he celebration of the Centennial of Sherburne was fittingly accomplished on Wednesday, the 21st of June. It was well to be done, and it was well done. The event so commemorated was dignified by the manner of its commemoration. In the inception it was modestly undertaken, and it was carried forward with dignity to the close. All the addresses and utterances of the occasion were on the lines of the social, political and religious theses of the Fathers. There was no apology for their Puritanism or their patriotism; no withholding of tribute or of praise. The crown of laurel was lovingly placed upon them by their loyal descendants.
The celebration may be said to have grown out of the purpose to erect a Monument to the early settlers, the preliminary movements toward which were made some time previous, and the dedication of which was an important feature of the Centennial exercises.
The formal organization for the Centennial took place at a conference of citizens held in Sherburne on Tuesday evening, January 31, 1893, with Geo. W. Lathrop, Chairman, Charles A. Fuller, Secretary, and Geo. B. Whitmore, Treasurer. At a later meeting it was decided that the celebration be held on the 21st of June, and the following appointments were made:
President of the Day,---HON. DAVID L. FOLLETT, of Norwich, N.Y.
Orator,---REV. LEWIS RAY FOOTE, D. D., of Brooklyn, N.Y.
Poet,---PHILO L. HATCH, M.D., of Santa Barbara, California.
Historian,---MARCIUS DENISON RAYMOND, of Tarrytown, N.Y.
All of whom in due time formally accepted the honorable offices so tendered them.
At a meeting held Friday evening, May 12, the following preliminary action was taken:
It was unanimously voted that the exercises be held on the grounds of the Congregational Church.
That the clergymen of the town be a committee to extend an invitation to all ministers who have resided in Sherburne.
That D. L. Atkyns, Esq., and Stephen Holden, Esq., be a committee to extend a like invitation to all members of the bar who have resided here.
That the doctors of the village be a like committee to extend an invitation to all physicians who have resided here.
That Charles L. Walker, Charles L. Carrier and Edson L. Whitney be a committee to invite all merchants who have resided in Sherburne.
That Lucius Newton, David Dart and Andrew Davis be a committee to invite farmers who have resided here.
That the Sherburne Brass Band be invited to furnish music for the occasion.
That M. D. Botsford, H. H. Tucker and E. R. Failing be a committee on music.
That some descendant of a first settler and a contributor to the monument be requested to present the same to the town, and that Albert R. Gladwin, Supervisor, accept the same in behalf of the town.
That Stephen Holden, Rev. J. C. Barber and George W. Lathrop be a committee on program.
That Charles L. Kershaw be a committee to solicit funds.
That John H. O'Brian be a committee to invite printers who have resided here.
That Geo. W. Lathrop be a committee on Centennial Exhibit.
That the Village Officers be a reception committee to see to it that the hospitalities of the village be extended to visitors.
The following Committee to have charge of the exercises on Centennial day was also appointed:
|GEORGE W. LATHROP,||GEORGE B. WHITMORE,||ASA FOOT,|
|CHARLES A. FULLER,||LEWIS A. VAN WAGNER, M. D.,||STEPHEN HOLDEN,|
|J. HAWLEY BENEDICT,||JOHN H. O'BRIAN,||ALBERT R. GLADWIN.|
ORDER OF THE DAY.
The following was the order of exercises for Centennial day:
At sunrise, a salute will be fired from Hunt's Mountain, and the bells of the village churches will be rung.
Exercises on the Congregational Church grounds, commencing at 1 P.M., as follows:
Music by the Band, "Old Sherburne."
Prayer by Rev. Edmund M. Mills, Ph. D., D. D., Elmira.
Music by the Band.
Address by President of the Day, Hon. David L. Follett, Norwich.
Address of Welcome by Dr. Homer G. Newton, Sherburne.
Music by the Band.
Unveiling of the Monument by Plumb Post, G. A. R., No. 493.
Presentation of Monument by Mr. George W. Lathrop, Sherburne.
Response by Albert R. Gladwin, Supervisor, Sherburne.
Music by the Band.
Oration by Rev. Lewis Ray Foote, D. D., Brooklyn.
Music by the Band.
Poem by Dr. Philo L. Hatch, Santa Barbara, California.
Historical Address by Marcius D. Raymond, Tarrytown, N. Y.
Reception in the evening at the Church parlors. Reception Committee, President and Trustees of the Village.
The following excerpts giving some account of the exercises are taken from the columns of the Sherburne News, which published a full and handsomely illustrated report of the proceedings:
"A slight shower Tuesday night partially laid the dust which had accumulated so deeply upon our streets, and Wednesday dawned clear, with every prospect of a charming day---in fact the day was all that the most ardent friends of our Centennial could ask for. Many dwelling houses were neatly decorated and a gala-day appearance was manifest. The ringing of bells and the firing of dynamite ushered in the day.
"The monument was in position, and was all that could be desired. A convenient platform had been erected upon the church green and chairs placed under the trees for the accommodation of the large audience present prepared to honor this first hundredth anniversary of our township. Upon the platform were many of the oldest and most representative of Chenango's citizens, besides many from other sections of the country, who were descendants of the pioneers whose early struggles were thus commemorated.
"Shortly after two o'clock the meeting was called to order by Judge Holden, who apologized for the absence of Judge Follett, his official duties making it impossible for him to be present. In his absence, Hon. Walstene D. Pudney, of Cleveland, Ohio, a member of the legislature in his adopted state, and a native of this place, was called upon to preside. Upon taking the chair, the chairman spoke of the disappointment felt by all for the absence of Judge Follett, as he would have spoken words which would have been refreshing. But he could not let the occasion pass without a word or two. He referred feelingly to the two handsome memorial columns on the green, both representing principles sacred to every son of Sherburne. Such occasions as these are of the greatest benefit in purifying and enobling society and the state.
"Prayer was then offered by Rev. Edmund M. Mills, Ph. D., D. D., of Elmira, in which he invoked God's blessing on this community, its churches, its schools, and its people."
It is a pleasant task assigned to me, on behalf of the citizens of Sherburne, to welcome you to your old home, or that of your fathers. It is difficult to realize the emotion with which many of you revisit the scenes of your early life. You talk over with friends the old days and you almost live again in them. You are boys and girls together in the old home. Father and mother are there, brothers and sisters and friends dear, and long dead it may be, live again in your memory. Each has his treasure of memory, sacred to himself. But it is not for pleasure alone that we are met to-day. You have come as pilgrims to a shrine.
Some of you are proud to trace your lineage to the first families of Sherburne. You come not only with an offering of veneration and love, but you bring a memorial to the fathers fitting and acceptable. What more fitting than this granite memorial to the men of granite whom it memorializes. We, too, citizens of Sherburne, claim in some sense, to be sons of the fathers with you. For have we not a valuable heritage from them---lands and homes, institutions, religion and patriotism?
Different is the welcome given you to-day from that which the fathers received. If I remember the record aright, as Columbus had his Viking predecessor, so the fathers were not the first upon the soil of Sherburne. A woman was here before them, and she welcomed them royally, brewing her beer and baking bread for their entertainment.
But if lovely woman welcomed them, and if lovely women stanchly stood beside them; if the Indian was gentle and true to them, yet it was a wild wood into which they came. They were surrounded by sombre magnificence. Many centuried pines occupied the land. Your fathers were welcomed to a sturdy conquest of homes under a thousand difficulties. But these men who had conquered freedom for themselves were equal to conquering for freedom a land worthy of it.
These men and women, and a hundred bands like them, after the Revolution, pushed westward and northward and southward to lay foundations deep and wide and wise for a majestic republic of freemen. They did not build better than they knew. We honor the men that gave themselves to preserve the Union, the value of which they well knew from personal experience and a happy history. But these men, with a vast faith in a freedom which they had seen in a vision, fought bravely to attain it, and then when battles were ended, set themselves to building the purest democracies the world has ever seen---town by town and state by state, until a great Union by free men was possible.
If such justice and regard for the rights of men as early Sherburne presented, if such reverence and obedience to God and His laws were common throughout the land to-day, then indeed would the state be worth preserving even at the cost of millions of lives and billions of money.
But I will not trespass further upon the province of the historian. It were ungracious to keep you standing upon the threshold when so rich a feast is waiting for you. So again in the name of Sherburne I give you welcome. In spirit, too, we would shake hands with many throughout the land whom business engagements, distance, feebleness or age have forbidden to meet with us to-day. And especially would we send the greetings of Sherburne to that good old mother of patriots in the mountains of North Carolina, whose precious memories of Sherburne a hundred years have not dimmed. How gladly were she here, would we take her around the old home, and show her the beautiful land that has been evolved from the wilderness. Her heart would warm at the fulfilment of the fathers' plans. The wild wood is gone, and in its place are fertile fields and happy homes. Green valleys and hills lie open to the sunlight flecked with beautiful shadows. Gently sloping uplands are covered with contented flocks and herds. There is beauty everywhere. Go up on the hillsides on a day in spring, or in leafy June, in hazy September or golden October, and greater beauty you will not behold this side the heavenly land.
Welcome dear friends, and when your feet shall turn this way again we promise you fresh welcome. And "after life's fitful fever" is over, and you would rest, old Mother Earth hath no warmer spot upon her bosom than where the fathers pitched their tents.
"Upon the conclusion of Dr. Newton's admirable address, and while the Band played, Plumb Post G. A. R., by special invitation present, stood in a hollow square around the monument, and the drapery was lifted by Miss Carrie E. Raymond, the daughter of A. G. Raymond, a member of the Post, and great-granddaughter of Newcomb Raymond, one of the original proprietors, who assisted in the capture of Lord Cornwallis and his army at Yorktown in 1781. And it was a very pretty picture that was so presented.
"The handsome pile of granite now stood to view, an emblem which would seem another hundred years of time could not affect commemorative of the hardships and perseverance of those hardy pioneers who first braved the perils of the wilderness to make themselves a home. It was universally admired, as being in style and material typical of the men and times which it commemorates."
The presentation of the monument was then made by Mr. George W. Lathrop, of Sherburne, a descendant of one of the first proprietors.
I would like to bring before your minds, the name of one of the sons of Sherburne, who is absent, not being able to endure so long a journey. One who was born but a stone's throw from this spot, who in boyhood played and walked in these streets, and who in later years beautified them with trees, which now shade our walks; who still later, wended his way westward, and finally made a beautiful home in Janesville, Wis. I refer to Mr. John De Witt Rexford. He has had from the first a great interest in the Sherburne Centennial, and freely used both money and influence toward the monument just unveiled, and it is he who should have had the honor instead of myself, of presenting so beautiful a structure to the good people of Sherburne.
The erection of a Monument or Memorial Stone to be dedicated at this Centennial on which should be engraven some of the primal facts in the history of this town, and on which should also appear the names of some of those who were most prominently connected with its early settlement, suggested itself as a thing very appropriate to be done in connection with this celebration. So the work was undertaken on the proper basis that the fund for that purpose should be made up entirely by the descendants of the proprietors and early settlers whose memory should be so perpetuated. And it is very pleasing in this connection to be able to say, that the response has been hearty, generous, and sufficient. It was fitting that the stone selected should be plain and massive, rather than ornamental, typical of the times and the men, whose character was as firm and unyielding as this Quincy granite, a name distinctively associated with patriotism as well as with the grand old commonwealth of Massachusetts, which was the early home of the ancestors of most of the pioneers of Sherburne.
The names of the eleven Proprietors, so called, properly appear upon the front of this Monument which has just been unveiled in your presence. And first among them, by common consent at the head of the list, is the honored name of Nathaniel Gray, the patriarch and leader of the new settlement,---a man of sound judgment and high character. He had been an officer in the French war, in Capt. Elmore's Company from Sharon, Conn.; had married for his first wife, Deborah, the daughter of Deacon Melatiah Lathrop, then of Dover Plains, N. Y. He was an early pioneer in Richmond, Berkshire Co., Mass., was afterwards of Kent, Conn., and Duanesburgh, N. Y.; was of the party of pioneers who prospected for new homes in the valley of the Chenango, and personally made the contract for the Proprietors; was one of the deacons chosen in the organization of the First Congregational Church, and was the first Justice of the Peace appointed within the present limits of the town of Sherburne. He continued to reside here until his death, which occurred June 24th, 1810, in the 75th year of his age.
John Gray, Jr., whose name follows, in later years known as Judge John Gray, was a son of John, Sr., and a nephew of Nathaniel; was a soldier of the Revolution, and married a daughter of Rev. Blackleach Burritt; was a Supervisor of the town, and Associate Justice of the County. Removed to Chautauqua Co., 1819, where he died April 24, 1859, in his 90th year.
Elijah Gray was the son of Nathaniel, a soldier of the Revolution and good citizen. Died at Marengo, Ill., 1847.
Abram, James and Newcomb Raymond were brothers. Abram was one of the first deacons of the First Congregational Church, and was afterwards for many years a deacon in the West Hill Church. Was a son-in-law of John Gray, Sr. Died in Sherburne, May 12, 1830, in his 73d year; buried on the West Hill.
James Raymond was a son-in-law of Rev. Mr. Burritt. Removed to Venango Co., Pa., where he died Nov. 15, 1852, aged 85 years.
Newcomb Raymond was a soldier of the Revolution and a son-in-law of John Gray, Sr. Continued to reside here until his death, January 26, 1852, aged 89 years.
Josiah Lathrop, known as Capt. Lathrop, was a soldier of the Revolution, a large land owner and prominent citizen. Died in Sherburne, March 7, 1854, in his 97th year.
Eleazer Lathrop, brother of Josiah, was the largest land owner in the new settlement and a good citizen. Died in Brockport, N. Y., 1842, in his 77th year.
Joel Hatch, Revolutionary soldier, Justice of the Peace, Supervisor, machinist, was a son-in-law of Nathaniel Gray, and an invaluable member of the community. Died 1855, in his 91st years.
Timothy Hatch, brother of Joel, and brother-in-law of Rev. Mr. Burritt, was a soldier of the Revolution and deacon of the Congregational Church. Died in Sherburne, 1847, aged 90 years.
Cornelius Clark, the valued surveyor of the settlement, was also a soldier of the Revolution. He died in Sherburne, 1810, in the 65th year of his age, and is buried on the West Hill.
On the opposite or south side of the stone, under the head of "other early settlers," are appropriately placed, thirteen other names, as follows:
Judge Isaac Foote, pre-eminently one of the first and most prominent citizens of this town and of this county. Was a soldier of the Revolution. Died in Smyrna, 1842, in the 97th year of his age.
Deacon Samuel Foote, early of Smyrna and Sherburne, and especially prominent in West Hill annals. Removed to Jamestown, N. Y., died 1848, aged 78.
John Gray, Sr., a soldier of the French war and of the Revolution. An early Supervisor of the town and influential in public affairs. Died in Sherburne, 1822, in his 83d year.
Elisha Gray, son of Nathaniel and son-in-law of Rev. Mr. Burritt. A prominent citizen; the first school teacher in Sherburne. Died in Ohio, 1823.
John Hibbard was the original owner of lot No. 14, comprising the southern part of this village, and his early residence was not far from the present home of Joshua Pratt. Died at this place 1830, aged 70.
Orsamus Holmes, a Revolutionary soldier from Vermont, was the first Town Clerk, an esteemed citizen here and in Chautauqua County, whither he removed. Died in Ohio, 1835, aged 78 years.
John Lathrop, brother of Josiah, was a farmer, resided at the Quarter, where he died in 1825.
Ezra Lathrop, brother of John, was a soldier of the Revolution, removed to Ontario County, where he died 1825.
Major Joseph Dixon, a commissioned officer in the Continental army; a large land owner and influential citizen of Sherburne. Was a brother-in-law of the Raymond brothers. Died at Smyrna, 1839, in his 85th year; buried on Sherburne West Hill.
Joel Rexford, early of the 8th township; a good citizen, and kin of the Sherburne Rexfords. Connected with the West Hill Church and buried there.
Joel Northrop was a soldier of the Revolution from Westchester Co., N. Y. Was one of the first trustees of the Congregational Society of Sherburne. Lived at the Quarter; died 1802.
Capt. Nathaniel Austin was a unique character in the new settlement. Died 1803.
Joshua Talcott, Sr. was an early resident of the West Hill. Died there July 19, 1804.
Most of these came as early as 1793, and the others shortly afterwards, and all were more or less prominently identified with the new settlement. The names of others might properly have been placed upon the stone had there been room for them.
The contributors comprise the following:
J. D. Rexford of Janesville, Wis., and other descendants of Cornelius Clark.
M. D. Raymond of Tarrytown, Geo. N. Raymond of Dubuque, Iowa, Mrs. Geo. B. and Chas. W. Raymond of Elgin, Ill., Fulton Gifford of Mendota, Ill., Mrs. H. A. Kinsley of Angola, and L. G. Raymond of Angelica, N. Y., of the descendants of Newcomb Raymond.
Mrs. C. B. Raymond and her daughter, Miss Helen S. Raymond, of Boston, and Mr. E. F. Ensign, of Madison, O., of the descendants of James Raymond.
Mrs. D. E. Sackett, and Miss Elizabeth Gray, of Cranford, N. J., J. F. Gray, and Gen. John B. Gray of New York, of the descendants of Judge John Gray, Jr.
P. R. Gray of Elizabeth, N. J., grandson of Elisha Gray.
George W. Lathrop, and Mrs. Rev. Dr. D. K. Bartlett, of the descendants of Capt. Josiah Lathrop.
James R. Lathrop of New York, Mrs. Nichols of Washington, and the Tracy Brothers, of Mansfield, O., of the descendants of Eleazer Lathrop.
Henry Lathrop of Sherburne, and Gardiner Lathrop of Kansas City, of the descendants of John Lathrop.
Wm. W. Lathrop, Esq., of Scranton, Pa., of the descendants of Ezra Lathrop.
The Misses Kenyon of Buffalo, grand children of Bethiah Gray Hibbard, the daughter of Nathaniel and Bethiah Newcomb-Raymond-Gray.
Wells B. Hatch, of Syracuse, Mrs. Minnie Carrier of Elmira, Hon. H. H. Hatch of Bay City, Mich., Miss Julia Carrier of Elmira, Mrs. Dr. Mitchell of Minneapolis, Rev. Dr. R. L. Bachman, in the name of the late Mrs. May Rose Bachman, of Utica, of the descendants of Joel Hatch.
Yale Hatch of Highmore, S. D., Farrand Hatch of Sugar Grove, Ill., sons of Elam, and Dr. Jethro Hatch of Kentland, Indiana, son of Jethro, of the descendants of Deacon Timothy Hatch.
Hon. John J. Foote and John C. Foote, of Belvidere, Ill., of the descendants of Judge Isaac Foote.
Mr. H. A. Foote, of New York City, son of Judge Elial T. Foote, and grandson of Samuel Foote.
Manville Austin of Washington, D. C., of the descendants of Capt. Nathaniel Austin.
Dr. F. K. Rexford of Ypsilanti, Mich., a grandson of Joel Rexford.
Joshua Pratt of the descendants of Joshua Talcott, Sr.
Mrs. F. A. Hyatt, of Perryville, Madison County, a granddaughter of John Hibbard.
Alida C. Avery, M. D., of San Jose Cal., Miss Caroline P. Dixon of Westfield, Chautauqua County, the Dixon Brothers and Frank Avery, of Smyrna, of the descendants of Major Joseph Dixon.
This embraces the list of contributors to the Monument Fund.
And now, Mr. Gladwin, to your care and keeping as the Supervisor and representative of this town in your official capacity, in behalf of the contributors, I commit this Centennial Monument.
Mr. President, and Gentlemen of the Centennial Committee:
In the name of the Town of Sherburne, and in behalf of its inhabitants, it becomes my pleasant duty and privilege, to accept from your hands this monument. I am very glad to express to you, what I know to be the unanimous feeling among our people, of delight, and satisfaction, with your work. To Mr. Raymond, who originated, and by tireless effort perfected, this monument, belongs the highest praise. All who have assisted in this noble enterprise and especially, Messrs. Rexford, Lathrop, Holden, Fuller, O'Brian, Whitmore and Dr. Newton, are entitled to great credit for what has been accomplished. And now, gentlemen, in behalf of the Town of Sherburne, I thank you. I thank you in behalf of the relatives and friends, living, of Nelson C. Rexford, who so generously gave to the Town of Sherburne our beautiful Rexford Falls. I thank you in behalf of the relatives and friends, living, of Dr. Devillo White, who, in erecting yonder monument to the memory of the brave men, whose names are inscribed thereon, erected also a monument to himself. I thank you, in behalf of all those persons, scattered abroad over our land, who claim Sherburne as their birthplace and who always show a deep and abiding interest in everything that pertains to the welfare and prosperity of their native town. I thank you, in behalf of every resident of this town, whose every feeling and experience is hallowed by the most dear, and tender associations of the past, who love to recall and revive the memory of dear friends, who were born here, lived here, and are buried here, and who in their lives did their share in promoting the prosperity of dear old Sherburne. May the 21st day of June, 1893, ever be a sweet and blessed memory to all here present, and to all who shall hereafter look upon this appropriate and suggestive memorial.
How different the scene which greets us to-day, in this Valley of the Chenango, from that which greeted the noble men and women who settled this town one hundred years ago. Then, an almost primeval forest, whose chief occupants were the wolf and the bear, and a few rude log huts, met their gaze. To-day, a smiling landscape, covered with flocks and herds, dotted with comfortable homes, school houses and churches, together with this gem of a village, in its bosom, greet us with all their glad significance. The Indian name Chenango, signifying "beautiful river," gives us the Indian's impression of the original natural beauty of this region, which was known from the first to the settlers, as the "Chenango Country."
In selecting the human instruments, to set the mold and give shape to the institutions of this settlement, God gave the best representatives of our most representative Commonwealth,--Connecticut. Both in nature and men, good materials were furnished for a beautiful town. The manifest divine purpose has been realized. A beautiful township, and village, under a beautiful name, are before us. Sherburne will take her place amongst the towns of the land, as one of the most picturesque, and excellent, amongst them all. In my college days, as I rode on the stage through the valley to Clinton, I used to change a word of Goldsmith's line, and say,
Passing years have only deepened that impression. I come to this valley each summer, from the exacting toils of a great city, with ever increasing attachment for the place, and the people. My imagination when seeking repose for wearied mind and body, finds no more pleasing earthly spot on which to dwell. How many dear friends on earth and in heaven, and how many sacred recollections, will ever be linked to the name of "Sherburne."
The first settlers were Puritans. Soon after the Revolutionary War, in which they bore an honorable part, they left their native State of Connecticut, and sought a home in the State of New York. They made a temporary settlement near Albany, but came ultimately to this town, and became its original proprietors. The fact that they were Puritans, and the fact that the institutions of our towns, and of our country, which distinguish us before the world, are of Puritan planting and training, have led me to ask you to consider with me, for a short time, some of the essential features of Puritanism, as necessary to the growth and permanency of the Republic. To many the word Puritan has an unpleasant sound. But so far as I am acquainted with trustworthy history, the world owes its most priceless jewels, freedom of thought, and liberty of conscience, to the Puritan. So far as civil and religious freedom are enjoyed to-day, they have been won from unwilling hands by Puritans-and though they had their imperfections, yet they stand before the world, to-day, as the bravest and the purest people the world ever saw. If these things be so, then it is most fitting for us to consider on this Memorial occasion, what it was in Puritanism that was so valuable. I use the term "the essential features of Puritanism," for there was much that went under the name that was not essential to it. The name was given as a nickname about the time Queen Elizabeth ascended the English throne, 1558. Society, at that time, was divided into two parties known as Cavaliers, and Roundheads or Puritans. Life and manners generally were bad and low. Profanity was so common that even the Queen embraced it in her letters. Untruthfulness and impurity were rife. The class who rose as the reform party were called the Puritans. And it did not take much to lead one to be called a Puritan. If one did not get drunk and went to church he was classed as a Puritan.
The Papacy and the Prelacy were both tainted with tyranny and vice. Forms and ceremonies were of greater value even in the Episcopal Church than purity of character. The Puritan resisted the tyranny and the vice both in the State and in the church. He did not wish to leave the Episcopal Church. Baxter was an Episcopalian. He afterwards became a chaplain in Cromwell's army. The Puritan took his stand on the word of God, and conscience, and fought for civil and religious liberty. He opposed any religious ceremony he did not find enjoined in the Scriptures. The world owes it to the Puritan that the English speaking people are protestant. The English Puritan was sincerely religious. He loved God and was devoted to his service. The degradation of the English in the time of Elizabeth was shown in their amusements. Bear baiting was one of their favorite pastimes, in which the Queen was a common participant. Macaulay ridicules the Puritan because he was opposed to bear baiting, and the May pole. Macaulay says he opposed these sports because he was opposed to the pleasure of the people. But Macaulay ought to have known that it was because of the debaucheries and indecencies of the people, in connection with bear baiting and the May pole, that the Puritan opposed them. When Macaulay says that the Puritan "hated bear baiting not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators, and that he generally contrived to enjoy the double pleasure of tormenting both spectators and the bear," he allows his prejudice to guide his pen, instead of the truth of the case. For it is well established to-day that the people lost all sense of decency and self-respect on those occasions, and that it was on these grounds that the Puritan opposed them. And this, in a word, gives us the reason for, and the character of, the Puritan's existence. He was the Reformer of his day. You may find him in England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, Germany, France, Switzerland and America. Wherever you find him, you will find him resisting tyranny and vice in Church and State.
Such is the essence of Puritanism. But it originated not in England alone. Neither is the Puritanism of American, simply the reproduction of the Puritanism of England. The Puritanism of America is superior to that of England. The Puritanism of America became cosmopolitan and combined ultimately the excellencies which belonged to the Puritans of the world. No, the Puritanism of America is not the transplanting simply of English Puritanism; neither did the New England Puritans invent all of the good things in our institutions which they did not bring with them from England. It has been largely forgotten in studying New England Puritanism, that our Pilgrim Fathers had been long resident in Holland; one of the finest Republics the world had ever seen. Institutions which we prize so highly, and which England does not even possess to-day, came from Holland, where they had flourished for scores of years. Our free schools and our endowed colleges, came from Holland. The first free schools in America opened to all and supported by the government, were established by the Dutch settlers of New York. Holland was a land of schools supported by the State where every child went to school. Popular education, as we know it, never has obtained in England to this day. She made an approach to it in 1870.
Then too our township with town government, one of our eminent American institutions, did not come from England, neither did our New England Puritan invent it, as some have supposed. The township and the town meeting, with use of the written ballot, are Puritan, but not English Puritan. The written ballot was not used in England until the year 1872. Too much has been attributed to England, and to the brain of the New England Puritan. Jefferson said: "These wards called townships, in New England, are the vital principle of their government; and have proved themselves the wisest invention ever devised by the wit of man for the perfect exercise of self government, and for its preservation." It would appear that Jefferson attributed this blessing to the brain of the New England Puritan, when in fact it was derived from the Puritan of Holland. The same thing is true of our system of recording deeds and mortgages, which does not obtain in England to this day, because it would facilitate the common people holding land. Our Puritan forefathers found this idea in Republican Holland. From which we see how prolific republics are, in beneficent institutions for the people, when controlled by unselfish men. I am trying to bring to your mind both the essence, and the cosmopolitan origin of American Puritanism.
I think the essence of Puritanism is the desire for the best form of civil government, and the best expression of the religious life. I believe these things exist in America to-day. And one great reason is, that the world has been drawn upon for the ideas and suggestions which are here incorporated into our institutions. Just let me name seven prominent men in the early history of New York who represent the same number of nationalities, to illustrate. There is Schuyler of Holland, Herkimer of German, Jay of French, Livingston of Scotch, Clinton of Irish, Morris of Welsh, and Hoffman of Swedish descent. I do not think it is too much to say that we have the grandest civilization in the world. And such men as Herbert Spencer say we are to have the grandest civilization of the future because of our composite character. I agree with Herbert Spencer. But I think we are to have the grandest civilization of the future, because we are a republic, and because we are Puritan, and because we draw our Puritanism from the world. Gladstone says we have "the natural base for the grandest continuous empire ever established by man." Our natural base and our natural character, essentially Puritan, being maintained, the growth and the permanency of the Republic are assured. I say growth as well as permanency. For all good things possible to our Republic are neither yet secured nor perfected. The Puritan kindled the spark of liberty and he alone has preserved it. He is the natural opponent of despotism, vice, and corruption. He always has a high standard of public duty and private honor. He always feels bound to apply the maxims of religion to the ordinary conduct of life. Some have complained of his intolerancy, and have charged his intolerancy to his being Calvinistic and a Republican. To that it only needs to be said that Holland was both Calvinistic and a Republic, and she was not charged with being intolerant. The intolerance of the New England Puritan was not an essential feature. He was intolerant, but only in self defense. He was patriotic. He was law abiding. He may have erred in the rigor with which he observed the Sabbath, but he aspired to an ideal observance of the divine command. To him piety and patriotism became a seamless garment. Christ and Country to him were inseparable.
There would seem to have been something incongruous in this occasion if the founders of this town had not been Revolutionary soldiers. For a true Puritan was sure to be identified with every cause that represented righteousness and liberty. A Puritan soldier has always been a difficult one to encounter. Macaulay slurred the Puritan, but he pays the highest compliment to the Puritan soldier for bravery, for purity, and personal uprightness, that any soldier ever received. But as soldier, as citizen, and as Christian, the Puritan was always pre-eminent. You could not have a Puritan without a belief in God, and personal righteousness. He was a serious man. The Cavalier might be a man of fun and frolic, but the Puritan's sense of obligation to God and his fellows made him serious. To him life was both real and earnest. He believed in right and wrong. He made distinctions. To him right was always right, and wrong was always wrong. He felt that right should be rewarded and that wrong should be punished. He was a man of thought and a man of affairs. He judged for himself whether things were right or wrong. He had a biblical standard of excellence for life, manners, and government.
And while I am delineating the character of the Puritan in America, I am at the same time portraying the character of the founders of this town as I have learned it from pen and lip. These men whose names are cut in that granite block, beautifully illustrated in their life here, the essential features of the best Puritanism the world ever saw. Nathaniel Gray was the first Justice of the Peace appointed in the town. He was the patriarch of the settlers,--a man without an enemy-- burning and shining light in the church. He and Abraham Raymond were chosen deacons of the First Congregational Church of Sherburne, at the time of its organization in 1794. They were like David and Jonathan to each other. To the other settlers they were like Moses and Joshua, both as leaders, and in their personal influence over them. Who ever read of any community of men who bore more honorable relations to one another? They were never known to dispute a boundary line, when it was once fixed, nor did any of them ever have a legal dispute with one another. They bought of and sold to each other, allowing the buyer to measure and weigh the goods for himself. It was such men who laid the foundations of this town.
The American Puritan had no respect for persons. He knew no privileged classes. Therefore it is not Puritanism to regard a great thief as a great financier, and to give him court favors on that account. The Puritan believed something, and had the courage of his convictions. He formed his convictions on the Word of God. The first English martyrs were Puritans, and they never flinched one hair's breadth from their apprehension of the truth, nor made the first overture for release. The Puritan feared God. He feared no one else. Puritanism often meant individualism, because it was often needful for the Puritan to stand alone. Like trees, it makes men strong to stand alone. The Puritan had to think for himself. The King and the priest might think, and act too, for the Cavalier. But the Puritan was trained to think and act for himself. Such training would naturally lead to constitutional government. Such training prepares for Democratic institutions, for Republics and a representative form of church government. It is not at all strange that Bryce, member of Parliament though he is, should intimate in his American Commonwealth, that Great Britain has much to learn in the matter of government from America. As constitutional monarchies see the good things of our Republic they will ultimately appropriate them. As the nations of the earth are prepared for the change they will become Republican.
The Puritan was a public spirited man. As Jefferson has said, the core of our system of government is the town and the town government, and that means thought and more or less public spirit. A man in this land is educated to look about him and consider the public good. As a matter of fact the Puritan has always extended his sympathies to that which lay beyond him. Whatever will uplift his own community, his own country, or the world, is germane to his thought. The Germans in their thirty years' war had no warmer sympathizers than the Puritans of New England, who ever remembered them in prayer. Benevolent institutions like schools and colleges, libraries, hospitals, asylums, whatever may uplift a self respecting community, spring from Puritanism as naturally as light flows from the sun. Such things are the natural fruit of Republics fostered by the essential features of Puritanism. A Puritan Republic means a general uplift into purer living and higher thinking. The principles of town life and that of a municipality are the same. What New York and Brooklyn, and all our large cities need and must have, is that their business shall be transacted as your town business is transacted, itemized and audited, and they themselves governed in broad daylight, and not under a blanket. It is not Puritanical to be ruled by monopolies or by corrupt corporations, or corrupt politicians. The Puritan is never too indifferent or too indolent to oppose such foes of the public good. One Puritan will chase a thousand Cavaliers, and two will put ten thousand to ignominious flight. The Puritan was a practical man. He knew what he wanted, and he got what he went after. That there were faults in the Puritan system is only to say that it was human. But it has given us the best government, and the most noble and unselfish men the sun shines upon. After a hundred years of experiment we are prepared to say that the places where life is safest, and richest in all good things, where civilization is highest, where liberty is most prized and most tenderly cherished, where woman is most honored;----these places are the places where the essential features of Puritanism have been most displayed. The logical connection of these facts with the growth and permanency of the Republic ought to be apparent to the most casual observer. A king who is a bad man makes a bad ruler. The people in a Republic are the king. If the people are bad the government must be bad. The better the people the better the government. The worse the people the worse the government. Good government must mean equality in treatment, and no favoritism to anybody. Every city and town in our land, cursed by misrule, dishonesty, degradation and ignorance, needs nothing so much as these essential features of Puritanism. Slavery went down before this Puritan idea, and every evil thing our social fabric contains inimical to its welfare, whether it lies in the wrong use of individual or corporate wealth, in depraved appetite, or inordinate lust, or in the wicked use of power, these must all go down before the essential features of Puritanism. Good laws and good government to-day wherever found, are the outcome of these principles. Brave, pure, unselfish men the world over are seeking the good of mankind by these well tried principles.
The Puritans were not popular in their day. The Puritans of France were the Huguenots, and France murdered them by the tens of thousands, and exiled them by the hundreds of thousands. The statue of Coligny recently unveiled in her splendid capital is but a tardy apology for her crime. At least 50,000 of the Puritans of Holland, including William of Orange, who so much resembled our Lincoln, both in character and in the manner of his death, were slaughtered by the Spanish Inquisition. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. The blood of such Puritans was the seed of a more perfect expression of the institutions for which they died. America is the best representation in the world, to-day, of these institutions, because she has received into her body politic the best Puritan blood of the world. The highest happiness of man, as well as the growth and elevation of man, will lie in the future as in the past, along the lines of these essential features of Puritanism, and if the institutions of America are to expand and be permanent, they must be essentially Puritan.
Two piles of granite to-day grace this beautiful green. The one, bears the names of the fathers; the other, bears the names of the sons; the one, bears the names of the founders; the other, bears the names of the defenders of our country. Placed adjacent to each other, so fittingly, upon your beautiful commons, both alike witness to the same Puritan feature, and declare that the names they bear are both alike, safe
O'er this broad continent there broods on waiting wings,|
This hour the angel of the centuries, who sings
In numbers high as heaven, of by-gone years---
Aflame with minstrelsy the listening world now hears.
In harmony coincident, we celebrate the birth|
Of Sherburne. For us no other spot on earth
Can such rich treasures of the past possess,
Of what is found in man, earth-born, true nobleness.
Offspring of the century, born 'mid these hills and vales,|
From homes remote in this wide land, to-day we meet to raise
A monument to kindred sires, for whom there e'er prevails
A hallow'd wealth of sentiment that coins our words of praise.
From this grand line of ancestors in Sherburne's envied past,|
An heritage of glory comes, we hold with natal pride!
All hail! To those exalted ones, from first unto the last!
All hail! To each, we proudly say! Of heaven we're justified.
But what are these surroundings here, which meet our wondering eyes,|
Wherever we may turn to look, if north, or south, or west?
Or to the cloudless orient, they fill us with surprise
To see what is,---recall what was,---the archives tell the rest.
Bring out the records,---call the roll, for list'ning far and near,|
The fields and groves, and every knoll, are waiting now to hear
Familiar names read o'er again, from out the buried past,
Which thrill the hearts of living men who here their homage cast.
Lathrop, Raymond, Hatch and Gray,|
Gifford, Newton, Hubbard, Green,
Avery, Northrop, Farrell, Day,
Ben-e-dict, and Valentine;
Elmore, Austin, Gardiner, Lee,
Foote, Clark Pratt, Purdy, Reese;
Whitney, Hibbard, and we see
The names here listed still increase.
Lyon, Rynex, Ladd, and Mead,
Dixon, Thompson, Talcott, Dwight,
Rexford, Sanford, Lynde,--indeed,
The roll must close with Holmes and White,
Although the record still goes on
With names as worthy of recall;
For time forbids us to prolong
The list-too great to mention all.
These names are not for measure formed, buy synonyms of worth,|
And each a sterling man adorned, who lived to bless the earth.
Among them, not a man was found but formed of "Just the stuff"
That helped to make the country free, and Britain cry "Enough!"
One of the stalwart list 'tis said, a boy when he began,|
The British fought for seven years, while growing up to man;
And when at last in Yorktown siege, the redoubt works were scaled,
The first were he to enter in! His name shall now be hailed.
"Twas Newcomb Raymond, full well known to be both good and true,|
And wise as most men often are, yet one thing never knew;
And that was when the orders came for his retreat,
He faced about, and forward marched, and never knew defeat.
He heard no voice but duty's, and however by it tasked,|
'Twas done at once, and squarely, without a question asked.
And such was every man of those who broke old Sherburne's sod,
The glory of his country, an honor to his God.
This world was made for just such men to have and enter in,|
Where briars and thorns, fierce winds and storms, had come from mortal sin,
The seeds of which the fall had sown, and rode the blasts that hurled
Them right, and left, and up, and down, from Eden 'round the world.
But where's the forest once so dark,|
Through which yon river flowed?
The echoes of the woodman's axe?
The fires that once there glowed?
The shadowed, fern-hedged silent path,
That wound o'er hill and dale,
Along which once the red-men strode,
They called " the hunter's trail?"
Of which we've heard in prose and verse,
Strange tales of wolves, and bears;
Wildcats, panthers, lynx, yes worse,
Their screams from night-hid lairs.
The mountain heights, the ocean depths, the track of stars and sun;|
The course of all things here below, like the river to the sea,
Deep-carved doth leave the truth engraved, till time's long race is run,
That change is moulding all that is, and all that yet shall be.
O, change! Eternal change, persistent e'er since time began;|
In mystery, in silence, by infinite endeavor,
Thou has bordered, canopied, and hedged the path of man,
And on through all the ages wilt shape it still forever.
Our ancestors were factors by which these changes came,|
And left to us examples high, of what may still be done
In other spheres of enterprise, with sacrifice the same,
And triumphs just as laudable, when victory is won.
Thus laid they here foundations good and broad, and strong and deep,|
As those beneath the buttressed hills, in which their ashes sleep.
And everything they builded, stood, a fortress on a rock,
And time has proved it "very good," as we will by this block
With which our homage now is paid,--the most that we can do,
And with it here to-day is laid a tribute long their due.
Sherburne, the ripened fruitage|
Of a severed, drifting spray,
Of that exotic flower
That took its name from May;
At length through patient toilings
Of those who wrought alone,
To-day becomes immortal,
By the planting of this stone,
Which hence shall be a record
Of each justly honored name
Retained within the archives
Or on the faded listings
Of poll-tax, church or school,
The last of which no instance gives
Of one from dunce's stool.
Hurrah! We shout together, for the bravest and the good!|
The mothers and the daughters, with the fathers and the sons,
Who cut their way from Litchfield straight through the brush and wood,
While the former as brave-hearted, kept ready charged the guns;
For savage beasts around them, and foes on every side,|
Alert with hate and hunger, and treacherous as sin,--
Who mutely dogged their progress as Indians do, and hide,
To wait for midnight darkness, their scalpings to begin!
They left their way behind them across the bridgeless streams,|
Illumined by their courage, as now by arc-light gleams,
And early felled the forests, built houses, barns, and field,
And soon the upturned acres their garnered fruits did yield.
Their homeful, rugged dwellings, like Jonah's wondrous gourd,|
At once to full proportions grew, without sawn joice, or board;
The walls of logs and chinkings, by native clay made tight;
The roof of "shakes" log holden, oiled paper for their light;
Mud-plastered sticks for chimneys, a fireplace built of stone;--
The rest hewn out of puncheons,--a crane, and all was done.
Each dwelling represented, a school, a church, a court,|
Where ignorance a sin was judged, and sentenced, a-la-forte;
And soon a fact the natives learned;--they saw their coming fate;
If whitemen's honor failed to bring their trust, it scorned their hate.
No time was lost to learning. The best of common schools,|
At once were set in order, under well appointed rules,
From Litchfield fresh imported, the germs of those which now
Still guide our latest teachers, who to them wisely bow.
Since then, what strides of learning! Before the fact we pause|
In the silence of astonishment, yet not of doubt,--because
In every section of the land, wherever we may turn,
Scarce second to the spires we love, that make our hearts to burn,
Behold the stately structures rise, for education given,
That onward, upward, multiply,--thank God, by Rome unriven.
Away the cunning craft of Popes, in tactics dark and dire,|
That stealthily, is striving hard, to kindle smokeless fire
Beneath our noblest free school cause, built wisely, justly, well;
On broadest stones of righteous laws. Why burn it? Who will tell?
Except that knowledge freely had, Rome's blinded slaves set free,|
And spurns her power, however mad, both here, and o'er the sea.
America, so prosperous grown, an evil eye ne'er spares
This foe, her fields at night has sown with seeds of deadly tares.
Eternal watching, hour by hour, alone our country saves|
From ruin, by this sleepless power, that would of us make slaves;
Yet better things we fondly hope, because we know our foe,
In time with it to grimly cope, before its final blow.
Our ship of state, each angry storm, across her steady way,|
Has stanchly rode untouched by harm, without an hour's delay
To her grand purpose, sailed for man, o'er waves of pregnant time;--
A voyage, we trust of Heaven's own plan,--a mission vast,--sublime.
No nation hence have we to fear, with all its powers of death;|
But, mutters from the poor we hear, yet breathed in lowest breath,
Against a king, who lifts his head, the foe of labor old;
Who dares with insolence to tread this land! His name is Gold.
Awake! O countrymen, awake, before his fatal chains|
Have bound you fast, when he will take your all till naught remains
But servitude to lordly greed, like that of older lands,
Which gives no ear to human need, while binding feet and hands.
'Tis your last hour to use the power of freemen to be free!
Your fathers fought to leave their dower of equal rights to liberty.
Not yet the battle quite with swords, for ballots still are yours,|
And bullets they, your powder words, while coolest aim assures
The victory, because your guns are ten to one of theirs,
And right with numbers, never runs, when men are born her heirs.
Right sure I am no Sherburne son, will ask for this digression|
Agologies; nor mutely hold the thought that some concession,
Should, hat in hand, creep through these lines, for speaking of the dangers
Which rim the sky for by and by, with clouds to us yet strangers.
The darkest one that ever rose,|
Concealed behind, a light
For those whose faith rests in repose,
Whose hope is anchored right,
And firmly planted on the rock,
Our fathers laid before;
It, greed nor Gold, nor any power,
Shall crush forevermore!
Platooned amid Columbia's hosts,
We, Sherburne sons will stand,
A cordon firm as granite posts,
Around our father-land;
Till enemies, to friends have turned,
And all the world confessed
That since our fathers freedom earned,
None other is so blessed.
This province where our friends are laid, is halo'd by the fact|
At every line of progress reached, by thought as well as act.
It represented well has been, by women, and by men
Who took the front by right within each honored place: Amen!
Surprised,--aghast with wonder, at the change which has been wrought,|
By one completed century, and by the cycle brought,--
We are reverently asking what another such shall bring,
From the noontide, and the gloaming, of Time's extended wing.
Events are swiftly coming, casting shadows on the sky,
That fix the gaze of millions who cannot answer shy
The mystic light is holding them, half paralyzed with awe,
While persistently affirming, "All comes by changeless law."
The Mighty God no statue is! He is the law itself!
Himself revealed in changes, as he declares Himself!
He bids us finite mortals, to unquestioning believe
Whatever He declareth, and thus His truth receive.
His infinitudes mysterious, we cannot understand;
But if sincerely willing, we may his plain command;
As did those Christian ancestors, good Sherburne's righteous dead,
Who lived by faith unswerving, in all that God has said;
And left a hallowed atmosphere, still resting on this place,
Like incense of the Holiest, in the Temple of His Grace.
In the days of small beginnings, when America was young,
And potent possibilities were yet undreamed,--unsung.
The lines of full possession had scarce the mountains crossed,
But, in their rocky fastnesses indefinite were lost,
Till the coming generation was born, and grown,--inspired
For the conflict of subjection of further lands acquired,
Whose conquests need not telling;--the world has known them long:--
Too great in moral fruitfulness, for minstrelsy, or song.
Suffice to say that Sherburne, in America's expanse|
Has never been recalcitrant, but always in advance,
Be the conflict with the forests, the mountains, or the plains,
The natives, or rebellion; her victories remain.
All hail once more our noble sires! All hail cries every son!|
We glory in our heritage by you so grandly won!
In this memorial shaft here placed, we pledge with joyous tears,
To follow you, while still we live, in the coming Hundred Years!
In the absence of the Poet, Dr. Philo L. Hatch, who was unable to be present, Miss Elizabeth Lathrop, a daughter of Mr. Henry Lathrop of Sherburne, and great-grand-daughter of John and Prudence Hatch Lathrop, who were of the earliest settlers, and kindred of the writer of the poem, was invited to read it. It proved to be an admirable selection, that gifted young lady being fully equal to the occasion.