BY JOHN L. PERRY, ESQ.
LEICESTER extends 6 miles east to west, and about 3½ miles north to south. Middlebury and Brandon were laid out prior to Leicester and Salisbury, and the charter for these towns was intended to cover the territory between Middlebury and Brandon; but when the survey was made, it was found there was not land enough on which to locate both towns.
After a long controversy between the proprietors, the line was run and established by a joint commission, consisting of members from each town.
The charter of the town is supposed to have been granted in 1761, and the first inhabitants settled as early as 1774. Jer. Parker and Sam'l Daniels, from Massachusetts, were the first settlers who moved their families into Leicester. They had, two or three summers previous to their moving, worked on their land, and returned to their families in the fall. A son of Jer. Parker is said to have remained on his land alone during the winter, for the purpose of feeding his cattle, with no person nearer than Middlebury and Pittsford.
Jer. Parker and his son were taken by the Indians during the Revolutionary war. The son was carried to Crown Point; but the father being very deaf, was released. The family returned to Massachusetts, where they remained until after the war.
Chloe Parker, now the wife of Capt. Eben'r Jenney, and daughter of Jer. Parker, above named, is said to be the first white child born in town, (March 2, 1777.)
Sam'l Daniels was killed in a skirmish with the Indians in Shelburn.
The town was rapidly settled after the close of the war, and organized in March, 1786.
Eben'r Child was the first town clerk, — John Smith the first representative.
There has been no church organized here, except the Methodist, by a preacher by the name of Mitchel, who came into town about the year 1800.
A brick church was completed in 1829, erected by an association called the Leicester Meeting-House Society.
The first physician in town, Dr. Elkanah Cook,
was a self-taught botanic physician, much esteemed as an upright man, and skilful practitioner, by the early inhabitants of Leicester and the adjoining towns. He was a stout, resolute man, with but little education, but possessed a sound judgment, and exercised considerable skill in bone-setting, and other surgical operations.
There being no roads, he would take a pine torch and travel through the woods to visit the sick at all hours in the night, often the distance of 6 or 8 miles; and no stormy weather ever hindered him. Such hardships, however, destroyed his health. He died Aug. 27, 1815, aged 77; but appeared much older.
Prudence Barker, widow of John Barker, one of the earliest settlers, died Dec. 5, 1846, aged 99 years and 9 months. She was the oldest person who has died in Leicester.
Aaron Esty, another of the first settlers, died July 31, 1844, aged 98 years and 6 months. Thirza Robbins, widow of Moses Robbins, one of the early settlers, is now in her 93d year, and retains her mental faculties remarkably. She is the eldest inhabitant in the town
There are ten persons now living in town, over 80. The population is supposed to be about 600.
The soil of the town is fertile, and well adapted to agriculture, which has been the business of the inhabitants since the first settlement. There being no water-power, or mechanical establishment, the people are dependent upon Salisbury and Brandon for those conveniences.
The Rutland and Burlington Railroad crosses the town near the west end, and the (miscalled) Whiting depot is in this town. And we have a daily mail.
There is a mine of iron ore in the east part of the town, which has been extensively worked by the Forestdale Iron Company in Brandon, and large quantities of excellent stone lime are burned annually near the depot, and sent by railroad to New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and other places.
The town of Leicester has always maintained its equal standing with other agricultural towns is the State; and has furnished its fair proportion of men of talents suitable for legislation, the bench, the pulpit, and the bar.
HON. HENRY OLIN.
BY REV. BERNICE DARWIN AMES, A. M — FORMERLY OF LEICESTER, NOW METHODIST CLERGYMAN AT BRANDON.
HENRY OLIN was born in Shaftsbury, May 7, 1768. He was a son of Justice Olin. His mother's maiden name was Sarah Dwinnell. His father, as well as his grandfather, Henry, was a native of Rhode Island, in which State, at East Greenwich, his great-grandfather, John Olin, the first ancestor of the name in America, settled in 1678. Hon. Gideon Olin, of Shaftsbury, was an uncle of the subject of this sketch.
Judge Olin settled in Leicester about the year 1788. His parents followed some years later, and ended their days in Leicester. His early literary advantages were but moderate. On account of his unwieldly size and awkward manners, the people of his adopted town were not at first much prepossessed in his favor. But his native wit, shrewdness, and sound sense soon rendered him a general favorite. He was chosen a member of the Legislature in 1799, and was 21 times re-elected. He was first chosen an Assistant Judge of the County Court in 1801, which office he held 8, and that of Chief Judge 15 years, making 23 years of uninterrupted service upon the bench. He was chosen a State Councillor in 1820, and '21, a member of Congress in '24, to complete the unexpired term of Hon. Charles Rich, deceased, and 3 consecutive years, from 1827, Lieut. Governor of the State. His popularity at home rose so high, that at one election he had nearly the unanimous vote of his fellow townsmen for Governor. In politics he was a Jeffersonian Democrat, and a modern Whig, and in religion a zealous Methodist.
He removed to Salisbury in the spring of 1837, and died there on the 18th of' August following. His ashes repose in the graveyard in the town in which he spent most of his life, and in whose affairs he bore a far more conspicuous part than any other man has ever done. His father, mother, and first wife are all interred near him.
Judge Olin was twice married, first in 1788, to Lois Richardson, one of a family of 12 children, who all lived to mature age, and were all members of a Baptist church, in the east part of Cheshire, Mass. By her he had 9 children, — 2 sons and 7 daughters — who reached mature age, and 2 sons who died in infancy. Among the former were the celebrated Dr. Stephen Olin, and Mrs. Moses Wright, mother of Rev. Moses Emory Wright, who was born and reared in Leicester, graduated at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Ct., in 1853, and is now a minister in the N. E. Conference of the M. E. Church. Judge Olin's second wife was a widow Barnum, whose maiden name was Polly Sanford. She still survives.
In his physical proportions, the Judge was almost gigantic. He was the oracle of the community, and his conversation the charm of any company in which he happened to be. "When passing a neighbor's house of a summer's day," says a fellow townsman, "he would stop in the street, or under some convenient shade, his wagon, which would at once be surrounded by the family, men, women, and children, and, without alighting, he would tell them a few favorite stories, and pass on. Many a man has thus been beguiled of his day's work; many a woman has suffered her nearly cooked dinner to spoil, and many a child forgotten its playthings. While his hearers were bursting with roars of laughter, the Judge would remain composed, and apparently asleep; but as the laughter began to subside in others, it began to operate in himself.
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There would be an opening of the eyes, broad, beaming with fun, then an internal shaking of the body by two or three loug-suppressed convulsions, which did not move the muscles of his face, and the matter ended.
He was likewise possessed of a retentive memory, which enabled him, by reading and observation, to repair many of the deficiencies of his early education, of a clear perception of right, an ardent love of justice, and unbending rectitude, — qualities which account for the esteem in which he was held as a judge and legislator. He was a man of strict morality, and very useful as a peacemaker among his neighbors, thus preventing many a petty lawsuit and neighborhood quarrel, of which he had great abhorrence.
STEPHEN OLIN, D. D., LL. D.,
born in Leicester, March 3, 1797, was, in physical proportions, one of the grandest types of the human kind; a man of the kindliest feelings, — constant in friendship, and of the noblest impulses. Like his father, while the grandeur of his intellect commanded respect, his wit and good humor made him a universal favorite. He was one of our deep, original thinkers, possessing wonderful powers of description and analysis, an able speaker, and ready writer. His mind, like Webster's, was ever equal to the occasion, and might be compared, in the language of the eloquent Hilliard, to a mighty stream, the transparency of which concealed its deph, and its depth concealed its mighty flow.
Mr. Olin graduated at Middlebury College in 1820, where he had distinguished himself for ripe scholarship, and has ever since been regarded as one of the brightest lights that ever emanated from that institution of learning. The valedictory oration had been assigned to him, but sickness prevented his performing that honorable part.
After recovering from this illness he removed South, where he labored successfully as a teacher. He had designed to make the law his profession, in keeping with his father's desire, who saw unmistakable evidence, in his son's character and ability, that success in that field would crown his efforts. But becoming imbued with the principles of Methodism, which appealed more forcibly to his sense of duty to God and to man, he turned his great powers into a channel which brought him into high sympathy with the nobler attributes of man, and won for him undying fame.
In 1824 he joined the South Carolina Conference, was admitted into the travelling ministry, and stationed at Charleston. As a preacher, earnest, faithful, and sincere, possessing in a wonderful degree that power which causes the hearer to feel what is said, his pulpit efforts were like the overwhelming rush of a mighty Niagara, — the manifestation of a conscious power which knew no bounds.
In 1826 he was elected professor of belles-lettres in Franklin College, Georgia; in 1828, ordained an elder in the Methodist Episcopal Church; in 1832, elected president of the Randolph Macon College, and in 1834 the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him by three colleges, and LL. D. by Yale College in 1845. In 1837, in consequence of feeble health, he journeyed to the old world, where he travelled several years; the results of which may be found in his published " Travels in the Holy Land."*
While absent, he was elected President of the Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn. On his return, in 1840, his health being still precarious, he resigned, but was reelected in 1842; and though in feeble health, continued laboring with great zeal for the cause of education and religion, till the 16th of August, 1851, when this great and good man paid the debt of nature, with the calm assurance that all would be well, — yea, more than well!
In a sketch of this kind, generalities only can be given, which can do nothing like justice to the character of such a man as Dr. Olin. Yet so well did he perform his part in life, so true was he to his highest sense of duty, his name will ever be associated with all that is noble and godlike. For further information concerning him, the reader is referred to the published works, and "Life and Letters of Dr. Olin," (from the pages of which the facts in this sketch are taken,) which best reveal the majesty of his talents and the purity of his soul.
A. E. STANLEY.
PARAGRAPHS FROM DR. OLIN.
CIRCUMSTANCE MODIFIES MIND.
THE human mind is as the thoughts with which it is chiefly conversant. It is very much the creature of its own ideas. The man who from early life has been familiar with topics and interests of great significance, is educated by them. His intellect takes its character and coloring from the ideas which habitually act upon it and dwell in it. Even the sights and sounds that engage his outward senses, — the beautiful landscape, or the sublime mountain scenery upon which he has long been accustomed to gaze, — the roar of the cataract which sends forth its thunder night and day near his dwelling-place, — will by-and-by be found to have filled the imagination and the memory with images and recollections, and with sentiment, which are likely to exert a strong and permanent influence upon his mental capacity, upon his character, and his destiny. Still more must every-day pursuits, and the profound interest that suggests the current topics of conversation and thought, and that imposes upon the mind its most stirring, strenuous employ-
*Travels in the East, 2 vols., numerous smaller works, and 2 vols. of his miscellaneous writings, have been published since his decease.
ments, leave upon it durable impressions, and become chief and influential conditions of its development and growth. If two individuals, equal in capacity and education, spend their lives in a great industrial establishment, the one us owner or superintendent, the other as a common laborer, the master is likely to become a man of decided ability, of comprehensive views, inventive genius, and sound judgment, while the operative makes no progress beyond the acquisition of some degree of skill in his own special department. The first has a variety of interests to consult, and responsibilities to meet; has questions to settle and decisions to make every day or hour, upon which are suspended results of no inconsiderable moment. This gives variety, multiplicity, and activity to his ideas, and the mind expands and acquires new vigor by such processes. The work of the subaltern, on the contrary, is mere routine, and his mind stagnates and dwindles amid the incessant, monotonous whirling of spindles and water-wheels.
That is likely to become the most powerful intellect which is most constantly and earnestly busied with great thoughts and great designs. . . . . . The mind wants an ample supply of worthy ideas to furnish it with interesting, productive occupation. With those it must make progress and attain development; but without them, never. This truth is important, not to students only, but to all who desire mental growth and discipline. It is especially important for those who labor at occupations little friendly to intellectual improvement. Such persons should seek a remedy for the disadvantage of their position by reading good books, which are the great storehouse of ideas and thoughts, and which offer a ready and sufficient resource.
GLIMPSES OF HIS DOMESTIC LIFE.
ATHENS, April 17, 1828.
. . . . . . As you make no allusion to the fact, I presume you have not heard of my being married. The event, interesting at least to me, took place in April, last year. I was married to Mary Ann Eliza Bostick, in Milledgeville, in this State. She is a native of Georgia. I supposed that even these small circumstances might have interest for you, derived from our long community of sentiment and views. I need not say anything of her who is the partner of my joys and ills, since a man is proverbially unfit to portray his wife, through a common weakness, from which I can plead no exemption.
FROM THE PREFACE TO HIS TRAVELS.
I remained more than a year in Paris, deriving no benefit from the best medical advice which that capital afforded, and hovering continually upon the borders of the grave. I was accompanied, however, by a beloved and honored wife, herself in the vigor and bloom of health, and every way fitted to be the minister of the richest earthly blessings which it has pleased God to confer upon me. Rarely endowed with the talent of doing good, and communicating happiness, and a bright example of the conjugal virtues, — patient, indefatigable, and inventive; full of cheerfulness, hope, courage, and faith, she was the angel of my sick-room, who watched by my restless pillow day and night during these dreary months, anticipating and satisfying the wants of my situation, with a skill and untiring assiduity which strong affection can alone inspire and sustain. It is not surprising, perhaps, that, under the divine blessing upon auspices so benign, I passed successfully through this trying crisis.
The ensuing autumn and the winter of 1838-'39 were spent in a visit to London, a journey through Belgium and France, and a residence of three months in Rome, all rendered doubly delightful by the sense of returning health, and by the presence and ardent and intelligent participation of one to whom I was so much indebted for this unspeakable blessing.
NAPLES, May 14, 1839.
I have lately been called to pass through a scene of deep overwhelming distress. God in his mysterious but righteous providence, has taken from me my beloved and honored wife, who expired in this city on the 7th inst. . . . . The night previous was one of great distress, and I thought her insensible to everything. At about 5 o'clock she opened her eyes, and looking at me for some time, she said, with tender concern, "My dear, you have been sitting by my bed the whole night." She seemed desirous that I should speak to her, though I had refrained from it on account of her weakness. It was apparent she was soon to depart, though I did not suppose her end was so near. I said to her that I thought she would die to-day. She said she thought so, too, and added, in answer to my inquiry as to the state of her mind, that she felt herself to be near the kingdom of heaven. These were her last words. Unable to speak, she yet gave a most interested attention and cordial assent to a number of passages from the Holy Scriptures, which I quoted for her consolation. She sat up in the bed as she had done throughout her illness, being unable to bear a recumbent posture, or even the support of pillows. She had inclined forward and rested upon my hand.
I repeated some lines to her from the beautiful hymn, beginning, —
"On Jordan's stormy banks I stand,"
lines which she had often sung to comfort me when apparently on the verge of eternity. I said, "O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory? " . . . I quoted that and many similar passages of Scripture which pressed upon my recollection with affluence, which, even at that dread moment, shed a ray of comfort on my breaking heart. She still gave
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tokens of attention and assent. The blessed words of Christ in his last prayer, before he was betrayed, were upon my lips: "Father, I will that they also whom thou hest given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me." "Yes, my dear," I said, "Christ wills that you should be with him where he is, to behold his glory, where are the Father and the spirits of just men made perfect." At that moment her head fell from my hand, and the last struggle began. She spoke no more, though she continued to breathe till near 10 o'clock, A. M.
A PILGRIM'S THANKSGIVING.*
LONE, devious wastes and wilds I tried,—
The arid plain, — the mountain high, —
Where yawning caverns loudly cried,
"One step leads to eternity."
But He who sends his angel-train
To make the heirs of life secure,
Made valleys hills and hills a plain,
And made my sliding footsteps sure.
I saw the angry tempest frown,
And set his vengeful hosts at strife;
He sent his dark tornadoes down,
To gorge them on the spoils of life.
But while the fury of the Lord
Was poured on lifeless Nature's breast,
I claimed the promise of his word,
And 'neath his sheltering wings had rest.
Unhurt I felt the noontide ray,
And drank the poison of the air;
For God my refuge was by day,
And midnight watches owned his care.
Being eternal! "King of kings!"
Whose courts adoring seraphs throng,
From whom the hope of mortals springs,
To whom their songs of praise belong,
Oh, may thy providence and grace,
Which blessed, sustained, and brought me here,
Be still my strength and hiding-place,
Through all the changes of the year!
SWEET flower of Spring! I welcome thee with joy.
As, from the cloud-veiled sky, when darkness rests
Upon the plains of earth, and dismal winds
Are howling the sad dirge of blighted hopes,
A star shines mildly out, and with a beam
Of heavenly innocence, bespeaks the pure
And lasting brightness of celestial joys;
So, on the stormy plain of life, — beset
With trembling fears, and disappointed hopes,
Thy tiny form goes ever on before,
Chasing earth's sensual vapors from my heart,
Like pure evangel guiding it toward heaven.
Already from this breast affection's tendrils
Have gone, strong out, and caught thy tender form.
Yes, my sweet child, I love thee! love thee so,
Henceforth, sustained by his almighty arm
Who holds revolving worlds obedient
To his omnipotence, yet stoops to earth,
And e'en the humble sparrow guards from harm,
My great desire shall be to keep thy feet
From every path of sin. Sweet task of love!
To guard a soul immortal from temptation's power,
And bring it home to God. More glorious work
Can never angel's ransomed powers engage,
Than that which travels back to time's great source,
And from the garner of Omniscience draws
God's free, unbounded mercy to its aid,
In training an immortal soul for heaven.
Rev. L. S. WALKER,
Methodist clergyman at Leicester.
TAKE ME HOME.
THERE'S love beneath the old roof-tree
Which nowhere else I find;
I've sought amid the proud and gay,
But left it far behind.
Take, take me home; the old moss-roof
Will shelter me again,
As when I wove bright fancy's woof,
In childhood's golden train.
The dear old trees, where sunbeams sleep,
Reach out their arms for me;
Oh, take me home, and let me weep
Beneath the old roof-tree!
Oh, take me home! my father stands
Beneath that dear loved tree,
With watchful eye, and outstretched hands,
And calls in vain for me.
Oh, let me go! my sister sighs,
And startles in her sleep;
And on her lips one loved word dies,
She calls my name, and weeps.
Yes, let me go; I'm weary here,
From dearest friends apart.
Oh, take me home, my mother dear,
And fold me to your heart!