Historical Sketch of Natick, MA
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THIS township was originally granted by the general court to the Indians, as a place for a permanent residence. It was incorporated into an English district in 1761, and into a town in 1781, by the name of Natick, a word in the Indian language, signifying “the place of hills.” It is watered by Charles river, and contains numerous fish ponds. There are two villages, which are upwards of a mile apart. North Natick is a village newly erected; it consists of about 30 houses, two churches, 1 Congregational, and 1 Methodist. The Boston and Worcester railroad passes through this village. South Natick is the ancient village; it consists of about 20 dwelling houses and a Unitarian church. Population, 1,221. Distance from Concord, 12 miles, 9 from Dedham, and 16 from Boston. In 1837, there were 250,650 pairs of shoes manufactured here, valued at $213,052 50; males employed, 263; females, 189.

The first Indian church in New England was formed here, in 1660. The indians were first brought together, by Mr. Eliot, at Nonantum, (in Newton) but not finding sufficient accommodation, they removed to Natick in 1651. Here they built a town on the banks of Charles river, “which consisted of three long streets; two on the Boston side of the river, and one on the other. To each house was attached a piece of ground. Most of the houses were built after the Indian fashion. One large house was erected in the English style, the lower apartment of which was employed as a school room in the week, and as a place of worship on the Lord’s day; there was likewise a large handsome fort, of a circular figure, palisadoed with trees; and a foot bridge over the river, the foundation of which was secured with stone; with several little houses after the English fashion.” According to the advice of Mr. Eliot, they adopted the form of government proposed by Jethro to Moses. About 100 of them met together, and chose one ruler of a hundred, two rulers of fifties, and ten rulers of tens. After their church was formed, they flourished under a succession of pious teachers, natives and English, until, by repeat- ed wasting sickness and other causes so fatal to the race, they have now become nearly if not quite extinct. The following account of Natick, &c., is from the Memoirs of Eliot, by the Rev. Martin Moore, of Natick.

"It lieth upon Charles river, eighteen miles south-west from Boston, and ten miles north-west from Pedham. It hath twenty-nine families, which, computing five persons to a family, amount to one hundred and forty-five persons. The town contains about six thousand acres. The soil is good and well watered, and produceth plenty of grain and fruit. The land was granted to the Indians at the motion of Mr. Eliot, by the general court of Massachusetts: and in the year 1651, a number of them combined together and formed a town, which is the place of the greatest name among Indians,
and where their principal courts are held.

"In this town was the first church of Indians embodied, in the year 1660. Unto this church some pious Indians of other places, both men and women, are since joined. The number of men and women in full communion with this church were, in 1670, between forty and fifty.

"We are to consider, that all those we call praying Indians are not all visible church members, or baptized persons; which ordinance of baptism is not to be administered unto any that are Out of the visible church, until they profess their faith in Christ and obedience to him, but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized. Here, I shall take the liberty, though it be a digression, to relate a story of remark concerning a child at Natick, a youth of about eleven years of age, who was of a sober and grave carriage, and an attentive hearer of the word, considering his age and capacity, but he had a weak body and was consumptive. This child hearing Mr. Eliot preach upon a time at Natick when the ordinance of baptism was to be administered unto some children, whose parents had made profession of their faith and were joined to the church: upon which occasion Mr. Eliot said, that baptism was Christ's mark, which he ordered to be set upon his lambs, and that it was a manifest token of Christ's love to the offspring of his people to set this mark upon them. This child taking special notice of this passage, did often solicit his father and mother, that one or both of them would endeavour to join to the church, that he might be marked for one of Christ's lambs before he died. The parents, who were well inclined, especially the mother, and being also very affectionate to their child, as the Indians generally are, did seriously ponder the child's reiterated intreaties; and not long after, first the mother, and then the father of the child, joined to the church. Soon after the lad was baptized; in which be did greatly rejoice and triumph, that he was now marked for one of Christ's lambs. 'Now,' said he to his father and mother, 'I am willing to die;' which shortly after came to pass and I doubt not, but as the child had Christ's name set upon him in baptism and by faith, so his immortal soul is now in glory, rejoicing in communion with Christ.

There are many Indians that live among those that have subjected themselves to the gospel, that are catechised; who attend public worship, read the scriptures, pray in their families morning and evening, who have not yet attached themselves to the visible church. The manner practised by these Indians in the worship of God is thus. Upon the Lord's days, fast-days, and lecture-days, the people assemble together at the sound of a drum, (for bells they yet have not) twice a day, in the morning and afternoon, on the. Lord's days, but only once upon lecture days, when one of their teachers begins with a solemn and affectionate prayer. In these acts of worship, for I have often been present with them, they demean themselves visibly with reverence, attention, modesty and solemnity; the men-kind sitting by themselves, and the women-kind by themselves, according to their age, quality and degree, in comely manner. And for my own part, I have no doubt, hut am fully satisfied, according to the judgment of charity, that divers of them do fear God and are true believers; but yet I will not deny but there may be some of them hypocrites, that profess religion, and yet are not sound-hearted. But things that are secret belong to God; and things that are revealed, unto us and our children.

"Their teachers are generally chosen from among themselves, except some few English teachers of the most pious and able men among them. Mr. Eliot hath of late years fallen into a practice among the Indians, the better to prepare and furnish them with abilities to explicate and apply the scriptures, by setting up a lecture among them in logic and theology, once every fortnight all the summer, at Natick: whereat he is present and ready, and reads and explains to them the principles of those artsAnd God hath been pleased graciously so to bless these means, that several of them, especially young men of acute parts, have gained much knowledge, and are able to speak methodically and profitably unto any plain text of scripture, yes, as well as you cen imagine such little means of learning can advantage them unto. From this church and town of Natick hath issued forth, as from a seminary of virtue and piety, divers teachers that are employed in several new praying towns.

"In this town they have residing some of their principal rulers, the chief whereof is named Waban, who is now above seventy years of age. He is a person of great prudence and piety. I do not know any Indian that excels him. Other rulers there are living there, as Nattous and Piam, Boohan and others. These are good men and prudent, but inferior to the first. The teachers of this town are Anthony and John Speen, who are grave and pious men. They have two constables belonging to this place, chosen yearly; and there is a marshal general belonging to all the praying Indian towns, called Captain Josiah, or Pennahanit. He doth attend the chief courts kept here, but he dwells at another place, Nashobah."

Mr. Eliot translated the whole Bible into the Natick (or Nip.. muc) dialect. This Bible was printed at Cambridge, in 1663, and is the first Bible printed in America. A second edition was printed in 1685, in the correction of which Mr. Eliot received great assistance from Mr. John Cotton.* The following is the title page: "Mamusse Wunneetupanatamwe Up BIBLUM GOD, Naneeswe NUKKONE TESTAMENT Kah Wonk WUSKU TESTAMENT."
[Indian language part left out]

The following is copied from a monument in the grave yard near the Unitarian church in South Natick.

Here are deposited the remains of the reverend OLIVER PEABODY, a man venerable for the faculties of his mind and for all needful learning. He delighted much in theological investigations. He discharged the pastoral office with great renown for thirty years; ministering to the people of Natick, especially to the aborigines, in the cause of sacred learning. He was a model in social life. In benevolence and universal hospitality he was preeminent. In the firm expectation of a future retribution, he was called from his ministry on the 2d of February, A. D. 1752, aged 54 years.


FROM:
Historical Collections Relating to the
History and Antiquities of
Every town in Massachusetts with
Geographical Descriptions.
By John Warner Barber.
Worcester
Published by Warren Lazell.
1848

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