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" of things lost on earth,” will be to sleep in a dusty niche of the public or family library, there to lie—"unknowing and unknown," like the men whose deeds it records— among things forgotten on earth. But notwithstanding the doom that awaits this class of publications, such are the immediate advantages to be derived from them, that every New-England town will eventually have its historian and its written history.
The plan pursued by different authors, in the arrangement of their compilations, has varied with their varying tastes. Some have strictly adhered to chronology, giving each event its place in the order of its time; others have separated and mingled dates, so as to unite kindred circumstances. Some have filled the pages of their text with literal transcripts from town records, giving explanations in marginal notes; others have abridged and transposed the language of original records, supplied defects, and thus presented the facts of history in their own language.
The method of mingling dates to connect kindred events, and of transposing the language and condensing its facts as they appear in the common record, seems to combine the advantages of all, renders the work more interesting to the reader, and more convenient for refer
Such is the method mainly adopted in this history. Occasionally a chain of events has been broken to secure a connection of dates, and important records have been literally transcribed, accompanied by suitable comments; but this will be found the exception and not the rule. To prevent confusion by the intermingling of dissimilar circumstances, the history has been divided into three parts; under one or another of which all secular and all ecclesiastical events worthy of note,-and all genealogical items, and biographical notices of the early settlers and their descendants, that could be collected,-have been embodied and presented in as succinct and readable form as could well be adopted.
It is the sincere hope of the compiler that his humble undertaking may remain, for a time, among the thousands of similar landmarks, at which the future traveller may pause to contemplate the trials, privations, and moral energy of a people—and their immediate descendantswho left homes of plenty, that, in a wilderness they might enjoy, and transmit to posterity, the noble privileges of civil and religious liberty.
Most of the materials of this history had been collected previous to the year 1848 ; at which time Mr. Butler, having completed his History of Groton, and wishing to append to it a brief sketch of Shirley, obtained the loan of the author's papers for that purpose. It was the intention of the respected author of the Groton history to acknowledge the use he made of these papers, in a note pretixed to the sketch alluded to; but this was omitted by the printer,—whereupon, Mr. Butler prepared the following for insertion in this place, should the compiler of the Shirley history deem it advisable :
"Rev. SETH CHANDLER:
By accident, the note I prepared to be inserted in the History of Groton,-acknowledging the made of your manuscript in the preparation of that part relating to Shirley,—was not printed. Should you publish your account of Shirley, you are at liberty to make such use of this note as you may please, to show that I have been indebted to you, and not you to me, for the many things which may be common to both publications.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Groton, April, 1848.”
The sources of all quotations made, the reader will find duly acknowledged; and no assertion has been hazarded without good authority as to its accuracy, especially when it has come through the uncertain channel of tradition.
The compiler would respectfully acknowledge the assistance and encouragement he has received from friends, too numerous to be individually designated. He regards them, one and all, as entitled to his sincere thanks for their courtesy, and hopes they will accept this recognition of their kindness, though offered in a general form. The compilation was attempted at the suggestion of an esteemed friend, and native of Shirley, Mr. George A. Whitney of Boston ; and but for the death of that estimable man, would have been given to the world many
To the citizens of Shirley the volume is with diffidence submitted. The compiler lays no special claim to the qualifications which such an undertaking would seem to require. He has related, in a manner as simple and intelligible as he could command, the facts deemed most worthy of preservation in the history of their ancestors. To them then, if not to the general reader, he hopes that his labors will present something of interest, instruction and amusement.