Landscape and Material Life in Franklin County, Massachusetts, 1770-1860

The Little Brown House on The Albany Road

thread her buzzing wheel sang a lullaby, and David with his stirruped foot gave an occasional jog to the cradle. For amid all the sights and sounds of this life of mutual industry and helpfulness, children came to be cared for and loved, and, alas, to be mourned for. Was David seen with arms extended as he had drawn home the last stitch of a seam, gazing abstractedly at the empty cradle by the oven door, we may be sure his thoughts were away among the little mounds, more or less passed over, in the graveyard hard by. Four times during eight years had that cradle been robbed. Four times the dread messenger had led a procession out of the square room beyond the kitchen, over the threshold of the low-browed front door, to the God's Acre at the west end of the ministerial lot.

Should we wonder if the stricken Bathsheba put salt for sugar in her pies, or seasoned her bread with scalding brine, when we know that across the level field, in full view of the small shuttered window of her pantry, slept that city of the dead, where four of her five darlings had been laid, one by one and side by side? For she must work as well as weep. By straining her eves, as the bright sunlight streamed across the little mounds, the mother fancied that she could distinguish between the fresh scar on the bosom of mother earth and those partly healed by the kindly ministrations of time, and she sadly compared them to the scars in her own bosom; only on these time had worked more slowly and across these only shadows fell.

It may have been to remove his wife from a prospect so saddening that David before the birth of another babe, or before the brown had changed to green on the newest mound, left the little cottage and sought with Bathsheba at New Salem that comfort denied their parental longings here. In their new home the fates were kinder, and children were born and lived to cheer their declining years.

On the west side of our Old Burying Ground, where the gentle breezes come up from the murmuring Pocumtuck, where the aspen reaches out its kindly hands in benediction over the spot, and its restless leaves whisper, perchance, tales of bygone years, the four little mounds lie, side by side, as of old; but now there are two larger and longer ones; and on the moss-grown stones standing at the head of these are recorded the last events in the lives of David and Bathsheba Saxton.

From David Saxton the brown house passed to David Hoyt, Senior. If Hoyt then took up his abode here, it was doubtless to pursue his calling of "maker of wiggs and foretops." In this polite generation, the owners of bald heads are told that this defect is a mark of wisdom and honor; consequently they are apt to be rather proud than otherwise of their sterile pates. Not so in the time of which we speak. Whether it was incense to the goddess Hygeia, or a tribute to the goddess of fashion, the bald head was carefully covered; the first ravages by

They Rest Together
"They Rest Together."

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This page was last updated on 11 Feb 2006