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mediately chosen of which he was chairman, and they proceeded to take measures to pay the men. The bounty in addition to the wages, was sometimes paid in continental money, and, at others, in coro, beef, live stock, land, Sc. At this time, the old emission compared with gold and silver, was as 68 to 1,* and as compared with the new emission, as 40 to 1. The men received their boucties, in different ways. One of them, named Dunsmoor, was asked in what he would receive bis bounty. He answered that Deacon Moore, (one of the committee,) had a piece of land adjoining bis own farm, and he wished to own it. “ Take it,” cried Moore, u take it ; I'd rather part with that land, which is the best I have, than loose the whole by my neglect in aiding the cause of my country.” The effort succeeded : the forty men were drafted, paid off, and commenced their march within twelve days.
In June, 1777, in pursuance of a resolve of the General Assembly, Col. Asa Whitcomb was chosen “to collect evidence against such persons as shall be deemed internal enemies to the state.” Soon after, the names of a number of citizenst were placed on the list in town meeting, as being included in the above description. Most of them were afterwards stricken off. It is related of Rey. Mr. Harrington, one of the number, that when bis name was added to the list, on the foolish motion of some individual, the venerable and truly excellent man, bared his breast before his people and exclaimed, “strike, strike here, with your daggers; I am a true friend to my country.” The passion for proscribing innocent persons, soon subsided in a measure, and a new mode of managing the was one of the committee. He was quite a whig, without a persecuting spir. it; hut not liking "guns and drums," he left Boston and resided in Lancaster, during the war. Here he was of much service in moderating the violence, oftentimes so unnecessary, but to which the feelings of patriotism frequently urged the patriols. He lived a little to the north of the church, on the Wrifford place.
* That is, on 16th June, 1780, one Spanish milled dollar was equal to sis. ty eight dollars of the old emission. On the first of April previous, the proportion was 40 to 1.
+ Moses Gerrish, Daniel Allen, Ezra Houghton, Joseph Moore, Solomon Houghton, James Carter and Rev. Timothy Harrington. At the commercement of hostilities, Col. Abijah Williard,a mandamus counsellor, and his brother, Abel Williard, Esq. went to Boston, and remained there during the siege. They left the country before the war terminated. They were both very much beloved, particularly the latter, and their departure was a cause of regret to the inhabitants. Indeed, they might have remained without being molested. Like many others, believing that the contest was hopeless, and that inevitable defeat would place the country in a state of servitude, they left their homes, and when convinced that their course was not well choren, it was too late to remedy the error.
business was devised. The examinations of the suspected were af terwards conducted by the committee of safety, where less excitement, and somewhat of a calm and dispassionate way of proceeding was introduced. No great violence however, no mobs, do riotous conduct disturbed the general state of the town. The spirit of liberty was deeply rooted and widely extended; indeed, so general was it, that it did not demand the moral refreshing of a mob to impart an active principle.
A number of the citizens who joined the army, were killed in battle, or died of their wounds. Of these, David Robbins was killed at Bimker Hill. Robert Phelps, wounded there, died in August, 1775: John Ballard, Abel Wyman and John Benpett, died in 1776 : Jonathan Sawyer, killed in 1777: Joseph Phelps died of his wounds in 1778: he was on board an armed vessel: Joseph Wilder died on board the same vessel. There were but few officers from this town in the continental service. Col. Henry Haskell, was a native of this town, lived here most of his life and died here. The other officers were Capt. Andrew Haskell, Lieuts. John Hewitt, Winslow Phelps, Philip Corey, and Jeremeel Haskell. Andrew Haskell was a brave soldier, and deserves a passing notice. When the appeal was made to arms, he marched to Lexington as Lieutenant of the company
of minute men. He joined the army soon after. He was subsequently promoted to be a Captain in the Massachusetts line, and afterwards in the continental army. He possessed but little education, and of course but little refinement, and though a candidate for higher rank, was kept from promotion by his want of proper dignity and self respect. Irritated with this treatment, he suddenly left the service. But his love of country was too powerful, to suffer him to remain idle. In the course of a few weeks, he again enlisted, and served as a common soldier in the continental army, till the peace of 1783. After this period, he lived in Lancaster till 1791, when he joined the army led by the unfortunate Ma. jor Gen. Arthur St. Clair, against the Indians northwest of the Ohio, and was killed in the memorable battle near the Miamies' villages, Nov. 3, 1791, when the American forces suffered a sad overthrow.
In Feb. 1778, the “ articles of confederation and perpetual union between the colonies, were accepted on the part of the town. The various temporary constitutions for a state government, were agreed to, and the Constitution of this Commonwealth as it stood till 1821, received the assent of the town by a vote of one hundred and three, to seven, in May, 1780. In the choice of Governor the
tirst year, the votes were sixty nine for John Hancock, and pine for James Bowdoin.*
In April, 1781, the second precinct, formerly called Chocksett, was incorporated into a town, by the name of Sterling. This measure was, at first, not well pleasing to the inhabitants of the old parish, because the former were unwilling to aid in the support of the French neutrals, the bridges, and poor, to which the whole town was liable. However, they of Woonkseckaukset, at last, obtained the majority, turned out the town officers in the old parish, and held the town meetings in their own precinct. This was in 1780. This state of things not being a very agreeable one, and the town records having suffered somewhat in chirography and authography by the change of clerk, the “ Pharaohs” were willing after one year's experience, " to let the people go."| All former causes of difference, having been done away, the inhabitants of both towns indulged towards each other, feelings of good will and kindness.
The war, as is well known, left the country in an impoverished and exhausted condition. Industry had been abandoned; the old sources of trade were for a time closed; the pursuits of peace, were in strong contrast to the excitement of a protracted contest. A disbanded army, with victory for its portion, spread its influence on every side ; an influence in no degree favorable to habits of peace, and the restraints of virtuous principle. Poverty was every where. A sound circulating medium, which industry alone could restore, was still wanting.
In this state of things, the town chose John Sprague, Timothy Whiting, sen'r,ş and Samuel Ward, a committee to petition for a lottery, to enable the town to repair the nunerous and expensive bridges it was obliged to support. Permission for a lottery was accordingly obtained, in 1782. There were, it appears, fourteen classes drawn between that time and 1790. In the few first classes, the town was in debt to the managers; afterwards some money was obtained for the repair of bridges. No scheme of taxation could
* The highest number of votes in this town, was A. D. 1809, two hundred and ninety five. In the year 1814, two hundred and ninety four, viz: Caleb Strong had two hundred and twenty six, and Samuel Dexter had sixty eight. In 1815, two hundred and ninety two, viz: two hundred thirty nioe and fifty three. The present number of voters, is more than three hundred.
Father of the late Timothy Whiting, Esq. and General John Whiting, of this town.
have been devised more injurious and extravagant. It was paying under a fascinaling prospect of gain, a much larger sum, than the citizens would have been obliged to contribute by regular rates. Nor was this all. Many will recollect the time consumed in drawing the numerous classes of this lottery, the idleness and consequent dissipation it induced, to say nothing of its natural tendency to beget a love of gaming.
1786. During the rebellion of Shays, the town was quite loyal to government, and a number of the citizens joined General Lincoln's army and continued with him till the rebels were dispersed. A delegate was sent to the county convention at Leicester, in August, 1786 ; and some of the proceedings of that body were accepted by the town: the articles relating to a change of the Constitution and to an issue of paper money were rejected without hesitation.
From 1790, to 1794, a hospital was kept open in town, under the direction of Dr. Israel Atherton, for the purpose of inoculating for the small pox ; and in 1801, he was directed to ascertain the efficacy of the kine pock.
In 1798, a proposition to divide the County, was negatived, but three votes being cast in favor and one hundred and seven against it.
On the death of Washington, an Eulogy was delivered by Rev. Dr. Thayer; the pulpit was shrowded in black, and the audience wore emblems of mourning.
One family of the society of Shakers, a branch of the society in Shirley, resides in this town. Their reputation for good order, and industry, and consequent thrift, makes them useful citizens. With the peculiarities of their religious worship the public must be well acquainted. With due credit for their sincerity, their diligence renders them a good example in the neighborhood in which they live.
During the violence of party conflict, a greater degree of union and good fellowship was preserved here, than in many other places, and did not give rise, as, in some instances elsewhere to religious dissensions and lasting bitterness. Quiet and harmony now reign in the midst of us ; the population and wealth of the town are increasing more rapidly than at any period, within the memory of our aged people. The local situation combines advantages, as a place of retirement for the man of leisure and fortune, whilst an abundance of highly productive soil renders it favorable for the pursuits of agriculture.
In 1823, the old meeting house was taken down, and a neat building, with a portico in front, was erected in its place. In this, the meetings of the town are held for all municipal purposes.
ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY.--In the act of incorporation of the town, the General Court ordered the inhabitants 6 to take care that a Godly minister be maintained among them.” In the fall of the same year, (Nov. 1653,) when the allotments of land were completed, the planters entered into mútual covenants for themselves, their heirs, &c. and set apart thirty acres of upland, forty of intervale, and twelve of meadow, forever as church lands for the use of, and towards the maintenance of the minister, pastor or teacher for the time being, or whomsoever may be stated to preach the word of God;" permitting the minister “ to improve* the lands himself if be should so choose.” They further covenanted to build a meeting house for the public assembly of the church and people of God, to worship God according to his holy ordinances;" the building to be erected “ as near to the church lands and to the neck of land as can be without any notable inconvenience.” Also 6 to build a house for the minister on the church lands." Each one agreed to pay ten shillings annually for his home lot towards the support of the minister, and to make up the deficiency, if any, in the salary, by an equal rate. To exclude heresy, as we have before seen, 6 and for the better preserving of the purity of religion, and themselves from infection of error,” they agreed “not to distribute allotments of land, nor to receive into the plantation as inhabitants, any excommunicante, or otherwise profane and scandalous, none so to be ; nor any notoriously erring against the doctrinef and discicipline of the churches, and the state and government of the Commonwealth.”
* The word in this sense, (occupy) was in use in New England soon after the first settlemet of the country. I have met with it earlier than 1658, in a number of instances. Dr. Franklin is in error, ia supposing that this core ruption was not till the eighteenth century.
+ Toleration was considered a high crime, both by the clergy and laits, in the seventeenth century. Our early writers discover great indignation and bitterness when they touch upon the subject. Ward, in his simple Cobler of Agawam, says, “ The state that will give liberty of conscience in matters of religion, must give liberty of conscience and conversation in their moral laws, or else the fiddle will be out of lune, and some of the strings crack.” “ It is likewise said that men ought to have liberty of their conscience, and that it is persecution to debar them of it. I can rather stand amazed than reply to this; it is an astonishment to think that the brains of men should be parboiled in such wilsul ignorance. Let all the wits under the heavens, lay their heads together and find an assertion worse than this,(one excepted, )and I will petition to be chosen the anirersal idiot of the world.” pp. 8, 12, Ed. 1647.