Osgood Family

Thomas Osgood, His Book and Pen

Essay written in 1975 by

Mary Carpenter

     In 1969 Orton Osgood died in Cabot, Vermont at the age of eighty-nine.  A box of papers was found in his house and saved before his house was demolished.  I got these papers and looked at them and found out that they belonged to Orton's great grandfather, Thomas Osgood Sr.  Thomas Osgood was born on the eighth of January, 1761.  He came to Cabot about 1793 from Claremont, New Hampshire after serving in the Continental Army in the First New Hampshire Regiment.  He was the Town Clerk of Cabot, serving from 1795 to 1832, excepting 1822.  He was Town Treasurer for all forty-two years.  His son, Thomas Jr. held both positions after him:  twenty-six years as Town Clerk and fifteen years as Treasurer.
    There were three kinds of documents among the papers
that were especially interesting to me.  One is a book of songs, hand written by him when he was in the army; another was two inventories of estates, and the other an account of a justice trial.
    There are thirteen songs in the book all written with beautiful penmanship.  The spelling is odd though.  Now we would call it poor spelling, but then there was no standardized way to spell, so he sometimes used several ways of spelling the same word.  In some instances you can tell how words were pronounced by how they are spelled, for example:  "git" for "got"; "sich a one" for "such a one"; "consarning" for "concerning"; "garding" for "garden".
    The beautiful penmanship did not come without practice.  In many places he practiced a word or letter, often his name, or "Thomas Osgood His Book and Pen".  Quite often small "s" was written like a small "f", and always where there is a double "s".
    On one page he wrote: "war songs made in the Continental Army".  One of the songs is thirty stanzas long.  This is an especially nice one:

"A Saylor and a Soldier met to gather on a day
Say the Sailor to the Soldier I am a mind for to pray
I am a mind for to pray for the good of all men
And it will wall become you for to Say amen

The Saylor and the Soldier was a walking By a wood Side
And Jack the yong Saylor a Hallow Tree Spyde
Says Jack I will Have a poolpet of the Same
If you Doo Not Says the Soldier you are much to blame

Jack mounted His polpet and thus he did say
For the good of all Sea Crabs and Lobsters I pray
That we may have the Baggs of gold from the misley old man
Old men may we Never want For money Boys Says the Sailor amen

And that's for our officers and the Rogues to the grain
Our Sargt. and Corpl. They are much the same
For they Bang both their Backs and Belleys of . . . (page torn)
May they Die with their Shews on Says the . . .

And that For the Lawyers that pleads for their . . .
They Care not none for us O no not thay
For thay Cast us in to Cold Gails and their to remain
May their a Double threable triangle Dam them Says the Soldier amen.
                                            Finis"

    Thomas wrote many things besides songs in his book.  One is:  William Hewitt Corpl. In the 1st company N. Hampshire "Confind for Disobediance of orders and Neglect of Duty".
    After Thomas came to Cabot he was obviously a very trusted person, and he was an administrator of estates as well as being a Justice of the Peace.  One of the estates was that of Joseph Coburn.  The farm was on the present Richard Gould farm inLower Cabot.  Here are some of the items on the list:

        1 tea kittle......................................................................3-00
        1 kitchen table...............................................................0-50
        Carding Machine.......................................................300-00
        Iron Barr........................................................................4-50
        3-swarm honey bees.....................................................15.00
        Fire Shovel and Tongs.....................................................1.75
        1-fall leaf Table................................................................0.50
        3-Plows..........................................................................10.00
        1-Grain fan.......................................................................1.00
        1-2 Horse slay.................................................................14.00
        1-Hatchet........................................................................ 0-15
        100 Sap Buckits..............................................................15-00
        1-Cutter and Harnis.......................................................30-00

    Animals cost the following per head:  sheep - $1.25; swine - .50; cows - $13.25; calves $3.00; two year old steer - $12.00.
    The inventory of the "Father Kirtland Estate" is more detailed.  It shows everything people owned then.  Here are some examples from it:
    "Real Estate..................................................$4075-00
    one old cow.........................................................17-50
    one yoke of oxen.................................................70-00
    one yung cow.......................................................19-50
    one two year old heifer........................................12-00
    one two year old steer..........................................10-00
    one yearling...........................................................6-00
    one suckling calf....................................................1-75
    one three year old colt..........................................25-00
    nineteen sheep, eighteen lambs............................47-00
    two hogs................................................................11-25

    The only machinery he had were one plough, one harrow, one "linning" wheel, one "wollen" wheel, and one "time-piece".  Also listed is "3/4 of a pew in Meetinghouse" worth $27.00.  His most valuable possessions, other than the real estate, were:  first, his yoke of oxen; second, his sheep; third, the part of the pew; and fourth, the colt.
    One of the duties Thomas Osgood had as Justice of the Peace was to serve as a judge in trials and the following is an account of one of them.  All papers pertaining to the same case are folded up neatly and tied with a course linen string.  There are four papers concerning this trial:  the Complaint & Warrant; the Subpoena; the Vinire; and the Minutes of Witnesses.  Court was held in his house, which he built in 1808.  In his house he had a corner room which was his office and was probably built for the purpose.  This is the Complaint:

    To the Worshipful Thos. Osgood Esq. one of the Justices of the Peace with &  for the county of Caledonia comes Eliphelet Adams one of the Tythingmen within & for the town of Cabot in Sd. County & on his oath of office inform  your worship that at Cabot on the Sabbath of the 19th of May last Nickersen  Warner of Said Cabot with a gun and accoutrements did pass and repass the field, by and about your informants dwelling house & in the bushes a hunting after Partridges and other game to the Evil example of others and and unlawful way and manner and against the Statute in Such case made and provided and against the peace and dignity of the State of Vermont and your informant prays the said Nickisan Warner Be apprehended and Delt with as the Law directs –

                                      Dated at Cabot this 7th day of June – 1809

   Below this complaint is written the warrant to apprehend the accused.

  Then a subpoena was sent, (spelled by Thomas “Subpeony”).  In this the constable was to summon four men as witnesses.*  On this the constable confirms “reading the same in the hearing of” these four men.  Evidently one of the men didn’t come, for “Three parties appeared and plead for a continuance of the cause of this warrant” to the next day and a warrant was issued for his arrest for refusing to testify.

  He sent a venire to the constable requiring him to call on seven men “to serve in Jury”.

  Then there is the “Minutes of the Witnesses”.  It is confirmed by them that Nickisan Warner was indeed seen with a gun.  One witness had met him “with some other company with a gun” and another heard that he was going hunting.

  But, finally after all there was “no cause of complaint”, but at least Thomas and the constable made from 25/c to 75/c with each transaction.   (One witness was Nathaniel Perry, my great-great-grandfather.)

    A few days ago I went to the house where Thomas lived and went into the room which was his office.  It is now a modernized bedroom.  But one can look out the window and see what Thomas saw – trees and fields, and the Worcester Mountains and flaming sunsets.  I got the feeling of the old “dwelling house” when I went down into the cool cellar and saw the old, wide hand-planed boards next to the stairs.  But the strongest feeling I got when I looked at the one-story house with its homey, solid appearance, was the wish that I could see old Thomas sitting at his desk with his Book and Pen.  The house and farm is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Menard.  

 Acknowledgments: 

  Original manuscripts owned by Harry Thompson, Cabot, Vermont.

  Gazeteer of Washington County, Vt. Compiled and published by Hamilton Child – 1808.

Cabot Historical Society note:  Cabot high school student Mary Carpenter wrote this essay in 1975 for an Edmunds Essay Contest.  She won a prize of $50.  Mary wrote another short piece about the Osgoods in 1976:

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       The following information was written by local historian, Barbara Carpenter (Mary's mother), in 2016.  She provides further details about the Osgood family.  There is an extensive collection of documents from Thomas Osgood's tenure as town clerk on display at Cabot Historical Society's Main Street building.                                                                                                              

      The Osgoods were the second family to settle in Cabot (1791).*  They came from Claremont, New Hampshire. William was 78 and his wife, Hepzibah Dunton, was 53. There were 14 children. The first nine had been born in Barre, Massachusetts and the next five were born in Claremont. They settled near the Center of Town. (Although there is no one by the name of Osgood living in Cabot today, it seems

possible that a descendant through the female line of this large family may be living here today.) William died in 1801 and his was the first grave in the Center Cemetery.  Hepzibah died in 1809 and she too is buried at the Center.  Apparently the family sent back to Claremont for grave stones as the stones have been identified as having been carved by Jonas Stewert and his son, James, stone carvers of Claremont. These gravestones can be seen in the Center cemetery.

      Thomas is also buried there near his numerous children, several of whom died in the “spotted fever” (typhus) epidemic of 1813-14.  In January 1813 his 6 year old daughter died; in July his 24 year old daughter; in August his 25 year old son; and in October another daughter of 14 years. “Spotted Fever” is an old name for typhus, a bacterial infection spread in the feces of fleas, lice or ticks. No treatment was discovered until the 1940’s.

 _____

*According to information about Cabot written by J. M. Fisher for the Vermont Historical Gazetteer magazine, published from 1828-1890, Lt. Jonathan Heath's was the second family to settle in Cabot in 1783, immediately following Benjamin Webster and his family, on Cabot Plain.  However, it is possible Mr. Fisher was referring to settlers at the Center of Town, about two miles south of  the Plain.  Although the Plain was the business center for the town for nearly 20 years, it was decided to move town affairs to the geographic center of Cabot, and it was Osgood and several others at that location that donated land for a meeting house, pound and cemetery.  The meeting house was never finished at that site, but was moved to a location near the Winooski River, where Cabot Village is today.  The last burial at the Center Cemetery was in 1841.

 

Subpages (1): Osgood Family Tree
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