Two Hundredth Anniversary Celebration : Mendon's Birthday in 1867
Silas Dudley, Dr. John Metcalf, and Atty. Nathan George had good reason to be concerned. It was just two
days before the big celebration, when an unthinkable event occurred. Two years of detailed planning and
hundreds of hours of committee meetings had not anticipated this. A storm had come up, and high winds
blew down and significantly damaged the enormous tent that had just been set up. It was to have provided
covering for one thousand two hundred invited guests, dignitaries, regional and state officials, and
descendants of Mendon's founding families. The bicentennial co-chairmen had to wonder if it were a sign
of things to come, but by the morning of May 15, 1867, skies had cleared, the tent had been replaced, and
festivities began that marked the two hundredth anniversary of Mendon's incorporation as a town.
The events of this special day were carried out with reverence and jubilation. The celebrants gathered at a
designated field on North Avenue, just north of the current location of Clough School. (There are five houses
located there now.) Included were delegations and bands from Bellingham, Milford, Uxbridge, Northbridge,
Upton, and Blackstone. General William Draper, grand marshal and Civil War hero, assembled marching
units and led a parade to the Unitarian Church for a religious service. The church was decorated with
flowers, and there was a sign that read, "Welcome Home." Ceremonies included a welcoming address by
Dr. Metcalf, musical selections by the choir and band, scripture readings, prayers, an address by Rev.
Carlton Staples, and an original hymn written by Rev. Adin Ballou. The service ended with a prayer of
benediction. The parade reassembled and celebrants marched back to the tent on North Avenue.
Afternoon festivities took place under the tent. Activities included music by the band, a blessing, dinner, a
poem about Mendon's history by Honorable Henry Chapin, several toasts and speeches, and a closing
benediction of the day.
The celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of the town's incorporation paid tribute to Mendon's
founding families. They were brave pioneers who carved a new settlement out of a forested land that the
Nipmuc Indians called Sqinshepauge. The new settlers called it Netmocke Plantation. The nearest town
was Medfield, fifteen miles away. Life in the agrarian society was a daily challenge for survival. The storm
that blew down the bicentennial tent two days before the celebration was a reminder of the many storms that
the founding families had to endure in the settlement of our town. What took place on May 15, 1667 was
made possible through the virtues and character of our founders: courage, a tireless work ethic, a
dedication to farming, a belief in Puritan theology, and a willingness to live within a democracy in its
simplest form. Silas Dudley, Dr. John Metcalf, Atty. Nathan George, and the people of Mendon let it be
known that on the town's two hundredth anniversary in 1867, their ancestors were remembered with
reverence ,honor and gratitude. It was a special day, one to be remembered.
Richard Grady Mendon Historical Society August 4, 2015
Information for this article was obtained from Annals of Mendon by Dr. John Metcalf.
Anniversary Celebrations, Town of Mendon
Bi-Centennial Celebration of the Incorporation of Mendon
From the “Annals of Mendon”:
March 25, 1865. It will be remembered that the town chose John G. Metcalf, Nathan George and Silas
Dudley a committee to make arrangements for celebrating the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the
Incorporation of the Town.
March 17, 1866, the committee made a report recommending “May 15, 1867, as the day for the celebration,
and that a committee of arrangements be chosen, which shall have the charge of all matters pertaining to
The following persons were chosen as the Committee of Arrangements, viz:
Putman W. Taft, Chas. A. Davenport, Austin D. Davenport, John G. Metcalf, John S. Gaskill, Henry a. Aldrich,
Lysander Grow, Gilbert Gaskill, Willard H. Swan, Samuel Gaskill, Laban Bates, Perry Wood, Austin Wood,
Silas Dudley, Jr., Gustavus B. Williams, Olney Cook, Scammell Aldrich, Alanson Taft, Edward B. Taft, John
R. Hayward and David Adams.
At a meeting of the committee, the Rev. Carlton A. Staples, of Milwaukee, Wis., was chosen to deliver an
address, and the Hon. Henry Chapin, of Worcester, a poem on the day of the celebration.
Mr. Staples was a native of Mendon, and Mr. Chapin of Upton.
In the discharge of their duties, the committee held meetings, from time to time, at which the various
arrangements were made and the sub-committees, for their execution, designated.
Mr. William Tufts, of Boston was engaged to furnish a tent for twelve hundred persons. During a squall, on
Sunday, the tent blew down and another was substituted in season for the celebration on Tuesday.
The committee completed their labors in the matter of arrangements by the following election of officers of
the day, viz:
President – Dr. John G. Metcalf.
Vice Presidents – Ebenezer W. Hayward, Uxbridge; William Knowlton, Upton; Paul Whitin, Northbridge;
John S. Gaskill, P. W. Taft, Perry Wood, Asa Pickering, Bellingham; Aaron C. Mayhew, Milford; James K.
Comstock, Blackstone; Laban Bates, Henry A. Aldrich, Lysander Grow.
Committee of Reception: Henry a. Aldrich, Perry Wood, Lysander Grow, P. W. Taft, John S. Gaskill, A. W.
Chief Marshal: Gen. William F. Draper
Assistant Marshals: Col. James H. Barker, Capt. A. S. Tuttle, Capt. William Emery, Lucius Lowell, Charles
H. Spencer, Herbert A. Bennett, Nathan Wheelock, Hirma O. Gilson and Henry Bates.
Toast Master: Henry a. Aldrich.
The early morning, on the day of the celebration, opened with a clouded sky and prospects of rain. Very
soon, however, the clouds broke away and the appearance of the sun gave assurance of the propitious day
Large delegations, with bands of music, soon began to arrive from Bellingham, Uxbridge, Upton, Milford,
Northbridge and Blackstone, which, with those outside of the family circle, swelled the number of those
present until by the estimation of competent observers, from four to five thousand had arrived.
At 10 o’clock, A. M., a procession was organized by the Chief Marshal and his Aids, and marched through
some of the principal streets to the Unitarian Church, where the address was to be delivered. The
programme of the procession was as follows:
American Brass Band, Providence, R.I.
Milford Encampment of Knights Templar.
Chief Marshal and Aids.
Committee of Arrangements
Selectmen of Mendon.
President of the Day, Vice-Presidents, & Co.
Orator, Poet and Invited Guests.
Citizens of Bellingham, Incorporated 1719.
Citizens of Uxbridge, Incorporated 1724.
Citizens of Upton, Incorporated 1735.
Citizens of Northbridge, Incorporated 1772.
Citizens of Milford, Incorporated 1780.
Citizens of Blackstone, Incorporated 1845.
Citizens of Mendon on foot.
Arriving at the church the services were continued in the following order of exercises:
1. Opening Address by Dr. John G. Metcalf, President of the day.
2. Voluntary by the American Brass Band.
3. Reading of the Scriptures by Rev. Augustus Caldwell, Pastor of the Methodist Society.
4. Anthem by the choir.
5. Prayer by Rev. Adin Ballou, of Hopedale, (Milford).
6. Hymm – “Come thou Almighty King.”
7. Address by Rev. Carlton A. Staples, of Milwaukee, Wis.
8. Original Hymn, by Rev. Adin Ballou. Tune – “Auld Lang Syne”.
9. Music by band.
10. Benediction by Rev. Richard Coleman, Pastor of the Unitarian Society.
The church, having been recently thoroughly repaired, seated among the stately elms and evergreens with
which it was surrounded, presented a pleasing prospect. Its interior was decorated with beautiful flowers
and evergreens. The words “Welcome Home,” in large letters, inscribed upon the arch in the rear of the
pulpit, furnished a felicitous motto for the opening address by the President of the day.
At the close of the services in the church, the procession was then reformed and marched to the spacious
tent opposite the cottage of Amariah A. Taft, where twelve hundred persons sat down to a substantial
repast. A proper discussion of the various items in the bill of fare having been accomplished, the Hon.
Henry Chapin, of Worcester, then read a poem, carrying us back in verse, as the orator of the day had in
prose, through the two hundred years of our municipal life.
The address of Mr. Staples was replete with matters of historic interest, interspersed with suggestion and
sentiment, kindling, it is hoped, in all our hearts a more persistent and reverent love of home.
Short addresses, in response to sentiments, were made by Rev. Adin Ballou, of Milford, Francis Deane,
Esq., of Uxbridge, Hon. E. B. Stoddard, of Worcester, (for Upton) Rev. Lewis F. Clark, of Northbridge, M. D.
Southwick, M. D., of Blackstone, Gen. John M. Thayer, Senator in Congress from Nebraska, (for
Bellingham), Hon. Ira M. Barton, of Worcester, and Dr. George B. Loring, of Salem.
In answer to the toast, “The early settlers of Mendon,” response, in a humorous and witty poem, was made
by Putnam W. Taft, of Worcester.
Letters excusing their absence were received from Gov. Bullock, Ex-Govs. Lincoln, Boutwell, Washburn and
Clifford, Judge Devens, Isaac Davis, Benj. F. Butler, Stephen Salisbury, J. S. C. Knowlton, Enos N. Taft and
Samuel P. Bates, Esqrs.
The proceedings at the celebration were published, and copies may be found in the libraries of the
American Antiquarian Society, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the N. E. Historical and
Genealogical Society, and the Worcester Society of Antiquity.