February 10, 2008
from "Dorset In the Shadow of the Marble Mountain"
After Dorset's first six settlers had led the way, others of European stock recognized the attractions of this fertile and stimulating environment. Benjamin Baldwin attracted his brothers Asa, Eleazer, and Elisha, along with relatives Silas and Thomas Baldwin. Benjamin was "a man of almost herculean strength," who settled about a mile east of the village in the Kirby Hollow section and raised the first apples in town.
Some of Benjamin's many children--Guy, Edward, Benjamin Jr., Asa, Benjamin II, William, Deborah, Rachel, Sarah, Ruth, Thomas K., Lorena, and Mary--migrated westward, though Benjamin, Jr., an infant, was the first person to be buried in the Maple Hill Cemetery when he died, in 1772, twelve years before a church was established there. Benjamin the elder lived until 1830, to the age of eighty-six. The house of "Uncle Ben and Aunt Ruth" was one of warmth and kindness, with Baldwin known for his spicy stories and good cheer, and his benevolent wife taking in many poor children.
(© the Dorset Historical Society - used with permission)
from "The Story of Dorset"
This Benjamin Baldwin was one of the outstanding characters of our town's early history, a man whom we remember with pride and affection. He was huge in stature and mighty in strength--"herculean" the old chroniclers call him--and apparently his heart and brain were as large as his body. He settled just across the bridge at the entrance to Dorset Hollow and bestirred himself to such purpose that clearings and crops, houses, orchards and children mulitplied around him. His was the distinction of raising the first Dorset apples. His wife, Ruth, was as big-souled as he and, besides caring for twelve children of her own, she mothered several foster children. Everyone loved "Uncle Ben" and "Aunt Ruth"; their house seems to have been the community center of good cheer and fellowship. Of generosity too. In the light of certain local characteristics which, after awhile, this veracious narrative is going to have to confess, we are glad to be able to state that this early citizen all but despoiled himself by his open-handedness. An old history tells us that Benjamin Baldwin "at one time was a man of the most substance of any in the town, but, his generosity getting the better of his prudence, his property gradually melted away until he became very much reduced in his circumstances." His fellow townsmen showed their appreciation of, and reliance upon, him by electing him several times town representative and selectman; and when he died, in 1830, the young men of the town claimed the privilege of erecting a tombstone to his memory. It stands in our cemetery now (stating, by the way, perplexingly, that he came to Dorset in 1766) and beside it is Aunt Ruth's stone, celebrating
The tender parent, Loving wife,
The glory of domestic Live,
The best of friends, Her husband's pride,
The poor man's trust, Her children's guide.
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