Monday, April 9, 2018

Another Nutfield Anniversary Account from an 1869 Gloucester, Massachusetts Newspaper

West Running Brook
from a Robert Frost book of the same title
published 1928, woodcut by J. J. Lankes

Transcribed from The Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph, Saturday, June 12, 1869, Gloucester, Massachusetts, page 2.

Derry, N.H., is familiar to many of our people from a variety of causes: made familiar by the reminiscences of the fathers – of the Londonderry women who sought our town on horseback to dispose of the products of their spinning wheels, looms and dairies; by the Derry linen handed down by the careful mothers as an heirloom; by intermarriage; and by reminiscences of the school hours of those who claim Pinkerton Academy or Adams’ Female Academy as their alma mater, including, by the way, not a few of the present generation. It is also known to many as a desirable summer resort, and these recall pleasant hours among its shady retreats and attractive drives over forest roads.
                The dust of our kindred moulders in its quiet church-yards, and the ever hearty welcome and country cheer of living representatives of the family makes it a second home to us.  It is with pleasure therefore that we antedate our vacation by an early summer holiday, spent amid scenes rendered familiar by visits neither few nor short.
                Our route lies along our old sea line to Salem, thence through the brown leather fields of Peabody and almost as brown canker worm ravaged orchards of Danvers, the meadows of Middleton golden with butter cups, on to Lawrence with its hum of spindles, thence over the line into the Granite State to the scotch-irish settlement of Derry nee Londonderry nee Nutfield.  Here at Windham the boys have dug through a sawdust bank into a bed of preserved snow, and are having a game of snowball on the ninth of June – snowballing, while further on at Derry the jaded horses are struggling through pulverized sandheaps and blinding clouds of dust.
                And this is Derry, where we pass the night and wake in the morning at the summons of joyful bells and booming cannon. – Is this your quiet country town, with a constant stream of teams pouring in from early dawn, and the railroad trains landing carload after carload of passengers, until they are numbered by thousands.  Or is this ancient muster-day, or the still more antiquated and equally famous Londonderry Fair, celebrated in ancient legend.  Is yonder canvass the cattle-booth, and are the crowd that fills the plain engaged in wrestling matches and sack races and all the unique Irish games brought to this section by the first settlers?
                No!  the days of the Londonderry Fair are among the things of the past, and the young men of our day have known service on other grounds than the muster-fields of their fathers.  To-day (Thursday) we meet to celebrate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of ancient Nutfield.
                One hundred and fifty years ago to-day sixteen families, toilsomely and wearily, with ox-teams doubtless, and such rude house-hold effects as were suited to their time and condition and long journey, made their devious way over these hills and across these vales, then tree-covered, to the brookside where a few rough huts had been put up for their accommodation, and there set up their household goods, and founded new homes in an untried country.  They left their mother country, as long before their ancestors had left the heaths of Scotland and emigrated to the north of Ireland.  A whole colony them, five ship-loads, had arrived at Boston in the late summer of 1718, and had scattered to various settlements of the colony of Massachusetts Bay.  These sixteen families had passed a severe winter, mostly on shipboard, in Casco Bay, and when spring opened had sailed up the Merrimac to Haverhill whence pioneers had come over the hills to Nutfield, and prepared the way for the infant settlement.
                Sixteen families then.  Now the rough places have been made smooth, fertile fields and fruitful orchards have driven back the walnut, chestnut and butternut from which the old town took its name, and substantial farm buildings and handsome villas have taken the places of the rude log hut.
                Less than a hundred souls a century and a half ago, - today ten thousand people gather from far and near, some across a continent, to do honor to the occasion.
                Gilmore does not save all his music for the Peace Jubilee, but enlivens this day with melody worthy of his fame, and Arbuckle adds to the musical treat as Arbuckle can.  The Manchester Veterans are here, with their black velvet knee breeches and yellow top boots, their blue swallow tails with white lappels, and old fashioned cocked hats, accompanied by the Manchester Concert Band.
                Here are horses and teams enough, and varied enough, for a camp meeting, tied in every yard and along every fence and under nearly every tree:  here is the knife sharpener and the ballad vender, the soap man and the pop corn peddler, and all the auxiliaries of the muster field: and here is the diluted lemonade and the spiritless soda and leathery sponge cake and all the requirements for a picnic; here also is an antiquarian tent,  worthy of a modern fair.
                And here are people, people, people, to be talked to and played for and fed- yes, fed, with more to be gathered up at the close of the feast than in the days of the five small loaves and two fishes.  To be taked to, hour by hour, by those who have gone out, or whose ancesters have gone out from the old township, and who have earned a position and influence in the country at large.
                Here is the sage and benign Horace, himself born in Londonderry, who write for more readers daily through the Tribune than we shall reach in a lifetime.  Here is Senator Patterson and ex-senators and ex-governors and dignitaries, almost without number, all of whom claim a scotch-irish ancestry, but, paradoxically, disclaim Irish blood.
                And the burden of their talk is the same, the glorification of their ancestors, and through their ancestors of themselves.  One might well wonder where would have been free schools, and religious toleration and civil liberty, but for this little settlement in New Hampshire.  The Scotch-Irish were honest- they bought their lands the Indians; they were brave – their ancestors fought at Marathou; they were patriotic, - their fathers starved rather than surrender at the siege of Londonderry; they were witty – they had lived in Ireland, the home of wit.  What, then! Shall we claim no virtue, no valor, no humor, because our ancestors reached these scenes via Agawam and the banks of the Merrimac instead of more directly from the old country?
                It is a great day for Derry, whose like will not be seen for a half century to come.  It is to Derry what the Peace Jubilee will be to Boston, the event of the century, to be looked back upon and talked of for a lifetime to come.  And Derry has given her visiting sons and daughters such a generous and abundant welcome as the importance of the occasion demands; such a welcome as few small towns can equal and none surpass. 
                The show is not over, but we turn our back upon the busy scene and upon friends who would fain detain us longer, and hastily write out this sketch of our holiday, while we are “jogging along” homeward in the cars.
                Back over the Boston & Maine to Lawrence rolls the heavily laden train, with steadily decreasing numbers, disgorging its living freight at station after station, so numerous that it is a matter of surprise that any were left for other conveyance than by rail.  Salem in one State is left far behind, and now we approach Salem the first.  There just ahead is the tunnel into whose gloom we are about to plunge, with full faith however of reaching the light beyond; and here, on the left, speeds the merchandize train which was to have taken us to our journey’s end, leaving us a night’s delay and Whittier’s refrain ringing in our ears – but for the thronging depots, but for the crowded train, but for the unavoidable delays of large travel – “it might have been.” "


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Another Nutfield Anniversary Account from an 1869 Gloucester, Massachusetts Newspaper", Nutfield Genealogy, posted April 9, 2018, ( accessed [access date]).

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