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Title: Woodstock - An historical sketch
Author: Bowen, Clarence Winthrop
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  The Knickerbocker Press


  Press of
  New York

As a full history of Woodstock has been in preparation for several
years and will, it is hoped, be published in the course of another
year, this brief sketch is issued as it was read at the Bi-Centennial
Anniversary of the town.



     I. INTRODUCTION                                   7

          AND OF ROXBURY                               8


          WOODSTOCK                                   20

          TO WOODSTOCK                                28

    VI. THE GROWTH OF THE NEW TOWNSHIP--1690-1731      32

   VII. ECCLESIASTICAL AFFAIRS                        36

          TO CONNECTICUT                              43

    IX. MILITARY RECORD                               46

     X. EDUCATIONAL MATTERS                           53

    XI. DISTINGUISHED CITIZENS                        55


  XIII. CONCLUSION                                    61

        INDEX                                         63


The history of the town of Woodstock is associated with the beginnings
of history in New England. The ideas of the first settlers of Woodstock
were the ideas of the first settlers of the Colony of Plymouth and
the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The planting of these colonies
was one of the fruits of the Reformation. The antagonism between the
Established Church of England and the Non-Conformists led to the
settlement of New England. The Puritans of Massachusetts, at first
Non-Conformists, became Separatists like the Pilgrims of Plymouth.
Pilgrims and Puritans alike accepted persecution and surrendered the
comforts of home to obtain religious liberty. They found it in New
England; and here, more quickly than in the mother country, they
developed also that civil liberty which is now the birthright of every


The settlement of Woodstock is intimately connected with the first
organized settlement on Massachusetts Bay; and how our mother town
of Roxbury was first established is best told in the words of Thomas
Dudley in his letter to the Countess of Lincoln under date of Boston,
March 12, 1630-1:

    "About the year 1627 some friends, being together in Lincolnshire,
    fell into discourse about New England and the planting of the
    gospel there. In 1628 we procured a patent from his Majesty for
    our planting between the Massachusetts Bay and Charles River on
    the South and the River of Merrimack on the North and three miles
    on either side of those rivers and bay ... and the same year we
    sent Mr. John Endicott and some with him to begin a plantation. In
    1629 we sent divers ships over with about three hundred people. Mr.
    Winthrop, of Suffolk (who was well known in his own country and
    well approved here for his piety, liberality, wisdom, and gravity),
    coming in to us we came to such resolution that in April, 1630, we
    set sail from Old England.... We were forced to change counsel,
    and, for our present shelter, to plant dispersedly."

Settlements were accordingly made at Salem, Charlestown, Boston,
Medford, Watertown, and in several other localities. The sixth
settlement was made, to quote further from the same letter to the
Countess of Lincoln, by "others of us two miles from Boston, in a place
we named Rocksbury."[1]

The date of settlement was September 28, 1630, and just three weeks
later the first General Court that ever sat in America was held in
Boston. The same year the first church in Boston was organized.[2]
Roxbury, like the other settlements of Massachusetts Bay, was a little
republic in itself. The people chose the selectmen and governed
themselves; and as early as 1634, like the seven other organized towns,
they sent three deputies to Boston to attend the first representative
Assembly at which important business was transacted. The government
of Roxbury, like the other plantations, was founded on a theocratic
basis. Church and state were inseparable. No one could be admitted
as a citizen unless he was a member of the church. Many of the first
settlers came from Nazing, a small village in England, about twenty
miles from London, on the river Lee. Morris, Ruggles, Payson, and
Peacock, names read in the earliest records of Woodstock, were old
family names in Nazing. Other first inhabitants of Roxbury came from
Wales and the west of England, or London and its vicinity. Among the
founders were John Johnson, Richard Bugbee, and John Leavens, whose
family names are well known as among the first settlers of Woodstock.
All were men of property[3]; none were "of the poorer sort." In 1631
the Rev. John Eliot, a native of the village of Nazing, arrived with a
company of Nazing pilgrims. Eliot, though earnestly solicited to become
pastor of the church in Boston,[4] accepted the charge of the church
in Roxbury, which was organized in 1632,[5] and was the sixth church,
in order of time, established in New England. Another name equally
prominent in the earliest years of the history of Roxbury was that of
William Pynchon, afterwards known as the founder of Springfield in
Massachusetts. Only Boston excels Roxbury in the number of its citizens
who have made illustrious the early history of the Massachusetts
colony.[6] Among the early settlers of Roxbury who themselves became,
or whose descendants became, the early settlers of Woodstock, were the
Bartholomews, Bowens, Bugbees, Chandlers, Childs, Corbins, Crafts,
Griggses, Gareys, Holmeses, Johnsons, Lyons, Levinses, Mays, Morrises,
Paysons, Peacocks, Peakes, Perrins, Scarboroughs, and Williamses.[7]

In 1643 the towns within the jurisdiction of Massachusetts had grown
to thirty, and Roxbury did more than her share towards the organization
of the new towns. In fact, Roxbury has been called the mother of
towns, no less than fifteen communities having been founded by her
citizens.[8] Among the most important of these settlements was the town
of Woodstock, whose Bicentennial we this day celebrate.


A glance at the country about us previous to the settlement of the
town, in 1686, shows us a land sparsely inhabited by small bands of
peaceful Indians, without an independent chief of their own, but who
paid tribute to the Sachem of the Mohegans, the warriors who had
revolted from the Pequots. Woodstock was a portion of the Nipmuck[9]
country, so-called because it contained fresh ponds or lakes in
contrast to other sections that bordered upon the sea or along running
rivers. Wabbaquasset, or the mat-producing place, was the name of the
principal Indian village, and that name still exists in the corrupted
form of Quasset to designate a section of the town. Indians from
the Nipmuck[10] country took corn to Boston in 1630, soon after the
arrival of the "Bay Colony"; and in 1633[11] John Oldman and his three
Dorchester companions passed through this same section on their way to
learn something of the Connecticut River country; and they may have
rested on yonder "Plaine Hill," for history states that they "lodged
at Indians towns all the way."[12] The old "Connecticut Path" over
which that distinguished band[13] of colonists went in 1635 and 1636 to
settle the towns of Windsor, Wethersfield, and Hartford, passed through
the heart of what is now Woodstock.[14] This path so famous in the
early days of New England history, came out of Thompson Woods, a little
north of Woodstock Lake, and proceeding across the Senexet meadow, ran
west near Plaine Hill, Marcy's Hill, and a little south of the base of
Coatney Hill. For more than fifty years before the settlement of the
town, this historic path near Woodstock Hill was the outlet for the
surplus population of Massachusetts Bay and the line of communication
between Massachusetts and the Connecticut and New Haven colonies.
But the most noteworthy feature in the description of the Indians of
the Nipmuck country is that as early as 1670 they were formed into
Praying Villages. Evidently the instructions of Gov. Cradock in his
letter of March, 1629, to John Endicott had not been forgotten. In that
letter he said: "Be not unmindful of the main end of our plantation
by endeavoring to bring the Indians to the knowledge of the gospel."
In the heart of one man at least that idea was paramount. John Eliot,
the Apostle to the Indians, was not content to be simply the pastor of
the church of Roxbury for nearly sixty years. Amid his countless other
labors he preached the gospel to the Indians of the Nipmuck country.
The first Indian church in America had been established by him at
Natick in 1651; and, in 1674, he visited the Indian villages in the
wild territory about these very hills. As he found it, to quote his own
words,[15] "absolutely necessary to carry on civility with religion,"
he was accompanied by Major Daniel Gookin, who had been appointed, in
1656, magistrate of all the Indian towns. Maanexit was first visited
on the Mohegan or Quinebaug River, near what is now New Boston, where
Eliot preached to the natives, using as his text the seventh verse of
the twenty-fourth Psalm: "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye
lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the king of glory shall come in."

Quinnatisset, on what is now Thompson Hill, was the name of another
Praying Town. But a quotation[16] from the homely narrative of Major
Gookin is the best description of Eliot's memorable visit to Woodstock:

    "We went not to it [Quinnatisset], being straitened for time, but
    we spake with some of the principal people at Wabquissit.[17] ...
    Wabquissit ... lieth about nine or ten miles from Maanexit, upon
    the west side, six miles of Mohegan River, and is distant from
    Boston west and by south, about seventy-two miles. It lieth about
    four miles within the Massachusetts south line. It hath about
    thirty families, and one hundred and fifty souls. It is situated in
    a very rich soil, manifested by the goodly crop of Indian corn then
    newly ingathered, not less than forty bushels upon an acre. We came
    thither late in the evening upon the 15th of September, and took
    up our quarters at the sagamore's wigwam, who was not at home: but
    his squaw courteously admitted us, and provided liberally, in their
    way, for the Indians that accompanied us. This sagamore inclines to
    religion, and keeps the meeting on sabbath days at his house, which
    is spacious, about sixty feet in length and twenty feet in width.
    The teacher of this place is named Sampson; an active and ingenious
    person. He speaks good English and reads well. He is brother
    unto Joseph, before named, teacher at Chabanakougkomun[18] ...
    being both hopeful, pious, and active men; especially the younger
    before-named Sampson, teacher at Wabquissit, who was, a few years
    since, a dissolute person, and I have been forced to be severe
    in punishing him for his misdemeanors formerly. But now he is,
    through grace, changed and become sober and pious; and he is now
    very thankful to me for the discipline formerly exercised towards
    him. And besides his flagitious life heretofore, he lived very
    uncomfortably with his wife; but now they live very well together,
    I confess this story is a digression. But because it tendeth to
    magnify grace, and that to a prodigal, and to declare how God
    remembers his covenant unto the children of such as are faithful
    and zealous for him in their time and generation, I have mentioned

    "We being at Wabquissit, at the sagamore's wigwam, divers of the
    principal people that were at home came to us, with whom we spent a
    good part of the night in prayer, singing psalms, and exhortations.
    There was a person among them, who, sitting mute a great space, at
    last spake to this effect: That he was agent for Unkas, Sachem of
    Mohegan, who challenged right to, and dominion over, this people of
    Wabquissit. And said he, Unkas is not well pleased that the English
    should pass over Mohegan River to call his Indians to pray to God.
    Upon which speech Mr. Eliot first answered, that it was his work to
    call upon all men everywhere, as he had opportunity, especially the
    Indians, to repent and embrace the gospel; but he did not meddle
    with civil right or jurisdiction. When he had done speaking, then I
    declared to him, and desired him to inform Unkas what I said, that
    Wabquissit was within the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, and that
    the government of that people did belong to them; and that they do
    look upon themselves concerned to promote the good of all people
    within their limits, especially if they embraced Christianity. Yet
    it was not hereby intended to abridge the Indian sachems of their
    just and ancient right over the Indians, in respect of paying
    tribute or any other dues. But the main design of the English was
    to bring them to the good knowledge of God in Christ Jesus; and to
    suppress among them those sins of drunkenness, idolatry, powowing
    or witchcraft, whoredom, murder, and like sins. As for the English,
    they had taken no tribute from them, nor taxed them with any thing
    of the kind.

    "Upon the 16th day of September[19] being at Wabquissit, as soon
    as the people were come together, Mr. Eliot first prayed, and then
    preached to them, in their own language, out of Mat. vi., 33:
    _First seek the kingdom of heaven and the righteousness thereof,
    and all these things shall be added unto you._ Their teacher,
    Sampson, first reading and setting the cxix. Ps., 1st part, which
    was sung. The exercise was concluded with prayer.

    "Then I began a Court among the Indians, and first I approved
    their teacher, Sampson, and their constable, Black James,[20]
    giving each of them a charge to be diligent and faithful in their
    places. Also I exhorted the people to yield obedience to the
    gospel of Christ and to those set in order there. Then published
    a warrant or order, that I had prepared, empowering the constable
    to suppress drunkenness, Sabbath breaking, especially powowing and
    idolatry. And, after warning given, to apprehend all delinquents
    and bring them before authority to answer for their misdoings; the
    smaller faults to bring before Watasacompamun, ruler of the Nipmuck
    country; for idolatry and powowing to bring them before me: So we
    took leave of this people of Wabquissit, and about eleven o'clock
    returned back to Maanexit and Chabanakougkomun, where we lodged
    this night."

History fails to locate the spot where John Eliot's sermon to the
Indians of Woodstock was delivered, but tradition points to "Pulpit
Rock," so-called, under the aged chestnut trees of the McClellan farm
near the "Old Hall"[21] road.

But Eliot's good work in the Nipmuck country was destroyed when King
Philip's war broke out in 1675. In August of that year a company of
Providence men journeyed as far as Wabbaquasset, thinking that possibly
King Philip himself had escaped thither.[22] They found an Indian fort
a mile or two west of Woodstock Hill, but no Indians. A party from
Norwich in June of the following year also found deserted Wabbaquasset
and the other Praying Villages. Desolation and devastation followed
the disappearance of the Red Man. The Nipmuck country became more a
wilderness than ever, forsaken of its aboriginal inhabitants whose
barbaric tenure could not stand against a superior civilization.

    "Forgotten race, farewell! Your haunts we tread,
    Our mighty rivers speak your words of yore,
    Our mountains wear them on their misty head,
    Our sounding cataracts hurl them to the shore;
    But on the lake your flashing oar is still,
    Hush'd is your hunter's cry on dale and hill,
    Your arrow stays the eagle's flight no more,
    And ye, like troubled shadows, sink to rest
    In unremember'd tombs, unpitied and unbless'd."[23]


The time had now arrived for the white man to make a settlement at
Wabbaquasset. In May, of 1681, the General Court of Massachusetts
Bay had given to William Stoughton and Joseph Dudley the care of
the Nipmuck country, with power to ascertain the titles belonging
to the Indians and others, and a meeting of the claimants was held
the following month at Cambridge, at which John Eliot rendered much
assistance as interpreter. Dudley and Stoughton purchased all the
claims, and the following year,[24] the whole Nipmuck country became
the property of Massachusetts Bay. Jurisdiction over the country had
already been claimed, under the terms of the Massachusetts charter.
Many of the inhabitants of the town of Roxbury now felt that they could
improve their condition and increase their usefulness by forming a
settlement in some desirable portion of the new country. Undoubtedly
their pastor, John Eliot, had told them of the beauty and fertility
of the country about the Praying Villages of Maanexit, Quinnatisset,
and Wabbaquasset.[25] Town meetings to arrange for a new settlement,
were held in Roxbury in October of 1683.[26] A petition was signed,
by a number of representative citizens of the town, asking that the
General Court might grant to them a tract seven miles square about
Quinnatisset, in the Nipmuck country. All save six of the thirty-six
who signed this petition, afterwards became settlers of the new town,
and of the five selectmen of Roxbury who presented the petition to
the General Court, three[27] represented families prominent in the
early history of Woodstock. The General Court at once granted[28]
the petition provided the grant should not fall within a section to
be reserved for Messrs Stoughton and Dudley, and Major Thompson, and
provided also that thirty families should be settled on the plantation
within three years from the following June, "and mainteyne amongst
them an able, orthodox, godly minister."[29] In 1684 Roxbury accepted
the terms of the General Court, and sent Samuel and John Ruggles,
John Curtis, and Edward Morris, as a committee of four, to "view the
wilderness and find a convenient place."

As Quinnatisset had been in part already granted, the committee
reported[30] a territory "commodiose" for settlement at "Seneksuk and
Wapagusset and the lands ajasiant." A committee was therefore appointed
to draw up an agreement for the "goers," as they were called, to sign.
In 1685,[31] in answer to the petition of Edward Morris, deputy in
behalf of the town of Roxbury, the General Court extended the limit
of the time of settlement from June 10, 1687, to Jan. 31, 1688, and
granted freedom from rates up to that time.[32] At town meetings held
in Roxbury, during the same year, it was arranged that one half of
the grant should belong to the new settlers and one hundred pounds in
money be given to them in instalments of twenty pounds a year, and the
other half of the grant should belong to "the stayers" in consideration
of the aid given "the goers." The southern half of the grant was the
portion subsequently occupied by "the goers." Actual possession,
however, was not taken until April of the following year. On the second
page of the cover of the old and musty first volume of records of the
proprietors of New Roxbury, afterwards called Woodstock, are these

    "April 5, 1686.

    "These are the thirteen who were sent out to spy out Woodstock as
    planters and to take actual posession: Jonathan Smithers, John
    Frissell, Nathaniel Garey, John Marcy, Benjamin Griggs, John Lord,
    Benjamin Sabin, Henry Bowen, Matthew Davis, Thomas Bacon, Peter
    Aspinwall, George Griggs, and Ebenezer Morris."

These thirteen planters, or the "Old Thirteen" as they have always been
called, were visited in May or June[33] by a committee who had been
appointed to ascertain the bounds of the grant. The last meeting of the
"goers to settle" was held in Roxbury, July 21st; their first meeting
in New Roxbury was held August 25th. A committee of seven, consisting
of Joseph Griggs, Edward Morris, Henry Bowen, Sr., John Chandler, Sr.,
Samuel Craft, Samuel Scarborough, and Jonathan Smithers, having been
appointed to make needful arrangements preliminary to the drawing of
home lots, that drawing took place on the twenty-eighth of August,
or, by the new style of reckoning time, exactly two hundred years ago

Say the old records: "After solemn prayer to God, who is the Disposer
of all things, they drew lots according to the agreement, every man
being satisfied and contented with God's disposing." Would that the
words of that prayer and the picture of that scene could to-day be
reproduced! Surely the spirit of the Puritans of 1630 was the spirit
of that band of pilgrims in 1686 on yonder hill. These are the honored
names of the first settlers: Thomas and Joseph Bacon, James Corbin,
Benjamin Sabin, Henry Bowen, Thomas Lyon, Ebenezer Morris, Matthew
Davis, William Lyon, Sr., John Chandler, Sr., Peter Aspinwall, John
Frizzel, Joseph Frizzel, Jonathan Smithers, John Butcher, Jonathan
Davis, Jonathan Peake, Nathaniel Garey, John Bowen, Nathaniel Johnson,
John Hubbard, George Griggs, Benjamin Griggs, William Lyon, Jr., John
Leavens, Nathaniel Sanger, Samuel Scarborough, Samuel Craft, Samuel
May, Joseph Bugbee, Samuel Peacock, Arthur Humphrey, John Bugbee, Jr.,
Andrew Watkins, John Marcy, Edward Morris, Joseph Peake, John Holmes,
and John Chandler, Jr.

Of that list of thirty-nine,[34] Benjamin Sabin, Nathaniel Sanger,
Nathaniel Garey, John Hubbard, Matthew Davis, and George Griggs
afterwards moved to Pomfret; Peter Aspinwall and his step-sons, the
sons of John Leavens, went to Killingby; and Arthur Humphrey and others
became the first settlers of Ashford. A few returned to Roxbury. But
a large share of the original settlers lived and died in Woodstock,
including Edward and Ebenezer Morris, Jonathan and Joseph Peake, James
Corbin, Thomas and Joseph Bacon, Henry Bowen, William and Thomas Lyon,
John Chandler, Sr., and John Chandler, Jr., John Butcher, Nathaniel
Johnson, Joseph and John Bugbee, John Marcy, John Holmes, and perhaps
a few others. As an illustration of the ages of the pioneers in 1686,
it may be mentioned that Benjamin Griggs was nineteen; Joseph Bacon
and Andrew Watkins, twenty; John Bugbee, John Chandler, Jr., James
Corbin, and Jonathan Davis, twenty-one; Peter Aspinwall, Matthew Davis,
John Frizzel, and Lieut. Ebenezer Morris, twenty-two; John Butcher and
Nathaniel Garey, twenty-three; John Bowen and John Marcy, twenty-four;
George Griggs, John Holmes, and Samuel May, twenty-five; Thomas Bacon,
twenty-eight; Samuel Peacock, twenty-nine; William Lyon, Jr., and
Nathaniel Sanger, thirty-four; Thomas Lyon, thirty-eight; Nathaniel
Johnson, thirty-nine; Benjamin Sabin and Samuel Scarborough, forty;
Joseph Peake, forty-one; Joseph Bugbee and John Leavens, forty-six;
Samuel Craft and Jonathan Peake,[35] forty-nine; Deacon John Chandler,
fifty-one; Lieut. Henry Bowen, fifty-three; Edward Morris, fifty-six;
and William Lyon Sr., sixty-five.[36]

The first one of the thirty-nine to die was Lieut. Edward Morris,
whose gravestone bears the date of 1689, the oldest in the county.[37]
The last one of the thirty-nine to die was Thomas Bacon, who lived
to be ninety-six years of age. To show the extreme ages of some of
the Woodstock people, it may here be said that Paraclete Skinner, now
living, remembers Deacon Jedediah Morse, who died in 1819 at the age
of ninety-three, and Deacon Morse was seventeen years old when Col.
John Chandler, a first settler, was living; and thirty-two years of
age the year that Thomas Bacon, another first settler, died. That is,
an inhabitant of this town remembers one who knew some of the first
settlers of Woodstock. Lieut. Henry Bowen, one of the first settlers,
attained the age of ninety. Deacon Morse's grandmother, who came in
April of 1687 to Woodstock with her husband Jonathan Peake, Jr.,[38]
likewise lived to be ninety, lacking twelve days. One of the oldest
persons that ever lived in Woodstock was Sarah, the daughter of
Jonathan Peake, Jr., and the mother of Deacon Morse, who reached the
age of ninety-nine, lacking forty-four days, and who had about her
while living three hundred and nineteen descendants.[39] The combined
ages of Thomas Bacon, Sarah Morse, and Paraclete Skinner is now two
hundred and eighty years. Time alone can tell to what figure their
combined ages may attain!

But what a small number in that list of first settlers have descendants
bearing the same family name among the citizens of Woodstock to-day!
Only James Corbin, William Lyon, John Chandler, Nathaniel Johnson,
Benjamin Griggs, Henry Bowen, Joseph Bugbee, Nathaniel Sanger, and John
Marcy! But Woodstock is proud to own among the descendants of the first
settlers influential and honored citizens of many towns and cities, and
some of them, I rejoice to say are here to-day.

The first settlers of Woodstock had the right stuff in them to succeed.
After the home-lots were chosen highways were laid out, a grist-mill
and saw-mill built, bridges constructed, new inhabitants brought in,
and every thing possible was done to make the settlement permanent. A
general meeting of the inhabitants was held July 2, 1687, when "John
Chandler, Sr., Nathaniel Johnson, Joseph Bugbee, James White, and James
Peake, were chosen to order the prudential affairs of the place as
selectmen, for the year ensuing."


An effort was now made to get a confirmation of the grant occupied
by the new settlers, but as long as Sir Edmund Andros was the Royal
Governor of the Province, it was impossible. A delay ensued until
William and Mary became sovereigns of Great Britain. The new settlers
had not yet an organized town government. The settlement, like the
first settlements in Windsor and Hartford, received its name from the
mother town.[40] But the New Roxbury people wished to have a name
of their own and a town of their own. At the beginning of the year
1690 they chose a committee of three to petition the General Court to
substitute a new name for that of New Roxbury. The committee at once
conferred with the mother town, for on Jan. 13, 1690, Roxbury held
a town meeting at which it was voted to request the General Court
to allow the settlement in the Nipmuck country to become a town,
to confirm the grant and to give a suitable name. The New Roxbury
committee pressed their claims, and on March 18, 1690, the General
Court confirmed the grant and voted that the name of the plantation
be Woodstock. We owe the name of Woodstock to Capt. Samuel Sewell[41]
who was Chief-Justice of Massachusetts from 1718 to 1728. He has been
called "a typical Puritan" and "the Pepys of New England,"--the man who
judged the witches of Salem and afterwards repented of it.[42] In 1690,
when Count Frontenac's[43] forces were coming down from Canada upon
the settlements of the United Colonies, and Massachusetts determined
to ask the help of Connecticut in protecting the upper towns on the
Connecticut River, Captain Sewell rode past Woodstock on his way to
Connecticut. He was no doubt on business of state, being one of the
Governor's Counsellors, and one of a Committee of Seven of the Council
with the same power as the Council to arrange "for setting forth the
forces."[44] The proximity of New Roxbury to Oxford in Massachusetts
suggested to him, he tells us, the name of a famous place near old
Oxford in England.

In his Diary of March 18, 1689/90, Capt. Sewell, says:

    "I gave New Roxbury the name of Woodstock, because of its nearness
    to Oxford, for the sake of Queen Elizabeth, and the notable
    meetings that have been held at the place bearing that name in
    England, some of which Dr. Gilbert[45] informed me of when in
    England. It stands on a Hill. I saw it as I [went] to Coventry, but
    left it on the left hand. Some told Capt. Ruggles[46] that I gave
    the name and put words in his mouth to desire of me a Bell for the

Though Judge Sewell, years after his first visit had social
relations[48] with some of the inhabitants of Woodstock, there is
no evidence to show that he ever gave a bell to the town or to the
church.[49] But he gave us something better, a good name,--the name of
Woodstock, associated with the memories of Saxon and Norman Kings, the
spot where King Alfred translated "The Consolations of Philosophy,"
by Boethius, the birthplace of the poet Chaucer, the prison of
Queen Elizabeth.[50] History and romance[51] have made illustrious
the names of Woodstock and Woodstock Park, and "the notable meetings"
spoken of by Judge Sewell as having taken place in Old England have
been transferred to the settlement in New England. Surely the name of
Woodstock, as applied to the little village of New Roxbury, has proved
to be no misnomer.

It should be said that the western part of the town, when it became
a settlement years after, revived the old name of New Roxbury. The
church in West Woodstock belonged to what was called the Parish of New
Roxbury, or the Second Precinct of Woodstock.[52]


The most pressing duty for our ancestors to perform, after securing
a name and legalized status for the town, was the settlement of "an
able, orthodox, godly minister." The Rev. Josiah Dwight, a graduate of
Harvard College in the class of 1687, received the appointment, and
was installed October 17, 1690, receiving £40 the first year, £50 the
second, and £60 the third year and thereafter. It was with difficulty,
however, that these sums were paid, and when, some years after, the
account was settled by the payment of what was due, he gave a receipt
in full "from the beginning of the world to May 6, 1696." A home lot
was allowed Mr. Dwight according to the original drawing of lots, and
arrangements were made to build a home for him immediately after his
settlement. The following year,[53] it was determined to construct a
house of worship, which was completed early[54] in 1694. This was the
first meeting-house in Windham County, and here gathered, on Sabbath
days, the settlers from miles around. The people of Pomfret attended
church in this rude structure until 1715, when their own society was

The officers of the new town elected in 1690[55] were John Chandler,
Sr., William Bartholomew, Benjamin Sabin, John Leavens, and Joseph
Bugbee, as selectmen, and John Chandler, Jr., as town clerk. All
of those men to-day have descendants in Woodstock or its immediate
vicinity. At that time, the men of Woodstock imposed a fine of one and
six pence upon every one who failed to attend the town meeting, and six
pence an hour for tardiness. Disputes regarding titles to land, and the
boundary line dividing the north half of the town, and disputes with
the mother-town regarding this northern half, which belonged to Roxbury
according to the terms of the grant, were vexatious, and not in every
respect creditable to Woodstock. But Roxbury's interest in the northern
half of Woodstock continued till 1797, when the lands had all been sold
or become individual property. Large tracts, however, were held by
Roxbury and Woodstock speculators for many years afterward.

Troubles with the Indians, who returned to their old hunting and
fishing haunts after the settlement of the town, broke out in 1696,[56]
and again in 1700 and 1704, and even as late as 1724. When a war broke
out abroad, there was trouble with the Indians at home. When an Indian
outbreak was threatened, the town received some military assistance
from the colony government. Such threatened outbreaks retarded the
progress of the settlement.

After discussing the question for several years, the town determined,
in 1719,[57] to erect a new meeting-house near the burying-ground,
instead of at the south end of the village, where the old building
stood, yet so straitened were the people in their circumstances that
they applied to the General Court in Boston, requesting that the
unoccupied lands of the residents and non-residents of the town be
taxed to the extent of £250, to be applied to the building of a church.
As the non-residents' lands were almost entirely in the north half of
the grant, and belonged to Roxbury people, Roxbury stoutly opposed
the tax in a memorial to the General Court. When the General Court
refused the petition, Woodstock asked to be excused from sending her
representative to Boston. The town's representative at this time, in
fact the first and only representative for many years, was Captain John
Chandler, who, like his father Deacon John Chandler, was one of the
first settlers. He surveyed lands in Woodstock and neighboring towns,
and owned large tracts of territory in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
To avoid the necessity of sending to Boston to have deeds recorded
and wills proven, Captain Chandler tried to get the consent of the
General Court in 1720 for the formation of a new county, to be called
Worcester County, of which Woodstock should be a part, but a delay
ensued until 1731, when Captain, now Colonel, Chandler was successful.
Woodstock became one of the most prominent towns of Worcester County,
and John Chandler was made Chief-Justice of the Court of Common Pleas
and General Sessions.[58]


Ecclesiastical affairs have been so interwoven with town affairs,
that it is impossible to give a sketch of Woodstock without giving a
history of the churches. It may, however, be done briefly, as others
have been appointed to speak specially for the different church
organizations of the town. Though the first minister, the Rev. Josiah
Dwight, was of the "Standing Order," so-called, and believed in the
Cambridge platform, yet he was suspected of theological looseness and,
besides many idiosyncrasies, was accused of "speculating in the wild
lands of Killingly." The first settlers had no end of trouble with
him, especially regarding money matters, and he was finally removed
September 3, 1726. The next regular minister was Rev. Amos Throop,
who was installed May 24, 1727. Like Mr. Dwight, he was a graduate
of Harvard College, and came to Woodstock at the age of twenty-five.
Naturally he found fault when the town attempted to pay him his salary
in the depreciated currency of the time. But the eight years of his
ministry endeared him to the settlement, and his sudden death in
1735[59] was keenly felt by his parishioners. The town assumed the
expense of his gravestone, upon which may be read these words:

    "O cruel death, to snatch from us below,
      One fit to live within the spheres on high;
    But since the great Creator orders so,
      Here at his feet he doth submissive lie."

During the pastorate of Mr. Throop the western part of the town[60]
had received some settlers, mostly the sons of Woodstock's first
settlers. In 1727 Joshua Chandler took possession of some land that had
been given him by his father, Col. John Chandler, and representatives
of the families of Child, Corbin, Lyon, Aspinwall, Bugbee, Morris,
Marcy, Morse, Payson, Perrin, Johnson, Frizzel, Griggs, and Paine soon
followed. In 1733[61] the town arranged to have a school-house built
in this part of the town, and, the settlers increasing, West Parish
desired[62] to have religious services of its own for four months of
the year at the expense of the whole town. This request, it was argued,
was only fair, inasmuch as the western half was obliged to contribute
to the support of the Church on the Hill. But the town refused[63] to
assume any of the charges. After trying the experiment for two winters,
the West Parish people found the expense of supporting both ministers
to be too great a burden, and they therefore again asked[64] the help
of the town, and were refused. They still persisted, and petitioned[65]
that the western half might be formed into a distinct township. Town
meetings were held, and at last permission was given[66] them to
address the General Court in Boston on the subject. But their petition
to the General Court was dismissed. The West Woodstock people, however,
insisted on the formation of a parish where they could worship God
in their own fashion, and not be obliged to aid any church outside
of their parish. They were willing to give up all idea of a town of
their own. This modified request was now made to the town[67] and to
the General Court.[68] The General Court complied by passing an act in
1743,[69] incorporating the district as "The West Parish of Woodstock."
A meeting was at once held,[70] at which it was determined to survey
the line dividing the two portions of the town. West Parish was now
called by the old name of New Roxbury. These acts were afterwards
approved by the General Assembly of Connecticut when Woodstock withdrew
from under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts.[71] In 1747 Rev. Stephen
Williams was ordained pastor.

The church[72] on the Hill was under the pastorate of Rev. Abel S.
Stiles, who had been ordained in 1737.[73] But the fact that Mr.
Stiles was a graduate of Yale College[74] instead of Harvard, as his
two predecessors had been, and his family connections[75] were all
with Connecticut, his parishioners were led to believe that he would
favor the "Saybrook Platform" of faith, rather than the "Cambridge
Platform," and if there was one thing our ancestors abhorred quite as
much as Episcopacy or popery it was the "Saybrook Platform." To be
tainted with that form of faith, as was the case with Mr. Stiles after
his settlement in Woodstock, was heresy indeed, and Woodstock was
determined, according to her grant of 1683, to have none other but an
"able, orthodox, godly minister." Instead of attending the Association
of Ministers in Massachusetts, Mr. Stiles preferred the meetings of the
Windham County Association in Connecticut, and when Woodstock became a
part of Connecticut the troubles with Mr. Stiles increased. Councils
were held. Pastor and parishioners tried to discipline each other.
The General Assembly of Connecticut was appealed to. Threats--even
violence was resorted to. But without going into the details of this
long-protracted struggle, let it be said that there were two parties
in the controversy, one side sympathizing with Mr. Stiles in his more
liberal theological views, and the other side at first insisting
on a minister who should conform in all respects to the "Standing
Order," and afterwards opposed to Mr. Stiles personally as well as
theologically. The Stiles party had favored, while the anti-Stiles
party had opposed, the annexation of Woodstock to Connecticut. The
result of the quarrel was a break in the church in 1760. The North
Society was constituted by act[76] of the General Assembly, and Mr.
Stiles and his followers went to Muddy Brook. Thus was formed the Third
Congregational Church of Woodstock, and here Mr. Stiles continued to
preach until his death in 1783.[77] When it was determined in 1831,
by the church in East Woodstock, to build a new meeting-house on the
spot of the old one erected in 1767, the people in Village Corners
objected to the location and formed a society of their own--the Fourth
Congregational Church of Woodstock.

After the departure of Mr. Stiles the First Church was without a pastor
for three years. Much time was spent in "going after ministers." The
young Yale graduates who preached on trial did not please the church,
whose sympathies were still with Massachusetts. Finally the Rev. Abiel
Leonard, a graduate of Harvard College,[78] was installed on June 23,
1763. Of the twelve churches asked to assist in the ordination only
one[79] was a Connecticut organization. In fact it was not until the
year 1815 that the church, after an adherence to the Cambridge order
of faith for a hundred and twenty-five years, finally accepted the
"Saybrook Platform," and joined the Connecticut association. The church
was prosperous under Mr. Leonard. Largely owing to his influence the
quarrel between the First and Third Churches was healed.[80] In 1775,
on the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, Mr. Leonard was made
Chaplain of the Third Regiment of Connecticut troops. The church, at
the request of the commander, Colonel, afterwards General, Israel
Putnam, granted the necessary leave of absence. The following year
Washington and Putnam joined in writing a letter[81] to the church at
Woodstock asking for a continued leave of absence for Mr. Leonard,
praising him in the highest terms, and saying:

    "He is employed in the glorious work of attending to the morals of
    a brave people who are fighting for their liberties--the liberties
    of the people of Woodstock--the liberties of all America."

Agreeable a gentleman as Mr. Leonard was, he was suddenly superseded
while on a visit to Woodstock, and on receiving the mortifying news
when _en route_ to join the army he at once committed suicide.

If ever there was an "able, orthodox, godly minister," of the true
Massachusetts type, such as old Woodstock always loved to have, he was
the Rev. Eliphalet Lyman, who was ordained in 1779. Although a graduate
of Yale College,[82] he fulfilled the conditions of the Cambridge
Platform, and continued pastor of the First Church for forty-five
years, and was warmly interested in the religious and educational
development of the town. He was the last of the historic ministers
of Woodstock. He was respected and he was feared. The boys stopped
playing ball when "Old Priest Lyman," in cocked hat and knee breeches,
remembered by some of you here to-day, walked up the common.


It should now be related how Woodstock, settled under Massachusetts,
became a part of the State of Connecticut. Massachusetts claimed
Woodstock, because the grant was supposed to lie within her chartered
bounds as surveyed in 1642, and that claim was what Major Daniel
Gookin referred to when he rebuked the agent of Uncas in 1674, during
his visit with John Eliot, at Woodstock. But Massachusetts did not
believe that the line of 1642 was wrong when she confirmed the grant
to the Roxbury settlers. She even censured Woodstock for daring to ask
Connecticut to confirm a portion of the grant that fell south of this
line. Though Connecticut justly held she was entitled to Woodstock,
according to the terms of her charter, she was, nevertheless, willing
to forego her claim to this town, provided Massachusetts would allow
her to have the jurisdiction over other territory claimed by both
colonies. But the repeated attempts to settle the controversy failed,
and it was not till 1713 that an agreement was finally concluded. For
the privilege of having jurisdiction over Woodstock and the other
towns claimed by both sides, Massachusetts agreed to compensate
Connecticut, by giving her unimproved lands in Western Massachusetts
and New Hampshire. These lands were therefore called "equivalent
lands," and were sold by Connecticut for $2,274, and the money given
to Yale College. Woodstock was entirely satisfied with this agreement,
as all her associations were with Massachusetts. But in 1747 the town
thought that her taxes, which had been increased owing to the French
and Spanish wars,[83] would be lighter, and her privileges greater,
if she followed Suffield, Enfield, and Somers "in trying to get off
to Connecticut." So Woodstock applied to Connecticut, claiming that
the agreement of 1713 had been made without her consent. After much
deliberation, Connecticut voted in 1749 to receive the town, and
declared the agreement of 1713 not binding. Woodstock was delighted at
being received into Connecticut, and at a memorable town meeting[84]
made Thomas Chandler and Henry Bowen the first members of the General
Assembly. Though Woodstock has since 1749 been a part of this State,
Massachusetts would never formally yield jurisdiction over the town,
and even as late as 1768 warned the inhabitants not to pay taxes to
Connecticut. In fact had it not been for the Revolution, Massachusetts
might still be claiming Woodstock.[85] It might be added that
Woodstock, in being annexed to Connecticut, lost about three thousand
acres north of the colony line. This strip of land was known as the
"Middlesex Gore" for forty-five years, and was annexed to Dudley and
Sturbridge in 1794.

After becoming a part of Connecticut, Woodstock was anxious that the
northern half of Windham County should be made into a separate county,
of which Woodstock should be the shire-town, but as Pomfret also
desired the county seat, and as the State seemed unwilling to act, the
project fell through.[86]


Woodstock's military glory is something of which she may well be proud.
Representatives of the Morris, Bowen, Hubbard, and Johnson families,
who came to Woodstock in 1686, fought under Captain Isaac Johnson, of
Roxbury, in King Philip's War, and were in the famous Narragansett
battle in 1675, when Captain Johnson was killed.[87] For the first
forty years after the settlement of the town the Indian troubles made
every man acquainted with the use of fire-arms, and when in later years
there appeared no danger at home, our ancestors were ready to fight
abroad either savage or foreign foes. In 1724, Colonel John Chandler
received orders from Boston to impress twenty Woodstock men for the
frontier service,[88] which meant that they should fight Indians in
Central Massachusetts. When the news of the war between France and
Great Britain was received in Boston in 1744,[89] fifty[90] men from
Colonel Thomas Chandler's[91] regiment guarded the frontier, and
history declares that this regiment, commanded by a Woodstock man,
rendered efficient service in the capture of Louisburg in 1745.[92] In
1748, before the treaty of Aix la Chapelle had been signed,[93] the
death was chronicled of several Woodstock men who had gone up into New
Hampshire to fight[94] the Indians with a company of colony troops. In
the French and Indian War[95] for the conquest of Canada, the families
of Bacon, Bugbee, Child, Corbin, Chandler, Frizzel, Griggs, Holmes,
Lyon, Marcy, McClellan, Manning, Peake, and Perrin had representatives
who distinguished themselves in the service. Woodstock and Pomfret
boys composed the company of Captain Israel Putnam in this war. The
McClellan and Lyon of the Seven Years' War were the McClellan and Lyon
of the Revolution, and were of the same family as the McClellan and
Lyon so celebrated and so much beloved in our own Civil War.

The service rendered by Woodstock during the Revolution was most
valuable. The town voted to purchase as few British goods as possible,
and sent sixty-five fat sheep to Boston as a contribution to alleviate
what the town records call "the distressed and suffering circumstances"
of that city. Captain Elisha Child, Charles Church Chandler, Jedediah
Morse, Captain Samuel McClellan, and Nathaniel Child, were appointed
a committee[96] "for maintaining a correspondence with the towns of
this and the neighboring colonies." The spirit of revolution, which had
been growing, rose to fever-heat when the powder stored in Cambridge
by the patriots was removed, in September of 1774, to Boston. The news
flew as fast through the New England towns as horses' hoofs could
take it. A son of Esquire Wolcott brought the news to Curtis' tavern
in Dudley, and a son of Captain Clark carried it to his father's
house in Woodstock, where it was carried to Colonel Israel Putnam in
Pomfret.[97] The young men of Woodstock did not wait for the call to
arms. They hurried to Cambridge, and, with the inhabitants of that and
other towns, were with difficulty restrained from marching into Boston
to demand, with their loaded muskets, the return of the powder. At the
very beginning of the Revolution Woodstock was eager to do its duty.
When the cry went through New England that blood had been shed at that
"birthplace of American liberty," the historic Lexington, one hundred
and eighty-nine men from Woodstock answered that call.[98] Ephraim
Manning, Stephen Lyon, Asa Morris, and William Frizzel were officers
in Colonel Israel Putnam's regiment when that regiment was stationed
at Cambridge, while Captain Samuel McClellan had charge of the troop
of horse, of which John Flynn was trumpeter. Captain Nathaniel Marcy,
Captains Elisha and Benjamin Child, Lieut. Josiah Child, Captain Daniel
Lyon, Jabez and John Fox, Samuel Perry, and many other Woodstock men,
rendered services in this war equally efficient. When Samuel Perry,
in his old age, used to go up to the store on Woodstock Hill in the
evening, the boys would ask him to tell them about the battle of Bunker
Hill, and would always ask if he had killed any of the British in that
battle. "I don't know whether I killed any," was his reply, "but I took
good aim, fired, and saw them drop!" Another Woodstock name, always
honored at home as another of the same family name is to-day no less
honored abroad, was Dr. David Holmes He had served as surgeon in the
French war, and--

                                ----"lived to see
    The bloodier strife that made our nation free,
    To serve with willing toil, with skilful hand,
    The war-worn saviors of the bleeding land."[99]

When Washington assumed charge of the troops in Cambridge, the Rev.
Abiel Leonard, the beloved pastor of the First Church at Woodstock,
preached most acceptably. Washington heard him and became his warm
friend. Woodstock's importance during the Revolution was considerable.
One line of stages between Woodstock and New London and another line
between Woodstock and New Haven and Hartford were established, which
carried the war news weekly to be distributed through the colony and
thence taken to New York. During the entire war Woodstock did more
than her share. While there were many from this town who served the
patriot cause with glory to themselves and honor to Woodstock, the
name of Capt., afterwards Gen., Samuel McClellan stands out the most
illustrious. When the currency of the Continentals had depreciated and
no funds were forthcoming with which to pay the soldiers, Gen., or more
exactly Col., McClellan advanced £1,000 from his own private purse to
pay the men of his regiment. But a memorial of the Revolution in which
Woodstock may well take the greatest pride is found in the historic
elm-trees in South Woodstock, planted by the wife of General McClellan
on receiving the news of the battle of Lexington. All honor to the
men of Woodstock who fought for and gained their liberties in the
Revolution, and all honor to their wives, who were equally patriotic at

In the War of 1812 Woodstock was also ready to do its duty. When Major
William Flynn, of Woodstock Hill, received the news, one evening just
after dark, that several British men-of-war were hovering about New
London, and that it was in danger of attack, he rode horseback about
the country during the night, to see officers and men and warn them
to assemble on the Common at noon the next day; but when he returned
to his home at sunrise he found the Common covered with soldiers
ready to go to New London immediately. The patriotic spirit always
characteristic of Woodstock was conspicuous in the War of 1812.

Woodstock was no less patriotic during the Rebellion. When President
Lincoln called for volunteers to maintain the unity of the country,
this town did her full share in that struggle. Many of you remember
attending the funeral of General Nathaniel Lyon, who was killed at
the beginning of the war and was buried with military honors in our
neighboring town of Eastford. Though not a native of Woodstock, Gen.
Lyon was descended from an honored family which has been conspicuous
in the history of this town from the day of its settlement. But a
name even more illustrious is that of Gen. George B. McClellan, whose
grandfather was a native of Woodstock, and whose great-grandfather
was Gen. Samuel McClellan, and who himself, as a boy, visited the
town. You saw him beneath these very trees two years ago. You heard
him speak at that time words of love for Woodstock and words of
welcome to distinguished strangers. His voice is no longer heard, but
the name of General McClellan will be remembered as long as the name
of Woodstock itself shall last. Blessed then be the memory of Gen.
George B. McClellan! Woodstock will ever cherish his services and the
services of all its sons who fought for their country in the terrible
struggle between the North and the South! The graves in the different
burying-grounds of the town, that you annually decorate with flowers,
tell more eloquently than words what Woodstock did during the Civil


Woodstock has never been negligent in the cause of education. As soon
as the settlement became an organized town, John Chandler, Jr., was
appointed to instruct the children to write and cipher. As the town
grew in population, it was divided into school districts. In 1739
was established the United English Library for the Propagation of
Christianity and Useful Knowledge. Col. John Chandler was the moderator
at the first meeting, and the Rev. Abel Stiles, John May, Benjamin
Child, and Pennel Bowen, of Woodstock, and leading citizens of Pomfret
and Killingly, assisted in the organization.[100] It was Gen. Samuel
McClellan and his sons John and James McClellan, the Rev. Eliphalet
Lyman, William Bowen, Parker Comings, Nehemiah Child, Ebenezer Smith,
William Potter, Hezekiah Bugbee, Benjamin Lyon, Ebenezer Skinner, and
Amos Paine who established Woodstock Academy, at the beginning of the
present century, and the influence of that honored institution has been
deep and far-reaching. But who can measure the good done by Woodstock
Academy, or by the different churches and other organizations of the
town? Such institutions are our heritage, and our duty and privilege it
is to improve their character and transmit them to future generations,
with the memories and traditions of the town itself.


Citizens of Woodstock, listen while I call the roll of some of the
distinguished men who have lived or were born in the town. Of the
first settlers was Col. John Chandler, probably the most distinguished
citizen that Woodstock had during its first century, the man who made
Woodstock known and respected throughout New England. His descendants
include the Rev. Thomas Bradbury Chandler, D.D., Winthrop Chandler, the
artist, the Hon. John Church Chandler, Judge John Winthrop Chandler,
and others, who have been prominent in Woodstock and throughout the
country. No one of the first settlers was more distinguished than
Edward Morris, who died three years after the town was settled. His
family was prominent in the history of old Roxbury, and all through
the last century in Woodstock. Commodore Charles Morris, a native[101]
of Woodstock and well known in the War of 1812, and his son, Commodore
George N. Morris, Commander in the Civil War of the United States
sloop-of-war _Cumberland_ in Hampton Roads, belong to the same family,
as well as the Hon. J. F. Morris, of Hartford, whom I am sure we are
glad to welcome as our presiding officer to-day. John Marcy, a first
settler, was the ancestor of Hon. William Leonard Marcy, Governor
of the State of New York, Secretary of War under President Polk and
Secretary of State under President Pierce. Abiel Holmes,[102] D.D.,
LL.D., author of "Annals of America," and his father, Dr. David Holmes,
a surgeon in the French and Revolutionary wars, were born in Woodstock,
and were descended from John Holmes, a first settler. Abiel Holmes'
son, Oliver Wendell Holmes, though not born in Woodstock, will be
remembered, I am sure, for the beautiful tribute he paid his ancestors
in the poem he read in this very park in 1877. The name of Morse has
always been identified with Woodstock. Deacon Jedediah Morse held about
all the offices in town that he could lawfully hold, and was deacon
of the First Church for forty-three years. His son, the Rev. Jedediah
Morse, D.D., a graduate of Yale College and the father of American
geography, was also born in Woodstock. His grandson was Prof. Samuel
F. B. Morse, who was more widely known as the inventor of the electric
telegraph. Another Woodstock boy was General William Eaton[103] who ran
away, from home at the age of sixteen to enter the Revolutionary War,
and was distinguished during the first years of the century as the
protector of American commerce in the Mediterranean. Amasa Walker, too,
was born in Woodstock, the father of political economy in this country,
or better still, the father of Gen. Francis A. Walker, the respected
President of the School of Technology in Boston. Another honored name
in Woodstock is that of Williams, including Samuel Williams, Sr., the
Commissioner of Roxbury in the settlement of New Roxbury, the Rev.
Stephen Williams, the first pastor of the church at West Parish, and
Jared W. Williams, the Governor of Vermont and a native of this town.
Governors, members of Congress, men distinguished in law, theology, and
medicine, in trade and on the farm, have been born in Woodstock. The
roll of honor could be multiplied; but in speaking of the distinguished
men it would be impossible to forget the lessons taught, the struggles
endured, and the sacrifices made by the mothers of Woodstock, who all
through these two centuries have inspired their sons with feelings
that have made them industrious, honored, and religious. Praise be,
therefore, to the women of Woodstock! This town has the right to be
proud of such noble sons and daughters, and we have the right to be
proud that such a town as old Woodstock has nourished us and blessed us
with such memories and influences.


What has the town done to make us proud of it? It has exerted an
influence for good upon the country wherever its inhabitants have
settled. Such settlements have been many. During the early history
of the plantation, Woodstock men assisted largely in the settlement
of Ashford, Pomfret, Killingly, and other neighboring towns. As the
surplus population increased, migrations were made to the wild regions
of Vermont and New Hampshire. Later came the settlements made by
Connecticut, in the provinces of New York and Pennsylvania, in which
Woodstock families were almost without exception represented. At the
close of the Revolution the wave of emigration extended still farther
West, and some of the oldest families in Ohio trace their ancestry back
to this very town. To-day Woodstock has its representatives in almost
every State in the Union, and the material growth and prosperity of
the country has been in full measure owing to the settlements made by
men from towns in New England like Woodstock. The ideas inherited from
Puritan ancestors and modified according to existing circumstances have
made towns, cities, even States, in which the whole country to-day
takes the warmest pride. The man who inherits New England traditions
from towns like Woodstock is worth more to the country than an army of
Anarchists and Socialists.

Woodstock is distinguished, too, for its "notable meetings," inherited
from the Woodstock in England, of which Judge Sewell speaks. The first
"notable meeting" was when John Eliot preached to the Indians on Plaine
Hill. The second "notable meeting" was when the first settlers drew
their home lots in Wabbaquasset Hall. The third "notable meeting"
was at the funeral of Col. John Chandler in 1743, attended by the
leading men in the colonies of Massachusetts and Connecticut. The
church meetings of the last century, the town meeting when Woodstock
transferred its allegiance to Connecticut, meetings during the
Revolution, the old "training days" on Woodstock Common, have been
followed by no end of "notable meetings" during the present century.
But the one "notable meeting" that those of us present here to-day have
in mind, was when Ulysses S. Grant, General of the Army, Savior of the
Country and President of the United States, visited the town in 1870.

But the chief glory of the town of Woodstock has been its love of local
law. The source of the power of the continental nations of Europe may
be traced back through the centuries to the village communities and
Teutonic townships. In the mark, tithing, and parish of England the
same principle of local self-government may be seen; and so our own
nation's greatness, through Anglo-Saxon inheritance, has its source,
not in the State, city, or county, but in the little school districts,
villages, and towns of New England. Woodstock has been like a miniature
republic, and has always believed in the supremacy of local law. Its
refusal to send its representative to the General Court at Boston
unless it could tax its own property as it pleased, and the refusal,
for political reasons, of its delegates at the State Convention in
1788 to vote for the ratification of the Constitution of the United
States, are instances of the extreme independence of Woodstock. What
it conscientiously believed, the town has never been slow to proclaim.
Tenacious as Woodstock has always been of its privileges and its
rights, its loyalty to the country, from the day the thirteen colonies
became a nation, has never been questioned.


I have given scarce more than a sketch in outline of what the history
of Woodstock has been during the two hundred years since that historic
band of brave boys and sturdy men, of deft-handed girls and sober
matrons, swarmed like bees from the Roxbury hive[104] and settled on
the Wabbaquasset hills. What Woodstock's history shall be remains for
you, men and women of Woodstock, to develop. The fathers have kept
bright the honest traditions and stout independence, the industrious
thrift and religious faith which their Puritan fathers brought to the
new settlement. The sons of this generation can be trusted to preserve
and transmit them to their descendants. You, men of Woodstock, have
your duties in the family, on the farm, toward your schools, and to
your churches. All that the fathers have done puts an added obligation
upon you. The improvement and development of the town depend on the
individual exertions of its citizens. If you are young, infuse some of
your own enthusiasm and intelligence into its different organizations.
If you are old, remember these institutions in a substantial way.
Woodstock will be what you make it. Michel Angelo saw in the block the
exquisite unsculptured statue. Many blows of the chisel were necessary
to disclose the perfect ideal to the eyes of a wondering world. In
thought, in plan, in ideal, this town has been almost a perfect
organization; but only those whose high vision is willing to pierce
through all encrusting imperfections shall be the artists whose toil
and sacrifices shall make this dear, noble, historic town of Woodstock
an honor to the State and a blessing to its citizens. It is said that
old John Eliot, from the high pulpit in Roxbury, used to pray every
Sabbath for the new settlers at Woodstock. The words of those prayers
are not preserved, but may the spirit of them come down through the
centuries to inspire the hearts of all who inherit the blood of the
early settlers of this ancient town. God, our fathers' God, bless old


[1] Also spelt Roxberry, Roxborough, Rocksborough.

[2] July 30, 1630.

[3] Young's "Chronicles of Massachusetts," p. 396.

[4] Winthrop's "Journal," by Savage, vol. i., p. 111.

[5] "Ordained over the First Church, Nov. 5, 1632."--Eliot's tomb in

[6] "Memorial History of Boston," vol. i., p. 403.

[7] Though the Williamses did not settle permanently in Woodstock till
some years after the first settlement, the family was most prominent in
Roxbury, and one of its representatives visited the grant officially in

[8] Drake's "Town of Roxbury" and "Memorial History of Boston," vol.
i., pp. 401-422.

[9] De Forest's "Indians of Connecticut," and Palfrey's "History of New
England," and Miss Ellen D. Larned's "History of Windham County."

[10] Also "called the Wabbaquassett and Whetstone country; and
sometimes the Mohegan conquered country, as Uncas had conquered and
added it to his sachemdom." Trumbull's "History of Connecticut," vol.
i., 31.

[11] September.

[12] Winthrop's "Journal," by Savage, vol. i, 132. Palfrey's "Hist. of
New England," vol. i., 369. The same year (Nov. 1633), "Samuel Hall and
two other persons travelled westward into the country as far as this
[Connecticut] river." Holmes' "Annals," vol. i., 220.

[13] Winthrop's "Journal," vol. i., 171.

[14] Possibly some of the Dorchester emigrants, including Henry
Wolcott, William Phelps, and others, may have passed a little south of
this line. Dr. McClure's MSS., in the possession of the Connecticut
Historical Society: "In a conversation with the late aged and
respectable Capt. Sabin of Pomfret, Ct., he related to me the following
discovery, viz.: About forty years ago he felled a large and ancient
yoke about the north line of Pomfret adjoining Woodstock. On cutting
within some inches of the heart of the tree it was seen to have been
cut and chipped with some short tool like an axe. Rightly judging that
at the time when it must have been done the Indians so far inland were
destitute and ignorant of the use of iron tools, he counted the number
of the annual circular rings from the said marks to the bark of the
tree, and found that there were as many rings as the years which had
intervened from the migration of the Dorchester party to that time.
Hence 'the probability that they had journeyed along the north border
of Pomfret, and as they traveled by a compass, the conjecture is
corroborated by that course being nearly in a direct line from Boston
to the place of their settlement on the Connecticut River.'"--Stiles'
"History of Ancient Windsor," p. 26.

[15] "Memorial Hist. of Boston," vol. i., 263.

[16] "Historical Collections of the Indians in New England. By Daniel
Gookin, Gentleman, Printed from the original manuscript, 1792." See
"Collections Mass. Hist. Soc.," vol. i., First Series, pp. 190-192.

[17] Wabbaquasset, or Woodstock.

[18] Dudley.

[19] 1674.

[20] Black James was a distinguished Indian. He met Eliot again in
Cambridge in June of 1681, where a meeting of the claimants of the
Nipmuck country was held. The village and much of the land of the town
of Dudley was known years after the settlement of Woodstock as "The
Land of Black James and Company."--Ammidown's "Historical Collections,"
vol. i., 406, 461.

[21] Named after "Wabbaquasset Hall," built in the spring or summer of

[22] Palfrey's "History of New England," vol. iii., 159.

[23] Mrs. L. H. Sigourney's "Pocahontas."

[24] Feb. 10, 1682.

[25] Ellis' "History of Roxbury Town": "When the people of Roxbury came
to take up lands, they selected their locations amongst the praying
Indians or where Indians had been converted to Christianity.... This
certainly is a sure indication of the steady adherence of his [John
Eliot's] fellow-townsmen and their belief in the actual benefits of
his missionary labors."

[26] Oct. 6, 10, and 17.

[27] Joseph Griggs, John Ruggles, and Edward Morris.

[28] Dec. 5, 1683.

[29] "Records of the Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay in New
England," vol. v., 426.

[30] Oct. 27, 1684.

[31] Jan. 28th.

[32] "Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in
New England," vol. v., 468.

[33] Committee appointed May 14, 1686, and reported to Roxbury June

[34] Though the name of John Ruggles was on the list of "goers" and a
house lot was drawn for him, he did not settle in Woodstock. The family
of Ruggles is prominent among the first settlers in Pomfret.

[35] This Jonathan Peake was the father of Jonathan Peake, Jr., born in
1663, who came to Woodstock in April of 1687.

[36] Lot 43 was given to Clement Corbin soon after the drawing of home
lots. The inscription of his rude gravestone reads: "Here lies buried
the body of Clement Corbin, aged 70, deceast August ye 1st, 1696."

[37] The inscription on this small gravestone in the burying-ground on
Woodstock Hill is read with difficulty and is as follows: "Here lies
buried ye body of Lieu. Edward Morris, deceas'd September 14, 1689."

Many of the first settlers now have no stones to mark their graves, and
perhaps never had.

[38] At that time twenty-four years old.

[39] MSS. of Deacon Jedediah Morse, in the possession of Henry T.
Child, of Woodstock.

[40] Windsor was first called Dorchester and Hartford was first called

[41] Born in England, son of Henry Sewell of Rowley, Mass., and
grandson of Henry Sewell, mayor of Coventry, England. In 1684, he
became an Assistant.

[42] Memorial "History of Boston," vol. i., 210, 540.

[43] Hildreth's "History of the United States," vol. ii., 130.
Trumbull's "History of Connecticut," vol. i., 401, 402. Palfrey's
"Hist. of New England," vol. iv., 46. Holmes' "Annals of America," vol.
i., 430, 431. Bancroft's "Hist. of the U. S.," vol. iii., 183.

[44] "Collections of the Mass. Hist. Soc.," vol. v., Fifth Series, p.
315, foot-note. Palfrey's "Hist, of N. E.," vol. iv., 48, foot-note,
and appendix. The other six members of the Committee were Simon
Bradstreet (Governor), Sir William Phips (Governor, 1692-95), Maj. Gen.
Wait Winthrop, Maj. Elisha Hutchinson, Col. Samuel Shrimpton, and Maj.
John Richards.

[45] Thomas Gilbert, D.D., of Oxford University, author of "Carmen
Congratulatorum." Judge Sewell visited him in England, and was shown
by Dr. Gilbert the Bodleian Library, "a very magnificent Thing." See
Sewell papers: Fifth Series, Mass. Hist. Soc. Collection, vols, v.,
vi., vii. We may be allowed to suppose that Dr. Gilbert took Judge
Sewell to Woodstock, only eight miles from Oxford University, where
the latter perhaps was impressed for the first time with the name and
historical associations of Woodstock.

[46] Capt. Ruggles of Roxbury, who died Aug. 15, 1692, of whom Sewell
says, in his Diary, Aug. 16th: "Capt. Ruggles also buried this day,
died last night, but could not be kept."

[47] Proceedings of Mass. Hist. Soc. for Feb., 1873, p. 399.

[48] Rev. Mr. Dwight, of Woodstock, dined with him Aug. 24, 1718,
and made a prayer at his court Nov. 7, 1718. Also see Diary, Jan. 2,
1724: "Paid Mr. Josiah Dwight of Woodstock in full, of his demands for
boarding Madam Usher there about six or seven weeks in the year 1718,
£2-11." John Acquittimaug, of Woodstock, an Indian, who lived to be
one hundred and fourteen years old, was entertained by Judge Sewell
in 1723. _Boston News-Letter_, Aug. 29, 1723. The wills of Woodstock
people were proved before "the Honorable Samuel Sewell, Judge of
Probate." MSS. of Martin Paine of South Woodstock.

[49] Paraclete Skinner, of Woodstock, who remembers the second
meeting-house that was taken down in 1821, says that that structure
never had a bell.

[50] While in custody at Woodstock, Queen Elizabeth, according to the
chronicler, Raphael Holinshed, wrote with a diamond on a pane of glass
in her room these words:

"Much suspected--of me Nothing proved can be, Quoth Elizabeth, prisoner."

[51] Sir Walter Scott's novel of "Woodstock."

[52] The last time that the name of New Roxbury, as applied to the name
of the whole town, appears in the Proprietors' Records of Woodstock is
March 18, 1689. The first time the name of Woodstock appears is May 26,
1690: Woodstock Records.

[53] 1691.

[54] March.

[55] Town meeting November 27th and 28th.

[56] Woodstock, at this time, was under the restrictions of frontier
towns. It was called a "frontier town" in 1695.--Mass. Hist. Society
Proceedings, 1871-1873, p. 395.

[57] December 28th.

[58] Lincoln's "History of Worcester County."

[59] Sept. 7th.

[60] Manuscript Records of Second Precinct of Woodstock, or Parish
of New Roxbury, in the possession of G. Clinton Williams, of West

[61] May 16th.

[62] Petition to town Nov. 2, 1736.

[63] July, 1737.

[64] 1739.

[65] Oct. 2, 1741.

[66] April, 1742.

[67] Letter of Aug., 1742, to selectmen.

[68] Nov. 18, 1742.

[69] Sept. 14th.

[70] In the school-house Sept. 27th.

[71] Line dividing East and West Parishes approved by General Assembly
of Connecticut in 1753, and name of New Roxbury approved in 1754.

[72] The old First Church. See Records of First and Third
Congregational Churches, and Miss Larned's "History of Windham County."

[73] July 27th.

[74] Class of 1733.

[75] He was the son of John Stiles, who belonged to one of the oldest
families of Windsor, and was the brother of Rev. Isaac Stiles, a
graduate of Yale College in the class of 1722, and was uncle of Ezra
Stiles, President of Yale College. President Stiles often visited
Woodstock after his uncle had settled at Muddy Brook, now called East

[76] Oct., 1761.

[77] July 25th, at the age of 74.

[78] Class of 1759.

[79] Killingly.

[80] Vote of First Church passed Dec. 8, 1766.

[81] Letter dated Cambridge, March 24, 1776.

[82] Class of 1776.

[83] Hutchinson's "History of Massachusetts," vol. iii., 6-8; vol. ii.,

[84] July 28, 1749.

[85] Woodstock speaks of Massachusetts' repeated claims in a memorial
to Conn. Gen. Assembly, May 2, 1771.

[86] Gen. Putnam was much interested in this project. A meeting to
promote the idea was held at his house in Pomfret, Feb. 11, 1771. The
State again refused the application for a new county, when Pomfret
applied in 1786 for a new county, "with Pomfret for shire-town."

[87] Captain Johnson was the father of Nathaniel Johnson, and
father-in-law of Lieutenant Henry Bowen, both first settlers of

[88] "The Chandler Family," by Dr. George Chandler.

[89] England declared war against France March 31st.

[90] Seven hundred men from Massachusetts, of which Woodstock was then
a part, were impressed for this service.

[91] Lieut.-Col. Thomas Chandler was the son of Col. John Chandler,
and was Woodstock's first representative to the General Assembly of
Connecticut. Ante p. 44.

[92] The forces were furnished by New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and
Connecticut, and amounted to 4,070.

[93] October 7th.

[94] Fight at "Charlestown, No. 4," New Hampshire, May 2, 1748, in
which Peter Perrin and Aaron Lyon, of Woodstock, were killed.

[95] Or the Seven Years' War (1753-1760).

[96] At town meeting, June 21, 1774.

[97] Miss Ellen D. Larned's "History of Windham County."

[98] There is no evidence to prove the reiterated statement that one
hundred and eighty-nine Woodstock men fought at the battle of Bunker
Hill. This number was stationed at Cambridge, and some of them may have
been at Bunker Hill.

[99] Oliver Wendell Holmes at Roseland Park, July 4, 1877.

[100] Rev. Abel Styles subscribed the largest sum, £30. He was fond of
_belles-lettres_, and in a communication to his church, speaks of "his
beloved studies." Under his inspiration and instruction, Woodstock and
Pomfret young men entered Yale College.

[101] 1784-1856.

[102] 1763-1837.

[103] 1764-1804.

[104] Cotton Mather: "Massachusetts soon became like a hive overstocked
with bees, and many thought of swarming into new plantations."


  Academy, Establishment of, 53

  Annexation to Connecticut in 1749, 44

  Bacon, Thomas, 26

  Black, James, 17

  Bowen, Lieut. Henry, 26

  Chandler, Captain John, 34

  ---- Charles Church, 48

  ---- Col. John, 55

  ---- Col. Thomas, 47

  ---- Hon. John Church, 55

  ---- Judge John Winthrop, 55

  ---- Rev. Thos. Bradbury, D.D., 55

  ---- Winthrop, 55

  Characteristics of the place and people, 58

  Child, Captain Benjamin, 49

  ---- Captain Elisha, 48, 49

  ---- Lieut. Josiah, 49

  ---- Nathaniel, 48

  Church, First built 1694, 32

  ---- Fourth Congregational, established 1767, 40

  ---- Third Congregational, established 1760, 40

  Churches, History of, 36

  Connecticut, First members to General Assembly of, 44

  "Connecticut Park," 13

  Court, Establishment of, among Indians, 17

  Cradock, Governor, 14

  Curtis, John, 21

  Distinguished men of Woodstock, 55

  Dudley, Joseph, 20

  ---- Thomas, Letter of, to Countess of Lincoln, March 12, 1630-1, 8

  Dwight, Rev. Josiah, first minister, installed October 17, 1690, 32

  Eaton, General William, 56

  Education, progress of, 53

  Eliot's visit to Woodstock, Narrative of, by Gookin, 15

  Families represented in French and Indian War, 47

  Fines imposed for non-attendance at town meeting, 33

  Fox, Jabez, 49

  ---- John, 49

  French and Indian War, Woodstock families represented in, 47

  Frizzel, William, 49

  Frontier service, Twenty men impressed for, 1724, 46

  General Court, First, in America, Boston, September 28, 1630, 9

  Gookin, Major Daniel, magistrate of all Indian towns, 1656, 14

  Grant, General U. S., Visit of, to Woodstock, 59

  Gravestone of Edward Morris (oldest in county--1689), 25

  Holmes, Abiel, 56

  ---- Doctor David, 56

  ---- Oliver Wendell, 56

  Home lots, Drawing lots for, 23

  Indian church, First, in America, established by Eliot at Natick
    in 1651, 14

  Indians, Religious instruction of, in 1629, 14

  ---- Troubles with, 33

  King Philip's war, Consequences of, 18

  Leonard, Rev. Abiel, installed pastor, 1763, 40

  ---- ---- appointed chaplain of Third Regiment of Connecticut, 41

  ---- ---- death of, 41

  Longevity of some of the present inhabitants, 26

  Lots drawn for home lots, 23

  Lyman, Rev. Eliphalet, ordained in 1779, 42

  ---- "Old Priest," 42

  Lyon, Captain Daniel, 49

  ---- Stephen, 49

  McClellan, Captain Samuel, 48, 49

  ---- Gen. Geo. B., 51

  Manning, Ephraim, 49

  Marcy, Captain Nathaniel, 49

  ---- Hon. Wm. Leonard, 56

  ---- John, 56

  Massachusetts Bay, first organized settlement on, 8

  "Middlesex Gore," 45

  Military renown of men of Woodstock, 46

  Minister, appointment of first, 32

  Morris, Asa, 49

  ---- Commodore Charles, 55

  ---- George N., 55

  ---- Edward, 21

  ---- Hon. J. F., 56

  Morse, Jedediah, 48, 56

  ---- Rev. Jedediah, D.D., 56

  ---- Samuel F. B., 56

  ---- Sarah, 26

  Nipmuck country, Derivation of name, 12

  ---- Description of, 12

  ---- Desertion of, after King Philip's war, 18

  ---- Purchase of, from Indians, 20

  "Notable Meeting," 59

  Oldman, John, 12

  "Old Thirteen," Names of, 23

  Perry, Saml., 49

  Praying Villages, 14

  Pulpit Rock, 18

  Putnam, Capt. Israel, 47

  Pynchon, William, 10

  Quinnatisset, 15

  Rebellion, Services of Woodstock, men in, 51

  Refusal to send representatives to General Court at Boston, 60

  Religious services among Indians, Description of, 15

  Revolution, Company of one hundred and eighty-nine men formed
    for service in, 48

  ---- Service rendered by town during the, 47

  Roxbury--Deputies sent to Boston Assembly, 1634, 9

  ---- Early settlers' names, 10

  ---- Eliot, Rev. John, pastor of First Church, established 1632, 10

  ---- First settlers, where from, 9

  ---- Founders' names, 10

  ---- Prominent in organizing settlement of Woodstock, 11

  ---- Settlement of, Sept. 28, 1630, 9

  Ruggles, John, 21

  ---- Samuel, 21

  Sampson, Indian teacher at Wabquissit, 15

  School-house built 1733, 37

  Selectmen, Names of first, 33

  ---- Names of first, chosen by New Roxbury, 27

  Settlement, Arrangements for, 21

  ---- Committee appointed to find place suitable for, 21

  ---- Name of, changed from New Roxbury to Woodstock, 28

  ---- of other towns by Woodstock men, 58

  ---- Petition for land for, 1683, 21

  ---- Time granted for, 21

  ---- ---- extended, 22

  Settlers, Ages of first, 25

  ---- Descendants of, now in town, 26

  ---- Enterprise of, 27

  ---- First death among, 25

  ---- Names of first, 24

  ---- Original thirteen, 23

  Sewell, Capt. Samuel, 29

  ---- ---- Extract from diary of, 30

  Skinner, Paraclete, 26

  Stages, Lines of, established between Woodstock and New London
    and New Haven, 50

  Stiles, Rev. Abel S., 39

  Stoughton, Wm., 20

  Throop, Rev. Amos, 36

  Trees planted by wife of General McClellan, 50

  Wabbaquasset, 12

  Wabquissit, 16

  Walker, Amasa, 57

  ---- Gen. Francis A., 57

  War of 1812, Woodstock men in, 51

  West Parish of Woodstock, incorporated 1743, 38

  ---- called New Roxbury, 38

  Williams, Jared W., 57

  ---- Rev. Stephen, 38, 57

  ---- Samuel, Sr., 57

  Women of Woodstock, 57

  Woodstock Hill, 13

  Worcester County formed, 1731, 35

Transcriber's note:

Unusual spelling is as in the original.

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