Sailing the Charles on Ice Floes
Daylight found graying snow lying like soiled laundry on the north side of houses, and only enough ice had formed in the night to edge with lace the potholes in the street. Already steel shod hooves of high stepping horses were flinging silvery shards into the air. Winter was dying and the spirited animals welcomed its passing.
They were not alone. Young John Winslow had awakened early to greet eagerly the soft southerly breeze filtering into his room. One whiff had supplied enough motivation to cause him to leap from under the covers, leave a half eaten breakfast, and begin his run down Elliot Street with shirt tail flying and untied shoelaces trailing in the half frozen mud. The course of his run took him across Chestnut Street where he paid no heed to the few early bird scholars making their way up the hill toward the schoolhouse. He paid them no heed except for one, Henry Colburn, who was literally pulling himself together as he tugged and buttoned while at full gallop down the hill, yelling at the top of his voice, “Johneee, wait up for me!” John’s only response was to slow down enough for him to catch up. Between gasps, Henry managed to shout, “What do you think, John?” “I don’t know, wait’ll we hear what Frannie says,” John replied
As if on cue, Francis Cabot, red-faced from some earlier exertion, appeared on the front porch of his home a few feet away Catching sight of his friends he raced down the front walk and leaving the front gate wildly swinging rushed up to them with the good news
They left the main road at a trot, dropping down onto a narrow cart road that paralleled the bank of the river. Through the brush lining the stream could be seen the bright surface of the ice-covered river. From it could be heard the short brittle cracking sounds and the heavier booms of the yielding ice as it felt the push of the upstream runoff and the rapid change in temperature. Already along the shore the water was seeping up through cracks, staining the once snowy surface, while the open stream in the middle of the river grew wider and wider.
But all of this brought a whoop from the boys as they jumped down onto the pack nearest the shore and expertly made their way from one large cake to another until they found one they felt would give them safe passage downstream. However, they had failed to consider that some of their schoolmates might have other plans. Unbeknownst to them, a number of boys had began to gather at the bridge under which they must pass What later happened impressed John enough to remember well the day and write about it later
“Sailing on the river in boats in summer and down the river on cakes of ice in winter, was a pastime not to be despised in those days. One spring morning when the ice was breaking up, three boys, with myself, managed to get on a large cake, just below what was known as the Channel, above the Needham bridge, so called. We went down the river on it nicely until we reached the bridge, when some mischievous wretches dropped heavy stones from the bridge on our beloved cake.
The result was that the laws of gravity prevailed then as always, and the sequence was we found ourselves up to our shins in swift; running and rather cool water. We didn’t like to go home and tell the powers that held sway there what had happened, for obvious reasons; so we went to school in that condition and did not dare tell Old Cushman (the teacher) about it – this also for obvious reasons. So we passed the day wet and cold, preparing ourselves, according to all medical science, for an early grave. It may be some of our crew died early because of the exposure, but if they did I never heard of it”
Presented in narrative form, the foregoing illustrates one of the bits and pieces of a drama similar to others often enacted on the old village’s streets, often comic and as often, tragic. The one which follows is an example, one that perhaps should have been included in the chapter regarding Winslow’s Upper Falls school days, except that its tragedy reached beyond the boundary of blackboards and chalk dust. However, we feel that in order to pay proper tribute to its principal character it should be set apart for special telling
The Death of John Hardy Hackett
Occupying its own private corner of the old Upper Falls-Oak Hill Cemetery (South Burial Ground,) on Winchester Street is a lone gravestone into whose surface are cut these few, now fading, letters: “JOHN HARDY HACKETT, Born Oct 1, 1812, Died Oct; 6, 1842.” John Hackett was a teacher in the two-room school in Upper Falls which John Winslow attended in the 1830s. He tells us of his association with this particular teacher:
“As a rule he was good-natured, but would get excited once in a while, when the boy in hand had to look out. I somehow managed to get along without encountering corporal punishment in all those critical winters, but one day in Hackett’s term he gave me to understand that I deserved a ‘thrashing.’ My offense was that I had painted his portrait at full length in bright colors, miniature style, making his coat blue with brass buttons. Hackett had short legs, and of course I represented them in yellow pants. The picture was passed around in school time among the boys, and it was when one of them (Henry Colburn by name) was giggling over it that Mr. Hackett discovered what was going on, or going around. The author of the life-like likeness was soon found out and kept after school. Whether the good teacher was indignant because I had made the legs too short, or because the total ensemble resembled him somewhat, but not enough to really look handsome, I never knew”
We feel that Winslow recalled the above incident only because of a more tragic incident that occurred later. It appears that Hackett was a dedicated young man who desired to serve humanity in an even more meaningful occupation than teaching and sought ways and means of becoming a doctor. Following the practice of the day he became a medical student under the tutelage of Dr. Samuel Whitney, an accomplished physician who built the attractive colonnaded Greek Revival style home now serving as the St. Elizabeth Center on Elliot Street in 1838. A post-mortem examination in Needham showed that Dr. Whitney and Mr. Hackett were poisoned by a virus from a deceased patient. They were seized with acute inflammation in the arm that struck down both men with fever. Dr. Whitney recovered after four months of severe sickness, but Mr. Hackett died in a few days.
Mr. Winslow records the event:
“My father and I watched with him the last night of his life. As I saw the sufferer burning with fatal fever, if ever I had an unpleasant remembrance of him-, it vanished and gave place to deep sympathy. The morning of his last day, he asked to be helped up in the old Tyler Pettee house on the Needham side of Charles River (still standing at 28-30 Central Avenue, Ed.) where he then lived. He sat for a few moments gazing at an eastern sky of an early autumn day for the last time. He seemed perplexed to know whether he was about to be called by the ‘God of the morning at whose voice the cheerful sun makes haste to rise’. He soon lay down again and the fever that was rapidly consuming his life quickly did its work. His death was much regretted by all who knew him, and his funeral was largely attended by his former pupils. Dr. Whitney was not informed of his death until some weeks later, when he was convalescent!”
On October 6, 1842 John Hardy Hackett was laid to rest, leaving behind very little knowledge of a man who wanted only to better serve his fellow man. We know that he was a member of the local Methodist Church where records show that on one occasion he left to attend Wesleyan College in Connecticut. At a meeting of its Official Board on June 22, 1842, they also indicate that he served as secretary pro-tem and the minutes bear his signature. In less than four months, at 29 years of age, his name would be chiseled on a cold, unrelenting gravestone
Boys Will Be Boys
Overall, I think the reader will agree that the principal characters of the following tale were fairly well behaved boys but with a mischievous bent which, of course, when put into action makes a story worth telling. In the following anecdote, the teacher, Mr. Lord, referred to by John Winslow is Brackett Lord, a former Ossipee, New Hampshire resident who afterward became Winslow’s brother-in-law when he married his older sister, Clarissa. Clarissa was also a teacher in the school at one time.
“In later days Mr. Lord had charge of the school, I think more than one winter, though I never attended I did, however, assist in an exhibit, one given by the school in the Methodist Church. It came to me to write some sort of play entitled ‘Phrenology and Mesmerism’. A part of the plot was to have a lecturer with wig and spectacles (which part my brother George took), explain the science of phrenology and point out the bumps on a boy’s head who was seated in a chair. There was also a lecturer on mesmerism (which part I took) and when he touched a bump with his magic fingers, the boy was expected to demonstrate accordingly; if music, he would sing – if language, he would talk flowingly – if benevolence, he would show heart for all mankind”. It was arranged that the play should close by a grand melee caused by touching the combative bump. The boy was instructed to go for the old lecturer on phrenology, and in the tussle succeed in throwing him upon the floor. As this was happening against the expostulations of the mesmerizer, the curtain must drop and the astonished audience was expected to applaud. There was a rehearsal in the afternoon, when Mr. Lord, who had some fear of ‘Mrs. Grundy’, declared that the closing scene must be omitted at the evening performance. ‘ It will never do, ‘ he said, ‘to have such a boisterous scene in the church.’
But we boys had our views and kept our own counsel as it seemed to us that to omit the grand illustration of the science of phrenology and mesmerism was too much. So when our turn came in the evening, the play went on smoothly and at the end as the curtain was going down, we put in the belligerent scene with all our power The audience roared, and so did our lord and master, only it wasn’t with laughter. But when he came to and saw how well it took with the large audience, he felt that his fears were perhaps groundless, and so we found the dignity of the old church unharmed”
It seems that most of our early churches had a “Mrs. Grundy,” self-appointed censor of all parishioner activities, particularly those of the young. This writer can recall as a youth in the same church, almost a century after the above episode, a similar Mrs. Grundy. She used a “Mr. Grundy” (a milquetoast-type husband) to spy on a group of us who, in rehearsal were attempting to do a little swing and sway number for a pending entertainment. From this came an admonition from the powers that held sway that we were not to lift our feet more than six inches from the floor! I must confess that the night of the show there was a little bit of John Winslow in all of us. Incidentally, our dance tune was “Tiptoe Through The Tulips,” a number later made famous (?) by a ukulele strumming, falsetto-voiced television troubadour. At least his rendition stirred old memories
Upper Place and Lower Place
As the number of businesses grew in the village they presented opportunities for employment that drew job seekers from a wide area. This sudden influx of people made Upper Falls the largest village in Newton; this caused a housing shortage in the village, and also taxed the capacity of the boarding houses.
Without any other diversion the men, after their long working hours in the mills, sought out the local taverns. No doubt some disturbances of the peace occurred and the location of these establishments created a separation in the village. John Winslow tells us how it was divided, at least in name:
“The section over the hill towards West Newton (Boylston Street) was known as the ‘lower place’ and the southerly part of the village was the ‘upper place.’ There was more or less a feud ‘ between the two sections especially among the belligerent schoolboys. In snow balling times, snow forts were made and the contests were apt to be furious, and quite merciless. In fact all through the year the feeling was more or less visible among the village boys. If there was a fight among the boys it was likely to be between an Upper Place boy and a Lower Place boy. I don’t remember that any homicides occurred, but black eyes out of the natural order did sometime appear in a sequential way.
The fact was, the village tavern was in the Lower Place (in a double sense perhaps) and was the headquarters of several pretty hard old topers, most of whom lived in the Lower Place. The people of the whole village managed to get along as a general thing in a peaceable neighborly way. However, there was always among the school children as well as among their parents, a feeling in the Upper Place that they were somehow not quite so wicked, on the average, as were the people of the Lower Place where that ‘awful’ tavern was located.”
It was perhaps inevitable that John would include in his recorded remarks further examples of this village division. We include the following even though it reflects a mean streak sometimes exhibited by the young:
“To well understand all the educational forces that made the old school what it was, you must look outside of the schoolroom and see what other influences supplied topics for thought and comparison. For instance a village is apt to have some unique characters that attract the attention of boys. In the drunken line we had several. One (I may as well call his name) was known as John Joe. Very likely on his natal day he was called John Joseph. He was an awful drunkard and used to fetch up at the old tavern in the Lower Place as often as he had pence to buy drink and probably oftener. He was about forty years of age when we knew him and he lived on the Needham side of the river, and was a source of amusement and warning to the village boys. His untutored face did not indicate familiarity with the inside of any schoolhouse, old or new. One day, just after school was out in the afternoon, the boys found John Joe lying on the edge of the steep embankment on the northerly side of the Baptist Church, near the schoolhouse. A brief diagnosis showed that our sleeping citizen was dead – dead drunk, that is. The temptation to roll him down that steep hill was not resisted, and down he went, landing with terrible concussion against a chestnut tree at the foot. The boys soon learned that vigorous exercise is apt to restore a drunken man to his senses.
Carlyle, when he met Webster in England., said he looked like a walking cathedral. Not; so with John Joe when he made his way up the hill, amid the jeers of the observant boys – his zigzag gait was more like a Virginia fence. By the time he was on the road toward Needham he was himself again, and more too. He was very savage, hurling stones at the boys to their great peril, and offering to fight anybody. In later days, when some reformed drunkard would tell the people of his chequered and sad career, I have no doubt; many a boy who knew John Joe, thought of him as an avid illustration of the dangers and sorrows of a drunkard’s life.”
Another story, included here not only because of its connection with the above John Joe, but also to indicate what happenings claimed the interest of the boys of 1835:
“Then there was old Mr. P—-, – John Joe’s venerable father- in-law, who was an unique character well known to the boys, He was a reasonably sober man, and not distinguished for his truth and veracity. His specialty was killing hogs for his neighbors and salting down the pork. The squealing of a mature pig about eight in the morning, that could be heard all: over the village, was notice to the boys that ‘old P—-‘ was contending with somebody’s porker whose time had come. The boys would rush to the scene of action, eager to get the bladder, which, when blown up, made a fair football. On P—-‘s mornings, a boy tardy at school would give for his excuse ‘ that he stopped to see ‘old P—-‘ stick a pig. ‘”
Judson D Hale, editor-in-chief of Yankee magazine, includes in the amusing and moving memoir of his family entitled THE EDUCATION OP A YANKEE (Published by Harper & Row, N.Y. – 1987) this charming little story that certainly needs repeating here. Mr. Hale is the great-grandson of Amos L. Hale who owned and operated a farm in Newton Upper Falls beginning in the middle years of the nineteenth century. Amos was the father of Frank Judson Hale, Judson’s grandfather, who was born in Upper Falls (See “INDUSTRY”). He rose from a humble beginning to become a millionaire through his association with the local Saco-Lowell Shops as well as many of the nation’s leading cotton mills. He indicates in his book that great-grandfather Amos Hale was frugal with words, “sort of a Cal Coolidge before Cal Coolidge was born.” It seems that one evening Amos, an active Baptist, invited a Boston Baptist minister to dinner before the visitor was to deliver a guest sermon at the Newton Upper Falls Baptist Church. Mrs. Hale had prepared a hearty farm dinner but the visiting minister ate hardly any of it. He just picked at his food, explaining to his hosts, “I never eat before I preach. ” After the meal, while Mrs. Hale remained at home to clean the dishes and put her children to bed, Amos took the visiting minister in a carriage to the church. Following the service the minister caught a late train back to Boston. Later, when Amos returned home, his wife asked, “How was the sermon’?” We are told that Amos’s six word reply was as thorough and informative a critique as anyone could ask for. He said simply, “He might just as well et.”
Newton Upper Falls and the Gold Rush of 1849
The nineteenth century had almost reached its halfway mark and Newton had not yet established itself as an attractive suburb of Boston. By the 1840s it had just barely gained a population of 4000 residents, while Boston’s population had already reached the 100,000 mark. The villages of Upper and Lower Falls contained about two-thirds of Newton’s population, yet most of the town remained visibly rural. But even in these two villages the younger generation were growing restless as nothing in their environment presented them with any sort of challenge. But on January 24, 1848 James Marshall, in the process of building a sawmill for Captain Sutter in California discovered a gold nugget in the mill’s raceway. Whether in his excitement he whispered the word or shouted it aloud, it matters not, for it sprung free of that clearing in the wilderness and began its echoing refrain heard around the world – gold – gold – GOLD! In the mysterious way that some news sets human dreams and desires aflame, the word filtered through the wilderness eastward. No pony express, telegraph, telephone, radio or television existed for its transmission but it needed none – it burst on the populous east coast in record time, to trigger a great flood of emigrants to California, and the gold rush of 1849 was on. There was a great rainbow in the sky with a pot of gold at the other end – in California.
Immediately from every farm, hamlet and city thousands joined the frenzied hordes struggling westward, a group of men from Newton Upper Falls among them. After finding a few more compatible friends from outside the village they formed an organization numbering about 25 men who adopted the name “The Boston & Newton Joint Stock Association”. The Upper Falls men in the group included Charles Gould who would keep a diary of the trip, a copy of which is fortunately available. George Winslow, of the large family of Winslows in the village was one of the group’s more eager members. The son of Eleazer Winslow, he would be one who marched to the tune of a different drummer – one who may have sat at his father’s knee and reveled in his tales of adventure, of pursuit of bears and wolves and other denizens of the wilds of the Catskill Mountains.
When the word “GOLD” had reverberated eastward from California, George, although married and the father of two children, felt his pulse leap and with many of his fellow townsmen fell victim to the raging epidemic of “gold fever”. His enthusiasm must have been infectious. When the band of 25 eager young men formed their group to make the long trek overland to California, it included his brother-in-law Brackett Lord, husband of his sister Clarissa, and David Jackson Staples, also a brother-in-law who had married his sister Mary in 1848. These four men are considered the organizers of the Association. Another member of the Winslow family included in the party was Jesse Winslow, a brother of George’s father. He was the oldest member of the group, was elected its treasurer and would later serve as its steadying factor. Other Upper Falls members were Frederick J. Staples, a brother to David, Robert Coffey, William H. Nichols (an organizer of the Universalist Church), Milo J. Ayer (formerly of Vermont) and Benjamin Burt, Jr. a relative of the Winslows from Freetown, Massachusetts. Daniel E. Easterbrook was a resident of nearby Needham. Other members from Boston and vicinity were Albion C. Sweetzer (Sweetser), Dean Jewett Locke, Physician (graduate of Harvard Medical School), George Thomason (Thompson), Walton (Walter) Cheever Felch, James St. Clair Wilson, Lewis K. Whittier, Nathaniel B. Loring, Harvey W. Dickinson (Dickenson), Benjamin C. Evans, James A. Hough, Thomas H. McGrath, Harry Noyes, S.D Osborn, and John White. H.B. Crist, joined the company at Independence, Missouri.
With the knowledge that it would be well into the fall before they would clamber down from the mountains into California they got an early start from Boston on April 16, 1849, making the first leg of the trip by rail on the Western Railroad as far as Albany. They continued by rail to Buffalo, by boat across Lake Erie to Sandusky, Ohio and then by rail again to Cincinnati continuing by steam boat down the Ohio toward the Mississippi to St. Louis. From there it was up the Missouri by boat to Independence, which would be the starting point for the overland journey.
I quote from Charles Gould’s diary:
“May 3 – We landed at independence at 1 o’clock this morning and succeeded in getting our goods loaded at sunrise except a part that could not be got at. So Mr. Sweetser went with them to St. Joseph to fetch them back. We pitched our tents this evening and we all being very tired, we slept very sound… “Charles Gould’s diary
It required about 17 days to travel a distance that today would be covered in a few hours by air. Of course there were many delays and many adventures along the way (and a resistance to the urge to tell them in detail here). To get the feel of this adventure, we must paint some sort of picture to truly show what a foolhardy adventure it was for almost all who participated in it. The following from another author might answer a few questions in the reader’s mind.
“How many are there of us? Everybody asks that question, but any answer is a guess. Steamboat men bringing folks to the ‘jumping off places’ like Independence, Westport, St. Jo and Council Bluffs, make probably the best guesses. The word goes around that there are some 50,000 of us going overland this season, counting men, women and children the ratio being sixteen men to one woman and three women to every child As to four-footed emigrants, they say that there are 36,000 oxen on the trails, and half that many horses, about 7000 mules and cows and 2000-sheep. The wagons are supposed, by rumor, to number 10,000.”
Many of the dangers of the trail could be anticipated, and in many cases overcome, but the most insidious and devastating was not one that could be seen and in very many instances, conquered It was inevitable that with all this congestion and without proper sanitary provisions, medical supplies and supervision, sickness resulting from epidemics developed Cholera was the most dreaded disease and many of its victims did not live to start the trip. Nor did it end at the starting point. Day after day this huge overland train barely paused to bury some victim in a lonely prairie grave, often times unmarked All in all, over 5,000 people on the trip died of cholera alone. In referring to a party of fourteen persons, six of whom had died of cholera, another author makes this observation:
“These people had left homes where many of them were no doubt comparatively comfortable and happy, never, perhaps, having had to labor for their daily bread as hard as they had to on this march. The gold mania was, however, spreading far and wide and being seized with it, they had abandoned their homes, blinded with the belief that fortunes were soon to be realized, only to find their graves in a wild and lonely region.But for more than a year later they continued to come, braving incredible hardships and dangers and no doubt in most cases spending in money and assets more thane they were to wrest from the soil of the gold fields.”
What was the distance they had to travel? Our party had chosen to follow the old Mormon Pioneer Trail from Independence to Salt Lake City which meant (using a modern map) the crossing of the northeast corner of Kansas, traversing about two thirds of Nebraska, the entire width of Wyoming and the northeast corner of Utah. From Salt Lake City they would cross the top of Utah through the great Salt Lake Desert, travel diagonally across the state of Nevada (crossing the Humboldt Sink) to a point near Carson City where they entered the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California and proceeded to the gold fields in the north central section of the state. At the time of their journey, as previously stated, with the exception of their starting place, Missouri, there were no states as such through which they could travel. Missouri had been granted statehood in 1821 and California would achieve that goal in 1850, Territories which became Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming were part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Utah, Nevada and California were territories ceded to the United States in 1848.
Many stories have emerged from the gold rush of 1849, and references to the Upper Falls participation which appeared in two different editions of the “National Geographic” magazine are similar to those appearing here in the last article served as the lead story in the August, 1986 issue. The author, Boyd Gibbons, using the diary of Charles Gould of Upper Falls found this party to be a capable and levelheaded crew, stating that “…they were disciplined and temperate men, one of the few parties that made it to the West Coast without splintering into factions.”
It was still May, and while Gould’s diary reflects the humor found in some of the mishaps, preliminary to the trip and during the first few days on the prairie, an innocent observance later turns into one of sad acceptance of one of the trail’s tragedies, one that was referred to earlier. Some of these entries, with emphasis added, follow:
“May 5 – As we are getting more accustomed to camping, the better we like it. The Mt. Washington Co. arrived today. The Star Co. also arrived., one of their company having the cholera…’
May 8 – Worked with Ayers part of the day upon the wagon top. Saw a case of Cholera in town …Mr. Sweetser got thrown from a mule an got his wrist out of joint…
May 16 – Mr. Coffey and myself slept in our wagon last night. It was decided that six mules should be sent back half way to Independence to get a loaded wagon left there by Noyes. Whittier and myself went and drove the team. We got into camp about dark…Mr. Noyes arrived in camp a few minutes after I did, with a new wagon thus giving us much relief, for our teams were too heavily loaded for expedition or success. There is a man in the tent next to us very sick with the cholera, they have called upon our doctor, theirs having deserted them.”
We include the following entry to illustrate one of the hazards, among many, which now began to confront the travelers. Picture now a man with a wife, a number of children and a light wagon loaded with some of their treasured household goods facing this and later even worse obstacles. Again, from Gould’s diary:
“May 22 – We left camp at nine, the rest of the teams having succeeded in crossing the creek. after traveling three or four miles over the prairie, we came to the Wakarusa River, which is about 75 feet wide. The banks being so steep that it became necessary to attach oxen to the wagons to pull them out. The river bottom for about one mile is heavily timbered and the trail horribly muddy, so that it became necessary to double the team to get them out;. From timber to the high prairie is about two miles of miry marsh and it proved the most difficult place to get our teams through that we yet passed The wheels in many places went to their hubs. This marsh is covered with grass about one foot deep and seems to be a great haunt for snakes, two of which sprung upon our men, but very fortunately did not bite them. They were the moccasin snake – very poisonous.”
Picture this scene if the husband in our family party, for example, had succumbed to cholera or snake bite and the wife was on her own.
“May 29 – We got started this morning at six and made good time until we came to a small clear creek with steep banks, which took us some time to cross. We had not got more than three or four miles from the creek when George Winslow, who had been complaining for a few days, was suddenly taken violently sick with the Cholera, which threw us all into confusion and obliged us to camp where we are. It is not thought that Winslow will live until morning,
May 30 – George Winslow is still alive, but it is considered that he will not last long. D.E. Easterbrook is also quite sick. There seems to be general complaint among the company of diarrhea. Messrs. Hough and Staples have gone back to the Mission to get some necessaries which were found to be wanting. We remain encamped where we were yesterday.
May 31 – George Winslow is better and strong hopes are entertained for his recovery. Easterbrook is also better and there seems to be a much healthier feeling in the company…We feel in hopes of being able to go a short distance tomorrow.
June 1 – The patients feeling much better, it is thought best to proceed as long as the strength of the patients allow….We encamped on a small stream bordering with the most beautiful growth of oaks. It is called “Black Paint” or “Sandy Creek.” The distance from the camp of last night is about 16 miles.
June 3 – We started at ten this morning and went about 12 miles. Our route continued over the rolling prairie as before and nothing particular occurred except the breaking of a wagon pole. The sick remain the same. The journey is not effecting them seriously.
June 4 – We stopped this forenoon to put in a new pole, which was accomplished by noon, when we started and traveled until 5 p.m. I have to watch George Winslow tonight. The road has been good today.
June 8 – Our camp was thrown in gloom by the death of George Winslow. He was considered as recovering, when he caught cold by some means and relapsed worse than before. He died at nine, surrounded by his friends. This unexpected event causes us all to feel very sad.. A grave was dug upon a beautiful swell of the prairie. At five he was taken to the center of the corral, where the funeral services were performed, by reading extracts from the scriptures by Mr. Burt and prayer by Mr. Sweetser. He was then borne to the grave by eight bearers and followed by the rest of the company. After his remains were lowered into the grave, all deposited a green sprig where the earth was closed upon him forever. A stone was placed at his head which was marked, George Winslow, Newton, Mass. Age 25 – another at his feet, marked 1849″
While at Independence before the company’s departure, George penned his third and last letter to his wife. It was a long tender letter, however only a few lines are reproduced here. It is dated May 12, 1849 and at the top he had written – “Letter #3 – Direct your letters to Sutter’s Fort, California.”
“My Dear Wife-“
I have purposely delayed writing to you until now so that I might be able to inform you with some degree of certainty of our progress and prospects. After starting for this state we heard so many stories that I could with no certainty make up my mind whether we would succeed in getting further than here, and of course felt unwilling to mail too many letters as we neared this town lest we should return before they did, …I am glad to hear that you are well. My health never was better than now….
You ask me to tell you what they say out here about the route. Well those who have traveled it say we need borrow no trouble about forage; that millions of buffaloes have feasted on the vast prairies for ages…and it is absurd to think that a few thousand emigrants cannot cross…We all feel very encouraged, everybody says there is not a company in town better equipped, than ours. We have bought forty mules and six horses and will have two more horses on Monday. Our mules average $52.00 each. We have also four wagons and perhaps may buy another- one of our wagons left camp today for the plains ten miles from here, there to recruit (rest) before starting. We shall probably get underway next Tuesday or Wednesday….
We diet on salt pork, hard and soft bread, beans, rice, tea, hasty pudding and applesauce & also smoked pork and ham. Being out in the air we relish these dainties very much… My money holds out very well. (Each of the twenty-five men in the group at the beginning had paid $300 into the treasury.’) After buying several articles in Boston and eating on the road part of the time, I have about $15.00 on hand out of $25.00 which I had leaving home. I have lost nothing except that glazed cap, which was worth but little….
There has been some sickness here, principally among the intemperate, which is the case everywhere you know. Our company is composed mostly of men who believe that God has laid down laws which must be obeyed if we would enjoy health, and obeying those laws we are all in possession of good health….
I see by your letter that you have the blues a little in your anxiety for my welfare. I think we had better not indulge such feelings. I confess that I had set the example. I do not worry about myself, then why should you for me? I do not discover in your letter any anxiety on your account, then let us for the future look on the bright side of the subject and indulge no more in useless anxiety. It effects nothing and is almost universally the bug bear of the imagination….
The reports of the gold regions here are as encouraging as they were in Massachusetts. Just imagine to yourself seeing me return with from $10,000.00 to $100,000.00….
Hough and Staples have just returned from buying horses. They have brought two of them, which are very beautiful. I would like to send one home to Father. We pay about $50.00 apiece for them. In Boston they would bring $150.00….”
The first word of George’s death back home would come in a letter from brother-in-law Brackett Lord writing to his own wife, Clarissa. It would be written June l7, 1849 at Fort Kearney, then located in the territory that later would become Nebraska. No doubt a soldier going on leave, or a courier returning to Independence or St. Louis hand carried it back to one of these points. It was a long letter filled with a great many details we already know, only a few lines of it reproduced here
“My very beloved wife-
It has thus far been a pleasure for me to write to you from the fact that I have had nothing to write that you would not with pleasure peruse, but, my dear wife, the scene has changed and this letter will bear to you intelligence of the most unwelcome character and most awful for me to write, which will wring your hearts with anguish and sorrow.
George is dead – what more shall I write – what can I write – but unpleasant as the news may be you will be anxious to have the particulars.”
(The body of the letter does contain the particulars much as we already know them).
One of the features of George Winslow’s interment “upon a beautiful swell of the prairie” is that the grave has been preserved by reverent care at the time of his death by his fellow travelers and later years by his family, a remarkable achievement since according to family record.” Of all the thousands of men who were buried by the side of the old trail in 1849 and 1850, the monument of George Winslow alone remains.” This fact, no doubt, was the reason that; the National Geographic featured the story of the Boston & Newton Joint Stock Association.
George Winslow was born August 11, 1823 and was married in Newton June 2, 1846 to Susan Eliza Swan. They had two sons both born in Newton, George Edward and Orrin Henry. Son George became a manufacturer of electrical material in Waltham while brother Orrin Henry (changing his name to Henry 0.) learned his father’s trade of machinist. He had two sons, George and Carlton, both of whom became managers of factories at Meriden, Connecticut which produced silverware, brass and bronze.
On June 9, the day after the funeral, the California bound travelers were up and on their way at six o’clock in the morning, their destination Fort Kearney, where Brackett Lord’s letter bearing its tragic news could be dispatched..
We will continue now with only the most interesting events recorded in the diary of Charles Gould.. They had now entered the territory that would someday be Wyoming. The altitude was over 5,000 feet and before they left it would be almost double that.
“July 7 – We are stopped today to rest our animals and repair wagons and also to arrange our loads and make all possible reduction in them. It was voted that no member should carry more than one hundred pounds unless he paid 25 cents per pound for all extra.
July 8 – We followed, the river bottom for several miles when it suddenly enters the Black Hills through a deep gorge of water running perpendicular, The trail here passes to the left and runs over the hills which are quite steep and rough. At our last encampment on the Platte, we found-a man who was insane. We could gather nothing satisfactory from him as to who he was and where he came from. His clothing consisted of a shirt and pants, both badly torn. He had a fire over which he performed many strange maneuvers – he also had some provisions which some of the emigrants had left for him.
July 18 – The trail has been quite good today. The water is so strongly impregnated with alkali, salt and, sulphur that we dare not let our animals drink much of it. We have passed sixty-four dead oxen in the last few days, thirty-four of which we passed today. Their deaths are mostly caused by being overworked and drinking of the impure water…
July 20 – One mile from our camp was Independence Rock, an isolated mass of granite, 120 feet high and 200 feet long. It is covered wherever there is room with names of travelers. Five miles further is Devil’s Gate, where the Sweetwater makes its passage through a fissure in the mountain walls, it is 35 yards long and 300 yards long, its walls are perpendicular and about 400 feet high.
July 23 – …We had the first sight of the Wind River Mountains, the top of which are covered with snow. We have passed as many as thirty dead oxen today and I think the average for the last four or five days has been twenty-five per day…”
On August 7 they entered Salt Lake City, then occupying an area about two miles square. After a rest to replenish supplies they renewed their pleasure of eating in a house. Mr. Gould writes,
“We went to a farm house nearby and had an excellent breakfast, which was served in regular New England style by the ladies belonging to the family. As this was our last house, there being no other house between this and California, we improved the chance right well…”
They resumed their journey after this meal. The date was August 18.
“August 20 – We now took a westerly course and after traveling about twenty-five miles through a suffocating dust and suffering severely from thirst, we arrived at some warm salt springs, which notwithstanding their disagreeable taste, we drank very freely of…there is no prospect of finding any better water…the salt water which we drank does not seem to quench our thirst much – its temperature is 80o.
September 14 – We moved six miles this morning to the end of the sink and stayed until five, when we started on our dreaded journey across the desert…We came across a small company which had taken the wrong road which lead them away from the slough and did not give them an opportunity to take in a supply of water. I gave an old man a drink from my canteen which seemed to have done him more good than a purse.
September 15 – We were off again at sunrise, this place having no attractions for us. We saw several pools of springs of stagnant water, covered with a greenish slime and are said to be very strongly impregnated with alkali…there were several wells dug near our camp…but the water was so strong of sulphur our animals would not taste it…In a few miles we came to an alkali spring, around which were several dead oxen. We soon entered upon a large level plain, several miles in diameter, but being entirely destitute of vegitation (sic) and having the appearance of a field just sown with grain and rolled down smooth. The mirage was seen here, presenting a large and beautiful lake of clear water, on the surface of which was reflected the shrubs and objects on the shore. We stopped at noon where someone had dug a well, but the water was so salt neither our men nor our animals would drink it…We have passed more than a hundred dead oxen today and a great many deserted wagons. We struck Carson River at ten after the hardest day’s work that we have ever performed.. We left two mules behind which had become exhausted. The rest looked much better than we expected.
September 19 – …After following the river six miles further we left it and went twelve miles over a very rough and stony road, where we struck the river again. _ . (we) encamped very tired. We are now in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, some of the ranges very lofty. They are on fire in many places, which is probably the work of Indians. [Ed. Note: they had actually reached the east/central border of California.].
September 21 – After traveling four miles…we entered a narrow ravine, bordered or both sides by perpendicular and very high granite rocks. A branch of the Carson River passes through this gorge. The road is very rocky, making it very dangerous for wagons, many of which lie by the sides of the road broken to pieces. _ .After leaving this, the road turns in a southerly direction five miles, when we reach the foot of the first mountain…Now comes the hard labor which we have so long been dreading and it seemed almost impossible to ever rise the mountain, but we must go, so we started to work clambering up the steep sides of the mountain and after a great deal of hard climbing, we succeeded in reaching the summit, but the task was almost too much for our mules, which have very much been reduced by our journey. It is one mile from the foot to the top and very rocky. We passed three or four miles down the other side and camped for the night.
September 22 – We came to a small valley in the center of which was a small lake, making one of the most beautiful views which I have ever seen, as I looked down upon it from our elevated situation. We then passed through the valley and struck the foot of the main mountain. We rose this mountain by gradual assent, which is five miles to the summit, which we reached by eleven. We found several banks of snow and had some sport in snowballing each other. We melted some snow in our dippers and gave three cheers and drank it. The view from the summit was grand beyond description. We then traveled fifteen miles among the smaller mountains descending a great deal and encamped.
September 2– We continued one our journey in hopes of soon being out of the woods… We found some people here engaged prospecting and seeking for gold.. We continued on until night where we encamped where there were many people engaged searching for gold; how successful they were we could not ascertain. We were obliged to fell some oak trees to browse our animals on, who look very gaunt and hungry.
September 26 – We did not travel but half a day in consequence of stopping to feed our animals upon some grass that we were so fortunate as to find for them. The valley is covered with beautiful groves of oak. We are continually meeting teams bound for the mines which lie mostly to the right of us, the principal places are called “Weaver Town,” situated on Weaver Creek, and “Mormon Island.”
September 27 – We started with the intention of reaching Sutter’s tonight, which was accomplished by nine P.M., both men and animals being very much fatigued.. We passed several ranches or farming establishments and a great many drinking shops. We made about forty miles yesterday and today. Hurrah for California! Here we are all safe and we don’t care if school keeps or not.”
All safe and sound but for one. The journey lasted from April 16 to September 27 – a period of five months with over four of those months on foot confronting almost every kind of hazard and hardship one can imagine for a distance of 2,000 to 2,200 miles! They were a body of men who certainly earned the praise of Boyd Gibbons of the “National Geographic” as we repeat it here: “They were disciplined and temperate men, one of the few parties that made it to the West Coast without splintering into factions.”
We know that this stirring account of an extraordinary adventure will leave the reader with at least two questions in mind: how successful were they in finding gold? How did they get home and did they all return to their home towns? Unfortunately, neither of these questions can be fully answered. The motive behind the whole expedition was similar to that of a gigantic lottery – a few striking it rich beyond all imagination, a few others moderately successful and the majority gaining little or nothing. Not to be forgotten were the most unfortunate of all, the thousands who abandoned their homes, blinded with the belief that fortunes were soon to be realized, only to find their graves in a wild and lonely region.
Was there that much gold to be found? In the beginning that appeared to be the case and later spasmodic strikes recreated the illusion. Stewart Ed, White in his book, The Forty Niners makes these comments:
“The first gold was often found actually at the roots of bushes, or could be picked out from the veins in the rocks by the aid of an ordinary hunting-knife. Such pockets, to be sure, by no means numerous; but the miners did not know that. To them it seemed extremely possible that gold in such quantities was to be found anywhere for the mere seeking. Authenticated instances are known of men getting ten, fifteen, twenty and thirty thousand dollars within a week or ten days, without particularly hard work….”
Returning now to our original party, the Boston and Newton Joint Stock Association, although we do not know of their success as miners we have some information regarding their days beyond the “great adventure” particularly the members from Newton Upper Falls. Beside the considerable amount of material the author has regarding this subject, a recent discovery of a book, The Boston Newton Company Venture, (University of Nebraska (Lincoln) Press – 1969) by Jessie Gould Hannon, a granddaughter of one of the keepers of a diary for the company, Charles Gould, provides some late entries.
David J. Staples of Upper Falls was a director of the Association and he chose to stay in California. He was one of the organizers of the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company of San Francisco. He was a delegate from California to the Republican Convention in 1891 which nominated Abraham Lincoln for president. He also was a very successful rancher. In response to some correspondence in 1891 seeking information on the members of the old Association, Mr. Staples made (in part) this reply:
“You ask for the names of the company, and I give them to you herewith, but what particular business they have followed I do not know. Many of them have filled places of honor and trust, some have become wealthy, traveling and enjoying life. We know of six who have passed away and I presume there are more that I am not aware of.”
Following is Mr. Staples’ recollection of the member’s residences after the disbanding of the company, with correction by the writer, also some additions from the above mentioned book. (The list is confined, in the most part, to former Newton Upper Falls party members).
JOHN F. STAPLES (also shown as Fred J. Staples), a brother of David J.
He prospered as a cattle dealer with his brother and in later years retired to Pasadena, California.
JESSE F. WINSLOW – remained in the mines two years before returning to Newton Upper Falls in 1851 and although he had previously served as selectman and assessor of Newton and member of the Massachusetts Legislature he does not appear to have returned to the political life. He died in 1872 at the age of 78.
BRACKETT LORD – After a brief fling at mining he returned to Upper Falls in 1851. He and his wife, Clarissa, had five children, two sons and three daughters. The family later moved to Illinois where he engaged in the buying and selling of grain and flour. At one time he was the largest dealer of wheat in the Midwest. About 1867 he turned his business over to his eldest son and returned to Newton. The Newton Town Directory of 1868 shows Brackett Lord was engaged in the “flour, grain, etc.,” business on Walnut Street, corner of Mill Street, with his home located on Lincoln Street. His wife Clarrisa Winslow Lord died in 1869 and he on June 2d, 1872.
ROBERT COFFEY Struck it rich as a miner and later was also a successful rancher and farmer. In later life he moved to San Francisco.
MILO JEWELL AYER – He stayed in California. We understand this 29 year old carpenter struck gold in 1850 and also became successful in the mining business. He later established the first stamp mill in the California gold fields. He was joined in 1851 by his wife and daughter and a year later by his son who had been left with relatives in Newton. Unfortunately a few days after his arrival he met with an accident and was killed. Milo J. Ayer will always be remembered “on the trail.” The National Geographic article of 1986 regarding their trip west contains a photo of his name carved deeply into Independence Rock in Wyoming – “Milo J. Ayer, age 29, 1849.”
WILLIAM H. NICHOLS – Listed by Mr. Staples as a “laborer” although at one time he was a partner in a ranch with Staples. He did not return to Upper Falls where once he had helped found the Universalist Church. He remained a bachelor and died in California.
DANIEL E. EASTERBROOK – He is given the distinguished title of “Capitalist” by Mr. Staples. He was fortunate to strike it rich in the mines in 1850 and also in various mining ventures later. He married in California and did extensive traveling in Europe. In his will he left a number of scholarships to the University of California.
BENJAMIN BURT JR. – He was related to the Winslows and was called a “merchant.” He became a rancher and farmer in California providing produce for Sacramento. In 1855 he came back to Freetown, Massachusetts to marry a schoolmate. They had four daughters. Later they moved to San Jose, California where their daughters attended California State Normal School. Both he and his wife died in 1896 – a week apart.
CHARLES GOULD – One of the last survivors of the party. Herewith is the biographical background of Charles Gould, born in Walpole, Massachusetts and later a resident of Newton Upper Falls; also his association as a member and diarist of Boston and Newton Joint Stock Association’s 1849 overland gold seeking trek to California; – as recorded in a diary kept by his father, Major John Allen Gould of Walpole –
“April 3rd, 1824: Charles my third son and fourth child was born.
1841: Charles left home (Walpole) this spring and joined his brothers at Newton (Upper Falls) to learn the Machine business.
April 3, 1845: My son Charles was this day 21 years old. He has served an apprenticeship on the wood work of Machinery at Otis Pettee’s, Newton Upper Falls.
June 22, 1847: Charles my youngest son was married to Betsey Starbird of the State of Maine.
April 1, 1848: My son Charles has his child, a daughter, born. She was named Ida Thilomelia.
April 8, 1849: My children are all at home and in good health. The cause of the family meeting was that Charles Gould my youngest son has joined a company of men by the name of Boston and Newton Joint Stock Association who intend to leave these parts immediately and proceed to Upper California to engage in the gold business. This was to me an interesting meeting. Charles will in all probability be absent at least two or three years, and taking into consideration the changes which usually take place in a family in such a period it must be very doubtful about my ever seeing him again.
April 23, 1849: My son Charles Gould with his associates left Boston for California by way of the Rocky Mountains.
June 26, 1849: My son Charles with his associates arrived at Independence on the frontier of Missouri about the third of May. After collecting mules and making necessary arrangements for the journey of the Company over the Plains and Rocky Mountains they left the place for California about the 20th of May.
August 2, 1849: Received information that my son Charles had a son born on the 13th of July, while Betsey the mother of the Child was in Hartland, Maine and Charles on his way to California. The boy was afterwards named Charles Allen.
Jan. 9, 1850: Received the first letter from my son Charles after his arrival in California. The letter was written at Sacramento City on the 25th of October last. Charles and his associates reached the city on the 27th of September haveing (sic)been 165 days from Boston, 133 days from Independence on the frontier of the State of Missouri. In the letter from Charles commenced on the last page he states that the Company to which he belonged had broken up and scattered in different directions, for the reason that it was the experience of all companies that the digging of gold could not be carried on to advantage in large companies.
February 9, 1850: Another letter from Charles. It was dated at the North Fork of the American River 5 miles above the South Fork and 34 miles from Sacramento City. He writes that he is now associated with four persons of the old Company who have built a log house at that place which gives them good quarters for the rainy season, with a full supply of provisions for the winter. Charles says he has dug gold enough to supply himself with necessaries for the winter, and that he is in excellent health and: spirits, and ready to commence digging as soon as rains will permit.
March 12, 1850: Charles sent home his first parcel of Gold from California. It weighed 6 ounces or troy weight. It is worth $17.565 per ounce making the value of the parcel $105.39. Charles dug the gold in the month of January although it rained about half the month. The gold was brought by the Express of Adams & Co of Boston, at a charge of 8 per cent including insurance – paid in advance.
April 3, 1850: My son Charles is this day 26 years old, he is in California and his wife and two children are in Maine.
April 10, 1850; Another letter from Charles, also 8 1/2 ounces of Gold worth about $148.
June 24, 1850: Left home for a journey to the State of Maine to attend to some business (estate settling) and to visit the wife and children of my son Charles who is in California. I took the Eastern Railroad….thence the Stage to Hartland, where I found Betsey the wife of Charles Allen in good health and pleasantly situated at the house of David Starbird, the father of Betsey.
January 13, 1851: A letter was received from my son in California. Owing to some failure this was the first correspondence from him for about four months. Charles was in good health, but has made up his mind to remain there until another year.
Feb. 14, 1851: Called upon Mr. Wilson of Roxbury, he was one of Charles’s companions to California, but left for home last autumn.
Feb. 19, 1851: Had Daguerreotype likenesses taken of Myself, my Wife, Margaret and Annah Minerva taken for the purpose of sending them to Charles in California.
Feb. 24, 1851: George, Margaret and myself called upon Mr. Wilson at Boston who started on the 26th on his return to California. Mr. Wilson took with him the Miniatures for Charles.
April 6, 18d51: Betsey Gould, wife of my Son Charles with her two children came to make us a visit. They have resided In Hartland, State of Maine ever since my son Charles left for California which is now about two years.
July 27, 1852: My son Charles arrived home from California, he has been absent three years and three months – his health was good and his appearance as favourable as when he left home. On this occasion my children were all at home once more, which was to me an interesting meeting. Charles left home the same day for the purpose of visiting his wife and two children, which are at Hartland in the State of Maine.
Oct. 19, 18d2: My son Charles and his wife and two children have been with me 5 or 6 weeks on a visit. During the time Charles was sick with the chills and fevour but has so far recovered as to return to Newton (Upper Falls) where he has again commenced housekeeping.
Feb. 21, 1855: My son Charles has again broken up housekeeping at Newton (Upper Falls) and started today for the Western States for the purpose of finding a place for a settlement, his family have gone for the present to reside in the State of Maine.
May 4, 1855: Received a letter from my son Charles in which he says “I have found a place that suits me. It is located about half way up Lake Pepin on the Minnesota side. Lake Pepin is an expansion of the Mississippi River and is about 2 or 3 miles wide for nearly 30 miles with nice clear water with gravely (sic) shores. There is a valley on this side running parallel with the river some 3 miles wide by 10 or 12 long, which I think is the most pleasant place that I ever saw. I was so well pleased with it that I was determined to locate here if possible, and finding a claim of 160 acres that was occupied which suited me in every respect, I bought the man’s claim to the land giving him one hundred and eighty dollars for his claim and improvements which were not much, consisting of a small log house and about one acre broken. The land is not surveyed or in the market yet, but when it is I shall have to pay the regular government price of $1.25 per acre in addition to what I have paid;”
May 24, 1855: Betsey Gould wife of my son Charles with her 2 children left these parts to go to Charles who is about settling down on the borders of Lake Pepin in the Minnesota Territory. Ida Philomelia is past 7 years of age and Charles Allen is between 5-6 years old
June 1855: I have learned that Betsey Gould and her 2 Children landed at Lake Pepin Minnesota Territory on the fifth day after they left Boston. My son Charles found his family in about 20 minutes after they arrived at the landing.
Jan 25, 1857: On the 19th of December 1856 my son Charles who is now residing in Minnesota Territory had another daughter born named Rosanna. Charles has had three children and they were born in the following places, namely, the first in Newton (Upper Falls) Mass., the second in Hartland, Maine, the third in Central Point, Minn. Territory.
June 19, 1857: My son George was at home. Since his last visit here he has been to Minnesota and made his brother Charles a visit. George found Charles and his family in good health, and his affairs in a prosperous condition, with good crops and a ready market for all his produce at satisfactory prices. Charles has 123 1/2 acres of land of the first quality, which is rapidly increasing in value and demand.”
Three years later, on July 9, 1860 Charles father, Major John Allen Gould died in Walpole at the age of 74. One source tells us that Charles Allen died at the age of 89, which would make the year of his death 1913. See biography of the Gould family for further details.
It appears that our historians did not forget these stalwart adventurers from Newton Upper Falls and vicinity. A two-column article appearing in the NEWTON GRAPHIC of June 29, 1950 bears this headline:
FLAG PRESENTED BY NEWTON UNVEILED
AT DEDICATION OF HISTORICAL MARKER IN WEST
“The Massachusetts State Flag (3′ x 5′ white taffeta material with State Seal, Coat of Arms, Gold Fringe, Eight Foot Jointer Pole, Cord and Spear), a gift from the City of Newton, was recently unveiled at the Dedication of a Historical Marker at Shingle Springs, El Dorado County, California.”
And the reason for the dedication:
“In April of 1849, a group of 25 young men living in the vicinity of Boston, Massachusetts formed for their mutual benefit, an organization which they have called the Boston- Newton Joint Stock Association and set out on a journey from Boston to the gold fields of California, arriving in Sacramento in September. In April of 1949, descendants of those adventurers met and formed the Boston-Newton Group, its purpose being threefold:
To hold a Centennial Program (this took place last September)
To erect a monument as a tribute to our fathers and grandfathers.
To record the history of the Boston-Newton Company.”
And the acknowledgment of the gift of the flag, etc., by the El Dorado County Centennial’s Committee:
“In acknowledging the gift to the City Of Newton the El Dorado County Centennial Committee stated ‘The Massachusetts Flag is a handsome emblem and one which the descendants will always treasure.’ The presentation was one of the highlights of a colorful ceremony witnessed by approximately five hundred visitors.’
We want to express our sincere appreciation for this beautiful gift from the City of Newton and extend a cordial invitation to the citizens of Newton to visit our County if ever they are in this part of the country.’ The monument site is located at the town of Shingle Springs in El Dorado County, California, on U.S. Highway 50 about 30 miles east of Sacramento.
The monument is of white limestone taken from the Eldorado Mine close to the site. It is about 8 feet in height, width at base 6 feet, 3 feet in depth and cost approximately $500.
The California Centennial’s Commission furnished a bronze plaque with the following inscription: “On this site the Boston-Newton Joint Stock Association encamped on September 26, 1849.”
And all this began by the meeting of four men in a modest house in Newton Upper Falls, Massachusetts and organizing an adventuresome group of friends to seek out some gold at the foot of a rainbow.
Before we close this chapter on VILLAGE LIFE we insert this one last thought.
Like Upper Falls, the roots of many of our villages lie deep. Some of their inhabitants witnessed the birth of the nation and helped give it a push in the right direction. They were here when the Union Jack gave way to the Stars and Stripes on the standards above their village greens. Some villages have led the city through the industrial age into that of the computer, while others have replaced the ploughed fields of their ancient farms with manicured lawns of the country estate, which in turn have given way to the subdivision. Honor rolls gather dust in forgotten places but still remind us that the boys of the village went off to defend that little corner of the world which they considered belonged to them.
The schools were their own, some of them in the early days built and run with village funds. Students sat in seats their grandparents once occupied and shared with them the memories of the place. Down through the years the schoolbell and that of the clock in the old church tower spoke out together that all was well in our village.