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* Born to the grave ere it had seen the light,
Or with one smile had cheered my longing sight.”
The second child (Clark Thomas) lived only eleven days. She thus writes of him :
“Ten days I hold him is my joyful arms,
Sensibility, benevolence, and devotion were salient traits in Mrs. Turell's character. Her husband says of her, “Some unhappy affairs in Medford, in the years 1729–30, produced many prayers and tears from her.” He says elsewhere, “ It was her practice to read the Bible out in course once in a year; the book of Psalms much oftener; besides many chapters and a multitude of verses, which she kept turned down in a Bible which she had been the owner and reader of more than twenty years.” Again he says, “When she apprehended she received injuries, silence and tears were her highest resentments.”
The Rev. John Adams writes, after her death, a long letter in verse to Mr. Turell. We give here a few lines :
4, and a pos of feelingtian faith a in her he made here
This lady was certainly a polished stone in the temple of the Lord. She inherited a most fragile frame, an exquisite sensibility, and a poetic taste. Under peculiar circumstances, the ebbs and flows of feeling were uncontrollable ; but the deep-laid principles of Christian faith and pious trust sustained and delivered her.' There was in her a childlike transparency of soul, and a deep well of love, which made her the admiration and blessing of all with whom she lived. She was a model wife for a minister, as he was a model husband; and the tribute he has left to her affection, usefulness, and piety, is alike honorable to both.
The death of Mrs. Turell brought deep and lasting sorrow to the heart of her aged father. He had lived in her life, and was now ready to die her death. Family afflictions had been few with him. He says, “ For six and twenty years there had been no death in my family!” In speaking of the two sermons preached after the death of Mrs. Turell, he says, “I now make the dedication of both, — first, to the beloved children of my own flock and town; and then to the beloved people of MEDFORD, to whom I gave away no small part of the light of my eyes in the day I married her to their pastor."
DURING the first years of their residence in Medford, our pious ancestors were not sufficiently numerous and rich to support a minister of the gospel; hence they joined the churches of Cambridge, Charlestown, Watertown, Woburn, and Malden. That they had preaching in the town at funerals and baptisms, is most probable; but the loss of our earliest records prevents our stating any specific action on the subject till about 1690, when the desire to build a meetinghouse became strong and effectual. They worshipped in private rooms; and we find a vote of the town to “ pay Thomas Willis thirty shillings for the use of his rooms for one year.”
January 17, 1693, we find the following record:
“ At a general town-meeting of the inhabitants of Medford, being fifteen days warned, voted that there shall be a meeting-house erected, to be finished the first of October following, on the land of Mr, Thomas Willis, near the gate by Marble Brook, on a rock on the north side of Woburn Road. It shall be seven and twenty feet long, four and twenty feet wide, and fifteen feet between joints."
The committee to whom was intrusted this important work, “ with full power to act therein,” were Caleb Brooks and Thomas Willis, “ to be joined by the Selectmen, Joseph Hall and John Tufts.” Owing to some obstacles, the house was not built at the time first specified; and the next movement towards it we find in a vote passed Sept. 13, 1695. At this time “a subscription was opened, and one pound was subscribed by the following persons : Thomas Willis, Caleb Brooks, Stephen Francis, Stephen Willis, John Francis, John Whitmore, John Bradshoe, Jonathan Tufts, John Hall, jun., Nathaniel Hall, Stephen Hall, sen., John Willis, Stephen Hall, Percival Hall, Ebenezer Brooks. Twelve shillings were subscribed by Eleazer Wier and Nathaniel Waite, and six shillings by Samuel Brooks.” At this meeting, the town voted, unanimously, that “every person who refused to subscribe should pay twelve pence per head, and one penny on the pound, towards the building of the meeting-house."
September 23, 1695, it was voted “to give sixty pounds for the erection and finishing of the house ; ” but, on Nov. 4, 1695, the town took a new step, as follows: “The inhabitants, being now met and assembled, have voted and agreed to have a pulpit and deacons'-seats made, and the body of seats and the walls plastered with lime.” On account of these additions to the house, they agreed to give eighty pounds.
The meeting-house having been completed in May, 1696, five gentlemen — viz., Peter Tufts, John Hall, sen., Caleb Brooks, Stephen Francis, and Stephen Willis — were chosen “the committee to place the inhabitants in the meeting-house ; the Selectmen first to place the committee.”
There is no account of any separate religious services at the laying of the corner-stone, or for the dedication of the house. Whether our Puritan fathers feared being too Jewish, or too Popish, or too Episcopal, we know not.
Thus our ancestors provided themselves with their first · house for public worship; and when we consider that at that time there were but thirty male inhabitants of the town who paid taxes on estates, we may see clearly the cause of delaying such an expenditure, without supposing any lack of interest in piety or the church. .
The spot on which the first house stood is now occupied by a cottage, owned by Mr. Noah Johnson, in West Medford. The passage-way, which was closed by “the gate"
ing-bottonizi, Peterd Stepants in the
mentioned in the vote, still exists as a way to another house in which Mr. Johnson now resides. This spot, consecrated by the prayers and worship of our ancestors, is about twenty rods east-north-east from the crotch of the two roads, — one leading to Woburn, the other to West Cambridge.
The meeting-houses of this period were generally square, or nearly so. Some had spires, and were of two stories, with galleries. The one in Medford was nearly square, of one story, and without spire or galleries, but its windows secured with outside shutters. The roof was very steep, and its humble appearance (twenty-seven by twenty-four) can be readily imagined ; and, if it had been made with walls unplastered, its cost probably would not have exceeded sixty pounds. Twelve shillings were annually paid “ for keeping the meeting-house.”
Instead of pulpits, many houses had tables, from which the sermon was preached, and around which certain privileged persons, besides the deacons, were permitted, by a vote of the town, to sit.
The order of services was much like that now prevalent in congregational churches, except that the Scriptures were not read, and there was no choir. The congregation sung; and the deacon's pitch-pipe was the only instrumental music allowed.
Baptisms were always administered in the meeting-house ; and, if a child had been born on Sunday morning, it was thought a fit offering of piety to have it baptized in that afternoon.
As pews were not tolerated at first, the town chose a committee “to seat the congregation.” Although this committee was composed of the most judicious and popular men, their decisions were not always satisfactory. The rules laid down for seating the people were passed Nov. 30, 1713, and are as follows: “ The rule to be observed by said committee, in seating of persons in said meeting-house, is the quality of persons ; they who paid most for building the house, they who pay most for the minister's support, and the charges they have been at and now do pay to the public.” In 1703, there was so much heartburning at the placing of the people, that, in the true spirit of republican congregationalism, they rebelled, and chose a new committee to do the work over again.
The origin of pews seems to have been in a petition of Major Wade for liberty to build one.