BY WHITFIELD WALKER, ESQ.
THE town of Whiting was duly chartered August 6, 1763, to 48 proprietors, mostly of Massachusetts, among whom were Capt. Nash, and Eliphalet, Asa, and John Whiting, from which circumstance the town received its name, — "Whiting." The charter, to be available to the grantees, must be improved and possessioned in 10 years from the date, to a certain extent. We accordingly find them holding a proprietors' meeting in Wrentham, Mass., October 6, 1772. More than 9 years having expired, they deemed
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it imperative for them to act at once. That meeting resulted in an agreement with one John Wilson, then of Upton, Mass., to obtain, including himself, 15 persons to make possession within 1 year, — i.e. within 10 years from date of charter. Wilson effected a survey of the tract before the close of that year, and before the next August took actual possession with several other families, among them a man by the name of Marshal. It is presumed there were less than 15 families in W. before the war, but immediately upon its close we find several persons, John Wilson, John Smith, and others, on the soil, contending for their rights against the grantees or a part of them, who, in March, 1783, held a meeting in Pittsford, the object of which was to oust those in possession, because they had not fulfilled the conditions imposed upon them, and accepted at the first meeting held in Wrentham. October 16, 1783, measures were taken for a settlement of all difficulties between the Wilson settlers and the 20 proprietors. This difficulty settled, the way was soon opened for increased settlement. In the spring of '84 a considerable accession was made. Gideon Walker, the grandfather of the writer, Maj. Samuel Beach and father and brothers from Rutland, Ichabod Foster and a large family of sons from Clarendon, Jona. Conick, Luther Drury, a Mr. Hall, and others. The population was soon over 500. Maj. Samuel Beach, who had been a lieutenant in the revolutionary war, and who was with Ethan Allen when he surprised Ticonderoga, was the first representative. John Smith and Maj. Samuel Beach were the first justices of the peace, the former the first proprietor and town clerk. Gideon Walker was the first moderator of the proprietors' meeting, held in Whiting. From the best information that can now be obtained, which is doubtless correct, Rachel Walker, a daughter of Gideon, was married at the age of 16 years to Aaron Beach, a brother of Samuel, in '84 or '85. Her first child, Noah Beach, was the first child born in W., and was scalded to death in infancy. The first man that died was Elihu Smith, buried on an island, near the west bank of Otter Creek. I recollect well to have seen his grave when a lad. There have been a number of persons that have lived to a great age in W. The oldest man was Gershom Justin, Sen, aged 100 or 101, — his son Gershom was about or over 90 years. Jerusha Washburn was an inhabitant of W. till she was 84 or 85 years of age, then removed to Middlebury to live with a daughter, and died after outliving all her children and husband, at the age of 99 years. Elihu Kitcham was nearly 100 years of age when he died. The writer's mother lived till 90 years, less 5 months. Numbers extending 80 years are too numerous to mention. These facts furnish unquestionable evidence of the healthiness of the climate.
The first settled minister was a Baptist, by the name of David Rathbone, a lame man, who, from a child, could not walk without crutches, and when preaching always sat. He was settled in the spring of 1799, by the Baptist and Congregational churches in unison. In 1788, I find the Congregationalists declared themselves a church, but that church was not, so far as the records show, formally recognized as such, until February 13, 1799, and that was done by Rev. B. Wooster, then of Cornwall, and afterwards until his death, of Fairfield. The two churches united in settling Rev. David Rathbone, March 28, following. The Baptist church was organized 6 days later than the other, — the former had 10 and the latter 12 members.
In 1828 the Methodists commenced having circuit preaching, which was continued up to 1858 with some slight interruptions, but they now are too feeble to have any. Oct. 25, 1821, the Universalists organized a church, under the pastorage of Rev. James Babbit, who ministered to them ¼ of the time for several years. One of' the members ultimately became a preacher and editor in Montrose. Penn. We have two meeting-houses, — one a union house, erected in 1811, but not entirely finished until 1823, the Universalists owning ¼. The other was erected in 1848, dedicated in '44, and is owned exclusively by the Baptists. The Baptists have furnished one preacher, Rev. Levi Walker. The Congregationalists have quite lost their organization. The names of the liberally educated men are as follows, and graduated in the order named, — to wit: Aaron Clark, Schenectady, N. Y., studied the profession of law, two years since mayor of the city of New York. Alvah, his brother, graduated at the same institution. Willard L. Parker studied the profession of law, and died in early life. He was a good scholar. The latter were graduates of Middlebury college. Ebenezer Wheelock, Esq., one of the early settlers, some under the first Constitution of Vermont, a member of the Council, and a man of good native talent. Whiting has had her share of enterprising business men, who have emigrated West. Among these are the Walkers of Chicago, Ill., who have become wealthy. The Hon. Horatio Needham, of Bristol, was a native of Whiting, in 1849, was a candidate for Governor of the State, put in nomination by the free democrats. He is a man of good talents, who has done honor to himself. His brother Joseph was a respectable physician, who, at his death, was a resident of the same place. Dr. John Branch, of St. Albans, a celebrated physician, was a native of Whiting. Azariah Flagg, of Albany, N.Y., long a controller in that State, who was a son of Dr. Flagg, one, if not the first physician settled in Whiting. Suffer me to say that Whiting, although a small town, has ever had a set of industrious, worthy inhabitants, and does not suffer in comparison with her neighbors, but it would
be invidious to make further distinctions to no good purpose. Industry, frugality, and almost habitual temperance have ever characterized her inhabitants. The consequence has been thrift, and that nearly equally distributed. Kindness, charity, and good will, has characterized their bearing to each other in discharging the relative duties of life. She has manifested a warm devotion to the interests of common schools, and has furnished a large number of teachers. Her enterprising daughters have found their way to the Southern States where they have been employed as teachers in the families of planters, some having planted themselves in the city of Rochester and adjacent villages, and some have even planted themselves in the capital of California, and are gaining golden honors, if not golden opinions. The first settlers of Whiting were emigrants, mostly from Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and would not willingly acknowledge any man their master or concede to them one inalienable right, so dear to the Pilgrim Fathers and their descendants. They therefore hate oppression of every kind, and abhor slavery both of body and mind, and regard all slavish bondage as hindrances to that just progress which alone can elevate the race to the true standard of human dignity, marked out for them by him who created them as the ultimatum of his beneficent design, the only acme of true greatness and genuine worth.
BY WHITFIELD WALKER.
FATHER of all! — with grateful, loving hearts,
We would return to thee our unfeigned thanks
For all thy providential kindness shown, —
By us so undeserved. 'Twas thou that life
Bestowed, unasked, and health and strength preserved.
The sunshine and the rain, and gentle dews,
Have all been scattered in our path, broad-cast,
With liberal hand, alike on all bestowed.
The Earth's been made to yield her rich increase
For boast as well as man. The teeming Earth
Is full of thee, and utt'rance gives to thanks
For what is now enjoyed, in radiant smiles
That in delighted faces beam.
Glories Supreme thy works reveal, as does thy word,
All loving hearts to captivate, that trust
In thee, come weal or woe, or frowns or smiles,
Or pains or ease. These are but means to ends,
Designed to better, moral aims subserve.
No living thing that crawls, or walks, or runs
Upon thine earth, or flits on buoyant wings
The ambient air, or cuts the liquid wave
With well-adjusted fins, but what does well
Exemplify thy providential care,
The matchless wisdom of thy grand design
To further universal good throughout
Thy realm; for every single pain we feel,
The cup of ease is full:— for every pang
Remorse shall bring, our joys are manifold;—
For ev'ry grating sound, a thousand strains
Of music sweet shall thrill delighted ears.
For every sight of haggard, homely form
That meets the eye, does twice ten thousand meet
That eye, that in unsullied beauty shine
And freshly bloom to comfort and to cheer,—
Impart new life to sorrow-stricken hearts
That bleed, along the chequered path of life,
Beset with good and ill. The balance shut
Between man's weal and woe, his pain and ease,—
His joys and griefs will ever vindicate
The rich beneficence of God supreme
For his paternal, kind, and loving care
O'er all his wayward and degen'rate sons,
And that for their best good. His open arms
Are ready to receive,— to smiling greet
The prodigal's return:— the hungry feed,
The naked clothe with spotless, fadeless robes,
The light and life of love, that changes not,
Impart through countless years, those loving smiles
That only beam from his unclouded face,—
Changeless, divinest face; that only good Reveals.
REV. JOSEPH W. SAWYER.
BY REP. J. Q. A. WARE, BAPTIST CLERGYMAN
REV. JOSEPH W. SAWYER was born in Monkton, May 6, 1794, the eldest of a family of 9 sons and a daughter. At the age of 5 years he was hopefully converted, and joined the Baptist church, of which his father was pastor, when less than 15 years of age. His mind appears to have been soon directed to the ministry, for at the age of 19 he commenced preaching in Fairfield. Soon after he united in marriage with Miss Sally Whitman of that place, who for more than 20 years proved an effectual helpmeet for him in his work.
Leaving Fairfield he removed to Hubbardton, and was there ordained, November 7, 1816. In 1822 he removed to Whiting, was afterwards the pastor of churches in Brandon and Shaftsbury, Vt.; Gouverneur, Ogdensburg, Chautauque, Jay, and Saratoga, N. Y. and Augusta, Me.; and after an absence of 34 years he returned to Whiting, and labored 4¼ years, when death claimed him.
Mr. Sawyer was a man of uncommon mental powers. In his youth he was very popular as a preacher, and few men have surpassed him as a public speaker. His style was terse and vigorous, his mode of reasoning logical and direct, and he fearlessly uttered the great truths of the gospel, always regarding himself accountable as one who must discharge his duty, but never for the use others make of the truth.
Possessed of a vigorous constitution and an iron will, he never found himself destitute of something to do, — never had time to suffer of ennui. During the 46 years of his ministry he preached 9,870 sermons, of which some 500 were funeral sermons, and though not a city pastor, solemnized 314 marriages.
In all his ministry he never failed to reach his appointments in all kinds of weather, and seldom during his ministry neglected to preach on the Sabbath from sickness, and never was destitute of a place to preach. Mr. Sawyer lived to wit‑
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ness some 20 revivals of religion where he labored, baptized 1,140 persons, of whom 9 became ordained ministers; and yet, but a short time before his decease, he said, "It does not tire me to preach, I can preach as well as ever I could."
After the death of his first wife he married Miss Abigail Finch, at Saratoga, N. Y., who still survives.
In 1822 the corporation of Middlebury College conferred on him the honorary degree of Master of Arts, and in 1823 he was elected chaplain to the legislature of Vermont, and preached the annual sermon. He published several sermons of marked ability, but never was fond enough of show to make himself conspicuous. The degree of D. D. having been tendered him by one of our colleges, he declined accepting it afterwards, giving to some of his friends who interrogated him in relation to his reasons for so doing, the characteristic answer, "My theology is not sick."
Elder Sawyer preached with his usual vigor on the Sabbath, and died after a few hours' illness, June 26, 1859, aged 65 years. Shortly before his death he spoke of the fact that there had been no minister buried in the town since its settlement. Little did he realize that he should be the first.
Thus there passed away one of the most gifted men in the ministry or the State.
HON. JESSE WALKER.
JUDGE WALKER was born in Whiting in 1810; graduated at Middlebury College in 1833; commenced the study of law the same year, and removed to Buffalo in 1835, where, in 1836, he entered upon the practice of his profession. During the first years of his professional life, the greater number of his published poems were written. He died of cholera in 1850. At a meeting of the members of the Buffalo bar in commemoration of his death, from among many resolutions passed, we quote: "In the maturity of ripened powers, cultured and enriched by much nice and varied learning, just entered upon the duties an honorable and responsible official station, in which studious habits, patience of examination, solidity of judgment, integrity, courtesy, and modesty gave assured promise of excellence, and walking before men blameless in the purity of his private life and domestic relations, our friend has been cut down and removed. We mourn his loss, and will cherish his memory."
A volume of his poems, 12mo. 196 pp. were printed. The book has a cluster of good things, but we have only space for two brief paragraphs.
THE BOOK OF HUMAN LIFE.
LIFE is a book of many pages, writ
In characters that shall endure: and they
Who trace upon its leaves of purest white,
Signs visible to human eyes, should keep
The record free from stain or blot, nor let
A passage there be found, that is not well
Approved of conscience and the laws of truth.
. . . . . . .
If in that volume there are pages more
Than others bright, go read their contents through,
And of the social feelings speak the praise.
The air they breathe with sympathy is sweet;
They go with charity to light the hearth
Where rises, night and morn, the widow's prayer;
The child of want they never can forget;—
The homeless daughter, or the orphan boy.
Where burn these feelings brightest? She that knows
The depth of woman's love can answer this;
And when does she of those deep feelings show
The loveliest, purest, best? 'Tis when she gives
Her heart to be another's, trusting all
To him that finds in her his highest joy.
As when, with her baptismal vow, she gave
Her soul to Heaven, she gives her love to him,
With high and holy trust that shall not fail.
Help him, angels of love, the precious boon
To keep, and make him worthy of the gift.
Their mutual faith, may virtue's power protect,
And Hope to happiness shall lead the way:
And Truth shall write the story of their joys,
And it shall be the BOOK or HUMAN LIFE.
" SWEET Home!" — the scene of earthly joys, —
Perchance of unremembered sorrow,
How dear the hope my heart employs,
Of viewing on some happy morrow!
The bliss of earth that's born above,
More dear to me than every other,
Is nature's pure and pious love
Of father, mother, sister, brother.
And if among those names so dear,
One may be fonder than another,
Who gives for me a prayer, or tear,
That one would be the name of mother.
Our country! when shall kindling hope essay
To cheer the dreamer's visionary hour,
With words prophetic of the future day,
That waits thy rising empire's boundless power!
How grandly beautiful thy mighty floods;
How terribly sublime thy darkened woods,
Where climb to dizzy heights the mountain tower,
And Solitude, in dusky robes arrayed,
Holds full dominion o'er the melancholy shade.
Who that hath seen, where stood the forest's pride,
How cities rise where enterprise awakes,
And o'er the wildly heaving billows ride
With sweep sublime, the navies of the lakes,
Shall see, throughout our wide extended land,
The fame of Freedom brighten and expand,
And feel the rapture on the soul that breaks
When o'er the works of art shall stand sublime,
The Patriot's triumph, bright above the wreck of time!
Gleeful, vivacious, bright-eyed children! like beautiful sunbeams whose genial rays are welcomed by the inmates of the stately mansion or lowly cot; sweet flowers! scattered o'er earth's, wide domain, fragrant with wealth of innocence,
pleasing to the grave and gay, and cheering to the hearts of the desponding, gambol on, little ones, skip and play, though the welkin ring with your merry sports. It gives elasticity to the spirits, and is necessary for physical development. Fulfil your child-mission, for all too soon earth's cares and toils will claim your powers of body and mind. And right eager are ye to reach the point; to assume its responsibilities; but retain all possible of your innocent child-heart to assist in earth's conflict. And we who have passed the bounds of childhood, will look on ye, and be learners still, taught, by your filial confidence, an unwavering trust in the heavenly Father, and reliance on him, who, while on earth, took little children in his arms, and blessed them.
MRS. J. B. BARLOW.
MY MOUNTAIN HOME.
MY mountain home! I'd speak thee well,
Each grassy nook, each shady dell,
Where purling brooks and gushing rills
With gentle music-murmur trills,
Each towering peak
Whence lightnings speak,
Or leaping torrents wild and free,
Have all a charm, — a charm for me.
I love not thus the plain-land West,
Where glowing sunbeams constant rest, —
No hills are there to catch the gleam,
And cast it back in golden sheen,
You mountain crest
In rainbows drest,
Our landscape gives a changing dye
With which the West can never vie.
Let others talk of flower-lands fair,
Of spicy groves and gem-bowers rare,
Where buds of beauty ever blow,
Unnipped by Winter's wind or snow, —
A richer dower,
Our rock-hung flower,
Whose petals bright 'neath snow-pearls peep,
To whisper hope, — and faith fresh keep.
My mountain home! so fair and free,
Brave hearts are cradled here in thee:
High thoughts both rock and hill inspire;
For noble deeds the soul they fire!
The tyrant's yoke
Thy strong arm broke;
Oppression from its seat was hurled,
And Freedom's banner bright, unfurled.
My mountain home! I'll love thee still;
No other land my eye can fill;
As roots the pine to rock-bed strand,
So clings my heart to this dear land;
Each towering peak,
Whence lightnings speak,
Or leaping torrents wild and free,
Have all a charm, — a charm for me.
CLARA L. SMITH.