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THE DESERTED VILLAGE.
Sweet was the sound when oft at evening's close
But now the sounds of population fail,
Where then, ah where, shall poverty reside,
GLOUCESTER'S DESERTED VILLAGE.
Easterly from the head of Annisquam river, in Gloucester, was formerly a settlement known as Dogtown. Here lived the ancestors of many of the present inhabitants of Cape Ann. Dogtown commons, as the territory is now called, contains several hundred acres, and is a barren waste in its general appearance, though between the innumerable boulders grass grows for the cattle that pasture there. The old streets are distinguishable much of their distance by the parallel walls of stone, and in these old thoroughfares the grass grows as in the pastures on either side. A team could not be driven over its roads most of their course. Many of the cellars of the houses are well preserved, and door stones remain in some instances where they were first placed. Novelists and poets have written of this place, Richard Henry Dana, Thomas Starr King, Col. Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Hiram Rich being among their number. In "Oldport Days," Col. Higginson says, "I know of nothing like that gray waste of boulders."
Here a hundred families once lived. Why they chose for their habitation this place so difficult of access is not clear. It is probable that the first settlers wished to remove from the coast as the troubles of the Revolution came on, and in this
place, then almost entirely surrounded by a dense forest, in the very heart of Cape Ann, they intended to secrete their valuables and families if worst came to worst, and the British burned or captured the seaports. The houses were small, generally of one story in height, with two small rooms on the floor.
Whoever the builders or first settlers were, it is clear that they were succeeded by poor and ignorant people. The seafaring occupation of the men soon removed most of them from the support of their families, and the children left home. A large number of the inhabitants came to be widows, and old and poor and ignorant, with little commerce with the outside world, many of them were soon esteemed to be witches. Their peculiar appearance, and the dreariness of the place, especially after nightfall, giving credence to the belief. The places of their natural protectors were taken by dogs, and so the region became known as Dogtown. The women obtained their living by picking berries and grazing sheep.
The cellar at the southern corner of the locality, on the brow of a steep rise of ground near Alewife brook, known as Foxhill, was covered by the residence of Lucy George, and later of her niece, Tammy Younger, "the queen of the witches." The latter was probably best known and most feared of her cotemporaries. She was daughter of William Younger, was born July 28, 1753, and died Feb. 4, 1829. A writer says that no one ever refused to do anything that she requested.
A little farther north stood the shop of Joseph Allen, the first blacksmith of Gloucester, who settled there in 1674. Then came the house of John Wharf, which afterward became the property of his daughter Polly Boynton. The Tristram Coffin house and Becky Rich's abode came next. Becky told fortunes by coffee grounds. Then came the house of Nathaniel Day, and some distance beyond that of Henry Day, John Clark, Philip Priestly, William Pulcifer, Arthur Wharf and Joseph Stevens. Mr. Stevens was something of a farmer. Nearly opposite his house stood that of the poor, but aristocratic Miss Esther Carter, which was the only two-story house in the village. It was clapboarded, and wooden pe,gs were used instead of nails in its construction. She, with her brother Joseph are thought to have come from England. The second story of her house was occupied by " Old Ruth," a mulatto, formerly a slave, who wore men's clothing. Then came the house of Molly Stevens. The house of William Carter's wife Annie, which stood a little farther east, in the rear of a large boulder, was the last one taken down in the village. The Dorcas Foster house was near. Her father brought his family here from the Harbor village when he enlisted into the Revolutionary army, Dorcas being at that time only eight years of age. She married, first, an Oakes, second, a Stevens, and, third, Capt. Joseph Smith, the commander of a privateer in the war of 1812. Next beyond was the house of Capt. Isaac Dade, who lived when a boy in London, Eng., and was impressed into an English man-of-war. He married Fanny Brundle, a lady of Virginia, whose father's plantation adjoined that of the mother of Washington, with whom they were intimate. Soon after their marriage they came to Gloucester to recover Mr. Dade's health, which was broken down, and the Virginia lady took up her abode in Dogtown.
Toward the north was the large gambrel-roofed house of Abraham Wharf, who committed suicide in 1814.
The last inhabitant of the village was Cornelius Finson, or "Neil," a colored man, who resided in an old ruined house until 1830, when he was taken to the almshouse, where he died a week later.
Some distance to the northwest of Neil's place was the house of Peter Lurvey, the hero of Hiram Rich's poem, beginning
"Morgan Stanwoocl, patriot:
Little more is known;
His father, Peter Lurvey, removed from Ipswich to Gloucester in 1707, and married Rachel Elwell three years later. John Morgan Stanwood was Peter's son-in-law, and tradition was thus led astray as to the name of the patriot, as this was the home of both. "Granther Stannard " believed that his legs were of glass and feared to use them because of their fragility.
Some distance westerly was the- residence of "Jim White." Still farther west and near Washington street still stands the " old castle," a part of which is built of square logs. It is supposed to have been originally built in 1661 by Thomas Riggs, the first schoolmaster and town clerk.
Forty-one cellars have been discovered here. There may have been houses without cellars, thus increasing the size of the village, which has now been gone nearly three quarters of a century.
WILL OF SAMUEL SMITH.
The will of Mr. Samuel Smith of Enon (now Wenham) was.proved in the Salem quarterly court 27:10:1642. The following copy is taken from the original instrument on file in the office of the clerk of courts at Salem, book i, leaf 12. This 5th of ocktober: 1642:
This my laft will and teaftament of Samewell Smith of Enon being in perfect memorey firft I will and bequeath vnto my wife Sarah Smith my farme in Enon with all the houfen vpon it as allfoe all the frutes vpon it as corne hemp and the like: for har owne proper vfe for the tearme of har lif vpon comideration that fhe (hall difcharg me of that promife vpon maridge; which is vnto my funn: william Browne fiftie pounds: as allfoe that fhe fhall giue vnto his two children, william and John Browne || 20' betwen ym||: all which fhall be paid|| by|| my exequetors hearafter named: my will further is to giue vnto Sarah my wif all my Cattell nowe vpon the farme young and owld as neat befts horfe befts and fwine in full confideration of that hundred pounds that I ftand bound vnto har by A bond obligatore in lue of A former Joynter payabell after my diffeafe which fhall be parformed by my Exfequetors as allfoe further my will is that my farme with all the medowe and upland belongine thearvnto ray funn Thomas Smith fhall haue it to himfelf and his heairs for euer vpon this confideration that he fhall pay vnto his fifter mare iF then liuing fiftie pownds in thre years after the entrie of it that is to fay fixtene pounds and A mark A yeare and for the parformance hearof he is to lay in good fecuretye vnto the Exfequetors if the lord take har away by death this payment is to be made vnto the Children of the aforefaid william Browne and Thomas Smith that then fhall be liuing Equally deuided among them further my will is that if my funn : Thomas fhall die without iffue that my land and houfen vpon it fhall com to my daughter mare and har heaires foreuer: and after har to william Browne and his heaires for ever all wich debtes and legafies and || other || parformances are to be parformed by my two Exfequetors which I haue Apointed which is my Louing wife and my truftie fun william Browne: & my will further is that if Sarah my wif fhall marey that then the firft gift of my farme fhall ftand voyd and my will is that fhe fhall then refigne it vp into my other exequetors hand with A Juft accounte of all thofe goods and whatfoever belong to the manadgine of the farme || & proffitt || except that hundred pounds which har due which is to be paide har in Cattell by the Judgment of men: and all my houfhould ftufe within dores whatfoever it be I give to my wife: and my will is that my excequetor william Browne and my funn Thomas Smith to Joyne with him to leat the farme: or improve it to the beft advantage for the good of my daughter mare and to be accounted with and prouided for by my excequetor william Browne in that particquler: Item with || this || confideration that if my wif marey that then the farme is to be leat as aboue
faid untill thear be gathered for || my \ A portion || of || A hundred and fiftie pounds to be paid vnto the excequetor william Browne and he to pay that hundred & fiftie pounds at har day of maredg & if har mother leave har then the excequetor william Browne to fe ye bringing of har vp. allfoe my funn Thomas Smith is to be Aquitted of that fiftie pound he ftand ingadged to pay vnto har: and all the ouerplufh of A hundred and fiftie pounds if the lord give longer life vnto my wif Arifing out of y" farme is to be left in my fun browns hand and improved to the beft vfe and after har diffeafe to be equally parted betwixt my daughter mare and all the grand children I fhall haue then living further my will is that my funn Thomas Smith whome I feare not: will be truly faith full to me fhall be thearfore my Suprevifor of this my laft will: witnes this prefent day aboue
Samwell Smyth [Seal] in the prefents of vs:
Richard vi Pettingall marke.
BOUNDS OF LYNN.
The 4 day of the 4th mo. 1640.
Whereas William Hathorne of Salem & Edward Tomlyns of Lynne were chofen by the generall Court to lay out the length of the bounds of the towne of Lynne according to the Courts order of Six miles fro the meeting houfe w** accordingly hath beene pformed the day & yeare above written, w"* we fignifie vnder our hands to extend fro Charlestowne bounds to the fouth end of the great Pond at Lynne village and fro thence to the great fwampe adjoyning ||vn|| to the great pond: and fo to runne fro thence northward to the north River and fo to Salem bounds: thefe being the neereft markes w011 by vs meafurd wee finde to ftate the bounds. William
Hathorne Edward Tomlins —Massachuittti Archives, Vol. til, leaf 4. REVOLUTIONARY LETTERS.
(Address;—Mrs. ElizabethPeabody, Boxford.)
Cambridge, 19th July 1775. After letting you know that I am well I would acquaint you that I heard you had thoughts of sending me some Butter, but I don't Defire you should, for we have Plenty of very good Butter for alowance. If you don't happen to see Lieu'. Robinfon, I should be glad you would send my Deer skin Breeches by Mr. Ivory Hovey, and Likewife my fine shirt. I should be glad that Brother Seth would send me word how forward he is about his work, and whither he is likely to have any Salt Hay of Mother and upon what Terms. So hoping this will find you & the Children and all Friends in health, I Subfcribe myself your Sincere Friend &c: Ebenezer Peabody
(Address:—Mrs. Elizabeth Peabody, Boxford.)
Cambridge, 25"' July 1775 Mre. Peabody, as Providence has Cast in a Piece of Soap into your Hufbands & my Mefs we thought Proper to send it home,—but forgot to mention it in the Letter which your Hufband sent you if you will be so good as to Let my Wife have one piece of it you will oblige Your Friend & Humble Servant
(The address is gone.) Cambridge 22nd Sepf. 1775 Having now an opportunity to write to you I gladly embrace it to let you know that I am well, and I truft this will Find you & the Children so. I have no News to send only that there was one man kill'd and two wounded yefterday by the Regulars.
I remain your Loving Hufband
I Defire you would give the Money which is Inclosed in this to Deacon Hovey
& tell him that Cesar Porter Defires him to keep it Safe for him.
(Address:—Ebenezer Peabody, Lt.) Dear Brother, I Unbrace this Opertunity to write a Line to you hoping that thefe will find you in health as they leave me at Prefent we are upon an Island about Ten Miles from New-york there is near twenty Sail of the Kings Shipiug Now in the harbour we have Torys Plenty there has been a Confpiracy againft his Excellency Gend Wafhenton By the torys they Prevaled on Some of the Geneu: Life-Guard for a large Sume of Money to kill the Genel: whenever the fleet should Attack the City and one of the Captains of the Artillery was to spik up the Cannon and Blow up the Magazein thinking this would thro our Army into Confution the Torys where to Mufter there whole force and fall upon us. This was the Scheme of the Torys But By the Blefsing of heaven they are Defeated and we have got about forty of them in Clofe Confinment among whome are the Lord Mayer of the City. I hope you will write to me Every opertunity
So I Remain your loving Brother
(Address: — To Mr. John Pearle att Ticonderoga in Cap'. Peabody's Company, in Col1. Wigglesworth's Regiment.)
Boxford Aug1. 28'" 1776 My Dear
I have this Day received a Letter from you dated the 14th of Aug' and am very glad to hear of your welfare and that your living is so good, hope it will continue so. I have nothing new to inform you, except that the Small Pox has been at Richard Tyler's for several weeks past, but those who have had [it] are likely to do well. We are all well at present and hope that this [will] find you the same, you may tell your Brother Peabody that his chil