Windham Life and Times – May 17, 2019

Nutfield 300

Tales of “Olde Londonderry” | Wiley’s Book of Nutfield

“Family prayer was regularly observed every morning and every evening in all the rude dwelling of the early settlers, and the Scriptures were devoutly read. If any family omitted these daily acts of devotion, there would immediately be an investigation by the pastor. It is related that Rev. Macgregor was one evening informed that a member of his flock had become neglectful of family worship. He went at once to his house, and finding that the family had retired for the night, called up the man and asked if the report was true. The fact was admitted and the pastor, reproving him sternly for his fault, refused to leave the house until the backslider had knelt and offered up prayer.”

“MUSCULAR CHRISTIANITY is not of recent origin. Rev. James MacGregor was a muscular Christian, as he proved upon more than one occasion. In the summer after the arrival of the first settlers at Nutfield a large party of men came up from Massachusetts, as had been their custom for several years previous, to mow grass on the fine natural meadows. Their coming was not wholly unexpected, but it was supposed they would refrain from their purpose after being told that the Nutfield settlers had a claim to the land and the grass. They laughed to scorn the claims of the settlers, however, and proceeded to carry out their intention. Then Mr. MacGregor, at the head of his parishioners, went out and ordered them off the ground. This angered the leader of the party, who stepped up to the minister and shaking his fist in his face, exclaimed in a threatening voice, alluding to his clerical attire, ‘Nothing saves you sir, but your black coat.’ ‘Well, it shan’t save you, sir,’ retorted Mr. MacGregor, and throwing off his coat, was about to smite him hip and thigh, when the boasting leader, with his party, beat a hasty retreat.”

“GARRISON HOUSES, to which the people could flee when threatened by the Indians, were not as numerous in Nutfield as in most other colonies, for the reason that there was not great need of them. Nevertheless there were a few, the house of Captain James Gregg, near the mill, being a garrison, and also the house of Samuel Barr, now Mr. Thwyng’s. Rev. Macgregor’s dwelling was surrounded by a flanker, which was built by the town, and in West Parish a garrison stood on the spot now occupied by the house of Charles A. Tenney Tradition ascribes the preservation of the colony from attacks of Indians to the influence of Mr. MacGregor with the Marquis de Vaudreuil, the French governor of Canada. It is said that they were classmates at college, that a correspondence was maintained between them, and that at the request of his friend the governor caused means to be used for the protection of the settlement. He was said to have induced the Catholic priests to charge the Indians not to injure any of the Nutfield settlers, as they were different from the English; and to assure them that no bounty would be paid for their scalps, and that, if they killed any of them, their sins would not be forgiven. Another and perhaps more plausible reason for the immunity of the colony from Indian attacks was the fact that the settlers had secured through Colonel Wheelwright a fair and acknowledged Indian title to the lands.”

“PLAIN SPEAKING, even to a clergyman, was the custom among the blunt Scotch settlers of Nutfield. If they had anything to say, they never beat around the bush. It is related of one of the early ministers —tradition has kindly concealed his identity — that after passing a long and laborious day in parochial visits, he rode up toward evening to the house of one of his elders. He had, as a matter of course, been urged at every dwelling to partake of the stimulants which were then considered indispensable, and, between fatigue and the excessive hospitality of his parishioners, he found it difficult to keep himself upright in the saddle. The elder’s keen eye took in the situation. ‘Won’t ye light doun, parson,’ said he ‘and come in and get something to eat? For I perceive ye’ve had enough to drink already!’ ”

 

 

 

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