ENOCH WORTHEN EASTMAN
was born in Deerfield April 15, 1810 and died in Iowa in 1885. He was the son
of John Eastman and Mary Worthen James. The Eastmans lived near the Epsom/Deerfield
line and attended church in Epsom. Enochs brother, Lowell Eastman, was a
resident of Epsom.And
now, when I begin to tire at evening and feel the weight of the finger of time
upon the physical man, along come this gem of the Suncook Valley (Suncook Valley
Times), and hunts me out in the far-off west, and takes me back to the land and
days of my youth, tells of the people and events of by-gone years, and imagination
enlivens youthful blood and I am a boy again, sitting in that same old Academy,
hearing our old friends, Joy and Curtis, expound the ablative and vocative, and
solve the square and the cubit.
In the fall of 1869, while living in California, he received
a copy of the local paper, The Suncook Valley Times which caused him
to pause and reflect on his youth, and prompted him to write the paper a letter.
The paper focused on historical events and people, and this excerpted letter of
Enoch Eastman gives a first hand account of events in Epsom.
It tells too of the Harveys, Knowltons,
of the Heaths, Hazeltons. Curtis and McClarys, and of the old
New Hampshire Turnpike, which by the way was voted a free road in Northwood. But
the writer had forgot all about gates. Well, there was a gate right in the road.
It stood at Yeatons Tavern, at the closing of the North road
in Epsom. Afterwards it was moved south, about a mile on to ____ hill, where it
was tended by the colored people Catoe and Daily.
Both of the
men, Catoe and Daily, were Revoltionary pensioners for services in the war to
establish a government in which they had no rights, which a white man was
bound to respect. Lady Catoe afterwards moved to Exeter and became a pensioner
under Col. Bentons Widow bill, the same bill by which the Widow Michael
McClary of Epsom also became a pensioner.
And thereby hangs a tale that is
nearby them. Mr. Curtis, before referred to, was the succesor in Epsom of Rev.
Mr. Hazelton (Hazeltine), settled for life at the expense of the town. Ministers,
like women, were supposed not to enjoy the right of elective franchise. Nevertheless
Mr. Curtis voted, and not only voted, but he cast a Federal ballot and I believe
the only one of of the kind cast in town. At any rate it was federal. Afterwards
in discussing the vote over some good liquor, the way such things were always
done in those good old times, Gen. McClary said Curtis was a d____d federal, that
he had rather have old Hazeltons bones dug up from behind the meeting house
and put up in the pulpit to preach, than to have Curtis there. Well, the evening
wore away and the night and the liquor too; and the talk, for it was only talk,
But someone was kind enough to tell Mr. Curtis what Gen, McClary
thought of his patrotism.
Afterwards when Thanksgiving was approaching, Gen.
McClary sent a turkey to Mr. Curtis. But still remembering the election, Mr. Curtis
declined to receive it, and returned it by the bearer with a note saying: Sir.
I have on numerous occasions received favors from you, for which I have been thankful.
But such has been your expression about me of late, that should I receive this,
I have reason to fear it might contain something destructive to live. I therefore
decline to accept it.
The result was that at the next Town Meeting
it was voted that Mr. Curtis might preach in the meeting house half the
time, and his support was curtailed to the society. Other denominations
occupied the meeting house every other Sunday, and occasionally Elder Ebenezer
Knowlten, of Catamount, who had a voice like an archangel, would come down and
preach so loud in the meeting house, that it disturbed the sinners over across
the road in the school house, where Mr. Curtis was preaching, I was there and
saw and heard.
Soon after this the patriarch Cato went dead, and was quietly
buried in the graveyard back of the meetinghouse, where he and the Rev. Mr. Hazelton
still repose, without a chisled slab to tell of the spot.
The next week Gen.
McClary died, the funeral service was held in the old meeting house. People came
from afar. Large delegations from Concord and Pittsfield were there. Mr. Curtis
preached the funeral sermon from the singular text Without any order.
I was but a boy, scarcely in my teens, but I remember it well. The thread of the
discourse was that all without any order go to the grave; the rich, the poor,
the young, the old, the high, the low.
The grave is the common lot of
all. All go down on one common level in the grave. Last week the poor African,
to-day Gen. McClary. And as he came near the close, the speaker said it
was customary to extol the dead, but he could not do so. You all knew the
deceased. If I should speak of his patriotism you all know that. Should I tell
you he was at the battle of Bunker Hill, so also was the poor African who died
last week He closed by reading that beautiful hymn of Dr. Watts, two lines of
which ran thus: The true, the wise, the reverand head Must lie as low as ours.
Probably no funeral sermon in New Hampshire ever created such an excitement. The
Concord people said they guessed the speaker remembered the Turkey, and I expect
The result was, figuartively speaking, that Gen.McClary rolled over
in his coffin. A division soon sprang up in the church and society, and Mr. Curtis
soon after left Epsom and went to Hanover in Mass., and from there to Pittsfield.
The moral to all this is, that when a man presents a minister with a turkery,
his better way is to eat it.
Fraternally yours, E.W. Eastman