Joseph Gould, Planemaker, a Patriot of the Battle of Lexington and Concord

By Elliott, Thomas | The Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association, Inc., March 2009 | Go to article overview

Joseph Gould, Planemaker, a Patriot of the Battle of Lexington and Concord


Elliott, Thomas, The Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association, Inc.


When thinking of a true American Revolutionary War patriot, one of the first who comes to mind is Paul Revere of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Previously, four planemakers have been positively identified as participating in the fighting on that day, April 19, 1775, the first true battle of the American Revolution.1 Captain John Walton Jr., age sixty-five, a blacksmith, joiner, and housewright, was in Colonel David Green's company from Reading. He had also served as a lieutenant in 1762 in the French and Indian War. Private Benjamin Walton, age twenty-four, a housewright and Walton's son, was in the company of Captain John Bacheler of Reading. Later in the War of 1812, Benjamin would serve as a lieutenant. Lieutenant John Walton III, age thirty-one, another of Walton's sons, was a housewright and served in Samuel Thatcher's company from Cambridge. Finally, there was Private Samuel Doggett Jr., age twenty-four, a joiner and housewright who was in Captain Aaron Fuller's company from Dedham.

Now, a fifth has been identified. Joseph Gould, also of Reading, was in Colonel David Green's and Captain John Walton Jr.'s company and received pay for mustering that day.

Local militia companies had been formed as early as the 1760s for defense during the French and Indian War. Minutemen companies were officially organized by the Continental Congress of October, 1774, in response to the growing tensions with Britain. Every town mustered a company or companies of from sixty to eighty citizens each, well-trained and armed, ready for service in dire emergencies. Reading, Massachusetts, was no exception. In 1770, the citizens of Reading voted to build a powder house of hard brick and lime, eight feet square, and they mustered four militia companies, including South Reading's First Parish Train Band under the command of Colonel David Green. Included in its ranks was Joseph Gould, age forty-five, described as a joiner and wheelwright.2

Trouble with Great Britain had been brewing for quite some time. The thirteen Colonies found that their economies were rapidly expanding, but there was an insufficient source of hard cash. To make matters worse, the British prohibited the Colonies from minting their own currency. Therefore barter became common. Britain was also in economic difficulty because of periodic fighting with France. Britain's heavy-handed taxation of the Colonies to help pay this debt led to the "Boston Tea Party" of December 1773. When the colonists refused to make good on the losses, the British closed Boston Harbor in June of 1774.

On the night of April 18, 1775, an alarm was sounded by Paul Revere and other night riders proclaiming that the British were on the march, seeking to destroy arms and gun powder stored in towns north of Boston. Fighting broke out early in the morning of April 19, first at Lexington and again at Concord, when the Colonists refused to yield to the British. South Reading's company responded by five o'clock in the morning, arriving to engage the British at Meriam's Corner south of Concord on the Lexington Road, shortly after the British retreat started about noon. The men from Reading continued to participate in the running battle, with the minutemen and militias from other towns, pouring deadly flanking fire on the British Redcoats as they retreated back to Charlestown and Boston. Fighting was intense and losses were heavy on both sides. By the conclusion of the retreat, some 4,500 colonists from sixty towns had responded, heavily out numbering the British force of 1,800.3

Several other Massachusetts planemakers - Private John Sleeper of Newburyport, Private Jonah Stetson of Scituate, and Private Simeon Pomeroy of Northampton - also responded to the alarm but arrived too late to take part in the fighting. Hosea Edson, a housewright and planemaker from Harvard, also responded, but there is no record that he participated in the fighting.4

Joseph Gould

Joseph Gould was born December 30, 1730, the third child and second son of Captain Abraham and Mary Gould of Stoneham, about three miles southwest of South Reading, Massachusetts. …

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