One of the amazing things about following the roots of our ancestors is learning, as closely as possible, what it was live to more than 128 years ago. What was it like to live in the 1800s? Many of these families were farmers and what was their daily life like, what did they do for entertainment 100-200 years ago? Perhaps the following will offer the reader a peek into July 4th 1877.

       Josiah Josselyn Jr. followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, as well as ancestors that spanned a time frame since Charlemagne. Josiah Jr. worked and toiled to help create a town he could be proud of, just as his father before him. 

       He came to Vermont from Pembroke, Massachusetts with his parents, brothers, Lewis, and Robert, and sister Ruth when he was sixteen. Josiah Sr. bought land from Josiah Crocker and built a large farm and raised his family. 

       Josiah Jr. married Ann Topliff in 1825, and they purchased land on Route 100 in Bridgewater, and in 1840 they built their home, which is now the Mennonite Church.

       The Grange No. 168 was organized in 1874, and on January 5, 1875, Calvin T. Josselyn (Josiah’s oldest son) was installed as Master. Josiah believed that the town needed a building large enough to accommodate town meetings and other town activities, so in 1876 he had the grange hall built, which was said to “be one of the finest in Vermont.” It is located on the south bank of the Ottaquechee River, near the covered bridge that crosses the river at the place just down the road from the Josselyn homestead. The building was dedicated on December 9, 1875.

       The following outlines one day in the lives of our ancestors in 1877. The following was taken from the book Bridgewater, VT 1779-1976. by Gladys S. Adams. 

       On July 4, 1877 a basket picnic to celebrate the National Anniversary was held at Bridgewater Corners under the auspices of the Bridgewater Grange. Seats to accommodate 1,000 people were arranged between Josselyn Hall and the residence of Josiah Josselyn Jr. The speakers were seated on the piazza of the Josselyn house, and the band was arranged on the lawn in front of the speakers. The day was ushered in by the firing of the cannon followed by a variety activities throughout the day.

       A cavalcade of 25 horses, organized and lead by Jonathan P. Lewis, proceeded between 8 and 9  o’clock, to the lower end of the village over to the Woodstock line and escorted  by the Woodstock Brass Band, Dr. George W. Colton, leader, to the front lawn at the home of Josiah and Ann Josselyn, The movement of the cavalcade of horses would have done credit to trained horses, being caparisoned, with flags to each horse, the effect was very fine in the escort.

       After a prayer by Rev. M. Armstrong of Bridgewater, Josiah read the Declaration of Independence, and this was followed by and oration by Re Eli Ballou. The band played and recess was taken for dinner.

       On reassembly, the band, playing a National Air, escorted from the hall 38 young ladies dressed in white with red and blue trimmings that represented each of the states of the Union, to an arch trimmed with evergreens near the stand, where Isaiah Fullterton, representing Uncle Sam waited. The ladies wore a semi-crown representing each state and one representing Vermont delivered an address to Uncle Sam.  He promised love and fidelity to government and country and the latter his fatherly protection.

       Calvin Topliff  Josselyn, Marshall of the Day, presented the following toasts:

“To the day we celebrate-response by W. C. Abbott, 
after which the band played Yankee Doodle.”

“To our country” response by S. S. Barrows-Band-
Hail Columbia-To the Star Spangled 
Banner- E. W. Goddard-choir- Shout Out Our Banner”

Josselyn complimented and recognized

To the “Tillers of the Soil” -Josiah Josselyn-
Choir-“The Hand That Holds the Bread”

“To the Mechanics and Manufacturers” B.F. Soutgate-Band

To The Grange-J. E. Sawyer-choir--“Rally to the Grange”
To Vermont -- H. M. Walker-Band

To Printers--Lewis Josselyn-Band 
(Lewis Josselyn was Josiah’s son. Lewis later left Vermont 
and moved to Boston where he worked as a  journalist,
later becoming the editor of “Josselyn’s Daily News”

To Vermont Women -- D. G. Spaulding-Choir

“To Our children” Chester Capron- Music

 C.C. Bugbee gave a toast to Josiah Josselyn who had built the hall, 
Allen Vaughan gave a toast to Uncle Sam and his 38 children.”

 Guests included a large delegation from the South Woodstock Grange.
The firing of the national salute at sundown closed the celebration.

Biography and photographs of Josiah Josselyn Jr. 
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