Levi B. Chase
"The History of Worcester County, Massachusetts"
by Hurd, 1889 Vol. 2
SOUTHBRIDGE is situated in the southwestern part of the
county of Worcester. It has Charlton on the north, and Dudley on the east;
southward it is bounded by the State of Connecticut, and west by Sturbridge.
The centre of the town is in latitude 42 degrees 5', and the distance from
the court-house in Worcester is seventeen and one-half miles. Formerly
the great route of travel from Worcester to the southwest was through Charlton
and Sturbridge. The connection with the shire-town is now by the New England
Railroad to Webster, and thence by the Norwich and Worcester line. There
is direct railway connection with Boston through Webster, Blackstone etc.,
by the New England Railway. The number of square miles in the town is about
nineteen and the number of acres is twelve thousand and seventy-four.
The surface of the town is much broken by hills and valleys.
The hills rise northward and southward from the valley of QUINEBAUG RIVER,
some of them gradually, and some with abrupt and rugged sides. Hatchet
Hill, in the south part, near Connecticut line, is sixteen hundred feet
above the level of the sea, and the summit furnishes an extensive prospect.
The main river is the QUINEBAUG, which comes in from Sturbridge
on the west, and runs across the township north of the middle in an easterly
and southeasterly course. The river is fed by Globe, Cady and McKinstry
Brooks on the north, and Hatchet, Cohasse and Lebanon Brooks on the south,
all of which empty within the limits of the town. The valleys of these
streams greatly diversify the scenery.
From west to east the QUINEBAUG River has its course,
furnishing the power for various and important industries. This river has
been the principal factor in the building up of this wealthy and enterprising
town. Hence it is fitting, in proceeding to a partial description of some
of the prominent features that strike the eye of a casual observer, to
begin with the entrance of the Quinebaug.
The QUINEBAUG flows quietly through the valley of Sturbridge,
then turns eastward through a gorge between rocky hills. Before it quite
passes the narrow valley, one-half of the width of it, by lines established,
becomes included in the territory of Southbridge. Then it flows unhindered
through the ruins of the old dam at Westville, past the old mill foundation,
the bridge and the little village that has seen better days. Immediately
afterwards, being confronted by a large hill, it turns squarely to the
north, imparting power, as it passes, to the LITCHFIELD SHUTTLE SHOP, and
beyond glimmers brightly along a secluded valley, beautiful in its varied
scenery of wooded grove and dell, level intervale, sloping field and hill-side
pasture, ending abruptly, northward, at a high rocky precipice. In ordinary
times the river flows shallow in this valley. When all between the towns
of Brookfield and Woodstock was a solitary wilderness, a path or road from
one place to the other had its crossing here. It is inferred from facts
known that this was the fording-place of the great trail of the Indians,
from Narragansett and Wabbaquassett to the Quabaug towns and the Connecticut
River at Hadley and above. Pursued by Captain Henchman and Oneco, son of
Uncas, it was here that KING PHILIP and his feeble following hurried across,
the 3rd or 4th day of August, 1675. As will be see
further along, the first settlers had a fordway here.
The northern course of this valley, of about a mile in
length, is ended by a rocky bluff, causing an angle in the river, near
which the line between this town and Sturbridge runs north, leaving the
eastward flow wholly in the former town. Down a rocky gorge, a precipitous
cliff on the left and a more rounded hill sloping up to the southward on
the right, rushes the Quinebaug of the Indians. Now this entire space is
occupied by a pond; the water being held by what is commonly called the
"Big Dam", a magnificent structure across just where the river leaves the
companionship of these hills.
The QUINEBAUG is held, bitted and harnessed and made to
work the will of man, not only here, but all along its winding way below,
for miles; it encounters structures of similar intent and purpose. Here,
years ago, small industries were started with cheaper structures. A population
was collected to control, direct and make a useful servant of the never-ceasing
power, brought into subjection by capital and skill. Money was earned,
resulting in increased facilities for manufacturing or the starting up
of new industries. Exchange of commodities necessitated the trade class
and middle men. The exercise of the various occupations was created by
the demands or needs of the community. Thus a symmetrical growth was established;
and a steady and unvarying prosperity has been the rule in this place.
Below the big dam, the course of the QUINEBAUG, in a winding
way, tends eastward across the opening of the valley of McKinstry Brook,
which tributary it receives from the north, and then strikes another hill
or cliff, which rises abruptly upon the north side of the river. Cliff
Street passes over along the height, and here one obtains a view of remarkable
variety and interest. The Cliff is distant about a third or half a mile
eastward from the big dam, and that portion of the river is occupied by
the factories of the HAMILTON WOOLEN COMPANY. Four large mills and more
smaller factories and buildings used in their business are in view. The
lower mill is opposite the Cliff, and from this height one looks down upon
the very bell-tower, the massive building and the pigmy (stet.)
The course of the QUINEBAUG from this point is in a southeastward
direction. The site and ruins of the DRESSER MANUFACTURING COMPANY's factory
is beneath the Cliff, and beyond, a fourth of a mile, is the large establishment
of the CENTRAL MILLS COMPANY. Next, is the large and many-lighted building
of the AMERICAN OPTICAL COMPANY, about three-fourths of a mile farther
down the river; close by which is PLIMPTON's laundry, J & L.D. CLEMENCE's
lumber-working establishment and I.P. HYDE
& Co.'s cutlery works. Beyond, is the large brick building recently
erected by the AMERICAN
OPTICAL COMPANY, in which they are commencing the extensive manufacture
of lenses. This plant is on the site of the old COLUMBIAN MILL, and the
locality is now called LENSDALE.
SAUNDERSDALE, about a mile farther down the river, is
hidden from view. It is there that the plant occupied by the SOUTHBRIDGE
PRINTING COMPANY is located.
The Cliff, or the Clemence Hill, back of it affords the
visitor a fine panoramic view of a large portion of the villages of Southbridge
Centre and Globe Village. Immediately in front of the view takes in a broad
and not high swell of land, not long ago devoted wholly to forest and agricultural
purposes, and appeared to form a separation between Globe Village and the
Centre. This is now cut up into streets, and largely occupied by the homes
of the industrious and the finer residences of the wealthy. The railroad
depot, freight-house and the odd-shaped building containing the "stalls"
for the "iron horses" are just over the river from the Cliff.
To the right is the denser population of Globe Village,
extending up the far slope to the southward, and northward crowding up
the McKinstry Valley.
To the left of the ridge that has been mentioned as being
in the centre of our view, and looking as the needle points nearly south,
the tops of the large business blocks and the public buildings are seen,
around which we also have a perspective view of a portion of the main village.
All about among the distant hills and valleys are farm-houses,
fields and woodlands - it is the combination that produces the effect,
and the visitor on a pleasant day can but exclaim with delight.
The central portion of the main village is fast taking
the appearance of a city. The industrious town has expended for new roads
and streets since 1870, a period of eighteen years - exclusive of general
appropriations for repairing highways and bridges, which is generally from
$3000 to $5000 annually - $53,682.
Aggregate expenditures on sidewalks in the same length
of time has been $54,700. For the erection of new school-houses $20,700
has been expended within the last eighteen years.
The total expenses of the free public library have
been $31,397. The town is now erecting a town hall, high school and memorial
hall building, for which an appropriation has been voted of $65,000. The
town's valuation for 1866 was $2,200,500; for 1887, $3,158,210. The population
is now about 7000. But above all, Southbridge is justly proud of its large
number of homes which its working people and business men have made for
themselves. Also in having the largest YOUNG MEN's CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION
in the world in proportion to the number of its inhabitants.
Individual ownership began here one hundred and fifty-eight
years ago. In going back to note the early settlements, we are necessarily
confined wholly to the public records of the town of Sturbridge. The records
of Dudley and Charlton, were they consulted, would shed little light in
matters of much importance. The first effort will be to locate some of
the old lines, as laid by the first proprietors, upon the portion of their
lands that may be seen from Clemence Hill.
A section of the old Oxford line is found in the west
line of Mr J T McKinstry's house-lot upon running south about four degrees
east, it crossed the river just below HAMILTON WOOLEN COMPANY's lower mill,
passing near the centre of CHAPIN's block, corner of Hamilton and Crane
Streets, along near the centre of WHITFORD's block, corner of Hamilton
and Main, and to near the centre of the new town hall building.
Lot 20 east, of the proprietor's first division, is south
of Mr. W F McKinstry's farm. It was bounded east on Oxford line, and carrying
the same length of Mr. McKinstry's lot westward, extended south to the
river. It is that part of the valley of McKinstry Brook next to the river,
and is westward of the Cliff and Clemence Hill. It was drawn to the original
right of Abraham Harding.
Over the river there was a tier of four lots between the
valley beyond the bend of the river above the Big Pond and the line between
the homesteads of the late Deacon Henry Fiske and land formerly owned by
Mr J J Oakes. The lines ran from the river, south 40 degrees west, and
the long lots abutted on a line running east 40 degrees south, which is
believed to be the north bounds of the farm of the late Mr Palmer Harding.
The position of the first line is now marked by a sunken wall in the HAMILTON
WOOLEN COMPANY's pasture, the line extending to the river again below the
shuttle shop 192 rods, and this lot number 61, bounded everywhere else
by the river, was drawn to the original right of Samuel Ellis. Lot Number
60, bounded northwest by 61, extended on that line 160 rods then east 40
degrees south 68 rods, north 40 degrees east 153 rods, striking the river
not far from the "Big Dam". Joseph Clark was the original proprietor. Lot
Number 62, drawn by James Denison, original proprietor, was parallel, 60
rods wide, extended on the river to a little below Mr. Gleason's store.
It was 217 rods on its long or southeast side. Lot Number 63 drawn by Ezra
Bourne, original proprietor, "Begins at the river" (point of termination
of Lot 62), runs E. 40 degrees S. 64 rds, S. 40 degrees W. 217 rds, West
40 degrees N. 64 rds, N. 40 degrees E. 217 rds to the beginning. Traces
of the southeast line of this lot can be seen, as stated above, also between
the house-lot of Mr. H M Fiske and Mr Rowley. Lot Number 65 "begins where
Oxford line crosses the river, south along the line 116 rds, W. 40 degrees
N. 124 rds, N. 40 degrees E. 23 rds, W. 40 degrees N. 64 rds, N. 40 degrees
E. 23 rds. W. 40 N. 64 rds to the river, along the river to the beginning."
Drawn to original right of Ezra Clark. Lot Number 65, drawn to original
right of Thomas Learned, of Oxford, was bounded northwest on 63, northeast
on 64, east on Oxford line, southwest on undivided land; begins in the
line of 63, runs east 40 degrees south 124 rods to Oxford line (corner
of 64), south on Oxford line 104 rods, west 48 degrees north 158 rods,
south 40 degrees west 45 rods, west 48 degrees north 33 rods, east 40 degrees
south to first corner. This Lot, Number 65, was purchased by Capt. Moses
Marcy; also all that part of Lot Number 64 northward of it, lying eastward
of a continuation of the northwest line of 65 to the river. Mr. Marcy,
finding an eligible site upon these lots, there established his homestead,
building a large house in 1740, which still remains. The noble old house
has had good care, and shows no outward signs of decay. It may as well
be said here that Mr. Marcy owned four hundred acres ajoining upon the
Oxford side of the line. The long Lot Number 63, next to Mr Marcy's, was
purchased and probably settled by Moses Clark.
James Denison had at first two shares - two-fiftieths
of the proprietors' land. Hensdale Clark purchased one of Mr Denison's
shares and in that way came in possession of Lot 62, and built his house
where Mr Harvey Newell lives and his barn on the opposite side of the road,
farther west on the westward slope of the hill. He subsequently owned all
the land to the bend of the river, Lots 60 and 61, and when the large estate
was divided among his children, other old Clark homesteads were built.
Besides Mr Marcy and Hensdale Clark, the settlers known to have been located
within the limits of Southbridge before Sturbridge was incorporated, were:
Jonathan Perry, site of the old homestead of the late Mr R N Harding; James
Denison, near the residence of the late Mr Lewis Morse; Jonathan Mason,
now James H Mason; Joseph Morse, now Andrew H Morse, and Daniel Thurston,
somewhere southerly of Mr Marcy.
In March, 1739 (our dating), the first road was laid within
the limits of this town. It began at the meeting-house in Sturbridge, past
the dwellings of Deacon Isaac Newell, Mr Rice, Deacon Daniel Fiske, Henry
Fiske, Mr "Martains", Henry Hooker, "thence southerly by the house where
Ebenezar Stearns dwells, so on the south end of a hill; then leaving the
old path, turning down the river to a white pine, then through the river,
then turning up the river to the old path, thence running southerly in
the old path till it comes to where the trees are newly marked for a road,
still keeping a southerly course to where the southeast corner of Lot number
66 is marked, thence running southward by a line of marked trees, east
of a small frame house, thence keeping much the same course to the west
of Jonathan Mason's house, thence to the west of Joseph Morse's house.
So near the same course to the common land."
It will be understood that the "old path" mentioned here
was an old Brookfield and Woodstock road. This first town-way intersected
it near the residence of Mrs. F W Emmons, at which point there is mention
of the "path or road leading from Brookfield to Woodstock," entered upon
the proprietor's records in 1730, before any settlements were made here.
The dwelling of Ebenezer Stearns was upon the place now owned by Mrs Malcom
Ammidown, in Sturbridge, and the above road passed down the slope, by the
brick-yard to the river. On Southbridge side of the river, traces of this
road (and consequently the ancient path) may be seen in the pasture-land
upon the side hill above the residence of Mr C D Chace.
The second road laid out by the town of Sturbridge within
the territory now in Southbridge is dated most four years later, viz.,
December, 1742. It began at a white "oke" tree beside the old path down
the river below the shuttle-shop, and in winding up the side hill it passed
a "grate Rock In the old fence," to the "south side of the stock of a chimney,"
then "south of a swamp hole," and from this point, near Mr Manning Plimpton's,
the description appears to be identical with the present location of the
road and South Street.
There was a line of marked trees to a "white oke" marked
"ye north point of a hill," … "thence to Hensdale Clark's barn - the road
runs the north side of the four last bounds - thence south of s d Clark's
now dwelling house, thence the north side of a heap of stones, on a little
ledge, and a white oke tree marked, then to a heap of stones at the line
of S D Marcy's land; S D heap of stones on the south side of the highway
by said Marcy's fence." It appears that Mr Marcy was not at that time ready
to have his land cut up with on Moses Marcy's roads. The location of the
fence that the town ran against and stopped - carefully avoiding the heap
of stones - was in front of the residence of Mr H M Fiske.
March 23, 1744 (our dating), a road was laid out and is
described as "Beginning at the south side of the river, land, by a large
rock: thence over the river north; thence turns westerly as near the river
as in convenient till it comes to the old road now trod, to a pitch pine
tree; thence to a black oak; then running a northerly course to a pitch
pine near the line between Jabez Harding and Jonathan Perry." The road
was described in its continuance by various marks until it "comes into
the road that leads from Aaron Martin's to Denison Bridge." Aaron Martin's
was where Mr Horatio Carpenter now lives, on Fiske Hill.
We find here that in 1744 Lot number 20 was owned by Jabez
Harding, who was a son of Abraham Harding, original proprietor of that
lot. The crossing of the river from the "large rock", in Mr Marcy's land
was not far from the east end of the HAMILTON WOOLEN COMPANY's lower mill,
and near Oxford line. From that point to Cliff Street the road can now
be traced along the steep side-hill. The road went north of the pond called
Pleasant, by where Dr L W Curtis now resides.
One year later, March 4, 1745, among the town's
creditors we find: "Then Mr Hensdale Clark brought in his account, which
was three pounds, twelve shillings, old tenor, for the sawing plank for
the bridge". The location of Mr Clark's saw-mill will be referred to in
In March, 1745, the above mentioned road was continued:
"Beginning at a large rock the south side of the river in Mr Marcy's land,
then runs southeasterly to a small pitch pine tree, then over a small run
of water to the end of a rocky knoll; then turning more south to a great
rock with stones upon it the west side of the road; thence near the same
course by a fence the east side of the said road till it comes to the corner
of said fence; then turns easterly by said Marcy's house and barn, which
are the north side of this road; then a little more southerly to Oxford
west line. Then this road begins again in Sturbridge, the west side of
Mr Samuel Freeman's land. Then was laid out the Woodstock road over Lebanon
Hill. The record gives the names of three settlers on the line of that
road to Woodstock, - Nehemiah Underwood on the location long known as the
Clark place, John Ryan just beyond, and where now is Southbridge Pauper
Asylum was Joseph Hatch.
The road down under the cliff was never a popular way,
and why it was located there is hard to understand, unless it might have
been expected at the time that the town of Oxford would extend it to Mr
Marcy's mills. The people preferred the fordway near Denison's Bridge,
and in March, 1750, the town accepted a road "as now trod more easterly
through Hensdale Clark's land, instead of the one from the ford up stream
to Denison's Bridge". This road can be traced in the Hamilton Woolen Company's
pasture land along the hill-side above the pond.
In March, 1753, an alteration was made. "From the meeting-house
to Moses Marcy's. Beginning in Reuben Ellis's land the north side of the
river, the north end of a knoll, then southerly to and over the river",
etc. This road may be described more briefly; it began opposite the residence
of Dr L W Curtis, passed the location of the company's "Big Mill", across
the river in Hensdale Clark's land, turned a little east towards the Union
Church, then southward into Moses Clark's land; thence over a small run,
and up over the hill where it may now be seen in the pine grove on Main
Street, This road united with that of 1745, from the Cliff Bridge, which
entered South Street near the low house owned by Mr J J Oakes. The old
road around by the bridge under the Cliff was then discontinued. Reuben
Ellis built his house on that section of the road between Dr Curtis' residence
and the river. That house and property was afterwards owned and occupied
by Samuel Fiske, Sr., and when the Hamilton Woolen Company made their improvements
at the "Brick Village" so called, it was moved to a back street, and there
occupied until within a few years.
These roads that have been mentioned comprise all that
were laid out in the part of Sturbridge now included in this town, previous
It was about this time that two young men came in , whose
descendants have been prominent in various departments of the town's progress
Gershom Plimpton came on foot with his pack, gun, ammunition,
etc. He married Martha, daughter of Moses Marcy, and they lived several
years in a part of the clothing shop. He bought of his father for "9 pounds
lawful money", ten acres of land in Sturbridge, bounded south on the Quinebaug,
west by land of Jonathan Perry, northerly by the highway, and easterly
by the land of Reuben Ellis. Deed dated April 21, 1759. Near the east end
of this lot, the north side of the river, on a beautiful site, he built
his house. The location is now occupied by Alden's magnificent block. A
bridge at this place - now Main Street Iron Bridge - is mentioned in the
town records along in the seventies of last century, and called "Gershom
Plimpton's bridge". A more direct road, crossing Pleasant Pond, south of
Gershom Plimpton's house, and over the river by the clothier's mill, superseded
the one below, which crossed by Reuben Ellis' saw mill.
William McKinstry, of Scotch-Irish descent, landed from
Ireland in 1741, without capital, except his own innate love of industry
and frugality. He settled Lot number 19, next north of 20, where his great-grandson,
Mr William F McKinstry, now resides. Mr William McKinstry married Mary,
daughter of Joseph Morse, who , as well as Martha Marcy, had grown up in
this new place.
To illustrate the times, the following is copied from
Mr Moses Plimpton's "Historical Lectures" delivered before the Southbridge
Lyceum, March, 1836:
From a person who, some years since, had an interview
with the late Capt. Abel Mason, Sen., for the purpose of making inquiries,
I have the following facts: "When Mr Jonathan Mason first came to this
place, bears, wolves and deer were numerous, and made depredations upon
the flocks of cattle and sheep and fields of grain.
"The people were in the habit of attending meeting at
all times when it was possible to go. Mr Mason and those in his neighborhood
had to travel 5 to 6 miles through the woods, and ford the Quinebaug in
the summer, and they sometimes felled tress across to pass upon, which
would remain until carried off by freshets. In winter the men of one neighborhood
assembled early, and , by the aid of snow-shoes, or rackets beat a track,
all going single file. The women and children would follow, and mothers
often carried young children in their arms." Another incident of the lecturer's
grandfather, Gershom Plimpton, is as follows: "Some years after he began,
probably about 1756, there was nothing but a foot-path from this place
to the old Col. Cheney house, so-called, which was near the place of Larkin
Ammidown's factory. Coming from Col. Cheney's in the evening, and when
near the place of the Columbian factory, he heard the howling of wolves
not far from him, and he supposed they had seen or smelled him, and were
collecting to pursue him. It may be imagined that his speed was soon increased
to a maximum, and, being very active and swift of foot, he in a few minutes
reached Mr. Freeman's in this village, and the wolves had to make other
provision for their supper."
It was under such circumstances that, for more than twenty
years, the little children were gathered from the scattered homes to receive
the small amount of education which the times allotted to them. The first
teacher in that part of Sturbridge now included in this town was Margaret
Manning and she gathered her pupils at the house of James Denison, on the
site of the homestead of the late Lewis Morse. The first school-house was
built about twenty rods west of Mr Denison's house, in 1754. The first
school district was all of Sturbridge, south of the river, that is included
in this town. The school district in the Pratt neighborhood was established
in 1770, and the centre district in 1775, the location of the Denison school-house
being moved father south.
The first saw-mill in this town was built by Moses Marcy
before November, 1733, to which he added a grist-mill before the last of
September, 1736. The second saw-mill in this town and the first improvement
of water-power in Globe Village was Hensdale Clark's, built before 1744
and situated on or near the site of a little mill, which (whatever is done
in it now) was a grist-mill some twenty-five years ago. It was down the
river, not far below Mr Gleason's store. This early saw-mill was subsequently
owned by Reuben Ellis.
It will now be appropriate with the design and brevity
of this article to pass lightly over a period of about half a century,
a period of gradual growth in population and a corresponding change in
the appearance of the country. New farms were wrought by the second and
third generations from the first settlers. The whole surface of the town
was brought to about the same general appearance - style of buildings excepted
- as may now be seen in all the rural districts. Along the Quinebaug, the
Marcy saw and grist-mill; and on the location of Globe Village, Gershom
Plimpton's clothing-mill, and later his son's grist-mill, accommodated
the agricultural community. Yet, in the midst of this half-century of quiet
progress occurred that which formed a great epoch in the world's history
- the American Revolution. Strong men went out from these homes to the
conflict and helped to achieve the right of the people to govern themselves.
Their names, so far as has been ascertained, are found on the rolls of
the Revolutionary soldiers of the towns of Sturbridge and probably Charlton
and Dudley. Some of those who survived the war were no less strong in the
affairs of civil government, and their names are identified with the early
movements that preceded and finally resulted in the establishment of the
town of Southbridge.
The thought of a new town existed in the minds of far-seeing
men when there were not above five hundred inhabitants in all the territory;
and being put in an enduring form by the pen of Joshua Harding, and handed
down by Moses Plimpton, is here inserted as an important link in the chain
of movements between the early conditions and present developments.
At a meeting of parties interested, in 1796, a committee
was appointed, consisting of Oliver Plimpton, Daniel Morse, Joshua Harding
Jr., Asa Walker, Luther Ammidown, Eleazer Putney Jr., and James Dyer, to
whom was referred the subject of forming a new town and who were to report
thereon. They reported as follows:
The committee to whom was referred the subject of forming
a number of the inhabitants of the southeast part of Sturbridge, southwest
part of Charlton and west part of Dudley into a town, have attended that
service, and beg leave to report as follows, viz.: The first article of
instructions to your committee was to report the most convenient spot for
a meeting house. In the public opinion, three spots have been referred
to, at a moderate distance from each other. Your committee, having paid
particular attention to each of them, are unanimous in their opinion that
the central, which is a rising ground on Capt. Marcy's land, north of Col.
Freeman's barn, concentrates convenience, elegance and beauty.
The second article of instruction to your committee was
to report the principles on which said house is to be built. As it is natural
to expect that in a class of citizens so numerous as is comprised in the
proposed new town, there will be different sentiments in regard to modes
of religious worship, this part, therefore, of your committee's instructions
forms the most arduous and difficult task. But, as a liberal and conciliatory
plan appears to be the general wish, your committee propose the following:
That a subscription be opened to raise a sum sufficient to erect a frame
and belfry for a meeting-house and complete the outside, and that the pews
be sold at public vendue to complete the inside; that every denomination
be equally privileged in said house, according to their interest therein;
this clause, however, not to confirm the free use of said house to the
minority, when the majority are not improving same.
Your committee foresee with concern that the liberality
of this plan will be objected to by many respected characters as having
a tendency to deprive the town of a stated, settled, Orthodox ministry,
to which objection your committee beg leave to make the following observations:
1st The difference in sentiment betwixt the
Congregationalists and Baptists is principally confined to the administration
of the ordinance of Baptism, a very immaterial difference indeed. Were
both parties seriously to reflect that religion consists in parity of heart,
and give to no more weight and consideration to modes and forms of worship
than they really deserve; and if a minister should be settled disposed
to administer that ordinance in the manner most agreeable to the subjects
of it, we might look forward to that wished-for period, when both parties
might be happily united in one society.
2nd That every denomination being equally privileged
in said house, according to their interests, will have a material tendency
to unite and cement themselves together in one society.
3rd That there are comprised in the proposed
town as large a number, and reputable both as to character and interest
as new towns are generally composed of, (and) it would be ungenerous to
say they were not as well disposed towards supporting the Gospel.
The third article of instructions to your committee was
to ascertain the bounds of said town.
Your committee propose the following: Beginning at the
Southeast corner, on the State line, to include James Haskell, Benjamin
Stone, Thomas Cheney, Lieut. Eleazer Putney, Eliakim Chamberlain, Jesse
Merritt, Paul Rich, Asa Dresser, Alexander Brown, John Chub, Joseph and
William McKinstry, Jonathan Perry, to the river; thence include John Plimpton,
Capt. Elias Plimpton, Fletcher Foster, Capt. Samuel Ellis, Jedediah Ellis,
Simeon Mason and Chester May, to the State line. But as an actual survey
will be necessary, before an act of incorporation can be applied for, your
committee are of opinion to refer minute circumstances respecting boundaries
to that period.
The fourth article of instruction to your committee was
to report a plan of the meeting-house, which will accompany this report.
The fifth article of instruction to your committee was
to see what number of persons will come forward to build said house. Although
your committee as yet are not well enough informed to detail the particular
disposition of every person, yet from what information your committee have
already obtained, the disposition of the people appears to be very general
in favor of the plan. Your committee propose to bring forward subscription
papers at the present meeting, which will give that point the fairest decision;
and all moneys, either by subscription or sales of pews, to be considered
as binding, whenever an act of incorporation takes place, otherwise to
be void and of no effect.
Your committee, in closing this report, are disposed to
present to your view the geographical situation of the proposed town. The
great parent of nature seems to have been profuse in his favors to this
place. The Quinebaug River, which falls so nearly central through, with
its excellent seats for mills and other water-works, and circumstances
highly favorable tot he introduction of useful mechanics, and rendering
it a place of activity and business. The goodness of the soil, with the
excellent forests, abounding with all kinds of timber for building, are
estimated of great consequence to the general plan.
Abstractly considered from the value it will add to the
real estate, if we take into view the benefits that would naturally result
from a religious society, where there are so large a number of youths,
in forming their minds for accomplishments, usefulness and virtue, when
they are at present, by reason of local situation, notoriously neglected
are, in the opinion of your committee, considerations of so much weight
that (they) ought to bear down obstacles that present themselves in the
way of the accomplishment of an object so noble, so great and so good.
From every view of the subject your committee recommend, with steadiness,
energy and vigor, to take the most effectual measures to carry into complete
effect an object of so much consequence as soon as time and other circumstances
will permit (Report made February 29, 1796)
This report was signed by the whole committee, and undoubtedly
expressed their views and feelings; but it is due to one of them (says
Moses Plimpton) "to state that it was from the pen of Joshua Harding, who
was usually required to draft instruments of this kind; and it will, perhaps,
be sufficient commendation of the report and of its author to say that
it discovers sound judgment and ability, and, in particular, that the candid
and liberal views and high moral tone which pervade it throughout were
literally but specimens of his pure and benevolent mind."
Twenty years afterwards the purpose in the minds of the
people, so well expressed in the foregoing report of the committee, resulted
in the formation of a new town. Their object was retarded by the opposition
of all three of the old towns and more especially of Sturbridge, that town
being unwilling to lose so much of her territory.
The meeting-house, however, was built and a poll parish
formed. The meeting-house frame was raised under the direction of William
Love, July 4th, 1797, and this first public building within
the limits of this town was dedicated July 4th, 1800, which
was, of course, just eighty-eight years before the laying of the corner-stone
of Southbridge's magnificent Town Hall.
The act erecting a poll parish here was approved February
28, 1801. The preamble of the act containing the reasons for the same is
as follows: "Whereas, for the convenience and satisfaction of a number
of the inhabitants of the towns of Sturbridge, Charlton and Dudley, in
the county of Worcester, with respect to their attending public worship,
it is found necessary to set them off, and erect them into a poll parish."
The names of ninety legal voters were affixed to the act. The number of
acres of land included in the estates taken from each of the three towns
was: Dudley: 2229; Sturbridge: 9445; Charlton: 2429. The parish was known
by the name of "Honest town."
The agitation for a new town was commenced again in 1811,
and continued from year to year until an act of incorporation was obtained.
NAMING OF SOUTHBRIDGE:
In March, 1814, Oliver Plimpton was chosen an agent "to attend the next session of the general court, and use his endeavors to obtain an order of notice, or at least an examining committee, for business, relative to being set off as a town." In May following, Major Calvin Ammidown was chosen]]
an additional agent to attend the General Court. At another
special meeting, December 6, 1814, Jason Morse was chosed as an additional
agent, and Joshua Harding, Gershom Plimpton and Fordyce Foster a committee
to draft an act of incorporation. On the subject of a name for the new
town, all were invited to bring forward their favorite, and a committee
of five was chosen to select from the list. This committee was: Abel Mason,
Sr., Joshua Harding, Gershom Plimpton, Fordyce Foster and Jacob Endicott.
The venerable Captain Abel Mason, Sr., brought in the name of Southbridge.
The committee selected from the list the names of Southbridge and Quinebaug
for the consideration of the parish, and Southbridge obtained the vote.
New agents were chosen in March, 1815, viz: Calvin Ammidown, Frederick
W. Bottom and James Wolcott.
The "act to incorporate the town of Southbridge" was approved
by the Governor and thus became a law February 15, 1816.
FIRST TOWN MEETING:
The warrant for the first town-meeting was issued by Oliver
Plimpton, Esq. To Dexter Clark, dated "February 21, 1816," directing the
calling of the legal voters "to assemble at the meeting-house, where the
parish meetings have heretofore been held," March 6, 1816.
At this meeting the following were elected, to wit: Moderator,
Gershom Plimpton; Town Clerk, Timothy Paige; Town Treasurer, Luther Ammidown,
Sr.; Selectmen, Gershom Plimpton, Samuel Fiske, Joshua Mason, William Morris
and Fordyce Foster; Assessors, John McKinstry, Edward Baylis and Joseph
Marcy; Constable, Dexter Clark.
At that time was founded a new town, eighty-three or four
years after the entrance of the first settler, and seventy-six years after
the Marcy house was built.
The limits of this article will not admit of anything
like a history in detail of the seventy-two years intervening between that
and the present. The aim will be to illustrate to some extent the remarkable
growth in the various departments, forming the conditions which make this
as high as the seventh town in population, and other characteristics, in
the county. It being allowable only to bring out the prominent features
which make up the main issue, it is seen that in the elimination of a portion
of the large amount of date in hand, much of interest, and many persons
and factors of importance, must necessarily be excluded.
The population of this town was in 1820: 1066; 1830: 1444;
1850: 2824; 1875: 5740; 1885: 6500. The increase since 1850 has been mainly
from immigrants and their descendants. They are German, Scotch, English,
Irish and Canadians; the latter being the most numerous. The English and
Scotch are few - mostly skillful workmen in some of the departments of
manufactures. The honest labor of the frugal people has formed the base
of every enterprise in the progress here for the last forty years. We see
the marks of their toil in every structure and excavation, and in every
product of the mill and the workshop. These immigrants came here poor,
and as a rule have become well to do - some are wealthy; and the rising
generation are having the benefit of the educational, moral and social
advantages bestowed by the capital which their fathers have helped to create
in this place. Constituting two-thirds of the population, it is hopeful
for the future welfare of the town that a goodly number are advancing with
vigor in the various enterprises, and in the formations that serve to promote
temperance and the best interest of the community.
Appropriations for all purposes the first year of the
town were: $1,600; 1830: $,1600; 1839: $5,493; 1848: $3,200; 1869: $35,864;
1880: $41,899; 1888: $45,000, exclusive of the special appropriation of
$65,000 for the town hall. Valuation: Total in 1869: $2,124,796; 1879:
$2,906,461; 1887: $3,158,210 - an increase of $1,033,414 in eighteen years.
Early Manufacturers and Extinct Corporations and Companies:
The business of manufacturing at the "Globe Village" began
in 1814. The spinning was commenced in the old mill - linseed oil mill
of Captain Gershom Plimpton - which stood near the road on the south side.
The first owners were Thomas Upham, David Fiske, Samuel Newell, James Wolcott,
Jr.; Perez B. Wolcott, Josiah I. Fiske, Francis Wheelock, Ephraim Angell,
Moses Plimpton and Samuel L. Newell, a part of whom were incorporated by
the name of the "Globe Manufacturing Company," in October, 1814. The same
year this company erected the "Globe Mill", which still remains near the
bridge. The factory building below the road was erected in 1815. It was
at first, and until 1817, a cotton factory. In that year there was a division
of the property among the owners, the south side being taken by James Wolcott,
Perez B. Wolcott, Samuel A. Groves and Ephraim Angell, and the other side
by the remaining proprietors. Additions were soon made to the south side,
and the woolen business established, and in 1829, the owners of the other
side, who still composed the "Globe Manufacturing Company," sold out the
whole of their property to Mr. Wolcott and his company.
After the purchase from the "Globe Manufacturing Company,"
in February, 1820, James Wolcott, Jr., Perez B. Wolcott, and Samuel A.
Groves were incorporated by the name of the "Wolcott Woolen Manufacturing
Company," and the company was increased by new proprietors in Boston, who
made investments to considerable amount. After the great misfortune occasioned
by the falling of the dam, and the destruction of property it occasioned,
the Boston owners determined to abandon the concern and get rid of their
interest. In 1829 it passed into the hands of Messrs. Willard Sayles and
Samuel A. Hitchcock, of Boston, and in 1832 they obtained a new act of
incorporation by the name of the "Hamilton Woolen Company" (see Existing
The factory afterwards owned by the "Dresser Manufacturing
Company" was put in operation in 1814. It was then in Charlton, and the
first water-power that side of the line. The owners were John Green, of
Rhode Island, and William Sumner, the latter having the care of the business
and living in this town. This privilege was owned in part by Major George
Sumner, who erected clothing works below the cotton factory, and that business
and wool-carding was continued until the whole became the property of S.
H. Babcock, of Boston, by whom it was sold to Harvey Dresser. This cotton-mill,
with all the real estate and machinery, was incorporated as the "Dresser
Manufacturing Company," February 14, 1834; the corporators; were Harvey
Dresser, Jerry Merritt, of Charlton, Samuel Stafford, of Providence, and
Benjamin W. Kimball and their associates, with a corporate capital of seventy-five
thousand dollars real estate, and one hundred and fifty thousand dollars
personal estate. Subsequently reorganized under the same act, it continued
in the name of the "Dresser Manufacturing Company" until the mill was destroyed
by fire. The water-power is now un-employed
The Marcy privilege, located next below the preceding,
with the saw-mill and grist-mill, became the property of Jedediah Marcy,
Jr., grandson of the first proprietor, in 1789. The following year John
Gray introduced at this place the clothier and wool-carding business; and,
after conducting it about eight years, sold his interest to Zebina Abbott.
Mr Abbott sold the clothier business to his brother-in-law, George Sumner,
of Spencer, who came here about 1802. After Mr Sumner moved to the next
privilege above (Dresser Manufacturing Company's), about 1814, a company
was formed, and, after conducting business about two years as the "Charlton
Manufacturing Company," were incorporated February, 1816, as the "Southbridge
Factory Company, for the purpose of manufacturing wool in Southbridge."
Two years afterwards the company failed, and the property passed back tot
he heirs of the Marcy estate. This property had been in the name of the
Marcy family ninety-five years, when, in 1827, it passed by deed from Hon.
Jedediah Marcy to Deacon Elisha Cole. Mr. Cole deeded to Mr Royal Smith
in 1832, who conveyed his whole interest, including the mills and water-power
here and twelve acres of land, to Mr Ebenezer D. Ammidown, January 20,
1836; consideration, nine thousand dollars. The same day Mr Ammidown deeded
this property to the Dresser Manufacturing Company, and that company conveyed
the same, with additional power, to the Central Manufacturing Company,
which was at that time organized by Mr. Ammidown. This company erected
a mill in 1837, putting in 4480 spindles and other preparations, with 120
looms, for making fine shirting and sheeting.
On the 27th December, 1845, the company was
re-organized, with the capital increased to $80,000 - $1,000 each share,
subscribed for as follows, viz.: Ebenezer D. Ammidown, 40 shares; Linus
Child, 10; Manning Leonard, 15; Chester A. Dresser, 15; the last two not
being among the first corporators.
At the organization of this company E. D. Ammidown was
elected agent, C.A. Dresser, superintendent, and M. Leonard, clerk.
In 1852, the manufacturing property was leased to Chester
A. Dresser and Manning Leonard, who operated for the company on contract
for a period of five years.
March 30, 1859, the whole estate was conveyed by Samuel
M. Lane, as assignee of the Central Manufacturing Company, to Chester A.
Dresser and Manning Leonard for forty thousand dollars, who operated as
co-partners. The Mr. Dresser bought Mr Leonard's one-half interest for
twenty-five thousand dollars, and organized the "Central Mills Company"
to whom the whole estate was conveyed by deed dated February 16, 1863,
for fifty thousand dollars. (See Central Mills Company).
Columbian Cotton Mill, located about a mile below the
Marcy privilege. The first mill was erected in 1821. The business was conducted
under a general partnership up to the year 1825. The owners were Ebenezer
D. Ammidown, Lament Bacon, Samuel Hartwell, Moses Plimpton and Samuel L.
Newell. Mr Newell lost his life by being caught in a belt. The other partners
obtained an act of incorporation June, 1825.
The mill was destroyed by fire in December, 1844, and
the water-power remained unused until 1856, when Hon. E. E. Ammidown erected
a brick mill on the premises, and commenced the manufacture of cotton jeans
and flannels. This business was afterwards conducted by his sons Malcolm
and Henry C., to whom the property had been conveyed by deed. Lieutenant
Malcolm Ammidown lost his life in the war. The property was then sold for
the purpose of effecting a division of interests, and was purchased by
the brother, who sold, in 1866, to Henry T. Grant, of Providence, R. I.,
consideration, thirty-seven thousand dollars. Mr Grant erected a large
addition to the mill, and put in forty-seven hundred and thirty-six spindles
and one hundred and eight looms, with other preparations for making print
cloths. In 1879 a foreclosure brought about a public sale, and the property
changed hands. Afterwards the mills were destroyed by fire, and the water-power
was unused until purchased by the American Optical Company. (See American
ASHLAND was the former name of the location of the mills,
the lowest down the river in this town. The first improvement of the water-power
here was a saw-mill at the mouth of Lebanon Hill Brook, built by Adolphus
Ammidown in 1831. His brother, Larkin Ammidown, built the first mill on
the Quinebaug, at this point, in 1835, and began spinning cotton in 1836,
and the same year sold the estate to Silas H. Kimball.
In 1843 it came into the hands of a mortgagee, who sold
the estate in 1847, one-half to Stephen P. Irwin, one-fourth to Moses E.
Irwin and the other fourth to W. A. J. Wilkinson. These grantees operated
the mill about two years, until June 5, 1849, when the cotton-mill and
machinery were destroyed by fire. The water-power, except for a saw-mill
operated part of the time, was unused until sold to Mr James Saunders,
of Providence, R.I., in 1864. Afterwards, the village that had been called
Ashland became Sandersville (see later in the article).
In the War of the Rebellion, Southbridge bore an honorable
part, with the expenditure of much money and the loss of many valuable
lives. The selectmen during these eventful years were: Verney Fiske, Adolphus
Merriam, Malcolm Ammidown, William C. Steadman, Manning Leonard and John
O. McKinstry. The town clerk was Daniel F. Bacon. Samuel M. Lane was treasurer
in the years 1861-64, and Daniel F. Bacon in 1865.
A special town-meeting was called May 6, 1861, to contrive
measures for the aid of the government against the Rebellion, when the
sum of eight thousand dollars was appropriated for raising and equipping
a military company and for the support of the families of those who might
enter the service. William Beecher, John O. McKinstry, John Edwards and
Chester A. Dresser were united with the selectmen to form a committee to
take charge of the appropriation and expend it "according to their best
discretion." This committee were authorized to pay for each volunteer,
who resided in the town, a dollar and a half each week to the wife and
half a dollar to each child under twelve years of age, during the term
of the volunteer's active service. The committee were also to pay to each
enlisted man eight dollars a month while in active service and fifty cents
for each half-day spent in preliminary drilling. On the 7th
of October the selectmen were authorized to pay State aid to the families
of soldiers, as provided by a law passed at the extra session of the Legislature.
July 1, 1862, the town voted to give a bounty to each
soldier, not to exceed thirty-eight, the sum of one hundred dollars, to
be paid when the soldier was mustered in to the military service for three
years and credited tot he quota of the town.
In August, the same bounty, one hundred dollars, was voted
to each volunteer, to the number of sixty, who should enlist in a nine
months' regiment and be credited to the quota of the town.
In September, 1863, it was voted to pay State aid to families
of drafted men as well as the families of volunteers; and in November to
pay State aid to the families of men who had died or become disabled in
the military service.
On June 20, 1964, the bounty to volunteers for three years'
service was fixed at one hundred and twenty-five dollars.
On March 6, 1866, the sum of three thousand five hundred
dollars was raised to refund to persons who had paid money upon subscriptions
used for recruiting purposes.
The number of men furnished by the town for the war was
four hundred, which was nineteen above all demands. Among them were four
commissioned officers. The town expended on account of the war, exclusive
of State aid, $17,313.65. For State aid, half of which was refunded by
the State, $18,367.98. Individuals voluntarily contributed $5757 more than
was refunded by the town. The ladies worked with increased interest until
there was no further call for supplies. The Soldiers' Aid Society sent
money and other other contributions to the amount of nearly $1200.
The auditing committee for the year 1866 reported in the
words following, referring to the list of soldiers on the records of the
Below we give a list of those who have served in the Federal army as soldiers during the late war, and, so far as is known, their record. It is, indeed, a Roll of Honor, to which we shall be proud to refer as our attestation of the loyalty and devotion of our people to the Union of the States, and the cause of republican liberty. There are among them few of rank, but all are of honor, save in one or two instances, and served their country well in all the vicissitudes of the war; and we desire to perpetuate the memory of the fallen and the title of the living braves, by inscribing their names upon our public Records as part of our debt of gratitude to them.
Second Infantry- C.O.McKinstry (sergeant), re-enlisted in the same; promoted second lieutenant.
Fourth Infantry- James Ryan
Fifth Infantry - William P. Plimpton, second enlistment
Ninth Infantry - Edward Byrne, Augustus Benway, John Gleason, killed at Gaines' Mill, Virginia, June 27, 1862,; Patrick Maher, killed at Gaines' Mill, June 27, 1862; John Innis.
Tenth Infantry - George W. Hersey, David F. Smith
Twelfth Infantry - John C. Freeman, died a prisoner at Florence, South California, February, 1865
Thirteenth Infantry - Charles C. Bigelow, L. A. Chapman, Albert E. Morse.
Fourteenth Infantry - Porter Plimpton
Fifteenth Infantry - Conrad Anthon, Alexander Bryson, James C. Barlow, Sanford Bottom, Peter Cain, was previously in Fort Sumter when bombarded, April 14, 1861; Watson Cheney, Henry M. Carpenter, George W. Faulkner, promoted to commissary sergeant; Charles M. Hersey, William F. Miller, corporal; Eliot F. McKinstry, re-enlisted; Lucian G. Lamb, W. H. Nichols, William H. Smith.
Eighteenth Infantry - David Brown.
Twenty-first Infantry - Timothy Cranny, James Bryson, died of fever at Annapolis, Maryland, November 27, 1861, the first martyr from this town; Lucian Convers, Timothy Collins, killed in battle at Newbern, North Carolina, March 14, 1862; Charles H. Greenleaf, Joseph Harman, killed in battle Roanoke Island, Feburary 8, 1862; Charles L. Horton, Dennis Mahan, Charles W. Melleney, Samuel H. Marble, re-enlisted; Samuel G. Irish, James S. O'Brien, Oliver Stone, Albert Saunder, Waldo Vinton, Edward Wald, Lucian W. Spencer.
Twenty-second Infantry - Nathan B. Angell, Benjamin S. Aldrich, Harrison A. Bond, corporal, died August 22, 1863, from a gun-shot wound received at Gettysburg; John L. Bartlett, Andrew J. Clark, Henri Elkins, died August 4, 1862, from wounds received at Gaines' ill; David R. Horton, Anson Morse, J. Marra, John F. Pratt, Daniel Walker, sergeant.
Twenty-fourth Infantry - Marvin G. Marcy re-enlisted; Louis Rivers by transfer; Andrew H. Morse by transfer.
Twenty-fifty Infantry - John E. Bassett, Samuel S. Dresser, James A. McKinstry, Elias M. McKinstry, A. J. McKinstry, John G. Leach, George Link, Dwight Moore, John Ryan, John Stone, Alonzo Vinton, first enlistment
Thirty-fourth Infantry - Malcolm Ammidown, second lieutenant, taken prisoner at Newmarket, Virginia, May 15, 1864, and died at Charleston, South Carolina, October 1, 1864; his name is given to Post 168, Department of Massachussetts, G.A.R.; Eber C. Pratt, first enlistment; Francis Armes, first enlistment; Linus C. Albee, Nathan B. Angell, second enlistment; John Bryson, was in Andersonville prison-pen; Albert O. Blanchard, killed by accident, May 26, 1864; Stephen Blackmar, sergeant died at Harper's Ferry, March 4, 1864; Charles E. Blackmar, Edwin Bennett, Sanford Broadbent, Edwin S. Beecher, Michael Bowler, W. H. H. Cheney, member of the band; George W. Corey, sergeant; Joseph B. Corey, Walter B. Cutting killed in battle at Stickney's Farm, October 13, 1864; Arnold Capron, killed in battle June 5, 1864, at Piedmont, Virginia; George Congdon, George H. Dean, sergeant; George F. Fiske, died May 2nd, 1864; David Fairfield, Arthur I. Fox, killed in battle at Piedmont, Va; Henry C Green, George E. Hubbard, Frederick Holmes, David Marcy, William B. Morse, John Mack, Patrick Moriarity, David T. T. Litchfield member of band; J. H. Lumbard, Ebenezer Leach, Andrew . Morse, Transferred to Twenty-fourth; Munroe Reynolds, William A. Sears, died of wounds June 18, 1864; Paul Sarboro, S Judson Tiffany, died at Andersonville slaughter-pen, Ga.; Kayson Tiernay, Alexander Wald.
Thirty-eight Infantry - Dr. S. C. Hartwell, volunteer surgeon to the Army of the Potomac from April 9 to May 17, 1862; afterwards surgeon of Thirty-eight Massachusetts, and also Medical director of General Emory's division; resigned March 2, 1864; Andrew J. Plimpton, surgeon's assistant.
Thirty-ninth Infantry - William P. Plimpton, third enlistment.
Fortieth Infantry - Richmond Barrett, sergeant; George Eccleston, William E. Horton, Alden Potter.
Forty-second Infantry - James A. Knight, died in the service.
Forty-fourth Infantry - Samuel S. Perry
Forty-fifth Infantry - Frank H. Dean, Charles H. Leonard, Barnard A. Leonard, Charles A. Howard, James H. Mason, Edwin T. Morse, Danforth K. Olney, member of the band; William P. Plimpton, first enlistment; Charles B. Sumner, Edwin E. Tiffany, first enlistment.
Fifty-first Infantry - Edward Armes, Charles G. Blanchard, Thomas Burns, Henry M. Clemence, Philip Cain, Flavius J. Cheney, Joseph Corey, William B. card, James J. Callahan, Ewin Dexter, first enlistment; Marcus Dillabar, James Flynn, first sergeant; Luther S. Fox, Charles Green, George S. Lafflin, drummer; Albert Holmes, George A. Hanson, Fitz Henry Hall, Adelbert O. Horne, first enlistment; Philip W. Harris, Charles N. Hager, Frederick Kind, James J. Leary, first enlistment; W. O. Mason, first enlsitment; John Murray, Joseph Moore, first enlistment; Norval Newell, William H. Parsons, William Ryan, first enlistment; Thomas Ratigan, Francis F. Spencer, Thomas A. Stone, sergeant; Terence Smith, Alvin S. Streeter, William Sabin, first enlistment; Leonard G. Webster, John K. Walker.
Fifty-fourth Infantry- John Tanner, killed July 13, 1864.
Fifty-seventh Infantry- John Tully, Thirty-fourth, enlisted in Co. A, Fifty-seventh, and died at Alexandria, Va., May 16, 1865.
Sixty-first Infantry- William O'Brien, killed at Petersburg, Va.
Sixty-second Infantry- John W. Clark
Other Massachusetts Organizations:
Thirty-fourth Massachusetts Regulars- John R Amidon
First cavalry-William H. Belknap, died at Hartford, Conn., December 17, 1864; Ambrose Fogle, David Stone.
Fourth Cavalry- Robert S. Bryson, Edward Egan, James Flynn, second enlistment; Edward C. Hughes, bugler; Francis Heffenan, James J. Leary, second enlistment; Joseph Link, Peter Porter, farrier; John Powers, William Ryan, second enlistment, corporal; Jason G. Smith, first sergeant, second enlistment; William Shumaker, died at Andersonville slaughter-pen, Ga.; John Spencer, died November 19, 1864; Everett A. Town.
Fifty Cavalry- George W. Coffin (colored), died May 17, 1864; William G. Coffin (colored).
Second Battery, Light Artillery- Henry B. Blodgett, John D. Fiske, sergeant, Nim's Battery, re-enlisted in the same.
Third (B) Battery- Henry G. Ammidown, George blacker, died at Hall's Hill, 1862.
Fifth Battery- Frank A. Prescott, clerk of battery.
Second Heavy Artillery- Watson Cheney, Edwin Dexter, second enlistment; John A. Frost, died at Newbern, N.C. October 19, 1864; John W. Lucia, Isaac F. Irish, John Kelly, died May 17, 1865; James S. O'Brien, second enlistment, died at Andersonville, prison-pen, Ga., August 29, 1864; Thomas O'Harry, George Remington, Albert Saunders, second enlistment; Charles Seymour, died a prisoner at Charleston, S.C.; Alonzo Vinton, second enlistment; Albertus A. Wilbur.
Holden Riflemen- Henry G. Ammidown.
Fifteenth Battery (bought)- Joseph Coburn, James Conologue, John Devins, John Gilmore, James Gayton, Theodore C. Lewis, Edward Murry, George T. Brown, William Dewitt, Samuel Newhall, William Ripley, Aaron Bell, Thomas Brown, John Miller, Thomas McIntire, James McDonald, Jones Riley, Goerge Rickert, Patrick Quinn, William D. Wadell, George H. Cutter, Edward Farrell, Thomas Higgins, Charles Hersey, James A. Johnson, John Kinney, John E. Mathews, John Williamson, Michael Walker, George Hazlett, Peter McPhail, John Scott, Daniel Boyce, Albert Burton, George Reese, raymond Russell, John Smidt, Charles Sherman, Frank Turner, Henry Vince.
Sixth United States Colored Troops- Eber C. Pratt, second enlistment, second lieutenant, acting on the staff of Colonel Duncan, and died December 15, 1864, of wounds received at Chapin's Bluff, Va., September 29, 1864.
Corcoran Legion- Timothy Cranney, second enlistment, and was promoted to first lieutenant.
Second District Columbia- Samuel F. Plimpton, promoted commissary sergeant, died March 6, 1864; Francis D. Plimpton, died June, 1865.
United States Cavalry, Regulars- Andrew L. Bigelow.
Organization Unknown- Austin Stevens, E.N.
Robbins, Henry E. Gilbert.
Organizations of other States:
Third Battery, Rhode Island- William Calvert, re-enlisted.
Fifteenth Battery, Rhode Island- H. W. Brown.
Third Cavalry, Rhode Island- Philip Cain, second enlistment, died at New Orleans.
Seventh Infantry, Connecticut- David Bryson, died at Folly Island, S.C., July 10 1863. Joseph Goodale, Oliver H. Mason Sergeant.
Eleventh Infantry, Connecticut- Francis Armes, second enlistment.
Eighteenth Infantry Connecticut- E. P. Bowen.
First Cavalry, New Hampshire- Calvin Clafflin, quartermaster-sergeant.
Seventh Infantry, New Hampshire- Sanford Bottom, killed before Petersburg, Va., September 10, 1864.
Fourth Infantry, Vermont- Rev. Salem M. Plimpton, Chaplain.
Seventh Infantry, Vermont- Philip Lucia, was in Andersonville prison-pen ten months.
Thirty-sixth Infantry, New York- Bernard Flynn.
Thirty-seventh Infantry, New York- Stanley F. Newell, second lieutenant.
Thirteenth Battery, New York- Stanley F. Newell, second enlistment, second lieutenant.
Tenth Cavalry, New York- Warren F. Sikes.
Sixteenth Cavalry, Iowa- Edwin T. Plimpton, died June 15, 1862.
Navy- William Blute, John Burns, frigate "Santee"; Cornelius Cummins, West Gulf Squadron, ship "Lackawana", Michael Eagan, gunboat "Tasca"; F. A. Hurd, Gunboat "Kennebec"; Dennis Kahay, Alexander Longmore, frigate "Santee"; Charles L. Newhall, frigate "Minnesota" and San Jacinto"; Joseph Olney, frigate "Cumberland".
Mention of: Captain Salem Marsh, fell at Chancellorsville,
May 1, 1863, in command of the Second United States Regulars, twenty-eight
years of age, a graduate of West Point in 1860, a native of this town.
The foregoing list is rearranged from a list having the names in alphabetical order, found in a historical sketch of Southbridge by Holmes Ammidown, Esq.
Grand Army of the Republic:
Malcolm Ammidown Post, No. 168, department of Massachusetts,
G.A.R., has a fine organization, and the town will furnish them with a
Memorial Hall and convenient quarters in the new Town-Hall building. The
present commander is Edwin T. Morse.
Auxiliary to this is the Malcolm Ammidown Relief Corps,
No. 71, conducted with much interest and efficiency by the ladies.
Southbridge Light Infantry:
The grant for a new military company in Southbridge, to
be attached to the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, was signed by Oliver
Ames, Governor and commander-in-chief, March 26, 1888. The company was
organized as Company K, and attached tot he Sixth Regiment Massachusetts
Volunteer Militia. Officers elected were,- Captain, John M. Cochran; First
Lieutenant W. F. Heron; Second Lieutenant, F. E. Newbury. Permanent quarters
were prepared for the company in M. J. Suprenaut's new block on Central
Street. A dedication and reception of visitors occurred there December
Religious Societies, Churches and Ministers
The Congregational Church originated from a withdrawal of twenty-one members of the Congregational Church in Sturbridge. They were residents in the poll parish that was established here by an act of the Legislature, February 28, 1801. These members were dismissed from the church in Sturbridge, and organized this church on the 16th day of September following. This small colony united in their public religious worship with the Universalists, Baptists and Methodists in the parish meeting house. With the addition of five more members, this was the condition of the church when the parish was, by an act of the Legislature, made a town by the name of Southbridge, February 15, 1816. The church members now number two hundred and fifty-six, and two hundred and seventy-five attend the Sunday-school. Sunday-school superintendent, H. R. Beecher.
The "Congregational Religious Society in Southbridge" was incorporated December 13, 1816. There were sixty-two original corporators, "with their families and estates, together with such others as my hereafter associate with them, and their successors." August 28, 1818, for the consideration of eighteen hundred dollars, the society obtained of Major Calvin Ammidown the deed of one and one-fourth acres of land, with a house designed for a parsonage. Their meeting-house was erected in 1821, and dedicated January 1, 1822. The house was remodeled in 1839, and dedicated anew September 5th, and again repaired and some changes made in 1869.; re-dedicated September 24th. This house was removed, and a large and elegant edifice of brick erected on the same site, which was dedicated in October, 1885; located on Elm Street.
Pastors: Rev. Messrs. Jason Park, 1816-32; Henry
J. Lamb, 1833-35; Eber Carpenter, 1835-64; Edwin B. Palmer, 1864-69; E.
L. Jaggar, 1869-72; J. E. Fullerton, 1873-76; Joseph Danielson, 1877-88;
Charles H. Pettibone, 1888.
Deacons: Asa Walker, 1801-14; Daniel Morse, 1801-32; Henry Haynes, 1831-39; Josiah Hayward, 1839-42; Elbridge G. Harding, 1837-51; Jonathan Cutting, 1842-75; Samuel M. Lane, 1851-86; William P. Plimpton, 1875; E. S. Swift 1886.
The First Baptist Church of Southbridge was established
January 28, 1817. It was composed of a colony of twenty-six, of both sexes,
who withdrew from the Baptist Church of Sturbridge.
The Central Baptist Church originated in some differences
in the management of the prudential affairs of the First Baptist Church
and Society, when, for the sake of harmony and peace, a majority of the
members of that church withdrew their membership in 1842, and on Sunday,
the 18th of September following organized themselves into a
new church by the name of "The Central Baptist Church of Southbridge."
Before the division the First Baptist Church had about
one hundred and seventy-five members; afterwards, in the course of a few
years, the old church became extinct. The Central Baptist Church had, in
1885, one hundred and eighty-two members. The church and society are both
in prosperous circumstances. Three only of the twenty-four churches that
form the Worcester Baptist Association have contributed more for outside
charitable and religious purposes. Their Sunday-school has a membership
of one hundred and seventy-eight, consisting of thirteen classes and teachers.
Their Sunday-school library is large, and is mainly supported by the annual
income from a fund left for the purpose by one of the town's business men,
the late John Edwards, Esq.
A society was incorporated by the name of the "First Baptist
Society of Southbridge", January 29, 1822. Other denominations held meetings
in the old parish meeting-house occasionally until 1835. At that time the
house was sold at auction, bought, repaired and sold again in the form
of slips, the deeds of which limited the kind of preaching to that of the
In the year 1841, an association was formed and incorporated, styled the "Southbridge Baptist Meeting house Association". Measures were taken for erection of a new house, which was completed and dedicated on Wednesday, October 25, 1848. This building was burned on the evening of the 14th, of November, 1863, and entirely destroyed.
The society erected and finished, in the year 1866, at
a cost of over twenty thousand dollars, the substantial and fine-looking
brick edifice they now occupy. The organ, the cost of which was two thousand
dollars, was given by Chester A. Dresser, Esq., and the late John Edwards,
Esq., the whole being the sole property of the society. They have recently
purchased a handsome parsonage, and are entirely free from debt.
Pastors: Rev. Messrs. George Angell, 1816, died 1827;
Addison Parker, 1827-32; David C. Bowles, 1833-35; Joseph G. Binney, 1835-37;
Sewell S. Cutting, 1837-45; C. P. Grosvenor, last pastor of the First Church,
1842-44; Timothy G. Freeman, 1845-47; Oakman S. Stearns, D.D., 1847-54;
Shubal S. Parker, 1855-67; B. F. Bronson, 1867-73; H. H. Rhees; A. G. Upham,
1877-83; Goram Easterbrooks 1884.
Deacons :First Church:
Cyrus Ammidown, 1817-21; Joshua Vinton, 1817-21; Elisha
Cole, 1821-44; Samuel Fiske, 1821-35; Marvin Cheney, 1835-44.
Deacons Central Baptist Church:
Marvin Cheney, Henry Fiske, Adoniram Coombs, Charles E.
Steward, Alpha M. Cheney, 1878; Joseph F. Esten, 1883-85; Lucius E. Ammidown,
During the existence of the poll parish the several families
of Methodists here joined in support of religious worship with the other
denominations, and occasionally had a preacher of their own belief. In
the year 1832, they for the first time maintained separate worship in Southbridge.
Their meetings were held in the district school-house in the Globe Village
for a period of nearly six years. The Rev. Hezekiah Davis of Dudley, conducted
services there the first year or two.
When their church was formed, in 1834, the Methodist Conference
provided for this new church. Rev. F. P. Tracy was placed here, a young
man about nineteen years of age. He was an able scholar and possessed remarkable
powers of eloquence. The church and society increased rapidly under his
ministry. It soon became necessary to obtain larger quarters to accommodate
the crowds of eager listeners,
In the year 1840 this society moved into the second story
of the old Globe Factory, and held their meetings there about three years.
At the close of this period it was decided to take measures for erecting
a meeting-house. An eligible location was obtained through the liberality
of Jedediah Marcy, Esq., and during the year 1843 the Methodist Church
was built. Since 1870 it has been remodeled and beautiful inside and out.
It is located on Main Street, opposite the Marcy house.
The present number of church members (1888) is one hundred
and seventy-eight. The Sabbath-school, George T. McVey, superintendent,
has two hundred members. The ministers furnished them by the Methodist
Conference, since they entered their own house, are as follows: Rev. Messrs.
Stephen P. Cushing, 1844; L. R. Thayer, 1845-46; Chester Field, 1847; Mark
Staples, 1848-49; Charles McKedding, 1850; William R. Raynall, 1851-52;
David Sherman, 185354; Joseph Denison, 1855; John Calwell, 1856; J. B.
Bigelow, 1857-58; Ichabod Marcy, 1859-60; I. W. Morey, 1861-62; N. D. George,
1863; T. J. Abbott, 1864; J. W. Lewis, 1865-67; W. A. Braman, 1868-69;
William Silverthorn, 1870-72; W. A. Nottage, 1873-75; John C. Smith 1876-78;
E. S. Best, 1879; J. M. Avann, 1880-82; G. Beekman, 1883-84; W. J. Pomfret,
1885-87; N. Fellows; 1888.
THE FIRST UNIVERSALIST SOCIETY:
Universalism was strong, even in the days of the parish,
and they continued their right and occasional occupancy in the parish meeting-house
until it became exclusively the property of the Baptist Society in 1835.
In 1838, the form of constitution as contained in the
Revised Statutes of Massachusetts, in Chapter XX., Sections 26,27 and 28,
was circulated, and eighty signatures were obtained as male members. Preliminary
steps having been taken, the first meeting of the society was held at the
New England Hotel (located on the present site of the Edwards house), April
14, 1838, and was called to order by Benjamin D. Hyde Esq., when the proper
officers were elected for the organization of the society. It was voted
that the society be called by the name of The First Universalist Society
Their meetings were held, first in Dr. Hartwell's Hall,
afterwards in the then new Town Hall. Their present church building, corner
of Hamilton and Main Streets, was erected and the bell purchased in 1842.
Pastors: Rev Messrs. John Boyden, 1838-40; Franklin
Whitaker, 1841-43; J. M. Usher, 1844,; R. O. Williams, 1845-46; Day K.
Lee, 1847-49; B. F. Bowles, 1850-51; Mr Cambridge and Mr. Eliot, 1852;
J. W. Lawton, 1853-55; John Nichols and B. F. Bowles, 1856; W. W. Wilson,
1857-63; A. B. Hervey, 1864- F. C. Flint, B. V. Stevenson, Frank McGuire,
1882-88; Ephraim A. Reed 1888. Sunday-school Superintendent, George C.
Evangelical Free Church, Globe Village:
This church had its origin in a movement of some of the
members of the other evangelical churches of this town. A conference was
held in this village in December, 1853, when it was unanimously decided:
"That the necessities of this village require established preaching and
the ordinances of the gospel; and that it is the duty of Christians in
this vicinity to unite in the support of this object." At a meeting held
January 21, 1854, the Rev. G. Trask, of Fitchburg, Rev. Oakman S. Stearns
and D. Sherman, of Southbridge, were present and united their efforts in
sustaining the measures for laying the foundation of this church. Statements
of the necessities and motives for prompt action in its favor were made
by L. W. Curtis, M.D., George Hanson, Robert Elliot and Oliver Plimpton.
The Evangelical Free Church was then organized, with twenty-nine members,
- eleven males and eighteen females, - who were originally connected with
the Congregational, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and Protestant Episcopal
Public worship was held in Gothic Hall until 1869, when
the Hamilton Woolen Company placed at the disposal of the society a beautiful
and capacious brick church.
The success of this movement has proved that Christian
unity, ignoring sectarian divisions, does not decrease the interest felt
for religious services, but tends to greater sympathy and purer motives,
producing harmony and prosperity. Number of members in the church, one
hundred and sixty-one. The Sunday-school numbers one hundred and forty,
B.U. Bugbee, superintendent.
Rev. Messrs. J. Cunningham, 1855; W. C. Whitcomb, 1856-57;
Henry Loomis, 1859; Thomas Morony, 1860-63; Martin L. Richardson, 1863-66;
Austin Dodge, 1867; Frank A. Warfield, George A. Jackson, 1878; G. H. Willson,
1878-80; Rev. Sylvanus Hayward, installed December 28, 1880, is present
CATHOLIC CHURCH OF ST. MARY'S:
In the year 1840, month of September, the Rev. G. Fitton,
afterwards pastor of South Boston, called the Catholic people together
at the house of Lawrence Seavy in Globe Village. There were present at
this first meeting twelve persons. For the next six years they were visited
about twice a year by the following priests, viz.: Rev. G. Fitton, 1840-43;
Father Williams, 1844; Father Gibson, 1845, and Father Logan, 1846, the
last named being the first to visit them on Sunday. Afterwards the Rev.
John Boyce, of Worcester, found it necessary to engage the town hall every
two months to give service to this people. Having decided, in 1852, to
erect a church, Mr. Wm. Edwards generously gave them the land for a location,
upon which they commenced July 12, 1852. On Sunday, May 1, 1853, their
church was dedicated under the invocation of Saint Peter by the Re. Rev.
J. B. Fitzpatrick, Bishop of Boston. In August, 1858, the Rev. James Quan
was appointed pastor here and at Webster, as one parish.
In September, 1865, the Catholic Church of Southbridge
was set aside as a parish by itself, and a pastor, Rev. A. M. Barrett,
D.D., appointed for it. The parish, as then organized, included Southbridge,
Sturbridge and Charlton, and numbered about two thousand souls.
The Rev. Dr. Barrett was dismissed from this service in
the autumn of 1869, when followed the division of this first society.
The Rev. J. McDermott was in charge of the Irish portion
about a year; then the Rev. John Kremmens was assigned by Bishop O'Reilly,
of Springfield, to the pastorate.
Father Kremmens was "a man of great strength of will,
and power and capacity to build, guide and care for his charge, and to
lead it on to a surprising unity, strength and prosperity - constant and
successful." The parsonage was burned soon after he came here, but the
present one was soon built. The old church was removed to the west side
of the lands, the surface of the lot was graded and set out with trees,
the new and commodious edifice for worship was erected and all these were
paid for during his services here, besides the neat little chapel at Fiskdale.
"Those grounds, embowered with shading trees and carpeted
in nature's living green, wherein he lived his cheerful, helpful life and
serenely died - wherein his remains now lie, at his request, entombed beneath
the shadow of the beautiful church edifice he designed and built as a monument
of his taste, and of his faith in his work in behalf of his people - will
long be looked upon, as time shall pass away, as the evidence of his genius
and ability to surmount obstacles and inspire others with something of
his own sense and enterprise and energy." He died July 18, 1886, and was
buried near his beautiful tree-embowered church. Over his grave has been
placed a fine monument, in which is canopied a portrait bust chiseled in
The Rev. James Donohoe is the present pastor of St. Mary's.
The French Catholics withdrew from the Irish the latter
part of the year 1869, under the charge of Rev. M. F. Le Breton as priest.
The Notre Dame Church, the largest house for public religious worship in
this town, was erected by them on Pine Street upon lands adjoining those
of the old society. The Rev. M. F. Le Breton was succeeded by Rev. G. E.
Brochu, who at present officiates as priest of Notre Dame.
SCHOOLS - School districts, seven in number, were established
when the town was organized in 1816; and so remained, with little alteration
as to territory, while the district system was in operation.
In 1868, March 2d, by vote of the town, the several school
districts were abolished; and the town entered upon and took possession
of the property of the districts, in accordance with the provision of the
general statutes, chapter xxxix., section 3.
The management of the public schools by the town has been
in accordance with the provisions of the general statutes, from time to
time enacted; adopting such changes as the needs of the town and the spirit
of the times have demanded.
A committee of six, serving three years, two of the number
being elected annually and two retiring, constitutes the School Committee
of the town. A superintendent of schools is employed by the year to devote
his whole time to the school interests. The report of that officer, Mr.
J. T. Clarke, for the year ending February 29, 1888, being the third of
the series of the annual reports of the superintendent of schools, furnished
statistics from which is obtained the following:
The town supports a High School, eighteen graded, and
three ungraded schools; also evening schools to answer the requirements
of the "Illiterate Minor Bill" of June, 1887, are established.
"The May enrollment of the children of school age gave
1515, an increase of 96 over the previous enrollment. The public schools
have enrolled 999, which is 111 more than last year. The parochial school
reports 625 as the number enrolled, with an average attendance of 490.
Allowing for those over 15, and for the duplicate enrollment of the few
who have attended both the parochial and the public schools a part of the
year, the result indicates that there are very few children of school age
in town who have not attended school a part of the year."
The total expenditures of the town, less the permanent
repairs, for the year was $14,608.15.
A High School was established in 1841, and maintained
by private contribution until appropriations were made by the town beginning
in 1854. A room in the upper story of the old town-house was occupied by
the High School until that building was taken down in 1887. Very fine accommodations
in the lower story of the new Town Hall-High School building combined will
be furnished at an early day.
The Southbridge Public Library was established by vote
of the town March, 1870, at which time one thousand dollars and the dog
fund, $176.17, was appropriated. At first the books were kept in Whitford's
Block, but on the 1st of January, 1872, the collection was removed to the
commodious rooms in Ammidown Block, designed expressly for the purpose.
By the report of March 1, 1888, the library at that time
contained 12,141 books and 1557 pamphlets and periodicals unbound. During
the year the total number of books consulted at the library was 3199; total
number of volumes taken for home use, 14,949. A reading-room is connected
with the library, which is also supplied with current periodicals. A museum,
containing natural curiosities and antiquities, is in the same building.
Miss A. J. Comins is the librarian, and Miss J. S. Smith, assistant.
SOCIETIES - There are two Masonic Lodges, viz., the Quinebaug
Lodge, F. and A. M., and Doric Chapter, R. A. M., meet at Masonic Hall,
Main, corner of Hamilton Streets; Phoenix Council, No. 333, Royal Arcanum,
meets in their hall in Ammidown Block, Main Street; Southbridge Lodge,
No. 47, I. O. O. F., meets at Odd Fellows' Hall, Savings Bank Building;
Ancient Order of Hibernians, organized in 1873; St. Jean Baptiste Society,
meets at Memorial Block, Main Street; St. Mary's Total Abstinence Society,
meets at their room in Chapins' Block, Hamilton, corner of Crane Street;
and many more of a social, literary, musical or benevolent character. The
Good Samaritan and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union Societies have
done good work; also the Young Women's Christian Temperance Union, which
A Young Men's Christian Association was organized in 1882,
and started off very auspiciously. A Star Course of Lectures has been instituted,
and kept up each winter season. Their rooms, in Edwards' Block, are open
every week-day evening until ten o'clock. The association has purchased
an eligible site, corner of Main and Elm Streets, now occupied by the "Columbian"
building, where they contemplate erecting, at some future time, a suitable
edifice for the prosecution of their work. President, George W. Wells;
Vice-Presidents, F. W. Eaton and B. U. Bugbee; Executive Secretary, C.
D. Munroe; Clerk, F. C. Hill; Treasurer, E. A. Wells.
BANKS - The Southbridge Bank was incorporated in 1836;
capital, one hundred thousand dollars. This bank was authorized to increase
its capital stock fifty thousands dollars in 1854, which sum was subscribed
and paid in the same year. It was converted into a National Banking Association
under the act of Congress of June, 1864, and commenced business as such
April 1, 1865, with a capital of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
The presidents of the Southbridge Bank and Southbridge National Bank have
been as follows: Samuel A. Hitchcock, 1836-52; Jacob Edwards, Jr., 1852-62;
Samuel M. Lane, 1862; Jacob Edwards. The cashiers have been: Samuel M.
Lane, 1836-62; Henry D. Lane, 1862-67; Francis L. Chapin, 1867 to the present
time. Southbridge Savings Bank, incorporated by an act of the Legislature,
approved April 28, 1848, and commenced business in June following. Ebenezer
D. Ammidown, Esq., was elected the first president, in 1848, and continued
till 1849; he having resigned, Dr. Samuel Hartwell was elected hi successor
in 1850. Manning Leonard, Esq., was chosen the first secretary, and Samuel
M. Lane, Esq., treasurer. The present officers are: President, Robert H.
Cole; Treasurer, C. D. Munroe; Vice-Presidents, S. Dresser, Ca. A. Paige
and C. A. Dresser; Secretary, C. D. Munroe.
NEWSPAPERS - Beginning in 1828, when there were but two
papers in this county, Pierpont Edwards Bates Botham started the Reformer
and Moralist, a four-page paper, nineteen by thirteen inches, advocating
firmly the cause of temperance, upon the total abstinence principal. The
name of the paper, after the first year, was changed to The Moralist
and General Intelligencer. It was located in the old brick house opposite
the residence of the late Dr. Hartwell. Mr. Botham failed, and the property
passed into the hands of Moses Plimpton, who sold it to Josiah Snow, of
Providence. Under the direction of L. H. Goland, the Southbridge Register
appeared in February, 1829. In 1832 Mr. Snow sold the property to Joslin
& Tiffany, who, on the 7th of February 1832, issued the first number
of The Village Courier. Edwin D. Tiffany wishing to conduct a political
paper in the interest of the Whig party, bought out Milton Joslin, and
hung out the Henry Clay flag in August following; while an opposition paper,
called the True Republican, supporting Andrew Jackson, was started
by H. G. O. Parks, and continued until the close of the campaign. The last
issue of the Courier was No. 52, on the 31st of January, 1833. In
1830 the Ladies' Mirror was started was started. Each number contained
eight pages, nine by eleven inches. One volume and a few numbers of the
second were issued, George W. H. Fiske, Josiah Snow and W. W. Sherman successively
publishing it. We have no account of any printing in this town from that
time until 1853, in October, when W. F. Brown, of Brookfield, and W. L.
Greene started the Southbridge Press in a house on the site of the
C. A. Dresser house. Nine numbers only of this paper were issued by the
above firm. They sold the paper to Sidney Clarke, who, in January, 1854,
recommenced the publication of the Press . Later he associated Clarke
Jillson with him, and the paper was issued by them until 1856, when Mr.
Clarke was again alone, continuing until 1857, when E. A. Denny bought
and published it until 1858. Then Mr. Charles L. Newhall started the Saturday
Morning News, which, in turn, in 1860, gave way to Quinebaug Item,
of O. D. Haven.
The Southbridge Journal superseded the above paper
in 1861, and was issued by Henry C. Gray until August 17, 1868. William
B. Morse became proprietor and editor and conducted the business till December,
1871, when George M. Whitaker became his associate. Mr. Whitaker became
sole proprietor and editor, 1874, in January. Under the able management
of Mr. Whitaker, the journal has been brought to rank among the best, and
its influence in favor of education, temperance and good morals is outspoken
and decided. In 1887 Mr. Maitland P. Foster became sole proprietor and
editor of the journal.
The Enterprise was started in 1874, by Charles
L. Newhall and P. L. Schriftgiesser. The Journal office was burned
out in December of '74, and the outfit of the Enterprise was sold
to Mr. Whitaker, of the former paper.
In 1878 Mr. William W. Corbin started the Transcript,
which did not live a year.
The Southbridge Herald, started by Mr. W. W. Corbin
in 1881, was a success, and gained a firm foothold in the community before
the death of Mr. Corbin in 1884. The present editor and proprietor, Mr.
William T. Robinson, took the management in 1886, and by his enterprise
and ability has brought the Herald to be one of the best of country locals.
A paper in the French language, called the L'Etoile
de l'Est, was started in 1872 by C. Desmarais; but the portion of the
community even then, who could not read the English papers was too small
to give it adequate support, and it was discontinued.
MUTUAL GAS-LIGHT COMPANY - President, Hiram C. Wells;
Treasurer, C. A. Dresser; Directors, C. A. Dresser, Hiram C. Wells, Andrew
Hall, I. P. Hyde, J. M. Cochran.
SOUTHBRIDGE ELECTRIC LIGHT COMPANY - Incorporated in 1887
with a capital of fifteen thousand dollars. President, Chester A. Dresser;
Treasurer, Hiram C. Wells; Directors, C. A. Dresser, Andrew Hall, E. I.
Garfield, H. A. Pattison, Thos. T. Robinson; Clerk, J. M. Cochran.
AQUEDUCTS - The first aqueduct company in Southbridge
was organized in the year 1825. The principal object was the introduction
of water to the new hotel, built that year on the site where the Edwards
house now stands. The proprietors were Luther, Larkin, Oliver and Holmes
Ammidown, owners of the hotel, and Elisha Cole.
The Southbridge Aqueduct Company was organized
June 22, 1831. It was originated by Holmes Ammidown for the purpose of
introducing water to his dwelling-house, erected in the year 1830, and
with that view the water was conducted to a reservoir near the house. From
that point, now the residence of Mr. C. A. Paige, the water was distributed
to the shareholders, about fourteen in number, comprising nearly all the
dwelling-houses at that time in the village.
The Southbridge Water Supply Company was organized
in 1881. President, F. L. Chapin; treasurer, F. W. Eaton. This company
entered upon the work of furnishing the more copious supply of water, which
was the pressing need of the village. A reservoir was made on elevated
land southwest of the village, and the laying of pipes has progressed from
year to year. In 1888 a new reservoir was constructed, on the same stream,
of larger dimensions, and in the most thorough and scientific manner. This
reservoir is of an average depth of sixteen feet, and has a surface of
FIRE DEPARTMENT - The manual force consists of a chief
and four assistants, two steamer companies of fifteen men each, and two
hook-and-ladder companies of ten men each; also eleven horses subject to
the call of the department. Chief, Calvin Claflin; first assistant, A.
H. Cozzens; second assistant, B. C. Stone; third assistant, J. W. Robinson;
fourth assistant and clerk, Michael Egan.
RAILROAD - A road from Southbridge to Blackstone, about
thirty-four miles, was chartered May 1, 1849. The completion of this road,
so anxiously looked for by the people of this town, was not accomplished
until 1866. Other sections making a through connection with Boston, having
been previously completed, the entire line to the depot in Southbridge
was finished by putting down the last rail at 5 1/2 o'clock p.m., November
9, 1866, when the first train of cars, the same evening, having run from
Boston over the whole line, entered the depot grounds.
This point is now the terminus of the "Southbridge Branch"
of the New York and New England Railroad.
The road furnishes the convenience of outside communication
and of freight transportation, which has made possible the recent remarkable
growth of the town.
DISTRICT COURT - The First District Court of Southern
Worcester was established by an act of the Legislature, approved May 26,
1871, to take effect the first day of August following. The jurisdiction
of this court embraces a district composed of the towns of Sturbridge,
Southbridge, Charlton, Dudley, Oxford and Webster. This court consists
of one standing justice and of two special justices, Hon. Clark Jillson,
the first appointed standing justice now (1888) holds that office. Frederick
W. Botham, Esq., of Southbridge, one of the two first appointed special
justices is deceased, and Elisha M. Phillips, Esq., of Southbridge, has
that position. these courts are held for criminal offenses on Monday, Wednesday
and Friday at Southbridge, and on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at Webster,
in each week, except legal holidays; and for civil business in Southbridge
on Monday, and at Webster on Tuesday of each week, and at such other times
as may be fixed according to law.
AGRICULTURE - The soil of this town is usually good; some
tracts may be called excellent.
Several good farms have remained in the families of the
early settlers; more proportionally, perhaps, than is usual. In the southeast
part of the town Mr. Daniel Pratt lives, where his ancestor, Henry Pratt,
settled on lot No. 42, second division, surveyed in 1733, and drawn to
the original right of Ephraim Partridge. Next north of Mr. Pratt is Mr.
W. Morse, who lives where his ancestor, Daniel Morse, settled on lot No.
41. In the southerly central part of the town Mr. A. H. Morse lives where
his great-great-grandfather settled before 1738, on two lots: No. 17, originally
the minister's right, Rev. Caleb Rice; No. 18, drawn to the original right
of John Shearman, who sold his shares, in 1735, to Ezekiel Upham.
The next farm north of the last-named is that of James
H. Mason, on lot No. 16, drawn to the original right of Ichabod Harding;
has been in the family since 1738, when Jonathan Mason bought of David
The Clark place, on the road to Lebanon Hill, has been
in the family since 1744. It was lot No. 33, originally drawn to the right
of Joshua Morse.
In the north part of the town Provostus and W. F. McKinstry
occupy lands upon which their ancestor, William McKinstry, settled, as
mentioned in another place.
The farms above mentioned, to which may be added, in the
southeast part, those of Hiram and Manson Morse, A. Haskell, Lucien and
the late L. A. Lyon; in the southwest, the farms of the late Lewis Morse,
A. J. Plimpton and A. Marcy; north of the river, the late T. N. Harding,
Nathan McKinstry and others in various parts of the town, little, if any,
less worthy of mention, afford examples of thorough and successful farming
in the conservative style, new methods being adopted to some extent. The
well-known farms of Dr. L. W. Curtis, George L. Clemence and W. H. H. Cheney
furnish fine examples of progressive agriculture.
As reported in the census of Massachusetts of 1885, there
are 2108 acres under cultivation, including grassland and orcharding, and
3965 acres in permanent pasture in the town. This amount of land is divided
into 77 farms of sizes ranging from less than 2 to over 500 acres; about
half of the number containing between 100 and 300 acres.
The number of farm laborers was 129, owners and others
making up the total of 217 employed in agriculture. The total value of
agricultural products was $102,206.
The first town-house was built in 1837-38, at a total
expense, including land, of $3809.78. The town's portion of the United
States surplus revenue of 1837 (a part of which was distributed to the
States that year) was appropriated to this use. The walls were of brick,
two stories in height, and a small cupola on the top of the building. The
lower story was fitted up for a town-hall, and the upper for the High School.
When the town decided, in 1887, to erect a new building
on the same spot, the old town-house was taken down.
The Town Hall-High School building, now being built, is
seventy-five feet in width and one hundred and nineteen feet in length,
and will contain the following rooms, viz.:
In the basement, two play-rooms, laboratory, boiler-room,
In the first story, a school-room for the High School,
two recitation-rooms, one for a library, one for the superintendent of
schools, a small hall, a memorial hall, town clerk's office, etc.
In the second story, a town-hall, with capacity to seat
twelve hundred and fifty persons, and four large rooms to be used in connection
The structure has a granite basement, and above that the
materials are bricks, brown-stone and terracotta. There will be a tower
one hundred and thirty-seven feet in height.
The whole building will be a very substantial structure,
and for adaptability to the purposes intended and for architectural appearance,
it will rank in the first class in the State.
The corner-stone was "laid by all the rights of the Masonic
Order" by the M. W. Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. It was just eighty-eight
years from the dedication of the first meeting-house in old Honest-town
to the laying of the corner-stone of the grandest structure ever erected
in Southbridge. These events occurred - as did also the raising of the
frame of the old meeting house in 1797 - on the 4th of July, and represent
epochs in the history of the town.
MANUFACTURES, - EXISTING CORPORATIONS ON THE QUINEBAUG
- Litchfield Shuttle Company, incorporated in 1878, with a capital
of twenty-one thousand dollars. The President is P. T. Litchfield; Treasurer,
John M. Cheney; Clerk, Frank C. Litchfield. Their plant is located on the
Quinebaug, between Westville and Globe Village, where they have one of
the largest and finest factories for the manufacture of shuttles in this
country. They produce shuttles and shuttle-irons and are also sole manufacturers
of the Thompson patent adjustable tension eye-shuttle. None but the most
thoroughly seasoned stock is used, and their customers number many of the
fine, large mills both in New England and the South. Their reputation as
manufacturers of a high grade of shuttles is second to none.
The Hamilton Woolen Company, with a corporate capital
of two hundred thousand dollars, organized June 29, 1831, as follows: Samuel
A. Hitchcock, president; Willard Sayles, clerk; Samuel A. Hitchcock, Willard
Sayles and Lorin Norcross, directors. The productive power at this time
was five sets of machinery, with the dyeing and finishing apparatus suitable
for the manufacture of broad-cloth. There were twenty-eight broad looms,
and they were manufactured in the first year of their operations forty
thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight and one-half yards of broad-cloths.
The factory buildings were the old "Globe" mill, which
gave name to the village, and is now the carpenter's shop standing near
the bridge, and the "Wolcott brick mill," which has given place to the
larger structures of the "Print works."
To illustrate in a small measure the growth of business
at Globe Village, the larger constructions and improvements, with the increase
of capital stock, may be briefly mentioned.
The "Big Dam" was raised in height about three feet above
its former condition, and greatly strengthened; the great six-story brick
mill was erected and filled with machinery 1836-38. This more than doubled
the productive capacity for making broad-cloths. Monthly payment to employees
was inaugurated, the manufacture of delaines introduced, and the woolen
mill near the dam erected in which to make the cotton warp in 1844. An
increase of capital stock was granted in 1845 to five hundred thousand
dollars. An act for the further increase of the capital of this company
to one million dollars was granted by the Legislature and approved February
14, 1846, and in September, 1849, the company voted to issue new stock
to the amount of one hundred thousand dollars, which increased the paid-in
capital to six hundred thousand dollars. The same year the brick mill near
the big dam was erected. December 9, 1850, the large six-story brick mill
was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt in the year 1851, with the addition
of the two-story wing.
The lower mill, near the depot and opposite the Cliff,
was erected in 1860, and was put in operation in 1864. In 1861 the big
dam was greatly strengthened and made a substantial and durable structure;
also, this year, the print-works were greatly enlarged and improved.
In 1865 the company made a large addition to their reservoir
supply of water by the construction of extensive works in the town of Holland,
which insures a constant supply. The great dam was raised again to the
amount of four feet above its former height, about 1872. The whole plant,
flowage and all, occupies the river fully a mile, of which the company
owns the land on both sides, with numerous tenement houses, business blocks,
other building and farm-lands.
Since 1873 the Hamilton Woolen Company have used their
reserve funds in the purchase and fitting up of the old Salisbury Mills
at Amesbury, Massachusetts; consequently no further enlargement or improvement
has been made at Globe Village. They are now running at this place 25,632
spindles and 942 looms, giving employment to 1097 hands. The yearly production
of worsted dress goods and cashmeres is 12,000,000 yards.
Samuel A. Hitchcock had charge of the works here from
the organization of the company until 1836. Samuel L. Fiske was agent from
1836 to 1846. Joshua Ballard, Jr., succeeded Mr. Fiske as agent, which
position he held until elected treasurer of the company in 1865, when his
brother, Gayton Ballard, succeeded him as agent.
The present officers in charge of the works at Globe Village
are: Mr. C. A. Coleman, treasurer; and Mr. John Tatterson, agent. Mr. Tatterson
commenced his agency here in the beginning of the year 1878.
The Central Mills Company - The corporators of
this company were: Chester A. Dresser, of Southbridge, Samuel and William
Foster and T. A. Randall, of Providence, R. I.
The manufacturing interests of the company have been successfully
managed by Mr. Chester A. Dresser, the resident proprietor, to the present
time. Mr. Dresser is now president and treasurer of the company, and his
son, Mr. Henry B. Dresser, is the superintendent.
At a regular semi-annual meeting of the company in July,
1888, it was decided to build an addition to the wing on the east side
of the mill - the new part to be one hundred and twenty-five feet in length
by sixty-five feet in width, and three stories high. This (January, 1889)
has been accomplished. The additional room increases the machinery from
6000 spindles to about 10,000, and the looms from 150 to above 260; this,
with the improvement in machinery and methods, will more than double the
productive capacity of ten years ago.
Southbridge Steam Laundry , owned by Mr. William
P. Plimpton, is the next on the river.
American Optical Company , Manufacturers of
Spectacles and Eye-glasses, in Gold, Silver and Steel - An examination
of the industries of Southbridge reveals the fact that there are several
extensive enterprises carried on here which demand special attention at
our hands, and which will arouse the interest of the reader, not only by
their magnitude, but by the preeminence which they have achieved. Foremost
among such is the enterprise of the American Optical Company, known throughout
the world as manufacturers of lenses, spectacles and eye-glasses, in gold,
silver and steel. The character of the business and the impetus which its
prosecution has given to the general thrift of this community make it a
fit theme for comment, and entitle it to a prominent place in the pages
of this volume. The business was first inaugurated in 1833, by Mr. William
Beecher, who is still an honored resident of Southbridge. About 1842 he
disposed of the business to Messrs. Ammidown & Putney, which firm was
soon after succeeded by Messrs. Ammidown & Son. In 1856 Mr. Beecher
returned to his first love, and, in company with Mr. R. H. Cole, now the
president of the company, formed the firm of Beecher & Cole, who conducted
it till 1862, when the firm of R. H. Cole & Co. was organized, remaining
as proprietors until 1869, when the present company was incorporated. The
officers of the company are Mr. R. H. Cole as president; G. W. Wells, treasurer;
and H. C. Cady, superintendent. The main factory, used for the manufacture
of spectacle and eye-glass frames, is a three-story frame building, with
finished brick basement, which was erected in 1872, to which additions
were made in 1879, 1882 and 1886, comprising some sixty thousand feet of
floor space. The lens factory was built in 1887 and is two stories in height,
two hundred and thirty-two feet long, sixty-three feet wide and is specially
constructed and adapted to the business of manufacturing lenses, and contains
forty thousand feet floor space. This firm employs over six hundred workmen,
all proficient in their work and experienced in the art of manufacturing.
The machinery, much of which is extremely ingenious, and a large portion
of which was designed by active members of the firm, for the special uses
to which it is applied, is operated by water-power, aggregating three hundred
horse-power, with steam auxiliary of seventy-five horse-power. The company
have invested in the business about six hundred thousand dollars, and their
output aggregates over four hundred dozen spectacles and eye-glasses per
day (fifty dozen of which are gold), or one million five hundred thousand
pairs per year, and much more than the above of lenses. The demand for
their goods comes from all parts of the country, and also from many foreign
countries. The management has brought the business to a wonderful degree
of elaboration and system, and they have the satisfaction of knowing that
their goods are not excelled by any in the markets of the new or the old
world, and that they have the largest and most complete manufactory of
the kind in the world. The company melted in the year 1888 two hundred
and eighty-eight thousand five hundred dollars of gold and silver, and
their pay-roll amounts to over five thousand dollars per week.
The Lumber Yard and Manufactory of John & L.
D. Clemence is on Mechanic Street, and employs with water-power next below
the American Optical Company's factory. This firm does a large business
in builders' furnishings.
Hyde Manufacturing Company , incorporated in 1881,
located on Main Street, between the above-mentioned lumber-yard and Lensdale,
manufacture shoe-knives, shaves and other shoe-tools. President, Treasurer
and Clerk, I. P. Hyde.
SANDERSDALE - This pretty little hamlet, pleasantly situation
on the banks of the Quinebaug River, one and three-quarters miles from
Southbridge, deserves more than a passing notice, as it has gained celebrity
not only through earnest and successful endeavor on the part of the late
James Sanders, from whom it derives its name, but by persistent and untiring
efforts of Thomas and James H. (sons of the deceased founder), who, having
been thoroughly instructed in the art of calico printing, and endowed with
excellent business qualifications, have brought the works to its present
James Sanders, now deceased, was born in Lancashire, England,
in 1811, and at thirteen years of age was apprenticed to a block printer.
After a seven years' apprenticeship he continued at his trade until 1842,
when he came to this country and settled in Fall River, Mass., entering
the employ of the American Print Works. He married in 1844, and moved to
Rhode Island in 1848, and in 1850, in company with his brother-in-law,
the late James Abbott, leased the Crompton Print Works. After a business
connection of ten years, H. N. Slater purchased Mr. Abbott's share, and
the new firm continued for nearly three years, when James Sanders took
In 1864, he purchased what is now known as Sandersdale,
but at that time as Ashland, the area comprising several hundred acres
of land and three or four houses, together with excellent water-power and
water privileges suitable for the purposes of a print works. Having amassed
a handsome fortune, he commenced the erection of the present works in 1868,
and the chart hanging in the office shows the following dimensions, the
buildings, being designated as No. 1, 2, 3, etc.:
No. 1. Printing building, 265 feet by 57 feet.
No. 2. Dyeing, bleaching, finishing and boiler building,
250 by 107.
No. 3. Engraving and packing room building, 115 by 48.
No. 4. Boiler house and engine-room, 65 by 50.
No. 5. Liquor shop, 70 by 40.
No. 6. Kier-room and wheel-house, 73 by 25.
No. 7. Office, 40 by 33.
No. 8. Mechanic shop, 76 by 40.
The several buildings, with the exception of the mechanic
shop, which is part brick and part stone, are wholly constructed of brick,
compactly built, presenting a neat and substantial appearance.
In 1870, when all was in readiness, the machinery used
in the Crompton Print Works was transferred to the new quarters, the amount
necessary occupying over thirty freight cars, and in the same year Mr.
Sanders and family moved to Southbridge, the works commencing operations
under the firm-name of T. & J. H. Sanders (sons of the founder), in
the spring of 1874, and continued under their management until the spring
of 1884. During that time the product consisted principally of prints,
mostly shirtings and cheviots, the capacity averaging ninety thousand yards
On December 31, 1884, The Southbridge Printing Co. was
incorporated, and the property and plant purchased, and as the demand for
specialties outside of the straight line of prints was so great, extensive
alterations, especially in the dye house, were necessary, which with the
addition of new and more modern machinery throughout the works, placed
the new corporation in a position to successfully compete with others who
have been more favored in the past, thus enabling a production of silesias,
cambrics and all kinds of cotton goods subject to a dyeing process, in
connection with the straight prints.
A glance at the present production is worthy of perusal.
In prints may be found shirtings of coarse and fine grades, in both narrow
and wide goods; flannels and sheetings; wide and narrow cheviots; sleeve
linings, from a light cheap quality to the finest forty-four inch sateen,
in both loose and fast colors, especially for the clothing trade. In dyed
goods the variety is equally as great, if not larger than in prints, consisting
of brocades, cashmeres, Hollands, pocketings, cambrics (from an ordinary
quality to a thirty-six-inch French cambric), silesias, flannels, Italians,
serges, etc., etc., etc.
Water is the principal motive-power, an excellent fall
being obtained, graduated to three hundred horse-power, and in case of
necessity steam can be substituted, as two ponderous engines are ever ready
to be set in motion, should an accident to the turbine wheel or connections
Considering the many varieties of work, the daily production
averages from fifty thousand to seventy-five thousand yards, which is an
excellent showing, reflecting credit upon the management entire.
The officers of The Southbridge Printing Co. remain the
same as when incorporated, viz.: - President, Jacob Booth; Treasurer, Thomas
Sanders; Superintendent, James H. Sanders.
Southbridge Optical Company was incorporated in
1883. The President is Mr. A. H. Wheeler; Secretary and Treasurer, Mr.
B. U. Bugbee. The company manufacture spectacles and eye-glasses. They
erected, in 1888, a new building upon Marcy Street, with machinery fitted
up for their manufactures. The factory is of wood, two stories in height,
with a brick basement, and is one hundred feet long by forty wide.
Stephen Richard, manufacturer of shoe-knives and razors,
has a high reputation for quality of goods produced.
Other establishments of business or employment, not included
in the foregoing list of particular mention, can only be enumerated, and
are, so far as ascertained, as follows, viz.: apothecaries, 5; artists,
1; auctioneer, 1; bakers, 4; banks, 2; barbers, 4; blacksmiths, 6; books
and stationery, 5; boot and shoe dealers, 9; boot and shoemakers, 6; brick
manufacturers, 2; calico printer, 1; carpenters and builders, 4; carriage-makers,
4; clothiers, 7; coal dealer, 1; dentists, 2; dressmakers, 19; dry goods
dealers, 8; expresses, 3; fish and oysters, 1; florist, 1; flour and grain,
5; furniture, 3; gents' furnishing goods, 5; grist-mill, 1; groceries,
17; hardware and cutlery, 4; harness-makers, 2; hotels, 3; insurance agents,
2; laundries, 2; lawyers, 4; livery stables, 5; lumber dealers, 2; marble-works,
1; meat-markets, 7; milliners, 7; music-stores, 2; music-teachers, 5; newspapers,
2; news-rooms, 3; painters, house and sign, 7; paints and oils, 4; photographers,
3; physicians, 13; pool-room, 2; printers, 2; restaurants, 5; rifle-range,
1; saloons, 2; sewing-machines, 3; shoe-knife manufactories, 3; spectacle
manufactories, 3; stoves, ranges and tine, 4; tailors, 4; tea, coffee,
2; telegraph office, 1; telephone office, 1; trunks and bags, 1; undertakers,
2; upholsterer, 1; watches and jewelry, 6; wood-dealer, 1.
In the month of December, 1858, the tavern on the corner
of Main and Elm Streets, built of wood in 1825, was destroyed by fire,
together with other building in the immediate vicinity. This event preceded
the appearance of the first of the many fine business blocks which now
enrich and adorn the town. That vacancy, and along that side of the street,
was soon afterwards occupied by the ornamental and massive brick buildings
erected by Messrs. William C. Barnes, Sylvester Dresser, and William and
John Edwards (last two now deceased) - names identified with the last thirty
years of the town's history and progress. Besides the long line of first-class
accommodations for trades people and employments, there are the Memorial
Block Hall, Edwards Hall and Dresser Opera-House.
Daniel Whitford and Elbridge Ellis built on the opposite
side of the street, corner of Main and Hamilton, the large and fine structure
bearing their names.
Hartwells' block, built by the late George H. Hartwell,
is on the corner of Main and Central Streets. In 1863 a fire swept away
the Baptist Church, the old parish meeting-house - then used for business
purposes - and other buildings. The brick church of the Baptists was erected
in '66, and what was once the "rising ground on Capt. Marcy's land, opposite
Col. Freeman's barn," was leveled down, and Mr. Holmes Ammidown built his
public library building in 1870 or '71. Then, on the corner of Main and
Central Streets, Mr. Chester A. Dresser built the C. A. Dresser house,
costing - furnishing and all - about eighty thousand dollars.
Alden's Block, built by William E. Alden, Sr., in 1878-79,
is a fine structure of brick with granite trimmings and metallic cornices,
standing on the site of the old Plimpton house, in Globe Village.
Recently the new bank building on Main Street and Suprenaut's
Block, on Central Street, have added to the architectural appearance of
These buildings, with the mercantile or other establishments
which they enclose, will compare favorably with those of the same class
in any town in the county.
Southbridge also contains even within the limits of her
villages much of quiet rural beauty. Whole neighborhoods of fine cottages,
surrounded by ample grounds and smoothly-shaven lawns, - entire absence
of fences and unsightly objects, - this is the enviable home, the place
where the tired business man retires to the quiet enjoyments of family
In the midst of all that has been described in this article
on Southbridge is the old Marcy house, erected there when all around was
literally a howling wilderness. The same sturdy arms that spotted the trees
for the first paths, "slashed" the trees in the first clearings, and wrought
out the first homes about here, also hoisted in place the massive timbers
which form the frame-work of this old house. Its simple grandeur, made
beautiful by antiquity and associations, is unabashed in the presence of
the finest of modern residences, though set in "pillars of gold."
Manning Leonard was born in Sturbridge, June 1, 1814;
died in Southbridge, July 31, 1885. Among those interested in the history
of Worcester County Manning Leonard was one well deserving special mention
in these memoirs, both because of his connection with those who had no
little part in shaping the history of the towns of Sturbridge and Southbridge,
and because of his own honorable record as a citizen.
His mother, Sally Fiske, daughter of Henry, was a grandchild
of both Henry and Daniel Fiske, the first white settlers in the town, who
located on what is now known as "Fiske Hill" in 1731, and from one of whose
descendants Fiskedale in Sturbridge was named.
His father, Rev. Zenas Lockwood Leonard, fifth in descent
from Solomon, who landed at Duxbury in 1636, was born at Bridgewater 1773;
graduated at Brown University in 1794 and came to Sturbridge as a Baptist
minister in 1796. During his long pastorate of thirty-six years he had
a more than ordinary interest and influence in the affairs of the community.
Though on a small salary, never exceeding two hundred
dollars, he maintained a hospitable home, gave his children a good education
(sending his eldest son through Brown University), kept free from debt
and gave his family an honorable position in the community. In all household
affairs he was ably aided by his wife, who was a model of quiet efficiency.
Of their seven children, Manning was the fifth, having
a brother and two sisters older and a brother and sister younger than himself.
Reared in a home of order, thrift and industry, he naturally developed
such a degree of self-reliance, diligence and self-respect as gave early
promise of sure and honorable success in life. Generously determining to
forego the advantages of a college education, he defrayed his own expenses
during a course in English and the mathematics at Amherst Academy, under
the tuition of Rev. Simeon Colton, D. D., taught school a term at South
Amherst and then, to school himself for business life, became a clerk in
the dry-goods house of Tiffany, Anderson & Co., of New York City. After
three years spent in an earnest endeavor to master every detail of the
business, he went West in 1835, the year of his majority, and in 1838,
joining with George M. Phelps, a young man also from Worcester County,
established himself in business in Madison, Indiana. He prospered. In 1840
he married Mary F., daughter of Hon. Ebenezer Davis Ammidown of Southbridge,
Mass., than whom no one had greater part in making Southbridge the beautiful
town it is, or contributed more to its material advancement.
In 1844 he returned to Southbridge, and first, with his
father-in-law, and later with Chester A. Dresser, was for twenty years
engaged in the cotton manufacturing business at what is known as the Central
Mills. On account of failing health he retired from active business in
1863. Nevertheless, he did not subside into listlessness and idleness,
but maintained an active interest in public affairs; was on the Board of
Selectmen during the early years of the war; was a representative in the
State Legislature, and for many years a member of the Southbridge Public
Library Committee; a prime mover in the establishment of the Southbridge
Savings Bank in 1848, he was secretary of that corporation until his death,
and also was a director in the National Bank.
He was an active and consistent member of the Congregational
Church for more than fifty years, and generous in his support of the great
work of home and foreign missions as well as various undenominational charities.
For many years, more or less of an invalid, he traveled
much for health as well as for business - twice visiting Europe, once California
and many times going to the great prairie States. Yielding to a complication
of diseases, he died at Southbridge July 31, 1885, having completed his
seventy-first year two months before.
In early life ever striving to fit himself for the task
of the morrow, while faithfully fulfilling the duties of the day, he won
promotion by merit rather than sought it by favor.
In middle life a man of reserve power, whose sagacity
and foresight gave him success where others failed, and being eminently
a just man, he was made the recipient of many public as well as many private
In maturer years more conservative and cautious, yet never
a captious obstructionist, his counsels were the more valuable because
his course had been always consistent - ever securing not the applause
of the many, but the approval of the best; he had been not a partisan,
but a patriot.
CALVIN A. PAIGE
This subject of this sketch was born in Southbridge, Mass.,
June 7, 1820; son of Timothy Paige, Jr., Esq., and Cynthia (Ammidown) Paige.
His parent died when he was but eight years of age, and after their decease
he made his home in the family of his guardian, Dr. Samuel Hartwell. At
thirteen he entered the employ of Messrs. Plimpton & Lane, as a clerk
in their store in Southbridge. At fifteen he went to Northfield, Vt., where
for about two years he was employed in the store of Charles Paine, afterwards
Governor of Vermont, and president of the Vermont Central Railroad Co.
Returning home to Southbridge, he was employed until 1843 in the store
of John Seabury & Co., then kept in the old Columbian Building, now
standing on Main Street, known as the "Factory Store." This store was in
those days an important factor in the business enterprises and trade of
the town, involving large transactions and no inconsiderable number of
small details, by a system of orders by which the Dresser, the Columbian
and the Central Manufacturing Companies paid their operatives.
In 1844 he became clerk and bookkeeper in the employ of
the Dresser Manufacturing Company. This mill was one of the first cotton-mills
erected in this locality by William Sumner and others soon after 1814,
when the privilege was purchased. The premises included the water-power,
mill, land and tenant-houses, situated on what is known as "Dresser Hill,"
and in 1831 the same was purchased by Harvey Dresser, then an active, enterprising
business man of Charlton, who organized the Dresser Manufacturing Company
in 1834, to operate the mill. Mr. Dresser died in 1835. After his death
this company was reorganized under the agency of E. D. Ammidown. Until
1845 Colonel Alexander De Witt, of Oxford, succeeded to the agency until
1850, when Calvin A. Paige was appointed agent, and operated the mill until
it was destroyed by fire in 1870. May 9, 1843, Mr. Paige married Mercey
Dresser, daughter of Harvey Dresser, by whom he had two children - Mary
E. Paige, born April 7, 1846, who died September 2, 1848, and Calvin D.
Paige, born May 20, 1848, who is now residing in Southbridge. From 1844
until he became the agent, Mr. Paige acted not only as clerk and bookkeeper,
but was also practically the managing and business agent of the company
during the whole period, conducting its affairs safely and prudently, and
with profit to its owners. He became himself an owner of the stock of the
company, and after the mill was burned sold the mill-site and water-power
to the Central Mills Company, retaining the land and tenements on "Dresser
Hill," which he now owns, and since then has not been engaged in any regular
Mr. Paige married for his second wife Ellen Jane Scholfield,
of Dudley, February 20, 1856, by whom he has one son, Frank S., born May
18, 1857, now living in Southbridge. After 1870 the leisure time at his
command, his thorough business training, habits and experience, have set
him apart as a citizen well qualified and acceptable to discharge numerous
public duties, in which he has been long conspicuous and of great advantage
and service to the town and community for a period of more than twenty-five
years. He was a leading member of the town committee to oppose the division
of the town before the Legislature of 1854, and one of its most zealous
and effective workers in defeating that project. In 1850 he was commissioned
a notary public by Governor Briggs, and still holds that office. During
the Rebellion he was appointed United States enrolling officer for the
town, and in 1883, by Governor Long, commissioner to qualify civil officers;
and was elected a member of the House in the Legislature of 1863. For thirty
years he has been a director in the Southbridge National Bank, and a trustee
of the Southbridge Savings Bank. He has been elected many times to the
offices of selectman, assessor, overseer of the poor and other town offices
and positions, and in all these positions he has discharged his duties
with singular ability and unvarying success. His great caution, accuracy
of knowledge, thorough business training, promptness and experience in
public affairs have been long recognized and repeatedly called to service
in town matters, and probably few unprofessional citizens are better posted
in matters relating to town government and its proper administration -
especially in relation to the pauper laws - or more serviceable to the
public in these respects than he is. Whatever falls to his management is
promptly and correctly done, and with due consideration to the public interest.
His books and records are always kept correctly and with business-like
completeness and care. His worth in these respects is so generally conceded
by his fellow-townsmen that party politics rarely defeat him as a candidate
for public office, although he is a strong party man. He has discharged
numerous trusts as administrator, guardian, assignee and trustee in bankruptcy
and in insolvency, and in these relations found capable, honest and efficient.
He is ready to accept responsibility and to do his duty, but is guided
by a conservative good sense and caution to first learn what his duty is.
Mr. Paige has long been an earnest and influential citizen
in promoting town enterprise and improvements, and uniformly advocated
whatever tended to these results. He sustained the plan adopted to establish
the public library, and usually advocated the laying-out and grading of
new streets, the building of sidewalks, the lighting of streets and the
introduction of electric street lights, and was recently one of the most
influential workers in obtaining the Town Hall building. He is active and
persistent, ambitious of carrying his points and usually successful. He
has a wide personal acquaintance, and enjoys the confidence and respect
of those who know him. He is naturally kind-hearted, cordial and generous
in his association and dealings with men, and almost impulsive in his vigor
and show of enthusiasm. He is a stalwart in his convictions when once formed,
but cautious and conservative in forming them. He is an active and zealous
partisan in politics, and always an ardent and uncompromising Republican,
willing to work for the Republican cause, and a great admirer of Hon. James
G. Blaine. His energy and push partake largely of his great natural spirit
The history of the town would be incomplete without special
mention of the life and active career of Mr. Paige, in view of all he has
accomplished for himself and for the general welfare - having so long been
a prominent figure among the people in this community.
The ancestors of Mr. Paige were natives of Hardwick, Mass.,
where they were prominent citizens, as the town history shows. His great-grandfather,
the first Timothy Paige, was a farmer, who served in the Revolutionary
period as a captain of a militia company, led his company to Bennington
at the alarm in August, 1777, and to West Point in 1780, and served in
many town offices. His grandfather, the second Timothy, was a member of
the company of "minute-men" who marched to Cambridge upon the Lexington
alarm, and served for short period several times during the Revolution.
He was a conspicuous man in public matters, holding justice
courts and many town offices, and at his death, October 21, 1821, the New
England Palladium described him as one of the oldest members of the House
of Representatives; a man who united very many excellent and useful qualities,
and who was universally esteemed among his acquaintances for his intelligence
and unbending integrity.
The Columbian Centinel referred to him as "one of the
oldest members of the House of Representative of this State, an undeviating
patriot and an intelligent man." He was Representative to the General Court
seventeen year successively, from 1805 to 1821, and a delegate to the Constitutional
Convention in 1820.
His father, Timothy Paige, Jr., was a lawyer of good standing
in his profession, and of much literary taste. He was the first town clerk
of Southbridge and won an enviable repute as a poet. His poems were published
as written in the public journals and bore the signature of "Jacques."
The last poem he wrote was published in the Massachusetts Spy shortly after
his death, November 17, 1822, entitled "Farewell to Summer."
Rev. Lucius R. Paige, LL. D., of Cambridge, Mass., the
historian of Hardwick and Cambridge, and a man of literary attainments,
is a brother, and uncle to the subject of this sketch.
CHESTER A. DRESSER
Chester A. Dresser, of Southbridge, Mass., was born in
that town on the 2d of September, 1818, and, with the exception of a few
years, has always resided in that place.
His early life was similar to many another New England
boys', who has plodded his way along rugged paths, surmounting all obstacles
with a fixed purpose to guide him and a determination to become a useful
and intelligent man. His mother, with her three children, of which the
subject of our sketch was the second, resided in what was then and is to
the present day known as the Columbian Block, situated on the corner of
Main and Elm Streets, at that time the property of his grandfather and
now owned by the Young Men's Christian Association. When ten years of age,
upon the death of his mother, he was left in charge of his uncle, Ebenezer
D. Ammidown, who was appointed his guardian. His education was acquired
at the district school of the village, which he attended irregularly for
several years, and he was a student at Nichols Academy, Dudley, Mass.,
and at Monson Academy - two terms at each institution. During the winters
of 1830-31 he lived in the family of Hon. Linus Childs, who was an old
friend of his mother, performing the duties of "chore boy" as remuneration
for his board and attending school.
At the age of fourteen he chose Dr. Samuel Hartwell as
his guardian and made his home at his house when not employed elsewhere.
For a short time he was employed in the store kept by Milton Joslin, but
he had now arrived at the age when, in those days, it was thought that
a boy should have some aim in life, and the subject of a "trade" was taken
into consideration by his friends, and their advice freely given.
Learning of an opening in the village harness-shop for
a boy, his guardian advised him to enter as an apprentice, but this employment
not being entirely agreeable to his tastes, he sought the advice of his
uncle, Harvey Dresser, and of Moses Plimpton, Esq., who was then the agent
of the Columbian Manufacturing Company, engaged in the manufacture of cotton
sheetings. Mr. Plimpton recommended his becoming a manufacturer, whereupon
an engagement was entered into, the remuneration to be forty dollars per
year and board. The price for board was one dollar and twenty-five cents
per week and all lost time at the mill was deducted at the rate of forty
dollars per annum, while there was no deduction for board. His initiatory
apprenticeship was in the repair-shop of the company, in charge of an English
mechanic, whose motto was "learn to do work well, after which do all you
After serving one year in the machine-shop, he was employed,
in turn, in every department of the mill, learning to card, spin and weave.
During these years of service, to strengthen his finances, he worked at
night by moon and lamp-light, carrying in and packing wood, at eight center
per cord, and folding and packing cloth. Oftentimes the midnight hour would
find him hard at work.
Feeling that he was yet deficient in the mathematical
education necessary for a thorough knowledge of the business which he had
chosen, he attended school for three months during two winters, and devoted
all his leisure time during his apprenticeship to the study of those problems
which he had to solve and in the improvement of his handwriting. When the
"financial crisis" of 1837 came, the mill was stopped during a part of
that year, and he worked at farming through the summer, and took a position
late in the fall as overseer of the warp-spinning, when the mill resumed
operation. Being anxious to gain a more thorough knowledge of the weaving
of cotton fabrics than the facilities of the small weaving-room at this
mill afforded, the following spring he obtained a situation in the weaving
department in charge of nelson Drake, at the Fiskdale Mills.
"What wages do you expect?" asked Mr. Drake.
"Give me whatever you think I am worth; I am not seeking
wages, but a knowledge of the business in all its details," was the reply.
So acceptably did he perform his duties that his wages were constantly
increased while he remained in this department. In the spring of 1840 he
entered the company's counting-room to obtain a knowledge of mercantile,
manufacturing and double entry bookkeeping, under the instruction of Avery
P. Taylor. His career as manager began in September, 1840, when he was
engaged to take charge of a mill of four thousand spindles at Swift Creek,
near Petersburg, Va., where he remained for two years. He then returned
to his native town, in feeble health, and was serious ill and incapacitated
for business for some time.
In November, 1841, he assumed the management of the cotton-mill
located at Westville (a village in the westerly part of the town), and
at the same time kept the "factory store."
He was married to Mary C. Bartlett, of Petersburg, Va.,
in 1843, and in the spring of 1845 removed from Westville to take charge
of the Dresser Mill, in the Centre village, succeeding Benjamin F. Kimball
as superintendent. It was then that he established a marked reputation,
in this vicinity, as a manufacturer. Up to this time Mr. Kimball had been
the acknowledged authority on cotton manufacturing in this locality. The
work at the Dresser Mill was running badly; to use the language of a manufacturer,
it was "completely bunged up." The manager and directors had made many
fruitless efforts to ascertain the cause of the trouble, and finally came
to the conclusion that the fault was in the raw material. A change in the
quality of the cotton was consequently made, but no improvement in the
running of the work resulted. The product was diminishing, the quality
of work was inferior, the operatives were dissatisfied, many of them had
given notices to leave, and the owners were disheartened.
The directors assembled one afternoon and sent for the
young superintendent at Westville, requesting him to go over to the mill
and, if possible, tell them what was the matter. He complied with their
request, so far as to visit the mill; but when asked if he knew what the
trouble was, replied that he would go there, take off his coat and go to
work, and if, at the end of two days, he could not correct the difficulty
he would not remain. The new superintendent discovered the cause of all
the trouble very soon after he entered the mill, at once applied the needed
remedy and very soon the equilibrium was restored.
In December, 1845, he became the superintendent of the
Central Manufacturing Company, where he remained until 1857, having, in
the mean time, became one of the stockholders. In response to a very urgent
request from the agent of the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company, of Manchester,
N. H., he accepted the position as manager of the upper level, embracing
three mills and dye-house. While in the employ of this corporation he brought
about great improvements in the dyeing department and in all the mills
under his supervision. The Central Manufacturing Company having become
financially embarrassed, self-protection rendered it necessary that he
should again return to Southbridge, in 1859, and attempt a settlement of
their affairs. In this he was successful, and Manning Leonard and himself
became joint owners of the property and thus carried on the business until
the breaking out of the Civil War, when the machinery was stopped and remained
idle until November, 1863. At this time Mr. Leonard withdrew from the concern,
called the Central Mills Company, which, having been thoroughly remodeled
and supplied with improved machinery, has been successfully operated for
the last twenty-five years, with C. A. Dresser as treasurer and manager.
Mr. John Edwards was born in Southbridge, Mass., June
12, 1822; and died there July 2, 1872.
He came from good, native New England stock on both sides,
the son of Jacob Edwards and Hannah Marcy Edwards, who was a sister of
ex-Governor William L. Marcy, of New York.
He married Mary E. Irwin, eldest daughter of Stephen P.
Irwin, by whom he had three children, - one son, John M., who died in infancy,
and two daughters, now living, Lizzie I. Edwards and Ida F., wife of Calvin
His early education was limited to the instruction afforded
by the public schools of the town and a course of study at Wilbraham Academy,
after which he was for a time employed in the store of William and Jacob
Edwards, Jr., his brothers, who carried on the leading dry goods and grocery
business of the town.
In 1844 he became a partner in the firm, which continued
until 1852, when Jacob Edwards, Jr., sold out his interest to his brothers,
William and John, who divided their interest, William taking the grocery
department and John the dry goods department, doing business under the
firm-name of "John Edwards & Co." until January, 1871, when, in consequence
of failing health, he retired from active business.
In 1859, when his store was greatly injured by fire in
an adjoining building, he was brought face to face with the question of
rebuilding or of removing to a larger field, but upon mature consideration
he determined to stay and enlarge his business. He erected the large brick
block on Main Street, using the two lower floors for his business and the
third floor as the "Edwards Opera House," - at this time this being the
largest retail dry goods store in the county, and now considered one of
the best appointed stores in this section.
The erection of this block was the commencement of the
construction of the fine business brick blocks which give Southbridge its
prominence and distinction, and had not a little to do with attracting
attention to the business capacity and interests of the town, that led
to the completion of the railroad.
His stock of goods was large, varied and expensive, and
attracted the people from all the surrounding towns, his business being
conducted with a system and attention to details unexcelled even at the
present day in metropolitan centres of trade.
His success as a merchant established his reputation as
a man of unusual business capacity.
For twenty years he was a director in the Southbridge
National Bank and a trustee of the Southbridge Savings Bank.
Although of a retiring disposition, he held several public
offices and represented the town in the Massachusetts Legislature of 1855.
He was an influential member of the Baptist Society, and
when the church was destroyed by fire in 1863, it was largely through his
labors that the present edifice was built, he contributing both time and
money liberally towards its construction.
He took a deep interest in the welfare of the society,
and at his decease left to the society, in trust for the benefit of the
society and several Baptist institutions, a legacy known as the "Edwards
He first introduced gas into the town, putting in the
gas works, first for his own use, and afterwards running them several years
successfully for the public generally, until disposed of to the Mutual
He purchased land on Main Street and improved it by opening
and building Everett Street. In 1867 he built his new residence on the
corner of Main and Everett Streets, which, with the fine grounds surrounding
it, continues to be one of the most spacious and beautiful places in the
In public matters he was liberal, public-spirited and
enterprising in all things that tended to the growth and welfare of the
town, and he was always found an active and influential adviser and worker
in that direction.
This brief sketch of Mr. Edwards sufficiently indicates
his rank in the social, business and political life of the town, and the
confidence and respect he enjoyed as a citizen among those who knew him
best, but is, after all, deficient in conveying to any but those who knew
the detail of his life-work his real worth to the community in which he
and the distinguished part he acted in contributing to the public thrift
and progress here.
He was always looking ahead, and desired to keep matters
moving, and was eager to put his own shoulder to the wheel of progress,
whenever occasion required it.
In all the councils upon such affairs Mr. Edwards was
He was reserved and modest in manner, courteous and obliging,
sagacious and prudent, helpful in worthy instances, and kind-hearted and
He had traveled in this country extensively, was always
an intelligent observer, and therefore interesting as a companion. In these
respects, for many years he filled a large and important place in his native
town, and left behind him a memory that will endure, as one of its successful
and worthy citizens.
There was nothing fortuitous in his career. He was the
substantial architect of his own fortunes - most truly a self-made man
- and will long be remembered as such.
Measuring his worth by what he was able to accomplish
in life, few citizens of Southbridge have merited so prominent a place
on the scroll of fame.
HON. LINUS CHILD
Hon. Linus Child, third child and third son of Renssealaer
and Priscilla Corbin Child, born in Woodstock, Ct., February 27, 1803,
and married, October 27, 1827, Berenthia Mason.
Hon. Mr. Child passed his early years on his father's
farm, with the usual attendance upon the public school. He began his preparation
for college under the tuition of Rev. Samuel Backus, of East Woodstock,
and completed his preparatory studies at Bacon Academy, in Colchester,
Conn., in the autumn of 1820. The following winter he entered Yale College,
New Haven, whence he graduated in 1824. Mr. Child did not reach the highest
rank in college as a scholar, but for honest, actual mastery of the prescribed
course few were before him. After he graduated he became a member of the
law school in New Haven, and studied in the office of S. P. Staples. He
was also under Judge Daggett's instruction. Six months later he became
a student in the office of Hon. Ebenezer Stoddard in the West Parish of
his native town, and after eighteen months' study there was admitted to
the bar of Connecticut. He spent a year in the office of Hon. George A.
Tufts, of Dudley, Mass., when he was admitted to practice in the courts
of Worcester County, Mass. He resided in Southbridge some eighteen years.
During this period he was six times elected Senator from Worcester County
to the State Legislature. In 1845 he removed to Lowell, and held the agency
of one or two of the largest manufacturing corporations of that city. He
possessed the unusual stature and frame of his father and grandfather,
was cordial and genial in look and manner earnest in the promotion of all
efforts for the public, and prominent in church and missionary interests,
a member of the American Board of Foreign Missions.
In 1862 Mr. Child removed to Boston and resumed his profession,
associating with his son, Linus M. Child.
Hon. Mr. Child died in Hingham, Mass., after a short illness,
August 26, 1870.
THE AMMIDOWN FAMILY
This is, doubtless, a typical New England family, and,
as such, the record is interesting as illustrating the origin and growth
of that portion of the people of New England which has given to this part
of the United States its peculiar character. It is also interesting from
the fact that the peculiarities of New England character have been broadly
impressed upon the whole nation, and, more than any other, have contributed
to make the people of this country a distinct and original race, endowed
with high purposes and strong qualities, fitting them for leadership in
The earliest mention of the family in this country appears
in the records of the town of Salem in the year 1637. It is of French origin,
and belonged to that numerous class of early settlers in this country known
as Huguenots, who fled from persecution in their native land to find freedom
for their religious convictions.
It is believed that the name was originally Amadon; but,
by changes common in our early history, it may be found at this day in
various forms, among which the more common are Ammidown, Amadon, Amidon
The first settler at Salem was Roger Ammidown. He removed
to Weymouth before 1640. On the records of that town in 1640 appears the
birth of a child, Sarah, daughter of Roger and Sarah Ammidown. We next
find him in Boston, where another child, Lydia, was born on the 22d of
February, 1643. This is the first birth recorded in the Boston records
under the letter "A." From Boston he joined a company from Weymouth, and
founded the ancient town of Rehoboth, then in Plymouth Colony. Among his
associates was Rev. Samuel Newman. The deed of conveyance of the land is
from Governor William Bradford, dated 1641. The first meeting of these
founders was held at Weymouth, October, 1643, and it was agreed that they
should move to their new home before April, 1644. The settlement was incorporated
in 1645, and Roger Ammidown is named as one of the original proprietors.
His lot was located on the border of the Palmer River, about six miles
west of the present centre of the town. He passed the remainder of his
days at this place, and was buried there on the 13th of November, 1673.
This founder of the family had a son Roger, who married, in 1666, Joanna
Harwood, at Rehoboth. The family continued at this place for many years;
but, about the beginning of the next century, Philip, a son of Roger -
the third generation - and born in 1669, moved to Mendon. He had married,
for his second wife, Ethemore Warfield, and the records of Mendon show
that he had there a large family, born between 1704 and 1717. At a later
period he removed to Oxford and became a proprietor in the English settlement
of that town. He was also, with his wife, a member of the First Church
of Oxford, when it was formed in March, 1721, under the charge of Rev.
John Campbell, a remarkable man, whose descendants have held a conspicuous
place in the annals of this country. Philip Ammidown died in Oxford March
15, 1747, aged seventy-eight. He had brought all his children with him
to Oxford, where we find on the town records the dates of their marriages
and of the births of their children. They have now grown too numerous to
follow, and have become connected by marriage with many families, whose
names are known in all parts of New England: the Cheneys, Davises, Chamberlains,
Bullards, Curtises, Hastings, Aldrichs, Sumners, Holdens, Tafts, Sabins
and many others.
Among the children of Philip, who died at Oxford in 1747,
was Philip - the fourth generation - born in 1708 at Mendon. He married,
at Oxford, Submit Bullard, and lived in the west part of that town, on
the fertile hills at a later period (in 1754) set off and incorporated
in the town of Charlton, and still later (in 1816) included in the corporate
limits of the town of Southbridge. He had three children, from whom have
descended those members of the family whose names have been most widely
known since the beginning of the present century. These children - the
fifth generation - were Caleb, born August, 1736; Joseph, born August,
1741, and Reuben, born September, 1747. From the middle of the last century
down to the present time the public records of Worcester County bear frequent
evidence of the part these men and their descendants have taken in public
and private affairs.
Caleb Ammidown was a remarkable man, and, as one of the
contributors for founding Leicester Academy, the later Governor Washburn
refers to him as follows: "He was a class of men which were once scattered
through the country, whose independence of thought and opinion gave character
and consistency to public sentiment of the community at large."
The children of Caleb remained in the town where they
were born. They were among its most influential citizens. Their work may
be found in the roads, bridges and important public edifices of their native
town. Their tomb-stones, with the record of their birth and death, may
be found in the town cemetery. But, although in the early part of this
century the name was among the most conspicuous in this town, and now is
among the most frequent in its cemetery, this family has been gradually
dispersed, and at the present day is represented by comparatively few persons.
These few, however, bear many of the traits which distinguished their progenitors.
They are generally useful citizens, ready to perform the duties of citizenship,
and in both public and private life acting well their part.
The children of Joseph (brother of Caleb) nearly all moved
away from the place of their birth, and located in the State of New York.
The children of Reuben (brother of Caleb) also, many of
them, moved to other parts of the country.
Among the children of Caleb were three men, who made their
mark locally. They were: John, born in 1759; Luther, born in 1761, and
Calvin, born in 1768. These men were of the sixth generation. Luther was
the most widely known, and, like his father, was a member of the State
Legislature. He died in 1835.
Among the children of the seventh generation was the late
Holmes Ammidown, born in Southbridge June 12, 1801. He died in St. Augustine,
Florida, April 3, 1883. Holmes Ammidown was a member of the State Legislature
in 1836. He afterwards became prominent as a merchant in Boston, and, by
his public and private character, illustrated the traits which have marked
the family career from its earliest known period. An account of his life,
with a portrait, may be found in the Proceedings of the Worcester Society
of Antiquity, for the year 1883.
Among the children of Calvin Ammidown was Eben D. Ammidown,
of the seventh generation, prominent as a manufacturer and as a member
of the State Senate. His mind, remarkably strong and fertile, was constantly
engaged in projects for public improvements.
The Ammidown family is now scattered throughout the United
States. Although never a numerous family, it has made its mark in every
generation, never reaching the highest distinctions, but always conspicuous
for the qualities which make good citizens.
In former times they were generally farmers; in later
years they have engaged successfully in various pursuits - farming, manufacturing,
mercantile and professional.
Several of the family have already been specially named
as holding prominent positions in life. Among others of note may be mentioned
Philip, of Mendon, of the sixth generation, and his son Otis, who became
distinguished as a merchant, both in Europe and America, and died in Philadelphia
in 1858, aged eighty-seven. A daughter of Philip, of Mendon (Sylvia), was
the wife of Jonathan Russel, who was one of the Commissioners signing the
Treaty with Great Britain in 1814. A grandson of Philip, of Mendon (the
seventh generation), was graduated at Harvard College in 1830. Another,
of the Southbridge branch of the family, Edward Holmes (of the eighth generation),
was graduated at Harvard College in 1853. Another, Albert (of the ninth
generation), also of the Southbridge branch, was graduated at Harvard College
the death of another member of this family, Mr. Hollis
Amidon, has this week (January 22, 1889) been announced in the papers at
Washington, D. C. It is not known to the writer to what branch of the family
he belonged, but the language of the obituary notice of him indicates that
the family traits found marked expression in his career. It says: "He died
at the advanced age of eighty-two. He represented the Department of Agriculture
in the Centennial Exhibition. He was a man of rare intellect, and contributed
many articles to the press. He was much liked by all who knew him."
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