From Daniel T.V. Huntoon's 

History of The Town of Canton, Massachusetts (1893)



No New England town was complete without stocks and a pound. We have no means of fixing definitely the location or the time of the erection of the first stocks. It is probable that they were erected on Packeen Plain soon after the first settlers came here. In 1737 they had from exposure to the weather fallen into decay, and the selectmen employed Preserved Lyon to make a new pair. He was dismissed from Milton Church, Nov. 9, 1735, and with Joanna Vose, whom he had married July 12, 1711, removed to [Stoughton]. He was a resident of Packeen; his house stood near the junction of Elm and Pecunit streets. He was so small on the day of his birth, Sept. 10, 1688, that his parents put him into a quart tankard and shut down the cover; and he lived to be ninety-six years of age, dying July 14, 1784.

Tradition informs us that he was an excellent workman, and the fact is substantiated by his being employed to erect the first schoolhouse, and also in 1747 the third meetinghouse. Mr. Lyon obtained the plank for the new stocks at the saw-mill, framed them at his home, and carted them to the place assigned, paying to Mr. Josiah Kenney - whose blacksmith shop stood on Cherry Hill, between the school-house and Cherry Tavern, near to his one-story gambrel-roofed house - "fifteen shillings for ye irons."

Lyon's stocks lasted until 1759, when they became decayed, and new ones were made by William Cunningham, who arrived in town with his wife and three children, Nov. 7, 1749. He purchased five acres of land with an orchard, from John Withington, and in 1764 fourteen acres from the minister Morse estate, all of which was situated west of the Catholic Cemetery. It is probable that his house was partially framed from the timbers of the old meeting-house when it was pulled down. A portion of this land still goes by his name, though pronounced in the old-fashioned way, as if spelled Kuinecum; and the land owned by him is to this day known as Kuinecum.

The Cunningham stocks lasted to the time of the Revolution. A new pair were erected in 1775, when William Wheeler, Jr., furnished the woodwork, and Samuel Blackman the irons.

Sir Henry Maine says that there is nothing of greater antiquity in England than the village pound; it is older than the King's Bench, and probably older than the kingdom. The first thing that our ancestors did as soon as they became incorporated, if not before, was to erect a pound. An article was inserted in the warrant "to consider and act upon the building of a pound," The town voted to build one, and in 1727 it was finished. Its location is not a matter of record, but it probably stood with the stocks, near the meeting and school house. It did its duty until 1742, when Joseph Esty built a new one on the land of James Endicott; this site was selected by the selectmen as the most convenient, and Mr. Endicott received for the land, or the use of it, £j 10s. Again, in 1760, there are indications of another pound, which was situated in the centre of the village, and for which William Wheeler provided the timber.

The next pound stood on the right-hand side of Pleasant Street as you drive toward Stoughton, just south of Beaver Brook, between that and the driveway that now leads to Charles Draper's factory. It was erected in 1789, the land having been purchased from Abijah Upham; and Joseph Bemis was requested by the town to draw up the specifications for its construction. Its wall extended forty feet in each direction, and was six and one half feet in height; the stones gradually widened from eighteen inches at the top to a width of four feet at the ground. These stones, all procured within a few rods of the site, were capped with stout pieces of chestnut timber ten inches square. The entrance was three feet in width and covered at the top with a large cubical stone.

It must have reflected great credit on Lieut. Lemuel Gay when it was completed, for he was well skilled in the art of manipulating stone.

The site of this pound had been selected when the towns now known as Canton and Stoughton were one, and it was used by the inhabitants of both villages. Eight years after the erection of the pound, when the first precinct desired to become a township and take upon itself the name of Canton, it was proposed that the Act of incorporation should contain a clause to the effect that the inhabitants of Stoughton should have liberty to impound cattle, horses, sheep, or swine as long as should suit their pleasure, and when they should no longer desire to drive their strays four miles to pound, - or in other words, when they should erect a new pound at their village, - the town of Canton would pay to the town of Stoughton their proportionate part of the value of the pound at the time the latter should cease to use it. There is no evidence that this was done. In the division of the common property of the towns, the pound remained with Canton ; but its situation was as inconvenient to the new town as it had been to ancient Stoughton, and, April 8, 1835, it was torn down, the stones used as the foundation for a factory in its immediate vicinity, and a new one was erected at Canton Corner, on Dedham Street, opposite the Leeds house. This was built by Capt. William McKendry, who built the meetinghouse in 1824. It was completed in September, 1835, and he received for his labor forty dollars. This pound remained until February, 1841, when it was removed to its present site in the rear of the old Town-House.

Among the curious old customs was the bringing of wolves, blackbirds, squirrels, and wild-cats to the selectmen, in conformity to an Act passed by the General Court in 1740, to prevent damage to Indian corn and other grain, which provided that "whoever shall kill any crows, blackbirds, gray or ground squirrels, shall bring their heads to any one of the selectmen, who shall cut or deface the same, and give a receipt to the party bringing them, which shall be duly allowed by the town treasurer at the rate fixed by law; viz., for blackbirds unfledged, twelve pence per dozen; for grown blackbirds, three shillings; for each crow, sixpence; and for each squirrel, fourpence." In 1741 the town paid this bounty as follows: on thirty-two young blackbirds, on one hundred and seventy-five old blackbirds, and on five hundred and thirty-five squirrels. Ebenezer Bacon received ten shillings for killing a young wild-cat, which in the judgment of the selectmen was under the age of one year. In 1744 Charles Wentworth received £5 13s. 4d. for blackbirds and squirrels, Joseph Hewins £2 11s. 4d., and Moses Gill killed five hundred squirrels. For killing a wolf the sum of £1 was allowed; and in 1733 Thomas Ahauton received that sum for a full-grown wild-cat, and John Shepard £2 for two. Persons were also appointed to inform against the breaches of an Act passed in 1698, to prevent the killing of deer between January 1 and August 1. In 1741 Robert Redman and Elkanah Billings performed this office; and the custom appears to have been continued into the present century, when it became a matter of ridicule and was given to the oldest man in town,

A curious custom existed among our ancestors of "warning out." In 1692 an Act was passed that any person who sojourned or dwelt in a town three months without being warned out, thereby became an inhabitant, unless they were imprisoned or lawfully restrained or had come for the purpose of medical attendance or education. By the Act of 1700 and 1739, the time was extended to twelve months, In 1767 an Act was passed that no person could gain an inhabitancy by length of time, unless admitted at general town meeting; but in 1789 it was again necessary to warn out persons within a year, in order to prevent their gaining a residence. The town, acting under the authority of the General Court, took the precaution to warn out all strangers from the town, in order that if they were poor, or likely to become so, the town would not be responsible for their support; and it was the duty of all heads of families to immediately inform the selectmen of a town of the name, age, occupation, and previous residence of the new-comer, whether he or she were married or single, and whether he or she were in good circumstances.

The following is one of these letters of information : —

                                                                                                                                Stoughton, Dec. 21, 1736. 

For the Selectmen of the Town of Stoughton :

Gentlemen,— These are to inform you that Parruk Maden. a young man by trade a nailer, is come from Dorchester to live with me, as also Hezekiah Meroh. a lad to live with me as a prentice, and have been with me about a fortnight.

                                                                                                                Isaac Royall.

We may observe in passing that this Irish lad, whose father was a fisherman at Savin Hill, subsequently married, Feb. 5, 1753; Mary Tolman, and had a son Amariah Meroh, who was born May 14, 1757. He was in the Revolutionary service about six years, chiefly in short enlistments. He went to Sorel, Trois Rivieres, Montreal, Ticonderoga, and was subsequently at West Point. He was with the detachment at Cambridge guarding the troops of Burgoyne, but was never in any engagement. Being of a practical turn, he sold his rations of rum to the Indians for bear-skins. In 1784 he left Stoughton, and purchased a farm in Union, Maine, on which his son was living in 1825. Amariah was for many years chairman of the selectmen of that town.

Sometimes these notifications were not complimentary. In 1734, when James Phillips arrived in town, the selectmen are informed that "he has several hundred acres of land in Connecticut, but that a glass of good liquor stands a very narrow chance when it lies in his way. Yet it quickly gets the mastery of him when they come to close ingagement."

If the fathers of the town thought there was any danger of the new-comers becoming a public charge, they immediately issued their warrant, directed to one of the constables of the town. The following is one of these warning-out warrants: -

Stoughton, ss.

To Either of Constables of Stoughton in ye County of Suffolk, 

Greeting :

Whereas, the Selectmen of Stoughton have been informed that there is one Scipio Lock and his wife, two free Negros, at a house belonging to Mr. Benj. Everenden in Stoughton, which came Sept. from Brantree in s'd County to resid in this Town, - these are therefore to require you in His Majesty's name to warn ye s'd Scipio and wife to depart this Town within fourteen days after warning gave them, or they will be delt with as to Law and Justice belongs. Dated at Stoughton afore s'd September ye 28th, A. D. 1759, in ye 33d year of His Majestys Reign. Make Return hereof and of ye doings herein to myself, as soon as may be. Per Order of ye Selectmen.

                                                                                                                                               Wm. Royall, Town Clerk.

This warrant was placed in the hands of one of the constables, in this case of Isaac Fenno, Jr., who a few years after was to have his brains dashed out by falling from the tower of the meeting-house. Fenno, having seen the party described, writes on the warrant, his attestation of the fact: 

Suffolk, ss.                                                                                                                                                     Stoughton, October ye 8th, 1759.

By Virtue of this warrant I have warned the within named Scipio Lock to depart out of this Town with his wife within fourteen Days warning given them, or they will be delt with as Law and Justice belongs.

                                                                                                                            Isaac Fenno, Jr., Constable.

An article also appeared in the town warrant "to see if the town will maintain a negro man, Scipio Lock, or try to get rid of him by standing a lawsuit."

Another custom of old times was to apprentice the children of the poor to some person willing to instruct them in a trade, thereby relieving the town of the burden of their support, and at the same time fitting them for the duties of life when they should attain their majority.

The following is a copy of an old form of an apprentice indenture: —

This Indenture Witnesseth that we, Elkanah Billings, William Royall, Herekiah Gay, Joseph Billings, and Daniel Richards, Selectmen, and overseers of the poor, of the town of Stoughton, in the County of Suffolk, in New England, by and with the consent of two of His Majesties Justices of the peace for said County, have placed, and by the said parents do place and bind out, Alexander Loghead, a poor child belonging to said Stoughton, unto John Sunmer, Tanner, of the same town and County aforesaid, and to Hannah his wife, and their heirs. And with them after the manner of an apprentice to dwell and live from the day of the date of these presents, until the 19th day of January, which will be in the year of one Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixty-three, at which time the said apprentice, if he survive, will arrive at the age of twenty-one years, During all which said term, the, said apprentice his said Master and Mistris, &c, well and faithfully shall serve, their secrets shall keep, their commands Lawful and honest everywhere he shall gladly obey. He shall do no damage to his master, nor suffer it to be done by others, without giving reasonable notice thereof to his said master, &c. He shall not waste the goods of his said master, &c, nor lend them unlawfully to any ; at cards, dice, or any other unlawful game or games, he shall not play; fornication he shall not commit; matrimony he shall not contract; taverns, ale houses, or places of gaming he shall not haunt nor frequent; from the service of his said master, &c, by day nor night, he shall not absent himself. But in all things and at all times he shall carry and behave himself toward his said master and all theirs as a good and faithful apprentice ought to do, to his utmost ability during all the time and term aforesaid. And he, the said John Sumner, doth hereby covenant and agree for himself, his wife and heirs, to and with the said Elknah Billings, Wm, Roya11, Herekiah Gay, Joseph Billings, and Daniel Richards, or their successors in said trust, to teach or cause the said apprentice to be taught the trade of a tanner, or else in the lieu and stead thereof to deliver and pay to him one yoak of steers three years old, and six pounds thirteen shillings and four pence in money, at the expiration of the aforesaid apprenticeship. And to learn said apprentice to read and write ; also that they shall and will well and truly find, allow unto, and provide for the said apprentice, sufficient and wholesome meat and drink, apparel, walking and lodging neat and convenient for such an apprentice during all the time aforesaid; and at the end and expiration thereof shall dismiss their said apprentice with two good suits of apparel fit for all parts of his body, and suitable to his quality.

IN TESTIMONY whereof the parties to these present indentures have hereunto interchangeably set their hands and seals the eighteenth day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and fifty four and in the twenty-seventy year of the Reign of His Majesty King George the Second. &c.

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered in the presence of

                                                                                                John Sumner. 

Richard Hixson. 

John Rhoads.

                Consented to by                                         Isaac Royall, Just, peace,

                                                                                  Robert Spur.

The custom of verifying the accuracy of weights and measures is of very ancient origin. It was an old English custom the government of England made regulations in regard to weights and measures, long before the time of MagnaCharta; and as early as the time of Henry VII, Parliament introduced the system of sending weights and measures to the chief officers of the town, to be proved.

In 1761, according to the order of Jeremiah Ingraham, sealer of weights and measures, all persons were required in his Majesty's name to bring their weights and measures, both great and small, to the dwelling-house of the sealer, and there have them tried, proved, and sealed, as the law directs.

In early days the inhabitants were much troubled by rattlesnakes, of which there were very many in town. In Sharon there is a hill still called Rattlesnake Hill, and on the old Bay road is Rattlesnake Plain. In 1743 Rattlesnake Rock at Packeen is mentioned; it is still to be seen near the junction of Pecunit and Elm streets. It is asserted that the burning of the woodlands from time to time has exterminated them. The Blue Hills have always been noted as an especial haunt of the snakes, which, to this day, are sometimes killed in the vicinity. Young Strowbridge was bitten by a rattlesnake, July 27, 1791. Dr. Puffer, who was reputed to have a sure remedy against the poison, was sent for ; but before he arrived, the boy was dead.

In 1807 Polly Billings was bitten in Randolph Woods. She was unable to reach home, but walked three quarters of a mile to the Widow Jerusha Wentworth's in great distress.

I often lamented in my boyish days, when the story of the Strowbridge boy was related to me by my father, that so efficacious a remedy should have been lost to the world, more especially to the boys of Canton; but twenty years after, among my collection of old almanacs, dating from 1747 to 1883, I found in that of 1771 the following: —

A sure and certain cure for the bite of a Rattle-Snake made Public by Abel Puffer, of Stoughton.

As soon as may be after the Person is bit. cut a Gash or Split in the Place where the Bite is, as the Teeth went in, and fill it full of fine Salt. Take common Plantain and pound it, add a little Water to it, then squeeze out the Juice, and mix it with clean Water; then make a strong Brine with fine Salt and the Juice, till it will not dissolve the salt; then make a Swath or bandage with Linn en Cloth, and bind it around just above the swelling (but not too tight); then wet the Bandage with the before-mentioned Brine, and keep it constantly wet with the Brine, —for it will dry very fast, — and keep stroking the Part with your Hands as hard as the Patient can bear, towards the Cut you made, and you will soon see the Poison and virulent Matter flow out of the Cut; and it will often flow so fast that it will swell below the Cut, and if it should, you must cut below the swelling to let out the virulent Matter, and it will not leave running till it is discharged. You must keep the Bandage moving downwards as the Swelling abates. It is proper to give the Patient something to defend the Stomack, as Sweet Oil, Safron, or Snake Root. It very often bleeds after the Poison is out; but be not surprised at that, — it is Good for it. It will run some time after the Poison is out; there must be Care taken that none of the poison that runs out gets to any sore, or raw Flesh, for it will Poison the Person.

I expect that some will slight this Publication, for the Remedies being so simple a Thing ; but I hope no one will so slight it, if he is bit, as to neglect trying the Experiment, and the Effect will prove what I have said to be true. I should not have published this had I not been certain of its performing the Cure by my own Experience; for I have cured two Persons dangerously bit, and a Horse and Dog, with no other Thing but what is mentioned in the before Direction, and make this Public for the Benefit of Mankind, tho I have been offer'd a considerable Sum by some Persons to make it known to them, but then it must be kept as a secret.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Abel Puffer.

Stoughton, Oct. 4th, 1770.


In 1757 Shubael Wentworth, Isaac Fenno, Adam Blackman, William Wheeler, Paul Wentworth, and others, having been much annoyed and alarmed at the large number of rattlesnakes in the town, desired that a premium, or bounty, be offered by the town for each one killed. The town voted that it would give one shilling for each rattlesnake killed in the town, the person claiming the bounty to bring "the rattle and an inch of ye tail joining ye rattle." William Royall killed twelve, and John Atherton five. In 1771 William Shaller killed sixty-four snakes; and in 1793 the selectmen were requested to write letters to the adjoining towns in which there were dens of rattlesnakes and see what action might be taken to destroy them.

In 1808 appears this record: —

"March 7. Voted to pay a bounty of one dollar per head or tail for every Rattlesnake absolutely taken & killed within the town in the months of April, May, & October the present year."

Hon. Charles Endicott, in his centennial address in 1876, said: —

"Practically this was very much like offering a bounty of two dollars for each snake killed, and very likely it was found to be so, for the next year the town voted the same sum for rattlesnakes' tails, and cautioned the treasurer ' to guard against deception when he is applied to for such bounties."

As late as 1834 a bounty of fifty cents was offered by the town for every rattlesnake's tail.

Another link in the chain which binds New England to Saxon England was an officer who was partly constable and partly a corrector of public manners and morals. He was called a tithing-man, not because he collected tithes, for he did not, but he seemed to exercise his duties only on Sunday. It was his business to prevent all driving, except of those who were going to church or could give a "life or death" reason for their profanation of the Lord's Day. All persons who walked out on the Sabbath, and especially those who were turbulent, fell under the ban of his displeasure, and received from him, except in aggravated cases, patriarchal counsel and fatherly guidance, He looked into the meetinghouse to see who was absent, and then went into the byways and the fields to find the erring wanderers from the fold.

An ancient custom of distinguishing cattle and sheep by artificial marking was in vogue in this town in early times. We have never seen a list of owners with the marks attached, but the following will show the method pursued: -

"A white ram, with a half penny cut out of ye under side of ye left ear, with three strokes of tar on his right side.

"A white ram, having two small horns. One of them bends towards his right eye. He hath a swallow tail cut out of his left ear, and two halfpenny; to wit, one on ye upper side, ye other on ye under side of ye same ear.

"A white ram. No horns. He hath a small black spot on the tip of his right ear; he hath no artificial marks.

"A white ram, having a cross cut out of ye right ear, and a half cross off ye left ear.

"A white ram, having a deep slit in each of his ears and the under side of each ear cut off about half way from ye tip of ye ears to ye bottom of said slits. No horns."

Perambulation, or beating the bounds, is another old custom that has come down to us from our English ancestry ; and to this day the law requires that the town lines be reviewed at stated times. The English custom since the time of Elizabeth made it obligatory once a year; and the substantial men of the parish, and the boys of the parochial school, turned out and walked over the bounds, while the parish beadle and the curate in his cossack read from the psalm, "Cursed be he which translateth the bounds and doles of his neighbors." The days allotted to this work, or pleasure, were called Gauge Days; and at certain parts of the boundaries the village boys were "bumped," - that is, swung against a tree or stone or post,- that the location might forever remembered be. Sometimes the boys were flogged, in order to impress the precise locality of the landmark on their memories.

In early days the boundaries were defined in a simple and primitive manner. The General Court considered that a great heap of stones, or a trench six feet long and two feet broad, were sufficient indications of a boundary. 

The following is a specimen of the manner of procedure. The oldest town informed the adjoining town of its purpose to perambulate the line in these words: —

To the Selectmen of the Town of Stoughton:

Gentlemen, — These come to desire you, by yourselves or agents, to meet with Lieut Richard Thayer and Lieut John Adams, agents for the selectmen of the town of Braintree, at the house of Mr Benjamin Crane, of Milton, on Monday, the thirteenth of April next, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, in order to perambulate the line and renew the bounds between the said towns of Braintree and Stoughton, as the law directs.

Gentlemen, we are your humble servants,

                                                                                        John Quincy.

                                                                                        William Hunt.

                                                                                        Ebenezer Asplend.

The return of one of these perambulations is as follows:

We, the subscribers, being met by appointment upon the third day of September, 1740, to perambulate the line between the towns of Dedham and Stoughton, — we began at ye bridge at ye north of ye Roebuck Tavern in Stoughton, and followed the northermost branch of Traphole brook until we came to Walpole line, near which we erected a heap of stones, at ye root of a black ash tree, which we marked with a letter D on ye north side, and S on ye south side. But inasmuch as ye bounds between said towns is a wet line, it admitted of no renewing.

                                                                                    John Everett,          Agents for 

                                                                                    Richard Everett     Dedham,


                                                                                    George Talbott,     Agents for

                                                                                    Jeremiah Fuller,     Stoughton,

                                                                                    John Shepard

About 1830, stones were erected to designate the boundaries.

The drinking customs of Canton were not unlike those of other towns. The sideboards were ornamented with decanters of rum, brandy, and gin; the latter was considered the ladies' drink. The first question a visitor was asked on entering the hospitable mansion of a Canton farmer was, "What will you take?" If the visitor refused to drink, — which was an almost unheard-of occurrence, — he was suspected of slighting the kindness of his host. Not to offer wine to all guests was an insult. Mrs. Abigail Maynard, who died at the age of ninety-two years, on June 19, 1882, informed me that having called with her mother on a neighbor, and no drink having been offered them, she, although a child, noticed this breach of good manners, and remarked afterward : "Mother, they didn't offer us anything to drink." The Canton boy of seventy-five years ago was almost at birth initiated into the mysteries of alcoholic mixtures. If he cried as a baby, a little rum with sugar was administered; and if his trouble amounted to a pain, a teaspoonful of brandy slightly diluted with water was given to quiet him. Should he survive all these doses and with health and vigor arrive at years of discretion or attain, his majority, his freedom-day was the occasion of a grand entertainment, when liquor flowed copiously. When the intention of his marriage was droned by the clerk on Sunday in the meeting-house, the happy man was in due time called upon by his companions, and all drank in anticipation of the happiness in store for him; and when the day of his wedding arrived, the house of the bride was filled with friends and guests, who drank to his future health and happiness. The birth of each child furnished an excuse for treating his friends.

In 1809, when the schoolhouse was raised, much liquor was consumed. When the old meeting-house was raised in 1747, Nathaniel May was chosen on the committee to provide, for the raising; and when it was pulled down, rum and brandy were provided for the rope-pullers; but more astonishing than all is that at the visitation of schools during this century it should have been thought necessary that liquor should be furnished.

My father [Rev. Benjamin Huntoon], who came to Canton in 1822, has told me of the drinking habits of the people in his day. He determined to refuse all invitations to drink while making his parochial visits. One clergyman from a neighboring town was so overcome by the hospitality of Canton friends that he and his wife went away, leaving their baby behind them.

Thus our old townsmen lived; and when the last bowl of toddy had been emptied, the last glass of flip taken, and the sympathizing friends and neighbors met at the house of the deceased to pay the last sad rites, a table was spread, upon which liquors of all kinds were placed.

In 1830 Hon. Thomas French writes: —

"It is doubtful if there are any licensed houses in town after September. I expect the town will vote not expedient to have licensed houses."

In 1833, according to Deacon Jeremiah Kollock, the first attempt was made to bring about some reformation in these customs. They had become a disgrace ; liquor was no longer pure; and delirium tremens, which had been unknown among the early settlers, began to show as a result.

About 1834 a number of gentlemen met at Everett's Hall. Deacon Kollock thus describes the condition of affairs at that time: —

"The use of wine, beer, cordials, and cider were considered harmless, and in many cases actually useful. The leading men in this organization were Thomas French, Esq., who was the president, Deacon Ezra Tilden, Leonard Everett, Esq., Theodore Abbott, Jonathan Messinger, Elisha White, Elijah Spare, Dr. Simeon Tucker, and many others I cannot now recall. I think they held meetings once a month and talked over the subject. The ideas then advanced seem to us at this day very peculiar. They thought the drunkard could never use the milder drinks for the purpose of intoxication, and by discountenancing the use of rum, brandy, and gin, and trying to stop the sale of these, we should break down the tide of drunkenness that was ruining some of the best men, never thinking that drunkards formed the appetite in the use of wine, beer, and cordials. Thus things moved on until 1837, when those who had taken an interest in the discussions of the old society, and the young men, from the light that dawned in upon them, began to feel it was time to take a step forward. After much discussion this resolution resulted in the organization of the Young Men's Temperance Union. We met weekly in the vestry under the Baptist church, and discussed the subject, obtained lecturers, etc. After the passage of the Fifteen-Gallon Law in 1838, we commenced prosecutions, and tried every means in our power to stop the sale without success; we were branded as a set of young fanatics. Ail the plans laid to get evidence against those who sold, would leak out before they could be executed. At this juncture a proposition was made that the whole business of prosecutions be left to a committee of nine, to be chosen by the society, and that said committee should keep its own secrets. The result was that after much labor by the committee, both by day and night, we obtained a large number of cases against some of the prominent traders and all the hotel-keepers in town (these hotel-keepers were among the leading men in town), and had them all arraigned before Judge Leland at Ellis Ames's office the same day. We proved all our charges; and they were all heavily fined. This was managed so quietly that the society had no knowledge of what was going on until the trial came off. This came like a thunderbolt on the rum traffic, and put an entire stop to the sale for a longer period than has been since. 1 cannot recall all the names active in this society, there have been so many changes, but I will give those that recur to me at this moment : Ezekiel Capen, V. J. Messinger, V. A. Messinger, Abner T. Upham, A. E. Tucker, CharJes K. Whitney, Charles F. Hard, William Bullock, Rufus S. Preble, Theodore Abbott, Timothy Kaley, Uriah Billings. Charles W. Marden, and many others which I might recall on further reflection."

In writing of the Washingtonian movement, Rev. Edwin Thompson says; —

"In 1840 the Bolivar factory was destroyed by fire, and Jonathan Messinger was its agent and one of the principal owners, He was always friendly, and a cordial welcome in his family was always given. He and his sons, Virgil and Vernon, were among the early friends of temperance in the town ; also Abner T. Upham, an overseer in the mill, was equally interested. In 1840 there was a temperance excitement in which Hon. Nathan Crosby of Lowell, agent of the Massachusetts Temperance Union, was the principal speaker. The same year we had a popular Lyceum course, and Rev. Charles Kimball, Rev. M. Clark, Mr. Walworth, of the firm of Walworth & Nason, were among the speakers who kept up a lively interest. It was at the house of my friend Simeon Presbrey that I first learned of the Washingtonian movement. Mr. Presbrey said, There is a new movement in Boston among the reformed men. I shall always remember Mr. Presbrey as a warm, sincere, and genial friend. Am one the old friends of temperance, other than those I have already mentioned, are Elisha White, Leonard Everett, Hon. Thomas French, Deacon Capen, Deacon Kollock, and James White."

The following composition was sung during the Washingtonian days; it was composed by a gentleman then residing in Canton,

"Fallen is thy throne, O Alcohol !

Thy reign is passed and gone;

Thy ruined halls are desolate;

Thy slaves to freemen born.

Where now those fires that fed thee

Thro' sorrow's blighted home;

Those flames, from hell that led thee

O'er misery's path to roam ?


"Once thou didst boast o'er Canton 

That we were all thine own ; 

Thou claimed us as thy heritage, 

Liege subjects to thy throne. 

But Temperance' torch has lighted 

The deadly upas-tree; 

And Canton's shrines are lighted 

For other gods than thee.


"Come forth, ye Washingtonians ; 

Raise all your voices high; 

Sing down those rum establishments, 

Whence come the mourners' sigh. 

Come, Canton's sons and daughters, 

Let Love your efforts crown, 

Till Alcohol, in all quarters, 

Is banished from your town."

On the 13th of August, 1849, the Rev. Theobald Mathew, the distinguished Irish apostle of total abstinence, visited Canton. The Massapoag Division, Sons of Temperance, met him at the station by a committee; and the carriage of Lyman Kinsley with its famous "silver manes and tails" was placed at his disposal. Father Mathew was escorted to Endicott's grove by a procession of citizens, where an address of welcome was delivered by Rev. Benjamin Huntoon. Father Mathew then delivered one of his characteristic speeches, after which many persons signed the  pledge.

" Mar, 30. Mrs. Gridley and Scarboro stopped here on their way from Boston.

"April 1, Monday. The militia who enlisted two months ago are returning home, heard very distinctly the report of a number of cannon.

" April 22. In the forenoon visited Mr. Royall, and took leave of him as going from Stoughton. After dinner took chaise and went to Dorchester, first taking an affectionate leave of Col. Doty's family, where we have resided near twelve months, that place being the first we took rest in after leaving our habitation in Boston and flying from the oppressive hand of arbitrary power which governed then our native town.

" May 26. Col. Gridley passed to Boston."


Back to the main page of