William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

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

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ings "for the use of the soldiers in the Contenantal armey that
went from and for the Town of Easton." Several town-meet-
ings were held in order to settle a difficulty that had arisen
between the captains of the two militia companies in town, —
Capt. Matthew Randall, and Capt. Josiah Keith. It was found
that there were four men whose names appeared on both muster-
rolls, so that the quota required of the town lacked four of being
full. The selectmen and the Committee of Correspondence pe-
titioned the General Court to appoint a committee to consider the
matter, which was done. The appointment of Brig.-Gen. George
Godfrey as one of this committee was unsatisfactory to the west

1 State Archives, Revolutionary Rolls, vol. .wiii. p. 18S.


company, whose officers petitioned for the appointment of a new
committee. In answer to this petition, Col. Benjamin Gill, of
Stoughton, and Capt. Barnabas Howard, of Bridgewater, were
added to the committee, and it was voted that the decision of this
committee be final. The result of their decision was the assign-
ment of two of these men to each company. The following is the

" Memorandum of Agreemejit between Capt. MattJieiu Randall and Capt.
Josiah Keith, the Captens of the two military Companies in Easton.

" Where as there has been a Dispute between the two Captens with
regard to foure Continantal Soldiers that have been returned by both
of the said Captens, — namely, Henry Hewett, Lemuel Turner, Asa
Phillips, and Charles Ranney, — it is Mutually agread by the Parties
that Captain Randall shall hold Henry Hewett and Lemuel Turner,
and Captain Keith is to hold Asa Phillips and Charles Ranney ; and
it is further agread that if any fines or forfitures shall accrew to the
town in Consequence of the neglect of either of the sd Captens with
regard to raising their Cota of soldiers for the armey when cauled on
for the same, sd expence shall be borne by that part of the Town
where the Neglect shall bee."

Many causes conspired to make it more and more difficult to
raise soldiers. Great exertions were put forth and large boun-
ties offered for men to enlist in the army. In consequence
of these efforts, and because of the need of troops so near
home as Rhode Island, there were many enlistments during the
year, as will be seen by what follows.

It was during this winter of 1 777-1 778 that our devoted army
underwent those terrible privations and hardships at Valley Forge
which make the history of that season so heart-rending. Insuffi-
ciently supplied with food, half clothed, many of them without
shoes, so that their steps on the snow made bloody footmarks, it is
truly amazing that the army did not disband. Nothing prevented
this but their devoted attachment to Washington, and their ar-
dent love of liberty. Easton had not many soldiers at Valley
Forge, but there were at least twenty-three. They were in " Capt.
Ephraim Burr's company in the ist regiment, Col. John Bailey of
Mass. Bay troops in the Continental service, in camp near Valley
Forge, January 24, 1778. " ^ Their names are as follows : —

1 State Archives, Revolutionary Rolls, vol. x. p. 85.



Ephraim Burr, Captain.
Silas Phillips, Sergeant.
Japheth Keith, Corporal.
Eliphalet Beebe.
Benjamin Brazier.
John Colwell.
Nathan Conant.
William Desilvia.
Jonah Drake.
Joseph Green.
Ezra Gustan [Justin ?]

Henry Howard.
Abiah Manley.
John Parker [Packard .?]
Amasa Phillips.
Asa Phillips.
Charles Ranney.
John Sheperd.
Ephraim Smith.
John Stock.
Lemuel Turner.
James Woods.

Of these the following deserted : Benjamhi Brazier, John Col-
well, John Sheperd, James Woods, — none of them, however,
natives of Easton. The terrible sufferings to which they were
exposed are some extenuation for this act. Amasa Phillips
died June 18, 1778, at or near Philadelphia. Joseph Green was
a mulatto. Nathan Conant was from Concord, Mass., but
served for Easton. Charles Ranney was one of several British
prisoners of war who were quartered upon the town of Easton.
Rather than live a prisoner he preferred to enlist in the Ameri-
can army. The prisoners alluded to evidently belonged to a
Highland regiment ; their names were Donald Grant, Philip
Chambers, James Simms, Duncan Stewart, Alexander McKey-
sey, James Anderson, and Charles Ranney. Philip Chambers
enlisted afterwards, and died in the Continental service.

The occupation of Rhode Island by the British still con-
tinued. There being danger of an invasion from that quarter,
Congress earnestly recommended the New England States to
keep up the force in Rhode Island. The town of Easton made
a noble response to this appeal. The east company of militia,
Matthew Randall, captain, served in Col. John Daggett's regi-
ment for three months, beginning January i, 1778. The fol-
lowing names appear on the pay-roll of said company : 1 —

Matlhew Randall, Captain.
Nathan Hack, \st Lieutenant.
John Godfrey, zd Lieutenant.
Lemuel Willis, Sergeant.
Simeon Smith, Sergeant.
Nathaniel Pratt, Sers^eant.

Nathaniel Leonard, Sergeant.
Robert Drake, Corporal.
Ephraim Richmond, Corporal.
Ebenezer Woodward, Corporal.
John Presbury, Corporal.
Azel Kinsley, Fifer.

^ State Archives, Revolutionary Rolls, vol. iii. p. 117.



John Mears, Drummer.
James Andrews.
James Ball.
Samuel Burt.
Rufus Cobb.
Jolin Cochran.
Adam Drake.
Benjamin Drake.
Hezekiah Drake.
David Dunbar.
Rufus Godfrey.
Ebenezer Hanks.
Joel Harvey.
Rufus Harvey.
Samuel Hayward.
Samuel Hoskins.
Aaron Knapp.
Daniel Lincoln.
Levi Lincoln.
Thomas Mitchell.
Jabez Nevvland.
Seth Pitts.

Daniel Pratt.
John Pratt.
William Pratt.
Ephraim Randall.
Hopestiil Randall.
Isaiah Randall.
Isaiah Reed.
John Simons.
Alexander Smith.
Job Smith.
Josiah (?) Smith.
Laban Smith.
Amos Stacy.
James Stacy.
Job Stacy.
Elijah Tiiayer.
Jonathan Thayer.
Elijah Turner.
Hugh Washburn.
Timothy White.
John Willis.
Ephraim Wood.

The following persons served for three months at Providence,
beginning December 30, 1777 :^ —

William Bonney.
Elijah Copeland.
Francis Goward.

Zebediah Kinsley.
Paul Lincoln.
Edmund Lothrop.

Ichabod Randall.
Stephen Tiiayer.
Thomas Williams.

The following Easton men enlisted for six weeks' service in
Rhode Island, in Capt Ichabod Leonard's company of Col.
Thomas Carpenter's regiment.^ The enlistment was made in

Seth Pratt, Lieutenant.
William Cole, Sergeant.
John Lothrop, Corporal.
Azel Kinsley, Fifer.
Ebenezer Dickerman.
Adam Drake.
Hezekiah Drake.
Lot Drake.

Bartimeus Hewett.
Bethuel Kinsley.
Solomon Lothrop.
Josiah Manley.
John Nichols.
John Phillips.
Ziba Randall.
Simon Record.

1 Easton Town Treasurer's First Book, p. 9S.

2 State Archives, Revolutionary Rolls, vol. ii. p. 1S3.


Of these men, Bethuel Kinsley, after serving for twenty-nine
days, died.

Those who are named above as having enhsted during this
year did not see very much hard service. Before the year was
over, however, there was some desperate fighting done, es-
pecially at the battle of Rhode Island. Some of the men who
belonged in the following companies engaged in this bloody
contest. Of those called out for one year's service in Rhode
Island, there were in Capt. Joseph Cole's company, of Col. John
Jacobs's regiment,^ —

Nathan Finney. Jabez Newland. Joseph Ward.

Abial Lapham. Oliver Randall. Macey Williams.

In Capt. Calvin Curtis's company of the same regiment there
were David Taylor, Gamaliel Cook, and Elijah Pratt.^ In Capt.
Jacob Fuller's company of the same regiment were^ —

Thomas Fling. Amasa Record. Philip Thayer.

Nathan Randall. Nathan Record. Silas Williams.

Capt. Samuel Robinson, of Col. Wade's regiment, had the
following Easton men in his company : ^ —

William Britton. Daniel Macomber. Jacob Williams.

Caleb Dunham. John Martin. Seth Williams.

Nathan Finney. Eleazer Walker. Palmer Wood.
Abiel Lapham.

Of these men, Nathan Finney had served six months already
and now re-enlisted, while Abial Lapham served part of the
time in another company. Captain Robinson had another en-
listment after the above were discharged, and among them
Nathaniel Gilbert, Samuel Ripley, Josiah White, and Palmer
Wood were from Easton.^ These four men, and some in Cap-
tain Cole's company, probably took part in the battle of Rhode
Island, which took place August 29.

The following nine months men from Easton reported at
Fishkill in June, 1778, some and perhaps all of whom were in
Col. John Daggett's regiment:^ —

^ State Archives, Revolutionary Rolls, vol. i. p. 109. 2 ibid., vol. i. p. 147.
^ Ibid., vol. ii. p. 49. * Ibid., vol. iii. p. 106.

* Ibid., vol. iii. p. 107. 6 ibid., vol. xlii. pp. 222, 230, 231.



Joshua Cary. Oliver Lincoln. Solomon Randall.

Joshua Felt. John Mears. Hugh Washburn.

Daniel Howard.

Henry Hewett, of Easton, enlisted in Capt. Job Sumner's com-
pany, of Col. John Greaton's regiment, in the second battalion.^

In August, Captain Keith led a company of Easton and Nor-
ton men into service for a few days in Rhode Island. Only
the names of the men from Easton are given here:^ —

Josiah Keith, Captain. Nehemiah Keith.

Ebenezer Woods, Sergeant. Abisha Leach.

Abijah Wetherell, Sergeant. Nehemiah Leonard.

Lemuel Andrews. Seth Littlefield.

Jabez Briggs. Nathan Perry.

Thomas Buck. William Randall.

Clement Drake. Macey Williams.

George Ferguson. Noah Woodward.

Of the casualties that occurred to our Easton troops during
this year, the only one to be mentioned now is that of Simeon
Keith, who was shot in the arm in the desperate battle of Rhode
Island. Not until 1792 was he allowed pay for time lost on
account of his wound, and for the expense of medical attend-
ance. The General Court then, in answer to his petition,
allowed him twelve pounds, thirteen shillings, and sixpence.
He served for three months in the company of Capt. Nathan
Packard, in Col. Thomas Carpenter's regiment. Benjamin
Kingman, of Easton, enlisted for and at Stougtonhara (Sharon)
during this year.

A. D. 1779.

There is not much of interest to report for the year 1779.
The active campaign was transferred from the North to the South,
some of the Southern states suffering severely. The British still
held possession of Rhode Island, but they had drawn off many
of their troops for service in the South, so that they con-
tented themselves here with forays and with expeditions for plun-
der and destruction. These forays were most cruelly managed,
being usually led by Tories. In October the Island was evacu-

^ State Archives, Revolutionary Rolls, vol. x. p. 98. 2 ibid., vol. ii. p. 146.


ated by the British, in order to enable them to concentrate their
forces for the Southern campaign.

The Committee of Correspondence and Safety for this year was
Abial Kinsley, Isaac Fuller, and Seth Bailey. Capt. James Perry
represented the town at the constitutional convention held at
Cambridge. The soldiers' families were cared for as usual.
The town voted to adopt measures that had been recommended
by a convention held at Concord, to regulate prices. A commit-
tee was chosen to fix prices, and another committee was chosen
" to see that No parson in this town bought or sold at a higher
price than what was Prefixed by the committee."

Easton had a number of troops in the regular Continental
service. The following enlisted in September for the entire
war:^ Japheth Keith, Ephraim Smith, Lemuel Turner, Elijah

In Capt. Joseph Franklin's company, of Col. Nathan Taylor's
regiment, stationed in Rhode Island, the following Easton men
.served four months i^ Thomas Fling, Nathan Randall, Jedediah
Packard, Elijah Turner.

In March and April of this year the following Easton men
were in Capt. Isaac Hodges's company, in Colonel Hathaway's
regiment, for service for twenty-six days in Rhode Island:^ —

Nehemiah Leonard, Sergeant, Ebenezer Hanks.

Amasa Record, Corporal. Daniel Howard.

Azel Kinsley, Fifer. Oliver Lincoln.

Lot Drake. Solomon Lothrop.

Simeon Eaton. William Makepeace.

Jesse Fobes. Jabez Newland.

Thomas French. Asa Smith.

Benjamin Hanks. Stephen Thayer.

A.D. 1780.
On the loth of July, 1780, the French Admiral de Ternay,
with ten ships of war and thirty-six transports, came into the
harbor of Newport with a detachment of about six thousand
French troops, who were under the command of Count de
Rochambeau. The arrival of these troops was hailed with joy
throughout the country. The British fleet at New York em-

1 State Archives, Revolutionary Rolls, vol. x. p. 88.

2 Ibid., vol. ii. pp. 51, 53, 54; vol. xlii. p. 234. ^ Ibid., vol. xix. p. 198.



barked about eight thousand men, intending to attack and drive
away the newly arrived allies in Rhode Island. This fleet ap-
peared off Newport, July 21. The militia of the surrounding
region were quickly summoned to the aid of the French.^ On
the 27th the following Easton men, of Capt. John Allen's com-
pany, of Colonel Carpenter's regiment, were on the march :^

David Keith, LieKtenant.
Daniel Macomber, Corporal.
Lemuel Andrews.
Archibald Campbell.
Stephen Clapp.
Edward Drake.
Thomas Drake.
George Ferguson.
Joseph Godfrey.
Ephraim Hewett.

Palmer Wood.

Jonathan Mehurin.
Eliphalet Pierce.
Phillip Pratt.
Nathan Record.
Jacob Thayer.
Samuel Thayer.
Isaac Thomas.
Ebenezer Williams.
Macey Williams.
Silas Williams.

The Archibald Campbell mentioned above was not the minis-
ter, but his son, who was then fifteen years and six months old.

This company arrived on the scene only to find that the Brit-
ish had sailed away. The militia were dismissed to their homes,
but were called back immediately on the reappearance of the
enemy. This time the alarm was greater than before. The two
militia companies of Easton, under the command respectively
of Capt. Josiah Keith and Capt. Seth Pratt, were soon on the
move. This expedition forms what became known as the "Tiv-
erton Alarm." The east company enlisted August 2, and be-
longed to Col. James Williams's regiment. Their names are as
follows :^ —

Seth Pratt, Captain.
Edward Hayward, Lieutenant.
Lemuel Willis, Sergeant.
Samuel Manley, Sergeant.
John Randall, Sergeant.
Abner Randall, Corporal.
Robert Drake, Jr., Corporal.
David Taylor, Corporal.
Parmenas Ames.

Roland Bailey.
Seth Bailey.
David Clark.
Benjamin Grossman.
Daniel Grossman.
Ebenezer Dickerman.
Ephraim Drake, Jr.
Hezekiah Drake.
Jonah Drake.

^ Arnold's History of Rhode Island, vol. ii. p. 462.
2 State Archives, Revolutionary Rolls, vol. i. pp. 7, 8.
^ Ibid., vol. iii. pp. 79, 80.



Joseph Drake, ye 2d.
Noah Drake.
Zachariah Drake.
David Dunbar.
Thomas Fling.
Jesse Fobes.
Joseph Fobes, Jr.
Simeon Fobes.
Nehemiah Hayward.
William Hayward.
John Holmes.
Ebenezer Howard.
Joseph Howard.
Simeon Keith.
Abial Kinsley.
Adam Kinsley.
Joseph Knapp.
Joseph Knapp, Jr.
Oliver Lincoln.
James Lindsey, ye 2d.

William Lindse}'.
Jonathan Lothrop,
Nathan Lothrop.
Josiah Manley.
Reuben Manley.
James Packard.
Jacob Phillips.
John Phillips.
Silas Phillips.
Beriah Randall.
Ephraim Randall, ye 2d.
Isaiah Randall.
Jonathan Randall.
Ziba Randall.
Simon Record.
John Simons.
James Stone.
Samuel Stone.
Jacob Thayer.
Levi Tuttle.

Nathan Woodcock.

The west company started two days later, August the 4th
Their muster-roll is as follows :^ —

Josiah Keith, Captain.
David Keith, \st Lieutenant.
Jonathan Pratt, 2ci Lieutenant.
Abijah Witherell, Sergeant.
William Bonney, Sergeant.
Alexander Keith, Sergeant.
Seth Littlefield, Sergeant.
Daniel Macomber, CorporaL
Thomas Williams, Corporal.
Jonathan Bosworth.
Ebenezer Brett.
John Britton.
Thomas Buck.
Archibald Campbell.
Stephen Clapp.
Elijah Copeland.
Clement Drake.
Thomas Drake.
William Drake.
Jonathan French.

Cornelius Gibbs.
Nathan Gibbs.
Nathaniel Gilbert.
Joseph Godfrey, Jr.
Francis Goward.
Ephraim Hewett.
Oliver Howard.
Nehemiah Keith.
Scotland Keith.
Isaac King.
Zebadiah Kinsley.
Abisha Leach.
Edmund Macomber.
David Mehurin.
Jonathan Mehurin.
Philip Pratt.
Nathan Record.
Joshua Stearns.
Jacob Thayer.
Lemuel Thayer.

1 State Archives, Revolutionary Rolls, vol. ii. p. 140; vol. i. p. 160.



Isaac Thomas. Jairus Williams.

Jolin Tuckerman. Macey Williams.

Josiah White. Josiah Willis.

Ebenezer Williams. Stoughton Willis.

Jacob Williams. Joseph Woods.

These two companies were not destined to win any laurels in
the field at this time. They had hardly reached Tiverton, where
they were to co-operate with the French troops in case of attack,
when it began to be evident that no attack was to be made ; and
after six or eight days they marched home, covered with dust
but not with glory. It was an easy way to win the fame of being
Revolutionary soldiers. But it was not their fault that they did
not fight. The courage and valor of the American militia at
Bunker Hill and elsewhere give good assurance that our Easton
fathers would have well deserved this fame if the British had
given them the opportunity. Some of them had already seen,
and others were destined to see, hard and dangerous service, —
were even to sacrifice their lives to secure the liberty of their

Another company, mainly composed of out-of-town militia, and
under the command of Captain Randall, were oat for a while
apparently on this same Rhode Island service. Among them
appear the following names of Easton men :^ —

Matthew Randall, Captain. Simeon Dutibar.

Dominicus Record, 1st Lieutenant. Andrew Gilmore.

Thomas Drake, Sergeant. John Keith.

Jonah Fobes, Sergeant. William Lawson.

Benjamin Babbitt, Sergeant. Samuel Leonard.

Adam Drake, Drianmer. Jedediah Packard.

Abijah Woodward, Fifer. Job Packard.

Isaac Babbitt. Asa Phillips.

Seth Grossman. Solomon Randall.

Lot Drake. Thomas Randall.

Thomas Drake. Samuel Ripley.

On this muster-roll there are possibly a few other Easton
names, but as the residence is not given, only those have been
copied above who are known to have been living here.

1 State Archives, Revolutionary Rolls, vol. xxii. p. i69.



On the 17th of July nineteen men were enlisted for six
months' service in the regular or Continental army. These saw
difficult service. Their names are as follows : ^ —

Nehemiah Randall, Sergeant. Joshua Felt.

Thomas French, Se7'gea7it. David Keith.

John Mears, DrtDiuner. Solomon Lothrop.

Azel Kinsley, Fifer. Seth Manley.

Abijah Allen. Thomas Mitchell.

John Cameron. Enoch Pratt.

Daniel Dailey, Jr. Oliver Randall.

Nezer Dailey. Stephen Thayer.

Nathaniel Dunbar. Elijah Turner.
Joseph Ward.

The list below is especially interesting, because it contains the
names of men who enlisted from Easton for three years, or for
the war. Most of them served from the beginning of 1777 to
the end of 1780, and some for a longer time. They were with
General Washington, and took part in many of the hardest-fought
battles of the war. Some of their names have already been men-
tioned as having passed through the terrible sufferings of the
winter at Valley Forge. They deserve to be held in special re-
membrance. Most of them were in the Second Regiment, com-
manded by Col. John Bailey, and in the fourth company of the
same, of which the captain was Abner Hayward. Their time
of service is appended to their nanes.^


Simeon Burr . . .
Philip Chambers .
Nathan Conant . .
William Desilvia
Jonah Drake . .
Joseph Green . . .
Simeon Hayward, Seri
Henry Howard . .
Japhet Keith, Corp. .
Benjamin Kingman .
Daniel Packard .
John Packard . .

^ State Archives, Revolutionary Rolls, vol. xxv. p. 242 ; vol. iv. p. no.

2 For all but the first name on this list, see in State Archives the Regimental
Book of the Second Regiment, Col. John Bailey. Simeon Burr's name is on the
Book of the Fifth Regiment.

mos. (





Amasa Phillips



Asa Phillips .



Silas Phillips .



Elijah Pratt .



Charles Ranney



Ephraim Smith



Henry Smith .



John Stock



George Taylor



Lemuel Turner



Daniel Wood .





























The Committee of Correspondence and Inspection for this year,
1780, were John Williams, Dominicus Record, and Ensign Seth
Lothrop. Committees were appointed to hire soldiers, and a
good deal of money was raised to pay them. It is to be noted
that at this time the currency of the country had very greatly
depreciated. The price of a good pair of boots was about six
hundred dollars, and at the old rate of wages it took nearly a
month's pay of a soldier to purchase a dinner. The distress was
universal in town and throughout the country ; and yet new and
extraordinary exertions were needful to carry on the war. The
successive depreciations of the currency may be seen by the fol-
lowing interesting table, the original of which is in the posses-
sion of N. W. Perry of Easton. The data for 1780 have been
somewhat condensed from those in the original table.


March .
May . .
June . .
July . .
August .

March .
April . .
May . .

June . . ,
July . .
August .
October .



/loois /105

„ n 107

„ „ 109

„ „ 112

,. „ 115

„ „ 120

„ „ 175

V „ 275,

„ „ 310

^100 is ^325
.» „ 350
„ „ 375
„ ,, 400
„ ,, 400



'> 5)

January .
March .
May . .
June . .
July . .
August .
November .
December .

January .
February .
March . .
April . .
May . .
June . .
July . .
October .


^100 is




1 100.

















5 ))



) )>



The amounts paid the soldiers for a brief service seem quite
ludicrous. For a few days' " soldiering " Dominicus Record is
paid ;£'i200, and for a little longer service John Cameron gets
;^2i90. Capt. James Perry is voted £1062 for his time and ex-
pense for a few days at a convention. In the town-meeting of
next March it was —

"Voted to Rais a sum of money soficiant to Pay twenty Dollars, in
adition to the fifty Dollars allready Raised, for each Bushel of Corn
Due to the soldiers for their service in the arme last season, that ware
in the six and three months' service. Then the town Voted that those
Parsons that went to Roadisland last Sumer should have ten Dollars
Pr. Day in adition to the money aulready Voted to them. It is to be
noted that the Monies abuv menshoned is ment to be of the Old

This appears to be the first time that the word "dollar" is
mentioned in the town records. In March, 1780, Congress en-
deavored to arrest the rapid depreciation of the currency by
" cancelling the old bills as fast as they were retui-ned b}'' a
monthly State taxation of fifteen millions, and issuing new bills
to one-twentieth of the amount ; these new bills to be based
on the credit of the separate States in fair proportion, to draw
interest at five per cent, and to be redeemed by the States in six
years." ^ One dollar of this new emission was equal to forty of
the old. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Delaware were the
only States that promptly met these heavy demands. When
the war was over, Capt. James Perry and others in town could
measure their Continental money by the peck, and it soon be-
came good for nothing but to serve as a relic of those hard
times. This was the time

" When paper money became so cheap,
Folks would n't count it, but said ' a heap.' "

In November of this year Col. Abiel Mitchell presented a pe-
tition to the General Court, stating that he took the command

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 22 of 78)