BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
ANNUAL MEETING, FEBRUARY 8, 1905
PUBLISHED BY THE SOCIETY
BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
A Paper by Mrs. Thomas Doliber, read at the Meeting of the Society, February 8, 1905.
FOURTH ANNUAL MEETING.
The precise year in which John White left England to join the Massachusetts Colony is not known, but it was probably about 1638. He first took up his abode in Watertown, Massachusetts, but in the year 1650 he moved from there and settled in what was then known as the Muddy River hamlet, near the corner of the present Walnut and Washington streets. He married Frances and had sons, John, Joseph born 1743, Benjamin, and a daughter who died in her youth.
Joseph White, the second son, lived in a house which stood on the site of Dr. Channing's sanitarium on Boylston street. He was among those who signed the petition for the separation of Muddy River from Boston, which, when granted, bestowed the name of Brookline upon the newly made town.
Joseph White married Hannah (surname uncertain) and had three daughters and five sons, the youngest of whom was Samuel, born March 19, 1682-3.
Samuel White was a substantial man and a good citizen. He was made Justice of the Peace, and was also a member of the General Court for a number of years. He built a house for himself on the site of the one occupied by the late Francis Cabot, between Heath and Boylston streets. But at that time neither of these streets existed, and the land belonging to the house extended northward to what was then called the "lane" (now Chestnut Hill avenue) and the Ackers land, formerly his father's farm, and southward to the "Common, " five hundred acres of land set apart by the town of Boston, in 1639, for "perpetual commonage to the inhabitants of Muddy River. " More than a century later part of this commonage was transmuted into the Boston Reservoir.
Samuel White married Anne Drew, daughter of Erosamun and Bethiah Drew. Her father was a native of Ireland who came to this country in his youth; and receiving from his father-in-law on his marriage, several acres of woodland near Newton street, built his dwelling house there, in 1693, and also by the adjoining brook, his saw-mill. Ruins of these old buildings remained standing until 1873. In the quaint words of an old family manuscript, "Samuel White and Anne Drew, both of Brookline, entered the matrimonial State. The Year is unknown to any Person now living. " It is elsewhere recorded at 1712. Anne Drew was an energetic and capable woman, not easily deterred by trifles. It is said of her that she made a practice of arranging her toilet on Sunday mornings over a pail of water for lack of a looking glass, and then walking to "Roxbury meeting-house" to attend a long days service. This, I judge, was when she lived in her father's house, which was quite primitive. Her home after her marriage was large and exceedingly well furnished for those days. Ample assistance in her daily work was also provided. At that time it was not considered wrong to own slaves, and they were kept in the White household. From old memoranda we learn that "John, son of Cuff and Kate, and servant to Madam Ann White, died of a nervous fever in 1761. "The following year Cuff's death is recorded, and later his daughter Dinah, servant of Madam White, "dyed of a consumption." The baptisms and deaths of these servants are to be found in the early records of the First Parish Church.
As soon as the Church in Brookline was established, both Samuel and Anne White became identified with it, and were devoted members during their lifetime. In 1759 about a year before Samuel White's death, he gave by deed to the Selectmen of Brookline twenty acres of woodland in Needham " to supply the minister or ministers that may be settled in the town from time to time. "
Five children, two sons and three daughters, were born to Samuel and Anne White, but only two daughters lived to grow up. These were Susannah, born September 29, 1713 and Anne, born March 2, 1722.
When Anne White, the youngest daughter, was twenty one years old, she married Henry Sewall. He was the grandson of Chief Justice Sewall and Hannah Hull; who it will be remembered received as a wedding gift from her father, her weight in pine tree shillings. His maternal grandfather was Governor Dudley. Henry Sewall was born and brought up in a house which stood on the site of the residence of Mr. Charles Stearns, on Harvard street, and after his father's death it came to him by inheritance and he continued to occupy it. Henry and Anne Sewall had three sons and a daughter. Two of these sons, Hull and Henry, married and died at an early age. The third son, Samuel, outlived his parents, and on account of his name inherited from his grandfather, Samuel White, the old homestead and lands. He was a promising young lawyer, with a good practice in Boston. At the beginning of the troublous times preceding the Revolutionary War, he made himself exceedingly obnoxious to his neighbors and friends in Brookline by warmly espousing the British cause. To quote again, "when the unhappy dispute arose between Briton and America, he join'd with the unnatural Enemies of America and left his native place August 20, 1775. Went to England with a number of those who were called Tories."* In 1778 the banishment act was passed, Samuel Sewall was proscribed as a refugee, and his property confiscated. At the close of the war the estate was sold by order of the state of Massachusetts, and was purchased by Mr. John Heath of Roxbury, who had for some years previous been occupying the house. The old deed, written on vellum, and dated September 12, 1782, conveyed the house and lands to John Heath, Gentleman, and was signed by John Hancock, then Governor of Massachusetts. Thus it passed into the possession of my great-greatgrandfather, and afterwards was everywhere known as the "old Heath house. " But although the name of the owner was changed, the family associations remained the same. It will be remembered that Samuel and Anne White had two daughters, the younger of whom married Henry Sewall. The eldest daughter, Susannah, married Deacon Ebenezer Craft, a wealthy and prominent citizen of Roxbury. He owned a large estate in Roxbury, on both sides of the old road leading to Boston, and including the opposite "Great Hill"** besides extensive tracts of land in Brookline and other neighboring towns. His old house, with the date 1709 upon the chimney, was until quite recently a familiar landmark. Behind the house was a fine orchard where originated the famous Roxbury russet apples. For many years all the driving between Boston, Cambridge, Brookline, and the towns beyond, passed over this old road. During the stirring times of the siege of Boston, and the Revolutionary War, it was a highway for the troops, and the only means of communication from General Washington's headquarters at Cambridge to the fortifications at Roxbury and Dorchester Heights. We may believe that many an exciting scene was witnessed from the windows of the old house. In more peaceful times it was the habit of relatives and friends to gather here on Commencement Day, and watch the fine equipages of the Governor and officials, as they went from Boston to attend the exercises at Harvard College.
*Samuel Sewall died unmarried in Bristol, England, 1811-1812
** Parker Hill
In this house there were born to Deacon Craft and his wife Susannah, seven children, two of whom were daughters, Susannah and Elizabeth. Susannah was married to John Heath of Roxbury in 1758. At first the young couple lived in Roxbury, but soon moved into the house of Samuel Sewall, and as we have seen purchased it in 1782. So Mrs. John Heath came to live in the house of her grandfather, Samuel White, and again a young and capable woman started to manage a household and bring up a family of children under its substantial roof. Again doors and windows were opened, daily routine was regulated, and the black faces of the slaves were seen in the old kitchen.
There is no detailed description to be found of this home, the scene of so many and varied interests. We only know that the yard was surrounded by an elaborately constructed wooden fence. One entered the box-bordered path leading to the front door by a turnstile, and the house was shaded by tall trees, one of which is still standing. The chimneys were very large, and the fireplace deep and wide. Around the fireplace in the sitting room were blue and white tiles, depicting Scriptural subjects. The ceilings were low, and the windows had deep recessed seats.
While the children were still young, another happiness was added to Susannah Heath's life, the daily companionship of her much loved sister, Elizabeth, a most beautiful woman, loved and revered by every one. She had married Caleb White of Brookline, a young man of liberal education and unusual promise. Soon he was stricken by a fever which deprived him of his reason, and in three years, at the age of twenty-three, she was left a widow with one child. Her sorrow was a life-long one, but with her characteristic strength of mind and will, she devoted herself to doing good to others, and brightening all lives with which she came in contact. Soon after her husband's death she came to live with her sister, Susannah Heath, and the two families presented a spectacle of perfect unanimity and devotion. "Aunt White," as she was called, lived to the age of ninety-two years. She had a superior and refined taste for reading and an unusual memory. The Bible was her constant companion. She wrote much in prose and verse, and several of her letters and poems have been preserved.
The patriotic feelings of John Heath and his household contrasted sharply with those of Samuel Sewall. The Heaths were solemnly and intensely devoted to the cause of liberty, and with but few exceptions their feelings were shared by the other residents of Brookline. John Heath's young son, Ebenezer, was among the foremost to organize and join a military company (1770) among his friends and companions, and these boys drilled with a persistence that would have been creditable in men. Henry Hulton, Esq., counselor and Commissioner for the British Government of that time, occupied his country seat on what is now Warren street, just opposite the Reservoir. He was, of course, exceedingly unpopular. One day this youthful military company marched to the house of the Tory Hulton, and stoned the windows, breaking nearly every pane. But the boys were a little in advance of their time in showing open hostility, and their parents, though no doubt secretly sympathetic, punished them, caused them to disband their company, and paid for the broken glass.
As early as the year 1772, the town of Brookline appointed a committee to take under consideration the rights and privileges of the colonists, and to protest against their frequent and despotic infringements; and when in January 1775 war seemed inevitable, and the patriot John Goddard began his quiet work of collecting military stores, we may be sure that his friend John Heath was in perfect sympathy with him. On the memorable morning of April 19, 1775, when word came to Brookline that Lord Percy's troops were on their way to Lexington, many frightened people living in what is now the "village," hastily gathered their belongings together, and fled to the upper part of the town for safety. Later, a rumor that the British were approaching the " Church green " startled the inhabitants of the town anew, and the women and children of the Heath household hastened to seek a hiding place in the thick woods which surrounded Erosamun Drew's old saw-mill. Only poor old Kate, the negro slave who had formerly belonged to Madam White, was left behind. Being too old and infirm to escape with the others, she hid behind the tall clock which stood in the corner of the sitting room, and there remained trembling for some hours, when, nothing having transpired, the various members of the family returned. The mistress of the house was afterwards much discomfited to find that in the hurry and confusion of flight, the only article carried away for safe keeping had been a bag of salt. By noon time of this day nearly all the able-bodied men of the town were gathered in front of the meeting-house. Here three companies of soldiers were formed: one regularly organized, and belonging to Colonel William Heath's regiment, commanded by Captain Thomas White-in this was enlisted John Heath; the others, companies hastily organized at the moment, and led by Colonel Thomas Aspinwall and Isaac Gardner, Esq. The Brookline patriots met the British at North Cambridge, where a skirmish took place, and Isaac Gardner fell, pierced by bullet wounds. The British hastened on towards Charlestown, closely pursued by the Brookline men, who were so scattered by nightfall that no order nor concerted action was possible, and they returned home one by one. The next morning John Heath took his wagon and accompanied Dr. Aspinwall to Cambridge, to look for the body of Isaac Gardner, and assisted m bringing it home for burial. Captain White's company was disbanded early in the next month, but John Heath is recorded as having actually served but six days. He then returned quietly to his family and resumed work on his farm, and his response to the call for arms was so much and so simply a matter of religious duty to his country, that it is never mentioned nor alluded to in any family papers extant. In those days the performance of duty did not necessarily call for recognition nor subsequent allusion.*
Rank of Private on Lexington Alarm Roll of Capt. Thomas White's Co; Col. William Heath's Regt : which marched on the alarm of April 19, 1775, from Brookline Length of service 6 days. Brookline Co. company served until May 2,1775." -Lexington Alarms; Vol. 13, P. 176.
Dr. Aspinwall relinquished his practice in Brookline throughout the whole of the war of the Revolution, and devoted himself to the care of the wounded soldiers, serving for some time with General Sullivan in Rhode Island. When peace was restored he returned to his home and resumed his calling. The terrible scourge, small-pox, had been introduced into the country by foreign armies, and had spread sufficiently to cause great terror. Nothing was so much feared, and naturally, for when a person fell ill with it, the usual practice was to send him with an attendant (often inexperienced) to some remote building, where a red flag warned away all visitors, and the disease ran its course without any medical intervention. The only known means of combating it was by inoculation, which differed from the later discovery of vaccination, inasmuch as instead of preventing; it induced the dreaded disease at a given time and in a milder form. Proper care could then be planned for the individual, and all dread of an unexpected attack was removed. Dr. Aspinwall now conceived the idea of establishing a hospital, where many people should be received at once, inoculated, and properly attended and nursed during the illness. The first hospital was erected on his own farm; and the idea proved so popular, and his treatment so successful that two more were soon built to accommodate the patients. Both adults and children were received, and in some cases parents sent whole families of children at one time. John Heath's children went, and their cousin little Nancy White, and some quaint old letters written to them at the time have been preserved. The mother writes to little " Sukey," the eldest daughter, asking, "how did you spend Sunday, had you any Books- did Ebby read- see that he eats nothing to hurt him, no green fruit,-don't let him dispute with the Boys . . . encourage him lest he be dispirited " and Aunt White wrote to little Betsey "... the . . . Family send their Love to you, they all think you are a nice girl because you warn't afraid to be inoculated . . . you must take your medicine and do everything the Dr. wants you to . . . and then I shall Love you, and give you what I told you about . . . ."
John and Susannah Craft Heath had four children, Susannah, John who died in infancy, Ebenezer, and Elizabeth. Elizabeth Heath, called by her family Betsey, began the practice of keeping regular daily journals at an early age, and this habit was continued by some member of the Heath family for three successive generations. In these journals may be found many entries describing the social life and festivities of the times.
The first wedding in the family was that of the eldest daughter Susannah and John Goddard. He was the eldest son of John and Hannah Goddard of Brookline. Possessed of a fine and brilliant mind, he studied for the medical profession after being graduated from Harvard College. His health however failed, and in hopes of improving it he obtained a position as surgeon on one of our armed vessels, intending to go to Spain, but was captured and carried to the West Indies, where he narrowly escaped death by fever. When at last liberated and on his way he was again captured, and suffered greatly; but at length returned to his home safely, at the age of twenty-four. He then took up the practice of his profession in Portsmouth N. H., where he became widely celebrated in after years, both as a skilful physician and a member of the state Legislature. On May 4, 1783, Dr. John Goddard of Portsmouth and Susannah Heath of Brookline were "published," and on the fifth of June they were married, the ceremony being performed by Rev. Joseph Jackson, then minister of the Parish. To quote from the diary of the bride's younger sister, Elizabeth - " Doct. Goddard set out from Portsmouth Monday June 2nd, got to Boston the next morning, bought his wedding Cloaths, left them to be made, got here to dinner. . . . June 4, Mrs Cheany of Roxbury was sent for by Sunrise in the morning, came here, made two sorts of Cake, loaf Cake and pound Cake very good indeed . . . June 5, Thursday, Doct. John Goddard and Sukey Heath entered the matrimonial state. The Company that was present was Mr. Jackson and family, Doct. Goddard's Father and Mother, Brothers, and Sisters, my two Uncle Crafts and their wives were here and Miss Betsey Shed. Luck was here with his Violin in the evening. The Bride was drest in a Lilock colored Lute string gownd and coat. . . . Sunday June 8, went to meeting Bride drest in strip'd Lute string Negligee, three white waving plooms on her hat, &c., wore her new short Polanee's flounced and trimmed with Blue. Monday, a very respectable Company was here to drink tea. Judge Sumner's Lady and Mrs. Ruggles. General Heath's Children &c., about Forty in the whole, two Violins here in the evening, danced till two o'clock_ They had punce, and wine, cake and chees." On Tuesday another large company drank tea with the bride, and the next day the newly married couple took leave of the assembled family, and left for their new home. To quote again, " Wednesday June II... Doct. Goddard and Lady set out for Portsmouth, 7 o'clock, my Brother, Miss Hannah Goddard (sister of the groom) accompeing them. They reached rowly the first night, crost Amsbury ferry the next morn'g about 7 o'clock, got to Portsmouth in the afternoon. . . . All the folks are very dull now Sukey is gorn so far."
Later the journal speaks of Dr. Goddard and his wife revisiting the old home with their children. Susannah died three years after her marriage, leaving three sons.* The happy and affectionate intercourse with Dr. Goddard's family and Portsmouth, which began with Susannah's marriage, never ceased. After her death and Dr. Goddard's subsequent marriage, the warmest friendship between the two families continued; the cousins were all friends; the young people corresponded regularly and visited each other whenever opportunity occurred, and Aunt White and Aunt Eliza from Brookline were always welcomed guests at the Goddard mansion. Aunt White went at once to Portsmouth to assume the care of the motherless little boys at the time of Susannah's death, and the following summer she brought the two younger ones to visit their Grandmother Heath at the old homestead in Brookline. After the children had returned to Portsmouth their grandmother wrote often, and made anxious inquiries for them. Sammy, the youngest boy, was evidently her favorite. Nuts and cakes were often sent from the old homestead, a few specially nice ones always marked "for Sammy," and hopes were repeatedly expressed that "they may come again, in cherry time, Sammy is so fond of cherries."
*The youngest, Samuel, was the father of Miss Julia Goddard, Warren street.
Another quotation from Betsey's diary alludes to the family practice of spending Commencement Day at the old Craft homestead. "Tuesday -, Nancy and I went down to my grandfather's just before Night, to stay all Night, and see the folks go by to Commencement. Wednesday afternoon my Uncle Daniel Craft and Lady, Aunt White, & Nancy & I rode over to Cambridge. . . . Went into the meeting house a few minutes. Went to see a Sea Calf that was carried to Cambridge for a sight. A very curious creature. Six Coppers a sight ... ."
The journals of Betsey Heath and her cousin Nancy White, kept while the writers were between the ages of fifteen and twenty, give a good description of their social life; and it is a wonder, that with their necessary domestic labors, they accomplished so much tea drinking and visiting.
An interesting account of a wedding visit made to a friend in Roxbury is given by Nancy,- " Tuesday, August 24, went to pay the Wedding Visit, 27 ladies there to drink tea, 7 ladies from the Plain, Green Tea, Loaf Suger, Plumb & Plain Cake. A number of Gentlemen there in the Ev'ning, had Cake and Cheese, Punch Bevaradge, Wine, and wine & water. Two Fidlers ... we got home a quarter after two . . . ." That the young Harvard students then gave "teas" to the young women of their acquaintance, may be seen from the following " Tuesday- Ebby, Betsey, & I went with Mrs. Jackson, Mrs. Abbot, and the two Sally Jackson's over to Cambridge to Joseph Jackson's Chamber. Had tea biscuits & butter and Cake. Jack Fleet and Elisha Gardner drank tea there. Got home about dark."
A party of young people, including the cousins, went one July afternoon to Mystic Fields, now a part of Medford. The " Fountain " was a fine tavern there, much used as a place of resort in the summer. It was shaded by two tall trees, each with a platform built in its branches. These platforms were connected with each other, and with the house, by wooden bridges; and were popular places for out-of-door merry making. Nancy writes : (we) "went to take a ride as far as Mystic, to the fountain. Nabby Gardner and I rode in Mr. Isaac Gardner's Chaise, all the rest on horses. All of us drest in Polanees, high Crown'd Hats & Sashes, Vandykes. Drank Tea in the Place built up before the Door, and had Green Tea, loaf sugar. Biscuits & Butter, Crackers & Butter, milk biscuit & cheese. Staid about three Hours. Play'd break the Popes neck, sat out for home almost an Hour before sundown. Gat Home about nine o'clock ... ."
The next wedding was that of the eldest son, Ebenezer. When we consider the strong patriotic interest of the times, and the relationship of John Heath to his cousin. General William Heath, it is not surprising to learn that John's eldest son, Ebenezer, married the daughter of Colonel Joseph Williams of Roxbury, who had taken so ardent a part in the late struggle for liberty. He was twenty-six years old, she was twenty. According to the custom of the times a notice of their intentions was posted upon the door of the old Church in Roxbury, for three consecutive weeks before the wedding day. The original paper, yellowed with age, lies before me, dated 1790 :-
A MATRIMONIAL CONJOINT
Mr. Ebenezer Heath of Brookline, and Miss Hannah Williams of Roxbury : proposes to quit their present state of celibacy, and pursue the journey through the vale of affection to that extensive tract of troden path of land called matrimony- Whoever hath aught, or impediment against this overture are requested to exhibit their objections to
Thomas Clarke, Town Clerk.
As was customary there were great festivities in the two families, both before and after the wedding ceremony. We find from Betsey Heath's journal that she spent a fortnight at Colonel Williams, previous to his daughter's marriage, when there was much dancing and gayety going on; and this included a stay at the "Island." This was Noddle's Island, now East Boston, but then leased and occupied by Colonel Williams' eldest son, Henry. Here was exercised boundless hospitality, a daily record was kept of visitors, and boats were constantly plying between the Island and Boston. It may be added that the dining room, in daily use, was furnished with two dining tables, two tea tables, and two complete dinner services, and the stables contained forty-three fine horses.
Betsey came home early in January, but soon returned to the Williams' homestead, and on the 10th of the month we find recorded, " Preparing for the wedding. Roasted beef. Tuesday, Jan. 11th Pleasant. Today is the day appointed for the wedding. . . . Mr. Bosson came to dress the gentlemen's heads. Among those present were all her brothers and sisters, and Eben's uncles and aunts : (here follows a detailed list of other guests) . . . Mr. Emerson . . . Mr. Bradford & wife (minister in Roxbury) and Mr. Porter (Rev. Eliphalet Porter of Roxbury). Seven late and a company did not come until evening. They waited for Mr. Emerson. Married at seven. Mr. Jackson made a prayer (Rev. Joseph Jackson of Brookline). Mr. Porter married them. Mr. Bradford made a prayer. Patty (the bride's sister) and I bridesmaids; Mr. Emerson & Harry Williams the bridesmen. Eben dressed in dark coat, light cape, white breeches, striped waistcoat, they looked very well. Hannah dressed in white lutestring petticoat and muslin gown. Patty, Nancy & I wore white. Had at a side-board cold meat, had a large cake dressed with an orange box of gold tip sugared almonds, sugar plumbs, citron, and small ginger bread toys sugared over. They had beef-ala- mode and roast bacon, pork and tongue. Sung and acted Damon and Clora with Jo May."
There was tea drinking, and merry-making throughout the week at Colonel Williams' home. On Saturday "Eben and Hannah spent the day at Brookline. Set up the things, in the new house, "and on the following Wednesday "fifty gentlemen and ladies "drank tea at John Heath's. "We danced in the kitchen, Bellsid & Granger here, one played on the fiddle, and one on the clarinet. Had a-la-mode beef, roast chicken, and bacon for supper. Some stayed till four o'clock." The "new house" was built just opposite to, and but a few rods away from, the "old" one, and was presented to Ebenezer Heath upon his marriage, by his father, John Heath; who, having suffered from ungenerous treatment during his childhood and youth, was desirous of placing every means of happiness and comfort in the hands of his only son. He also relinquished the active management of the farm, only stipulating that a sufficient amount of the proceeds should be set apart for his own maintenance and that of his wife during the remainder of their lives. So began the life of the new household, closely allied to the old.
It will be remembered that life was very simple in these early days of Brookline history. There were but comparatively few residents in the town; all attended the same meeting- house for worship on Sundays, and worked together and were mutually dependent on week days. The fathers of families were busy with their out-of-door occupations, the mothers, with the care of their children (and large families were the rule) and household affairs. Not only were sewing, washing, ironing, and the daily preparation of food necessary, but also the cloth must be spun and woven, the soap made, and all the water brought from an out-of-door pump.
There was much social visiting among friends and neighbors; in fact, in the diaries of the Heath family we find the infrequent entry " no company today" of sufficient importance to be underlined. It was the established custom for a messenger to be sent early in the morning with "compliments" to a friend, and the message that if it was convenient certain of the family would come and spend the afternoon. By two o'clock the visit would begin, and if much lively conversation and gossip went on, the fingers of the women were equally busy with their sewing. Evening gatherings were also frequent. All the family would go, and while the elders conversed, the young people would dance or sing. Frequently the baby was brought too, and carefully put to bed in the hostess's spare chamber to sleep while gayeties were going on below. From an old journal we quote: "a great deal of Company to drink tea, quite a variety. Ladies very much dressed - Children of all sizes, infants crying, all appeared in good spirits."
It is noteworthy that many women of this period accomplished their daily tasks, reared their children, participated in social duties, and found time besides to read, and ponder and write long letters and journals. My great-grandmother, Hannah Heath, was a remarkable instance of such a woman. She was only twenty years old when she married and came to live on the old farm: a woman of ability and great strength and beauty of character, humble and devout. She brought up a family of nine children, not only ministering to their physical welfare, but ever mindful and anxious for their mental and spiritual growth. In addition to her necessary household labors, she was very ready with practical help for those in need, and her hospitable home was literally open to guests by day and by night. With a generous and sympathetic temperament she combined both tact and discretion, and was deeply beloved by her children and by her friends.
The diaries of my great-grandmother Heath, begun in the year 1805 and kept for many successive years, have been preserved. Their pages are yellowed with age, but the ink is dark and the writing perfectly legible. The sheets of paper that make up these books are single, about nine inches long and seven wide; they are sewed together with stout linen thread, and the covers are of stiff brown board sewed on with silk to match. Once in a while a quaint old bullet-headed pin is found, for extra security in fastening the pages together. On the cover of the first of these diaries is written " year 1805, " and the first entry is in this wise : A list of our visits for the year 1805. Then follow the daily records of the year, sometimes brief, often quaint in spelling and phraseology. A list certainly of visits paid and received, of tea drinkings and merrymakings, of visits of condolence and of helpfulness. To these pages are also confided the mother's aspirations for the large and increasing family, her hopes and fears for their temporal and spiritual welfare, and her prayers for help in all difficulties. To her devout mind God and his Providence were ever manifest, and she steadfastly sought Him in every joy and in every sorrow.
Ebenezer Heath showed the same active interest in all affairs of the church and of the town as had his forefathers. The first meeting-house in Brookline had been built in 1714-16. It was modeled after "the Meeting House in the South West part of Roxbury" and stood just west of the present parsonage. In 1804 this old church edifice was inadequate to accommodate the population of the town, which had been increased by several new families who moved here soon after Dr. Pierce's ordination. When it was voted to build a new meeting-house on the spot where the present First Parish Church now stands, Ebenezer Heath took a lively interest in all that pertained to the new building, and with that thoroughness which characterized all his dealings in public affairs, accompanied Mr. Banner, the architect and builder, into the woods to choose the requisite timber. With his family he watched the raising of its frame. He presented at town meeting Mr. Stephen Higginson's generous offer of a new bell, and was appointed one of the committee to return thanks for the same. Later he assisted in selecting appropriate hymns to be sung at the dedication of the new meetinghouse.
At last the Sunday arrived, June 8, 1806, when services were held for the last time in the "old house". Dr. Pierce took for his text, " Lord I have loved the habitation of Thine house and the place where Thine honor dwelleth." "He preached very well," says an old diary, "the meeting house was crowded, they sung Old Hundred in the old house the last singing." On the following Wednesday the new meetinghouse was dedicated, and, says the same diary,- " went to meeting, all hands were entertained, thought the performance very good, a great many people there. Thursday : Mr. Heath has spent the chief of his time the last fifteen months to build or aid in the building of the new meeting house, and today he has gone to pull down the old, or assist about it . . . ." and on the following Sunday- "Met in the new meeting house, the Old is gone forever." Ebenezer Heath always took great interest in the music of the church; he was a member of the choir, and for several years was both president and secretary of the committee having the music in charge. He had a fine voice and excellent taste; these qualities were inherited by his children, and with them he was a constant attendant at singing school for years.
He was ardent and public-spirited in the cause of education. When a child he was a pupil in the old wooden schoolhouse which stood on the triangular piece of ground where Warren and Walnut streets diverge, then the centre of the town. In 1793 this building was taken down and replaced by a brick structure, which served not only for school purposes, but for town meetings as well. It was at this brick schoolhouse that the people of the town met on the occasion of the funeral services held in honor of General Washington, and marched to the church in solemn procession to join in the service and listen to the sermon delivered by Dr. Pierce. When in 1824 the new stone schoolhouse was built, and the old brick one demolished, Ebenezer Heath planted an elm tree on its site close by the old threshold, that it might be always marked and held in affectionate memory.
At this time there were two other school buildings in the town, one on School street, the other on Heath street. For many successive seasons the teachers of these schools boarded in the Heath family; their companionship was prized, and the friendships formed were mutual and enduring. Mr. Heath's children were early sent to dancing school. One winter he loaned his "best room" to Mr. Stimson, the dancing master, for his class. The lessons, strange to say, seem always to have been given at a very early hour in the morning. In this house a steadily increasing family was growing up: John, Susan, Ann, Hannah, Charles, Mary, Elizabeth, Frederic and Abigail. Not a day passed without some of them running across the yard to the "other house" or drinking tea with their grandmother and Aunt White, and they always dined there on Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving Day and Election Day were the great holidays. The observance of Christmas was unknown and fervent wishes for a Happy New Year sufficed for that occasion. It was an established custom for Mr. and Mrs. Ebenezer Heath to entertain their minister. Dr. Pierce and his family, with other guests, on the day following Thanksgiving, when a fine dinner would be served, and equally abundant tea, and games and dancing would follow in the evening. To quote from a journal:" Our dinner was got in very good order and our company appeared to enjoy themselves ... we danced and played blind man's buff all the evening. Thirty-five persons dined here, twenty sat around the table in the parlor, and forty-two drank tea here." No wonder that next day is found the entry, "It took us some time this morning to put things to rights."
Great affection and intimacy existed between Dr. Pierce's family and the Heaths. Not a week passed without mutual visiting, and no event of joy or of sorrow, of merry-making or of anxiety, was complete without the presence and sympathy of Dr. Pierce. The Heaths were stanch parishioners and workers in the church, and Dr. Pierce had a true appreciation of their worth.
The grandfather, John Heath, died April 11, 1804, and on the first day of April, 1808, came another great sorrow. Susannah Heath, now the beloved grandmother, passed away from this world very suddenly "in a fainting fit." Her daughter-in-law, Hannah Heath, says of her, she was "one of the best Women that ever lived." The next Sunday morning Dr. Pierce preached from the text "Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God," and in the afternoon, "Our friend sleepeth."
Now only three were left of the large family which had formerly filled the "old house." Life went quietly on there for some months, then came another change. Dr. John Goddard has been twice married since the death of his wife Susannah, and was again left a widower, now with eleven children. He returned to the old house in Brookline, and wooed and won Nancy White, Susannah's cousin, a woman remarkable for her mildness, prudence, and exemplary devotion to duty. The time of betrothal was short. The old diary records the immediate arrival of a dressmaker, as " she is going to have a number of new gowns," later "called in to the other house, saw new gowns in plenty," and again, " Nancy ... is to go to Boston tomorrow to get the ninth new gown, for her mother is quite worried to think she has no clothes to wear."
The wedding ceremony was not to be performed in the old house, but instead in the "other house," the home of her cousin Ebenezer Heath, and was to be very simple. An early breakfast was to be served, and viands were prepared and tables laid ready for the feast on the evening preceding the wedding day.
Mrs. Heath writes in her journal January 2, 1811: "We were all busy enough in the evening, went to bed about 12. " Thursday ... at length the said day is arrived. I arose a little after day, and exerted myself to the utmost to have everything in order - about nine the company collected. Nancy was married -we had breakfast a little after nine, there were twenty-three sot down together, everything was hot and in order- beyond my expectations - they all took leave soon after breakfast, Nancy left us in better spirits than I thought she could . . . ."
Dr. Goddard and his bride set off immediately for Portsmouth, and were accompanied by Ebenezer Heath's eldest daughter Susan, a girl of fifteen years.
Nancy White and Hannah Williams had been young girl friends. Nancy was present at Hannah's wedding, and ever since they had lived as neighbors and cousins, with frequent daily intercourse. They were akin in tastes and sympathies and their friendship grew ever more firm and abiding. It will readily be understood that Nancy's wedding and the subsequent parting was very hard for Mrs. Heath. In a letter written to the bride she says, "for twenty long years (you) have held the highest place in my heart " and elsewhere she speaks of "a time of discouragement when Nancy was here and comforted me as she has always done."
Aunt White and Betsey Heath were now alone. After many family conclaves it was decided that they should break up housekeeping, transfer their belongings to Ebenezer's house, and when not making long visits to their numerous relatives should make their home there. Dr. Goddard had urged Aunt White most strongly and affectionately to come to Portsmouth to live with them, and she consented to try the change for a time. In the October following Nancy's marriage the old journal says: " Betsey took leave of us at noon to make a visit to Portsmouth .... Aunt White shut up the old house today. O melancholy thought, the Old house left to itself without an inhabitant - O time, time - what destruction dost, thou make in families, it is twenty years since I came to live with this family, which was large- and pleasant - and now all separated and gone- . . . the evening is delightful -the moon shines uncommonly bright - I feel as if it ought to wear a gloom for the separation of my dear friends -but alas, it smiles at my weakness - and I will endeavor to change my feelings to love and gratitude that we have lived so long together - and enjoyed so much - may I never be ungrateful to my Maker- who has done so much for me."
The entry on the following Sunday has a pathetic note. After speaking of the illness of her baby, Frederic, Mrs. Heath says : " Heard a young Man preach that I did not like at all, owing I suppose to my own wicked heart -for not attending properly to the subject, seeing the pew empty so lately filled, and the anxiety I felt for Frederic." On Thanksgiving Day she writes, " the children appeared to enjoy the day. Aunt White dined with us for the first time on this occasion - the children have always dined at the other house on thanksgiving days."
Susan, Anne, and Hannah, were charming and popular girls, and took part in all festivities of Brookline, Boston, Roxbury, and Dorchester. They danced exceedingly well, and were lively and witty in conversation. Like their father they possessed sweet voices in singing; their elder brother played the flute, their younger brother had a fine tenor voice, and many happy evenings were spent in music. They were all fond of reading, especially Susan, who for several years kept careful lists of the books read; she had also a good deal of native artistic talent which would have been well worth cultivating. She was ambitious, and painted three or four landscapes, the view seen from the window, which was quite extensive. What is now the Reservoir was then a lovely green meadow, and Boston was so distinct that on one occasion when a fire broke out in Charles street and spread to Beacon they watched it through the spy glass, and distinctly discerned the particular house in which they were interested, as it burned to the ground. Nothing shows the changes wrought by time more than these old paintings, which are still in good preservation. Both Susan and Hannah also sketched the "old house" in water colors.
Susan was particularly fond of balls and dancing, and justified herself, when accused of light-mindedness, by quoting Dr. Pierce, "who thinks dancing an innocent amusement." Mrs. Heath and her daughters were very hospitable, and very careful to return all courtesies, and this frequently entailed a great many hours of hard work, both in preparing for parties and in setting the house to rights afterwards. Susan writes : " Such a day as we shall not experience again very soon. All bustle and preparation for eve - nailing up lights- spreading carpets - cutting ham and cake - completing the supper table- making fires and dressing up the chambers in their best attire occupied the morn. . . . We began to dress in good season. ... I never shall feel happier than when the house was lighted and in readiness for the arrival of our friends, and the musicians giving us a foretaste of what we were to enjoy. At six the company began to assemble very fast-and our rooms were soon filled -we had about eighty - all came that we calculated most upon. . . . It was one before the last went. The end of a ball is by no means the pleasantest part of it, especially when you have beds to make before you can take the rest you so much need: we made one upon the floor for two guests who took this opportunity to make us a visit. ... I had good partners and enough of them, and that constitutes enjoyment in a ball room I think." And again after a ball, she writes : " Twentytwo composed our family this night - were obliged to sleep rather ^thicker
in our apartment, but sacrifices must be made, and the best grace you put upon these matters the better."
I have been told that a favorite way of providing extra sleeping accommodation was for children and young people to lie cross-wise in the bed. To be sure the little ones complained of being crowded, and the feet of the elders sometime were cold, but four and even five could be thus stowed away for the night.
It is really surprising to note the number and the frequency of guests welcomed at the Heath House. They arrived at all hours of the day, sometimes before breakfast, and remained until late. Besides neighbors, and a large family connection in Roxbury and Boston, there were cousins and aunts from Portsmouth and Baltimore, all of whom enjoyed paying visits of varying lengths.
A very erratic but frequent caller was Miss Prudy Heath. She was really own cousin to Ebenezer Heath, but some years older than he, and was always called by his children "Miss Prudy." She lived for many years in the family of Deacon Samuel Clark, on Walnut street, and afterwards in that of his son, Joshua Clark, on Warren street. Miss Prudy was a quaint and unique figure, independent, loquacious, and fond of visiting. Her black Leghorn bonnet and large green silk umbrella were familiar sights in Brookline. She admired and respected Dr. Pierce, and was not only a constant attendant at meeting, but gave freely of her little income for church purposes, besides presenting two silver cups for the communion service, which are still in use.
In those days Brookline was a desirable and fashionable summer resort, and many Boston gentlemen had country seats which they occupied from May until November. Among them were Hon. Jonathan Mason, Colonel Perkins, and members of the Cabot and Higginson families. These with their guests enlarged the social circle very pleasantly. After a few years the "old house " was regularly leased for several remaining empty for summers, and first by Mrs. Higginson, who proved a delightful neighbor.
A large and charming family moved out from Boston, and took up a permanent residence in a house on what is now Boylston street. Mr. Penniman was a fond and devoted husband and father, Mrs. Penniman a handsome and lively woman, and their large family was most affectionate and united. The hospitable Heaths welcomed these new neighbors with cordiality, and they soon became intimate. The daughters, amiable and accomplished, had tastes in common, and scarcely a day passed that some one of them did not run in to call, or practice a new song, or tell some piece of news. Ann Heath and Dorothea Dix, afterwards so widely known for her noble lifework, were very dear friends from girlhood; and even at that early age Miss Dix's fortitude and strong devotion to duty were noted. Miss Dix visited Ann often, and when separated the friends carried on a steady and voluminous correspondence; in fact the letters were so frequent that the sisters and cousins rallied Ann quite unmercifully, but the intimacy lasted all through their lives. Ann Heath cherished and kept all these letters which she received from her valued friend, and Mr. Francis Tiffany in his " Life of Dorothea Lynde Dix " says that but for the preservation of this correspondence, lasting for about fifty years, and revealing Miss Dix's inmost and earnest thoughts and feelings, no adequate picture could have been drawn of her early womanhood. Miss Green, the niece of their near neighbor. General Eliot, was a friend whom the sisters enjoyed in common. They conceived the strongest admiration for her, and her superior qualities of mind, consulted her in every emergency, and family tradition says that they even sent to ask "what they should think " on an important question.
The name of Mehetable Dawes occurs again and again in Susan Heath's letters and journals, and always coupled with some endearing epithet or word of praise. They were intimate and dear friends, and rejoiced in their closer relationship when Mehetable Dawes became the bride of Susan's cousin, Samuel Goddard. The rejoicing was, however, tempered with sorrow, for directly after the wedding ceremony the newly married couple left for New York, from whence they sailed for Liverpool, where they arrived safely after a voyage of twenty-three days. Susan's only consolation was in receiving long letters from her friend, written her own "sweet style, " and also the journals, which Mehetable sent home from time to time for her new cousin's perusal.
England continued to be the home of the Goddards for several years; and when they returned to their native land with a family of children about them, their first visit was paid to their uncle and aunt Heath, in the house where so much of Mr. Goddard's youth had been spent. Later Mr. Goddard purchased the well-known house on Warren street, and lived there during the remainder of his life. In enumerating the intimate friends of the family, Dr. Wild should not be forgotten. He came to Brookline in the year 1818, and won instant recognition among its inhabitants by his attractive personality and medical skill. He was greatly admired by the Heaths, and the attraction was mutual. Hardly a day passed without a call from him, friendly, if not professional and years only deepened their attachment.
It will be remembered that for many seasons the various school teachers found a home in the Heath household. These were generally young undergraduates of Harvard College, or divinity students, frequently fond of music, and with literary tastes. Much delightful intercourse ensued, interests were quickened, and the friendships thus made were lasting. Ezra Stiles Gannett was a dear and honored friend all his life, and the names of Greenwood, Worcester, Hildreth, Sparks, and Emerson occur frequently in the pages of the old journals and letters. Ralph Waldo Emerson and his brother Edward often spent a social evening.
At a Thanksgiving party where Mr. Gannett and both Edward and Waldo Emerson were present, there was much gayety. "The young Emmersons & Mr. Gannett were a very great acquisition - Miss Dix looked sweetly, was much admired, was introduced to Mr. Gannett & was charmed with him. . . . After supper we sang ' The Requiem ' at the request of Mr. Emerson, & the ' Evening Bells ' to Mr. Gannett. We had never sung to so many before and I wonder how we had the courage to do it."
When in 1824 Edward Emerson was graduated from Harvard College, holding the first place in his class, and having the principal part at Commencement, he gave an especial invitation to the young ladies, which they accepted with pleasure. The day previous to Commencement was one of great excitement owing to the arrival of the Marquis de la Fayette. He had come to the United States, accompanied by his son George Washington Lafayette, as the guest of the Nation, and was about to make his entry into Boston. Large crowds of people thronged the streets of the city, and he was everywhere received with enthusiastic demonstrations of respect and affection. Commencement Day dawned hot and oppressive, the old church at Cambridge was unusually crowded, and the exercises, long in themselves, were greatly delayed on account of waiting for the Marquis de la Fayette, who had arranged to be present. It was five o'clock when the large assembly left the meeting-house, having been seated there for over eight hours. The young ladies then proceeded to Mr. Emerson's chamber, where they met a large party of guests and partook of an elegant entertainment.
The eager interest which Deacon Ebenezer Craft and his family had always taken in the Commencement exercises at Harvard College was shown equally by his descendants, the Heaths. Neither heat, nor illness, nor lack of desirable equipage ever kept them from attending these exercises at Cambridge each year; the orations and class poems were looked for and commented upon, and there was always some particular graduate to whose room they were asked for refreshments.
When their cousin Warren Goddard* was graduated, the responsibility of providing proper entertainment for his friends fell upon his Aunt Heath. Many were the anxious consultations as to what should be provided for the feast and how best conveyed to Cambridge. Cake was baked in abundance, chicken and beef roasted, and barrels of crockery and linen were packed. All was carried to Warren's chamber in the large farm wagon quite early on the appointed day, and while the young people went as usual to the exercises Mrs. Heath remained behind to arrange the tables. The family were all delighted with their cousin Warren, "who appeared to great advantage. In manners and appearance he was universally allowed to excel all . . . he excited the admiration of all." "My heart was perfectly secure, " wrote a young relative, "but many were endangered by such elegance, grace and eloquence." When all was over, and the company repaired to Warren's room, they found a bountiful repast prepared. Mrs. Heath was loaded with praises for her share in the entertainment, everything was cooked to perfection; all was admirably managed and everybody happy. Only one accident occurred. A charming young man and fellow graduate was introduced to a young lady whom he had long wished to meet. In his confusion and pleasure he hastily seated himself beside her without noticing that wine had been spilled in the chair, and, as the chronicle says, "it made a conspicuous appearance upon his clean white pantaloons."
*Son of Dr. John Goddard of Portsmouth.
Ebenezer Heath's sister Betsey had now outgrown that appellation and was called Aunt Eliza by her nieces and nephews. She was married from her brother's house in 1813, to Mr. John Howe of Boston, a widower with two grown children. The wedding ceremony was performed by Dr. Pierce and but few guests were present. Mr. Howe's son, John, became a constant visitor at the Heath house; and the sisters were not surprised when one day Hannah blushingly confessed that " last Saturday had been the most eventful day in her life." Her wedding took place on Thanksgiving Day of the following year, 1818. Unusual preparations were made for the accustomed feast, and a large wedding cake was prepared, frosted, and decorated with sprigs of gilded and sugared box. As usual the family attended meeting on Thanksgiving morning. I quote from Susan's journal:" The day of days . . . Ann, the children and I went to meeting, Mr. Pierce preached remarkable well -Alice Sumner sent Hannah a note and bridal present in the morning, and in the porch gave us a sprig for J. Howe, with charges to both to wear them and they obeyed. We dined without much parade - reserving that for evening. The Boston party came before the Bride was quite rigged, but she was pretty expert in dressing, and before any one else arrived had taken her station in the parlor . . . (then follows a list of the guests) and last of all came the good man whose presence alone was wanting to render of any avail this strange assemblage of people, and with him Mrs. Pierce. . . . The ceremony was performed about seven, & such a prayer as Mr. Greenwood made ! ! ! it elevated some above this vain world for a while I believe- & the effect of ' Old Hundred ' was very solemn, Hannah could hardly support it. She was the Queen of the eve, of course ... & had the highest seat at supper table. Our company departed early -'twas bitter cold- poor Hannah, tho't I - Ann went to Town with her."
The next day Susan, Charles, and Mary went to call on the bride. " I could not resist the temptation . . . they were rejoiced to see us . . . everything looked like comfort and happiness ... I passed an hour or two very happily- it seemed exactly like play - I could not realize Hannah was mistress of such a pretty little establishment, & was not to return home & be one of us any more . . . ."
Hannah's marriage and new home created a fresh joy and a new centre of happiness for the sisters. John Howe and Hannah made an ideal host and hostess; they were young, handsome, sweet-tempered, and hospitable. Whenever an excuse could be made Susan and Ann would hurry to town to spend a few restful hours in " Hannah's sweet little parlor," and enjoy the novelty of Boston life and new acquaintances. Both Mary and Elizabeth Heath were now of an age to participate in the home gayeties and take their place in society. Mary was a lovely and refined young woman, with rare powers of mind and great personal beauty; evidently by far the superior daughter of the house, yet distinguished for simplicity, unselfishness, and purity of thought, loving and beloved by all. She had been in delicate health for several months, still no real apprehension was felt, and her sudden death in the autumn of 1824 came as a great shock to her family and friends. It was the first real break in the home circle and the precursor of change. Her mother never quite recovered from the loss, and life assumed a graver and more serious aspect for her brothers and sisters. From this time their letters and journals lost the light-heartedness which had previously characterized them.
In the spring of 1825 the Heath sisters met two delightful young ladies who were visiting in Brookline -the Miss Peabodys -and their acquaintance rapidly ripened into intimacy. "The Miss Peabodys have caused universal excitement, " says an old letter, " the youngest is a lovely girl
, she has the sweetest
expression and manners! There is great simplicity in them both - such child-like simplicity of manners and such wonderful cultivation of minds, are not usually combined."
This friendship was cemented by an occurrence that soon took place. The Marquis de la Fayette having finished his tour of the United States, returned to Boston to be a guest at the ceremony of laying the corner-stone of Bunker Hill Monument, on June seventeenth. On the following Sunday the Marquis with members of his suite dined with Colonel Thomas Perkins of Brookline. Again I quote : "Sunday, June 19 - Sweet day for a hot one ... all went to meeting , . . Dr. Pierce preached . . . Such a time as we had after meeting! I never witnessed such a scene of excitement and enthusiasm! Col. Perkins sent a billet to Pa, inviting him to call there and see La Fayette. The idea that La Fayette was coming to Brookline made us all a little crazy- & we had some thoughts of waving ceremony & going with Pa- But a little reflection convinced us of the impropriety of that. Miss Peabody who came from meeting with us was quite frantic with joy - & resolved at any rate she would stop the carriage & speak to him, she took her station under a tree opposite the house & no persuasions could induce her to come into the house lest she should lose the opportunity of seeing him pass. We joined her- & our party increased very soon to about fifty people- the Pennimans- Sumners- & Ackers were sent for & they completely filled the road - so that horses were frightened. Mr. & Mrs. Worthington rode up just in time to share in the honour we were anticipating. Pa, Charles, & Mr. Goddard went up to Col. Perkins & made their call- & brought us certain intelligence that the Gen. & his suite would pass this way- I never knew anything like the enthusiasm of E. Peabody- she seemed perfectly distracted with joy. At length the object of our adoration appeared in a carriage with Mr. Loyd and several other carriages in company.
They all stopped & E. Peabody was the first who sprang forward & almost devoured the hand
of La Fayette with kisses & he returned the compliment
! She could not
speak-& he seemed quite touched
. The scene
no doubt was unexpected to him & he was really affected. We all in succession shook hands & those who bestowed a kiss received one in return. And here I record the memorable event that I received a kiss from the Marquis La Fayette
! an honour wholly unexpected & what I never aspired too ! ! ! ' Ladies you make me very happy.' ' You have my most affectionate regards ' he repeated till the carriage drove away. I fancy the other gentlemen were amused. -The scene tho' new to us was not so to La Fayette - he is accustomed to the homage of all ranks. I wonder human nature can sustain such a weight of attention. It must be painful, even if it is gratifying. After the object was accomplished for which the party assembled --they dispersed ... & then we went up to the Pennimans to finish the eve in congratulations as we were too much excited for composure & reading . . . ."
Before parting, Miss Elizabeth Peabody proposed that all who were present should agree to always meet upon the same spot on the anniversary of that day and celebrate this event, as long as they should live. Accordingly, the next June we read " The party (in the evening) was a proposition of the Miss Peabodys-to celebrate La Fayette's visit to Brookline - they wished to have all invited who shook hands with him, and no others - but as that was by no means possible, we exercised our judgment and invited whom we pleased. - Our party consisted of the Peabodys, Sumners, Pennimans, Ackers - Dr. Pierce and Sarah-& Mr. & Mrs. Hayden, & David -& Barlow . . . After tea Barlow read a very pretty ode, written for the occasion - & Miss Peabody read her rules and regulations & had the names of all who belonged to her society written in her book-she was exceedingly engaged in the affair & really inspired us all with spirit . . . she lives upon enthusiasm. We had a pleasant surprise at the end of the eve. Just as the company were about separating we heard music, which sounded delightfully-but where it came from no one knew. It was a Clarionette, playing a beautiful tune. We all rushed out to discover who the musician could be & it proved to be the famous Foreigner we have heard of frequently ... Pa invited him in & . . . (he) came and sung several songs- & sung one out in the yard & played on his Clarionette ... It was a most delightful ending of the eve -we could not have planned it better had we exerted our utmost skill- some thought it a concerted scheme & were sure the singer was an invited guest."
The anniversary was celebrated with suitable exercises for several successive years; but as time went on, one after another of that favored company failed to appear on the appointed day, although Susan and 'Ann were always ready and waiting for them. Miss Peabody herself was not always able to be present, but she never failed to write a letter to her old friend and vividly recall those first impressions. Age never dulled her enthusiasm. When just passed her seventieth birthday she wrote of " the voice of our noble guest ... in his 'oh you make me very happy !' It was because I felt so much the depth of sentiment of universal unity in him that I wanted we all of us should recognize it forever, how" ever little we might see each other between the anniversaries, and however diverse might be our other feelings and relations." The day of remembrance, at least
only ceased for these three, when their lives in this world ended.
Ebenezer's eldest son, John Heath, married at an early age. When his daughter Harriet was quite young she became an inmate of the Heath household and was like another sister to Abigail. At the time when it seemed wise to send these little girls to school, no htting one was carried on in the neighborhood, so Ann opened a school for young children in a spare room of the " old house. " It was well attended by both boys and girls, and many pleasant notes from their mothers testify to the great care and fine influence which she exercised over her scholars. Meanwhile every summer brought Hannah back to her old home with her little children, to enjoy the country air, and freedom of Brookline. In 1828 Charles, the brother on whom both mother and sisters relied, and depended for counsel and sympathy, was married to Caroline Penniman, whom they had all known so long and so intimately. The young couple first lived in Boston, but constantly drove out to spend long days at home and never a Sunday passed without welcoming them to dinner or to tea. Their children, too, brought new life into the hospitable home, which always accommodated and encompassed the family, no matter how large. The centre and soul of all was the mother, whose life of physical activity was now being gradually curtailed by severe rheumatism which crippled hands and feet and caused great suffering, but whose beauty of character and warm affections deepened every day. She traced with laborious 59 fingers in her extract book. "For the seven last weeks I have found it difficult to do anything with my hands- I must lay aside my pen. . . . God has seen fit to deprive me of the use of my hands in great measure -but he has given me a peace of mind far more desirable than activity of body."
The year 1832 opened with trouble - severe illness in a member of the household, followed by minor ailments among the elder daughters. Then in March came the unparalleled blow and loss to the family, the death of Mrs. Hannah Heath. Only ill for a few days, she displayed her customary sweetness and fortitude; bade farewell to her relatives and friends, and sent loving messages to absent ones; soothed and sustained the children who watched over and cared for her, and gathered about her bedside, joined in singing her favorite hymns. When at last all was over, her spirit of tranquility and peace seemed still to rest upon her children and to aid them in bearing their great sorrow.
My chronicle of the two old Brookline homesteads now comes to an end. The house built in 1791 is still in good preservation, and has always been occupied by members of the family; but a distinct period in its history was closed by the death of its mistress, Mrs. Hannah Heath. The "other house" which had been standing for a century and a quarter had outgrown its usefulness. Soon after Mrs. Heath's death, her son Charles decided to leave Boston and to make his home on the old place in Brookline. Accordingly he had the older house taken down and on its foundation built a new one. Now the original conditions were reversed; this was the "new house," the other "the old."
The inhabitants of these houses continued to be actuated by the same strong moral and religious principles that had governed their forefathers, and the stanch patriotism and devotion to duty that had characterized the spirit of the Revolution were shown anew when the Nation again fought for its liberty in 1861. It is good to remember that John Heath's youngest grandson was among the first to respond to his country's call, and served as a gallant officer; that his youngest granddaughter was equally prompt and steadfast in providing clothing and comforts for the troops; and that his great-grandson was an ardent worker in the Sanitary Commission, that life-saving work of noble men and women, which had so vital an influence in assisting to win anew the freedom of thought and action for which John White left England and joined the Massachusetts Colony.