Updated: Aug 22, 2021
May 4, 1802, was a beautiful morning in South Dedham. It was Muster Day – a great holiday. Old soldiers dug out their uniforms – some from the Revolutionary War – or whatever parts of their uniforms remained, and put them on. They assembled, once again, to go through marches and maneuvers. Taverns had been busy since early dawn. Muster Day was really “one big annual drinking party” including rum and hard cider. For that one day at least, Rev. Jabez Chickering, the Pastor of the South Parish, looked the other way. Everyone in the village, or most at least, looked forward to Muster Day. It meant celebration, camaraderie, food, children playing and families gathering.
When time came for the Muster, the villagers hurried to the muster field, on the flat plain about where the Balch School stands. Veterans gathered and officers called for their troops
to “Fall in.” As Win Everett told the story, Captain William Everett “at the head of his company” was waiting to give the command that would start the maneuvers when…BANG!!...A musket accidentally went off and Everett fell dead on the muster field. The man who shot off his musket was reportedly named Morse, but which member of the large Morse family is unclear. It was certainly a shock to the people of Tiot.
The epitaph on Everett’s gravestone reads:
In Memory of Captain William Everett,
who was kild at the head of his Company on 4th
May, 1802, aged 45 years.
Stop traveler, Don’t heedless pass him by,
But drop the expressive tear, and heave a sigh.
Here lies a man whose heart was kind and free.
Whose soul over flowed with Godlike charity.
Only three months earlier, Captain Everett’s wife, Sarah, had died. Her epitaph reads:
Stop here, my friend, and shed a tear.
Think of the dust that slumbers here.
And when you read this fate of me,
Think on the glass that runs for thee.