Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Colby descendants make mark as social reformers

From My Story in Newburyport News Part 2 Macy-Colby House See Part One Vibrant energy of the Colby family 

The descendants of Amesbury’s frontier crusader Anthony Colby inherited his avant-garde spirit. The archives are brimming with Colby movers and shakers whose roots hinge from the sturdy foundation forged by the paternal patriarch in “the tenantless town in the wilderness.”

The Macy-Colby house is where Colby line emerged and comrade families like Sergeant, Hoyt, Blasdell and Bagley bred and fostered several generations of progressive souls.

In this home lived soldiers, shipbuilders, farmers, men of the cloth and others of worthy callings. Among the treasures not mentioned in yesterday’s column to visit at the home: the ancient horn beam barrel, Quaker hat of John Greenleaf Whittier, original communion table with pewter chalices from the Sandy Hill Meeting House and portraits gracing the walls of the Colby ancestors.

Among the potent pedigrees are social reformers openly ready to take on the tasks to build a better world. Here are a few among these notable men and women.

George J.L. Colby juggled several vocations. His crafty knack for the oral and written word matched his effervescent passion for social reform. He was in the Liberty Party, editor for an abolitionist paper in Amesbury and a traveling lecturer.

In 1856 George became co-owner and editor of the Newburyport Herald. He was made postmaster, Naval Officer of Customs and elected to the General Court. In 1872, he launched The Merrimack Journal, which his colleagues in the Port applauded as “a good looking, well-made newspaper” (Lowell Daily Citizen).

In politics, George was known to be bold and savvy, as one newspaper reports he “came down on the state constables with forty horse power” and dubbed them with “hard names,” more specifically “pimps,” and that his assertiveness made him a “Hail Columbia” champion type (Herald 1870). He was cherished among his peers, well known in Washington for his strong support of the coalition and became county commissioner.

Over the years, George contributed several articles to “The Standard History of Essex County.” He is noted for his valuable contribution and labors by George Wildes, author of “The Memoirs of Captain William Nicholas”: “I have been throughout indebted to the notes of George J. L. Colby, the intimate friend of Capt. Nichols.” He adds that if George had not “prepared extensive notes of the personal history of Capt. Nichols,” a heroic and noble character may not have been preserved.

Luther Colby published a Spiritualist paper “Banners of Light” (1857) with William Berry, who worked with him at the Boston Daily Post. Although Spiritualism was referenced to a Victorian trend where the rage became table wrapping and seances, Luther forged a campaign to establish creditability in the religion. He believed if society could fully embrace the ideals of Spiritualist enlightenment, it would inspire one toward social reform and thus heighten the moral conscience of each individual.

Luther had the longest run for a publication in his genre; Bennett in “World Sage: Thinkers and Reformers” asserts: “It is impossible to estimate the great influence Colby has wielded, and the vast amount of opinion he has been instrumental in forming.” Colby family from all over the country was advocating Luther’s “Banner of Light.” Some were Quaker abolitionists and others fighting for women’s suffrage.

Amelia Colby Luther (direct from Philbrook) lectured throughout the Midwest, speaking out against slavery and often participating in the Spiritualist sessions run at Camp Chesterfield.

Clara Bewick Colby, wife of Gen. Leonard W. Colby (direct from Zaccheus), (Pic below) was president of the Woman’s Suffrage Association and founded the Woman’s Tribune in 1883. In her speeches, the femme fatale applied the Spiritualist practice of non-resistance, “instantly aligning themselves with infinite strength” as did the ancient sages “who stopped the mouths of lions; quenched the violence of fire; escaped the edge of the sword; out of weakness made strong” (Portland, Ore. 1908).


Myra Colby Bradwell (direct from Ensign Enoch) was one of the most influential forces in the Woman’s Suffrage movement. She was denied the right to practice law in Illinois because she was married, but truth be told the old boys club just was not ready to accept a woman in this position. Myra remedied her loss by establishing The Chicago Legal News (1868), which became the most widely circulated legal newspaper in the United States. Her influence was massive and she helped pass laws giving women equal rights in guardianship custody cases, wages and property.

There are many more Colbys to explore at a visit to the old homestead. And one thing is for certain — little did Anthony and his “band of exiles” know their sacrifices spurred a force that will never expire. Anthony “is not dead,” affirms James W. Colby; “greatness and goodness are not perishable commodities.”

Also Visit Turn the Hearts Blog

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Some New England Mills

From the Archives and Please refer to Coffin and Greeley Tide Mills Project
and my post on Patch Historical Lecture on Water-Powered Mills in Early Salisbury and Newburyport with Paul Turner and Ron Klodenski

NEW ENGLAND has always been more noted for its cotton and paper mills than for its flour mills, and has become famous the world over in these other classes of industrial effort; yet strange to say, what are perhaps the oldest flour mills in the country are located in New England and characteristically prove their sturdiness by their continuous operation.
Two of these are tidewater mills—one located at Rowley, the other at Gloucester, Mass. The one at Rowley, known as the Glen Mill, is the older of these, and has been operated continuously except for a short period, since 1643, that is, 273 years. The exact date of the building of the Gloucester mill is somewhat in doubt, hut it is known to be over 250 years ago. It is called the Riverdale Grist Mill.

Sent to me via Laurie Short Jarvis painted by Mildred Cahoon Hartson (1904-1997), former president of the Nbpt Art Assoc. Her mother was Lula May Short (1883-1944). This is a painting of Mildred's interpretation of the Short's tide mill at Knight's Crossing Newbury, MA . Noted in Mildred's own hand. (Lula May was the daughter of Henri M Short, Henri was the son of Samuel Sewall Short Sr (1848-1926) and on back to first settler of Newbury Henry Short).

Newburyport Herald AD Silas Pearson February 8, 1831 and two pages from History of Newbury MA John J Currier

Private and Special Statutes of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Volume 7

List of Patents for Inventions and Designs, Issued by the United States ...By United States. Patent Office, Edmund Burke

 From American Notes and Queries, Volume 5

Also see The New England Quarterly, Volume 9 page 186 
Law of Seashore Waters and Water Courses: Maine and Massachusetts page 26

The Rowley mill, in the ancient parish of Byfield is owned by descendants of Richard Dummer. Even today, after so many years of service, the old mill presents much the same appearance that it did when the river was first harnessed to the wheel and the large round stones took the place of the pestle and mortar.
The original building has been enlarged to meet the demands of the increased imputation, but the same dam, with the identical stones and timbers imedded in the mud, the same waterway and foundation for the wheel-box, stronger with time, though showing signs of age, are still there.
The mill is situated in the midst of a pretty valley, where the waters pour down in between sloping hills, while on either side of the stream, as far as the eye can see, are towering oaks and pines and white birches.


The first Dummer mill in the new world was built at Roxbury, Mass., by Richard Dummer, a rich Englishman, who came to the colony in 1632. He remained in Roxbury until four years later, when he fell into disfavor with the governor because of untimely political activity, and removed to the parish of Byfield. Here he was granted a large tract of land in consideration of the establishment of a grist mill. In 1638 the waters of the Parker River were first troubled by artificial barriers and machinery. John Pearson and Richard Dummer were the original millers of the town, and for a time were partners. Then Dummer acquired the whole interest in the mill.


In 1643-4 Thomas Nelson was allotted 36 acres of land on what is now Mill River for the purpose of erecting a saw and grist mill. The partner of Richard Dummer soon acquired this new mill, and this is the one which is now known as the Glen Mill, and which has been in the Dummer family for so long. It figured largely in the history of the times.
In the King Philip War a large number of men were drawn from Byfield, and with them were carried wagon loads of meal for their own and for their compatriots' fare in the struggle which followed. Still later, in the French.and Indian War, the stone wheels of the old Glen Mill ground the corn into meal for the fighting men of Massachusetts Bay colony.
With the news of the first English depredation, plans were made by the men of the town to join the Continental forces and to send meal to the army. The old Benjamin Coleman house, which is still standing, was made the rendezvous. Here a little later a large wagon was prepared and loaded with meal from Glen Mill—as much as the wagon would hold—and with a guard of patriots the trip to Valley Forge was made and the contents turned over to the quartermaster of Washington's army.
The first Dummer mill on the waters of the Parker River was suspended after a long life, and Samuel Dummer acquired the present Glen Mill in 1817. The family had always been millers, as far back as legend recounts, and so, after a lapse of years during which the mill was out of the family, it was but natural that a member of it should want to get it back again. It has been under the management and ownership of a member of the family ever since.

The old undershot wheel was replaced a number of years ago by a small turbine, but old-fashioned millstones are still used for grinding the corn. Before the old wheel was taken down, the structure and its surroundings represented a typical mill scene of 300 or 400 years ago. The wheel was 35 feet in diameter, and the roof was low and sloping, reaching almost to the ground. The dimensions of the building were much smaller than at present.

The Riverdale grist mills, located at Riverdale, Gloucester, still continue to make their daily grind, as they have done almost unceasingly for the last 250 years, with power supplied by the waters of quaint old Mill River.
These ancient mills, hearing unmistakable signs of the wear of two and one half centuries, form an interesting and important part of Gloucester's history. Situated in the heart of picturesque Riverdale, where Boston residents annually find a summer retreat, the dilapidated buildings and running stream, with its churning foam, have a charm which makes the place more attractive.
The present owners of the mills have made no effort to disturb or modernize them, while annually between their stones thousands of bushels of grain are being ground into flour or meal. Over 25 years ago, the mills were purchased by the late Albert Dodge in connection with the grain business he maintained in the city proper; and after his death, the property was taken over by the Albert Dodge Co., the present owners.
The Gloucester mill was at one time the most important, along the coast, and it was not more than 25 years ago when ships laden with corn plied up the Mill River to have their cargoes ground. see Tide Mill Institute

See Minor Descent for Pearson Genealogy 

 In the early days the means of producing food were of great concern to the settlers of New England, and though there is no record of a grant providing for a mill earlier than 1664 although it is known that one existed—there is a record of a grant in that year by which the inhabitants gave to their pastor, the Rev. John Emerson, "all the rights, privileges, ponds and streams belonging to it and all fresh meadow thereabouts," provided he would keep a mill in operation and repair, and grind the grist of the townsfolk. The Short Pearson Mill was Henry Short (Short Family Group Facebook) and Jeremiah Pearson see Early records of Parker Family Andover

From votes of the town, passed some years later, an inference may be drawn that Mr. Emerson did not for a long period make any use of the grant, for on Feb. 18, 1677, the town voted that a corn mill should lie set up and erected on the sawmill dam and the town give the stream to the saw mill. "Saw Mill Dam" is the place now occupied by the tide mills or Riverdale mills. Copyright. 1916. by The Miller Publishing Co. The Northwester Miller Volume 108

Built on the side of the Glen Mills, and the first fulling mill in America, built by Richard Holmes built in 1642, and known as the Pearson Mill.  see more on Pearson family

check out
The Village Mill 
John M Bishop Blog 
Industrial and Agricultural History of the Parker River Watershed
New Life in the Old Mill Pond
Little Old Mills, by Marion Nicholl Rawson, 1935.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Isaac Newton Colby rescues Captain Oliver O Jones

Issac Newton Colby was born on 28 February 1838 in Newburyport, Essex, Massachusetts. He married Mary Amelia Haskell on 26 November 1862 in Newburyport. He passed on 20 April 1910 in Newburyportat age 72. He was the son of  who was the son of son of George Curwen Ward Colby and Harriet Kitching/Kitchen. 
Children: George Rufus COLBY, Mary N. COLBY, Elizabeth C. COLBY, Isaac Newton COLBY Jr., William Johnson COLBY.
In 1857 Captain Oliver Osgood Jones joined the new ship 'Blandina Dudley,' Captain Horace Atwood, owned by E. S. Mosley. Several Newburyport boys were with me in the ship, all of whom became masters and members of the Marine Society. Atwood notes: We loaded ice and apples in Boston for Calcutta." In discharging the cargo the crew enjoyed the ice and apples freely, though apples were selling for twenty-five cents apiece. With a full East India cargo the vessel returned to Boston, one hundred and twenty-five days out. Off Cape Good Hope, in a heavy westerly gale at relief of the midnight watch, Mr. Jones was swept overboard by a heavy sea that washed N the deck, but almost miraculously rescued by the quick action of a sailor, Colby, in throwing a coil of rope, which he caught and by which he was drawn aboard. Colby afterward be came Captain I. N. Colby, a well known mas ter mariner, and naturally the two men remained close friends in later life.

In 1871 Jones notes: he was mate of the American ship "Elizabeth Gushing," Captain I. N. Colby, and I remained with her in the same capacity until 1876, visiting nearly every port of importance on the globe. "I passed the happiest hours of my sea- life," writes Captain Jones, "on this dear old ship. I received many kindnesses and favors and had many pleasant outings in foreign ports. I shall long remember my outing at the port of Mollendo, the seaport of Arequipa, whither we carried coal and rails for the new railroad, then building in South America. I rode on the locomotive up to Arequipa, some sixty miles distant, and -some two thousand- feet above the coast line, and spent the day and night. The quaint old Spanish city with its churches, squares and funny people, was a new phase of life for me, and the scenery was beyond description. The return down-hill was very novel and delightful, though it seemed risky to me. I think few mates had more good times than Captain Colby gave me. The ship was a home for us all, but he was at the same time a strict disciplinarian and always put business before pleasure. One day in London I went with him aboard the ship "Ellen Munroe" to call on the captain. We spent half an hour there and when we left I was master of that fine vessel." Captain Jones loaded his ship with cargo

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Helen F Spaulding and her ancestors

Photo from Abplanalp Library, UNE Portland, ME 04103
In 1862, at age 18, Helen F. Spaulding was one of 15 women students attending Westbrook Seminary.
She was, however, the only female student from out of state. Daughter of Shercbiah Spaulding and Lurena A. Spaulding of Chelmsford

Helen was born there ]uly 23, 1837; educated in Chelmsford MA and at Francestown, N. H. Below is her family line history.
from Massachusetts History and Genealogy Project Beside Old Hearth-Stones. The Spauldings were in the town among the first settlers. Edward Spaulding was there before the incorporation in 1655, and was among those selected in November, 1654, "by the consent of the major part of the town for ordering the Public affairs." He belonged to that colony, who, with their minister, left Wenham in Essex County, and did good service in establishing the church and town that have made a most commendable record for two hundred and forty years. Ten generations of the Spaulding family are recorded as having resided in Chelmsford, and figured in the history of the town. I met, among others of the family, Mr. George Spaulding, busily occupied in tilling his acres. He said, "My father was Alpheus, and his father was Joseph Spaulding, who left this farm in response to the call of April 19, 1775, and who gained some notoriety in the battle of Bunker Hill. You have read the inscription on the slab at his grave, which gives only a part of my grandfather's story. His own report of it was, 'I fired ahead of time, and Putnam rushed up and struck at me for violating orders. I suppose I deserved it, but I was anxious to get another good shot at Gage's men ever since our affair at Concord. The blow from "Old Put" hit me on the head, made a hole in my hat, and left this scar;' and," said the grandson, "it was an honorable scar. Grandfather was proud of it, and carried it to his grave."

Mr. George Spaulding, who is of the eighth generation, continued his story, "My grandfather was living at that time in an old house on this farm, and had just raised the frame of this dwelling when he was called to do a patriot's duty away from these acres. When the house was completed he moved into it with grandmother and the children, one of whom was my father; and the Revolutionary roof has already sheltered five generations of Spauldings."

To make his grandfather's part at Bunker Hill more vivid, Mr. Spaulding brought from the house a silver watch, ticking with as much regularity as it was on the morning of June 17, 1775, when Joseph Spaulding aimed his fowling-piece at Major Pitcairn. Said the proud descendant, "My grandfather brought the watch to this house; and here it has been kept ever since, often proving more reliable than some modern timepieces."


In confirmation of Mr. Spaulding's story of the cocked hat, Mrs. Luther Faulkner of Billerica says, "It was one of the delights of my childhood to play in that old garret with my companions, the grandchildren of Joseph Spaulding. It was the storeroom of scores of articles that dated back to the early generations of the family. There were the rude implements of the farm, the cast-off utensils of the kitchen, and many articles of husbandry that time had relegated to that lumber-room. Oh, what a pleasure it was for us children, on a rainy day, to amuse ourselves among those relics! The flax cards, the hatchel, the reel, the wheels great and small, were all put to our childish service. Then a season was spent in playing soldier, but the boys thought the girls had no part in that. 'Grandsir's' cocked hat was brought from its hiding-place; and each boy in turn, crowned with the tattered relic, marched up and down the garret floor. 'Just as Grandsir Spaulding marched at Bunker Hill,' was the childish order. It had received holes through the crown, and 'grandsir' was proud of them; but the old soldier of 1775 was gone, and I am afraid we were rough with his hat. The hat and all else in that ancient garret were consumed by fire; yet the memory of those days, and particularly of the old cocked hat, will remain as long as life lasts."

Another most interesting representative of the Spaulding family is Mrs. Mary (Spaulding) Shedd, who, at the age of ninety-three years, delights in repeating the stories heard from the lips of her grandfather, Zebulon Spaulding, who was one of the minute-men of the town. The story of the opening Revolution, as she tells it, confirms that already given, and her personal recollections of the second war with England are as vivid as are those of the Civil War. Said this venerable member of the family, "My father was Sherebiah Spaulding." In regard to the second trouble with England, she said, "The early spirit of patriotism was quickly kindled in his breast, as in others of Chelmsford. He presented a most charming appearance to my youthful eyes, when he was equipped in his brilliant uniform, and ready to march to Boston. I was too young to fully realize what the war-cry meant; but there were those in our family who recalled the sufferings of Concord, Bunker Hill, and Valley Forge, and with tearful faces stood by as the soldiers went away, while the old fire of patriotism was rekindled in their breasts; but their forms were too much bowed with age to again face the enemy." This delightful lady of the old school, on her ninety-third birthday, remarked, "I have known eight generations of my family, and have seen an entire change in the manner of conducting domestic matters, as well as business affairs. I have seen the loom and wheel, which were kept in action in each family, give way to the innumerable looms and spindles of the city of Lowell, which has sprung into existence since I came to maturity."

Spaulding Fiske House
At an early age Helen Spaulding began teaching, alternating teaching with furthering her own education.Helen was in Class of 1864, graduated from Westbrook Seminary with a Laureate of Science degree and was appointed head of the Woman's Department at Westbrook Seminary and Female Collegiate Institute. She served in this position for six years and taught Geometry, Algebra, English and Drawing. During the 1862 spring term at Westbrook Seminary, Helen took French and enrolled in the Normal Class. A Normal Class was offered during the spring and fall terms for those who were preparing themselves to be teachers. "Special attention" was given to this class. Helen also served as an assistant to Principal S. H. M'Collester and Associate Principal Charles S. Fobes.
Charles S. Fobes, Westbrook Seminary, ca. 1887
Helen received her instruction from the school of Horace Mann as well. She was with Westbrook for 6 years went to Fitchburg, MA and was for some time the first assistant in the High School. When Westbrook Seminary principal Rev. Sullivan Holman McCollester was called to be the first president of Buchtel College, founded in Akron, Ohio, in 1870, Helen Spaulding became Buchtel's chair of English Literature, a position she held for three years.

S. H. McCollester, Westbrook Seminary, ca. 1865

In 1880 Mr. Eliot and Miss Helen F. Spaulding president and vice-president of the Christian Union, inaugurated a series of lectures on Social Science which were given in the chapel.


LIST of the educators of the state would not be complete without the name of Helen F. Spalding, and no record of the part that the women of the state have borne in its educational work would be complete without at least a brief mention of the part that she has had in it.

Miss Spalding was born in Chelmsford, Mass., and received her first instruction in the matchless public schools of that state in the days of Horace Mann. At an early age she began teaching. She alternated this work with attendance upon private schools under eminent instructors, and when about 20 years of age she graduated at Westbrook Seminary, Maine. Upon completing her course she was chosen head of the woman's department at Westbrook Seminary, a position that she filled successfully and acceptably for six years. She went from there to Fitchburg, Mass., where for some time she was first assistant in the High School. On the opening of Buchtel College at Akron, Ohio, Miss Spalding was given the chair of English literature, a position which she held for three years. Her health becoming impaired by constant application to the duties of her profession, she asked and obtained leave of absence, and improved the opportunity thus given to visit her brothers in Portland, Oregon. Finding the climate beneficial to her health, she later resigned the chair of literature at Buchtel College and accepted a similar position in the Portland High School. With tin's work Miss Spalding was identified for a period of thirteen years, during which time she Laid a shaping hand upon the lives of hundreds of the young men and women of the state. For obvious reasons the true record of this endeavor must forever remain unwritten except as it is recorded in the character and attainments of those who as the years went on passed out of school into the active'duties and responsibilities of life.

Careful investment of her earnings grew with the growth of the city into business interests that required her personal attention, and in 18— Miss Spalding reluctantly resigned her position in the Portland High School and retired from the profession to which she had devoted so many useful years.

Though Miss Spalding withdrew from the teachers' ranks, her active sympathies are still enlisted in the cause of education, and to this extent she has never dropped out of the work, but in a quiet, earnest, helpful way continues to promote its interests. A busy woman, active in good works and ever ready with good words, she is a dependable force in all lines in which true womanly endeavor is enlisted for the public weal. Active in the cause of liberal religion: a humanitarian who is always ready to voice the wrongs of the voiceless, she is passing gently down the sunset slope of life. And when at last its evening shadows enfold her she will gratefully be "remembered for what she has done."

Books published:
Statistical Trends in Religious Education
Evaluation and Christian Education: Discussion of Some Theological, Education, and Practical Issues; Papers Presented
Missionary Education for Young People in Disciple Churches
Abstracts of Doctoral Dissertations in Religious Education



Jonathan Spaulding

Henry Spaulding Perham

Miss Eliza Spaulding

N E Spaulding
Hannah "Ann" BALLARD
Birth: August 14, 1655 in Andover, Massachusetts
Marriage: July or September 20, 1681 John Spaulding in Chelmsford, Middlesex, MA
John Spaulding / Spalding
Birth: February 15, 1658-59 in Chelmsford, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Death: 1720 in Plainfield, CT
Death: 1726-27 in Plainfield, Windham, CT     

Sources of Information:
  • -The Chelmsford Historical Society
  • - The History of New Ipswich, NH 1735-1914; by Charles Henry Chandler; Fitchburg, Mass. Sentinel Printing Company; 1914
  • -The History of the Town of Wilton, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire; by Abiel Abbot Livermore and Sewall Putnam; Lowell, Mass; Marden & Rowell, Printers; 1888.
  • -The Spalding Memorial A Genealogical History of Edward Spalding of VA and MA and His Descendants by Rev S J Spalding revised and enlarged by Charles Warren Spalding; Chicago, 1897
  • - genealogies of members
  • - The history of Milford by George A. Ramsdell; Concord, N.H.: Rumford Press, 1901, 1118 pgs.
  •  Grave Photo by Ellen Notbohm