Massachusetts Logo

Beaneath Old Roof Trees
Chapter 18


Page 214




      THE people of Lincoln were more closely allied with their neighbors in Concord than those of either town that had formed parts of the original settlement. Until within about ten years of the beginning of trouble with the mother country, a part of the town had been included in the "six miles square." They had been recognized as a separate municipality only about a score of years when open hostilities were begun. Her sons were well schooled in the art of war, having done faithful service in the interests of the king. Within a year of its incorporation Lincoln was engaged in active preparation for war; and nearly a score of the able-bodied men had their poll-taxes in the county rates for the year 1755 abated, "they being in His Majesty's service in the defence of His dominions in North America." Two were killed at the battle of Lake George, Sept. 8, 1755, others were in the expedition to the eastward in the dis-

Page 215

charge of their country's service, and through the protracted troubles with the French and Indians the town was well represented.
      The same patriotism that prompted these people to fight for the king was their impelling motive when George III. turned his sceptre against them, and their experience had fitted them for the hardships before them.
      Early in the business transactions of the young town stands the record of March 15, 1770 "Voted, that we will not purchase any one article of any person that imports goods contrary to the agreement of the merchants of Boston;" and in answer to the circular letter of February, 1773, they make the following record: "We will not be wanting in our assistance according to our ability, in the prosecuting of all such lawful and constitutional measures as shall be thought proper for the continuance of all our rights, privileges, and liberties, both civil and religious; being of opinion that a steady, united, persevering conduct in a constitutional way, is the best means, under God, for obtaining the redress of all our grievances."
      Among the notable families of Lincoln that did valiant service in the Revolution, and which are yet represented in the place, is the Farrar family, still occupying the old estate, on which are two dwellings that echoed the voices of anxious people on the 19th of April, 1775. Miss Mary B. Farrar,

Page 216

my informant, with others at the old home, represent the sixth generation in possession. The first family dwelling was built by George Farrar about 1692, and hence has sheltered the family almost two centuries. About the time of setting up his home at this place, a part of Concord, he was urged to settle farther to the interior of the

[Photo - "Farrar Homestead, Lincoln"]

country, and was offered one-half the present township of Southborough for two cents per acre, and went to see it; but on his return said it was so far in the wilderness it would never be inhabited. This pioneer, who lived until 1760, and his wife one year longer, was succeeded by a son, Samuel, who was born in 1708. Through his marriage with Lydia Barrett of Concord, the family

Page 217

became joined with one of historical interest. He lived to see the promise of liberty well-nigh verified, when he was succeeded by his son and namesake, Samuel, who was born in 1737, and whose marriage with Mary Hoar in 1772 made the interests of these towns more intimate. He was distinguished in the Revolution, and ever since appears in the records as "Captain." He attained the age of ninety-two years, dying in 1829. The family succession was continued by James, son of Captain and Deacon Samuel, who began life at this old home in the year of the Declaration of Independence, for which his father nobly fought.
      The marriage of James Farrar, first with Nancy Barrett, and later with Mary Fiske Hoar, continued and strengthened interesting family history.
      The second James, born in 1820, kept the record unbroken, and aided in maintaining the family integrity. He married Adeline Hyde in 1845; and their children occupy the old dwelling, which they sincerely cherish, as does another branch of the family, occupying another dwelling of much historical interest. Judge Timothy Farrar, who died in 1847, aged one hundred and one years and seven months, said of his birthplace, when asked as to its age on his centennial, You must ask some one older than I; it was an old house as long as I can remember."
      Samuel Farrar, with his wife, Lydia Barrett, both advanced in years, and their son, Samuel,

Page 218

with Mary Hoar, his wife, were all living on the old homestead at the opening of the Revolution. The home was but a short distance from the village of Concord, and the reader can imagine that whatever affected the people of the mother town touched the vital interests of these families in Lincoln.
      The geographical situation of Lincoln favored a strong alliance with Concord. The main road from Charlestown, through Lexington to Concord and Groton, passed through the northerly part of Lincoln; hence the travel between the lower towns and those of importance in Middlesex county, farther inland, was naturally through Lincoln. Soldiers from Gage's army had been frequently seen passing up and down this road; and if an invasion was made, it was expected to be over this direct route. In the north-easterly part of the town, near Lexington line, and not far from Bedford, dwelt Mr. Josiah Nelson, an ardent patriot, with whom arrangements were made to extend an alarm in case of danger. Nelson was awakened in the night of the 18th of April by the noise of horsemen passing up the road. He rushed out half-dressed to ascertain the cause of the passing, and instead of information was given a blow with a sword, gashing his head, and was told that he was a prisoner. He was immediately surrounded by a party of British scouts and Tories, who acted as guides; after detaining him a

Page 219

while the scouts left him in charge of the Tories, who knew him well as an honored citizen, and they soon released him, with an order to go into his house and extinguish the light. They threatened to burn his house over his head if he gave any alarm, or showed any light. But this did not cause the patriot to shrink from duty. After dressing himself and his wound, he started to keep his promise to the Bedford neighbors, a little north of his home. This alarm, sounded in the extreme south part of Bedford by Nelson, explains the readiness with which the minute-men and militia of that part of Bedford reported at Jeremiah Fitch's tavern in Bedford Centre when the alarm from Lexington was first given in the opposite part of the town.
      It was not far from Nelson's home that Paul Revere, on his midnight ride, was captured, and thus prevented from going to Concord, as the poet describes him, unless it was by proxy.

"It was two by the village clock
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown."

      (The town of Lincoln has taken action towards the erection of a monument where Revere was captured.)

      Captain William Smith of the minute-men lived on this road, and to him the alarm must have

Page 220

come at a very early hour. He mounted his horse, and made haste to spread the alarm, and then pushed on to Concord, reaching there with a part of his company about seven o'clock in the morning. He was directed by a field-officer to parade his men on the hill, which he did, leaving his horse at the tavern. The horse was later appropriated by the enemy to carry away one of their wounded. When the British were in possession of North Bridge, Captain Smith offered, with his company, to endeavor to dislodge them.
      Leaving Captain Smith and such of his company as received the alarm in time to join him in the morning at Concord, I will now invite the reader to join me in listening to the story of Mrs. Samuel Hartwell as told by her grandson, who had it repeatedly from her lips. Says Mr. Hartwell, "It was my good fortune to have a grandmother live in the full possession of her faculties until she attained almost a century of life. The happiest days of my youth were those spent at her fireside, listening to her experiences on the day long to be remembered. She said: 'Your grandfather, who was sergeant, left the house, joining the neighbors as soon as the alarm reached us. I did up the chores at the barn, and cared for the children as well as I could in my anxiety. When thus occupied, a colored woman who lived near us came in to spread the news of the approach of the British, but was afraid to go farther; so I said, "If you will

[Photo - "Whitman House, Lincoln"]

Page 221

take care of my baby, I will go and give the warning." I started for a neighbor's house, glancing down the road, and saw such a sight as I can never forget. The army of the king was coming up in fine order, their red coats were brilliant, and their bayonets glistening in the sunlight made a fine appearance; but I knew what all that meant, and I feared that I should never see your grandfather again, although I then knew nothing of their bloody work at Lexington.
      "'I saw an occasional horseman dashing by, going up and down, but heard nothing more until I saw them coming back in the afternoon, all in confusion, wild with rage, and loud with threats. I knew there had been trouble, and that it had not resulted favorably for that retreating army. I heard the musket-shots just below, by the old Brooks Tavern, and trembled, believing that our folks were killed. Some of the rough, angry soldiers rushed up to this house and fired in; but fortunately for me and the children, the shots went into the garret, and we were safe. How glad I was when they all got by the house, and your grandfather and our neighbors reached home alive!'"
      The scenes that followed the alarm, when it reached other homes in the town, were in some respects like those at the home of Samuel Hartwell. Says Mr. Farrar, a grandson of Captain Samuel of the company of militia, and the owner

Page 222

and occupant of one of the Farrar dwellings on the old homestead, "My grandfather was on his way to mill in the early dawn when he heard of the trouble. Throwing his saddle-bags containing the grist over a wall, he made haste to rally his men, and went on to Concord."
      The people, here as elsewhere, had become so alarmed by premonitions of evil that this morning's intelligence was enough to cause them to believe that nether life nor property was safe within the range of the invading army. Says Mr. Farrar, "The Concord families living nearest to our home fled this way for safety, and with my grandmother and others of the family left this house, and took refuge in 'Oaky Bottom,' a retired piece of forest land about one-half mile in.the rear of the house, still known by that name in our community. Grandmother in her haste had sufficient self-possession to think of the cattle tied in the barn. These she let loose, desiring to save them from the flames that she expected would be kindled by Gage's army. She took her babe, Samuel (the third), in her arms, the large family Bible, a loaf of bread, and a looking-glass, with what little silver she had, and bade farewell to the old dwelling, never expecting to gather her family about her again beneath that ancestral roof. Every little while they would venture out far enough to look over the hill to see if the soldiers had set the house on fire." To appre-

Page 223

ciate the situation of these people and others, the young patriot needs to place himself in thought back to that April morning, having in mind the

[Photo - "Samuel Farrar, 'The Babe Samuel'"]

many real threats and the more unwarranted alarms that had emanated from the army at Boston. "The babe Samuel," said Mr. Farrar, "grew and became a distinguished man. He was

Page 224

one of the trustees of Andover Seminary, and president of the bank for many years." His picture taken at the age of ninety years appears on page 223. The silver and the looking-glass, for some time hidden in a ditch, were safely returned to the home, and were long used in the family. The old Bible with its well-worn leaves, which long since left the vellum covers, is kept in a glass case in the room from which it was so hastily yet reverently taken.
      While all the precaution taken by the Farrar family proved to be unnecessary, too much was not taken in the other part of Lincoln through which the enemy passed; for at more places than the Hartwell house, already mentioned, there were left indelibly stamped the signs of the vengeful acts of the enemy.
      The soldiers of the town met one another at the scene of action at Concord; and it was one of them, Eleazer Brooks, whose calmness in the time of danger prevented the determined patriots from the rashness of attack, by saying, "It will not do for us to begin the war." In the most severe contest of the retreat, the Lincoln men were in their own town, many of them on their own farms, where they were familiar with every knoll and vale. Says Mr. William F. Wheeler, "The retreating column re-entered the town soon after noon. From the foot of Hardy's Hill, the first considerable ascent on the returning march, to the foot of

Page 225

the next hill, the road is the dividing line between Concord and Lincoln. At the south-west corner of the tanyard, the line of the town leaves the road and turns northward. Eastward from the tanyard the road ascends a steep acclivity, and bends northward also. To reduce the grade of the hill, and get material for the repairs of the road, an excavation had been made in the brow of the hill. Through this excavation the road passed; and on the easterly side of the road was a dense forest, which afforded a covert for the Provincials, while the curves of the road exposed the British to a raking fire from front and rear. It was here that the retreat first became a rout - here that the trained warriors of England's haughty king first paled in wild dismay, and then fled in dire confusion before an impromptu army of enraged and embattled farmers." Hard fighting was done on Lincoln soil. Near the brow of the hill eight British soldiers lost their lives. It was here that Captain Jonathan Willson of Bedford, Daniel Thompson of Woburn, and Nathaniel Wyman of Billerica were killed. Two more British soldiers lost their lives on Lincoln soil.
      Some of the women of the town were not so disconcerted as to fail to plan for the needs of the men who had so hastily left their homes. Knowing that the men would probably pass down the highway on their return, these women prepared a lunch of hasty pudding and milk at the home of

Page 226

Leonard Hoar. "This," said Mrs. Farrar, "was hastily served on extemporized tables of barrels and boards by the roadside."
      Although Mrs. Samuel Hartwell had good reason for entertaining vindictive feelings towards the invading army, her actions proved that her better nature soon prevailed. She said, "I could not sleep that night, for I knew there were British soldiers lying dead by the roadside; and when, on the following morning, we were somewhat calmed and rested, we gave attention to the burial of those whom their comrades had failed to take away. The men hitched the oxen to the cart, and went down below the house, and gathered up, the dead. As they returned with the team and the dead soldiers, my thoughts went out for the wives, parents, and children away across the Atlantic, who would never again see their loved ones; and I left the house, and taking my little children by the hand, I followed the rude hearse to the grave hastily made in the burial-ground. I remember how cruel it seemed to put them into one large trench without any coffins. There was one in a brilliant uniform, whom I supposed to have been .an officer. His hair was tied up in a cue." For more than a century this common grave remained unmarked, until the people of the town, considering the events of that day with a forgiving spirit, have within a few years erected a memorial stone over the resting-place of the unknown dead.

[Photo - "Burial of British Soldiers at Lincoln"]

Page 227

      Among the many simple gravestones in the old burial-ground of this town is one that has stood for more than a century. It marks the resting place of a young soldier who was with the company at Old North Bridge and in the later trials of that April day of 1775, and who died on the 15th of the following August. For a full century this gray slab received no more notice than did scores of others standing there like sentinels, reminding the thoughtful of the brave yeomen soldiery of Middlesex. Dying childless and unmarried, the only family association at this grave is that of earlier generations.
      Who shall say it was a mere accident that the name of Abraham Garfield and the family heroism did not perish when this young patriot's life came to an end in the town of Lincoln?

"There's a divinity that shapes our ends."

      The young man Garfield not only had a part in

[Photo - "Lincoln Monument"]

Page 228

that engagement which fixed the status of the colonies as that of rebellion, but he was one of eight men of the town who on the fourth day succeeding the fight swore to an affidavit before a magistrate.

[Photo - "Garfield Headstone"]

LEXINGTON, April 23, 1775.

      We, John Hoar, John Whitehead, Abraham Garfield, Benjamin Munroe, Isaac Parker, William Hosmer, John Adams, Gregory Stone, all of Lincoln in the County of Middlesex, Massachusetts Bay, all of lawful age, do testify and say, that on Wednesday last, we were assembled at Concord, in the

Page 229

morning of said day, in consequence of information received that a brigade of regular troops was on their march to thee said town of Concord, who had killed six men at the town of Lexington.
      About an hour afterwards we saw them approaching to the number, as we apprehended of about 1,200, on which we retreated to a hill about eighty rods back, and the said troops then took possession of the hill where we were first posted. Presently after this we saw the troops moving toward the North Bridge, about one mile from the said Concord meeting-house; we then immediately went before them and passed the bridge, just before a party of them, to the number of about two hundred, arrived; they there left about one-half of their two hundred at the bridge, and proceeded with the rest toward Col. Barrett's, about two miles from the said bridge; and the troops that were stationed there, observing our approach, marched back over the bridge and then took up some of the planks; we then hastened our march toward the bridge, and when we had got near the bridge they fired on our men, first three guns, one after the other, and then a considerable number more; and then, and not before (having orders from our commanding officers not to fire till we were fired upon), we fired upon the regulars and they retreated. On their retreat through the town of Lexington to Charlestown, they ravaged and destroyed private property, and burnt three houses, one barn, and one shop.

      It required the sublimest courage to place one's signature to that paper, for it was an admission under oath of having been a leader in the fight. It not only admitted, but justified, the act of firing on the troops of the government. It seemed almost equivalent to putting, the executioner's noose around one's neck. But to such men prin-

Page 230

ciple was of more importance than life. It was not only a means adopted for vindicating themselves before the government in England, but it was necessary that the truth of that fight accompanied by proofs that could not be questioned should be laid before the people of the colonies, in order that they might be roused to rebellion and revolution.
      The patriots of 1775 not only did the deed, but shouldered the responsibility.
      Real history has the glow of romance when one pauses to consider that one of the signers with Abraham Garfield was John Hoar, who became the great-grandfather of Senator George F. Hoar, presiding officer of the convention which nominated James Abram Garfield for the Presidency.
      Solomon Garfield, brother of Abraham, and great-grandfather of the twentieth President of the United States, was, like his brother, born in Concord, now Lincoln, and was fully imbued with the spirit that actuated the men of Lincoln, although he had some years earlier set up his home elsewhere. The Lexington alarm reached him at his home in another town, thirty miles away from the family seat; but it met with a patriot's response, and he was soon on the way to the bloody scenes. Little more is known of him, save that he came out of the war having been impoverished by the loss of property, which was the occasion of his seeking a home elsewhere. The family moved to

Page 231

New York, where one of their sons, Thomas Garfield, was married. It was on the latter's farm, in December, 1799, that a son, Abram Garfield, was born. Though far away from family scenes, this branch of the family did not fail to remember the Lincoln patriot, who, like Joseph of old, was sleeping in the sepulchre of the fathers. The Garfield family became united with another of a like spirit, -- the Ballous. The marriage of the namesake of the Lincoln patriot with Eliza Ballou resulted in offspring, the youngest of whom was destined, not only to bear the name of the New England son, but to reanimate the scenes of the past.
      The fabric of history begun in Massachusetts and completed in Ohio reveals some strong and brilliant threads in the ancestry of the martyred President of these United States.
      The Roman chariot has found its place in literature, but the New England emigrant wagon has failed of enduring notice. Yet the lives of richly attired occupants of the former cannot be compared with those who, clad in the coarse garments of their own manufacture, were jostled across the country in the latter. The emigrant wagon, with its jaded horses, its muddy white cover, its much confused load of household articles, and its sad-eyed and forlorn but determined occupants, must be recognized in the combination of circumstances that resulted in reproducing a Massachusetts patriot in the daughter State of Ohio.

Page 232

      Said Senator George F. Hoar: "To Lincoln belongs a large share in the fame of the great soldier who cleared Kentucky of rebellion, and was the right arm of Thomas at Chickamauga. No person was more ready to recognize this relation than President Garfield himself. Several times in the course of the spring of 1881 he said to me, 'I want you next summer to take me to Lincoln.' I had two letters from him in the last few days of June, one sent from the White House at twelve o'clock, noon, June 30, less than two days before he was shot, arranging to reach Concord on the 11th of July, 'to spend,' as he says, 'a few hours amid the scenes of our national and family history!' . . . As you well know, he was setting out on his journey when the bullet of the assassin laid him low."
      Thus it not only appears that it was the sons of the Middlesex patriots of '75 who so readily responded at their hearthstones to the call of '61, but from new and distant homes went out those in whose veins flowed kindred blood to that poured out on the soil of Lexington and Concord.
      The interest manifested on the 19th of April by the Lincoln people was not abated, only as distance from the scenes of action prevented a general participation, and time afforded preparation for organized service. The town was represented by more or less of its citizens during the entire war, and large numbers were found in some

Page 233

campaigns. Sixty men are credited with five days' service and forty miles of travel in March, 1776, being called down for the fortifying of Dorchester Hills. This service was a plan of General Washington's to bring things about Boston to a climax, and was extremely gratifying to all who participated, as it was soon followed by the evacuation of the town, the possession of it by the Provin-

[Photo - "Garfield Homestead, Lincoln, Mass."]

cials, and the return of many patriots to their abandoned homes. The Lincoln soldiers, like many others, took their ox-teams with them to aid in the work. "When in service on the hills," said Mr. Farrar, "we were obliged to manage our oxen in silence, depending upon the prick of our bayonets to urge them along rather than our ordinary means of forcing them."
      To one familiar with the citizens of this town

Page 234

after the lapse of a century and a quarter, when the events that tried men's souls have become subjects of tradition and history, it is apparent that many of the heroes of 1775 are still represented on the same farms where the plough-shares were left in the unfinished furrows. A notable instance is found in the Hartwell family.

[Photo - "Garfield Footstone"]

Samuel Hartwell, already mentioned, was not only in service on the 19th of April, but was a quartermaster at White Plains, N.Y., in 1776, in service at Cambridge in 1778, and at Rhode Island in 1779 and 1780. The same name has been prominent during all the years since that patriot's service; and in 1895 the name Samuel

Page 235

Hartwell is borne by a grandson of the hero of '75, who is evincing the principles of good citizenship. Among the patriots of '75 still represented in the town in families of the same name are Baker, Haynes, Weston, Wheeler, Brooks, and Flint; the last two being descended from the first settlers of Concord.

Table of Contents


Click Here to Contact Us

Return to the Beaneath Old Roof Trees

(c) Beaneath Old Roof Trees

This page was last updated: 01 January 2013

Hosted by
PA-Roots Logo