Samuel Adams Drake.

Historic fields and mansions of Middlesex online

. (page 37 of 39)
Online LibrarySamuel Adams DrakeHistoric fields and mansions of Middlesex → online text (page 37 of 39)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Brocklebank. Five or six who were captured were put to the
torture on the night of the fight. The remains of the faUen
Englishmen were gathered and interred near the spot Avhere
they fell. Over their common grave a heap of loose stones was
piled. This humble monument was in an open field, about
thirty rods east of the road, and near a growth of pines and
oaks. The soil on the hill-top is light and sandy.

With this victory Philip's onset culminated, and he began to
drift down the tide apace. The fierce Maquas and Senecas
attacked the undefended villages of his allies, while sickness
and disease spread among his people. Disasters overtook him,
and he became a hunted fugitive. On the 12th of August,
1676, he fell by the hand of one of his own race, and was be-
headed and quartered by the Plymouth authorities, — his head
being set on a gibbet, where it was to be seen for twenty years.

A plain slab of blue slate was raised over the remains of
Captain Wadsworth and his ill-fiited companions by his son,
President Wadsworth, of Harvard College. It bears the folloAv-
ing inscription : —

Capt. Samuel Wadsworth of Milton, his Lieut. Sharp of Brook-
liu, Capt. Broclebank of Rowley, with about 26 other souldiers,
18* ' AA



'118 HISTORIC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.

fighting for the defence of their country, were slain by y Indian
enemy, April 1 8th, 1676, lye buried in this place."

In 1852 the relics Avere exhumed and removed a little dis-
tance to the site of the present monument, — a plain granite
shaft, which was dedicated by an address from Hon. George S.
Boutwell, present Senator for Massachusetts. The old grave-
stone is placed at the base of the monument, the tablet of
which recites that it was erected by the Commonwealth and the
town of Sudbury, in grateful remembrance of the services and
sufferings of the founders of the State. The same date is ex-
hibited on the monument as is borne on the old slab, namely,
April 18, 1676 ; but as this is a subject of contradiction among
the historians of the time, the committee concluded to adhere
to the date adopted by President AVadsworth.

A fuller research has turned the weight of testimony against
the earlier date, and in favor of April 21 as the time of the
light. In the midst of discrepancies of this character the nar-
rator has only to accept what is supported by the greatest num-
ber of authorities, and these certainly are on the side of April
21, 1676.

In the discussion which has ensued as to the date which
should have been placed on the Wadsworth monument, it Avas
assumed by the distinguished advocate of the earlier date that
communication with Boston was cut off by Philip between the
17th and 20th of April. Doubts have also been expressed as to
whether intelligence of the fight could have reached the vicinity
of Boston on the same day. The authorities had not neglected
so vital a matter as the arrangement of signals between the gar-
rison attacked and the capital. The firing was, of course, dis-
tinctly heard in the neighboring towns, and was communicated
by alarm-guns from garrison to garrison until it reached Boston.
In Hutchinson's History an example is given of the rapidity
with which communication could be transmitted : —

" Sept 23* (1676) an alarm was made in the town of Boston about
ten in the morning, 1200 men were in arms before 11 and all dis-
missed before 12. One that was upon guard at Mendon, 30 miles



A FRAGMENT OF KING PHILIP'S WAR. 419

off, got drunk and filed his gun, the noise of which alarmed the next
neighbors and so spread to Boston."

Considering what were then the resources of the Colony, Sud-
bury fight was as important in its day as a pitched battle with
thousands of combatants woidd be in our own time. It occa-
sioned great depression. The Indians must have lost heavily
to have conducted their subsequent operations so feebly.

Though the whites usually ventured to attack them with
greatly inferior numbers, they were far from being contemptible
foes. The Englishman's buff coat would sometimes turn a bul-
let, but the Indian's breast was bared to his enemy. His
primitive weapons, however, the bow and arrow, had been ex-
changed for guns and hatchets, which he soon learned to use
but too well. The Dutch on one side, or the French on another,
kept him supplied with poAvder and ball. He fought for his
hunting-grounds, now parcelled out among strangers. He fell
to be received into the elysian fields of the great Manitou.

We cannot forbear our tribute of pity and of admiration for
Philip. "What though he struck the war-post and chanted the
death-song to gather his dusky warriors for one mighty effort to
exterminate our ancestors, his cause was the same that has ever
received the world's applause. Liberty was as sweet to Philip
as to a Tell or a Toussaint, but he failed to achieve it, and the
shades of oblivion have gathered around his name. There was
a simple yet kingly dignity in Philip's communications to the
chief men among the colonists. His neck could not bear the
yoke ; he must walk free beneath the sun.

Though the great chief's policy would not have left a single
foe alive, it is known that he sent Avarning to some among the
AA'hites who had bound themselves to him by uprightness and
honorable dealing. In that part of Taunton noAv knoAvn as
Eaynham was one of Philip's summer haunts for fishing and
hunting. The Leonards had there erected the first forge in Xcav
England, if not in Xorth America, and had there lived in amity
with the Indian prince. They fashioned him spear and arrow-
heads with which to strike the red-deer or the leaping salmon,
and he repaid them Avith game, rich skins, and Avampum. To
them he gave a hint to look to their safety.



420 HISTORIC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.

It seems passing strange to be standing beside a monu-
ment erected to commemorate a victory over our sires by a
race wellnigh blotted out of existence. Ever}^ circumstance
of our surroundings, every object upon which the eye dwells
in the landscape, gives the lie to such an event. Where the
warriors lay in ambusli, green and well-tilled fields extend
themselves ; where the old mill creaked, steam issues from its
successor ; instead of the' Indian trail the railway presents its
iron pathway ; the rude yet massive garrison-house is replaced
by yonder costly villa ; and the simple village meeting, in
which the settlers fearfully pursued their devotions with arms
in their hands, is renewed where we see the distant and lofty
spire. The virgin forests have disappeared as completely as
have the red-men who threaded the greenwood. All nature is
at Avork for man where once all was repose. Only the hills and
the stream remain as pressed by the moccason or cleft by the
canoe.

In Pilgrim Hall, at Plymouth, the stranger is shown some
memorials of Philip. The barrel of the gun through which the
bullet passed to his heart, and the curiously woven helmet
which he is said to have worn, are there displayed among the
bones and implements of his race. As yet we lack, here in
New England, a museum devoted to Indian antiquities, in
which we might see the dress, arms, and utensils of the natives
of the soil. It would be a most interesting collection. They
Avere no effete Asiatics, but a brave, warlike, hardy people.
Their history is filled with poetry and romance. Even Cooper,
while presenting in a Magna the wild, untamable, vindictive
savage, depicts on the same scene an Uncas brave, noble, and
devoted.

About three miles from Sudbury Mills and four from Marl-
borough is the old Wayside Inn, which Longfellow has made
famous. It stands in a sequestered nook among the hills Avhich
upheave the neighboring region like ocean billows. For nearl)'
two hundred years, during the greater part of which it has been
occupied as a tavern, this ancient hostelry has stood here with
its door hospitably open to wayfarers.



A FRAGMENT OF KING PHILIPS WAR.



421



. In the olden tune the road possessed the importance of a
much-travelled highway. At present the house is like a waif
on the seashore, left high and dry by some mighty tide, or a
landmark which shows where the current of travel once flowed.
Its distance from the capital made it a convenient halting-place
for travellers going into or returning from Boston. Its reputa-
tion for good cheer was second to none in all the Bay Colony.

" As ancient is tliis hostelry
As any in the land may be,
Built in the old Colonial day,
When men lived in a grander way.
With ampler hospitality."

The name of the house -was the Eed Horse, and at the other
end of the route, belonging to the same family, in rivalry of
good cheer, was the White Horse
in Old Boston Town. The horse
has always been a favorite symbol
with publicans. However tedious
the way may have been, however
shambling or void of spirit your
hackney of the road, the steed on
the hostel sign always pranced
proudly, was of high mettle, and
of as gallant carriage as was ever
blazoned on Saxon's shield.

The Eed Horse in Sudbury was built about 1686. From
the year 1714 to near, if not quite, the completion of a cen-
tury and a half, it was kept as an inn by generation after gen-
eration of the Howes, the last being Lyman Howe, who served
the guests of the house from 1831 until about 1860. The
tavern stood about half-way on the great road to Worces-
ter, measuring twenty-three good English miles from Boston
Town- House.

Well, those were good old times, after all. A traveller, after
a hard day's jaunt, pulls up at the Eed Horse. The landlord
is at the door, hat in hand, with a cheery welcome, and a shout
to the blacks to care for the stranger's beast. Is it winter, a




SION OF THE WAYSIDE INN.



422 HISTORIC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.

mimic conflagration roars on the hearth. A bowl of punch is-
brewed, smoking hot. The guest, nothing loath, swallows the
mixture, heaves a deep sigh, and declares himself better for
a thousand pounds. Soon there comes a summons to table,
Avhere good wholesome roast-beef, done to that perfection of
wliich the turnspit only was capable, roasted potatoes with
their russet jackets brown and crisp, and a loaf as white as the
landlady's Sunday cap send up an appetizing odor. Our guest
falls to. Hunger is a good trencherman, and he would have
scorned your modern tidbits, — jellies, truffles, smd pates afois
gras. For drink, the well was deep, the water pure and spark-
ling, but home-brewed ale or cider was at the guest's elbow,
and a cup of chocolate finished his repast. He begins to be
drowsy, and is lighted to an upper chamber by some pretty
maid-of-aU-work, who, finding her pouting lips in danger, is
perhaps compelled to stand on the defensive with the warm-
ing-pan she has but now so dexterously passed between the
frigid sheets. At parting, Boniface holds his guest's stirrup,
warns him of the ford or the morass, and bids him good speed.
Our modern landlord is a person whose existence we take
upon trust. He is never seen by the casual guest, and if he
were, is far too great a man for common mortals to expect
speech of him. He sits in a parlor, with messengers, perhaps
the telegraph, at his beck and call. His feet rest on velvet,
his body reclines on air-cushions. You must at least be an
English milord, a Eussian prince, or an American Senator, to
receive the notice of such a magnate. It is a grave question
whether he knows what his guests are eating, or if, in case of
fire, their safety is secured. His bank-book occupies his undi-
vided attention. " Like master, like man." Your existence is
all but ignored by the lesser gentry. You fee the boot-black,
tip the waiter, drop a douceur into the chambermaid's palm,
and, at your departure, receive a vacant stare from the curled,
rnustached personage who hands you your biU. At entering
one of these huge caravansaries you feel your individuality lost,
your identity gone, in the living throng. I^eglected, heavy-
hearted, but lighter, far lighter in purse than Avhen you came,



A FRAGMENT OF laNG PHILIP's WAR. 423

you pass out under a marble portico and drift away with the
stream. Give, pubhcan, the stranger a welcome, a shake of
the hand, a nod at parting, and put it in the bill.

Coming from the direction of Marlborough, at a little dis-
tance, the ga'mbrel roof of the Wayside Inn peeps above a dense
mass of foliage. A sharp turn of the road, which once passed
under a triumphal arch composed of two lordly elms, and you
are before the house itself. On the other side the broad space
left for the road are the capacious barns and outhouses belong-
ing to the establishment, and standing there like a blazed tree
in a clearing, but bereft of its ancient symbol, the sight of
which gladdened the hearts of many a weary traveller, is also
the old sign-post.

The interior of the inn is spacious and cool, as was suited to
a haven of rest. A dozen apartments of one of our modern
hotels could be set up within the space allotted to his patrons
by mine host of the AVayside. Escaping from a cramped stage-
coach, or the heat of a July day, our visitor's lungs would here
begin to expand "like chanticleer," as, flinging his flaxen wig
into a corner, and hqjiging his broad-flapped coat on a peg, he
sits unbraced, with a bowl of the jolly landlord's extra-brewed
in one hand, and a long clay pipe in the other, master of the
situation.

Everything remains as of old. There is the bar in one corner
of the common room, with its wooden portcullis, made to be
hoisted or let down at pleasure, but over which never appeared
that ominous announcement, " K"o liquGkrs sold over this bar."
The little desk where the tipplers' score was set down, and the
old escritoire, looking as if it might have come from some hos-
pital for decayed and battered furniture, are there now. The
bare floor, which once received its regular morning sprinkling
of clean Avhite sea-sand, the bare beams and timbers overliead,
from which the whitewash has fallen in flakes, and the very
oak of which is seasoned Avith the spicy vapors steaming from
pewter flagons, all remind us of the good old days before the
flood of new ideas. Governors, magistrates, generals, with
scores of others whose names are remembered with honor, have
been here to quaff" a health or indulge in a drinking-bout.



424 HISTOIUC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.

In the guests' room, on the left of the entrance, the window-
pane bears the following recommendation, cut with a gem that
sjiarkled on the finger of that young roysterer, William Moli-
neux, Jr., whose father was the man that walked beside the
king's troops in Boston, to save them from the insults of the
townspeople, — the friend of Otis and of John Adams : —

'• What do you tliink
Here is good drink
Perhaps you uiay not know it ;
If not in haste do stop and taste
You merry folks will shew it.

Wm. Molineux Jr. Esq.
24th June 1774 Boston."

The writer's hand became unsteady at the last line, and it
looks as though his rhyme had halted while he turned to some
companion for a hint, or, what is perhaps more likely, here gave
manual evidence of the potency of his draughts.

A ramble through the house awakens many memories. You
are shown the travellers' room, which they of lesser note occu-
pied in common, and the state chamber where Washington and
Lafayette are said to have rested. In the garret the slaves were
accommodated, and the crooknecks and red peppers hung from
the rafters. Unfortunately, the old blazonry and other inter-
esting family memorials have disappeared under the auctioneer's
hammer.

Conducted by the presiding genius of the place, Mrs. Dad-
mun, we passed from room to room and into the dance-hall,
annexed to the ancient building. The dais at the end for
the fiddlers, the wooden benches fixed to the walls, the floor
smoothly polished by many joyous feet, and the modest eff'ort
at ornament, displayed the theatre where many a long winter's
night had worn away into the morn ere the company dispersed
to their beds, or the jangle of bells on the frosty air betokened
the departure of the last of the country belles. The German
was unknown ; Polka, Eedowa, Lancers, were not ; but contra-
dances, cotillons, and minuets were measured by dainty feet,
and the landlord's wooden lattice remained triced up the livelong



A FRAGMENT OF KING PHILIP's WAR. 425

night. the amorous glances, the laughter, the bright eyes, and
the bashful whispers that these walls have seen and listened to,
— and the actors all dead and buried ! The place is silent now,
and there is no music, except you hear through the open win-
dows the flutedike notes of the wood-thrush where he sits
carolling a love-ditty to his mate.

The road on which stands the old inn first became a regular
post-route about 1711, a mail being then carried over it twice
a week to Xew York. But as early as 1704, the year of the
publication of the first newspaper in America, there was a west-
ern post carried with greater or less regularity, and travellers
availed themselves of the post-rider's company over a tedious,
dreary, and ofttimes hazardous road.

We have the journal of Madam Knight, of a journey made
by her in 1704, to Xew Haven, with no other escort than the
post-rider, — an undertaking of which we can now form little
conception. She left Boston on the 2d of October, and
reached her destination on the 7th. The details of some
of her trials appear sufficiently ludicrous. For example, she
reached, after dark, the first night, a tavern where the post
usually lodged. On entering the house, she was interrogated
hj a young woman of tlie family after tliis fashion : —

" Law for niee — what in the world brings You here at this time
a night. I never see a woman on the Rode so Dreadfull late in all
the days of my versall life. Who are You ? Where are You
going ? I 'm scar'd out of my wits."

Who that has ever travelled an unknown route, finding the
farther he advanced, the farther, to all appearances, he was from
his journey's end, or whoever, finding himself baffled, has at
last inquired his way of some boor, will deeply sympathize
with the tale of the poor lady's woes. At the last stage of her
route, the guide being unacquainted with the way, she asked
and received direction froiu some she met.

" They told us we must Ride a mile or two and turne downe a
Lane on the Right hand ; and by their Direction wee Rode on, hut
not Yet comin" to v® turnin,;', we mett a Younc fellow and ask't him



426 HISTORIC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.

how far it was to tlie Lane which tiirn'd down towards Guilford.
Hee said wee muse Ride a little further and turn down by the
Corner of uncle Sam's Lott. My Guide vented his spleen at the
Lubber."

Xo wonder that when safe at home again in Old Boston, she
wrote on a pane of glass in the house that afterwards became
that of Dr. Samuel Mather, —

" Now I 've returned poor Sarah Knights,
Thro' many toils and many frights ;
Over great rocks and many stones,
God has presarv'd from fracter'd bones."

The use of coaches was introduced into England by Fitz
Alan, Earl of Arundel, A. D. 1580. At first they were drawn
by two horses only. It was Buckingham, the favorite, who
(about 1619) began to have them drawn by six horses, which,
as an old historian says, was wondered at as a novelty, and
imputed to him a " mastering pride." Captain Levi Pease was
the first man to put on a regular stage bet'ween Boston and
Hartford, about 1784.

The first post-route to New York, over which Madam
Knight travelled in 1704, went by the way of Providence,
Stonington, l^ew London, and the shore of Long Island
Sound. The distance was 255 miles. We subjoin the itin-
erary of the road as far as Providence : —

" From Boston South-end to Eoxbury Meeting-house 2 miles,
thence to Mr. Fisher's at Dedham 9, thence to Mr. Whites * 6, to
Mr. Billings 7, to Mr. Shepard's at Wading River 7, thence to Mr,
Woodcock's t 3, from thence to Mr. Turpins at Providence 14, or to
the Sign of the Bear at Seaconck 10, thence to Providence 4, to
Mr. Potters in said town 8."

* Stoughton. . + Attleborougli.



J ^ ^____irTTj^af




THE HOME OF EUMFOKD. 427



CHAPTEE XX.

THE HOME OF RUMFORD.

" Fortune does not change men, it only unmasks them."

rr'^HE world knows by -heart the career of this extraordinary
_L man. Sated with honors, he died at Auteuil, near Paris,
August 21, 1814. Titles, decorations, and the honorary dis-
tinctions of learned societies flowed in upon the poor Ameri-
can 3'outh such as have seldom fallen to the lot of one risen
from the ranks of the people. The antecedents and character
of the man have very naturally given rise to much inquiry and
speculation.

Benjamin Thompson was born in the west end of his grand-
father's house in Xorth Woburn, March 26, 1753. The room
where he hrst drew breath is on the left of the entrance, and
on the hrst floor. As for the house, it is a plain, old-fashioned,
two-story farm-house, with a gambrel roof, out of which is
thrust one of those immense chimneys of great breadth and
solidity. A large willow which formerly stood between the
house and the road has disappeared, and is no longer a guide to
the spot. This ancient dwelling has a plefisant situation on a
little rising ground back from the road, which here embraces in
its sweep the old house and the queer little meeting-house, its
neighbor.

A pretty little maiden deftly binding shoes, and an elderly
female companion who had passed twenty years of her life under
this roof, were the occupants of the apartment in which Count
Eumford was born. A Connecticut clock, which ticked noisily
above the old fireplace, and a bureau, the heirloom of several
generations, were two very dissimilar objects among the fur-
niture of the room. There are no relics of the Thompsons
remaininir there.



428 HISTORIC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.

The father of our subject died while Benjamin was yet an
infant, and the widowed mother made a second marriage with
Josiah Pierce, Jr., of Woburn, when the future Count of the
Holy Roman Empire was only three years old. After this
event Mrs. Pierce removed from the old house to another which
formerly stood opposite the Baldwin Place, half a mile nearer
the centre of Woburn.

At the age of thirteen young Thompson, was apprenticed to
John Appleton, a shopkeeper of Salem, Massachusetts, and in
1769 he entered the employment of ^opestill Capen in Boston.
While at Salem, Thompson was engaged during his leisure
moments in experiments in chemistry and mechanics, and it is
recorded that in one branch of science he one day blew himself
up with some explosive materials he was preparing, while on
the other hand he walked one night from Salem to Woburn, a
distance of twenty odd miles, to exhibit to his friend Loammi
Baldwin a machine he had contrived, and with which he ex-
pected to illustrate the problem of perpetual motion. His mind
appears at this period absorbed in these fascinating studies to
an extent which must have impaired his jusefidness in his mas-
ter's shop.

A few doors south of Boston Stone every one may see an
antiquated building of red brick, a souvenir of the old town,
which was standing here long before the Revolution. Strange
freaks have been playing in its vicinity since Benjamin Thomp-
son tended behind 'the counter there. The canal at the back
has been changed into solid earth, and sails are no more
seen mysteriously gliding through the streets from the harbor
to the Mill-pond. The facsimile of Sir Thomas Gresham's
grasshopper, on the pinnacle of Faneuil Hall, is about the
only object left in the neighborhood familiar to the eye of
the apprentice, who, we may assume, would not have been
absent from the memorable convocations which were held
within the walls of the old temple *in his day. The build-
ing with which Rumford's name is thus connected forms
the angle where Marshall's Lane enters Union Street, and
bears the sign of the descendant of the second oysterman



THE HOME OF RUMFORD. 429

in Boston, himself for fifty years a vender of the dehcious
bivalve.

Thompson's master, Hopestill Capen, becomes a public char-
acter through his apprentice, whom he may still have regarded
as of little advantage in the shop by reason of his strongly
developed scientific vagaries. Capen had been a carpenter,
with whom that good soldier, Lemuel Trescott, served his
time. He married an old maid who kept a little dry-goods
store in Union Street, and then, uniting matrimony and trade
in one harmonious partnership, abandoned tools and joined his



Online LibrarySamuel Adams DrakeHistoric fields and mansions of Middlesex → online text (page 37 of 39)