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But in a way the period covered by the diary is more important than that preceding. It was the time of internal improvements, and of the awakening of the manufacturing and industrial interests of New England. In many of these Mr. Thomas took an active part, and their inception and development are given in some detail. Among them are the Boston and Worcester Turnpike, of which he was one of the first directors and, I think, the only one outside of Boston. He was also one of the corporators and for eleven years a director of the Worcester Bank, then the only banking institution between Boston and Pittsfield; and one of the original menbers of the Second Parish, and always active in its affairs.
Mr. Thomas was prominent as a Mason, was the founder of Morning Star Lodge, in Worcester, and its first master. For two terms he was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. He describes many of their ceremonies and festivals, and among them two of especial interest;—the laying of the corner-stone of the Massachusetts General Hospital, in 1818, and that of Bunker Hill Monument, by Lafayette, in 1825.
But perhaps the most interesting feature is the picture it gives of his own social and domestic life; his narrative of local affairs, forniing the only connected record of such events which we possess; his boundless hospitality, and the people whom he entertained and met; his connection with the various societies to which he belonged; his frequent journeys in the New England states; and those minor details which went to make up his daily existence.
BENJAMIN THOMAS HILL.
OCTOBER 1, 1909.
DIARY OF ISAIAH THOMAS.
Direct at the Bank this week.'
11. Marianne came from Brookfield.
12. Returned to do. Company to dine. 19. Dined with S. Chandler.?
* At a meeting of the Directors of the Worcester Bank, 16 October, 1804, it was voted:-"That the Directors preside at the Bank & superintend the business of each particular week, commencing on Tuesday in the following order, viz.: For the first week Saml Chandler, 24 Saml Flagg, 34 Benja Heywood, 4th Nath' Paine, 5th Theophs Wheeler, 6th Isaiah Thomas.” The chief duty of the directors in this capacity was to hold daily consultations with the president and cashier concerning the discount and loans, a custom which was continued to comparatively recent times.
2 Samuel Chandler, son of John Chandler the Refugee, and Mary Church Chandler, lived for many years with his brother Charles, on the old Chandler farm, which extended along the westerly side of Main street, covering almost the entire plain south of Pleasant to beyond the May street hills. Always among the foremost in the social life of the town, their old farmhouse, which stood on the site of the present Ethan Allen house, between Wellington and Piedmont streets, was noted for its hospitality, especially to strangers. They were men of great wealth and enterprise, and their farm of nearly four hundred acres was one of the largest and richest in Worcester.
Upon the marriage of Charles in 1796, Samuel removed to another farm of several hundred acres, which they owned at the north end of the village, which included the site of the old gas works on Lincoln street, and extended east on both sides of Belmont street to Bell Pond, and south as far as the Insane Hospital. Upon this farm was his father's old mansion-house, which still stands on the easterly side of Lincoln square, a little north of its original position. The farmhouse which he built for himself at this time, and occupied until his death in 1813, was later a part of the house of Edward Earle. The two brothers were partners as merchants in English and West India goods, and were large manufacturers of pearl and pot ashes, not only in Worcester, but in various towns in Vermont and Canada, where they also had large stores for general merchandise. (Born, Worcester, 25 February, 1757. Died, Woodstock, 26 October, 1813.)
24. Went: iv Harvard, with Mrs. Thomas, Eliza' and
' Miss Weld.
26. Returned. 27.' Violent storm begun of snow which lasted 3 days.
12. Direct at the Bank this week.
14. Blakes, booksellers failed This week.?
20. Miss Weld went to Boston with Isa. Direct at the Bank this week for S. Chandler, absent.
25. Isa. returned from Boston.
5. Annual Fast. 9. Went to Boston in the Stage. 11. Grand L[odge). 14. Returned in the Stage to Worcester.
i Elizabeth Mary, the daughter of Mr. Thomas's brother Peter, of South Hempsted, Long Island, had been adopted by her uncle when a child. She was married, 5 December, 1811, to Stephen Thayer Soper, of Boston, and died at Braintree, Mass., 12 July, 1813.
2 W. P. & L. Blake at “The Boston Book-store, No. 1, Cornhill.”
3 Isaiah Thomas, Jr., the only son of Mr. Thomas, after receiving his education in the schools of Boston and Worcester, entered into business with his father in Worcester, and succeeded him in 1802. He had a publi-hing house on Court Hill where the Unitarian Church now stands, while his bookstore and house were on the opposite side of the street. From 1802 to 1809 he was the publisher of the Massa chusetts Spy. In the latter year he removed his business to Boston, having his store on Cornhill and branches in various places. He was an extensive publisher and carried on a successful business until the war of 1812, when he met with losses from which he never fully recovered.
In 1797 he married Mary, daughter of Edwarà Weld, of Boston, by whom he had twelve children, six sons and six daughters. (Born, Boston, 5 September, 1773.
Died, Boston, 23 June, 1819.)
11. Went to Boston.
15. Hired two Surveyors and went with them to survey the Land E. 1° North for a turnpike road to Boston'crossed the hills and Long pond? over to Shrewsbury on a direct line 31 miles from Worcester Bridge,' and returned home the same line back-a good road can be made.
i In February, 1805, a petition was presented to the General Court by Aaron Davis and one hundred and forty-five others, stating that the great road or highway leading from Boston to Worcester is extremely crooked, hilly and in many places, narrow and inconvenient--that the present and most direct way from Boston is through Cambridge, Watertown, Waltham, Westown, Sudbury, Marlborough, Northborough and Shrewsbury, into Worcester; whereas, after a careful view and survey of the true situation, and course, to Worcester, the most direct and nearest way will be found to be by opening a road from the Southerly part of Boston, through Roxbury, Brooklyn, Newton, Needham, Natick, Framingham, Southborough, Westborough, and the southerly corner of Shrewsbury, into Worcester;---that by a road in this direction your Petitioners verily believe a saving between eight and ten miles in the distance between Boston and Worcester might be made; that this route would be pursued mostly over very level ground, and would avoid the very many and difficult hills which are a great impediment to the travel on the old road." The petition also stated that a like saving might be made on the roads from Worcester to Hartford and towards Pittsfield and Albany, and asked for an act of incorporation for a turnpike road "in such a direction as near a straight line to Western Bridge as your Honors in your wisdom shall deem fit, and to grant them such reasonable toll thereon as shall be thought adequate and proper for such an undertaking."
A similar petition was presented at the same time by Asa Nickols and fortythree others. 9 March, Hugh M'Clallen, William Ely and Moses Brown were appointed a legislative committee to view the respective routes, or any others as the most direct route from Boston to Western Bridge, at the expense of the petitioners, to hear the parties and report their opinion whether any turnpike road was necessary and expedient, and if any, which route would best accommodate the public.
See also entry and note, 30 October, 1806.
16. Surveyors arrived, who are measuring the old Road from Roxbury Watertown and from Cambridge, through Sudbury, Marlboro', Northboro', and on to Western.'
23. My brother visited us, with his daughter Mrs. Ball,? the latter to tarry 3 or 4 weeks.
24. Gentlemen from Roxbury arrived.
25. Surveyors arrived from Roxbury-Went out to meet them—they crossed Long Pond at a little distance, say 30 rods from where I crossed it last week; they came in a direct line from the School house in Roxbury to Worcester Court house, were 6 days on the rout-distance from Boston about 37} miles.
28. Surveyors from Cambridge arrived-on a direct line from West Boston Bridge to Worcester Court house-Sat off from Cambridge Wednesday morning-arrived early this morning.
30. Went to Western to meet the Court's Come and others, with the Agents from Roxbury to Survey the road, and find a better rout from Western to Worcester.
1. Went up the Mountain near to and about S. W. from Western Bridge. Gen'l Court's Com". arrived in the afternoon; sat off a little before Sun down and all arrived at the West Parish in Brookfield-I went to the So Parish and lodged.
2. Returned to Worcester, accompanied by M'. Bangs: and my daughter.
2 Mary, daughter of Joshua and Mary Turing Thomas of Lancaster, was born, 25 November, 1778. She was twice married, first, 1 December, 1796, to Dr. Nahum Ball; and 17 June, 1812, to Calvin Willard, then of Petersham and afterwards of Worcester.
3 Edward Bangs, the son of Benjamin Bangs, of Harwich, Mass., was graduated from Harvard in 1777 and then studied law with Theophilus Parsons, in Newbury