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How did Wrentham celebrate its 100th and 200th anniversaries?

To mark the town's 100th anniversary the Rev. Joseph Bean, minister of the Congregational Church, preached a special sermon Tuesday, October 20, 1773. According to Prof. Jordan D. Fiore in his Wrentham 1673-1973: A History, the sermon was based on I Corinthians 4:22, "And these are Ancient Things." Mr. Bean traced the coming of the Puritans to American and then turned to the history of the town. When his sermon was published he added copious footnotes, making it even more valuable and historically important.

A hundred years later, the town of Wrentham again planned a celebration. Prof. Fiore tells us that preparations for the great event occupied many months. Henry Wilson, 18th Vice President of the United States and a resident of Natick, was invited. So were U. S. Senator Charles Sumner and Massachusetts Governor William D. Washburn. The governor sent regrets but both Vice President Wilson and Senator Sumner were expected.

A huge tent was erected on the Common. Tables were set to feed several hundred persons. Before daylight on Monday, October 27, the anniversary day, a cannon was fired, church bells were rung, and a factory steam whistle was blown. For days the weather had been balmy but on this day torrents of rain fell. A gale blew. The new chimney on the Straw Works crashed through the factory roof. On the Common the tent collapsed, ruining the china and much of the food the ladies of the town had so sumptuously prepared.

Some undaunted souls managed to salvage enough food and crockery so that a noontime banquet, not as elaborate, alas, as originally expected, could be held in Cook's Hall.

In the morning exercises, held in the church, Judge Ezra Wilkinson, who had been educated in Wrentham and was now an Associate Justice of the Superior Court, gave the historical address. It was two hours in length, but "listened to throughout with close attention by the vast audience that filled the church."

The afternoon exercises consisted largely of some 18 toasts (drunk in what is not divulged) which, Dr. Fiore assures us, "were willingly given and for each of which there were responses." The storm had prevented the Vice President and the Senator from attending but responses were made in their honor. After a prayer and benediction the toastmaster and master of ceremonies, W. W. Cowell, Esq., presented a motion that the meeting "be adjourned for one hundred years." The motion was passed with great enthusiasm. It is this adjourned meeting that today's Wrenthamites have been attending for one whole year.

Source: Wrentham Tricentennial Souvenir Program.


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