One of the amazing things about following the roots of our ancestors
is learning, as closely as possible, what it was live to more than 128
years ago. What was it like to live in the 1800s? Many of these families
were farmers and what was their daily life like, what did they do for entertainment
100-200 years ago? Perhaps the following will offer the reader a peek into
July 4th 1877.
Josiah Josselyn Jr. followed
in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, as well as ancestors that
spanned a time frame since Charlemagne. Josiah Jr. worked and toiled to
help create a town he could be proud of, just as his father before him.
He came to Vermont from
Pembroke, Massachusetts with his parents, brothers, Lewis, and Robert,
and sister Ruth when he was sixteen. Josiah Sr. bought land from Josiah
Crocker and built a large farm and raised his family.
Josiah Jr. married Ann
Topliff in 1825, and they purchased land on Route 100 in Bridgewater, and
in 1840 they built their home, which is now the Mennonite Church.
The Grange No. 168 was organized in 1874, and on January 5, 1875,
Calvin T. Josselyn (Josiah’s oldest son) was installed as Master. Josiah
believed that the town needed a building large enough to accommodate town
meetings and other town activities, so in 1876 he had the grange hall built,
which was said to “be one of the finest in Vermont.” It is located on the
south bank of the Ottaquechee River, near the covered bridge that crosses
the river at the place just down the road from the Josselyn homestead.
The building was dedicated on December 9, 1875.
The following outlines
one day in the lives of our ancestors in 1877. The following was taken
from the book Bridgewater, VT 1779-1976. by Gladys S. Adams.
On July 4, 1877 a basket
picnic to celebrate the National Anniversary was held at Bridgewater Corners
under the auspices of the Bridgewater Grange. Seats to accommodate 1,000
people were arranged between Josselyn Hall and the residence of Josiah
Josselyn Jr. The speakers were seated on the piazza of the Josselyn house,
and the band was arranged on the lawn in front of the speakers. The day
was ushered in by the firing of the cannon followed by a variety activities
throughout the day.
A cavalcade of 25 horses,
organized and lead by Jonathan P. Lewis, proceeded between 8 and 9
o’clock, to the lower end of the village over to the Woodstock line and
escorted by the Woodstock Brass Band, Dr. George W. Colton, leader,
to the front lawn at the home of Josiah and Ann Josselyn, The movement
of the cavalcade of horses would have done credit to trained horses, being
caparisoned, with flags to each horse, the effect was very fine in the
After a prayer by Rev.
M. Armstrong of Bridgewater, Josiah read the Declaration of Independence,
and this was followed by and oration by Re Eli Ballou. The band played
and recess was taken for dinner.
On reassembly, the band,
playing a National Air, escorted from the hall 38 young ladies dressed
in white with red and blue trimmings that represented each of the states
of the Union, to an arch trimmed with evergreens near the stand, where
Isaiah Fullterton, representing Uncle Sam waited. The ladies wore a semi-crown
representing each state and one representing Vermont delivered an address
to Uncle Sam. He promised love and fidelity to government and country
and the latter his fatherly protection.
Josselyn, Marshall of the Day, presented the following toasts:
day we celebrate-response by W. C. Abbott,
the band played Yankee Doodle.”
country” response by S. S. Barrows-Band-
the Star Spangled
E. W. Goddard-choir- Shout Out Our Banner”
complimented and recognized
To the “Tillers
of the Soil” -Josiah Josselyn-
Hand That Holds the Bread”
Mechanics and Manufacturers” B.F. Soutgate-Band
To The Grange-J.
E. Sawyer-choir--“Rally to the Grange”
-- H. M. Walker-Band
Josselyn was Josiah’s son. Lewis later left Vermont
to Boston where he worked as a journalist,
the editor of “Josselyn’s Daily News”
Women -- D. G. Spaulding-Choir
children” Chester Capron- Music
Bugbee gave a toast to Josiah Josselyn who had built the hall,
gave a toast to Uncle Sam and his 38 children.”
included a large delegation from the South Woodstock Grange.
of the national salute at sundown closed the celebration.
photographs of Josiah Josselyn Jr.