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ECCLESIASTICAL PROCEEDINGS.--The establishment of a church and proper provision for public worsbip, as was generally the case in Massachusetts, were among the first objects attended to by the inhabitants of Paxton, after their incorporation. For, at the first meeting after the organization of the District, holden on the first day of April, 1765, a vote passed to build a meeting house, and at subsequent ones, during the same year, arrangements were made for carrying this vote into effect; a committee was also chosen, and £13 6s. 8d. was appropriated for the purpose of procuring the Gospel to be preached in that place during the winter of that year.
The meeting house was raised and finished, at least in part, that year, and a larger sum raised to procure preaching.
Some exertions were made, at this time, to bave ap Episcopal church established in this town, but they were unsuccessful. It is probable, however, that this may have been one cause why a regular Congregational church was not sooner gathered and organized; for it appears this event did not bappen until the 3d of September, 1767.*
Rev. Silas Biglow, a gentleman highly esteemed for his intellectual and moral worth, was invited by the district and church in May, or June, to settle “in the work of the Gospel ministry among them;" and was ordained as their first Clergyman on the 21st of October following. The ministry of Mr. Biglow was highly satisfactory to his parishioners, and much good feeling and unanimity existed in the society until his death; which happened on the 16th of November, 1769.
On the 28th of November, of the next year, Rev. Alexander Thayer was ordained as successor to Mr. Biglow. He continued in office until the 14th of August, 1782, when he was dismissed by an ecclesiastical council, mutually chosen by the parties. The town agreeing to pay him £40 within three weeks, and the amount of his salary which was due.
The connexion between Mr. Thayer and his society, at least during a part of the time, was unhappy. Were it possible to detail all the causes of dissatisfaction, they would not afford the reader, at this day, profit or pleasure. There were, however, two principal ones, which it may not be improper to mention. Mr. Thayer, in his political sentiments, was suspected to be somewhat favorably
* The covenant bears the above date, and was subscribed by the following persons; Phinehas Moore, John Snow, Jason Livermore, David Davis, Benjamin Sweetser, Silas Biglow, (Pastor elect,) Samuel Man, Oliver Wité, Stephen Barret, and Samuel Brown.
disposed to the royalist party. This suspicion, whether well or ill founded, was sufficient to create a degree of coldness, and, in some instances, a fixed dislike, especially amorg those, who, from other causes, had become disaffected. This dislike was heightened by another circumstance, which more immediately effected their interest. Mr. Thayer's salary was fixed at the time of his settlement at £66 13s. 4d. After the depreciation of the currency of the coon. try, Mr. Thayer wished his pay to be so increased that he might receive a sum equal in value to his origioal compensation. This was not always done, though several grants were made for his relief at different times. But political animosities, and the unceasing demands for money to support the war, prevented the inhabitants from giving that aid to their clergyman, which, perhaps, was justly due, and under other circumstances would have been readily afforded.
The society became much divided before the settlement of another Clergyman, particularly in relation to Rev. John Foster,* who, after a long and warm contention among the members of the church and society, was ordained, on the 8th of September, 1785. The malecontents subsequently separated from the old society, and a new church was formed.
Mr. Foster continued the clergyman of Paxton until 1789, when he was dismissed. After this, exertions were made to re-unite the two societies and churches, which was finally effected on the 27th of May, 1793, and on the 5th of November, of the next year, the Rev. Daniel Grosvenor, who had been before that time settled in Grafton, was installed. For some years the society remained quiet and apparently well pleased with this gentleman. But the "root of
* Some idea may be formed of the opposition made to the settlement of Mr. Foster, from the following protest of several of his opponents. “We, the subscribers, inhabitan's of the town of Paxton, do, hereby, solemnly, sincerely, and wholly protest and declare against the proceedings to be had and taken by the inhabitants of the said town of Paxton, now assembled in town meeting, in consequence of a warrant signed by a major part of the selectmen of said town of Paxton, as illegal, unlawful, and unconstitutional, and unprecedented. And we, the subscribers, do further solemnly prutest and declare, that we will not, directly or indirectly, be at any cost or charge, or pay any money that shall be assessed on us, the subscribers, for settlement or salary that the inhabitants of said town of Paxton shall agree to give Mr. John Fogter, except it is taken from us by force, as it is our opinion that the constitu- · tion will not admit of any such precedent. And we request that this protest may be read in the said town meeting, and recorded with the records in said town of Paxton. As witness ours, this thirteenth day of December, Anno Domini, 1784.” Signed by twenty of the inhabitants.
There is another, of similar import, dated Dec. 20, 1784, signed by eighteen, a part of whom are the same who sigued the first. In this they assiga as a reason for their opposition, that “in our opinion said Foster is not learned, cor orthodox, neither of good report."
bitterness" was either not wholly eradicated, or else a new one was generated among them; for about the close of the last century, or the beginning of the present, dissatisfaction began to mani. fest itself, which increased to such a degree, and his health being extremely poor, that Mr. Grosvenor asked a dismission, which be received on the 17th of November, 1802.
From this period until the 17th of February, 1808, the tows was destitute of a settled minister, when the present ope, Rer. Gaius Conant, was ordained. It was hoped that this event would have put an end to dissention in this devoted society, but these hopes have not been fully realized. Dissatisfaction has, at times, shown ilself, and several members have withdrawn and joined other socie
At present, however, tranquillity is restored. REVOLUTIONARY PROCEEDINGS.-Paxton, in common with otber towns, made great exertions for obtaining our National Independence; although there were several, the genuineness of whose republican principles was very much suspected. These, however, were so closely watched by the real Whigs, that they never were able to do any serious injury to the cause of Ainerican Liberty. During the difficulties previous to the commencement of actual bostilities, the inhabitants took all those precautionary measures, al. most universally adopted throughout the country.
The first public proceeding that appears on record, ia relation to this subject, was the choice of “a committee to petition the Great and General Court, for a name more agreeable to the inhabitants of this District, and to the public, than that of Paxton,” this being the name of an individual,* who had rendered himself ertremely ndious to the people of this State, by the part he took in the political concerns of that time. At a subsequent meeting, Aug. 22, 1774, a committee was also chosen to consult and report on the state of public affairs; and they voted to purchase a barrel of powder, in addition to the stock then on hand, wbich was accordingly done.
Committees of correspondence and inspection were chosen, and
* This was Charles Paxton, one of the four “Commissioners of the Customs," appointed under the act of Parliament, passed in 1767, and who were authorised to appoint as many subordinate officers as they should deem pecessary, for the proper management of the customs. This was the act, it will be recollected, which led to the associations among the Colonists, to abstain from the use of English merchandise; and therefore all who had been agents for carrying it into effect, had become obnoxious to the bitterest bate of the public. It is no wonder, then, that the people of this district should vish to lay aside the name of one, who, as they conceived, had been a voluntary idstrument to deprive them of their dearest rights.
all the able bodied men of all ages, capable of bearing arms, were formed into military companies, one of which was called “ The Standing,” and the other the “ Minute Company.” Sums of money were raised to pay the minute men for their time and expense spent in “ military trainings," and to procure for them proper arms and equipments. On the 17th of January, 1775, thirty three men were ordered by the town to be drafted as minute men ; and were afterwards properly organized and equipped. These men chose Willard Moore for their Captain, who immediately marched with them to Cambridge, on receiving intelligence of the affair at Lexington and Concord. Here a part of them, but what number does not appear, joined the regular army, which was organized at that time, and among others their Captain. He was appointed a Major in this army, and fell in the memorable battle of Bunker Hill.
Besides furnishing the men regularly called for from this town, many individuals voluntarily enlisted for different terms of service. In July of 1776, Jason Livermore raised in Paxton, and its immediate vicinity, a considerable number of volunteers, wbo, being joined by others raised by Samuel Brewer, of Sutton, marched their company from Paxton on the 9th of August, 1776, for Charlestown, No. 4, and afterwards to Ticonderoga and Mount Hope, where they were stationed for some time. During the struggle for liberty, this town, which, at that time, contained a population of only about five hundred inhabitants, was frequently called upon to furnish from one to eight men for different periods of service. From the records, it appears on two occasions their quota was eight, and at several times four, five, and six.
According to these records, it appears that the town paid a sum equal in value to, at least, nine thousand six bundred dollars, of the present currency, for hiring, clothing, &c. the soldiers it furnished, and for the stores demanded by the Government, besides what it paid into the State and other Treasuries. In short, few, if any towns, contributed proportionally more for the achievement of our Independence, according to their means, than this. Indeed, at several times, particularly towards the close of the war, their public and individual suffering was extreme, and almost intolerable. *Yet their patriotism nerer flagged, and they pobly evinced, by their conduct, that they were determined "o die or be free."
* It is a fact, within the recollection of many now living, that one of the last efforts of toryism, lo prevent the final success of the cause of liberty, was an attempt to prevent ihe payment of taxes, about the year 1780-1. At this period, the fiscal concerns of the country were in a most deplorable state, and VOL. II.
When the State constitution was submitted for acceptance to Paxton, in 1780, the following amendments were unanimously adopted.
In the Bill of Rights, Art. 3, "we do not find that the Legislative body are empowered to make laws to prevent the breach of the Sabbath." It was therefore voted to insert after the word “authorise," &c. "to enact laws to prevent the breach of the Christian Sabbath.”
Part 2. Chap. 2. Sect. 1. Art. 2. “Our forefathers did not only go under that extensive word christians, but protestants, and we mean not to have any other but protestants to rule us, but as occasion may require in the army.” Therefore voted, “ Dele the word christian and insert protestant.” For the same reasons a like ameddment was proposed to the 1st Art. 2d Section of this chapter, and to the 1st Art. of chapter 6th. They likewise deemed seven years, instead of fifteen, a sufficient time to test the goodness of that constitution, and voted an amendment accordingly to the 10th Art. of the 6th chapter. All the other parts were unanimously adopted.
STATE OF LITERATURE, &c. From the first settlement of this town to the present time there has not been so much attention paid to literary and scientific education as in some others. A handsome the raising of money, especially among the common classes, extremely difficult. Many had become discouraged from the long continuance of the war, the pressing exigencies of the country, and the exhausted state of the means for supplies. The moment seemed propitious for the accomplishment of the Royalists' wishes; it was seized upon by them, and a spirit of insubordination spread in some degree through the country. In many towns some of the inhabitants utterly refused to pay their taxes, and several attempts were made to prevent, by force, the constables from collecting them by distress. An af. fair of this kind happened in Paxton, which was related to the writer by an individual engaged in it. Three Cows had been taken by the Collector, in 1781, to pay the taxes of certain individuals, who had refused so to do. Se cret exertions were made by the friends of the delinquents, and a large num. ber in Paxton and the adjacent towns, agreed to meet at the time and place of the proposed sale, to stay proceedings, vi el armis. They met accordingly, each man carrying a large bludgeon beneath his coat. But information of this plot had been communicated to the committee of safety and correspondence about thirty six hours before the sale, and measures were takın to prevent its execution. One or two neighboring magistrates agreed to be present, and appeared with a sufficient number of the patriotic citizeos from this and some of the other towns, to the confusion of the malecontents. After much unavailing exertion, by the well disposed, to have the affair amicably settled, the collector proceeded to make the sale. The insurgents, firm to their purpose, gathered around and threatened destruction to him who should dare to make a bid. One was made, but instead of " beating out the brains" of the bidder, the insurgents unexpectedly pulled out the bars of the yard, and let the cows escape. An affray ensued in which some blows were exchaos. ed; but order was soon restored, and the demands of the collector satisded. Several of the ringleaders were afterwards indicted ; two from Paxton, one of whom was fined and imprisoned, and the other fined.