Enoch Jacobs Letter 1879


Electa Whitney Jacobs

Enoch Jacobs was born in Marlboro on June 30, 1809, the son of Nathan Jacobs. While on a return visit to his native Vermont, Jacobs posted a letter to his adopted home town's newspaper, the Cincinnati Commercial. He posted this long letter precisely on his seventieth birthday.

The times in Marlboro and Brattleboro which Jacobs recollects are all from before 1827, when he first removed to Brooklyn, and from thence to Ohio in 1843.

Enoch Jacobs was a prominent Seventh Day Adventist and Shaker, and according to his own family, a "red hot" Abolitionist. The use of "red hot" as an adjective by his family may be affectionate, for Enoch owned an iron foundry in Cincinnati. He manufactured prison cells.

Following the "Great Disappointment" with William Miller's prediction of the Second Coming in 1844, Enoch Jacobs came to prefer "knowledge and sight" to "faith and hope".

Enoch Jacobs also red hotly said that he preferred to:

go to hell with Electa than live among the Shakers without her

Electa Whitney was the daughter of Capt. Solomon Whitney. She married Enoch Jacobs in Whitingham on June 21, 1831. Her daguerreotype was probably taken shortly before or after the family removed to Ohio---

Enoch Jacobs' letter was so long---discussing Marlboro people and places, the first wedding in Marlboro, and the Rutherford Hayes Tavern---that his letter was divided into three installments in two newspapers, as follows in order---

The Hayes Family.

We find in the Cincinnati Commercial of July 6th, a letter dated at West Brattleboro June 30, and written by E. Jacobs, a brother of Dr. Clark Jacobs of this town. The description given of the "Hayes mansion," the relatives of President Hayes, and his ancestors for several generations past, will be interesting to our readers. We copy as much of the letter as our space will warrant.

In the west part of West Brattleboro, on the stage road leading to Bennington, stands the old "Hayes Mansion," or "Hayes Tavern," as it was called when I first knew it. It is directly opposite Greenleaf street, or "Old South road," which leads to Marlboro. The house is a large, square two-story frame, with wide hall in the centre. Though built in 1795 it is quite pretentious in appearance and has very pleasant surroundings. the estate is well preserved, and still in possession of the Hayes family.

It comprises, with the buildings, about 100 acres of valuable lands, lying north and west of the village. W. H. Bigelow, Esq. and family are the occupants, the property belonging to his amiable lady who inherits it by regular descent, Mrs. Bigelow being the only surviving child of Russell Hayes, who was a brother of the President's father.

Mr. Bigelow is a very genial gentleman of fair fortune, and has considerable capital invested in the Chicago lumber trade. Their two sons, Russell and Willie, aged respectively twenty and eighteen, are pursuing their studies at New Haven, Russell in Yale College and Willie in a preparatory school.

There is still another son, whose recent advent has produced a pleasurable excitement in this village. Willie had been the baby for seventeen years, when lo! another son is born, and Mrs. B. says his name shall be called Hayes. He is now four months old. Such an unusual procedure has provoked the discussion of future possibilities in this otherwise quiet old town.

The Bigelow family are highly prized in this community, and their names are associated with every good work. Mrs. Bigelow is a very interesting lady, of fine features, good form, agreeable manners and so young in appearance that it seems almost impossible to believe her the mother of young gentlemen of eighteen and twenty.

The family are high-toned, and suited, by habit and education, for the best society. Mr. and Mrs. Bigelow spend much of their time away from home, sometimes with their sons at New Haven, at others wintering in the South, and occasionally making a voyage to Europe.

I have taken the liberty, unauthorized, to speak thus freely of this interesting family because Mrs. Bigelow is the only surviving cousin of President Hayes, on the father's side, being the only living child of Russel Hayes, who was a brother of the President's father. And the President is the only surviving child of his father, whose name of Rutherford he inherits.

Mr. Bigelow has kindly given me the lineage of the President from his Scotch ancestry so far as it can be found among the records of the family, and which I here give in brief:

George Hayes came from Scotland and settled in Windsor, Connecticut, in the year 1682---62 years after the landing of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock. His son Daniel Hayes, died at Granby, Connecticut, in 1656, and and his son, Ezekiel Hayes, lived at Bradford, Connecticut, and was a successful manufacturer of scythes. His descendants still continue in that honorable calling. The precise date of his birth and death are not given, but it is recorded that he was buried at New Haven.

Rutherford, the son of Ezekiel Hayes and grandfather of the President, was born in the year 1756, and died in this village in 1836. He was buried in the cemetery in the western suburbs of the village. He was also a blacksmith, and located here in 1778. He boarded in the family of Israel Smith, who lived in a red frame building then standing on the spot now occupied by the "Hayes Mansion." Israel Smith had a daughter, "Chloe," who afterwards became the mother of Rutherford Hayes, the President's father.

Rutherford Hayes, the father of the President, left this village for Ohio when about thirty years old, and died there five years later. The honorable record he made as a merchant is still remembered here.

Vermont Record And Farmer, July 31, 1879.

The rest of Enoch Jacobs' long testimony was printed in the Vermont Record And Farmer for August 21, 1879 with the title "Marlboro Long Ago", and in the Vermont Phoenix for September 5, 1879 with the heading "Marlboro's First Wedding"---

Marlboro Long Ago.

From a recent letter in the Cincinnati Commercial by E. Jacobs, a native of Marlboro, we gather the following facts. The first settlers of the town came from Marlboro Mass. Hence, the name. The first meeting house was built some time before the beginning of the present century in the "middle of the town" on the top of a high hill.

Such a thing as a stove or a fire in the "house of the Lord" in those days, would have been suggestive of the sinner's final doom. The building was large and of the ancient type, with its square pews, huge galleries, "nigger pews," high pulpit and sounding board.

In this old meeting house the Rev. Gershon C. Lyman preached thirty-five years, and was succeeded in 1813 by Rev. Ephraim H. Newton, a man of strong practical good sense, warm affections, an iron will and thorough education. He was one of the best of educators, his fund of illustration was inexhaustable, and he would never leave a class of pupils till the question in hand was thoroughly mastered.

About the year 1820 the old meeting house was torn down and a new one built with a "steeple." The material of the old house was used for building a town hall near the church, where elections were held and where Deacon Whitney---the justice of the peace---held court. The deacon kept the tavern down the hill where our good fathers used to go on Sunday during the intermission betwen the morning and afternoon services, and drink "toddy" to moisten their bread and cheese.

The old church was well filled every Sunday. The population of the town at that time was about 2000 and farming was in a prosperous condition. Nearly every family manufactured their cotton and woolen cloth. Wages of hired girls were from fifty to seventy-five cents per week, and of hired men eight or ten dollars per month.

About the year 1820 the girls at the "middle of the town" began to affect a style of dress different from those in the rural districts. This caused a commotion, and though it was only an extra high comb, a peculiar style of ruffle or perhaps a pair of gloves, it was enough to brand the detested "middle of the town" as "Pucker street," a name which it bore for many years.

Mr. Newton left about 1835 for a more promising field in the state of New York. The Strongs settled in Ohio and gave the name to Strongsville in that state. The Lymans, Whitings, Browns, Smiths, Sawtells, Newtons, Kings, Millers, Snows and Warrens are also well represented in Ohio. Of a recent visit to the town Mr. Jacobs says:

"I have been over all those parts of the town which were familiar to my boyhood, and have found only six living persons of all I once knew. Old Dr. Tucker and his wife are a jolly pair at the age of ninety. The Doctor still practices his profession, and looks much as he did fifty years ago. There was Goodspeed, an old bachelor, about one hundred, and Miss Pratt, a maiden lady of ninety-six, of whom the Doctor jocularly remarked, "Candace and Goodspeed are good for another hundred years." I went to see a boy in Brattleboro, who was about nine years old when I left, and was an old neighbor. A genteel young man was seated at his desk in the "Crosby Block" of whom I inquired "Is Mr. Crosby in?" He asked if it was the old gentleman I wished to see. I replied, "I don't know; his name was Edward." He turned to a sprightly young lad in the office and said: "Run and ask your grandpa to come into the office." He came---a fine portly gentleman, and one of the most consequential men in town. Now what does all this mean? You are called "grandpa" by a boy older than you were when I last saw you. An idea strikes me that I am getting old, though I have never been seriously impressed with such a thought before. It is true I have at times had touches of the "rumatix," as Joe Jefferson would say, but that is not uncommon in young folks. But I must go back to Marlboro.

The meeting house has been moved down the hill, and is a meeting house no longer; the tavern has been closed for years; the store is gone, the blacksmith, shoemaker, wagon and chairmaker shops all closed, and their former occupants have been moved over to the grave-yard, half a mile to the north.

The whole town does not contain 400 inhabitants. Land which once sold readily at from $50 to $75 per acre, when $1 would purchase as much as three will now, brings only $5 to $10, and the very best improved farms can not be sold for $20, thogh the land and crops look as well as they did formerly."

Vermont Record And Farmer, August 21, 1879.

Candace Pratt was the daughter of Amos Pratt and Deliverance Rising.
She was born August 8, 1786 and named for an older sister who had died young.

Marlboro's First Wedding.

---A correspondent contributes to the Cincinnati Commercial the following graphic account of the first courtship and marriage in the town of Marlboro, as given in the manuscript history of the town prepared by the late Rev. E. H. Newton. It happens that the couple referred to were the parents of the husband of Mrs. Sally Stockwell, now of West Brattleboro, whose 100th birthday was celebrated last spring:

"About the year 1770 Mrs. Stockwell, wife of Abel Stockwell, the first settler, made a quilting, which was fashionable in those days, and has continued so for years since. Among the invited were Dinah Fay, who came with Col Williams's family from Northboro, Mass., and Molly Gale.
From the late Mrs. Hannah Mather, wife of Major Timothy Mather, the writer received the following particulars, as narrated to her by Mrs. Stockwell:

"At the time the young ladies (Dinah Fay and Molly Gale) were coming to the quilting, her boys, Abel and Perez Stockwell, were at work piling and burning brush. As they espied the young misses tripping through the woods and over the logs, Perez starts up and says to Abel, 'Come. let us throw a stone at that bird (perching upon a neighboring twig), and see who shall have the old maid"---Dinah Fay. Perez cast the first stone and knocked over the bird, giving him a fair claim to the damsel, fifteen years older than himself. At evening Perez accompanied Miss Dinah to her residence at Colonel Williams's. As his return would be dark and dreary, along by night, he was induced to tarry until morning. Being much delighted with his interview, and with a hospitality so cordially bestowed, he took courage and returned home full of animation. He went into the chamber lively enough, to exchange his best for his working suit. It was then and there he began to sing and to dance: and in the midst of his rapture flung out the following stanza:

"Life won't last forever,
Beauty will decay;
Rambling is no pleasure,
And I'll have Dinah Fay.

"All the little circumstances which followed in settling the preliminaries for the first marriage were not told. But ere long the happy wedding day arrived. It was in the autumn of 1771, when the Rev. Abner Reeve of Brattleboro was invited to solemnize the first marriage in Marlboro, when Perez Stockwell was married to Dinah Fay. All the inhabitants of the town were invited as guests to the wedding: were quite punctual in their attendance, and all tarried through the night. It was in a log house of one room, with a stone chimney, and a large fireplace with high jambs and a broad back to hold a pile of wood to keep them warm. When the hour of rest arrived, with these accommodations (the best the house afforded), all encamped upon the floor for the night. It should have been said, all were provided with a wedding supper. The good lady of the house apologized for having pumpkin sauce as the only dessert on her table. To relieve her embarrassment good Parson Reeve related the following:

"A man having moved into a new country wrote a letter to his friends in which he expressed the value of the pumpkin in the following lines:

"Pumpkin bread and pumpkin beer,
If t'want for pumpkin we couldn't live here;
Pumpkin pudding and pumpkin pie,
If t'want for pumpkin we should die."

For the information of old residents of the town of Marlboro, Mr. Newton's manuscript gives the record of every family having lived in the town, from 1763 to 1862, with valuable information regarding their descendants in other parts of the country.

Vermont Phoenix, September 5, 1879.

Irene Dixon Stockwell's "The Stockwell Family: Adventures Into the Past, 1626-1982" (Janesville, Wisconsin: Janesville Printing Co.,1982) reveals several necessary corrections to the 1879 account given by Mrs. Hannah Mather as related by Enoch Jacobs---

Perez was born August 31, 1747 and married Dinah Fay on November 12, 1767, making this the second marriage in Marlboro---the first marriage apparently taking place on October 12, 1767 by Abel Stockwell, Jr. and Patience Thomas.

Dinah Fay was born in November 1733 to Gershom Fay and Hannah Oakes of Northboro, Massachusetts.

Perez Stockwell died on September 18, 1777 of the "black fever", epidemic then in Vermont. Two of his four children also died at this time, as well as his father Abel and three of his children. Abel died on September 7, 1777.

The Stockwell land and tavern was near the summit of present Ames Hill near the Brattleboro border. Luther Ames owned the Stockwell land later on.

Irene Dixon Stockwell provides also a slightly different version for the verse---








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