A Most Succeiiaful and Worthy Observance in Norwood.
Nothing in the entertainment, or celebration line that the town Jias given in many years equaled in interest and enjoyableness the Old Home Day observance last Wednesday, by the Norwood Business Association and Board of Trade. This new and most delightful feast of reunions promises to become a popular annual town institution, Words cannot describe the delight the old-time residents took in the whole affair and it. was a notable fact that some of those whose opposition to the observance had at first been most marked attended all the exercises of the day and seemed loth to go home when it was over. These good people did not seem at first to understand what a big delightful holiday might be made of a simple festival of reunions. The weather was lovely, and Providence seemed to smile on the managers and their gala day. The guests began to arrive in the afternoon and came in goodly numbers. J. Edward Plimpton, president of the Business Association, Hon. F. A. Fales, James A. Hartshorn, James M. Folan, H. F. Walker, of the house committee, and numerous other business men, witli large numbers of ladies from the Woman’s Club, assisted in entertaining them. A light lunch of cake, crackers lemonade and dainties was served. Some 87 visitors signed a register and many more who were present forgot or neglected to sign. It is estimated that from 150 to 200 out of town guests were present. Carriages were provided for guests who desired to drive about town. A good many availed themselves of this opportunity but more did not. They preferred to sit in Village hall and swap reminiscences of old days in Norwood and old South Dedham. The utmost kindliness and good feeling prevailed, all lines of caste, clique, nationality, creed and faction were broken down. We are told of one family which had not been reconciled for years which Old Home Day reunited. • It was the best thing in the celebration line Norwood has done for years, and 6ue calculated to do the greatest possible good to the town. There was no attempt at anything elaborate or spectacular, but from the time the first old-time visitor shook hands with people in Village hall to the fine historical exhibit and address of Milton H. Howard and down to the last eloquent and appropriate speeches of Mr. Alger and Mr. O’Brien, it was one great big golden day for townspeople and visitor’s.
At 4 p. m. there was unveiled on the lawn of the Congregational church, between the church and the Morrill Memorial Library, a natural granite boulder with a level-seamed face, on which was engraved in gold letters this inscription:
Near this spot
Capt. Aaron Guild,
on April 19, 1775, Left plow in
furrow, oxen standing,
And Departing for Lexington,
Arrived in time to fire upon
The retreating British.
Milton H. Howard, chairman of the historical committee, presided over the unveiling. Prayer was offered by Rev. Theron Brown of Newton. A historical address, which was a notably fine effort, was delivered by Harold E. Fales, Esq., of Norwood. This address, which greatly pleased the crowds that had assembled, was as follows:
MILTON H. HOWARD, Historian.
It is an especially happy circumstance that the time selected for the dedication of this memorial tablet to the memory of Aaron Guild is the present. What is more fitting than that the sons and daughters of the old South Parish of Dedham, scions of those sturdy families who founded this community, who have gone forth to all portions of this broad land, building up new communities, making them stronger, better and purer for their presence, assembled here today for the purpose of exchanging friendly greetings, of renewing old acquaintances, and forming new ones, and of looking upon those spots which have become hallowed by the traditions handed down by the parents, or by the blurred but tender memories of childhood, should join with those who have remained for the common purpose of doing honor to the memory of one to whom we all owe so much.
Aaron Guild was a worthy, I think I may say a typical representative of a race of people which has, and even in his time, had won its greatest victories in the arts of peace and in the peopling and developing the waste places of the earth. Descended from one of those who was among the earliest to leave his home on the other side of the water and to land upon our shores for the purpose of finding a place where freedom of belief and of conscience was not a crime, and where he would be allowed to live in accordance with the primeval curse of Almighty, “By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread. ” And this ancestor, when he landed here found what he was seeking, and lived and died here and left descendants to perpetuate his name, and, better still, his character, with that strain of heroism which had bade him leave all that he held dear, for conscience and for manhood. And in descending through the generations those traits, by reason of the pure, wholesome and Christian lives which their possessors lived, and by reason of the stern and wholesome discipline under whch children were reared,—those traits were not lost or weakened, but were strengthened, until they finally culminated in Aaron Guild.
At the time of the breaking out of the Revolution, he had reached middle life, had served his king in the old French war, and had laid down the musket and returned to the plow, and had lived a quiet and useful life, rearing a large family and tilling the land upon which we now stand. He had not, however, lost his interest in public matters, and while doing his duty to his family he still found time to take part in those stirring events, peaceable in themselves, yet certain indications of the gathering of the great storm which was to wrench away from the strongest nation of the earth its fairest colonies and to establish in their place a free and independent nation.
At the time when the embattled farmers, standing their ground at Concord bridge, “fired that shot heard round the world,” ’Aaron Guild was at work plowing this very field. One of those many messengers sent forth from Concord and Lexington before even the smoke of the first volley had had time to clear, speeding North, South, East and West, calling the people to arms in defence of their liberty, —one of those messengers arrived at the old South Parish and Aaron Guild learned the news. The oxen were left in the field still yoked to the plough. A hurried goodbye was spoken to the faithful wife and the beloved children, to whom he might never return. He realized his duty to them, but his duty to his country and his God was more immediate and pressing, and grasping his old musket he started in all haste for the scene of action, arriving in time to take an effective part in the events of the day.
It is unnecessary to follow further the adventures of Aaron Guild, for the tribute which we pay to his memory today should not be understood merely as an honor to an individual. We honor Aaron Guild, but we honor him more as a type of many who showed their heroic devotion, for the heroes that day were numbered by thousands.
That was the day when, along every road leading to Boston could be heard the shrill scream of the fife and the thundering roll of the old drums which had bid defiance to the French at Louisburg and Quebec, while behind them trudged side by side tlie white-haired grandsire and the stripling youth, men varying in almost every characteristic, but having one quality in common — devotion. Every town and village and hamlet for miles around sent forth its fighting men, and wherever they encountered the British they closed with them in deadly combat; the fowling-piece flashed its answer to the roar of the Tower musket, the bayonet crossed with clubbed rifle, and the s’tern discipline of the British army, backed though it was by years of heroic traditions, found its match in the valor and devotion of those undisciplined farmers.
Such was the energy and enthusiasm displayed that day that the representatives of thirty-one towns came into contact with the British before they reached Boston, a truly remarkable performance when we consider the distance and slowness of communication of those times. Let me read the roll of honor: Acton, Bedford, Billerica, Brookline, Beverly, Concord, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Cambridge, Charlestown, Danvers, Dedham, Dorchester, Framingham, Lexington, Lincoln, Lynn, Littleton, Medford, Milton, Needham, Newton, Pepperell, Roxbury, Reading, Sudbury, Stowe, Salem, Woburn, Watertown and Westford.
And close upon the heels of these men followed other thousands who had strained every nerve to reach the same goal, but who, by reason of the distance, had failed to arrive in time. It was the last time that the Briitisli got far out of Boston until nearly a year afterwards, when the British commander, beaten, disheartened and hemmed in, sailed away never again to set foot within the old Bay State.
In paying tribute to the memories of the men who took part in the stirring events of those days, we are doing something more than exalting them and honoring ourselves. We are accomplishing a very practical benefit to the nation, for I firmly believe that a thorough instruction of the youth of today in the events of those times will add more to the fighting strength of this laud than an army corps. To say that these men realized fully what they were doing and what was to be the effect would be to attribute to them prophetic qualities more than human.
It is insupposable that any among them, even the most far-sighted or the most sanguine, could for a moment imagine the mighty change that was to take place in one century and a quarter. At the beginning of the war most of them looked no further than a forcible resistance to tyrannical laws, few dreamed of independence: and when more than a year later the Continental Congress, after a lengthy and heated debate, approved the Declaration of Independence, the most that was hoped for was a small independent nation along the Atlantic coast, protected more by its isolation than by its strength; no one dreamed that that vast wilderness to the westward, four-fifths of which at that time belonged to other nations than Great Britain, would ever be possessed, peopled and developed by this new nation. And yet these men took the precise method which was calculated to bring these results about, and which did bring them about. What an illustration of the value of devotion to duty! what a lesson for the future! These men in their desire to do their duty attempted a tiling comparatively insignificant, but they did their work well. and behold the grandeur of the reward!
But the destiny of the nation so worthily founded was not to stop at the western ocean, broad as it is. Within the memory of all of us, even the youngest, we have seen the flag which
had already pursued its triumphant course across the continent from Massachusetts Bay to the Golden Gate, cross the ocean and gather under its folds the islands of the most distant seas. Such progress is absolutely unprecedented in the history of the world. The infant nation has lifted its head among the greatest of the earth, its influence in the diplomacy which controls the political future of the world is second to none, and this is recognized and acknowledged by all. Au entire century was insufficient to wipe out the bitterness between the mother country and our own, but the last few years has accomplished it, and we have no better friends among the great family of nations than our British cousins. They recognize the greatness and the genius of a people which can build a nation like this, and we must acknowledge that the foundation of all that is greatest and best among us and which has made our success possible was drawn from that little group of islands across the Atlantic.
We have now a land upon which the sun never sets, and I believe that the end is not yet reached. Call it imperialism if you will, this word does not frighten us; on the contrary it signifies that the Anglo-Saxon race, which has done more for human liberty than any other race, is still possessed of those virile qualities which make up that blind instinct to press forward, to rule, to civilize, using peaceable means wherever possible, force when it must.
Our ancestors have left us a splendid heritage, and just as Paul of Tarsus spoke with pride, when he said, “I am a Roman citizen,” so we may glory in the fact that we are American citizens.
The future rests with the generations yet unborn. I have faith to believe that they will prove worthy. They are entrusted with even weightier responsibilities than were our forefathers, but the same devotion to duty, the love of justice and fair play, will enable them to succeed. If .they lose these qualities they will fail, and failure means more than disaster to themselves, it means a calamity to the rest of the world.
THOSE WHO WERE PRESENT.
Among the many guests present were the following, whose names appeared on the register:—
Henry Magee of Lynn, who resided here 52 years ago and worked for John E. Boyden in a shoe factory in a building located on the Thayer lot where the bandstand now is. Captain Edmond Polleys of East Walpole, 90 years of age, formerly lived in South Dedham, is oldest living member of Orient Lodge, A. F. and A. M. Sanford O. Morse of Barrington, R. I., son of the late Oliver Morse, South Dedham’s old-time tailor, who had his shop near the corner of Washington and Nahatan streets. Mrs. Olive L. Rhodes of Medfield, oldest living great-grandaughter of Capt. Aaron Guild. Charles Winship of Lynn, born in So. Dedham in 1818, in what was called the Thorpe house, where Mrs. Doaue’s house’ now stands. Francis W. Crooker, Fitzwilliam, N. H., founder of the Norwood Advertiser. Rev. Roland F. Alger of Dorchester, formerly principal of the Everett school, a much-loved teacher of former days. M. J. O’Brien of Rockland, formerly superintendent of the Norwood schools. Rev. Theron Browm of Newtonviille, a former resident, a Baptist clergyman, who has been a noted literary man, and contributor to the Youth’s Companion. Mrs. N. M. Rawson, Cambridge. Mrs. Ida M. Hayfotd, Cambridge. Frank Freeman Courtney, Hyde Park. Mrs. Mary J. Courtney, Hyde Park widow of John Courtney. Mrs. Alice D. Corbett, East Walpole. Mrs. Julia A. Morse, of East Walpole. Walter C. Sliapleigh, Milton. David Neal, Dedham. Mrs. C. H. Souther, Jamaica Plain. Mr. and Mrs. Austin Sanders, Newtonville. Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Boyd, Newton Highlands. Richard Hartshorn, brother of Mrs. J. M. Winslow’, Providence, R. I. Mrs. E. O. Googins, Hyde Park. M. E. Brooks, wife and daughter, of Roxbury. Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Morrill, Allston. Mrs. Mary E. Sumner, Sharon, widow of Newman Sumner, South Dedham’s former undertaker. Mrs. Charlotte E. Scott, Brockton. Mrs. Hattie G. Wentworth, Brockton. H. Herbert Tisdale, Brockton. Mrs. Ira Fairbanks, New Dorchester. William K. Hawes, Canton Junction. Mr. and Mrs. Francis A. DeWolfe Mansfield. Elmira S. Wiuship, Lynn. Addison L. Winship, Melrose. Adelaide E. Winship, Medfield. Carrie Winship Wheeler, Medfield. Elmira. Winship Ryder, Lynn. Addie L. Ryder, Lynn. Lydia A. Guild, Medfield. Emma F. Rhodes, Medfield. Mrs. Lottie E. Stayner, Boylston. Mr. and Mrs. Charles D. McKenzie, Danvers. Mrs. Sadie N. Turner, Canton Junction. Walter J. Ellis, North Attleboro. George A. Plimpton, New .York, Mrs. C. S. Nickerson, Amherst. J. A. Brennan, East Hartford, Conn. Esther Fogg, Roslindale. Wendell Fogg, Roslindale. Mrs. Emma Bagley, Norwood. Elbridge P. Boyden, South Walpole. Lusher G. Baker, East Dedham. Ethel Bird Park, Greenwood. Rachel H. Park, Newton Upper Falls. Harrison G. Park, Newton Upper Falls. Faustina B. Luther, Attleboro. Julia E. Warner, Dorchester. H. P. Guild, Worcester. Mr. and Mrs. James W. Porter, Somerville. .Mrs. Herbert L. Anderson, Springfield. Henry W. Tisdale, Roxbury. Louis Winslow, Lynn. Mary E. Halloran, Concord, N. H. William T. Halloran, Concord, N. H. August Pinkson, Peabody, formerly member of the Norwood band and employed at Winslow’s tannery, now superintendent of a Peabody tannery. Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Pratt, New Haven, Conn. Annie M. Sparks, Dorchester. Mattie Clark, West Roxbury. B. M. Sample, Boston. George C. Apel, Somerville. Mrs. Sarali S. Fisher, East Boston, widow of Charles Fisher. Marion Murray, Beach Terrace, N.Y. Miss Emma. Murray, Beach Terrace, N. Y. Daniel M. Murray, Beach Terrace,N. Y. Mrs. Thomas S. Sheehan, Beacli Terrace, N. Y. Mrs. Sarah Sanders Wyman, West Newton. Sarah Babcock Guild, West Medway. Charles H. Sanders, West Newton. C. M. Guild, Franklin. Elmer P. Morse, Dedham. E. E. Elston, Sr., Beach Terrace, N. Y. Mrs. Stillman C. Davis, Cambridge. Henry Clark, Boston. Phineas Guild,Worcester, with many others.
THE EVENING EXERCISES.
At 5 o’clock supper was served to about 200 guests at the Norwood Universalist church, the Woman’s Club committees providing a bountiful repast. At 6.30 a band concert was given by the Norwood Baud in front of Village Hall. At 7.30 in the evening final exercises of the day were given in Village hall, which was filled with a most appreciative audience.
J. Edward Plimpton, president of the Norwood Business Association, called the gathering to order. Rev. George W. Nead, pastor of the Norwood Baptist church, offered prayer. Fine vocal selections were rendered by the Weber quartette. Hon. F. A. Fales was introduced as chairman of the evening. Mr. Fales made a fine address of welcome and dwelt on the history of Old Home Week. He suggested that some wealthy Old Home Day visitor might show his loyalty to the town by giving it a town hall. Mr. Fales’ address was principally to the following effect:
“It is my privilege,—on behalf of the Norwood Business Association and Board of Trade and the citizens of Norwood,—to welcome you tonight, you who have come back this day to your Old Home. The idea of Old Home Week observance originated, as you may know, with Gov. Rollins of New Hampshire, where in 1899 the custom was inaugurated and has since been yearly observed with marked success and satisfaction. On the 21st of April this current year, the Legislature of our Commonwealth passed a resolve: “That the calendar week beginning the last Sunday in July in each year shall be designated as ‘Old Home Week,’ and set apart as a special season during which any city or town may arrange for appropriate celebrations to welcome returning sons and daughters of Massachusetts and other invited guests, and for exercises of historical interest. ’ ’ So we are met here tonight, the special time within this Old Home Week appointed by our citizens, to welcome you who have honored us by your presence once again. It seems good to see you. We shall long remember this day for its happy reunions and helpful interchange of experience. If our noble elms, which protected you in your youth, could speak, they would resound with affectionate joy.
We have wanted you with us and have longed for you. We have wished you to sec our many material improvements—our new Memorial Library, for example. Do not fail to note our long-desired railroad station. Many new private residences have recently been added to our number. Our roads and sidewalks have received a great deal of attention. When you come next time we shall show you one of the finest Cemetery Chapels in the country. If any of you have come back to us with fortunes and desire to immortalize yourself, you might leave us a Town Hall. That said a system of sewerage are of our most pressing needs.
We have wanted you. to return to note our moral and spiritual condition. We are not able to take our own pulse, but we trust you will find that the solid character foundations of our ancestors have been conserved and built upon. We believe that we have not been unmindful of the noble traditions of our fathers, and our inheritance of the sense of justice and honor. While we have longed to see you, we believe you have wanted to see us. Aren’t you glad to see us? We hope you are. Many that you used to know have left these scenes and we that are here have aged a little, but the same old spirit of hospitality is still alive. Welcome, thrice welcome, are you! May the bond of fellowship between us be renewed and strengthened today to last forever.
The singing of the “Old Oaken Bucket” stirred up many old memories.
Rev. Theron Brown read a beautiful original poem full of quaintness, pathos, and truthfulness to nature, and read it in an admirable way. Following is the poem:
M. H. Howard then gave one of the great treats of the day, an historical address illustrated with the stereopticon. Among portraits shown were those of many interesting people dead and living: Willard and Fisher Gay L, W. Bigelow, Rev. Edwin Thompson, Rev. George Hill, Curtis Morse, Otis Morse, Francis Tinker, Dea. Samuel Morrill, George Winslow, Geo. S. Winslow, Francis O. Winslow, J. Martin Winslow, Elisha Winslow, Lyman Smith, Jolm Smith, Jabez Sumner, Mentor Fales, John Fisk, with his oxen, and many others. Pictures of all sorts of old and new localities in South Dedham and Norwood were given and the wonderful growth of the town was well illustrated and described. Mr. Howard bestowed the greatest pains on this address and it was a worthy and rapturously applauded effort. A very eloquent address on the influence of home was given by Rev. Roland F. Alger, formerly teacher in the Everett school. It was one of the finest addresses of the day. Another eloquent and forcible address was given by past superintendent of Norwood schools, M. J. O’Brien of Rockland. The singing of “Auld Lang Syne” closed the formal exercises, though many lingered for a social time and farewell. Mrs. W. J. Berwick presided at the piano. The whole affair reflected the highest credit on the Norwood Business Association and on the committees of the Woman’s Club, who lent such valuable aid. A special word of praise belongs to Mrs Mary A. Squires who assisted Dr. F. H. Nutting and others of the Business Association in the catering department, but all the ladies, including Mrs. L- H. Plimpton, general chairman of the ladies’ committee, deserve high praise. The whole affair was such a success that better things and a more general town celebration arc assured for another year.
(All articles originally appeared in the Norwood Messenger unless otherwise noted)