Do you know what Scituate's Town Song is? Did you know Scituate had a town song? Well, neither did I until I started doing some investigating in the the history of Scituate.
One thing I always wondered about was the names of some of the roads in Scituate like Chief Justice Cushing Highway or Old Oaken Bucket. Chief Justice Cushing must have been one important person to have a highway named after him because I am sure it was difficult to put that long name on a map or GPS... Old Oaken Bucket? I mean that sounds like a poem to me, not a street you can put on your monogrammed stationary!
As it turns out, Chief Justice William Cushing was arguably Scituate's greatest citizen. There isn't a lot written about the man but I did find some facts that warranted the Scituate's Greatest Citizen Title.
Researcher and past Scituate Historical Society trustee Peter Leavitt gave a talk about Cushing earlier this month as part of the Scituate Historical Society’s Fall Lecture Series.
Here are some interesting facts about Chief Justice Cushing:
- Cushing was born in Scituate in March of 1732 and grew up on the family's 150 acres along the North River.
- He entered Harvard Univeristy (then called Harvard College) at the age of 15.
- Cushing was initially going to follow a career in the ministry.
- Cushing’s father, John, was a provincial magistrate who later became an associate justice on the Superior Court of Judicature – what is referred to today as the Supreme Court – of the province.
- Cushing became a member of the Boston bar in 1755. He practiced law in Scituate for five years before moving to what is now known as Dresden, Maine. At the time, Maine was considered a part of the Massachusetts province, and Cushing became the first practicing attorney in the province’s eastern district.
- Unlike his peer, John Adams, who kept volumes of diaries, Cushing kept a simple diary but most burned in a fire.
- Cushing was a man known for his integrity and followed the law to a T.
- He became Massachusetts’ first sitting Chief Justice in 1777, a position he held until 1789.
- In 1776 Scituate Town Meeting approved to form a commission, with Cushing as its chairman, to write a letter outlining the community’s opposition to the British sending in reinforcement to the area.
- He married Hannah Phillips of Connecticut when he was 42 years old and she was age 20.
- His ruling in favor of Quock Walker, a Western Massachusetts slave pursuing his freedom through the law, is believed to have been the catalyst in abolishing slavery in Massachusetts.
- Cushing was among new President George Washington’s first choices for Supreme Court justices.
- At George Washington’s second inauguration as President, Cushing administered the Oath of Office.
- Cushing was a voracious reader and his wife often accompanied him on circuit tours – when judges would go out across the province taking on legal cases – and read to him while they rode.
I guess I would name a highway after him too ...
So, the town song?
https://youtu.be/az4TgUxcVEs (Click on this link to hear)
You guessed it - The Old Oaken Bucket. A road now and a poem by Samuel Woodworth another notable Scituate resident.
Poet Samuel Woodworth’s poem “The Old Oaken Bucket” made The Old Oaken Bucket Homestead and Well on of the most popular local attractions in the late 1800s. His poem, a lament for the lost days of his youth, has been described as one of the most beautiful works in the English language, and was translated into more than eight other languages around the world. Samuel Woodworth was born in Scituate in 1784, and lost his mother when just twelve years old. His father married Betsy Northey and went to live on the farm on the road now called The Old Oaken Bucket Rd. As a boy Samuel helped his father farm and often, hot and thirsty, drank from the well. Afterward he became a publisher in New York and in 1817 wrote the poem which has since become famous the world over. In 1935 the citizens of Scituate voted “The Old Oaken Bucket” as the town’s official song.
There you go - all that history from two road names.