William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

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

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was carefully surveyed in 1806, its acceptance opposed by the
town, but finally accepted on compulsion by order of the Court
of Sessions. It was then called the Danforth road.

Main Street, in North Easton village, was first laid out
in 1744. It began a little south of Joseph Crossman's (now
Thomas Randall's), passed between the gravel bank and the hill
just west of it, came out where the road now runs east of F. L.
Ames's farm-house, kept through the village, and was continued
nearly to the Stoughton line just above the Solomon R. Foster
place. Those residents who had houses on this street in 1744
were Joseph Crossman, at the east end ; Eliphalet Leonard,
near the Red Factory, where he had a forge ; Samuel Randall,
near the railroad bridge ; John Randall, near the machine shop ;
Richard Williams, on the Unity Church location ; James Stacy,
at the now Simeon Randall place ; and Daniel Manley, on the
east side of the Sol. Foster road, so called. In 18 12 Main Street
was straightened at its east end, and continued to the then new


Stoughton turnpike, — this extension being continued in 1850
to the North Bridgewater (now Brockton) line. The Solomon
Foster end has not fared well. Voted in 1744, voted again in
1772, it has had but little done to it. It is no longer a thorough-
fare to Stoughton, and was in fact very early superseded in that
respect by the other two roads to that town.

Canton Street, in North Easton village, runs from Main
Street to the Stoughton line, near Long Pond. The first settler
on this street was George Ferguson, who came here in 1747. A
cart-path that was laid out in 1763 as a highway ran from his
house to the saw-mill, where the Ames office now is. It came
out upon Main Street, farther south than at present, going
southerly through what is now Lemuel Randall's place, east of
the highest point in the cemetery. In 1772 the road was
extended from Mr. Ferguson's house to the Stoughton line
northwest. In 1861 it was straightened from Jason Willis's
to Edwin Russell's, and in 1878 the County Commissioners
widened and straightened the entire street.

Lincoln Street was laid out in February, 1757. It "began
at a grate Rock By the side of the Rhode, a little west of Samuel
Randall's Dwelling-house." This rock is still in sight on the
south side of Main Street, just west of the railroad bridge. The
road kept nearly on its present course, past Lincoln Spring,
" nere six feete Northerly from the hed of the mane spring so as
to leve the spring for a convenante watering-plase." Many of
our older citizens remember that before the present road-bed
was raised in the hollow, the main spring was upon the south
side of the road as above described. It was a " springy swamp "
there, abounding in iron ore, all of which found in the roadway
was to belong to Israel Woodward, who owned the land. The
road ran nearly west from here for some distance past the site
of Flyaway Pond, when it diverged to the northwest, and came
out on the Bay road near the Gilbert places. This end of the
road is now discontinued, but it may be followed even with a
team at the present day, and its roughness gives us a good
sample of many of our roads in the olden time. When this
part of the road was given up in March, 1772, Lincoln Street



Jtrmm especuMf >r ihis JFSMoty V>
E. B. HA YWARD. €.E.



was continued westerly to the Bay road by the Sheperd place.
Complaint of this discontinuance was made to the Court of
Sessions, and in 1773 the town was required to relay this part
of the road to the Gilberts, thirty feet wide ; and it was in use
as a road for many years afterward. In 1853 Lincoln Street
was made forty feet wide from the Bay road to Woodward's
Spring, so called.

Centre Street connects North Easton village with Easton
Centre. A very small section of this street, that from Daniel
Clark's to Short Street, was laid out in 1738, and was, as before
stated, the connecting link between what are now Summer and
Short streets. But just after the building of the new meeting-
house at the Centre in 1752, it was extended both south from
Short Street and north to Samuel Phillips, Jr.'s, west of the
DeWitt farm. This was a part of what was known as the old
Meeting-house road. The north part of this old road was laid
out in 1764. It began "south of the Cart-bridg near John
Randall's" (that is, near the Ames store), went up the hill, then
westerly a short distance on Lincoln Street, and then south to
join that part of the road laid out in 1752. There were then
living along the line of this proposed road Mrs. Whitman, widow
of John Whitman, whose house was on Lincoln Street ; and also
about a quarter of a mile south, Nahum Niles. Some distance
below him lived Benjamin Phillips, and still farther south Samuel
Phillips, Jr., where the new road formed a connection with the
old. This road may still be traversed from end to end. The
writer drove through it with a horse and buggy in the summer
of 1886, It was discontinued in 1828, though a little money
has been expended on it just above Daniel Clark's, where Patrick
Menton now lives. This discontinuance was in consequence of
the laying-out of the new road, now Centre Street, in 1828.
There was considerable disagreement about this laying-out, but
it was finally accomplished. There have been some changes in
the grading, etc., but the road remains substantially the same
as when laid out.

Howard Street, from Norton line to Prospect Street, past
No. 3 Schoolhouse, was laid out in 1753. In 1845 it was
changed and straightened.


Union Street, sometimes called Pleasant Street, and also
the North road to Brockton, was laid out thirty feet wide in
1753, and voted in 1754. It was relaid April 18, 1855.

Grove Street, from South Easton to Brockton, was laid out
in 1757, and corrected in 1761. It was widened near Washing-
ton Street in 1884.

PoouANTicuT Avenue was laid out in 1763. At that time
South Street was apparently a part of it, judging from the
laying-out as recorded in the town book. On or very near this
street, north of the Hayward place, lived William Hack, Robert
Randall, Jr., Thomas Drake, David Gurney, and Edmund
Andrews, the latter's house standing about where Henry Buck
now lives. Like other streets this has undergone considerable

Britton Street, formerly known as the Allen road, was laid
out in part, — that is, from the old Benjamin Harvey place to the
Bay road, — in 1766, and, with some alteration, remained a town
way. The extension west and south to Rockland Street was
several times voted and discontinued before its final adoption.

Cross Street, leading from the Bay road south of Beaver
Street, southwesterly to Depot Street, near Black Brook, was
laid out in 1766.

Beaver Street, from the Bay Road north of Furnace village
to Poquanticut Avenue, was first laid out in 1766. It took the
place of a road running in the same direction and connecting
the Bay road and Poquanticut Avenue, the discontinued road
being south of Guilford Newcomb's.

Randall Street runs from the Bay road southeast, past
Nathan Randall's, to Summer Street. It was laid out thirty feet
wide, and adopted in 1768. It went past Josiah and Phineas
Allen's houses.

Dean Street connects the extension of Howard Street in
Norton with the Bay road, skirting a part of the south limits of
the town. It was laid out in 1785.



Chestnut Street leads from Poquanticut Avenue near
Macey Record's westerly to Mansfield line, and was laid out in

Central Street extends from Washington Street near
Morse's factory westerly to Short Street. At the request of
Samuel Guild and others it was laid out by the selectmen in
February, 1809. But the town several times refused to grant
the road. Mr. Guild then headed a petition to the Court of
Sessions, asking that the town be compelled to build the road.
The court appointed a committee, who met and were sworn at
the house of Josiah Copeland, June 9, 1810. The matter was
carefully canvassed, the committee reported favorably, and the
petition was granted. The town was therefore obliged to con-
struct the road. March 9, 1874, that part of the road curving
to the north just west of the factory was discontinued, a more
direct road having been made to take its place.

Elm Street, in North Easton village, was laid out September
16, 1820, as far as Washington Street. Its extension to the
North Bridgewater line, once called the Quaker Leonard road,
was voted in 1822, rejected, and then subsequently adopted.

Massapoag Avenue extends from Poquanticut Avenue, past
No. 6 Schoolhouse, to the Sharon line. The part north of Rock-
land Street was laid out in 1824, and after some delay was
adopted. The rest of it was finally laid out in 1834.

High Street connects Pine Street with the Turnpike, and
was laid out apparently first in 1830, and relaid in 1875.

Mill Street, leading from east of Mr. Selee's southwest to
Mansfield, was laid out at two different times by the County
Commissioners, — the north end of it in 1836, and that part
from Preston Drake's, near the schoolhouse, to the town line
in 1843.

The newer streets in North Easton village are as follows : —
Oliver Street — east section — was voted in 1857. It was
extended to Main Street in 1863, and this was widened in 1886.


Barrows Street was laid out in 1862, and extended or relaid
in 1871.

Oakland Avenue was voted in 1862, and widened in 1882.

Williams Street was in part voted in 1870, and extended
south and west in 1877.

Day Street was adopted in 1871, and altered in 1878.

Mechanic Street and Andrews Street were voted in 1873,
Jenny Lind Street in 1875, and extended in 1883 ; Pond
Street in 1881, and Bridge Street in 1884.

The town of Easton is especially favored in the matter of
roads as in other ways. The Hon. Oliver Ames, dying in
1877, left a fund of fifty thousand dollars to the town, the in-
terest of which is to be devoted to improvements of highways,
the town to raise annually the sum of two thousand dollars
for the same purpose. This will enable Easton to have in
time roads unsurpassed by those of any country town in the
Commonwealth. The improvement, where permanent road-
beds of crushed stone are laid, is already very marked. The
following text of the bequest is copied here for convenient
reference : —


" I give and bequeath to the trustees of the Unitarian Society afore-
said, and their successors in said trust appointed under the provision
of said deed, $50,000 in the 'eight per cent sinking fund bonds of the
Union Pacific Railroad Company,' to be held by them and their suc-
cessors in said trust as a permanent fund, the income thereof to be
applied annually for the repair of public highways in the town of
Easton, — but upon condition that said fund shall be exempted from
taxation by said town, and that said town shall annually raise by tax-
ation not less than $2,000 in money, and apply the same to the repair
of its public highways. The said trustees and their successors shall
in each year, upon receiving from the town treasurer a certificate to
the effect that said sum of $2,000 has been voted by the town, to be
raised by taxation in money and applied to the repair of its public
highways, pay over to the treasurer aforesaid the income of said fund
then on hand (but not exceeding $4,000 in any year), to be expended
for the repair of the public highways in said town, under the direction
of the Selectmen or Road Commissioners, as the town in open town-


meeting may direct. In case of the failure by said town to raise in any
one year, by taxation, said sum of $2,000 and apply the same to the
repair of its public highways, I direct the said trustees and their suc-
cessors to pay over the income of said fund to my heirs-at-law during
such year ; and in case such failure shall be repeated for three sue- |||

cessive years, then I direct the said trustees and their successors to
terminate this trust, and pay over the balance of the trust fund then
in their hands to my heirs-at-law."

It is proper to refer at the end of this chapter to the proposi-
tion of Lieutenant-Governor Oliver Ames, made in town-meeting,
March, 1886, and then accepted by the town, to give two thou-
sand dollars annually for the purpose of planting shade-trees
along the public highways, on condition that the town appro-
priate annually fifty cents per poll for the same purpose, which
will add about five hundred dollars to the gift of Mr. Ames.
This benefaction will continue until all the highways have shade-
trees ; and by means of it the town will be much improved and




Burials in Private Grounds in Early Times. — The Old Bury-
ing-Ground. — Other Graveyards in the Order of their Laying-
out. — Abandoned Graveyards. — Inscriptions and Epitaphs.
— Unmarked and Neglected Graves. — Proposed Remedy for


A MINISTER'S WIFE, somewhat nervous, who had re-
cently settled in Easton and had already seen much of
the town, when asked if she would like to take a drive, replied,
"Yes, if you will promise not to choose a new road ; for on every
one we have travelled I have seen graveyards, and I don't care to
see any more." The force of her remark will be seen when it is
known that in Easton there are thirty-one burying-grounds.
In this chapter the writer intends to give some account of their
origin, and to state the most interesting facts concerning them.

In the early days of the town it was quite common for the
dead to be buried in some quiet corner of an orchard or field be-
longing to the homestead where they had lived. Deaths some-
times occurred when the roads, always bad, were nearly impassa-
ble. It was natural that such burial-places should be chosen.
In many cases there were no chiselled headstones erected, a few
rough stones only being piled upon the grave. Time served to
obliterate the traces of such graves, or the farms on which they
were located passed into the ownership of those who had no
interest in the graves, and the ploughshare soon destroyed all
traces of them. Timothy Marshall, when a boy, found upon
his father's farm, which is now owned by O. A. Day, a flat
square stone which was marked with the letters D. W., ^ all
other indications of a grave having disappeared. There have
doubtless been many such graves scattered over the town that
have left no traceable signs behind them. There is one solitary

1 It was probably in memory of David Watkins, who once lived there.


grave — that of Dr. Seth Babbit, who died February 18, 1761 —
which the writer, by the aid of a friend who had once known
the spot well, found with difficulty. It is on the southern slope
of a hill northwest of the old Dwelly Goward place ; but un-
less care be taken to mark the place, it will soon be forgotten.
There was once a small family burying-ground where Albert
Hayward built his house ; but the remains buried there were
removed to the Dr. Edward Dean cemetery when the house
was built.

There are three graves near the edge of Flyaway Pond, a few
rods northeast of the Maliff house. This house was once the
home of Perez Packard, and the three graves contain his remains
and those of a very young son and of a daughter about twenty
years old. The mounds may still be seen, having been respected
by the present owners of the place ; but unless care be taken to
preserve them, all traces of them will soon disappear.

There were once two graves near or on the site of Andrew
Erickson's house in North Easton village, on Andrews Street.
John Barlow lived in the low house on the corner of Pond and
Andrews streets, and his garden extended south, taking in the
Erickson lot. The remains of two children were buried there.
One of them, a young daughter, died July 23, 1819, and at the
funeral young girls acted as bearers. This novel arrangement
was according to the advice of an English family who had moved
into the house, and who stated that this was the way they did it
in England. Perhaps it is the only instance of girls acting as
bearers in Easton. Two long towels were twisted about the
coffin, one at each end, and the bearers carried it by means of

On the brow of a hill west of the Bay road near the Sharon
line, and just south of the Ansel Alger house, a small gravestone
stands alone, recording the death of Mary Howard, daughter
of Ansel and Polly Alger, who died August 11, 1819, in the third
year of her age. A solitary rosebush growing near seems to
emphasize the epitaph upon this stone, which is as follows : —

The blooming rose that bids so fair,
From parents 's gone & is no more.

There are still in town several such small family graveyards ;
and in some cases, as in that of the Copeland yard on the Bay


road and the Wilbur yard on Peter McDermott's farm, the land
where they are located has passed into the ownership of individ-
uals who have no personal interest in them. It would be better
for the remains in such places to be removed to some of the
larger cemeteries, where the graves will be cared for. It would
also be a gracious thing for the town to make such removals when
no kindred of the dead remain who are able to bear the expense.


The oldest cemetery in Easton is situated on Church Street,
once called the Cynthia Drake road. The first action of the
Taunton North-Purchase proprietors in regard to the setting
apart of land for burial purposes at the east end of their territory
was taken April 2, 1705, at a meeting held by them on that
date at the Taunton meeting-house. It was there " voted and
granted that the land lying between Benjamin Drake's and
Israel Randall's shall lie as perpetual Common for a burying-
place or training-place, or some other publick use, not exceeding
six acres." ^

Although this grant was not surveyed until fourteen years
after this date, it was used for burial purposes. The first meet-
ing-house was built, and several burials doubtless occurred there
before the survey. One burial, that of the remains of Elder
William Pratt, was made as early as 17 14 (171 3, O. S.), and al-
though this is the earliest one known, there may have been a
few earlier still of which time has left no trace. The survey in
accordance with the above vote is as follows : —

jfime the elevetith day, 17 19. Then we the subscribers who are
Impowered to lay out Land in Taunton north-purchase have laid out
six acres of Land according to pitch in said north-purchase for some
publick use, between Benjamin drakes house and Israel Randals house,
round the meeting-house. The Bounds is as followeth : we began at a
stake set for a corner with stones about it; thence we ran south forty
degrees east twenty-eight rods to a corner stake with stones about it ;
thence we ran east forty degrees north thirty-eight rods to a corner
stake with stones about it ; thence north forty degrees west twenty-
eight rods to a corner stake with stones about it ; thence west forty
degrees south thirty-eight rods to the first corner stake that we began

1 Taunton North-Purchase Book of Votes, p. 28.



at. Note that there is Land allowed within said bounds for a high-
way forty futs wide to lead from said Israel Randals house towards
said Benjamin drakes house.

John Phillips.
Recorded march the 17th, 1719/20 ThOMAS Randale.

by Samuel Leonard, Clerk. JOHN White, Surveyor}

It will be seen by the above that six acres of land are to
be perpetually reserved for some public use. This land was
recently surveyed and landmarks set up, but some of them are
torn away. The boundaries ought to be carefully re-established
and preserved, in order to prevent encroachment upon this public

Most of the interments at this place were made in the last
century. The writer was able several years ago to collect the
death-records from fifty-seven headstones, but some of these
stones have disappeared since their inscriptions were copied.
Even this most venerable of our cemeteries, where the ashes of
some of the most honored and worthy of our ancestors rest, has
not escaped that churchyard vandalism which has desecrated
other sacred enclosures in Easton, but none so disgracefully as
this. Gravestones have been stolen from this burial-place and
put to commonest uses, and a cart-path has been made among
and over the very graves themselves. This has been done even
since the place was cleared and put in order in accordance with
a vote of the town. Such disregard of common decency as well
as contempt of town authority deserves severe punishment.

Among those whose dust reposes in this most ancient of our
burying-grounds may be mentioned Elder William Pratt and
wife, the first John Dailey and wife, Deacon Ephraim Randall
and wife, Edward Hayward, Esq., Elder Joseph Grossman and
his son Joseph (who died within a month of each other), Joshua
Howard and wife, Gaptain Eliphalet Leonard and wife, Benja-
mim Fobes (for many years town clerk), Ebenezer Ames, and
others well and honorably known in their day.

This cemetery extends on both sides of the road, and although
some mounds that once marked the resting-places of the dead
are now levelled, the location of many more than the fifty-seven
graves already noted may be easily traced.

1 Taunton North-Purchase Surveys, vol. i. p. 93.



The level plain east and southeast of the old Philip Willis
place always went by the name of Lathrop's Plain in the last
century. East of that plain is a small hill, the summit of which
is a plateau ; this is the location of a now unused graveyard,
one of the oldest in town. It is about one hundred yards from
Lincoln Street, and about two hundred yards southeast of Lin-
coln Spring. It may be found by following the cart-path south
from Lincoln Street a hundred yards, and then striking due west
through the bushes about twenty-five yards. It is now entirely
overgrown with a mass of shrubbery, and there are no means
of ascertaining its exact boundary lines. There are nearly forty
ancient mounds marked with stones piled upon them. In a
few cases there are flat stones that serve as headstones, but no
stone has any inscription upon it. The stones were so well placed
that after more than a century the graves may nearly all be dis-
tinctly made out. It is pathetic, however, to consider that all
these are nameless graves ; and whose remains are buried there
is, in many cases, a matter of conjecture merely. About a quar-
ter of a mile westward lived Thomas Manley, Jr., and Israel Wood-
ward the Quaker, the latter being on what is now known as the
Macomber place. Thomas Manley's daughter Elizabeth died in
1736, and quite probably this cemetery was begun by the burial
of her remains there, where the low sighing of the pines made a
mournful requiem over her solitary grave. Eleven years after-
ward her mother died, and her grave and others were soon
added to this place. It is said that Thomas Manley, Jr., gave a
quarter of an acre of land here for burial purposes, and the
statement is probably correct, though no deed of it appears.
This cemetery was used by some of the Lincoln families. Paul
Lincoln's body was placed there about seventy-five years ago ;
also the body of Nathaniel Lincoln. Paul's daughter Jemima,
with her husband (whose name was Oilman) and their daughter
Caroline have their graves here, the burial of the body of the
latter occurring as late as seventeen years ago. Only nine years
ago the remains of an infant child of Henry James were buried
there, this being the last burial at this spot. There must be over
fifty graves in this place. In 1802 this graveyard is referred


to in a deed given by Jacob Leonard, as follows : " A quarter
of an acre is reserved for a public Burying-place to the road,"
etc.^ The grave of at least one Revolutionary soldier, Hugh
Washburn, is here, and can still be identified. It ought to be
marked in some way, or it will soon be forgotten forever. This
is probably the second oldest cemetery in the town of Easton.


On the south side of Prospect Street, a few rods from the
Bay road, is a small cemetery, which is second or third in order
of age among the burying-grounds of Easton. It is uncertain

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 44 of 78)