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William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

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

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dall's, we may, with his permission, go into his garden north of
his house and stand upon the site of James Stacey's house, all
signs of which have now, after about a century and a half, dis-
appeared. We turn off the road for a moment, and go across
the fields toward the railroad, and on the elevated ground west
of the track we may see the vestiges of a cellar where Jonathan
Harvey and others dwelt. If we go up the track to Mr. Fisher's
field, and then strike off eastwardly through the undergrowth
toward the dam of Avery Stone's cranberry meadow, we shall
find by careful searching a small cellar on the west slope toward
the dam, — a cellar dug just about one hundred and seventy-
three years ago by John Whitman, who then built his house
there, and made that lonely spot his home. We shall notice in
nearly all cases that the first houses were built near springs or
streams of water, as the task of digging wells was then too la-
borious to be often undertaken. Farther up the track, on an
elevation south of where Whitman's Brook runs under the rail-
road, there is a cellar which was half cut away recently for the
new track, and where John Mears, the famous little drummer, is
said to have lived.

Retracing our steps, we start again from Simeon Randall's
and go north to the spot where the road branches. There, in
the angle made by the two branches, stood the house of Ephraim
Randall, and on the knoll just opposite is the ruin where once
Capt. Elisha Harvey found a home. Instead of going directly
north we will take the left hand, sometimes called the Solomon
Foster road, and after a few minutes' travel we come to a pond-
hole on the right. If we climb the fence we shall discover just
above this an old well now filled, and a slight depression in the



292 HISTORY OF EASTON.

soil will tell us where stood the house of Daniel Manley, and
then of Dennis Taylor. Farther yet we go, until close by the
Stoughton line we see the house where Solomon Foster lived,
and where he recently died. Here was the homestead of Solo-
mon Randall, maternal grandfather of Mr. Foster ; and here
lived also at one time William and Thomas Butler. Crossing
easterly by a foot-path we come to Egg Rock; close by the
rock at the southeast, and within a few feet of the cart-path, is a
small ruined cellar that was once the Hixon place. South of
this, on the old cart-path, is the depression where another cellar
and house were located, which was owned by, and was the home
of, a Packard ; still north of this, and near a large and excellent
spring in an open pasture close to the town line, was the house
of Joseph Packard. Crossing Whitman's Brook we find a cellar
just east of the track, south of the pine-grove and close by the
town line, where probably Joseph Packard, Jr., lived, and which
he sold or mortgaged to Ephraim Burr in 1763. In the second
field north of Alonzo Marshall's (now Oliver Day's) old barn
was the house of Zachariah Watkins, no vestiges of which, how-
ever, appear ; there, one hundred and twenty years ago, he sup-
plied drink to thirsty customers. But south of the barn, and
some distance behind Mr. Day's house, is plainly seen the loca-
tion of the house of Ichabod Manley ; in this place is still visi-
ble the well in which, in 1805, little Elijah Bartlett was drowned.
Opposite the Sion Morse house, east of the Turnpike, lived
Benaijah Smith ; and we may by careful search find about
twenty-five rods farther east the location of " Priest " Crosswell's
house, who came here from Plymouth. It was down the chim-
ney of this house that a mischievous fellow in sepulchral tones
shouted a message which the pious man supposed was a mes-
sage from the Lord.

Starting eastward from Washington Street, and going on
Union Street past the first group of houses, we find a cart-path
leading northward that was sometimes called the Allen road,
though it was never a town way. About eighty rods from the
entrance, a short distance to the right of this cart-path, is a small
cellar, where stood a house which the oldest inhabitant knows
nothing about, but where perhaps one of the several Stone
families lived. North of this is the well-known Allen place.



OLD ABANDONED HOMESTEADS. 293

where prior to 1750 David Stone erected a commodious house ;
the well-made cellar is still intact though somewhat filled,
and the front door-stone may yet be seen. If we may judge
from the softness of the turf, the soil is excellent about it.
On the south side a pretty enclosure marks the spot where a
century ago was one of the best gardens in this section, at
the end of which large lilacs filled the air with fragrance when
the writer visited it ; roses still blossom luxuriantly here. This
is where Turell Allen lived at one time.

Not far from fifty rods east of this is the so-called Adams
cellar, where probably lived William Adams, who served as an
artillery man in the Revolutionary War. Down the north slope
from this cellar is the old well ; taking the cart-path south of
this, careful scrutiny will detect, by the wall that separates two
small fields northwest of the pond, the tansy, rosebushes, and
shrubbery that mark the site of the house of Henry Farr, also
a Revolutionary soldier. East of the mill and a few rods west
of Ramoth Monk's is where Samuel Stone, ist, lived. The old
well with the well-sweep may yet be seen by the wall.

Some distance west of Howard French's, on an elevation north
of the road, are observable in summer-time large masses of lilies,
and above them groups of lilac bushes, which mark the location
of the house of Jacob Phillips very early in this century. He
died in 1812 ; and three years afterward the September gale so
seriously tried the strength of the dwelling that its inmates fled,
carrying away in their arms an invalid woman : the house fell
soon afterward. They took refuge in a little shop on the other
side of the street a few rods west of the ruined dwelling ; they
were allowed to live there afterward, and an addition was made
to the shop, so that it became their dwelling-place. The cellar
is plainly visible. One who visits this spot will be well rewarded
by going a few rods southeast into the woods, where there is a
magnificent chestnut-tree, probably the largest in town ; a no-
ble oak near by contests for supremacy, and in the open lot
nearer the road is a large and beautiful ash-tree.

Coming down Washington Street, we may follow a cart-path
west of the schoolhouse towards Whitman's Brook, and on a
rocky knoll near the sluggish stream we find the ruined cellar
where about one hundred and fifty years ago John Drake built



294 HISTORY OF EASTON.

his house, and a Httle down the hill the old well may also be
found. This sunny, rocky slope is east of the track, in plain
sight from the passing cars, a little south of where the brook
runs under the track from west to east ; it is a famous resort
of black snakes. Near by, but a little south, a very careful
search will be rewarded by the sight of the location, on a small
and rather steep slope, of the house of Joseph Drake. It is
difficult to imagine what could have induced these men to settle
in such a rocky and unpromising place. We go back to
Washington Street, and nearly opposite the schoolhouse and
now tumbling to decay is the old house built by Hezekiah
Drake, where after him William and David Snow lived, and
where a few years ago " Sol " Thayer and his wife died on the
same morning. Taking the lane to Joseph H. Marshall's, we
can trace in his dooryard the lines that mark the site of the
house which a hundred years ago was the home of William
Pratt.

Still farther south, ten rods below Kay Fitton's house, on a
little eminence back from the road, is the depression that marks
the cellar of the house where Nathaniel Manley lived for many
years. If you enter the second pair of bars south of this, on
Washington Street, and go eastward to the southeast corner of
the long pasture now owned by Timothy Marshall, then climb
the wall and go east about two hundred yards, you may find the
cellar of the house of Joseph Drake, 3d, who lived there a
century and a half ago, and later. East of it, and near the wall,
is a beautiful spring of the coldest, clearest water, from which
during the drought of the present year, 1886, the writer found a
copious stream bubbling and flowing. The presence of such a
beautiful spring explains the location of the house, for it saved
digging a well. It is not, however, perennial.

If we return to the village by way of Main Street we may see
nearly opposite Mr. Kennedy's house, and near the pond, a small
cellar, on which a few years ago stood the house where the gifted
but eccentric James Adams once lived. This house was moved
about 1840 to this location from a few rods farther west, where
it had once been occupied as a store by Capt. Gurdon Stone.

Taking a new start from North Easton village and passing
up Canton Street, we find the old house of George Ferguson still



OLD ABANDONED HOMESTEADS. 295

standing, but destined ere long to be numbered among the
things that were. Mr. Ferguson bought the place in 1747, and
probably built the house about that time, — a large house for that
day, and the oldest one in this vicinity. Down the brook and a
few rods southwest of the field opposite the Catholic cemetery,
on the top of a small knoll, are the remains of a cellar where in
his young days Macey Randall used to secrete himself and shoot
the snipe just below, and near which the writer has seen snipe
recently ; this place, Mr. Randall thinks, was once owned by
a Waters, though for this there is only an uncertain tradition.
Near the southwestern edge off Long Pond may still be traced at
low water the cellar where once lived David Taylor and Solomon
Randall ; it is about three rods east of the shore at high water,
and the precise spot is marked by a small willow-tree. West
of this place, on the hill, is the clearing where the Story
house stood, which may be reached by the lane leading from
Mr. Sharpe's. Not far up the lane are traces of the cabin
which was once the dwelling-place of the ever-moving " Old
Bunn."

On Lincoln Street, just west of Mr. Mackey's, are the ruins of
the house of Paul Lincoln ; and back of the Philip Willis place
is the clearing, with apple-trees still standing, and the cellar
where was the homestead of Israel Woodward, the Quaker who
was once fined for taking a journey on Sunday, and where
Daniel Macomber and then Abiah Manley lived, after him. The
" Old Castle " makes a noticeable ruin in the pine-grove south
of Lincoln Street, some distance southeast of the old and now
abandoned burial-ground. The house was built by David
Randall.

West of the DeWitt place, now owned by L. L. Berry, was the
Turner place. The house was standing until a few months
previous to this writing, but is now pulled down ; the cellar is
close by the pine-grove and just east of the old meeting-house
road. The house was built by Bethuel Turner just about a
hundred years ago, he making with his own hands the wrought
nails used in building it. Some distance north of him on the
other side of the road, in the southeast corner of the northern-
most enclosed lot, one may find the vestiges of the cellar of
Elijah Niles's house. Several Phillips families lived in this



296 HISTORY OF EASTON.

vicinity, — a Samuel and Benjamin; but if there were cellars
to their houses or cabins, there is nothing now left to indicate
their location.

In a field on the west side of the old meeting-house road, due
west from Mr. Atwood's house, is the cellar of the old Seth
Manley place, out of which are now growing an arbor-vitse,
hemlock, and pomegranate tree. Here, after Manley had no fur-
ther need of an earthly habitation, lived William Austin, Sr.
He was a singular man, and his barn might be seen partly
covered with the numerous pelts of squirrels, rabbits, and even
polecats, which formed a portion of his ordinary fare. He was
a rather short but powerful man, and interesting stories are told
of his wonderful strength and skill as a wrestler.

Just behind Patrick Menton's is the depression which marks
the cellar of the house where this Austin just spoken of lived
before he came into possession of the Seth Manley place.
Austin bought the place in 1800 and built his house. It was
occupied by different persons until not far from 1820, when it
had become a disreputable house. The wish was expressed
that it might be broken up. Some young men took the hint,
and on a cold windy night made a crusade against it. They
armed themselves with rails and sticks, quietly surrounded the
house, and at a given signal crash went doors and windows
into atoms. The young men vanished and kept their secret.
This closed up the establishment forever.

On the north end of an elevation in the valley southeast of
the DeWitt place is the cellar, with old apple-trees near by,
where Thomas Randall, 3d, made his home, as seen on the old
map. If we pass down the track to Short Street, go to the little
cemetery on that street and take the lane leading northward
from that spot, we shall find, after a quarter of a mile's walk, the
Lyman Wheelock place, one of the most conspicuous ruins in
town. The location, though not very elevated, is a beautiful
one, for from it one may command quite an extended view.
Here lived Lyman Wheelock, the Revolutionary soldier and
pensioner, who at one time kept an inn. The lane that ran
by his house crossed the stream not far from the Macombers
at South Easton, and led over what is known to have been an
ancient dam called the Scotch dam.



OLD ABANDONED HOMESTEADS. 297

At the Centre is an old cellar in the field north of the Daniel
Reed house. Charles Hayden's house once stood on this foun-
dation ; it was moved to the Samuel Phillips place near the
Easton railroad station about 1870, and is now occupied by
Jerry Buckley. South of this, about half way from the station
to the old saw-mill, and just west of the track, are plainly visi-
ble the remains of a cellar, over which, before 1750, Nehemiah
Randal] had his house and made his home.

In South Easton most of the vestiges of the oldest settle-
ments have been obliterated, because the locations of the ancient
dwellings have been demanded by modern ones. It required
careful study to enable the writer to locate the spots on which
some of the first settlers erected their rude habitations ; and as
the ruins do not appear, there is no occasion to add anything to
what has already been written about them. The sites of the
houses of Clement Briggs, Thomas Randall, ist and 2d, Elder
William Pratt, Rev. Matthew Short, and others have been spoken
of in another chapter, and may still be pointed out by the very
few persons who have made the subject a study ; but no ruins
appear that attract the attention of the ordinary observer. We
can still see where, a few rods east of Simpson's Spring, Wil-
liam Hayward, one of the very earliest of our settlers, built his
house. We can find Timothy Cooper's location south of the
Collins (once the Roland Howard) house. The ruined cellar a
little northeast of Thaxter Hervey's was the foundation of the
furnace owned and run by Cyrus Alger and Ichabod Macomber
early in this century. On the north side of the road east of
Cyrus Alger's house, and near the Cocheset line, is the cellar of
the house once the home of Benjamin Alger.

On Purchase Street, east of William Henry Lothrop's, are
the remains of the cellar of the large two-story house of Isaac
Lothrop, where once he kept an inn ; and still farther east>
quite near the swamp, was the site of Benjamin Hanks's house :
a gravel cutting has, however, nearly obliterated all signs of the
cellar here. Northeast of this location and west of Washington
Street, between Joseph Town's and Alonzo Marshall's, are partial
clearings and the vestiges of two homesteads, in one of which
lived a Hayward. Behind W. C. Howard's, on the Easton and
Bridgewater line, stood the house built nearly two hundred



298 HISTORY OF EASTON.

years ago by Jacob Leonard, bought of him by James Harris,
and sold by the latter to Elder Pratt, where, when later occu-
pants sat at the table, the husband was in Easton and the wife
in Bridgewater. Farther north, and in the angle made by the
junction of Pine and Depot streets, a depression may be seen
where, as appears on the old map, was the cellar of the house
of Abiah Manley.

Farther north yet, on Grove Street, just west of Stone-House
Hill and on the plateau north of the road and east of the brook,
the first John Daily had his house. On the south side of the
same street, nearer South Easton village, may be seen the loca-
tion and vestiges of the cellar of a house last occupied by John
Humphrey; before that, inhabited by Jonas Howard, and about
the beginning of the century by Daniel Dickerman. It seems
to have been the homestead first owned by Seth Burr, which
the town a hundred years ago bought for a poor-house but did
not use for that purpose, or, if so used, it was for only a few
months ; its site may be determined by the young balm-of-
gilead-trees growing there. Directly east of Deacon Mitchell's,
and less than half way to Stone-House Hill, is the cellar of the
first dwelling of Ensign John Daily ; it was on the old road,
and its location may be seen on the old map. It appears, how-
ever, that afterwards the Ensign moved north into the woods
about sixty or eighty rods south of the present road to Brockton
from North Easton, not far west of the hill ; it is nearly a mile
north of Grove Street, and where, in 1703, John Drake took up
land and settled. The clearings may yet be seen ; well made
stone-walls form several enclosures ; the cellar still appears ;
the thick, elastic sod shows a good soil ; barberry bushes and
grapevines cluster about, and out of the cellar is growing an
arbor-vitas tree. Massive door-stones, a good bulkhead-way, and
other signs are indications of a once well-appointed house. The
writer visited this pretty spot on a sweet spring day, when the
graceful barberry bushes were full of blossoms, the air musical
with the songs of numerous birds, and everything was fragrant,
beautiful, and peaceful. A partridge, startled by the writer's
little dog, quietly crept a dozen paces away, and then noisily rose
into the air, cunningly designing to draw attention from the
spot where she first started, and where, at the foot of a tree.



OLD ABANDONED HOMESTEADS.



299



she had been sitting upon a nest of a dozen eggs. This
homestead in 1780 was the residence of Lewis Daily, son of
Ensign John. Why it was abandoned is a matter of conjecture ;
mosquitoes would seem to be a suiificient reason, for they are
bred in multitudes in the swampy surroundings. Early in this
century no one was living there. It was known as the North
Daily place then. Lewis Daily afterwards built a house on
the south slope of Stone-House Hill, just east of the Easton
line, and the crowded lilac bushes only partly conceal the ruins
of the cellar. His remains and those of his wife were first
buried just west of the brook near by, and when the bank where
they were deposited was opened for supplies of gravel, they were
removed to the pretty burying-ground at Marshall's Corner.

In District No. 3, opposite the house of Henry L. Howard,
may be seen the site and part of the foundation of the house of
Israel Randall, 2d ; and in a field some distance northeast on the
other side of the road lived Ephraim Randall. But the location
has been ploughed over and is hardly recognizable.

There were some homesteads near the Sharon line west of
the Bay road. The oldest was that of Jedediah Willis, son of
Jeremiah and brother of Solomon and Seth. It is rather more
than a quarter of a mile almost due south of Abijah Tisdale's,
south of the brook and near the site of an old dam. The loca-
tion of the cellar may be made out near the wall in the mowing-
field near by. On the dam was said to have been a mill owned
by Jedediah, but the dam and mill are just outside the Easton
line. Close by the road northeast of this place, and quite a
distance eastward, were other homesteads, but no sign of them
now appears. West of Dr. Asahel Smith's place and what is
now close by Wilbur's Pond was the homestead of Melzar Drake ;
two green spots in the field mark the old location of house and
barn. Not far south is still to be seen the well near the loca-
tion of what is said to have been the home of John Daily, who
in Revolutionary times owned a place here ; but it is not easy to
discover any vestiges of the cellar of the house, and the state-
ment of Daily's living there needs verification.

About fifteen or twenty rods east of Edward Drake's, whose
house is east of the Bay road close to the Stoughton line, is the
cellar of the old Seth Willis place. When his nephew, Philip



300 HISTORY OF EASTOxN.

Willis, set up housekeeping about a hundred years ago, he
bought this place, the house being already old ; there part of
his children were born. Afterward Mr. Willis bought the old
Thomas Manley, Jr., house, and moved there before building
what is now known as the Philip Willis house. Southeast of
the Seth Willis place, in what is known as the Snell pasture,
Hugh Washburn over a century ago located a homestead and
built a house. It is quite a pleasant location ; Mr. Snell after-
wards lived there. On Britton Street, once called the Allen
road, east of the Thompson Allen house recently inhabited by
the " twenty Leonards," we can still see the cellar of the second
house built by Benjamin Harvey. The first was on the west
side of the road south of this place ; but at the second we may
stand on the spot by the old doorstep where his infant daugh-
ter so narrowly escaped the jaws of the hungry bear. Harvey
died in 1799, and old " Deacon" Pierce lived in this house after
him ; and coming home one night from Hodges's tavern near
by, where he had been too convivial, he fell and was actually
drowned in a street puddle.

Going down the Bay road, we see in the sharp angle made
by the junction of Randall Street with it the cellar of the house
not long since burned, where J. Frank Williams once lived.
The house appears to have been originally built by Thomas
Willis ; he once had a little store there. A few rods farther
south is the location of a house which some years ago Ellis
Hewitt built, but which has also been destroyed by fire.

The old cellar on Randall Street, about fifty rods southeast of
Nathan Randall's, belonged to the house of Edward Drake, son
of Richard. A little above, and on the other side of the road,
John Turner, who settled in town about 1750, once had a house,
but its location is only indicated by the slight depression that
marks where the cellar was. If we go to Summer Street from
here and turn to the right, we find south of that street, before
reaching Abiel Littlefield's, a lane that leads to the location of
the Ebenezer Littlefield place still to be traced, and farther
west are the cellar and foundation of the house and nail-shop of
Apollos Clark.

Going west from there to the Bay road we may see, a little
northeast of Ebenezer Randall's, the site of the old Kingman



fOLD ABANDONED HOMESTEADS. 301

tavern ; and a few rods southwest on the west side of the road
is the cellar of one of the Dunbar houses, originally the home
of one of the Shaw families. Just south of Langdon Randall's
was, until recently, an old plastered house, the cellar of which
may yet be located ; it was the home of Eliphalet Shaw, Jr.
West of this, fifty rods from the Bay road, we may find the
cellar of the house of the first Eliphalet Shaw.

From the Bay road, between the two houses south of Guil-
ford Newcomb's, a lane runs westward. By the side of the
third enclosure of land a pile of stones on the left side marks
the cellar of one of the David Keiths of a century and a quarter
ago ; this lane was for a short time a town way, which was
superseded by Beaver Street. Opposite Mr. Newcomb's was
the house of Josiah Keith, the site of which is marked by the
remains of brick still visible.

On the south side of Foundry Street east of the Bay road,
and not very far away, was the homestead occupied fifty years
ago by Simeon Woodward. On the same side of this street,
about two thirds of the distance from the Bay road to Prospect
Street, is an apple orchard, and the cellar in the same enclosure
marks the location where stood the house of James S. Randall,
who died in 1862. On the north side of Beaver Street, not far
from the Bay road, may be noticed a well and a cellar ; it is not



Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 28 of 78)