The Prescott Homestead at Pepperell

The following excerpts come from a text called Beside Old Hearthstones, available online here.

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from  Beside Old Hearthstones, Chapter 3.

 

Prescott Homestead Pepperell, MA

THE Prescott family home is on the northern border of the town of Pepperell, and on the rising around that soon merges into the hills of the Granite State….

…Weary with the tumult of war, Colonel William Prescott, in the spirit of a Cincinnatus, returned to his home, and resumed the peaceful employment of cultivating his paternal acres.

War did not deter the only son of the colonel from his school course. In the autumn of 1776 he left the old hearth-stone to attend school at Byfield, where he fitted for Harvard College, from which he graduated, and become the eminent jurist, judge William Prescott. While his life was largely spent elsewhere, he never lost his interest in the old home.

Of the next generation to cherish the ancestral homestead came William H. Prescott, the historian. Often weary of city life, he packed his books in huge trunks, and took passage in the old stagecoach for this family home among the hills, where he found tonic in the pure atmosphere, and inspiration from the invisible presence of his grandsire, the hero of Bunker Hill.

Colonel William Prescott's House (looking NW) in Pepperell, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Photographed on June 18, 1941

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The fifth generation in possession of the well-known estate was Mr. William G. Prescott, the only son of the eminent scholar and historian. It was his greeting that assured me of a cordial welcome to the home, as he gave me to drink from the well where the sixth generation quaffed from the brimming bucket, while a representative of the seventh generation prattled in innocency at our feet.

I would fain share with my reader the courtesy shown me, by Mr. William G. Prescott; but since that is beyond my power, I now invite him to the enjoyment of a June day at the old homestead.

One of the many precious heirlooms with which this house abounds is the commission to Colonel Prescott in the army of “The United Colonies,” signed by John Hancock, making him “colonel of the 7th regiment of foot.” It hangs in the room made sacred by the life of the one to whom it was given.

Another reminder of the colonel is a fragment of the flowing gown, or banyan, which made Colonel Prescott conspicuous in the redoubt at Bunker Hill on the 17th of June. He threw aside his military wrap in the heat of the engagement, and appeared in this peculiar garment, which, slashed by many a sword thrust, was long treasured in the home after the colonel had passed away. The majestic figure of Colonel Prescott in this peculiar dress attracted the eye of General Gage, as by the aid of his glass he reviewed the scenes of that June day. Intent on duty, Colonel Prescott was unmindful of danger, scarcely heeding the shots as they came screaming over his head from the sloops of war which lay off in the stream.

The eye that directed the shots from one vessel of the fleet was, strangely enough, destined to be changed from that of an enemy of the Provincials to that of a stanch friend; and among the attractions of the home, reminding one that truth is stranger than fiction, are two cannon-balls, supposed to have been fired from the sloop Falcon to the redoubt on Bunker Hill. These are rusty with the age of one hundred and twenty-one years, but are kept near the picture of the man, Captain Linzee, who it is supposed directed their course….

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Stone marker of Col Prescott's birthplace

A monument standing at an angle of the road nearing the centre of Groton tells the following “Colonel William Prescott Commander of the American forces at the Battle of Bunker Hill, was born on the 20th of February, 1726, in a house which stood near this spot.”

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Grave of Col. William Prescott Pepperell, MA

In the old burying-ground at Pepperell, where rests the patriot preacher, and within the shadow of the old church, stands a plain tomb, built of four upright granite slabs, forming a square enclosure about three feet high, upon the top of which rest two horizontal tablets of slatestone, bearing the following inscriptions…

 

THIS STONE IS ERECTED
IN MEMORY OF
COLL. WILLIAM PRESCOTT
OF PEPPERELL,
who died on the 13th day of October, Anno Domini 1795,
in the seventieth year of his age.

IN MEMORY OF
MRS. ABIGAIL PRESCOTT,WIDOW OF THE LATE
COL. WILLIAM PRESCOTT,
Who died Oct. 19, A.D. 1821, AE. 89

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