MAY 24, 1919


Bronze Tablet in Memory of

JOB SWIFT (1711-1801)







Address by Mr. Robie G. Frye, Trustee of the Sharon Public library, presiding :  

We are met to pay respect to the memory of Job Swift, a citizen of Sharon , who more than a century ago took prominent part in the affairs of this little town, and like many men in all our New England towns was active in securing our liberty and independence which we have lately been called upon to defend. There never was a more fitting time than the present to interest ourselves and to try to interest others, especially the young people, in the early history of our country and its institutions and the men and women who made them. There should be in every community a pride in local history and local traditions, a pride in our forefathers and what they accomplished.  

The history of Sharon is very meager. Always a poor country agriculturally and with no import­ant industries it has had few events and few per­sons in its history standing out prominently. Among the few was Job Swift. We have all heard the story of Deborah Sampson and we know that here in Sharon were made the first cannon cast in America , but of Job Swift we know little.  

The tablet which is about to be unveiled tells in a few words the main facts of the public services of Job Swift. I believe it will attract more and more attention as the years go by. The inscrip­tion was devised by Mr. John G. Phillips in consultation with Mr. Edward D. Endicott, the executor of Mr. E. O. Swift's will, with Doctor Sidney A. Weston and others.

The design was made by Mr. C. Howard Walker, the architect of this library building, an architect of proved ability, a recognized authority in art matters and one who has had much experi­ence with memorial tablets. The bronze was executed and erected by Mr. A. F. Cuerier of Boston .

I think we should feel grateful to anyone who has pride in his ancestors and who takes an interest in studying up their history and trying to perpetuate it. We owe a debt to Ezra Otis Swift for making provision for a permanent memorial to his ancestor who in his time was prominent in the affairs of this community.

Mr. Swift made the following provision in his will.

Eleventh: I direct my Executor to offer to the town of Sharon in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, a bronze memorial tablet, to be placed in The Public Library of said town, commemorating the public services of my ancestor, Job Swift, who, in the years preceding, during, and after the Revolutionary War was one of the leading citizens of said Town of Sharon and of the Colony; and to pay out of my estate the expense of making and setting such tablet.

Mr. Swift has not been much in Sharon and probably very few of our people knew him.

Mr. Edward D. Endicott of Canton , the Executor of Mr. Swift's will, will tell us something of his life and personality. I take pleasure in presenting Mr. Endicott.

(Mr. Endicott's Address)

The late Ezra Otis Swift, who made provision in his will for a tablet in commemoration of his ancestor Job Swift, was born in the adjoining town of Canton in 1844, where he spent his boyhood days and attended the public schools. On reaching manhood he removed to Boston where he engaged in the Iron and Steel business, continuing in that vocation for a long period, but retired from active business some years ago, though retaining his residence in Boston and later in Brookline he always kept in touch with his native place and equally so with Sharon where he made frequent visits in each year and often calling on old friends and acquaintances, many of whom have now passed away. Mr. Swift was gifted with a pleasing personality and a kind and generous nature which naturally made for him many friends. He was a lover of books, and this may have influenced his desire to have the tablet placed in the Public Library of the town.

He was much interested in the Rock Ridge Cemetery , and here his ashes were placed in September last, beside the graves of his father and mother. Mr. Swift passed away at the age of 74 years. I want to read a copy of the resolutions passed by the Rock Ridge Cemetery recently sent me by one of your esteemed townsmen, Mr. Sidney A. Weston, who was a personal friend of Mr. Swift.      These resolutions read as follows:

Resolved that in the death of Ezra Otis Swift, in September, 1918, the Rock Ridge Cemetery Association has lost one who has been for many years a friend and active benefactor. Always deeply interested in the preservation of the resting places of those who have gone, a lover of the beautiful in nature, a believer in the application of business principles to the administration of the Associa­tion, he has liberally given his time and money in ways that have made the Cemetery more beautiful, more convenient and useful, and through his patient and persistent efforts he has materially assisted in placing the Association on a strong legal and financial basis.

Now, I want to sincerely thank the Trustees of the Library for their very generous cooperation in providing for the construction of this tablet, for I know that they gave the work much of their time and thought, which resulted so pleasingly and I trust that the gift before us will prove to be acceptable, and if in order I would now ask to have the tablet unveiled.

The gift was approved by the town at its annual meeting in March and I think fully endorsed by the Trustees of the Library to which I now present it as executor of the estate.

Mr. Frye: The acceptance and erection of this tablet was authorized by vote of the Citizens in the last Annual Town Meeting. In accepting the tablet in behalf of the Town, Mr. John G. Phillips, Chairman of the Trustees of The Sharon Public Library, will tell us something of the life and public services of Job Swift. There is no one in Sharon more competent to do so.

I take pleasure in presenting Mr. Phillips.

                                                                                             (Mr. Phillips' Address)

Job Swift whose name we celebrate today by the acceptance and dedication of this Tablet— the tribute of a loyal and self-respecting Son, Ezra Otis Swift, to the memory of an honored Sire - expected no reward in return for the years of patriotic service rendered to his Town, State and Country, neither did these services receive any due recognition during his long life of ninety years. And not until today, after one hundred and eighteen years have passed since his death, has the name of this modest Patriot become justly famous.

Job Swift was born at Wareham , Massachusetts , on the third day of October, 1711. He married Sarah Blackwell, January 20th, 1733 . He died at Sharon , February 14, 1801 , in the ninetieth year of his age, and his grave is in Rock Ridge cemetery.

He and his wife left Wareham soon after their marriage and settled in that part of Stoughton which was later named Stoughtonham and is now Sharon . He was a plain husbandman, and their new home was on Mountain Street , as now named. In those early days Sharon was a scattered community of a few hundred men, women and children, with no fixed center and no meetinghouse within four miles. Therefore Mountain Street might then have seemed relatively less remote than now.

The birth of a son, Joshua in 1744, followed by Job, Jr., in 1746 and Jirah in 1748 are recorded in Sharon . Other children were also born to the parents.

Although a plain man, it is evident that he soon won the high respect of his neighbors, and was looked to for counsel and leadership in the affairs of the little community.

Sharon was elevated to the rank of an inde­pendent town in 1765 and on July 8th the first town meeting was held. Many important prob­lems confronted the new town government for consideration and action, and the election of officers called for the most wise selection of candidates.

At this first election in Sharon, Job Swift was chosen Selectman and with him, to complete the board, were Daniel Richards and Thomas Randall, Three years later Job Swift was re-elected to this highest position in town affairs.

For some time serious trouble had been brewing in the Country between Great Britain and the American Colonies.    The Colonists had refused to pay unjust taxes, and General Gage had been , sent over from England with soldiers to exercise force, if necessary, in collecting them. He occupied Boston with his troops, and built barricades' across the Neck to cut off intercourse of  the city population with the inland towns. In the meantime, assisted by the Tories, he secured the necessary supplies for his army by frequent raids into the interior, seizing whatever of food for men and feed for cavalry horses that could be found unprotected. Another equally important purpose of these raids was the seeking of information regarding the location of powder mills and iron furnaces, and hiding places of guns and ammuni­tion upon which the Colonists relied for defense. One such cannon casting Furnace was located in Sharon and not far from the home of Job Swift.

Therefore Committees of Safety and Correspondence were elected, or appointed, from various sections of Massachusetts in 1774, who should keep watch of suspected Tory activities; prevent supplies from falling into the hands of the enemy; provide and protect ammunition, and report by messenger to the Provincial Congress. Job Swift was elected a member of this Committee to repre­sent the southerly end of Norfolk County . Dr. Joseph Warren was the Chairman, and secret meetings were held at Dedham and Milton .

New England was becoming aroused. Town meetings were hastily called. On the 23rd of February, 1773 , the voters of Sharon were called together to take action of the utmost importance. Job Swift was chosen Moderator, and under his leadership the following positive resolution was adopted:

"That we own King George ye 3rd to be our rightful Lord & Sovereign and promise Allegiance to him; But the same time Deny Parliamentary Power of Taxing us; being without the Realm of England and not Represented there."

Again at a meeting on August 29, 1774 , (to quote again from the records) the Town "unanimously voted not to comply with the Late acts of Parliament." Copies of these Resolves were sent to the British headquarters. Thus did Sharon under the leadership of Job Swift, place herself in direct opposition to the unjust demands of the Mother Country.

By this time the whole country was protesting against the acts of Parliament. A Continental Congress had already been organized and delegates from the cities up and down the coast from Maine to the Carolinas were assembling at Philadelphia .

Following the Continental Congress, which in­cluded delegates from all the States, a Provincial Congress was organized in Massachusetts , to protest against the unjust acts of Great Britain and to resent the arbitrary treatment of peaceful citizens by Gen. Gage and his soldiers occupying Boston .

As, in what appears to have been a matter of course, Job Swift was again elected a delegate from Norfolk County to fill this high State office. As Boston was barricaded, the Provincial Con­gress held meetings at Cambridge , Dedham and elsewhere just outside. John Hancock was the President of this Congress.

Early in 1775 the excitement of the people of Massachusetts was at its height and active prepar­ations for war were being pushed. Cannon, powder and ball had been secretly hidden at various points and the Colonists were arming throughout the State. Quantities of ammunition had been removed from the Sharon Furnace and elsewhere for supposed safer storage at Concord . This secret was discovered by the British and preparations were being made by them for a quick raid on Concord for the purpose of securing the secreted Cannon, Powder and Ball; and also on Lexington in hopes to capture the two leading patriots, Hancock and Adams, believed to be there in hiding.

Gen. Gage planned to make this secret raid on the 19th of April. This plot was discovered by the watchful Committee of Safety and reported to the Provincial Congress, of both of which organizations Job Swift was a member, and dramatic scenes were enacted during the night and day following.

Early in the morning of April 18th William Dawes, a citizen of high character, was secretly dispatched by Gen. Warren to Concord and Lexington by way of Roxbury—, and a few hours later Paul Revere was sent to Lexington over a different route through Charlestown; Dawes made the longer journey by horse and wagon and Re­vere more spectacularly rode on horseback. Each patriot gave the alarm as he passed through the villages and both were captured and later released by the enemy at Lexington .

Let us now briefly recite the probable events that transpired in and around Sharon on the 18th and 19th of April, 1775.

On the evening of the 18th Job Swift attends a meeting of the Provincial Congress at Dedham . At this meeting the secret plan of the British for a raid the next day on Concord and Lexington was disclosed.    Each member knew his part.

Job Swift, on horseback in silence and with speed, bearing the burden of great responsibilities in his breast, hastened to his home in Sharon . Here he aroused his grownup sons, and the rest of the night was passed in giving the alarm at the homes of men and boys able to bear arms.

Picture, partly in imagination, the situation in Sharon early the following morning April nineteenth, 1775 - one hundred and forty-four years ago.

Behold, standing in partial concealment, at the edge of the forest near the rough road leading from Easton and Foxboro: Job Swift in the 64th year of his age, grim and determined of aspect; his grown sons, Joshua, Job, Jr., and Jirah, aged 31, 29 and 27, tall and erect, with their long barreled muskets at their sides, waiting to fall in with Capt. Tisdale and his company as they should come marching down the road for Concord and Lexington.

We are all somewhat familiar with the story of the fights at Concord and Lexington early in the morning of April 19th, 1775 ; how the British plot failed; her soldiers dispersed; and with the prophetic saying of Parson Clark: "From the 19th of April, 1775 will be dated the liberty of the American world."

Sharon has a long list of Revolutionary soldiers; two hundred and eleven from a total population of less than one thousand men, women and children, or, an average of at least one from each household; soldiers with longer records of military service, but no one who more modestly accepted and bravely performed such a variety of patriotic services at so critical a time in the crisis as Job Swift.

Job Swift's perishable dust lies beneath Sharon 's sod, but it is most fitting that his Name and his Fame be inscribed upon the enduring bronze.

[Source: Originally published as a small booklet in 1919 for the dedication of the tablet].


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