Founding of Tewksbury
by EWP, excerpt from Our Town, published in 1888
Previous to corporation, Tewksbury belonged to what was once the vast town of Billerica. From that town, founded in 1654, were taken the largest part of Bedford in 1729, the whole of Wilmington in 1730, of Tewksbury in 1734, and of Carlisle in 1780. Billerica received its grant from the town of Cambridge, and was at first some thirty-five miles in circuit requiring a day’s journey to compass it. As early as 1725 a movement was made, by Jonathan Bowers, Samuel Hunt, and others, to establish the town of Wamesit, which should include the whole Wamesit Purchase of 2,500 acres, some 2,000 of which lay on the other side of the Concord River; but this effort, which would have retained the name of Wamesit among the towns of the State, was unsuccessful.
Billerica at first included all the land east of the Concord River in this region, and south of the Merrimack River to the Andover line, except 500 acres. These formed the part of the 2,500 acres belonging to the reservation of the Wamesit Indians, which lay between the two rivers. Thus what is now Tewksbury shared the history of Billerica. The most interesting portion of that history is the early experience of Billerica with the Indians. Their chief seat in this region was at the junction of the Concord and Merrimack rivers. It was known as Wamesit, from the name of the tribe. Of the five great nations which at the settlement of this continent dwelt between the Penobscot and Hudson rivers, one was the Pawtucket, seated on the Merrimack and Piscataqua rivers. They were known by numerous names, as Pennacooks, Agawams, Naamkeeks, Piscataquas, and Wamesits. Their name Pawtucket survives at the falls above Lowell and at Mace’s Crossing. It ought to have been given to this town instead of Tewksbury. The first sagamores of the Wamesits known to history are Runnawit, then Passaconaway, then Wannalancet.
Fortunately we have a description from an eye-witness of what Wamesit was in 1674, two hundred and fourteen years ago. It was written by Daniel Gookin, who came from Virginia in 1644 and was appointed by the General Court superintendent of all the Indians who had submitted to the government of Massachusetts, – an office he retained till his death in 1687, – a man judicious, honest, godly, respected and trusted by all. His “Historical Collections of the Indians in New England” is very interesting reading. It was published in 1792, and republished in 1806 by the Massachusetts Historical Society.
His description of Wamesit follows:
“Wamesit is the fifth praying town and this place is situate upon the Merrimack river, being a neck of land, where Concord River falleth into Merrimack river. It is about twenty miles from Boston, north northwest and within five miles of Billerica and as much from Chelmsford; so that it hath Concord river upon the west northwest, and Merrimack river upon the north northeast. It hath about fifteen families and consequently, as we compute, about seventy-five souls. The quantity of land belonging to it is about twenty-five hundred acres. The land is fertile, and yieldeth plenty of corn. It is excellently accommodated with a fishing place, and there is taken variety of fish in their seasons, as salmon, shads, lamprey eels, sturgeon, bass, and divers others. There is a great confluence of Indians, that usually resort to this place in the fishing seasons. Of these strange Indians, divers are vitious and wicked men and women which Satan makes use of to obstruct the prosperity of religion here. The ruler of this people is called Numphow. He is one of the blood of their chief sachems. Their teacher is called Samuel, son to the ruler, a young man of good parts, and can speak, read, and write English and Indian competently. He is one of those that was bred up at school, at the charge of the Corporation of the Indians. These Indians, if they were diligent and industrious,–to which they have been frequently excited,–might get much by their fish, especially fresh, salmon, which are of esteem and good price at Boston in the season; and the Indians being stored with horses of a low price, might furnish the market fully, being at so small a distance. And divers other sorts of fish they might salt or pickle, as sturgeon and bass; which should be much to their profit. But notwithstanding divers arguments used to persuade them, and some orders made to encourage them; yet their idleness and improvidence doth hitherto prevail.
“At this place, once a year, at the beginning of May, the English magistrate keeps his court, accompanied with Mr. Eliot, the minister, who at this time takes his opportunity to preach not only to the inhabitants, but to as many of the strange Indians that can be persuaded to hear him; of which sort, usually in times of peace, there are considerable numbers at that season. And this place being an ancient and capital seat of Indians, they come to fish; and this good man takes this opportunity to spread the net of the gospel to fish for their souls. Here it may not be impertinent to give you the relation following.
“May 5 th , 1674, according to our usual custom, Mr. Eliot and myself took our journey to Wamesit or Pawtucket; and arriving there that evening, Mr. Eliot preached to as many of them as could be got together out of Matt. xxii, 1-14,the parable of the marriage of the king’s son. We met at the wigwam of one called Wannalancet, about two miles from the town, near Pawtucket falls, and bordering upon the Merrimack river. This person, Wannalancet, is the oldest son of old Pasaconoway, the chiefest sachem of Pawtuckett. He is a sober and grave person, and of years between fifty and sixty. He hath been al always loving and friendly to the English. Many endeavors have been used several years to gain this sachem to embrace the Christian religion; but he hath stood off from time to time and not yielded up himself personally, though for four years past he hath been willing to hear the word of God preached, and to keep the Sabbath. – A great reason that hath him off, I conceive, hath been the indisposition and averse-ness of sundry of his chief men and relations to pray to God; which he foresaw would desert him, in case he turned Christian, But at this time, May 6 th , 1674, it pleased God so to influence and overcome his heart, that it being pro-posed to him to give his answer concerning pray-ing to God, after some deliberation and serious pause, he stood up and made a speech to this effect: –
“ ‘Sirs, you have been pleased for four years past, in your abundant love, to apply yourselves, particularly unto me and my people, to exhort, press, and persuade us to pray to God. I am very thankful to you for your pains. I must ac-knowledge,’ said he, ‘I have, all my days, used to, Pass in an old canoe [alluding to his frequent custom to pass in a canoe upon the river]; and now you exhort me to change and leave my old canoe and embark in a new canoe, to which I have hitherto been unwilling; but now I yield up myself to your advice, and enter into a new canoe, and do engage to pray to God hereafter.’
“This his professed subjection was well pleasing to all that were present, of which there were some English persons of quality; as Mr. Richard Daniel, a gentleman that lived in Billerica, about six miles off; and Lieutenant Henchman, a neigh-bor at Chelmsford; besides brother Eliot and my-self, with sundry others, English and Indians Mr. Daniel before named desired brother Eliot to tell its sachem from him, that it may be, while he went in his old canoe, he passed in a quiet stream; but the end thereof was death and destruction to soul and body; But now he went into a new canoe, perhaps he would meet with storms and trials; but yet he should be encouraged to persevere, for the end of his voyage would be everlasting rest. Moreover he and his people were exhorted by brother Eliot and my- self, to go on and sanctify the Sabbath, to hear the word, and use the means that God hath ap-pointed, and encourage their hearts in the Lord their God. Since that time, I hear this sachem doth persevere, and is a constant and diligent Hearer of God’s word, and sanctifieth the Sabbath, though he doth travel to Wamesit meeting every Sabbath, which is above two miles; and though sundry of his people have deserted him since he subjected to the gospel, yet he continues and persists.
“In this town they observe the same civil and religious orders as in other towns, and have a constable and other officers.
“This people of Wamesit suffered more in the late war with the Mawhawks than any other praying town of Indians: for divers of their people were slain; others wounded; and some, carried into captivity; which Providence hath much hindered the prosperous estate of this place.”
With Billerica this region passed through all the terror and calamities of Indian war-fare. But the conversation of the Wamesits stood this section in good stead. They remained, though often unjustly suspected and even ill-treated, the friends of the whites. From other tribes, wandering and marauding, Billerica suffered. Cowley, in his “Memories of the Indians and Pioneers of the Region of Lowell,” states that some of another tribe visited that part of Billerica now Tewksbury, and killed John Rogers and fourteen others. Colonel Joseph Lynde, of Charlestown, with 300 armed men, ranged the swamps around here, but found no trace of the foe. Lynde’s Hill, which he fortified and for some time garrisoned, preserves his name. Fort Hill was first used for defence by the Wamesits.
In various parts of town the Indians and earlier races have left their traces. Mr. Follansbee, near the Tewksbury line in An-dover, has a large collection of rude weapons which he claims belonged to the rude people of the Stone Age.
A hatchet used for stripping the bark from trees was found on the farm of the State Almshouse, and also some arrow heads. A few years ago, on the farm of Mr. Jesse L. Trull, was picked up a mortar left by some careless squaw after bruising the family corn.
It is said that after the war the Wamesit chief visited Rev. Mr. Fiske of Chelmsford. To his question whether they had suffered much, Mr. Fiske replied “No,” and devoutly thanked God. “Me next,” said Wannalancet. It was a truly devout correction of the omission of the agents God used to save this region from even more fearful sufferings than it endured.
by EWP, excerpt from Our Town, published in 1888
The civil history of Tewksbury, as well as her religious, give her a place among the honored list of New England towns which helped to found and then to defend the republic. Her men served in the French and Indian wars in the various places and times in the history of the Province and State where troops were required.
A vote was tried May 16, 1737, to see if the town would send a representative to the General Court, and it passed in the negative. Only once before the time of the Revolution, in 1751, and then no choice appears, was it decided to send a representative. They voted to trust to the mercies of the Court. But as soon as danger to the Provinces appeared, no convention or political assembly lacked a delegate from Tewksbury. Many of these were attended when life might be forfeited for taking part in the proceedings. Time presents us from following detail the long list of conventions, etc., to draft forms of government, adopt constitutions, or regulate prices in time of war. The town meetings also, at times held every few days, were occupied often in this same essential business. Thus were the constitutions of our States and of the United States hammered out article by article until they were fitted to endure the test of use and time.
February 8, 1773, the first note of the coming strife sounds in the town records. Then Tewksbury voted to choose a committee of correspondence with the town of Boston, and Mr. Ezra Kindall, Aaron Beard, John Needham, Nathaniel Heywood, and David Trull were chosen; and then it was voted to adjourn to March to hear their draft, which was accepted. The warrant of September, 1774, contains an article “to see if the town will appoint one or more delegates to attend a Provincial meeting at Concord;” and another article “to see if the town will provide some fire armes and more ammunition and chose a committee to provide for the same.” September 21, 1774, seven months before the battle of Lexington, they voted to buy more powder for a town stock, and to buy two more barrels of powder in addition to the town stock, and to “leave it with ye committee to provide bullets and flints as they shall think proper.” Six days after they met according to adjournment, and chose Mr. Jonathan Brown as “Delegate for the Provincial meeting to be holden at Concord on ye second Tuesday of October next.” In November was considered the article in the warrant “whether the constables be directed by a vote of the town to pay the money that they shall have or shall collect of the Province tax to Henry Gardiner, Esq., of Stow, according to the directions of the Provincial Congress.”
March, 1775, they voted to indemnify the assessors for not making returns to Harrison Gray, Esq. They then voted to raise minute-men, – it was high time after passing such votes, – and to give minute-men five shillings apiece “for every half day in the week that they train till further notice.”
March 9, 1775, voted to choose a committee to suppress disorders in town. A large committee of their best men was chosen. It was none too soon, for in a little over six weeks their minute-men must march to face the veterans of Great Britain at Con-cord, and it would never do to leave Tory sympathizers in the town to aid the enemy. That there were Tories then in Tewksbury is clear, for afterward, March 1779, they chose Mr. Ezra Kindall as agent to care for the Tory farms in Tewksbury. This meeting, at which men and money were voted, was held March 9th.
April 19, the embattled farmers at Concord and Lexington, as Emerson says, “fired the shot heard round the world.” Tewksbury was roused that famous night, or rather morning, by one of the men started by Paul Revere on his famous ride through the Middlesex farms. The messenger passed through this village and roused its sleeping inhabitants. Then riding on, he stopped on that spring morning on Stickney Hill, at the house of Captain John Trull, near the training-ground often used by the captain for drilling the men, and enlisting them in their country’s service. Hearing the cry, “The British are marching on Concord!” Captain Trull sprang from bed, and after firing his gun as the signal previously agreed upon to arouse General Varnum across the Merrimac in Dracut, threw himself upon his horse and rode rapidly to the village. Here he found the minute-men drawn up, ready at the word to march. Placing himself at their head, they were soon on their way by the Billerica road to Concord, and joined at Merriam’s Corner with those from Billerica and other towns in hot pursuit of the retreating British. There, all accounts agree that the sharp conflict changed the retreat into a rout. One of the Tewksbury men was Eliphalet Manning. One of Captain Trull’s grandsons Mr. Herbert Trull, often related that when a boy, on his way to Salem, he used to pass Manning’s door. Eliphalet would call out: “I fought with your grandfather from Concord to Charlestown. He would cry out to us as we sheltered ourselves behind the trees: ‘Stand trim, men; or the rascals will shoot your elbows off.’” Tewksbury was also represented at Charlestown, Boston, Cambridge, Roxbury, “the Lines” Rhode Island, New York, Ticonderoga, “the westward,” and at the taking of Burgoyne. The history and course of the war may be read in the records and money-orders of the town, or in the votes for distinguished men and measures. While her sons stood in the high laces of the field, the work to keep them there and sustain the government went bravely on here. It is a record of which the town may forever be proud.
“May 23, 1775, Chose Mr. Ezra Kindell to be representative to the Provincial Congress at Watertown,
May 31.” Such an election might cost him his life. A Committee of Correspondence also was chosen.
July 15, 1775, Mr. Ezra Kindell again chosen. In the March meeting of 1776, Nathaniel Clark, Jr. Nathaniel Heywood, Deacon Jacob Shed, and William Brown were chose a Committee of Correspondence, Inspection, and Safety; and May 20th Lieutenant John Flint, John French Jr., and Benjamin Burtt were added to their number. Then for the years of the war the records teem with money paid to the soldiers and their families, for provisions, clothing, transportation, bounties, and whatever was needed to wage war long, grim, and terrible. Thus this town, with the country, was launched on the terrible struggle which ended in complete triumph when George III., entering the houses of parliament with pale countenances, read with faltering voice the recognition by Great Britain of the independence of the United States of America. The long, weary years of that great struggle are traced upon our town records in votes to raise reinforcements of men for the Continental army; to furnish it with pro-visions and clothing; to raise committees for all needful purposes, and also in the orders to pay the troops or their families; indeed, in all the multifarious and oppressive business of war. Most pathetic are the orders to some widow or relative to receive the pay due to one who went forth to fight for all man holds dear, but who never returned to enjoy the fruits of victory.
Such are these:
“To Widow Rebecca French £3, 5, 10, 2.
To Widow Rebecca Gray 7/9.” In short, men and money were lavished like water.
Meetings often occurred within four or five days of each other. As one reads the records, it is brought home to him what the founding of the republic cost: he sees the making of the United States; he learns the whole process as he remembers that our town stands a representative of what was occurring in a multitude of other towns doing the same great work. It is this that makes the early history of every New England town, especially in the revolutionary period, so instructive and fascinating. Could the dumb and scanty records of our town speak, could they give us a verbal report of but one of their town meetings, of even one of their debates on arms or the constitution of state or nation, what an absorbing tale would be unfolded! As time passed, indications of the events prominent in the continued history of the country also appear in the records. This shows the year of what is called Shay’s Rebellion: October 8, 1789, “An order to David Rogers for his services being drafted to go into the Shais Affair.” Action upon the various changes and additions to the Constitution appears in due course. Ripples of the second war with England reached even here.
July, 1812, they voted $13 per month to each soldier, and to raise money to carry on the war.
by EWP, excerpt from Our Town, published in 1888
The far-off sound of coming Civil War is heard in the vote of March, 1861, to have the school committee cause the Constitution of the United States to be read at least once a term in each of the public schools.
May 6th the same notable year, began the long list of liberal provisions by the town to furnish men and money to defend the republic. The records seem to repeat themselves, as essentially the same votes, orders, and the very names, reappear that were found in the time of the Revolution. The bounties keep rising to secure the needful troops; the quotas increase in number; the patriotic efforts become more and more strenuous; state and town aid are furnished the families of the absent soldiers. Again the prominent men in town step to the front to aid and inspire the citizens. Voluntary efforts supplement those of the legal meetings. In addition to the names familiar through all our history, the new name of Leonard Hunttress appears. With many others he helped to guide affairs in this trying period of the country’s history. The records are fuller than in the early years, and contain many interesting documents. Beside the famous proclamations of Governor Andrew and of President Lincoln, there is the record of some remarks by Mr. Huntress, then first selectman. As chairman he appended these remarks to the report of the selectmen of March, 1865. They carry us back to those days of trial, and to the spirit which animated the great North.
“The selectmen in addition to the foregoing report of receipts and expenditures, desire to call the attention of their fellow citizens, in a few brief words, to matters showing more especially the town’s relation to the country.
“The war has existed four years. Every call made upon us for men to put down the rebellion has been honored. Our quotas are all full. We have also a surplus to our credit of two men.
“The end now appears to be so plainly drawing nigh that we are in hopes no additional calls will be made. I fact, the spirit of liberty and of patriotism seems to be doing for the army in these last days so good a work, that we believe our ranks will be kept full.
“Since April 1, 1864, this town has furnished twenty-four men. The last one who went was our fellow-townsman, Anson B. Clark.
“We mention his case particularly because he was the first man who enlisted as a private, and by his soldierly qualitites and good conduct was promoted to a sergeancy. Soon after his promotion he was taken prisoner, and suffered in the ‘Libby’ and on Belle Isle until nearly used up, when he was exchanged. He now considers himself again fit for duty, has been examined and mustered in as a veteran for Hancock’s Corps.
“Of those that went in the winter of 1863-64, four are known to have died. Their names are J. Wells Merriam, Alexander McDonald, Hugh McDonald, and Hugh McQuarrie. Young Merriam was clerk of the Fifteenth Massachusetts Battery, stationed then at Memphis, a good soldier, a correct officer, and an exemplary and upright man. He died after a brief sickness, beloved, we believe, by the whole command “The two McDonalds and McQuarrie were not citizens of this town. Their home was Prince Edward Island. Temporarily at work here, they enlisted in the Seventh Battery, and during the last warm season they all died near the mouth of the Mississippi River, For all of these brave ones, and for those who have fallen before them, the town does most tenderly cherish the memory of their gallant and heroic deeds.
While this was lasts, the selectmen would recommend that our expenses be kept as light as practicable. If men are wanted, they must be furnished. If we have them not, we must find them elsewhere; and if they cost money, we must pay for them. But as to our affairs at home, we recommend a rigid economy.”
Enough has been said to show that “Tewksbury in the Civil War” is a sufficiently large and interesting subject for treatment by itself. Is it not time to pre-serve more fully this honorable part of our history, before those who remember it pass beyond? Is it not time to honor, as many other towns have done, those who fell in our defence?
by EWP, excerpt from Our Town, published in 1888
Many fail to remember, perhaps never dreamed, that slavery once existed in Massachusetts, the leading State in the great antislavery movement. Traces of the “peculiar institution” may be found in all the early New England towns. Tewksbury is no exception. The town records contain frequent references to negroes belonging to one and another of the names familiar in our history. It seems strange to hear of the Kittredge, the Trull, the Hunt and the Rogers families as among the slaveholders. Stranger still is what Mr. Aaron Frost relates, that when slavery was abolished in Massachusetts there were three slaves in this town: a man owned by Dr. Kittredge, from whom the poor farm was bought; a girl named Rose, owned by Mrs. Rogers, and one named Phyllis, the property of the Rev. Sampson Spaulding. It speaks well for their treatment that when freedom came he two maid-servants preferred to remain with their former owners.
In those days they not only voted what seats the singers should have, and adjusted all difficulties with them, but passed the following, September, 1786: “that the negroes have the seat next to the long pew for their sear to set in.”
In this connection the following document is interesting:—
“Know all men by these presents that I, John Kittredge of Tewksbury, in the County of Middlesex of his Majestie’s Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, Chirurgeon, Know ye that I, said John Kittredge, for ye love, good will and affection that I have and do bear to-ward my servant Negroe man Reuben, and also for ye Good Service that the said reuben hath done and performed for me, Do by these presents Declear, Order and Establish that my said Servant Reuben, if he lives and survives me, his said Master John Kittredge, that after my Decease the said reuben shall be Intirely free and at his own Liberty for his life time after my Decease, so that my Heirs, Executors, or Administrators, or Either of them, shall not have any Command or Business to order or Dispose of said Reuben. Dated at Tewksbury the Sixteenth day of Janury, in the Twenty Eight year of his Majestie’s Reign Anquo Domini 175/5
“Signed, Sealed and delivered in presence of us
“The above written Instrument of yeCleronance of Doctr. John Kittredge’s Negroe Man Reuben was entered Novemberye 16, 1756
“Per me STEPHEN OSGOOD “Town Clerk”
The Tewksbury State Hospital, as it is now called, was begun as a residence for the poor in 1826. It is interesting to note that this is the year that Lowell was incorporated.
Tewksbury from the first has found true the words “The poor ye have with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good.” The town supervised the interests of widows and orphans when required and often adjudicated cases of difficulty which now are carried into the courts, — perhaps not a more excellent way, Sometimes the children of the poor were bound out by the selectmen.
It was the custom to warm out of town persons likely to become paupers before they could establish a claim for support. A fee was paid for this, which sometimes such persons would obtain for warning out themselves and families. Thus, “to Daniel Pryor 18/, it being for warning himself and family and Mrs. Mahoney and her child out of town.” Then no one could become a regular and recognized inhabitant without permission. Towns gave worthless and disorderly persons orders to march, and often assisted them to do so. When, however, a person or family had a right to town aid, they were fortunate poor people, because they would be well cared for.
There were in the early times a Nicholas Striker and family, whose names appear frequently in the town accounts. Orders were paid for beef, milk, wood, sugar, pork, provisions of all kinds; for rum and molasses; for doctoring Striker’s wife; for repairing his house; for a cow to lend Striker; and at last for his coffin and funeral expenses. There was a French family, probably one of the Acadian exiles, equally prominent in the same way, of which it seemed the town would never hear the last. With a sigh of relief, even at this distant day, is read and order for payment for carrying them to Canada. Alas! they are soon back from an uncongenial and inhospitable clime to tarry till the in-evitable end. In 1786 was considered how the town should support their poor and it was voted “that the poor be set up to the highest bidder, and that the selectmen give public notice of the time and place where they are to be set up.” Again, “that the selectmen are to vendee the poor that are supported by the town to the lowest bidder.” Hence for years was added to the warrant an N.B. “The Poor that are supported by the Town are to be put out to them that will do its cheapest, in the evening of the above said day, and also the Widow Stickney’s thirds for the season.”
In 1787 overseers of the poor were chosen. It was not till 1826 that the present poor-farm was purchased, with whose working all are familiar. In May, 1826, it was voted to use it also as a house of
The State almshouse was located in Tewksbury, May 1, 1854, upon a farm of two hundred and fifty acres. Mr. Isaac H. Meserve was the first superintendent. The Honorable Thomas J. Marsh succeeded him in 1858, and he held the office for over twenty-five years. Mr. Marsh, in 1883, was followed by Dr. C. Irving Fisher, the present superintendent. The number of inmates varies from about eight hundred in summer to twelve hundred in winter.
Tornado of 1857
The Baltimore Sun published the following account of a tornado that struck Tewksbury on July 28, 1857.
“At about half-past five o’clock p.m. some of the inhabitants noticed over Round Pound a singular appearance. It resembled in the opinion of some a water spout; was at first about the size of a cart wheel, and appeared to be in a whirl — As it gathered force a noise was heard like that of a heavy train of cars under full headway; it had a variable motion, at one time taking a southwest, and at others easterly course. Its path was through the valley, with a width of about 25 rods [413 feet], and it soon assumed all the characteristic of a violent tornado, leveling and seeping all within its sphere. “It first struck among the orchards of Mr. Jacques and Mrs. Kittredge, doing considerable damage.
With increased force it then struck upon the farm of Mr. Morey, totally destroying a field of rye and uprooting all the apple trees. At this place a fisherman, a resident of Lynn, who was on his return from Lowell, supposing that a shower was approaching, drove under a tree for shelter. The tornado struck the team, taking both horse and wagon into the air, landing the horse in a ditch beside the road, throwing the man across the road and breaking the wagon into fragments. Some portions of the wagon were afterwards found nearly a mile from the spot, sticking up in the ground. The occupant of the wagon across the road, the tree under which he was sheltered being blown down upon him, by which he was seriously but not fatally bruised. It next swept through the orchard of Oliver Carter, doing great damage, and then crossing the hill made a clean path through an oak grove. One of these oaks was afterwards found in a duck pond a quarter of a mile distant. The larger portion of the orchard of Mr. Caleb Livingston was demolished.
“It then crossed over the farm of Mr. Samuel Thompson, tearing down his fences and destroying his corn field, orchard, etc. It next struck the house and barn of Mr. John Clark. The barn was completely demolished, and the roof and the back part of the house carried away. There were nine persons in the house at the time, but they were fortunately in the lower rooms, and all thus escaped injury. The houseless family were afterward cared for by the [town’s] inhabitants. The tornado then crossed the river and took off the corner of the barn of Mr. Benjamin Bart, destroying the sheds between the house and the barn. At this place the force of the wind was such that an ox-team was taken from the ground and broken into pieces. Of one wheel not a spoke was left.
“Continuing in its course it crossed the track of the Boston and Maine Railroad, uprooting trees, and was last heard upon the farm of Mr. Upton, of Wilmington, where it made a path in the woods, but gradually diminished in violence, which was noticeable from the fact that instead of pulling up a tree by the root, only the tops were taken off. As it passed the railroad track’s spiked plank at a crossing was torn up and carried a considerable distance. Of course, the inhabitants were in a state of alarm at this unusual visitation.
“It is entirely owing to the fact that its path was through the valley that there was not more serious injury, nearly all the houses being located upon the elevated ground. Some state that the first they noticed of the matter was the branches and even whole trees wheeling in the air. One family, under this supposition, threw a pall of water upon the fire in the cooking stove and fled to the cellar for safety. One tree of considerable size was seen in the air at an estimated height of eighty feet, and the trunk of a large tree which was uprooted has not yet been found. Some of the fragments of the house of Mr. Clark were carried for a considerable distance. Although the loss of property was quite large, [and] fortunately no lives were lost."
Bibliography Baltimore Sun
Rev. Sampson Spalding
by M. J. Spalding
Rev. Sampson Spalding was born June 7, 1711, Chelmsford, MA, the son of Col. Simeon Spalding and his second wife, Abigail Wilson (of Woburn). Sampson died Dec. 15, 1796, Tewksbury, MA in the 60th year of his ministry, age 86 yrs. He married Madam Mehetable Hunt, Feb. 12, 1740; she was born July 9, 1716 and died March 3, 1807,at 91 years of age. They left behind 8 children, 60 grandchildren and 74 great grand-children.
Sampson was the first Spalding family member to become a minister, graduating from Harvard College in 1732. Sampson worked his way through school, “first as a waiter on the lower table, to waiting on the upper table, and finally to a comfortable 3 Browne exhibition." In 1735, he returned to Harvard to obtain an MA, where he wrote “An omnes a veteri in novo testamento citatae prophetiae, fuerint ad literam adimpletae?”
He received a “unanimous call” from the town of Tewksbury and settled there Jan. 17, 1736. He first preached at the home of John French, Jr., on Livingston St., the meetinghouse not yet completed. Sampson was ordained at the “First Congregational Church of Christ” in Tewksbury on Nov. 23, 1737.
According to Tewksbury a Short History the town accorded him:
. . .yearly for his salary . . .
£120 sterling according, to the valuation of grain now received among us – Indian Corn at 6/ per bush. and wheat at 10/ per bush., and Rie at 8/ per bush. also:
. . . to give Mr. Sampson Spaulding whom the Town has made choice on for their Minister even for his settlement among them £300, and to pay the same at three payments, namely £100 a year, till the whole sum be paid.
Sampson was a follower of Rev. Charles Chauncey who was consdiered a member of the “Old Lights” and was a great friend of Rev. Ebenezer Bridge of Chelmsford, MA , where he was born. In his later years, the following comment was made of him:
“. . .that when in advanced years he was possessed of a venerable form and commanding statue wearing a white wig and carrying a long staff and with a weak and tremulous voice he spoke unto his people the ’word of eternal truth.’”
In 1791, Sampson was stricken with paralysis while preaching from the pulpit. At the time of his death, it was said:
“. . . during his long life he set an example for all those virtues that ornament the Christian, the Gentleman and the Neighbour.”This post card shows the Sampson’s homestead in Tewksbury, MA; the post card is dated 1909. “He was a preacher at Tewksbury for sixty years and its settled pastor for more than 59 years. His ministry was not only remarkable for its length, but it was peaceful, happy, and successful.” 1
They had the following children:
i. Mary , born Apr. l, 1741; married John Bridges, Oct. 21, 1762; lived in Wilton, NH. She died July, 1808.
ii. Mehetable , born May 15, 1742; died Dec. 3, 1744, Lowell, MA.
iii. Hannah , born Nov. 28, 1744; died Jan. 18, 1745.
iv. Sampson [616/1707], born Nov. 19, 1745; died Jan., 1832, Ohio.
v. Jonathan [617/1717], born Sept. 15, 1747.
vi. Mehetable , born Mar. 13, 1749; 1st, married Benjamin Burtt, Aug. 22, 1771; 2nd married Samuel Manning, Nov. 2, 1780.
vii. John , born Dec. 6, 1750; died May 20, 1755, canker, quinsy.
viii. Hannah , born Aug. 7, 1752; married Isaac French, Tewksbury, MA, Dec. 14, 1775.
ix. Anna , born Jan. 19, 1755; married Rev. Abel Fiske of Wilton, NH, Aug. 19, 1783; she died July 8, 1796.
x. John [622/1731], born Oct. 2, 1756; died May 27, 1843, Tewksbury, MA.
xi. Sarah , born Sept. 28, 1758; married Ens. Josiah Parker, of Hollis, NH, Nov. 29, 1792; she died Oct. 28, 1803, leaving no children.
xii. child (12th), born Apr. 14, 1760; died Oct. 23, 1761.
To the Memory of
Rev. Sampson Spaulding
Dec. 15, 1796
Lord I commiting with thee
Accept the sacred trust
Receive this nobler part of me
And watch my sleeping dust
To the Memory of
Mrs. Mehitable Spaulding
Rev. Sampson Spaulding
1 Coggin’s Dedication Sermon.
Mar. 2, 1807
Here I must till Christ appear
Hannah, John and Mehitable all died at a young age and are buried beside one another in the old
Bibliographical references, “Spalding Memorial,” 1896 by Charles Warren Spalding; “History of Tewksbury,” by Sampson Spalding, and Coggin’s Dedication Sermon.