Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Party on the Polly or Old Amesbury Days Golgotha 1904

All Sources from Local Papers, History of Amesbury, & DOR records
In 1904 Old Home Week Celebration for Amesbury was quite an event. The memorial for the first settlers was dedicated at Golgotha and the DOR Josiah Bartlett Chapter of the Macy Colby House, along with the Alliance Boat Club hosted a grand reception on board the schooner "Polly." Dinner, dancing, fireworks and a posse of decorated water craft illuminated the Merrimack. Thomas Macy of Pembrook just a tiny fellow of 6 years old was presented as 10th generation of Thomas Macy the original settler. He received three big cheers and a purse of money. The DOR ladies served refreshments on the lawn while speakers told tales of the early pioneers, especially remembering the first Thomas Macy's run in with magistrates for harboring Quakers. Later in the evening DOR dames held a feast upon the "Polly."

The electrotype plate is a cut of a Bowlder erected to the memory of the first eighteen settlers of Amesbury, Mass., by the Amesbury Improvement Association, at "Golgotha" August 3, 1904. To which Organization the Historical Society is indebted for the loan of the electrotype from which this plate was struck. It is also indebted to Mr. Edward A. Brown of Amesbury, who has kindly type-written the following account from the local press, of the Installation of the Memorial. It will be seen that Richard Currier, the builder of the schooner 'Pollly" is the first name in the list. It was also voted to secure the ancient burying-ground locally known as "Golgotha," situated on a terrace, overlooking the Powow River, have the monument placed in position, and to hold the commemorative exercises, during "Old Home Week" 1904.

The spot was the first to be selected as a burial-place, by those who had removed from the town of Salisbury, to the west bank of the Powow, and it has been estimated that about 40 persons had been buried there previous to 1663.. Mr. Frank F. Morrill of Newburyport, a descendent of one of the old Salisbury settlers generously offered to donate the land and a deed of trust was passed to the Town Improvement Association, to have and to hold, forever. A fine large bowlder of gneiss was secured from one of the many local moraines, and placed in position in the center of this hallowed spot, with a tablet bearing the names of Amesbury's original Eighteen, and on the afternoon of August 3, during "Old Home Week" it was debuted. Among those present, directly descended from the first settlers, were Master Franklin Huntington Sargent, eleventh in descent from Wm. Sargent and Wm. Huntington; Master Thomas Macy of Pembroke, N. H., 6 years of age, loth from Thomas Macy; Pres. of the Day, Cyrus W. Rowell, 8th from Valentine Rowell, and dozens of Bagleys, Baileys, Hoyts, Colbys, Curriers, Barnards and Blaisdells. During the exercises, Masters Sargent and Macy were perched on the top of the stone, and attracted much attention. The addresses of Hon. Alden P. White of Salem and Mr. Frederick W. Merrill of Amesbury were listened to with great attention, and the day will be long remembered by those who were privileged to be present.

 The National Society of the United States Daughters of 1812 has been active in collecting material relative to its contemporary, the Polly, and is always ready to do her honor, and of late years she has attained much notoriety, and has been often in the public eye through the columns of the daily press matter of a descriptive and historical nature, two original poems of ten stanzas each, the first by Samuel Hoyt, a local historian, and called, "To Polly"; the second written for the Amesbury "Daily News," by J. T. Clarkson, and bearing the heading, "polly or The Po." The following is a copy of a letter, written after the celebration, by Horace G. Leslie, M.D., president of the Amesbury Old Home Association, to Mr. Fred G. White, of the Belfast Hay and Fuel Company, then part owners of the schooner: "

                                     Horace G Leslie at the Macy Colby House

The 'Polly' has come and gone. The old Home Week festivities are ended, and I write to thank you for the interest taken in the event. The coming of this venerable craft was the crowning glory of the week, and awakened poetic as well as historic associations. Every one who visited her will unite with me in saving that Captain Ryan is just the right man in the right place. Gentle and forbearing under very trying circumstances, he made many friends in Amesbury. Did I believe in the transmigration of souls, I could well fancy that beneath his bronzed and weather-beaten exterior was the spirit of Nichols, Paul Jones, and Decatur. Certainly, he is the reproduction of the ideal privateersman. The links of that chain which unites your eastern city with the banks of the Merrimack, will we trust only grow stronger with time." The Polly. A detailed account of the famous old schooner Polly, with a large picture of her under sail, appeared in the "Republican Journal" for March 3,1904.

She was, at the time, lying in winter quarters at the Swan & Sibley Company's dock, after a busy season spent partly in bay-coasting, and partly as a Boston packet, under command of Captain George Flowers Ryan, of Belfast. The oldest vessel of the American merchant marine now in commission, she has had a life of usefulness and adventure, such as few craft experience. Her history to date is an interesting one, and in view of her great age, which exceeds by several times the span of life usually allotted to ships, and because of her having been identified with Belfast, it is given here in part, as follows: —The Polly was launched in Amesbury, Massachusetts, in 1805, being constructed of the best white oak, "firm and stout," in the shipyard of Richard Currier. She is 48 tons burden, gross; 61 feet water-line length; 19 feet, 6 inches, extreme beam, and draws S feet forward and 7 feet aft, unloaded. In the early years of the last century she ran as a packet from Boston and Portland to point s on Penobscot Bay and River, being owned in what is now Prospect. She carried wood and passengers to Boston, returning with passengers and a general cargo, consisting largely of supplies for the inhabitants of the lower Penobscot Valley. Originally a sloop, as attested by the records, by witnesses who knew her at the time, and by the step of the mast, discovered some years ago, in her keelson, the Polly was changed to a schooner, some time between 1847 and 1851, probably in 1850, when she was extensively repaired and rebuilt by Jonathan Tinker in his shipyard on Tinker's Island, west of Mount Desert. She was again repaired about1867, by Captain Ephraim Pray, at Mount Desert. On April 26, 1874, she went ashore in a heavy gale of wind and snow at Owl's Head, Maine, and was bought as she lay on the beach by Captain Lewis A. Arey, who used her in the lumbercarrying trade until 1885, when she was once more thoroughly repaired, being given a new top and ceiling and partially replanked, and became a lime-freighter.
David Currier built the schooner, Polly, and named it after his wife Polly Rowell (born 1775.) The Polly served in the War of 1812 and survived 113 years. 


  1. Melissa, hmmm, I wonder if my John Bailey and John Hoyt were these men. So glad you wrote this. And, oh... is the Polly gorgeous.

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