THE 22d of September was one of the brightest of our Autumn days. The clear and cool air, the bright sun, and the recent rains, made the day a perfect one for the gathering of the family at the old homestead, at Weymouth. The Committee of Arrangements in connection with the local committees had made complete preparation for the exercises. The Methodist Episcopal Church of East Weymouth, politely offered by the Trustees for the services, was admirably adapted as a place for the meeting. The Committee on flowers made ample and tasteful floral decorations. As early as 9.30 A. M., members of the family arrived at the church, and as the time for the commencement of the exercises drew near, the large audience room was well filled with the descendants of Zachary and Agnes Bicknell, each wearing a silk badge, commemorative of the occasion. Carriages and trains brought friends and relatives from far and near, (representing at least ten States of our country, with an honorable representative from the fatherland, England), and the introductions of the early hours of the day may help to form the acqunintanceships and friendships of a lifetime.
The church was tastefully decorated with tablets inscribed with the family Christian names of past generations, intermingled with beautiful flowers, the floral adornments including an elegant basket of tuberoses and other choice flowers. On the wall at each side of the altar were two tablets inscribed" Old Weymouth welcomes the descendants of Zachary and Agnes Bicknell to their old home," and "1635Zachary, Agnes, John, Mary, Thomas, John, Zachary.Your children gather here to honor your memory.1880."
The exercises were opened with an organ voluntarythe Grand Offertoire of Battisteperformed by Mr. Arthur M. Raymond, and the Anon Quartette then gave a vocal selection, " Welcome Meeting," by L. Marshall. The musical portion of the exercises was under the direction of F. B. Bates, Esq., and the choir was composed of musical talent of the family almost exclusively.
Rev. George W. Bicknell, of Lowell, chaplain of the day, read Scripture selections from the 25th chapter of Isaiah, and offered a fervent prayer, the choir stationed in the ante-room appropriately responding with a musical rendering of the Lords Prayer.
Lest the elements of personality and family partiality should enter into our own account of the literary and musical exercises of the day we will refer our readers to the
The Weymouth Gazette and Weymouth Advance in their issues of September 24, contained interesting and valuable reports of the Bicknell gathering, and the Advance published the Presidents address entire. As a remembrance of the Boston press, we print entire that of the Boston Advertiser, of Thursday, September 23.
FIRST GATHERING AT EAST WEYMOUTH YESTERDAY OF THE FAMILY ASSOCIATION ADDRESS OF WELCOME BRIEF FAMILY HISTORY ADDRESS BY CONGRESSMAN BICKNELL AND VISITS TO HISTORIC FAMILY SITES.
The Bicknells, one of our steady-going, conservative families, the sort of stuff that makes New England stock respected everywhere, its morals strong and pure, and its industry thriving and solidly grounded, held their first family re-union yesterday at East Weymouth. They have not as a family tended and watched the old family tree so closely that they can tell the exact connection between the blossoms and young boughs of to-day and the sturdy old parent stock. Bet as the tree is known by its fruits, therefore the fruits must show similarity to each other as well as to the original stock, and so there is abundant reason to expect that the effort to build up the family history, which was begun only a short time ago, will be successful to a satisfactory degree. The Bicknell Family Association was organized last December. Its president is Mr. Thomas W. Bicknell of this city, the editor of the New England Journal of Education; the secretary and treasurer is Mr. Robert T. Bicknell of 200 Devonshire street, and the corresponding secretary is Mr. Alfred Bicknell of 33 Milk street. Yesterday the gathering was large and most encouraging to those who earnestly desire to keep trace of the family. Representatives from various parts of Massachusetts, near and remote, and from other States, came back to the old home of him to whom they trace their common descent, and who was one of the early pioneers in this New England wilderness. The Methodist Episcopal Church at East Weymouth was fittingly decorated for the day, and the audience of Bicknells and invited guests nearly filled it. From one of the pulpit side-lights hung the family coat-of-arms; flowers adorned the desk, and various placards showed the lines of patriarchs in the family. At the left of the pulpit was a large card bearing the inscription: "1635. Zachary, Agnes, John, Mary, Thomas, John, Zachary. Your children gather here to honor your memory. 1880." A corresponding card on the other side read, " Old Weymouth welcomes the descendants of Zachary and Agnes Bicknell to their old home." Down both sides of the church, suspended from the wall-lights, were cards bearing well-known family names, as follows: "William, Noah, James;" "Zachary, John, Thomas ;" "Luke, Humphrey, Otis ;" "Timothy, Jacob, Ebenezer, Daniel ;" "Joseph, Benjamin, Nathan ;" "Ezra, David, Samuel ;" "Peter, Joshua, Nathaniel ;" "Joseph, Stephen, Allen." Music for the day was kindly furnished by a volunteer choir of the family.
Eleven oclock was the time set for the opening of the exercises, and the first number was an organ voluntary. Then came reading of the Scriptures and prayer by the Rev. George Bicknell of Lowell, who was the chaplain of the day. A brief address of welcome was then given by Mr. Thomas W. Bicknell, the president of the association. He mentioned the various branches of the family and the leading family traits. While the family has not risen to an exalted place, yet it has an honorable record. Many of its members have been those who earned their bread by the sweat of their brows. Yet they have a record which few families can show. For two hundred years of which they have a record, not a member of the family has been a pauper or a crinminal. A good history has been made in the legislative halls of time country. Several members of the family have been members of State legislatures, and two of them have been members of Congress. Among the family there have been also business men, lawyers and a few doctors. The speaker welcomed the guests and members of the family to the town of their common ancestor and gave them a cordial greeting. After him came Mr. Quincy Bicknell of Hingham, the historian of the association. His record involved much patient search and care in arrangement, albeit when finished it sounded, as one of his auditors remarked, like one of the chapters in the Bible which are composed mainly of a series of "begat "sandwiches. After alluding to the circumstances of the early immigration to Massachusetts and the character of the immigrants, Mr. Bicknell spoke of the first one of the name in the country,Zachary Bicknell, who came to Weymouth in 1635. It can be fairly inferred, said the speaker, although but little is known of Zachary, that he was in sympathy with the early Puritan spirit, and that he was a man of some property, for it is on record that he brought a servant with him. Zachary died the year after his arrival, and the land in Weymouth which he owned was sold in the next year to William Reed. In that family it remained many years, and a person is now living who can remember when the last Reed owner held it, so that its connection with the old Zachary is well established. The land is on Middle street and is the estate of the late Sylvanus Bates. John Bicknell, son of Zachary, was also the common ancestor of all the Bicknells in the country. He was twelve years old at the death of his father, and grew up to be a carpenter. From this point the speaker went on at length to speak of Johns two marriages and eleven children. They became widely dispersed, going to Maine, western Massachusetts and elsewhere, and the success which has already been achieved in tracing the families warrants the expectation that the record will be made still more complete. Other Bicknells are found in the Boston and Charlestown records, but they do not seem to belong to this family, which includes most persons of the name in the country. Bicknells are also found in the Barbadoes and in this country also, some of them rose to the dignity of slaveholders. They generally treated their slaves well, and some of the latter, when they were manumitted, took the name of Bicknell. Hence it appears among the blacks. So no one need go to Africa, said the orator, pleasantly, in search of any ancestors of the Bicknells. Taking up the family in detail, Mr. Bicknell then brought down the descent to the sixth generation from the first Zachary, thus enabling many of those present to trace their lines back to him. He mentioned the Bicknells in New York and in the Western part of the State; also those in Maine, where many descendants of Luke are now living. Otis Bicknell was the first of the family in Dalton, and many of the family in Berkshire county are his descendants. Summing up the moral qualities of the family, the speaker regarded them as among the conservative supporters of religion.
After singing by the choir came an address by the Hon. George A. Bicknell, M. C., from Indiana. It was about forty-five minutes long, and the main thought was the value of good blood and the doctrine of inherited traits as illustrated in the Bicknell family. Hence the value of family re-unions from the similarity of family people. The name Bicknell is Scandinavian in origin, and was originally spelt Becknill, or a word which means about the same as Brookville in modern English. The speaker advanced the doctrine that individual greatness arises generally in homogeneous bodies, and the reason that America has produced no great work yet is that the people are not yet sufficiently homogeneous.
This address was followed by a poem by Mrs. A. H. (Bicknell) Ames, of Columbia, Pa., and then came an original hymn written for the occasion and sung to "America," followed by the benediction. After this, dinner was served in the vestry, but the speeches Mr. Z. L. Bicknell, of East Weymouth, being set down as toast-masterwere postponed because of the lateness of the hour. It was voted that the proceedings of the day be published in a pamphlet. Letters were read from Governor Long and the Hon. Marshall P. Wilder. Then Mr. David Bicknell, of London, England, spoke of the English branch of the family, and displayed some portraits. The publication of the family history was ordered, and a committee appointed to oversee the matter. About half-past three the party started in barges to visit the site of old Zachary Bicknells house, the " King Oak Hill" and the old church and cemetery where the first Bicknells worshipped and were buried. This visit closed the programme of the day.