
his influence,) if the convention proceed to amend-
ments,) that the mode of representation be as fol-
lows : — That every town, consisting of one hun-
dred families, shall be entitled to send a represen-
tative ; that larger towns send one tor each hun-
dred families, and smaller towns be classed together

Snnals of Keene. 59

^o as to send one for each hundred families, and
the whole to be paid out of the public cliest."

At the same meeting, the following preamble and
vote passed : — '-Wliereas the selectmen of Ports-
mouth sent an address to this and the rest of the
towns in this State, desiring their presence and
assistance, by their delegates, to meet at Concord,
ill convention, to see if they can come into some
agreement to state the price of the several articles
bought and sold in this State ; therefore, voted,
/ tl at Capt. Jeremiah Stiles attend said convention,
as a delegate from this town."

Oct. 20, the town voted to raise three hundred
and thirty pounds lor paying the charge of raising
men for the defence of the State of Rhode-Island,
and the sum of £4 3 1 for the charge of raising men
for the continental service.


March 7, the town voted, " that the singing i<a
public worship be performed without reading line
by line as they sing."

In the warrant calling a town meeting, to be
iield July 20, the following article was inserted : —
" Whereas, by an act of the General Assembly of
this State, each town is obliged to provide month-
ly a quantity of beef for the use of the continental
army, for the space of five months ; therefore, to
see what method the town will take to procure said
quantity of beef." At the meeting, the town voted
" to raise 1 1,300 pounds of beef; each person to
have liberty to pay his equal proportion thereof in
beef, or to pay so much money in lieu thereof as
he was taxed in the last State and continental

In a warrant calling a town meeting, is the fol-
lowing recital : " Whereas the selectmen have re-
ceived letters from some of the principal gentle-
men in this county, who think it advisable, in this

56 Jlnnals of Keene,

critical jiiHcture, that a county coTivention of dele
<rates Ironi the several towns, be called, to meet at
Walpole,the 1.5th of November, to consult on mat-
ters relating; to the jurisdif tiou of the New-Hamp-
shire Grants ;" — aisd then a meeting is warned to
choose one or more persons to represent the town
in said convention. At the meeting, held Nov. 1 3,
pursuant to the warrant, Daniel Newcomb and
John Houghton were chosen delegates.

The following proceedirrgs ot this convention,
are extracted from the '' Vermont State Papers,"
an interesting volume lately published by the au-
thority of that state.

" At a Convention of Delegates from the several tokens in the Countij
of Cheshire^ in the State of New- Hamp^hire^ held at Walpoh, in
said County^ on the 15th day of JVovernber^ in the year of our
Lord^one thousand seven hundred and eighty.
Voted, That Dr. Page, Col. Hunt, Capt. Holmes, Daniel Jones,
Esq. and Col. Bellows, he a comnr)itfee to confer with gentlenioa
from any parts of the territory, called the New-Hampshire grants,
conceriiing the jurisdiction of the s«id grants, and to consider
what is proper to be done by the inhabitants thereof, relativ«' to
their jurisdiction ; that the same may be asc^^rtained and estab-
lished Which committee, after due enquiry and consideratir>n,
report as follows, viz. The committee appointed by the conven-
tion, held at Walpole, November 15th, 1780, do report, that we
have conferred with the several gentlemen present, who were
committees from the different parts of the territory, called the
New- Hampshire grants, viz Cumberland, Gloucester and Graf-
ton counties, and do tiud, that many nnatters lately agitated, with
respect to the jurisdiction of the New-Hampshire grants, render
a union of the inhabitants of that territory indispensably neces-
sary. The said inhabitants received the grants of their lands
from the same jurisdiction, and settled them while a union was
extant ; which was an implicit engagement of authority, that it
should be continued. But we were unjustly deprived of the ad-
vantages resulting from it, in the year 1754, by an arbitrary de-
cree of Great Britain, to which we never acceded ; which de-
cree, however, cannot be esteemed efficacious, since the decla-
ration of independence ; it being one of those iniquitous meas-
ures, by which they were attempting to oppress the colonies ;
and for which we have since thrown off subjection. This being
the case, the union re-exists. And shall we throw it off? God
forbid. The situation of the territory aforesaid, by reason of

Annals of JCfeiie.


f.hoir bvMD^ a frontier, a« well as many other matters, which .ire
Q!>vious, TPspectingf commerce and transactions ol a publi'- nature,
tniikes it expcdieu* that they be united in all their interest*, in
ordefto make their efforts, in that quarter, again«t the commoa
enemy, more vigorous and efficacious. In r^^spect to government,
great disadvantages may arise hy a division. In that case, de-
linquents may easily evade the operation of justice, by passing
from ne state to another, and thereby be induced more readilj
to practice iniquity in that part where the body of inhabitants,
and the principal traffick, centre. And we imagine that a unioa
of public interests, is the only means by which the contentions
and animosities, now subsisting among the inhabitants of the
territory aioresaid, can be brought to a happy issue ; lor, so long
as the course of justice is in different channels, where people
are so nearly allied, disturbances will arise. From authentic in-
formation, we cannot but apprehend, that the state of New-Hamp-
shire is greatly remiss, if not grossly negligent (to call it by no
harsher name) in trusting affairs of such great importance as the
settlement of their western boundary, to a committee, some of
%vhom, we conceive, would risk the loss of halt the state, rather
than NevT-Hampshire should extend their claim west of Connect-
icut river. And, from the best authority that can be obtained, it
appears that the agent of the state at'oresaid, is endeavoring to
confirm a division of the grants, contrary to their true interests ;
which has given the people, on the grants, just occasion to rouse
and exert themselves in support of an union of the whole. We,
therefore, earnestly recommend, as the only means to obtain an
union, preserve peace, harmony, and brotherly love, and the in-
terest of the community in general, that a convention be called
from every town within the said grants, to be held at CharK«s-
town, on the third Tuep<lay of January next, at one of the clock,
in the afternoon ; and that one or more members be appointed
from each town, with proper instructions to unite in such meas-
ures as the majority shall jud'^e most conducive to consolidate an
union of the grants, and effect a final settlement of the line of

D. .JON':S, iCommiUee.
In Convention, at Walpole, November 16, 1780.
The above report being repeatedly read, — Voted,
That it be accepted ; and a sufficient number of copies be
printed and transmitted to the several towns on the New-Hamp-
shire grants, on both sides of Connectirnt river, for their notice.


1)8 Jinnals of Keene.

to appoint one or more members to attend the said p^eneral cob-
vention ; which shall be deemed a suflicient notification.
By order of the Convention,

A true Copy—Attest, DANIEL NEVVCOMB, Clerk:'

At araeetms:, held Oec. 1 f, the town *• chose Tiai-
oth}- Ellis and Daniel Newcomb delrcjates to repre-
sent this town in the convention to be holden at
Charlestown, the third Tuesday in Jafuiary next,
to act relating; to the jurisdiction of the Ne^v-
H unpshire Grants ;" and they voted " to instruct
the deleojates to come into a union with said grants,
in case they (the said grants) be annexed to the
state of New-Hampshire, and not otherwise."


The convention was held at Charlestown, on the
day appointed, and was attended by delegates from
forty-three towns. A majority voted in favor of
imiting with the state of Vermont.

On the 24th of January, the selectmen, recitin;^
that, " by a late act of the General Assembly, each
town is obliged to furnish their quota of men for
the continental army as soon as possible," called a
meeting to be held February 7, " to see what meth-
od the town will take to raise their quota."

At the meeting, thus called, the following votes
were passed :

Voted, to choose a committee to make an aver-
age of what service each man has done heretofore^
as to hiring men or going personally into the ser-
vice of the United States.

Upon further consultation and, consideration, vo-
ted to postpone the average to some future time ;

Voted, to divide the rateable inhabitants of the
town into twelve equal classes, and each class to
procure a man to serve in the continental army
the space of three years, or during the war, upon
their own charge, as soon as may bo.

Annals of Keene, 59

And a committee was chosen to divide the town
into classes, and proceed as is diiected in the
aforesaid act.

At a meeting;, held Marcli 26, the town voted
not to unite with the New-Hampshire Grants, on
the west side of Connecticut river, bli being
aijainst, and 29 in favor of the union. The town
stood almost alone in tliis vote ; Hinsdale, Wal-
pole, Surry, Gilsum, Alstead, Charlestown, Ac-
vorth, Lempster, Wendell, Claremont, Newport,
Cornish, Croydon, Plainfield, Grantham, Marlow,
Richmond, Chesterfield, and Westmoreland voting
in favor of the union.

By virtue of a precept from the General Assem-
bly, a town meetiiig was called, and held on the
30th day of May, at which Daniel Newcomb was
chosen a delegate to a convention, to be held at
Concord on the first Tuesday of June, for the pur-
pose of forming a plan of government.

At the same meeting, the town voted, that Thom-
as Baker stand in nomination for a justice of the
peace, in order to be put in said oflice by the Gen-
eral Assembly.

At a meeting, held December 1 1, the plan of
government, which had been agreed on by the con-
vention at Concord, was laid before the town.
" After hearing it read, and consulting upon the
same," Josiah Richardson, William Banks, Ichabod
Fisher, JVJajor H owlet, and Daniel Niiwcomb were
chosen a committee " to make such remarks upon
it, in writing, as ihey think agreeable to the town,"
and make report at a future meeting.

At a meeting subsequently holden, this commit-
tee reported, that " it appears to them that the fol-
lowing paragraph in said form of government, viz.
'* and to prevent an undue influence in this state,
which the first magistrate thereof may acquire by

^0 Annals of Keene,

the long possession of that important office, as also
to stimulate others to quality themselves for t!)e
service of the public in the highest station, no
man shall be elii;ible, as governor of this state,
more than three years in any seven," is inconsis-
tent with the rights ot the people of New-Hamp-
shire, as declared m t)ie eleventh article, in the first
pa-rt of said constitution ; and that when a person
hath governed the state three years faithfully, and
successfully, his fidelity and experience ought
ralherto recommend him as a proper person to be
elected governor the next year, than to disqualify
him irom 20'.ernin2j within four years. The com-
mit tee, therefore, report, as their opinion, that the
for<'g( inji; paragraph of the said constitution ought
to be t-xput!ged therefrom, and that the inhabitants
of this town ought then to approve and accept of
Slid constitution, without an} further alteration or
aiii^ndmevt ; aud rather than said constitution
should be rejected by reason of the foregoing ob-
jection thereto, or be again sent for the examina-
tion of the people, the committee are of opinion
that the said constitution ought to be approved, ac-
cepted a!;d established as it now stands."

This report was unanimously accepted, thirty-
two voting in favor of it, and none against it.

The town, March 5, voted a premium of 40 shil-
lings, to be paid to any inhabitant of the town, for
killing a grown wolf, and 20 shillings for killing a
wolf's whelp, in this or any circumjacent town.

At a meeting, held April lb, the town voted to
choose a committee to make an account of the ser-
vice each man has done in the present war, and
make an average, so that each man may have cred-
it for what he has already done ; and also to di-
vide or class the inhabitants into twelve equal class-
es, (credit for what each man has done to be given

Jnnals of Keene. Gl

him,) and each class to provide, or hire, a man fo;-
tie space oi liiree years, or durincj the war, upon
tiieir o\\ n cost ; said classes to be so made, that
eacli pay equal taxes.

A vote \sas also passed to reconsider a former
vote ot tlie town, on the plan of government, and
take the same into further consideration ; and u
committee was chosen to propose amendments.'

At an adjourned meetinjr, '" the committee on the
constitution," recommended the following amend-
ments, which were adopted, 53 yeas, 3 nays :

ist. I'hat an exception be subjoined to the 17th
article in the bill of rights, in the following words,
viz. " except in cases w here it shall appear that an
impartial trial cannot be had in such county, and
the Legislature shall, by act, order the trial to be
in some adjacent county,'*

'2d. 'J hat the .3d article, in the bill of rights, be
expunged, and the following article be substituted :
" Ketrospt ctive laws are, in most cases, oppressive
and unjust, and ought not to be made for the decis-
ion of civil cases, or the punishment of offenders,
unless in cases of persons absconding and going
over to the enemy, as at the late revolution, where
the laws prior to the offence were imperfect."

.hI. As to the mode of representation, let it be
as mentioned in the constitution, in all respects, ex-
cepting the following amendments, viz. that fifty
members for the House of Representatives be the
present number; and the county of Rockingham
having their equal proportion according to ttie
number of ratable polls; said number in that coun-
ts not to increase or diminish ; and the other coun-
ties as they increase in number of ratable polls,
to increase in number of Representatives, until
they arrive to as great a number as the county of
Roi kingham ; and that the delegates, at their firsi
meeting, divide the counties into districts, and thew

62 Annals of Keene.

the delegates of each district, by themselves, vote
for a representative for their own district, out of
their own body ; and after each district is set offj
the delegates to meet for the future in some con-
venient place, in their own district, and annually
electa member for said district.

4th. That all persons who have now a right by
law to be voters in town afiaiis, be considered as
qualilied for electors of Goveinor, Senators, or any
other officer, to be chosen by the people at large,
as mentioned in the constitution, and that those
who are elected have tiie same qualifications men-
tioned in the constitution.

bth. That tlje Governor be prohibited from
erecting permanent fortifications without the ad-
vice of counsel ; and from demolishing such as
have been, or may be, constructed by order of the
Legislature, or advice of council, without their as-

t)M. That annual elections are a sufficient secu-
rity against every abuse of power ; such parts of
the constitution as limits the number of years for
•which a person shall be eligible to any office, be
expunged from the constitution.

Tie votes of this and of the other towns were
transmitted to the state convention, which held an
adjourned meeting in the summer of this year. By
them a new draft was prepared, which was also
submitted to the people. On the fifth of Novem-
ber, the town of Keene vottd unanimously '^ to re-
ceive the bill of rights as it now stands." A vote
was also passed not to receive the other part of
the constitution, except there be some amendments.
And a committee wa& chosen to propose amend-

At an adjourned meeting, the town voted to ac-
cept the constitution with the amendments propos-
ed, which were as follows :

Annals of Keene. 63

1. That the mode pointed out in said coiistitu-
iion for discharging the wages of tuC Representa-
tives by the towns, will have a tendency to lessen
the number, and by that means produce an injury
to the State ; they, therefore, think it advisable
that each Representative be paid, not only tor his
travel, but also his wages, from the Treasury ot the

2. That the General Court appoint all Judicial
officers, instead of their beiuij; appointed b}' the
Governor and Council, and that the Governor, of
course, commission them.

The disputes, which originated in the claim of
the inhabitants of Vermont to bo acknowledged as
a separate State, still continued to disturb the re-
pose of the county. The new State had commis-
sioned civil and military officers on this side of
Connecticut river, between whom, and the officers
commissioned by New-Hampshire, contests some-
times arose, which the militia v, ere once called out
to terminate. In September, when the inferior
court, acting under the authority of New-Hamp-
shire, assembled L't Keene, a mob, headed by Sam-
uel Davis, ot Chesterfield, and composed of per-
sons favorable to a union with Vermont, assembled
also for the purpose of preventing the court from
transacting business. As disturbances were ex-
pected, a large number of the opposite party came
into the village. x\t the opening of the Court, Da-
vis, followed by his party, entered t!ie Court house,
went up to the clt rk, laid his hand upon the docket,
and declared it should uot be opened. At this mo-
me))t, a Mr. Fairbanks, of Swanzey, addressed the
Court, praying them to adjourn for an hour, that the
people present might assemble on the common, and
the strength ot both parties be ascertained. The
Court adjourned ; the two parties paraded sepa-
rately, Davis attliehead of one. and Fair!>anks, of

64 Annals of Keene,

the other. The former beinjj much the sma1Jes(i
their courao:e failed, and the Court proceeded in
thr-ir business without further molestation.

D ivis and several others were arrested, bj a war-
rant from the Court, and gave bonds to appear at
the next term of the Superior Court, and to keep
the peace. He then went out, and addressed his
followers, advising them to be cool and orderly, as
the most likely mode of obtaining <^heir object.
When the Superior Court assembled, an attempt
was also made to prevent it from proceeding to bu-
siness, which entirely failed. Davis and two others
were indicted, " for that they, with others, commit-
ted an assault upon the Justices of the Inferior
Court and their clerk, and compelled them to desist
from executing the lawful business thereof." They
pleaded guilt}', and threw themselves upon the
mercy of the Court, who, " having taken matters
into consideration, forgave them, and ordered theui
to be discharged." At the same term, Robert Wser
was indicted, for that he at said time, at Keene, to
encourage the rioters, did openly and publickly,
with a loud voice, in the English language, speak
the following words, viz. " Col. Ashby (meaning the
first Justice of said Inferior Court) is for arbitrary
power, and arbitrary power he shall have ; damn
the Court, and their authority." He also pleaded
guilty, was forgiven and disciiarged.


At a town meeting, held June 19, the town " vo-
ted unanimously that the Representative be in-
structed to use his influence, that all w^io have ab-
sented themselves from any of the United States of
America, and joined with, or put themselves under
the protection of, the enemies of the United vStatcs,
be utterly debarred from residing within this State."
This vote was passed at the request of the Repre-
sentative, Daniel Kingsbury, to be instructed on
the subject.

Annals of Keene. 60

The Continental Congress having proposed and
re> o.iimeniled such an alteration in the eigiitii arii-
cle of ihe Contederation, as to make the population
of the several States, instead of the value of tlie
gi anted land therein, the rule for the apporiiomneat
of national taxes, (lie town, Septetnber 2, voted to
at cept of tiie alteration of said article, as recom-
n.ended by the Continental Congress.

In the warrant calling a town meeting, to be h<^!d
October 1 7, is found tlie following article: "To
Cijoose a suitable person o represent trie town a' a
convention, to be holden at Peterborough, the , id
instant, to consult upon matters of public grievance,
VIZ. a multiplicity of*" lawsuits, pensioni g tJie odi-
cers of the army, and many others not nameti, m
order to take some suita He measures for the redress
ol said grievances." At the meeting, held on tlie
d.iy appc inted, INlaj. Davis Howlet was elected, ad
a . ommittee was appointed to give him instructions.
1 MPse instructions were as follows : '^ T ut the said
<•> "gate use his influence, in convention, that the
f ;iuwing matters of grievance be laid before the
(a neral Court : distress f)y law-suits; that all
s '^s of neat cattle and grain be made a lawful ten-
&. r for the payment of de bts, (in case of suits onh ,)
the same to be appraised by judicious men under
oath; to regulate the fee table, especially attorneys', thnt t!iey may not draAv pay for the travel
aal atlend'4> of their clients in court, except in
cases V. ij^.j-s jt^s »!ecessary for clients to attend ;
t'attlt officers oi t. e continental army be not al-
lowed live years pay ; that State securities be
liicide a hiwfu! tender in case of suit."

At a;; adjourned meeting, the doings of this con-
yentio:. -re read, hut " the town, not fully agree-
ing to aj;^ jve thereof, voted ^.^ dismiss the meet-


€6 Annals of Keene,


The treaty of peace with Great-Britain havinsj
secured to the tories the privilege ot retuniiii^ to
this country, to collect their debts and settle their
affairs, Elijah Williams, Esq. cam«i to Keene, for
that purpose, in the beginning of this year. His
appearance here so exasperated the zealous whigs,
that they seized him and carried rdm before Thoai-
as Baker, Esq. a Justice of the peace. What were
the charges against him, or whether any charges
were exhibited, has not been ascertained. The
Justice, perhaps with a view to protect him frotn
outrage, ordered him to recognize for his appear-
ance at the Court of Sessions, to be held at Charles-
town, in April, and committed him to the custody
of the sheriff. With this, the populace were not
satisfied, and they discovered an intention of as-
saulting and beating him ; but he was surroundeJ
and guarded to his lodgings by the old and the
joung men who happened to be present.

The animosity of the whigs, aggravated proba-
bly by the arts of those who were indebted to him,
was, however, so great that they determined he
should not thus escape their vengeance. On the
day before that appointed for the sitting of the
Court, a party crncealed themselves in the pines
near Fisher brook, intending, when he passed with
the sheriff, to get him into tlieir power. The sher-

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Online LibrarySalma HaleAnnals of the town of Keene, from its first settlement, in 1734, to the year 1790 .. → online text (page 5 of 6)