A SKETCH OF THE PROCEEDINGS

 

AT THE

 

CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY

 

OF THE

 

CHURCH AND TOWN OF NEWFANE,

 

JULY 4, 1874.

 

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The morning broke with a slight fog, which soon gathered into light, fleecy clouds, leaving the day bright and beautiful with a clear, bracing air. The committee who had the matter in charge, met early at the court house, in front of which an ample stage had previously been erected for the occasion, and completed its final arrangements and decorations. Within the portico, upon the walls of the house, were hung several portraits of the early settlers and their direct descendants ; that of Mrs. Moses Kenney being the most ancient. The Newton and Kimball family were among the number represented.

Suspended over the center of the back of the stage, between the two central pillars of the portico, was the folュlowing motto in large letters, covered and beautifully trimmed with evergreen: "One generation passeth away and another cometh." On the stage was a table covered with ancient relics. The speaker's table and chair were in the front center, while the officers of the day and invited guests were to occupy the seats back and to the right of the speaker, those on the left being reserved for the choir. In front of the stage was the following motto ; "Our fathers, where are they?"

Having thus briefly sketched the arrangements of the platform, we will now proceed to note the various signs of joy and glad tidings in the street. Coming from the south,

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the eye of the visitor met with mottoes and signs of a public welcome in front of the residence of A. J. Morse, president of the day; this is the first house on the left as you enter the village, and was originally built by Gen. Leavitt. Again were signs of public rejoicing displayed in front of the residence of the late Gen. Field, now occupied by S. P. Morse. The emblem presented by these gentleュmen was the coat of arms of the ancient Morse family, and their motto : "I trust in God, not in arms." Suspended across Main street, just north of the center of the common, between the two tallest elms, was the American flag, with the following motto in large letters across its tower edge: "Welcome."

Suspended between A. Birchard's house and store was a motto in these words: "Welcome, we greet you." In front of the residence of the Rev. Chas. Burnham, Parson Tayュlor's present successor, the building that once served as Windham County jail on Fane hill, the eye of the visitor met with all the signs of a generous public welcome, and the following motto ; "Our country, our state, our home." This house having a public and historic character, it is proper that we should note explicitly its present location. It stands upon the south side of the common, the first house west of what was once the Union church, now remodeled and called Union Hall.

Having thus noted the various arrangements for the reception and welcome of the public, it becomes our duty to narrate the several transactions of the day, in the order in which they occurred. Between nine and ten o'clock, the singers from the several parts of the town, who were to form the choir for the occasion, in accordance with their previous arrangements, began to assemble at the residence of Mrs. Sarah Cook and her son-in-law, Mr. O. T. Ware, near the bridge south of the village, and opposite the mill yard, for the purpose of donning their ancient costumes. The necessary changes were completed without delay, and by ten o'clock all were in readiness to proceed to the school house, the point where the procession was to form. Here they met the various other ancient and modern memュbers of the procession, some on foot and some on horse‑

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back ; the whole fully and completely representing the beginning and end of the century. After encountering the delays always incident to such large public gatherings, the procession was finally formed in the order named in the programme, with a single exception, as follows: R. M. Gould, and J. Cutler, with the Fisher brothers of Worcester, Mass., and their wives returned upon this memorable day to their native town, with coach and four, and brought with them their Hon. friends the Ex-Mayor Clark Jilson, of Worcester, a native of Whitingham, Vt., and Mr. Earle, one of the city sheriffs. They came with flags, and banners, and horses gaily decked and caparisoned for the occasion. They, in company with the Hon. C. K. Field, were given a position next to the band.

At a quarter before eleven the order, "Forward march," was given by Col. A. B. Franklin, and the procession, closely pressed on all sides by the crowd, moved up the street to the foot of the common ; thence to the right, past the residence of H. Rice to the front of the jail; thence to the left, past the residence of Birchard, the Fayetteュville hotel, and the residence of S. F. Whitney, to the dwelling house of the late Gen. P. T. Kimball ; thence down past the Congregational church, to the residence of the Rev. Mr. Burnham ; thence to the left again, past Union Hall, to a point near the center of the common ; thence direct to the stand in front of the court house, where the Rev. Mr. Burnham opened the exercises with a solemn and impressive prayer. The president of the day followed with a short address of welcome ; then arose ye ancient choir and rendered, "Auld Lang Syne," in a manner that showed that time had shorn that grand old tune of none of its harmony, power or pathos. The choir was composed of the following named persons: Dea. John Goodnow, Capt. Joshua Morse, both men past three score and ten, O. E. Franklin, S. P. Miller, William T. Bruce, Geo. W. Redfield, F. O. Burditt, D. A. Dickinson, Mrs. D. A. Dickinson, Mrs. D. D. Dickinson, Mrs. Samuel Morse, Miss Fanny Morse, Mrs. S. F. Whitney, Mrs. W. J. Tutュhill, Mrs. F. O. Burditt, Mrs. H. H. Smith.

The Brattleboro cornet band, one of the leading musical

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organizations of its kind in the state, in which Newfane was represented by the Higgins brothers, occupying a position upon the ground, just at the left of the choir, immediately upon the close of "Auld Lang Syne," struck up one of their soul-stirring airs in a manner that touched the musical chord in the soul of all the vast audience, which was composed of people not only from all parts of the town, county, and state, but the union, many a son and daughter of Fane having returned from various states in the Union to enjoy this occasion. It was one of the largest public gatherings ever held in town, estimated by many to be at least three thousand people.

Mr. Field's address occupied about an hour in its delivery. Long before its close his voice failed him and he was obliged to hand over his MS. to his friend Col. K. Hasュkins, who finished its reading in a round, full voice, and a highly acceptable manner ; upon its close the choir sang "Ode to Science," and the band followed with a stirring air; thus closed the exercises of the forenoon.

 

EXERCISES OF THE AFTERNOON.

 

Re-assembling at a little past two o'clock the choir and band opened the exercises as per order of the programme. The president then announced that voluntary remarks from any one were in order, but as no one seemed disposed to accept the imitation, the toast master, Rev. Mr. Burnham, came forward with his sentiments, which soon met with hearty and cheery responses, from those to whom they were directed. Not having a short hand reporter present, we have been able to give in the foregoing pages only the few answers prepared for the occasion. Eldest among the venerable ones present upon this memorable day was Mrs. Reba Holland, hale and healthy in body and mind, at the advanced age of fourscore and ten. Eighty years of her life having been spent in this town and its immediate vicinity. Her father coming from Massachusetts when she was ten years old, moved his family into an open log pen,

 

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without either floor, roof, or door, built upon the hill, to the west and opposite of the then Hazleton meadows, now owned and occupied by the Franklin brothers and their mother.

Among the others of this patriarchal circle, was Mr. Artemas Eddy, aged eighty-seven, and Mrs. Brown, and the Hon. Austin Birchard, both octogenarian residents of the town. The venerable Judge Keyes, of Brattleboro, who laid the foundation in his early practice on Fane hill for that legal lore that in his palmy days gave him the reputaュtion of being the best read lawyer in Windham County, was to he seen with his long silver locks, bleached by eighty-seven summers, moving about with that short, shuffling step that all men knew was judge Keyes'.

Prominent among the active men of political and judicial fame was the Hon. Ex-Judge Aldis of the Supreme Court of Vermont, now U. S. Consul to Nice, Italy.

Present upon the stage were the Hon. Judges, James Barrett and H. H. Wheeler, of our State Supreme Court; the Hon. Ex-Mayor C. Jilson and sheriffs Gould and Earle of Worcester, Mass; the Hon. C. N. Davenport, Col. K. Haskins, Col. S. M. Waite and the Rev. Mr. Grout, of Brattleboro ; the venerable Austin Birchard, and various members of the centennial committee, with some of the direct descendants of the three original pioneers of the town.

Very soon upon the opening of the afternoon exercises, it became evident that a portion of the matter prepared and intended for the occasion, must necessarily be omitted for the want of time. Accordingly, Mr. Green withheld the letters and facts in his possession, but in this work they occupy the position, as matters of history, that they were to have occupied in the proceedings of that day.

Upon the close of the toasts and their responses, Mrs. Wm. A. Stedman, wife of a grandson of the original pioneer, Nathaniel, came forward clad in ancient costume, and commenced the reading of an original poem, written for the occasion ; but ere she began dark lowering clouds gathered overhead, and while the half had not been told, the heavy drops began to fall, and the people were com‑

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pelled to seek shelter wherever it could be found. By special request the court house was opened and Mrs. Stedman invited to go in and finish the reading of her poem. The house was soon filled to its utmost capacity and Mrs. Stedman was requested to commence and re-read her article entire; which she did in a manner that would have done credit to any professional reader. Following it were speeches from various individuals, among whom were Jilson, Gould and Earle, the latter of whom, a Massachusetts man, seemed intent upon cracking sharp jokes on his friends Gould and Jilson.

The closing words of the day, from the Rev. Mr. Olmstead of Townshend, Rev. Mr. Grout of Brattleboro, and various other gentlemen, were earnest appeals to the townspeople to see to it that the history of the town and its centennial celebration should be published; and now, after a delay of two years, a committee has finally been chosen and authorized by a vote of the town to write out and publish the work.

 

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DECORATION OF THE CHURCH, JULY 5.

 

The church was beautifully decorated with evergreens. Upon the end of the church, directly behind the pulpit, was placed a large evergreen cross. Upon the left side of the cross and under the transverse piece was the date 1774, and "Taylor," the name of the first pastor ; on the right side was 1874 and "Burnham," the name of the present minister. Above the cross, in large letters, was the sentence: "Holiness becometh thy house, O Lord, forever." Against the front of the pulpit was another evergreen cross, beautifully ornaュmented with flowers. Charming vases of flowers adorned the pulpit and the table in front of the pulpit. In front of the choir was this sentence : "Praise God in his sanctuary." A large evergreen wreath and cross adorned the windows,

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and the chandelier was appropriately and neatly adorned. The Sabbath was a beautiful day, and the sanctuary was thronged with multitudes from abroad, who had returned on this joyful occasion to mingle their prayers and praises with the residents of the place, in the House of the Lord.

The choir opened the exercises of the day by singing "Old Denmark:"

 

"Before Jehovah's awful throne,"

 

The introductory exercises were conducted by the Rev. Lewis Grout, of West Brattleboro, who was a native of this town. The 48th Psalm was read, prayer offered, and the hymn:

 

" How pleased and blessed was I,

To hear the people cry," etc.,

 

was sung to "Dalston."

Sermon.

The morning service was concluded by singing the hymn:

 

"I love thy church, O God," etc.

 

It was sung in the old fashioned way, by reading two lines, then singing them, and reading two more, and so on.

As a fitting conclusion of the services of the day, though not a memorial service, the Rev. Mr. Burnham preached from these words: "Show thyself a man," I Kings, ii : 2.