The Timothy Bigelow Monument
Selected excerpts from History of Worcester, Massachusetts: From Its Earliest Settlement to September 1836,
by William Lincoln, published in 1862.
City of Worcester,
Whereas, by a resolve of the City Council, passed Dec. 23, A. D., 1859, leave was granted to Timothy Bigelow Lawrence to erect a Monument over the
remains of Colonel Timothy Bigelow; and, by said resolve, the Mayor was empowered to designate a suitable lot for that purpose, where said remains
now lie, — the same not to include the remains of persons of any other family;
and it was further resolved, that said lot be forever appropriated and devoted
to said purpose —
Now, in pursuance of the authority in me so vested, I, Alexander H. Bullock,
Mayor of the city of Worcester, have designated, and do hereby designate, for
the purpose aforesaid, the following-described lot, being twenty feet square,
and being section number four of the second division, as laid down on the plan of the cemetery on the Common, dated October, 1853, made by Gill
Valentine. Said section has a stone monument at its south-east corner, and
contains grave number seven, being the grave of Timothy Bigelow, but does not include the remains of any other person.
And I hereby forever dedicate and appropriate said lot to the purpose aforesaid.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and affixed the seal of the
city of Worcester, this thirtieth day of December, in the year of our Lord one
thousand eight hundred and fifty-nine.
A. H. BULLOCK, Mayor.
It occupies a conspicuous position at the northerly front of the ancient
cemetery, an inconsiderable but beautiful elevation, planted with trees, overlooking
and now forming a part of the Central Park, better known as the Old Common, of Worcester.
The site of the monument is a space of twenty feet to a side, enclosed with
a light iron fence, on a granite plinth with trefoiled piers. From this, a slope
of grass is formed to a solid block of granite, nine feet square, upon which
the monument is erected.
The design is in the style of the English Gothic of the thirteenth century,
and the material is white Italian marble. The pedestal is ornamented at its angles with carvings of
rams'-heads, and bears on its sides the following
On the front, in raised capital letters, —
On the right face, in sunken letters, —
Aug. 12, 1739.
March 31, 1790.
On the rear, —
In memory of
The Colonel of the I5th Massachusetts Regiment
Of the Continental Army
In the War of Independence,
Is erected by his great-grandson,
Timothy Bigelow Lawrence,
Anno Domini 1861.
On the left face are the words, —
Above the pedestal, the monument diminishes in size; but from each of its four sides trefoiled canopies project, supported on columns whose capitals are
elaborately carved with various designs, their bases resting on the shelving top
of the pedestal. Above the canopies, the shaft again diminishes in size. It
assumes an octagonal figure, and is surmounted with a foliated cross; the total height being thirty feet.
The marble base of the
monument is made up of four massive pieces that were constructed to leave a central space between the block of
granite on which the monument stands. Within the cavity a time capsule of
two boxes were stored.
The monument was designed and superintended by George Snell, Esq.,
architect, of Boston. The granite work was executed by the Granite Railway
Company; and the marble, imported from Tuscany, was chiseled by Messrs. Wentworth and Co., Boston.
The following officials constituted a Committee, on the part of the City Government of Worcester, to take action on the measures deemed suitable for
a public notice, by inaugural exercises, at the erection of the Bigelow Monument ;
viz. : — His Honor Mayor Davis; Messrs. George Hobbs and Charles B. Pratt,
Aldermen ; Messrs. Walter Bigelow, Frank H. Kelley, and M. S. McConville, Councilmen.
Annexed are the names of twenty-five gentlemen, chosen by the citizens at large to co-operate with the Committee of the Municipal Government in making
arrangements for a due observance of the occasion aforesaid, viz.: — Hon. Levi Lincoln, Chairman ; Messrs. Stephen Salisbury, A. H. Bullock,
Rejoice Newton, J. S. C. Knowlton, George F. Hoar, Henry Chapin, George W. Richardson, W. W. Rice, Gen. George H. Ward, Dr. George Chandler,
Fitzroy Willard, T. L. Nelson, H. N. Tower, Charles Hersey, Rev. Dr. Hill,
Rev. Horace James, Albert Tolman, Joseph Mason, F. H. Kinnicutt, William A. Wheeler, John M. Goodhue, Edwin
Bynner, Carter Whitcomb, George W. Bentley.
original grave of Colonel Bigelow was within the area allotted to the
monument. It was necessary during construction to exhume the casket
and move it to its current location beneath the base of the monument.
The Colonel's remains were found to be incased in a metallic casket. They were
remarkably well preserved after 71 years of interment. His hair was
said to be abundant and of singular freshness. His frame indicated a robust
man taller than the average man. This corresponds with earlier
descriptions of Colonel Bigelow being six feet two inches tall.
week before the city celebration dedicating the monument a private formal ceremony
took place and a time capsule of selected items and documents were placed
into boxes made of tin and copper. They were firmly soldered against the
elements of time.
1977 Lawrence G. Brooks of West Medford, a direct descendent of Colonel
Timothy Bigelow, requested the city open the time capsule and preserve
the contents before they were lost to the elements.
of damage to the monument and copies of all the documents being present in
historical records were cited as the reasons not to disturb the contents
of the capsule.
The pageant of the day, although not wanting, had less of the brilliancy anticipated, owing to the
necessities of the Civil War. The military was honorably represented by the senior members of their
corps. The elder exempts of the Worcester Light Infantry alone numbering about one hundred. They made a fine
Sixth Regiment, had left to aid in the defense of Washington; and, at the very hour of the
dedication of the Monument, were bravely fighting their way through Baltimore.
procession was formed at eleven o'clock, adjacent to the Central Park.
Pausing at the mansion of Mayor Davis for review by the invited guests and other distinguished citizens
there assembled, In the first carriage were seated Mayor Davis, Colonel Lawrence, Tyler Bigelow, Esq., of Watertown, (nephew and son-in-law of Col. Timothy
Bigelow), George Tyler Bigelow, Jr.,
son of the Chief Justice. They were followed by a carriage containing Ex- Governor Lincoln, Rev. Dr. Bigelow, and Hon. John P. Bigelow, Ex-Mayor
of Boston. The past Mayors of Worcester, and guests of the city, occupied the remaining carriages.
The procession was arranged as follows:
Past and exempt Members of the Worcester Light Infantry,
bearing the Colors of the
D. Waldo Lincoln, Captain.
Committee of Arrangements.
Chief-Engineer Fire department.
Yankee Engine-Company, No. 5.
Ocean Hose-company, No, 2.
Father Mathew Temperance Society.
Advancing through the central street, the route was in the following order: through Main, Highland, Harvard, Chestnut,
Elm, West, Pleasant Streets, to the head of Main Street again, and on to the Old Common.
At twelve o'clock, a salute of thirty-four guns was fired. The procession forming in a square around the stand, General George H. Ward, Chief-Marshal,
announced Mayor Davis as President of the day. Among the notables on the platform, besides the gentlemen elsewhere named, were the Hon. Rejoice Newton, Stephen Salisbury, Esq., Hon. Dwight Foster, Hon. George
F. Hoar, Major-General Hobbs, Colonel Stoddard, Charles Hersey, Esq., Walter Bigelow, Esq., Abbott Lawrence, Esq., with others. After a
music by Joslyn's Coronet Band, a prayer was offered by Rev. Dr. Hill.
The following song, written for the occasion
by C. Jillson, Esq., was sung by the Glee Club, under the direction of the
music's composer Albert S. Allen.
We come to day, with solemn tread,
To consecrate an earthly shrine,
And raise this column o'er the head
Of hero, patriot, and divine,
A hero in his country's cause ;
A patriot on the lists of fame ;
Divine, because an honest man
Can justly own no other name.
A thousand other men have died,
Who toiled for fame, and sought renown ;
But no one knows their resting-place,
On hill, in valley, or the town.
But here the humblest of them all
Beneath this beauteous column lies;
His dust has unto dust returned ;
His spirit, to the upper skies.
ages hence, when Spring-time comes
With laughing footstep o'er the hills;
When Nature lifts her wintry hand
From all the valleys and the rills,
Shall generations yet unborn
Beside this marble column stand.
And mingle with the dust their tears
For one who loved his native land.
Timothy Bigelow Lawrence was then introduced and spoke, followed by Mayor
Davis. Then Ex-Governor Lincoln was next introduced. At the close of
Governor Lincoln's address, the chairman called for a speech from the Rev.
Andrew Bigelow, D.D., of Boston, grandson of Colonel Timothy
Bigelow. The Hon. John P. Bigelow, Ex-Mayor of Boston, another grandson of
Colonel Timothy Bigelow, was next called up. He declined making a speech. Hon. Benjamin F. Thomas was introduced as a grandson of the political
associate, contemporary, and friend of Colonel Timothy Bigelow, Isaiah Thomas,
sleep the brave, who sink to rest
With all their country's wishes blest!"
Bigelow, Esq., of Watertown. nephew of the Revolutionary colonel was presented
last. At eighty three years of age he stood, firm and erect, as if he were
a younger man. His remarks were few and were delivered with great
energy. He wished to relate an interesting reminiscence of his late
uncle. " When the news of the destruction of the tea in Boston Harbor reached
Colonel Bigelow, he was at work in his blacksmith's shop, near the spot now
called Lincoln Square. He immediately laid aside his tools, proceeded directly
to his house, opened the closet, and took from it a canister of tea, went to the
fireplace, and poured the contents thereof into the flames. As if feeling that
every thing which had come in contact with British legislative tyranny should
be purified by fire, the canister followed the tea; and then he covered both
with coals. So well known and determined were his opinions on the great questions of the day, he returned to his labors without deigning a word of explanation
or apology to any one."
Music by the band
ended the presentations by guest speakers. A benediction by the Rev. Dr.
Hill, concluded the public ceremonies of the day.
After the close of the
invited speakers at the dedication of the Monument were entertained at an elegant banquet given by Governor Lincoln.
Sept. 27 of the same year, Mayor Davis states that " the Monument has attracted great attention, and thousands, and tens of thousands, have visited it,"
and "that it has excited in numerous minds a noble spirit of patriotism, and has induced
many to volunteer in sustaining the Constitution and the Union. Since the Monument
was erected on our Central Park, more than five thousand men have left that Park in
defense of the glorious institutions, which Colonel Timothy Bigelow and his brave compeers fought to establish."
photo taken April 19, 1861