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THIS town was incorporated in 1753. The first inhabitants were chiefly from Middleborough, and some from Danvers.
The first minister was Rev. Samuel Kendal, who died in 1792, and was succeeded in the ministry by Rev. Joel Foster,
who was settled in 1779; he resigned in 1802, and was succeeded by Rev. Warren Pierce. Rev. Alpheas Harding succeeded
Mr. Pierce in 1807. The north Congregational society erected their meeting-house in 1836, about three and a half
miles north of the south church. The church (called the Orthodox) was organized in 1824. Rev. Levi French was settled
pastor the next year; he was succeeded by Rev. Erastus Curtiss, in 1834. There is a Baptist church near the southern
line of the town.
The south Congregational church and the academy, which was incorporated in 1795, stand on a very elevated hill,
which commands an extensive prospect over the neighboring valleys. “The fogs of Connecticut river seldom rise above
this place, while it covers the surrounding country; and the towering Monadnock on the north appear like islands
rising from a boundless ocean.” This place is 19 miles from Greenfield, 12 from Montague, 35 from Worcester, 10
from Athol, and 73 Irom Boston. The Millington post-office, in this town, is 3 miles distant from this place in
a little village in the south part of the town. Population, 1,255. Agriculture is the principal business of the
inhabitants. The manufacture of palm-leaf hats, however, receives considerable attention. In 1837, seventy-nine
thousand were manufactured, valued at
The following, relative to Revolutionary times, is copied from
the Barre Gazette.
“The news of the battle at Lexington flew through New England like wildfire. The swift horseman with his red flag
proclaimed it in every village, and made the stirring call upon the patriots to move forward in defence of the
rights so ruthlessly invaded and now sealed with the martyr’s blood. Putnam. it will be recollected, left his plough
in the furrow and led his gallant band to Cambridge. Such instances of promptness and devotion were not rare. We
have the following instance of the display of fervid patriotism from an eye-witness — one of those valued relics
of the band of ‘76, whom now a grateful nation delights to honor.
“When the intelligence reached New Salem in this state, the people were hastily assembled. on the village green,
by the notes of alarm. Every man came with his gun, and other hasty preparations for a short march. The militia
of the town were then divided, into two companies, one of which was commanded by Capt. G. This company was paraded
before much consultation had been had upon the proper steps to be taken in the emergency, and while determination
was expressed on almost every countenance, the men stood silently leaning on their muskets, awaiting the movement
of the spirit in the officers. The captain was supposed to be tinctured with toryism, and his present indecision
and backwardness were ample proof, if not of his attachment to royalty, at least of his unfitness to lead a patriot
baud. Some murmurs began to be heard, when the first lieutenant, William Stacy, took off his hat and addressed
them. He was a man of stout heart, but of few words. Pulling his commission from his pocket, he said: 'Fellow-soldiers,
I don't know exactly how it is with the rest of you, but for one, I will no longer serve a King that murders my
own countrymen;' and tearing the paper in a hundred pieces, he trod it under his foot. Sober as were the people
by nature, they could not restrain a loud, wild hurra as he stepped forward and took his place in the ranks. G.
still faltered, and made a feeble endeavor to restore order; but they heeded him as little as the wind. The company
was summarily disbanded, and a reorganization begun on the spot. The gallant Stacy was unanimously chosen captain,
and with a prouder commission than was ever borne on parchment, he led a small but efficient band to Cambridge.
He continued in service through the war, reaching, we believe, before its close, the rank of lieutenant-colonel,
under the command of Putnam."
The following inscriptions are copied from monuments standing in the grave-yard near the south Congregational church.
Sacred to the memory of Rev'rd. Samuel Kendall, who died Jan. 31, 1792, in the 85 year of his age, first minister
of New Salem.
Equal in dust we all must lie;
And no distinction we can make,
But Faith forbids the rising sign,
And sees my sleeping dust awake.
In memory of Mrs. Lucy Kendall, the late virtuous & amiable consort of Mr. Samuel Kendall, Jr., who died
Oct. ye 22, 1784, in the 34th year of her age.
Tantum mors temporalem vastat feicitatem.
Nor art nor virtue could redeem from death,
Nor anxious love prolong her lab'ring breath;
Conjugal bands asunder must be torn,
And thou, surviving partner, left to mourn;
But let her vertue now your grief duppress,
And wait reluctant till you meet in bliss.
Historical Collections Relating to the
History and Antiquities of
Every town in Massachusetts with
By John Warner Barber.
Published by Warren Lazell.