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invaded, with a single mill, and two or three small buildings burned, that were directly exposed to their first assault.
This is perhaps the only instance during the war, of an armament's being sent by the enemy, for the express purpose of destroying a particular town in the northern states, without succeeding.
After the British troops had taken possession of Penobscot, in 1779, it was expected all the country to the eastward of it, would have submitted to their jurisdiction: yet notwithstanding their proclamations, denouncing vengeance in case of refusal, the inhabitants of Machias, with most of the townships westward, still adhered to their country's cause, and continued to act offensively, until the close of the war. The extensive and well deserved influence of General Campbell, which at all times secured the ready obedience of the militia; the exertions of Colonel Allan, who had the direction of the friendly Indians; and the efforts of the inhabitants of Machias, united, preserved to the commonwealth a valuable extent of territory; as the boundary line between Massachusetts and New Brunswick, when hostilities ceased, was determined rather by possession, than the treaty of peace, or the compass.
The principal object of the original settlers being lumber, more attention was paid to mill-rights than to the soil: consequently the land they first cultivated, being contiguous to their mills, with very few exceptions, was inferiour to any in the township; and the town after twenty years settlement, presented to the view only a number of huts, surrounded by land scarcely brought to the first stages of improvement. During the war, their intercourse with Britain being stopped, and having no market for their lumber, they were at first reduced to the extremity of want, and compelled rather by necessity, than inclination, to till the earth with vigour. Their efforts were successful, and more land in the town was profitably cultivated, during five years of the war, than has been improved to equal advantage either before or since. When peace took place, lumber being in great demand for a short time, the farms were again neglected for the mills, and in general assumed their former gloomy aspect.
This partiality for mills and lumber has been, and still is, the bane of Machias and no inconsiderable part of the eastern country. The idea of suddenly acquiring property has the same influence on the millman, as the speculator; and their success is too often attended with similar effects for one that reaps advantage, ten suffer; patient industry gives place to convulsive efforts; and premature debility is the natural consequence. That particular town or state must be unfortunate, whose dependence for the necessaries of life rests solely on their imports, unless their exports are proportionably valuable, and in certain demand. Hence it is, that the industry of four fifths of the inhabitants, eastward of Penobscot, being exhausted on their mills, and they depending altogether upon importations for their subsistence, the contests of foreign powers injure them as sensibly, as though the war was brought to
their doors. If America is engaged in war, or remains neuter, their lumber is not of sufficient consequence to command a freight of course the prices of their imports are much increased, while the value of their exports more rapidly diminishes. This has been severely realized during the last year.
The late extensive sales of eastern lands now bid fair to give industry its proper direction, provided as great attention is paid to their settlement, as to their purchase. Should this event take place in any considerable degree (which appearances lead us to expect) the country will soon be relieved from its present embarrassments; and the mutual exertions of the shore, and inland, settler will reciprocally tend to the best interests of each other.
AN HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF MIDDLEBOROUGH, IN THE COUNTY OF PLYMOUTH. BY THE REV. ISAAC BACKUS.
To the Massachusetts Historical Society.
S you have begun the third volume of your Collections with an
A ingenious account of the present state of Middleborough, with
very little of its ancient history, I have taken some pains to collect a number of articles of that nature, which you may make what use of that you think proper.
WHEN our Plymouth fathers first sent two messengers, to visit old Massasoit at Mount Hope, in July, 1621, they lodged the first night at Namasket, where so many Indians had died a few years before, that the living could not bury the dead; but "their skulls and bones appeared in many places, where their dwellings had been." Namasket is that part of Middleborough, where the English began their plantation, and had increased to about sixteen families, before Philip began his war, in June, 1675. As soon as it brake out, they removed away, as did also the friendly Indians, to Plymouth, and other eastern places. Philip had been very conversant here; and because his friend John Sausaman informed the English of his preparations for war, Sausaman was murdered on a frozen pond, at Assowamset, and the execution of his murderers hastened on the war. And in the time of it, Philip once sent an army to waylay Capt. Church, in Assowamset-neck; which is in the south part of Middleborough. He was also defeated, in attempting to cross a river upon a tree that had fallen over it. This
* Edward Winslow and Stephen Hopkins, with Tisquantum, an Indian, for ther guide.
+ Prince's Chronology, p. 106.
was the river between Middleborough and Bridgwater.
slain on August 12, 1676, soon after which the war was closed in these parts.
The first planters of Middleborough came mainly from Plymouth ; and they returned here after the war, and Mr. Samuel Fuller preached to them, until a church was constituted among them, and he was ordained their pastor in 1694. He was much esteemed as a godly man, and useful preacher. He died greatly lamented, August 24, 1695, Æt. 66.† Mr. Thomas Palmer was their second minister, whose capacity and accomplishments were not small but the lust of intemperance, and other evils, drew such a cloud over his character, that, by the advice of a council of twelve churches, he was deposed from his office. Though, as he robbed the church of all her records, we have no account of the time when he was ordained, nor when he was deposed; only as it appears that a party of the church held with him, until about the time of their electing another pastor, which was June 30, 1708, when an act of oblivion was passed upon past transactions.
Their third pastor was Mr. Peter Thacher, who was born in Milton, October 6, 1688, began to preach in Middleborough in September, 1707, and was ordained their pastor, November 2, 1709. He was a faithful and successful minister for near thirty five years. So great a revival of religion was granted among his people in 1741, as caused the addition of one hundred and seventy four communicants to his church in less than three years; above half of whom were males. But their beloved pastor was taken away by death April 22, 1744.‡
Directly after his removal, a few leading men in the town made violent opposition against the church, about the settlement of another minister. And when the church had voted to hear Mr. Sylvanus Conant from Bridgwater, four sabbaths upon probation, the parish committee went and got another teacher to supply the pulpit the same days; which caused a great division among them. And when a large majority of the church had chosen Mr. Conant for their pastor, and presented their choice to the parish, their committee made a new regulation of voters, whereby they excluded seven or eight old voters, and admitted about nineteen new ones, and they negatived the election of the church. The church then called a council of five churches, who approved of their choice of Mr. Conant, and he was ordained their pastor, March 28, 1745. Yet less than a quarter of the church called themselves the standing part of it, and called and settled Mr. Thomas Weld as their minister, in October following: and that party held the meeting house and minis
Church's History, page 9, 60, 62. Hubbard's History of that War, page † Appendix to Robbins's Ordination Sermon, 1760, page 21. Prince's Christian History, volume 2, page 99.
terial lands, and the church and her friends built another house for their worship. And the party spirit of that day was so great, that the church could obtain no relief from our legislature for about four years: but when each inhabitant was allowed to choose his own minister, and they were formed into two societies promiscuously, each to support their own minister, they, who called themselves the standing party, soon fell into a quarrel with their own minister, and nailed up their meeting house against him. He then held meetings for a considerable time in his own house, after which he sued the society, and recovered his salary for all that time. At length they got him dismissed, and their society dissolved. But Mr. Conant continued a useful minister, and an exemplary walker, until he was suddenly taken away by the small pox, December 7, 1777.
Their next pastor was Mr. Joseph Barker, from Branford in Connecticut, who was ordained December 5, 1781, and he is still continued with them.
A second precinct was formed in the southwest part of Middleborough, including a part of Taunton, in 1719. About the year 1724, a church was constituted therein, and Mr. Benjamin Ruggles was ordained their pastor; and he continued with them about thirty years, and then left them without their consent, and went and settled in New Braintree ; but as their records were lost or destroyed, we have no exact account of the time of his ordination, or of his departure.
After trying a number of candidates, Mr. Caleb Turner, from Mansfield, in Connecticut, was ordained their minister, June 25, 1761, in which office he still continues.
In 1743, a third precinct was constituted, in the northwest part of Middleborough, including a part of Bridgwater. A church was formed there in 1756, and Mr. Solomon Reed was installed their pastor, January 26, 1757. He was born in Abington, in 1719, and was ordained at Framingham, in 1747, pastor of a church that was formed by the advice of a council, but could not obtain an incorporation by law, as a society; therefore he left them in 1756, and came and settled in Middleborough, and was well esteemed here until his death, on May 7, 1785.
Mr. David Gurney, who came from Bridgwater, was ordained their second pastor, December 5, 1787, and still continues with them.
Keteliquut (or Titicut) mentioned as a place of praying Indians,* is in this precinct. A baptist church was formed among them; and Nehemiah, Abel, Thomas Sekins, Thomas Felix, and John Symons, are mentioned as teachers among them. When I came into the place in 1747, John Symons was the minister of that church, and continued so for near ten years, and then he removed to the southward; and he assisted in ordaining Silas Paul, on Martha's Vineyard, in 1763. One of the Indians in Titicut was prevailed with to give five acres for their meeting-house lot, and two others gave each of them fifteen acres of
* Historical Collections, volume 1, page 200.
good land for the ministry. As the Indians diminished in the place, they were allowed to sell their lands under the direction of guardians, who were appointed by the government; the last of which was sold in
An Account of the English Baptist Churches in Middleborough.
Titicut precinct was constituted in February, 1743; but as the communicants therein desired such kind of preaching as the majority of voters disliked, the neighbouring ministers would not dismiss their church members, so that they might form a church to act in calling a minister. Therefore they formed a church without leave from those ministers, February 16, 1748, and the writer was ordained their pastor, the 13th of April following. In September, 1749, a number of them embraced the baptist principle, and their principles prevailed in the church, until those who disliked the same, went off to other churches, and a baptist church was formed here, January 16, 1756, and the same pastor was installed therein, the 23d of June following, by assistance from Boston and Rehoboth, in which office he is continued to this day.
The second baptist church in Middleborough originated in the following manner: Mr. Thomas Nelson discovered such evils in Mr. Palmer, as gave a turn to his mind about principles; and upon searching the scriptures, it appeared to him that none but professed believers ought to be baptized; and he went and joined to the first baptist church in Swansey, which is the first of that denomination in the Massachusetts. In the beginning of 1717, he removed into Assowamset, being the first English family who settled in that neck of land. He obtained occasional preaching at his house from time to time, as he could, until he got Mr. Ebenezer Hinds, from Bridgwater, to remove and preach there steadily, in the spring of 1753. Their society increased and others joined with them farther south-westward, and they formed a baptist church, November, 16, 1757, and Mr. Hinds was ordained their pastor, January 26, 1758, and he now remains with them.
The third baptist church in Middleborough, was constituted in the southeast corner of it, near Carver and Wareham, August 4, 1761, and Mr. Ebenezer Jones, from Raynham, was ordained their pastor, the 28th of October following. A happy revival of religion was granted among them the next year; yet such a division arose in the church and society, in 1763, as caused his removal from them; and he travelled and preached in various parts of the country, until he died in the state of New York, in September, 1791.
Mr. Asa Hunt, from Braintree, was their second pastor, who was ordained October 30, 1771; and such a blessing was granted upon his labours, as increased the church to one hundred and ninety-five members, in 1783. Yet many trying things appeared among them afterwards, and he was suddenly taken away by death, September 20, 1791.
But the church was still preserved, and religion was again much revived therein,last year, and Mr.Samuel Nelson was ordained their third pas