William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

History of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) online

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ber, A. D. 1765.

P. S. It is to be understood that all those persons that shall here-
after be exempted from paying the menisteral tax in this Town shall
actually be in covenant with and under the watch and care of the
Baptis church.

Benjamin Williams.

Matthew Hayward.

Zepheniah Keith.

Timothy Randel.

Henry Ha ward.



I the subscriber, as an atorney, do promis upon the Town's agree-
ing to the above sd articels to let drop all Proses in behalf of James
Stacey of Easton against the assesors of sd Easton for the year
A. D. 1764.

Edmon Andrews.
Easton, the third of October, A. D. 1765.

We the subscribers do agree to the above Ritten articels.

Ebenezer Phillips,

BENJ'^ Harvey,

Daniel Niles,

Samuel Phillips, Jun%
Recorded by Matthew Hayward, Town Clerk}

A cotnmety

of the

aimahaptis Church

in Easton.

The town voted to James Stacey two thirds of the cost of the
lawsuit, and refunded to those Baptists whose names were
handed to the assessors in 1764 the amounts distrained from
them for the ministerial tax, with damages for the distress to
which they had been subjected. It was a substantial victory
for the Baptists, and for justice too ; moreover it marks progress,
for eight years before this the Presbyterians were denied the
same rights that were now wrung from the unwilling town.

It is noticeable that the town makes a condition to exempt
only those actually in covenant relations with the Baptist church,
— that is, church members. The reason for this has been al-
luded to. Some persons joined this new movement merely to
evade the ministerial tax ; and the town wished to prevent such
subterfuge. But this condition put a premium upon hypocrisy.
There were those who would become Baptist church-members
in order to save money, for, as we have said, the Baptist expen-
ses were very light. Perhaps the town could enforce this con-
dition in 1765 ; but at a later date it could not. Those who
in 1782 and 1791, for instance, claimed to be Baptists merely
in belief were exempted, being especially named on the tax-
lists. The valuation for 1782 in three quarters of the town
had sixty-one tax-payers who claimed to be Baptists ; and the
same proportion for the other quarter of the town (whose tax-
list for that year is missing) would give a total of eigJity Baptist
tax-payers. Among them were some of the prominent people of

1 Town Records, vol. ii. pp. 45, 46.



the town, — Capt. James Perry, Abisha Leach, Capt. EHphalet
Leonard, Isaac Stokes, Lieut. Seth Pratt, Benjamin Harvey,
Francis Govvard, Ziba Randall, Capt. Macey Williams, and oth-
ers. In 1791 there was a still larger number, among whom we
notice Capt. Elisha Harvey, Hopestill Randall, and Lyman
Wheelock. It is evident that in many cases opposition to com-
pulsory taxation for the support of worship had more to do in
increasing the membership of the Baptist Society than any
sincere acceptance of the faith itself. This opinion is justified
by three considerations : first, there were no adequate accommo-
dations for the worship of so many families where the Baptist
services were held ; second, just as soon as the ministerial tax
was abolished we hear no more of this society ; third, this
opinion accords perfectly with human nature in general, and
with what the writer knows was the particular human nature
of some of those who made this claim of Baptist belief.

Opposition of the kind that has been described was not con-
fined, however, to those claiming to be Baptists. Eleazer Keith
demanded exemption from being taxed to help pay for building
the meeting-house, on the ground that he was a member of the
Church of England. He refused to pay the tax, was seized and
imprisoned, held out for eight days in his opposition, and then, in
order to be released from his imprisonment, paid the assessment,
doing it, however, under protest. In 1762 he sued for damages,
lost the case, and appealed to the Superior Court. Apparently
the difficulty was settled without further litigation, and eventu-
ally he became a member of the Congregational church.

For awhile the Baptist Society, as already stated, worshipped
in private houses; but in 1767 they found the arrangement in-
adequate to their needs. What should they do ? They did not
feel able to build a meeting-house, and they therefore hit upon a
novel expedient. Eseck Carr, their second and last minister,
had just come from Warren, Rhode Island. He was a cooper
by trade, as his grandfather Eseck was before him. He was an
earnest Baptist, and though not educated for the ministry, he
could preach. He was engaged by the Baptists of Easton as
their minister ; and at once they set about to provide a building
which should serve the triple purpose of meeting-house, dwell-
ing-house, and cooper-shop. Thirteen Baptists of Easton and

1 84


five of Stoughton contributed according to their several abili-
ties, and bought a part of what was once the homestead lot of
John Whitman, Jr. He had sold it in 1758 to Paul Packard,
who sold it to Ephraim Burr, from whom, December 22, 1767,
these eighteen men purchased it for eighty pounds. The con-
tributors who bought it and became joint-owners were Daniel
Niles, James Stacey, Ebenezer Phillips, Zachariah Watkins, Ben-
jamin Harvey, Solomon Smith, Samuel Smith, Abiah Manley,
Joseph Packard, Jr., Ichabod Manley, Abner Randall, Samuel
Randall, Stephen Niles, all of Easton ; and Simon Stearns,
Benaijah Smith, Jonathan Jordan, George Allen, and Terrel
Allen, of Stoughton. The house was situated on the north side
of what is now Elm Street, just where the small house owned by
E. W. Gilmore now stands. On the east end of the house, and
united with it, they built a large addition about thirty feet square.
This room was used for Mr. Carr's cooper-shop on week-days,
and for a meeting-house on Sundays. At one end was a huge
fireplace ; the Baptists, being dissenters, did not fear the inno-
vation of warming the meeting-house. Rude slab-seats were
probably provided, the comfortable side uppermost. There was
a loft overhead with a sufficiently close floor upon the rafters to
hold the corn that was sometimes stored there, as well as the
tools and materials in use during the week ; it might also
serve as a sleeping chamber. On Saturday afternoon the room
was carefully swept, the barrels, staves, and hoops piled upon
one side, or placed in the loft above ; and if the audience was
larger than usual, in addition to the slab seats, other seats were
extemporized. With these signs of wood-work about them,
the imaginations of the worshippers might easily be reminded
of the carpenter's shop at Nazareth, and thus find these lowly
surroundings an incentive rather than a hindrance to worship.
If it was winter, a rousing fire in the great fireplace blazed
and crackled, and shed a cheerful warmth and glow over all.
What could be more pleasant and interesting.'* Is it any won-
der that such a place should seem more homelike and attractive
than the barn-like plainness and coldness of the average New
England church } It need shock no one who can enter into the
real spirit of that time to know that as his fellow-worshippers
gathered for service, their hospitable pastor was accustomed to


bring up from the cellar a huge jug of cider for their refresh-
ment. Thus cooled off in hot weather, or warmed up in winter,
they are ready for the exercises. A barrel standing on end
answers for a pulpit, and a Bible lies open upon the top. The
singing is hearty, if not artistic. The sermon is based upon
strong Calvinistic doctrine, but is spiced with wise, practical
suggestions, enforced by homely but telling illustrations. An
eye-witness and hearer, now dead, used to say that as Mr. Carr
waxed warm and earnest with his exhortations he gesticulated
vigorously, his gestures corresponding to the movements of a
cooper hammering to place the hoops upon a barrel, sometimes
beginning upon one side and working entirely round to the
other. The writer has in his possession a manuscript of a ser-
mon preserved among the papers of one of these Baptists, — a
sermon that may have been preached either by Mr. Stearns or
Mr. Carr. Whether by one or the other or by neither, it was
a product of the time, and well illustrates the substance and
spirit of the doctrines then in vogue. It is an attempt to answer
the question, " What hath God decreed concerning angels and
men.?" The answer is, that "God, by an Eternal decree, out
of Love for the Praise of his glorious grace to be manifested
in due time, hath elected some angels to glory, and in Christ
hath chosen some men to eternal life. He has mercy on whom
he will, and whom he will he hardneth." The doctrine of Elec-
tion is thus preached in its baldest form. The following illus-
trations, or proofs, are adduced : —

"When a man is extremely hungry, and can't git nothing to assvvage
his hunger honestly, he will steal to satisffie that painful feeling. Must
we not think that almighty power could a hendred that if it pleased
him so to do ? But he will never alter what is decreed. ... It can't be
thoat by no wise Person but that Adam fell from his purity by any
other Reason than it being the Decree of god ; for if it had pleased
god to a held Adam in his state of Innocency, he had power to a don
it ; but if Adam had never fell, theie never would a ben a Christ born
to wransome the fallen Race," —

and much more to the same effect. These extracts will illus-
trate the character of the spiritual food served in those days by
the then current Calvinism.


Eseck Carr came to Easton in the year 1766. He had mar-
ried Mrs. Lydia (Grinnell) Simmons, a widow witli five children.
A relative of Mr. Carr being asked how he was willing to as-
sume the heavy responsibility of adopting so large a family,
replied, " Mrs. Simmons is a very handsome woman." Calculat-
ing prudence vanished before the charms of the blooming young
widow. She had also a touch of poetry in her nature. From the
top of Mount Misery, in North-Easton village, she saw, one night,
just before the Revolutionary War, a wonderful display of blood-
red Northern Lights. This was thought to bode some great ca-
lamity, and so stirred was the soul of Mrs. Carr that she gave
vent to her feelings in some rhyme, of which one stanza has been
preserved, and is as follows : —

" That very night, it was so bright,
So plainly I did see —
Both sword and blood looked like a flood
That much astonished me."

In the war thus supposed to be foreshadowed, Mr. Carr was
drafted for a soldier. He refused to serve, claiming no doubt
the minister's exemption from military service. His claim was
not at first allowed by the town authorities, as we see by the
following order : —

Bristol, ss. To Ephraim Raiidell ye 211 d.^ one of the Constables of the
town of Easton in the County of Bristol, — Greeting :
Where as Eseck Carr, of the town of Easton, was By us the sub-
scribers appointed a sholdier according to the Direction of a late act of
this government for Providing a Reinforcement to the American army,
has been duly notified of such appointment, and did not within twenty-
foure hours after such notification Pay to us the sum of ten Pounds,
nor make any Reasonable Excuse ; and the said Eseck Carr was on
the Eightenth Day of December, a.d. 1776, Called out, according to
Law, to march, But neglected so to do, or to Provide any Person in
his stead, — you, the said Ephraim Randell ye 2nd., Constabell of the
town of Easton, are therefore hereby Required forthwith to apprehend
the said Eseck Carr, and him commit to the common goal in said
county; and you, the said keeper of the said goal, are alike required to
Receive the said Eseck Carr into your Custody, there to Remain un-
tell he pay the fine of twelve Pounds, as ordered in said act, to gather


with charges of Committment and imprisonment, or Be Discharged By
order of Law. Hereof fail not.

Given under our hands and Seals this Eighth Day of January, a.d.


Joshua Phillips, Matthew Randell, Captain.

Edward Hayward, Seth Pratt, Lieut.

Lemuel Willis, Edward Hayward {2nd) Lieut.

Seth Pratt, Timothy Randell, Selectman.
Joseph Gilbert,"

Committee of Correspondance.

Notwithstanding this, Mr. Carr presented a bold front ; and the
authorities, not being able to intimidate him, and being doubtful
about their position, sent the following order to the constable,
through the Captain of the East Company of the militia: —

To Mr. Ephraim Randall the 2.

Sir, you are Desired to let mr. Eseck Carr a Lone at present.

Matthew Randall.^
Easton, January the 1777.

The order to arrest was probably never executed, and Mr.
Carr was " let a Lone," and without doubt exempted from mili-
tary service, as other ministers then were.

He continued to work on week-days and preach on Sundays,
for many years. He sold pickle-tubs, barrels, etc., and was not
above assisting in killing pigs and receiving pay for this service.
He did a little in the way of trade, selling quintals of fish and
other things. Such items are recorded upon old accounts which
the writer has seen. Something of this kind was necessary in
order to eke out the slender support gained from the voluntary
contributions of his brethren. In common with many others of
his day he was a snuff-taker, and for convenience' sake, instead
of a snuff-box he had a small leathern breast-pocket, or pouch,
on his coat, in which he carried his snuff, which was thus easily

About 1784 there was a sensible decline of religious interest
in the Baptist Society. Even as early as 1783 its name disap-
peared from the Massachusetts Directory. This decline was not
peculiar to this society alone, but was the natural consequence
of the war that had just closed, for demoralizing effects nearly
1 From Papers of Macey Randall.


always follow war. On the 26th day of August, 1785, a meeting
of the society was called at Mr. Carr's. At that meeting, Isaac
Stokes, Deacon Phillips, and Abner Randall were chosen the
Committee of the Society ; Ephraim Randall, Jr., was chosen
clerk, and it was " Voted that this Society, which are Baptis,
should come in to a covenant agreement." This covenant will
be given here, because, with the exception of the record of the
meeting just alluded to, and of a call to another meeting in
1789, it is the only written record of the old Baptist Society
that has been preserved. It is as follows : —

"Where as it is a time of Trouble and a declining of Religeon, and
the Love of many wexes Cold, —

We the subscribers, who do profes our selves to be Annebaptis, do
think it our Duty to come in to a Covenant agreement with Each Other,
and to agree in friendship and Union ; and there fore we declare, Con-
siancianty [?], that we think that the annabaptis porswaision is more
agreable to the Rules of the Gospel then Any other Oppinion Which
we have any knowledge of ; and there fore under this Consideration we
promas as true Covonant Keepers, as far as we are Inabled, to up hold,
Support, and maintain that order of worship, and Especially in this
Society which we belong to in Easton ; and also we do promas to at-
tend the publick worship on Lords days, and to incourage our familys
in the Same duty as far as we are In abled Convianantly so to do ;
and also we do promas to Each other that we will attend Society
meetings, if they are Leagually warned, for the furtherance of our
Establishment and good orders, and the Conducting Some measures
for the Support and Bennefit of our Society as a Body Joyned to-
gathar ; and also we do agree with Each other that we will do what
in us Lies to keep peace among us ; and where there is Disagrea-
ments, Quarils, or discord we will Vse our indeavours to have them
Settled in friendship again, according to Scripture Rules ; and we do
promas also that we will be Charitable and helpful to one another in
Sickness and Destress, as becomes Rational Creatuers that Lives in
Gospel Light. In testimony where of we set our hands as True Covo-
nant keepers, from this Second day of September, a.d. 1785."^

As this was only the first draft of the covenant the names
are not appended. This renewed effort probably did some-
thing to revive the religious interest for awhile. But four years

1 Papers of Macey Randall.


afterward, in 1789, there came a serious crisis, which is referred
to thus: "There being a dif^culty arisen in the annabaptis
Society in the Town of Easton, and an Uneasiness in the minds
of the people of the Society," etc., a meeting is requested by
Capt. Ebenezer Tisdale, Capt. Nathan Packard, Benjamin Harvey,
David Manley, Abner Randall, and Deacon Isaac Stokes. Ac-
cordingly the clerk, Ephraim Randall 2d, calls a meeting for
August 17. It was " Earnestly desired that all Persons who are
Ouallified to act in said meeting for to attend without fail ; for
it is a thing of grate Importance, and may be the means of
peace and good Order." ^

It would be exceedingly interesting to know what this " Un-
easiness" and "thing of grate Importance" was, but no means
of information exist. It is certain, however, that the measures
adopted at the meeting that was called had no permanent effect.
The society had not within it sufficient life to thrive, and was
unmistakably on the wane. It continued, however, loyally to
rally about its minister as infirmities and age undermined his
vigor. He preached as long as he had strength enough, prob-
ably until within two or three years of the time of his death,
which occurred in February, 1794. His remains were buried in
a little cemetery which was just north of the place now occupied
by E. W, Gilmore's hinge-factory. They were disinterred when
the ground was broken for that building, and were deposited by
his grandson, Caleb Carr, in the cemetery on Washington Street,
opposite the Methodist church. With him died the Baptist So-
ciety of Easton, after a varied but not prosperous life of about
thirty years. The house, and the combined meeting-house and
cooper-shop attached, were owned by members of the Baptist
Society. It gradually passed by successive purchases into the
possession of Caleb Carr, Sr., the son of Eseck. The last pay-
ment to heirs of original Baptist owners was a payment of about
twenty dollars, made by his grandson Caleb, now living at the
advanced age of eighty-nine, and who is universally known as
" Uncle Caleb.". The meeting-house, or the cooper-shop, was
torn down in 1822. The house was once surrounded by huge
apple-trees, most of which were destroyed in the great September
gale of 1 81 5.

1 Papers of Macey Randall.




The Church of Christ in Easton calls Archibald Campbell. —
His Parentage, Birth, and Education. — Fair Prospect of a
Peaceful Ministry. — Gathering Clouds. — Mr. Campbell's Wife
a Stumbling Block. — The Minister Slandered. — He is Dis-
missed WITH A Recommendation. — Ministry in Charlton. —
Domestic Trouble and Disgrace. — Dismissal and Sad Subse-
quent Experiences. — Extract from one of his Sermons. — His
Children. — " The Vale of Tears."

AFTER the death of Mr. Farrar, in September, 1756, the
Church of Christ in Easton was without a settled pastor
for nearly seven years. Neither this church nor the Presby-
terian church felt strong enough to maintain a minister alone,
and all attempts to unite or to compromise had failed. Both
societies, and with them the religious interests of the town,
were in a languishing condition. In 1762, however, the con-
tention had spent its force. Death became a peacemaker by
removing some of the leading contestants. The town party
gained by new arrivals, and they now felt strong enough to
settle a man. Accordingly, after a day of solemn fasting and
prayer, Mr. Night Sexton received a call. Arrangements were
made about salary, and even about ordination. Mr. Sexton,
however, after looking carefully into the matter, was not willing
to face the difficulties of the situation, and declined to come.

Early in 1763 a candidate appears who wins general favor.
March 25, after another day of fasting and prayer, the church
gives a call to Archibald Campbell. At a town-meeting,
April II, the town concurs in the same. He is offered a salary
of sixty-six pounds, thirteen shillings, and four pence. Why so
fine a point is given to it as to taper it down to four pence does
not appear. But it does denote extreme shrewdness that when
it is voted " that Mr. Campbell should git his firewood on the


menesterial land the insewing winter," a committee is appointed
" to inspect the same to see that good Timber was not cut for
sd fire wood." Mr. Campbell accepts the call in the following
terms: —

To the ChiDxh and Congregation of Easton :

Dear Friends and Gentlemen, — Having taken under mature
and deliberate consideration the invitation vv-hich you gave me to settle
with you in the arduous and laborious work of the Ministry, on the
eleventh of April last past, I think it duty ; and therefore I do now
accept of your invitation and the proposals which you then made me,
depending upon it that you will be ready and willing as your abilities
increase, to make any further additions to my salary that shall be
thought reasonable, if my necessities require it. And now brethren,
I am willing to be ordained to the pastoral charge over you at any
time that you and I shall mutually agree on, promising that I will seek
you and not yours, that I will remain among you in the faithful dis-
charge of my duty, as far and as long as God shall enable me, pro-
vided you remain, as I flatter myself you will, a ministerial people.
And now my dear brethren, let brotherly love continue ; let us all be
of one heart and one mind ; let us strive unitedly to promote the peace-
ful kingdom of the dear Redeemer among ourselves and on earth ; let
us strive to forward each other to the Heavenly Zion above, that we
may be each other's crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus.
So wishing that the smiles of Heaven may ever rest upon all your
lawful endeavors, I remain your servant in the faith and fellowship of
the Gospel of Christ. Anient

Archibald Campbell.

Easton, June 5th, 1763.

Mr, Campbell was ordained August 17, 1763. Rev. Mr. Phipps,
of Douglas, preached the sermon. Rev. Mr. Perkins, of Bridge-
water, gave the charge. Rev. Mr. Dunbar, of Stoughton, gave
the right hand of fellowship. Rev. Messrs. Shaw and Porter, of
Bridgewater, also had part. " The whole ceremony was carried
on with great Decency and good Order." ^

Archibald Campbell came to Easton at the age of twenty-
seven years. He was a man whose gifts and antecedents seemed
to promise a brilliant and happy future ; but could he have fore-
seen through what experiences he must pass before his aged

1 MassachuseUs Gazette and Boston News- Letter, August 25, 1763.


head, whitened by the cares and sorrows of more than four-
score years, would he at rest in a plain pine coffin in an un-
marked grave, he would have prayed for swift release from life !
He was forced in his later years to reflect upon the mystery of
that Providence which ordained that years of trouble and anguish
should follow a youthful folly, which truth to history forbids us
to leave wholly unnoticed.

Archibald Campbell was the ninth and youngest child of the
Rev. John Campbell, of Oxford, Mass. His father was a man of
marked character and superior gifts. He was born in the north
of Scotland in 1691, educated at Edinburgh, having the benefits
and honors of the University ; was said to have joined the army,
espousing the cause of the House of Stuart, and was obliged to
leave the country. He came to New England in 171 7, married
Miss Esther Fairchild, of Boston, and was ordained pastor at
O.xford in 1721. He was a great swordsman, was skilled in law
and medicine, and a man of influence in Oxford and the neigh-
borhood. He died May 25, 1761.

Archibald was born in Oxford August 17, 1736, according to his
daughter's statement, which varies by the eleven days difference
between Old and New Style from the date given by another au-
thority. His father was careful to give him a good education. He
entered Harvard University at the age of twenty-one years, and
graduated in 1761. He is thus referred to in the funeral sermon

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 18 of 78)