Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Seventy Years

genealogy descends through a long and distinguished line of English peers, but the branch that sought adventure in the colonization of America reverted to the soil and stayed there. They knew only the nobility of work, thrift, and stern godliness.

For the first thirty years of his life John Boynton was a farmer, aiding his father in the cultivation of a not too fertile tract in Mason, New Hampshire, his birthplace. He moved to the neighboring town of New Ipswich in 1821, and began the manufacture of tinware. Those were the days of direct selling. In his early years Boynton loaded a cart with his product and drove through the countryside, distributing to housewives tin dippers, pails, and the traditional New England pie plates. He was one of the earliest of that picturesque group of tin peddlers who became familiar figures on the rural highways.

David Whitcomb was born at Hancock, a village in the same county as Mason. His father was married four times. David was the son of the fourth wife, born when his father was seventy-five, and the twelfth child in the family. Income was so scanty that David was put out at the age of seven as chore boy on a neighboring farm, with little time or opportunity for schooling. At twenty-one he hired out to his cousin in the already prosperous tinware business, which had been removed from New Ipswich to Templeton, Massachusetts. Boynton put him in charge of one of the peddler's carts, at a salary of $100 and board for the first year. Later he went into the shop and eventually became a partner in the business.

When Boynton retired from active business, in 1846, he sold his tinware factory to Whitcomb, who operated it for seven years and accumulated a comfortable fortune. He moved to Worcester in 1854, where he established a hardware business. John Boynton moved to Athol after his retirement and became the first president of the Miller's River bank. He had represented the town of Templeton in the State Legislature, but had declined subsequent opportunities for public service.


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Last Modified: Fri Jul 30 11:15:25 EDT 1999