Category Archives: Newburyport Stories

Newburyport, There Once was a Railroad Station on Pond Street where CVS is Now

Back in September when I did a story on 7 Pond Street I discovered all sorts of things about Pond Street and the Bartlet Mall that I never knew before. And one of those things is that there was once a railroad station where CVS is now located.

The 1851 Map of Frog Pond

1851 Map, Frog Pond, Newburyport, MA

1851 Map, Frog Pond, Newburyport, MA

In the 1851 Map of Frog Pond there are a bunch of houses between Frog Pond and Pond Street.

The 1872 map showing the Railroad depot.

1872 Map showing Frog Pond and the Rail Road

1872 Map showing Frog Pond and the Rail Road

In the 1872 map most of those houses still exist, but low and behold there is a train depot across the street where CVS is now located.

Detail of the 1872 map

1872 Map, detail, Rail Road, Pond and Greenleaf Street

1872 Map, detail, Rail Road, Pond and Greenleaf Street

The 1924 map of Pond Street

1924 Map of Pond Street

1924 Map of Pond Street

And in the 1924 map the houses between Frog Pond and Pond Street are now gone, but the building where CVS is now is still there.

A map of the rail road routes into and out of Newburyport, from Scott’s Railroad Archaeology Page

A map of the rail road routes into and out of Newburyport, from Scott's Railroad Archaeology Page

A map of the rail road routes into and out of Newburyport, from Scott’s Railroad Archaeology Page

Fortunately Joe Callahan wrote an article in the Newburyport Daily News in 2009 with lots of information about the railroad station. Joe wrote that around 1853 the Boston and Maine Railroad took over the operation of the Newburyport Railroad Company and both passenger and freight service existed. The passenger depot building faced Pond Street and the Bartlet Mall.  Around 1884 passenger service stopped on Pond Street and the depot was used only for freight.

This is a photograph of the Pond Street Depot from the New York Public Library.

Pond Street Depot from the New York Public Library

Pond Street Depot from the New York Public Library

Pond Street from the New York Public Library, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Pond St.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Detail of the passenger station depot with houses across the street courtesy of the New York Public Library

Detail of the passenger station depot with houses across the street, New York Public Library

Detail of the passenger station depot with houses across the street, New York Public Library

Second detail with the houses across the street (that are on the map) from the New York Public Library

Detail of the passenger station depot with houses across the street, New York Public Library

Detail of the passenger station depot with houses across the street, New York Public Library

The New York Public Library also has this photograph of the Pond Street houses.

Pond Street houses, courtesy of the New York Public Library

Pond Street houses, courtesy of the New York Public Library

Pond Street houses, courtesy of the New York Public Library

And yes indeed they match exactly the photograph that we have in the Newburyport Public Library of the houses that once belonged to Stephen Hooper (see earlier post).

Pond Street houses courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center

Pond Street houses courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center

Pond Street houses courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center

All of which is pretty cool.

And the Newburyport Public Library also has a photograph of the B&M Passenger Station in the Archival Center.

Passenger station courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center

Passenger station courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center.

Passenger station courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center.

A second photograph of the train station across from Frog Pond courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center.

Passenger station, Pond Street, courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center

Passenger station, Pond Street, courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center

By 1921 the train station looks like it had fallen on harder times. This photograph is from a book published in 1921, “The Boston and Maine Railroad; a history of the main road, with its tributary lines,” by Francis Boardman Crowninshield Bradlee.

The Newburyport train station in 1921

The Newburyport train station in 1921

The Newburyport train station in 1921

Joe Callahan writes that, “The original passenger depot building that faced on Pond Street was purchased in 1928 by “Bossy” Gillis and moved to Dalton Street. It was demolished several years later.”

On February 21, 1935,  according to Joe, “The new B&M “Flying Yankee” streamliner arrived at the Pond Street yard and opened for public inspection. The Daily News reported 6,000 people boarded and viewed its lavish interior.”

The Flying Yankee was a very big deal.

Photograph of the Flying Yankee

Photograph of the Flying Yankee

Photograph of the Flying Yankee

A ticket for the Flying Yankee between Boston and Newburyport

A ticket for the Flying Yankee between Boston and Newburyport

A ticket for the Flying Yankee between Boston and Newburyport

A menu for the Flying Yankee

A menu for the Flying Yankee

A menu for the Flying Yankee

There was no kitchen or dining car for food preparation on the train, passengers ate at their seats with trays similar to airline service. The food for the train was provided by the Armstrong Company.

The Boston and Maine Timetable  1943

The Boston and Maine Timetable 1943

The Boston and Maine Timetable 1943

According to Joe, “There was an old wooden roundhouse at the Pond Street yard, and upon the elimination of the passenger service, it was moved to face Greenleaf Street. In March 1908, Glen Mills Cereal Company of Rowley leased the structure and operated for many years making flour. The mill, under different owners, ceased operations in the early 1940s. Both Hytron and C. Leary Bottling Company leased the building for storage for many years following the mill operations.”

Joe writes that, “Back in the 1940s, there were always 10 or 12 freight cars at the depot. New cars arrived almost daily and were immediately unloaded.” And  “With the decline of the railroads in the 1950s, the Pond Street site was closed and sold to the First National Supermarket chain. The last freight train out of Pond Street was in late 1954.

The freight house and the mill were demolished in the summer of 1955 and the tracks removed then as well. The First National opened in October 1956, expanded with an addition in April 1968 and closed in July 1980. A couple other food stores operated for short periods of time, but were unsuccessful before giving way to the busy CVS.”

Captain John Robinson (maybe of Newburyport) – a Mystery

 

Captain John Robinson of Newburyport, MA, , Courtesy of The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD

Captain John Robinson of Newburyport, MA, Courtesy of The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD

Captain John Robinson of Newburyport, MA, Courtesy of The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD

In my search for Newburyport stories I came across this portrait of Captain John Robinson. It is a gorgeous miniature, now in The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.

It is a watercolor on ivory, painted by an unknown, but immensely talented artist of the “American School” sometime around 1800-1825. And it says “Captain John Robinson of Newburyport, Massachusetts.” How excited was I when I found it? Very excited. A portrait of an obviously very wealthy, really good looking, downright handsome captain with a clipper ship in the background. I thought to myself, there has got to be a great story here, right? There probably is an amazing story about this good-looking gentleman, but none that I could find anywhere, and I’ve looked and looked and looked.

Usually our Newburyport historians that I’ve discovered doing this “Newburyport Stories” thing love to brag about wealthy, famous people who have lived in our city. Frankly, our historians are reasonably shameless when it comes to the bragging part, so I figured, no problem, Captain Robinson is going to appear all over the place – but nada, zilch, zero.

I finally came to the conclusion that Captain Robinson probably might not have even lived in Newburyport. The description on the museum’s website says that Newburyport was the “Place of Origin” for the beautiful oval painting.

1937 catalogue which includes the sale of the miniature of Captain John Robinson

1937 catalogue which includes the sale of the miniature of Captain John Robinson

1937 catalogue which includes the sale of the miniature of Captain John Robinson

I was able to trace to origins of a sale back of this object to 1937. I found it in a catalogue of the American Art Association, Anderson Gallery Inc, a public sale of lots of things including rare historical miniatures. The collector was a man by the name of Herbert Lawton, a wealthy woolens merchant from Boston, born in 1868, who collected a ton of very valuable stuff. Almost no information to be found about Mr. Lawton either.  I did find a copy of the catalogue online. 1937 was in the middle of the depression, so the sale of this wonderful miniature may have possibly been part of a liquidation process.  I included a copy of the catalogue because I thought it was so interesting. There is Captain John Robinson, of Newburyport, Mass along with an oval of George Washington.

Who is this mysterious person, if anyone has any clues, please let me know.

Wedding Dress Worn by Nathaniel Carter’s Bride, Mary Beck, Newburyport 1742

Wedding dress worn by Nathaniel Carter's Bride, Mary Beck, Newburyport 1742

Wedding dress worn by Nathaniel Carter’s Bride, Mary Beck, Newburyport 1742

Wedding dress worn by Mary Beck at her marriage to Nathaniel Carter, Newburyport, Massachusetts, September 1, 1742, the Museum of Fine Arts, MFA, Boston

Detail of the wedding dress

Detail of the wedding dress

Detail of the wedding dress

Detail of the shoes and wedding dress.

Detail of the shoes and wedding dress.

Detail of the shoes and wedding dress

 The formal wedding announcement of the marriage of Nathaniel Carter to Mary Beck

The formal wedding announcement of the marriage of Nathaniel Carter to Mary Beck

The formal wedding announcement of the marriage of Nathaniel Carter to Mary Beck

I found this wedding dress by chance, and I recognized the name. Nathaniel Carter was Rev. Thomas Cary’s father-in-law (see earlier post). Thomas Cary married Nathaniel Carter’s daughter Esther Carter in 1775.

After I wrote the post I discovered a deed from 1775 to Thomas Cary and his wife from Mr. Carter.

Here is a transcript of part of the 1775 deed (Page: 134 & Book: 148) from Nathaniel Carter “in consideration of the love and affection I bear to my son-in-law Thomas Cary and to Esther his wife my daughter land lying in Newbury-Port containing about two and a quarter acres with the dwelling house barn thereon on a highway called High Street”  dated August 12, 1775.

Deed to Thomas and Esther Cary from Nathaniel Carter 1775

Deed to Thomas and Esther Cary from Nathaniel Carter 1775

Deed to Thomas and Esther Cary from Nathaniel Carter

Nathaniel Carter was born in 1715 and died in 1798.  He was a wealthy Newburyport merchant* and a large landowner. He married Mary Beck in 1742 and had 9 children, Esther was one of his daughters.

Nathaniel was one of the people who urged Newburyport to become a separate town from Newbury in 1764. He was Newburyport’s first treasurer. Carter was interested in education — two writing schools and one Latin grammar school for boys. One schoolhouse was on the upper side of Winter Street (near where the Kelly School building is), and the other was on School Street (land where the Jackman School once stood). He was  was one of nine people who petitioned for a bridge crossing the Merrimac River at Deer Island.  He owned land in what was then referred to as the “old part of town” as well as large tracts of land in Newburyport near the Deer Island. He owned land on High Street between Broad and Carter Street which extended slightly past what is now Munroe Street (I would imagine that Carter Street is named after him) and between Carter and Buck Streets.**

The Diary of John Quincy Adams

The Diary of John Quincy Adams

In the Diary of John Quincy Adams (September 13, 1787) I found his account of dining with Nathaniel Carter:

“Dined with Dr. Kilham at Mr. Carter’s. This is a very friendly, obliging old gentleman, about 73 years of age, as I collected from his conversation: he is very sociable, and is a great genealogist. He gave me a much more circumstantial account of my ancestry, for four or five generations back, than I had ever known before, and I am told he can give the same kind of information to almost any body else. He has two sons with him, both I believe between 25 and 30 years old and one daughter: one of his daughters was married in the beginning of the summer, to Mr. W. Smith of Boston and his eldest son, proposes to be married in the spring to Miss Eppes Cutts, who has made her appearance heretofore in this journal. Her sister, Miss Nancy Cutts is now upon a visit at Mr. Carter’s, and dined with us. I think she is handsomer, and that her manners are easier than those of her Sister. How the comparison might be, in mental qualifications I am not able to decide.” *

Signature of John Quincy Adams

Signature of John Quincy Adams

Signature of John Quincy Adams

The actual page from John Quincy Adams Diary describing his account of dining with Nathaniel Carter

The actual page from John Quincy Adams Diary describing his account of dining with Nathaniel Carter ***

The actual page from John Quincy Adams Diary describing his account of dining with Nathaniel Carter ***

Unfortunately I could not find any portraits of either Nathaniel or his wife, and was not able to figure out where they lived in Newburyport. He was a contemporary of Patrick Tracy who built Tracy Mansion (the Newburyport Public Library).

This wonderful wedding dress was, by happy circumstance, what I discovered.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

* Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2, September 13, 1787, Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016.   http://www.masshist.org/apde2/

** “North End Papers 1618-1880, Newburyport, Massachusetts: Development of the North End of the City” by Oliver B. Merrill, Originally published in the Newburyport Daily News 1906 &1908, transcribed by Margaret Peckham Motes 2007

***  John Quincy Adams diary 11, 1 July 1786 – 31 October 1787, page 337 [electronic edition]. The Diaries of John Quincy Adams: A Digital Collection. Boston, Mass. : Massachusetts Historical Society, 2004. http://www.masshist.org/jqadiaries

Original manuscript: Adams, John Quincy. John Quincy Adams diary 11, 1 July 1786 – 31 October 1787. 2 + 377 pages (2 unnumbered pages, including handwritten title page, preceed numbered pages; pages 1-134, and 137-376 are numbered, pages 135-136 are blank and unnumbered, page 377 is unnumbered). Page dimensions: 17.2 cm x 12.1 cm (6-3/4 x in. 4-3/4 in.). Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

A 2003 grant from Save America’s Treasures, “Conservation of the Diary of President John Quincy Adams,” enabled the Massachusetts Historical Society to clean and deacidify soiled and brittle pages of the original manuscript volumes and to repair pages with paper loss, tears, or holes. Loose sheets of paper were hinged and tipped-in, and loose signatures were resewn. A conservation bookbinder repaired broken and damaged spines and covers on twenty-five of the fifty-one volumes. Because all of the bindings are original to John Quincy Adams, the conservation treatment was minimally invasive, because the diaries are artifacts worthy of study in their own right. The diary volumes now are stored in microchamber cases.

 

Tamsen Donner, 50 Milk Street, a Pioneer Woman, and the Wheelwrights were Actually Carpetbaggers

A couple of people asked me to look into Tamsen Donner, I had never ever heard of her. And along the way I found out a few things about “the Wheelwrights” of Newburyport.

Tamsen was related to the Wheelwrights. Please bear with me.

Jeremiah Wheelwright (born 1732) married Mary Davis (born 1737) (of Gloucester) .

They had a bunch of children including:

Abraham (born 1757) (who is a very big deal in Newburyport, he built 77 High Street.)
Ebenezer  (born 1763) (father of William Wheelwright , who is a very big deal in Newburyport, he owned 75 High Street.)
Tamsen (born 1801)

75 and 77 High Street, Courtesy of Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey,  Frank O. Branzetti, Photographer, Nov. 19, 1940

75 and 77 High Street, Courtesy of Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey, Frank O. Branzetti, Photographer, Nov. 19, 1940

75 and 77 High Street, Courtesy of Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey, Frank O. Branzetti, Photographer, Nov. 19, 1940

Jeremiah is first a school teacher and then an explorer, he died in 1778 in Gloucester or died of exposure in a campaign in Canada (there are conflicting accounts).*  His widow, Mary, “removed, with her family” from Gloucester to Newburyport. **3*  “The Wheelwrights” who have enhanced our city in so many ways, moved from Gloucester — and they, in today’s Newburyport terms, were carpetbaggers.  Mary died in 1822 at the age of 85.

The daughter, Tamsen, married William Eustis in 1785 and they lived in Newburyport. They had a daughter also named Tamsen born in 1801, who eventually married George Donner in 1839. So Tamsen Eustis Donner is the niece of Abraham Wheelwright and the cousin of William Wheelwright.

There has been some question as to where Tamsen Donner was born. I was told by a friend that she was born on Milk Street. And yup, my friend was right. I was able to trace the deed of 50 Milk Street back to Tamsen’s father, Willimam Eustis. And in the book, “Searching for Tamsen Donner,”** the author Gabrielle Burton mentions that Betsy Woodman had also told her that Tamsen was born at 50 Milk Street. So 50 Milk Street is a pretty significant place.

50 Milk Street, Newburyport

50 Milk Street, Newburyport

50 Milk Street, Newburyport

Tamsen Donner

Who is Tamsen Donner?  Tamsen Donner is a heroine in the infamous “Donner Party,” a group of 87 pioneers who set out for California in a wagon train in 1846 and became trapped in the winter of 1846-1847 in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, what is now known as the  Donner Pass, and 39 people died. Some of the pioneers resorted to cannibalism to survive in what has been described as “one of the most bizarre and spectacular tragedies in Californian history and western-US migration.” ***

“In 1836 she (Tamsen) journeyed to the home of her brother in Illinois (after she had lost her first husband and and child in North Carolina to influenza in 1831) to teach his motherless children, remaining with his family for one winter before obtaining a teaching position in a school in Auburn, Ill. The following year she moved to the school at Sugar Creek where she met George Donner, whose home was near Springfield. Donner, a native of Rowan County, N.C., was a wealthy and respected man, twice widowed with young children still in the home. They were married on 24 May 1839, and in the following years Tamsen Donner bore three daughters, Frances (4 July 1840), Georgia (3 Dec. 1841), and Eliza (8 Mar. 1843).

Tamsen Donner was an intelligent woman, proficient in mathematics, geometry, and philosophy; she was fluent in French, an avid botanist, a competent painter, and a writer of prose and poetry. She is described as a small woman, five feet in height with a usual weight of ninety-six pounds, richly but quietly dressed, gracious, and charming. She and her husband were members of the German Prairie Christian Church near Springfield

It is somewhat surprising that the Donner family chose to leave their wealth in Sangamon County, Ill., to undertake a hazardous journey by wagon to California in 1846. George was sixty-two years old; Tamsen was forty-four with three small children and two stepdaughters. In early May George, his brother, Jacob, and their families left Independence, Mo., with a sizable train and traveled west during the summer with little difficulty. Nearing the end of their journey, they were beset by bad judgment and weather and were snowed in near what is now called the Donner Pass. Nearly half of the travelers died from exposure and starvation during the winter of 1846–47. Those who survived resorted to cannibalism.

Although small in stature, Mrs. Donner remained in good health and able to care for her family. Her daughters were rescued by search parties, but she refused to leave her husband who was dying from an infected wound. She was last seen by members of the third rescue party. The fourth and last group found only one person alive in the camps. There was no trace of Tamsen Donner’s body. She is presumed to have died between 26 March and 17 April 1847, approximately one year after leaving her home in Illinois.” ****

Tamsen Donner is the heroine of this story because she chose to send her children on with the last rescue party, and stayed with her husband while he was dying, a choice that meant certain death for Tamsen. **2*

A portrait of Georgia A. Donner, one of the surviving children from “History of the Donner Party: a Tragedy of the Sierra” by Charles Fayette McGlashan, 1880

A portrait of Georgia A. Donner, one of the surviving children from "History of the Donner Party: a Tragedy of the Sierra" by Charles Fayette McGlashan, 1880

A portrait of Georgia A. Donner, one of the surviving children from “History of the Donner Party: a Tragedy of the Sierra” by Charles Fayette McGlashan, 1880

The Donner Memorial State Park, the site of the Donner Camp where the Donner Party was trapped has been designated as a National Historic Landmark, commemorating the greatest mass migration in American history in the 1840s and 1850s, enticed by the California Gold Rush, where over 250,000 gold-seekers and farmers traveled overland for the gold fields and rich farmlands of California — the Emigrant Trail. The park contains the Emigrant Trail Museum.

The plaque for Tamsen and Elizabeth Donner

The plaque for Tamsen and Elizabeth Donner

The plaque for Tamsen and Elizabeth Donner

The plaque for Tamsen and Elizabeth Donner in part reads, Near this site, in the winter of 1846, two pioneer woman gave up their lives for their families. however most of their children survived to carry their mother’s dreams of a new life and new beginning to the valleys of California.

An inspiration to all who followed their footsteps across the Sierra Nevada Mountains, we herein honor the memory and the sacrifices of these two women in opening California to its destiny.

Wagon Train on the Emigrant Trail

Wagon Train on the Emigrant Trail

Wagon Train on the Emigrant Trail

* “The Wheelwright Family Story, by Steve J. Plummer” 2010

** “Searching for Tamsen Donner” by Gabrielle Burton, 2009

*** “History of the Donner Party: a Tragedy of the Sierra” by Charles Fayette McGlashan, 1880

**** “Dictionary of North Carolina Biography” by Martha Nel Hardy, University of North Carolina Press

**2* Tamsen Donner Letters: From dream to Legacy
http://www.thestormking.com/Donner_Party/Tamsen_Donner_Letters/tamsen_donner_letters.html

**3* “Ould Newbury: Historical and Biographical Sketches” by John James Currier

Tamsen Donner, Newburyport

Ethel Reed, 53 Kent Street, A Rediscovered Artist of the 1890s and a Great Beauty

This has got to be another one of my favorite stories. Ethel Reed, born in Newburyport, I had never heard of her, and what an intriguing story.

Ethel was born in Newburyport in 1874, her father was Edgar Eugene Reed who married Mary Elizabeth Mahoney.  Edgar is listed in the Newburyport City Directory as living at 41 Kent Street which today is 53 Kent Street (a big thank you to the Newburyport Assessors Office for helping me figure out the exact location of where Ethel lived).

53 Kent Street, Newburyport

53 Kent Street, Newburyport, Google Maps

53 Kent Street, Newburyport, Google Maps

Her father’s obituary describes him as a “Well Known and Popular Photographer.” Ethel and her family either lived with her father’s family on Kent Street or rented the house.

Very recently Ethel Reed has been “rediscovered.” There is a biography of her now by William Peterson.*  I would disagree with Mr. Peterson’s description of the bleakness of Ethel’s early life in Newburyport and the desolation that he describes of Newburyport in general. I ended up with the opinion that Mr. Peterson understands very little about Newburyport, not much about artists (I am one) and very little about women (I am one of those too).

(One of the things that I have discovered looking into all these Newburyport stories is that people often rented houses. In another hunt, in 1836 I found two advertisements for fancy houses on High Street “To be Let,” i.e. rented, with a mention of the people who were currently renting them. One of the other things that I’ve found in all this research is that multi-generations of families, with their children’s spouses and their children lived in the same house. Lots of people lived in one house, unlike today. “Boarders” who are often listed in the Newburyport City Directories were often family members — Abbie Foster, her husband Daniel, and her sister Helen all lived with her mother at 14 Spring Street, and there are just tons of examples.)

Ethel’s life on Kent Street might not have been quite as horrible as Mr. Peterson speculates. There is a glorious sketch of Ethel by none other than Laura Coombs Hill in 1880 when Ethel was 6 years old. The drawing is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston — the MFA, really!

Ethel Reed, by Laura Coombs Hill, 1880, 10 x 7 3/4 inches Wash and chalk on paper, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Ethel Reed, by Laura Coombs Hill, 1880, 10 x 7 3/4 inches
Wash and chalk on paper, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Ethel Reed, by Laura Coombs Hill, 1880, 10 x 7 3/4 inches
Wash and chalk on paper, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

In 1890 Ethel and her mother apparently went to Boston (her father died in 1892). The Smithsonian Art Museum has this description of Ethel Reed (yup, the Smithsonian–the Smithsonian, I’m not kidding!).

Ethel Reed, Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 1897

Ethel Reed, Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 1897

Ethel Reed, Photograph by  Frances Benjamin Johnston, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 1897

“(Ethel) Reed briefly attended art school in Boston but was largely self-trained. Her circle included artists and writers in both Boston and London. She posed for photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnston and F. Holland Day, and she provided illustrations forThe Yellow Book, an avant-garde British periodical. One of the most talented and prolific artists of the 1890s, she made her name during the poster craze of the period. She produced book illustrations, cover designs, and more than 25 posters, mostly in just two years, 1895 and 1896. Her creative burst earned her international recognition and she traveled to Europe and completed a few commissions for British publications through about 1898. Then she disappeared from the historical record.” **

A poster by Ethel Reed, The house of the trees and other poems by Ethelwyn Wetherald Boston : Lamson, Wolffe, 1895, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C

A poster by Ethel Reed, The house of the trees and other poems by Ethelwyn Wetherald
Boston : Lamson, Wolffe, 1895, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C

A poster by Ethel Reed, The house of the trees and other poems by Ethelwyn Wetherald
Boston : Lamson, Wolffe, 1895, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C 

There was an art show in Washington DC in 1896 mostly containing Ethel’s art work. The Washington Post describes Ethel Reed as “the foremost woman poster maker in America” and “one of the most beautiful women Washington has seen in ages.” *

"The Gainsborough hat" Photograph showing a woman (Ethel Reed), head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front, wearing a plumed hat, by F. Holland Day, 1895, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C

“The Gainsborough hat” Photograph showing a woman (Ethel Reed), head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front, wearing a plumed hat, by F. Holland Day, 1895, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C

“The Gainsborough hat”
Photograph showing a woman (Ethel Reed), head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front, wearing a plumed hat, by F. Holland Day, 1895, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C

Helena Wright, the curator of the Graphic Arts Division at the Smithsonian Art Museum says that the Smithsonian Art Museum has a significant collection of Ethel Reed’s art work, including some of her earliest posters and a few unpublished designs. They were donated by Commander Charlotte Hume, U.S. Navy. The collection descended through Hume’s great-aunts, the Smith sisters of Newburyport, who knew Reed in the 1890s, but they lost touch when she moved to London. Reed presented the Smiths with her first posters soon after they were issued. Many are signed and dated in Reed’s distinctive, bold hand, “Compliments of Ethel Reed.” **

A poster by Ethel Reed, The Boston Sunday Herald, Ladies Want It, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C

A poster by Ethel Reed, The Boston Sunday Herald, Ladies Want It, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C

A poster by Ethel Reed, The Boston Sunday Herald, Ladies Want It, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C
(This was  Ethel Reed’s first poster.**)

Ethel ended up getting engaged to Philip Leslie Hale who was from a prominent, very stuffy Boston family. It appears that the family did not approve of the engagement which was broken off.  Philip and Ethel apparently had been planning to go to Paris for their honeymoon and Ethel took off to Paris without him. She ended up living in London, and nothing much is known about her from that time. Apparently she died in 1912 at the age of 36.  Her biographer speculates that opium, alcohol and sleeping medication contributed to her death.*

A photograph of Ethel Reed by Frances Benjamin Johnston, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 1896

A photograph of Ethel Reed by Frances Benjamin Johnston, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 1896

A photograph of Ethel Reed by Frances Benjamin Johnston, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 1896

* “The Beautiful Poster Lady, A Life of Ethel Reed” by William S. Peterson, Oak Knoll Press, 2013

** Biography on the Smithsonian website by Helena E. Wright, the Curator of Graphic Arts in the Division of Culture and the Arts at the Smithsonian Art Museum

Ethel Reed, Newburyport, Art and Beauty

Clarence Fogg, Mayor of Newburyport 1915-1916

The portrait of Clarence Fogg, hanging in Newburyport City Hall

The portrait of Clarence Fogg, hanging in Newburyport City Hall

The portrait of Clarence Fogg, hanging in Newburyport City Hall

In my hunt for forgotten folks in Newburyport and where they lived, I came across Clarence Fogg. Mr. Fogg was born in 1853 (that would make him slightly younger, 7 years, than Abbie Foster, see earlier post, who was born in 1846) and died in 1936 at the age of 83. As a young man he was a sailor “at which time he visited most of the principal seaports of the world.” *  When he came back home he worked as a shoe cutter in the Dodge shoe factory.

And in 1896 there is this lovely account of in the Newburyport Daily News about a birthday party given for Clarence’s son.

Raiised A Flag. Clarence Fogg Celebrated Birthday Anniversary in Patriotic Manner

There was a flag raising on Milk street Saturday afternoon when the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Fogg  celebrated his 10th birthday. There were about 50 people present and Capt. William Reed was master of ceremonies.

Miss Tula, daughter of Prentiss Reed, spoke several appropriate selections. Mr. Fogg had erected a large flag pole in his yard while the party sang the “Star Spangled Banner,” a beautiful American flag was unfurled from the top mast. After the flag raising a lunch was served and a merry time was enjoyed.” **

A Clipping from the Newburyport Daily News June 22, 1896

A Clipping from the Newburyport Daily News June 22, 1896

Clipping from the Newburyport Daily News June 22, 1896

The Newburyport City Directory shows that Clarence Fogg lived in what was then numbered as 33 Milk Street, it is numbered 43 Milk Street today (a big thank you to our Newburyport Assessors Office for helping me figure that out).

43 Milk Street, Newburyport

43 Milk Street, Newburyport

43 Milk Street, Newburyport

Clarence became involved in Newburyport city and Massachusetts state government. He was elected to the old common council in 1900 and served the next year on the board of alderman.* He served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives (then called the Massachusetts General Court) from 1902 to 1908.  And in 1915 and 1916 he was elected as the Mayor of Newburyport.

The Newburyport City Directory has Clarence Fogg living at 110 State Street during the time that he was mayor.

110 State Street, Newburyport

110 State Street, Newburyport, Google Maps

110 State Street, Newburyport

Clarence Fogg, courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center

Clarence Fogg, courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center

Clarence Fogg, courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center

* The Newburyport Daily News, September 28, 1936
** The Newburyport Daily News, June 22, 1896

And a big “thank you” to Ghlee Woodworth for helping me locate Clarence Fogg’s portrait at Newburyport City Hall

An Old Photo of Abbie Foster’s House, 74 High Street, looking towards Horton Street

An old photo of 74 High Street Courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center

An old photo of 74 High Street Courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center

An old photo of 74 High Street Courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center

Sharon Spieldenner from the Archival Center at the Newburyport Library (I love, love, love the Archival Center) found an old photo of Abbie Foster’s house and sent it to me. There are two posts on Abbie Foster one all about her and that she built this fancy mansion at 74 High Street in 1895, and a second one on how she came up with the money to pay for her glorious Queen Anne fancy mansion.

Sharon didn’t know the exact date of the old photo of 74 High, but it looks like it’s early. I love it, I think it’s so cool, so wonderful and so thoughtful of Sharon and the Archival Center to keep their eyes open for Abbie’s house.

And this is what 74 High Street looks like today.

What 74 High Street looks like today

What 74 High Street looks like today

What 74 High Street looks like today

There is a little street behind 74 High  called Foster Court, named after Abbie Foster, that looks towards Horton Street (and there is a post all about Horton Street on The Newburyport Blog). In the old photo there is a field, a beautiful field. Here is the detail of the photo.

A detail of the field behind 74 HIgh Street

A detail of the field behind 74 HIgh Street

A detail of the field behind 74 HIgh Street

This is what that field, now Foster Court, looks like today. It looks a little different. And you can see the same house at the very end that is in the old photo, which is 9 Horton Street. (It is possible to make out two other houses that look  the same as well.)

Looking towards Horton Street today

Looking towards Horton Street today

Looking towards Horton Street today

And here is a closeup of 9 Horton Street today. It’s almost exactly the same as when it was built in 1890. I love it.

9 Horton Street today

9 Horton Street today

 9 Horton Street today

And here is photo of 76 High Street which is on the left of the old photo. It looks to me as if it is the same house and has been expanded.

76 High Street

76 High Street

76 High Street

And here is a detail of the edge of the old photograph from the Archival Center with 76 High Street on it.

A detail of the photograph with the side of 76 High Street

A detail of the photograph with the side of 76 High Street

A detail of the photograph with the side of 76 High Street

And here is a detail with the house itself.

Detail of 74 High Street

Detail of 74 High Street

Detail of the photograph of 74 High Street with just the house

Rev. Thomas Cary and 182 High Street, Newburyport, MA

One of the things that I liked the best about “If This House Could Talk,” which happened this summer, were the posters about the houses with portraits of people who lived or worked in them. I was so excited to find Stephen Hooper’s (see earlier post) portrait, that I thought I would start with a portrait and see if I could find a house to go with it. I Googled “Portrait, Newburyport” and came up with the name “Rev. Thomas Cary.” Rev. Cary was quite a guy, but I couldn’t find a house that he might have lived in — and that was the whole point, so I just dropped it. And then, working on another “mystery” I stumbled, out of the blue stumbled, on a deed with his name on it. It was a 1871 deed. Go figure.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has a portrait by the Rev. Thomas Cary — the MFA, really. The portrait was done in 1770,  probably when he received his part of the inheritance from his father. **

 Reverend Thomas Cary of Newburyport, 1770–1773 by John Singleton Copley, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Reverend Thomas Cary of Newburyport, 1770–1773 by John Singleton Copley, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Reverend Thomas Cary of Newburyport, 1770–1773 by John Singleton Copley, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Thomas Cary was born  October 7, 1745 in Charlestown, Massachusetts. He went to Harvard with Stephen Hooper (really!!)**, and has been described as a “man of wealth.”*  Thomas became the minister of the First Church of Newburyport (now the Unitarian Church on Pleasant Street) on May 11, 1768 in the original meeting house (not the church that exists today), which was 45 by 60 feet and stood in the “market place with the steeple fronting the river and faced Fish Street” which is now State Street.* His parish was described as “the best in the port” with a membership that reached 2,000.** In 1775 he married  Esther Carter of Newburyport who died in 1779.  His second wife was Deborah Prince of Exeter, New Hampshire. He had a total of 11 children, two who survived, one from each wife.**

The top of the handwritten address that was delivered by Rev. Thomas Cary

The top of the handwritten address that was delivered by Rev. Thomas Cary

The top of the handwritten address that was delivered by Rev. Thomas Cary for the ordination of Samuel Spring as the minister of the Second Congregational Church of Newburyport on August 6, 1777, Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School

The complete handwritten 1777 address by Rev. Thomas Cary

The complete handwritten 1777 address by Rev. Thomas Cary

The complete handwritten 1777 address by Rev. Thomas Cary, Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School

In 1788 Cary had a stroke from which he partially recovered, and was assisted at the church by the Rev. John Andrews as a “colleague-pastor.”  He died on  November 24, 1808.  In a memorial Thomas was described as, “A good and respected citizen, a kind husband, a most affectionate father and a most ardent friend. He was just, candid and sincere, charitable without ostentation, affable without pride, proving his faith by his works, and looking to Jesus for his reward.” ***

I found several references that he lived on High Street, and that his funeral started at his home on High Street and proceeded to the church where he had been the minister for so many years.

An excerpt from the 1871 deed

An excerpt from the 1871 deed

An excerpt from the 1871 deed

And quite by chance I came across a 1871 deed with Rev. Thomas Cary’s name in it. ****  I was so excited. It was for a house on High Street and I matched the names Ebenezer Moseley and Edward Moseley on the deed with names on Newburyport Historic Survey for 182 High Street. It could be a match and I’m going with that.

Exterior of 182 High Street, 2007

Exterior of 182 High Street, 2007

The exterior of 182 High Street taken in 2007

Interior of 182 High Street, 2007

Interior of 182 High Street, 2007

The interior of 182 High Street taken in 2007

182 High Street was built in 1792 and Cary died in in 1808, so obviously he lived somewhere else (I have no idea where) before that. And 182 High Street is a gorgeous house, the photos are from 2007 when it was last bought. And from everything I hear, the house has been magnificently restored. I think Rev. Thomas Cary would be very pleased.

The 1775 Deed given to Thomas and Esther

And as a PS:  With some extra searching I found the 1775 deed that was given to Thomas and Esther by Esther’s father, Nathaniel Carter for what must have been a wedding present (obviously it is not the 1790 house at 182 High which was built later – a mystery on that one).

Excerpt of the 1775 Deed given to Thomas and Esther Cary from Esther’s father, Nathaniel Carter

Excerpt of the 1775 Deed to Thomas and Esther Cary from Esther's father, Nathaniel Carter

Excerpt of the 1775 Deed to Thomas and Esther Cary from Esther’s father, Nathaniel Carter

Here is a transcript of part of the 1775 deed (Page: 134 & Book: 148) from Nathaniel Carter “in consideration of the love and affection I bear to my son-in-law Thomas Cary and to Esther his wife my daughter land lying in Newbury-Port containing about two and a quarter acres with the dwelling house barn thereon on a highway called High Street”  August 12, 1775

________________________________________________________________________

At the end of Rev. Thomas Cary’s life his house was described as:

“The mansion house of said deceased with the buildings belonging to and land adjoining the same: $10,000” ($10,000 was a lot of money back then).

With a “North room, East Room, Study, East Chamber, Entry, West Chamber, South West Chamber , South Chamber, Upper chambers, South Kitchen, North Kitchen, Cellar”

(Probate Record of 1808)

Description of Rev. Thomas Cary's house 1808

Description of Rev. Thomas Cary’s house 1808

_________________________________________________________________________

*A history of the First Religious Society in Newburyport, Massachusetts,  Minnie Atkinson , 1933

** John Singleton Copley in America, Metropolitan Museum of Art , 1995

*** ‪A Sketch of the History of Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury, from 1635 to 1845‬, Joshua Coffin, 1845

**** Salem Deeds:  Book: 824 Pages: 124 & 125, and Book: 823 Pages 182 & 183

Riches to Rags, Alice Hooper (Fowle Cutler), Newburyport, MA

After I put up the post on Stephen Hooper (see earlier post) I got an email about his sister, a clue, which, with some research, gave me a huge glimpse/understanding of what his life must have been like back then in the second part of the 1700s.

Portrait of Alice Hooper, 1763, by John Singleton Copley

Portrait of Alice Hooper, 1763, by John Singleton Copley

Portrait of Alice Hooper (Stephen Hooper’s sister), 1763, by John Singleton Copley, The Milwaukee Art Museum

Stephen Hooper had a number of brothers and sisters, including two sisters who came to Newburyport.  Ruth, who married Tristram Dalton (The Dalton Club, that Dalton) and Alice, who first married Jacob Fowle Jr, and then as a widow married Joseph Cutler. Stephen, Alice and Ruth were the children of Robert “King” Hooper (see earlier post) the wealthiest merchant in Marblehead.

Alice Hooper Fowle Cutler is not one of those Newburyport folks who has been forgotten. A brief biography is on the website of St. Paul’s Church and she is mentioned on the website of the Clipper Heritage Trail. John Singleton Copley did a portrait of her that now hangs in the Milwaukee Art Museum, which was painted around 1763, depicting the young lady who was at that time seventeen years old, and whose portrait was painted in honor of her engagement to Jacob Fowle, Jr.

Alice moved in the same social circles as her brother Stephen Hooper, her sister Ruth (Mrs. Tristram Dalton) and their friends such as Nathaniel Tracy (Tracy mansion, the Newburyport Library, that Tracy).

I found this incredible and fascinating description of what life was like for these then “rare and important” people in Newburyport in the second half of the 1700s in Newburyport.

“Tristram Dalton, on his marriage with Miss Hooper, of Marblehead (Ruth), reached home (Newburyport) in this style: “His splendid new carriage was drawn by six white horses, decorated with white feathers; they hold four outriders, and footman and coachman dressed in new liveries.” So they rode down State Street, with the carriage-top thrown back.” *

And this extraordinary and really interesting description of Nathaniel Tracy:

“Nathaniel Tracy’s education was the best the country could afford. He was graduated at Harvard in 1769, and was in the vigor of his early manhood during the Revolution. His residence was the building on State Street now used for the Public Library, and, with his means and cultivated taste, it was one of the most attractive places in the Commonwealth. It abounded in all that heart could wish. His slaves — for that was the era of negro slavery in Massachusetts — served the guests at his tables, and they were not unfrequently the most distinguished men of this and foreign lands. His carriages, with liveried drivers, six in hand, and outriders, were such as have never been seen in the town since his day. He owned several country seats, summer retreats, hunting-grounds, and fine fish-ponds, with other conveniences and attachments such as would have become a British lord.” *

What is amazing is that Stephen Hooper’s father, Robert “King” Hooper, was bankrupt when he died. Stephen Hooper’s fortune was only a fraction of what it was when he died in 1802. Both Tristram Dalton and Nathaniel Tracy lost everything by the time that they died.  Yikes.

32 Green Street, Newburyport, MA

32 Green Street, Newburyport, MA, Google Maps

32 Green Street, Newburyport, MA

Alice and her second husband, Joseph Cutler, settled at 32 Green Street in 1787, a gorgeous Georgian three story brick building that still exists today.

According to the gentleman who emailed me, both of Alice’s husbands when they died left her with children, no fortune, and no means of support. Apparently she ran a rooming house in that beautiful building on the corner of Washington Street and Green Street as a way to make ends meet.  According to the Newburyport’s historic survey on the house, as well as the deed, in 1810, the house was divided in two, and Alice must have lived in one half and the wife and heirs of Joseph Bartlett lived in the other half.  Alice died in 1826 at the age of 81.  Alice is buried at St. Paul’s church between her two husbands, Joseph Cutler on the left and Jacob Fowle Jr on the right. ( Joseph Cutler died in 1801 and her first husband Jacob Fowle Jr died in 1778.)

Alice's grave at St Paul's Church in Newburyport, between the graves of her two husbands, Joseph Cutler on the left and Jacob Fowle Jr. on the right.

Alice’s grave at St Paul’s Church in Newburyport, between the graves of her two husbands, Joseph Cutler on the left and Jacob Fowle Jr. on the right.

Alice’s grave at St Paul’s Church in Newburyport, between the graves of  her two husbands, Joseph Cutler on the left and Jacob Fowle Jr. on the right.

* “‪Standard History of Essex County, Massachusetts‬: ‪Embracing a History of the County from Its First Settlement to the Present Time, with a History and Description of Its Towns and Cities. The Most Historic County of America‬” by  ‪Cyrus Mason Tracy‬,  ‪Henry Wheatland‬, ‪C. F. Jewett & Company‬, 1878

The Two Schoolhouses that Once were near Frog Pond on the Bartlet Mall, Newburyport, MA

The School House and Pond Street, Bartlet Mall, Newburyport, MA

The School House and Pond Street, Bartlet Mall, Newburyport, MA

When I ended up researching Pond Street, on the 1851 map there are a lot of things on Bartlet Mall which do not exist today, including two schoolhouses. I went on a hunt at the Newburyport Archival Center at the Library and I found a wealth of photos that I had never, ever seen before of Frog Pond and the Bartlet Mall. I never knew that there was one schoolhouse on the Bartlet Mall, much less two.

The photograph at the top of the post shows the school house at the “southerly end” of the Mall, the statue of George Washington in front, and at the left, the center chimney two story house where Stephen Hooper lived  (see previous post).

The 1851 map that shows the two schoolhouses and the houses along Frog Pond.

1851 Map showing the schoolhouses

1851 Map showing the schoolhouses

In 1796 the good people of Newburyport voted to build a brick schoolhouse at the “southerly end” of the Mall on land owned by the town near Frog Pond.  A second story was added to the schoolhouse in 1809.*

The 1796 Schoolhouse, from the “History of Newburyport Mass: 1764-1905, Volume 1,”  by John James Currier

The 1796 Schoolhouse

The 1796 Schoolhouse from the “History of Newburyport Mass: 1764-1905, Volume 1,” by John James Currier

The front of the 1796 School house, courtesy of the Archival Center, the Newburyport Public Library.

The 1796 Schoolhouse courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center

The 1796 Schoolhouse courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center

The back of the 1796 Schoolhouse, courtesy of the Archival Center, the Newburyport Public Library.  The Courthouse is in front.

The back of the 1796 School house, courtesy of the Archival Center, the Newburyport Public Library.

The back of the 1796 School house, courtesy of the Archival Center, the Newburyport Public Library.

The back of the 1796 School house, Frog Pond and the Courthouse courtesy of the Archival Center, the Newburyport Public Library.

The back of the 1796 School house, Frog Pond and the Courthouse courtesy of the Archival Center, the Newburyport Public Library.

And in 1823 a new brick school building was built on the northwesterly side of the Mall.*

The 1823 Schoolhouse, from the "History of Newburyport Mass: 1764-1905, Volume 1," by John James Currier

The 1823 Schoolhouse, from the “History of Newburyport Mass: 1764-1905, Volume 1,” by John James Currier

The windmill (that can been seen on the 1771 survey of Frog Pond) was moved near the burying ground in 1774, when the hill was cut down as a training field.*

The 1771 survey of Frog Pond from "History of Newburyport Mass: 1764-1905, Volume 1," by John James Currier

The 1771 survey of Frog Pond from “History of Newburyport Mass: 1764-1905, Volume 1,” by John James Currier

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The statue of George Washington was given to the city in 1878 by Daniel I. Tenney, a Newburyport jeweler and silversmith, with a rededication ceremony in 1879 on George Washington’s birthday.*

In 1868 the one-story school house was destroyed by a fire. And in1883 the two-story brick schoolhouse was sold at auction and taken down the following summer. And in 1882, the house owned by Stephen Hooper (see previous post) was sold and removed.*

State and High Street with Pond Street on the left.

State and High Street with Pond Street on the left courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center.

State and High Street with Pond Street on the left courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center.

This is a detail of a photograph from the Archival Center at the Newburyport Library taken from State Street that shows High Street on the right and Pond Street on the left. The streets look like they are possibly dirt or gravel and not paved the way that the roads are today. The statue of George Washington and the schoolhouse are in the center.

I look at the two story schoolhouse in back of the George Washington statue and think how much we would value that building today. It breaks my heart that it was removed because I love, love, love it, and I wonder how many different ways we could think to re-purposed that beautiful building in this particular moment in time.

The houses on Frog Pond, courtesy of the Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library.

The houses on Frog Pond, courtesy of the Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library

The houses on Frog Pond, courtesy of the Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library

And here are the houses that were on Frog Pond (for more detail see previous post). A lot of people, including me, wondered about the houses behind the ones on Frog Pond that were eventually taken down. And they still exist – 17 Pond Street, 19-21 Pond Street and 23 Pond Street which today, if you are standing in front of CVS are to the right towards Low Street.

17 Pond Street, 19-21 Pond Street and 23 Pond Street today.

17 Pond Street, 19-21 Pond Street and 23 Pond Street today

17 Pond Street, 19-21 Pond Street and 23 Pond Street today, Google Maps

*”History of Newburyport Mass: 1764-1905, Volume 1,”  by John James Currier

Stephen Hooper and the Houses by Frog Pond, Newburyport, MA

Detail of the 1851 Map of Newburyport showing houses on the Bartlet Mall across from where CVS is now located.

Detail of 1851 Map of Newburyport showing houses by the Bartlet Mall

Detail of 1851 Map of Newburyport showing houses by the Bartlet Mall

When I ended up researching Pond Street (see previous post), on the 1851 map there are a lot of things on Bartlet Mall which do not exist today, including houses. So I went on a hunt at the Newburyport Archival Center at the Library and I found a wealth of photos that I had never, ever seen before of Frog Pond and the Bartlet Mall, including photos of the houses that were once on the Mall by Frog Pond.

Houses Across from CVS once on the Bartlett Mall, detail courtesy of the Archival Center at the Newburyport Library.

Houses Across from CVS once by Frog Pond the Bartlet Mall, detail courtesy of the Archival Center at the Newburyport Library.

Houses Across from CVS once by Frog Pond the Bartlet Mall, detail courtesy of the Archival Center at the Newburyport Library.

And I wanted to know all about those houses, or at least something about those houses, but there is no address (somewhere on Pond Street across from CVS is not a Newburyport address). Somehow, when I Googled “Frog Pond, Newburyport” I got the name Stephen Hooper — no clue who in the world Stephen Hooper was.

I went to FamilySearch.org (which is free btw) and put in Stephen Hooper, Newburyport, which gave me a start, at least the right century, which was the 1700s.

And then I went to the new archived newspapers, which are now online, from the Archival Center, put in “Stephen Hooper” and found out that in 1856 the Newburyport Daily Herald had this to say, “Its (the Free Mason Lodge, now located on Green Street) first Master was Stephen Hooper and its second Nathaniel Tracy two eminent and wealthy merchants who will always be remembered in our history.”

A lot/most/many folks in Newburyport may know or heard of Nathaniel Tracy (as in Tracy Mansion, the Newburyport Library), but Stephen Hooper??  I’m pretty sure that Stephen Hooper is one of those folks, although he was “rare and important” at the time, has long been forgotten. So, it was time to find out who in the world Stephen Hooper was.

Somehow I figured out that Stephen Hooper and Tristram Dalton were acquainted (Tristram Dalton as in the Dalton House, The Dalton Club on State Street, that Tristram Dalton), and that Tristram had married the daughter of Marblehead’s wealthiest merchant, who turns out to have been Ruth Hooper, who was the sister of Stephen Hooper. So that means that Stephen was the son of the wealthiest merchant in Marblehead. And then, when I figured that out, things started to fall into place.

Stephen’s father was Robert “King” Hooper of Marblehead. Robert’s house is now the Marblehead Art Association, and his portrait was done by none other than John Singleton Copley, which is now in the Pennsylvania Academy for Fine Arts (museum) so we know what he looks like, and the portrait is pretty grand.

Robert “King” Hooper, by John Singleton Copley

Robert "King" Hooper, by John Singleton Copley

Robert “King” Hooper, by John Singleton Copley

I found in John James Currier’s book* this piece of information “Stephen, son of Robert Hooper, graduated at Harvard college in 1761, and came to Newbury soon after that date. He married Sarah Woodbridge October 10, 1764, owned and occupied a dwelling house on the southerly side of Frog Pond in Newburyport.”  Eureka!!

And I also found this in as essay by Martha J. McNamara** on Frog Pond,  “Domestic buildings at Frog Pond included a two-story, center-chimney house owned by Stephen Hooper.” Another Eureka!

Stephen Hooper’s two-story, center-chimney house on Frog Pond, detail courtesy of the Archival Center at the Newburyport Library. (And I think that the house is at the left in the photo at the top of the post, and the twin chimney is a later dwelling.)

Stephen Hooper's two-story, center-chimney house, detail courtesy of the Archival Center at the Newburyport Library

Stephen Hooper’s two-story, center-chimney house, detail courtesy of the Archival Center at the Newburyport Library

And then there is this map from 1771 that shows Hooper’s land on Frog Pond (which is found in both accounts by Currier and McNamara). Pretty cool. You can see the outline of Stephen Hoopers land, a drawing of his house, which would have been across from what is now CVS.

Survey by John Vinal of “Plan of land and Buildings in the Vicinity of Frog Pond,” 1771, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport.

Survey by John Vinal of "Plan of land and Buildings in the Vicinity of Frog Pond," 1771, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport.

Survey by John Vinal of “Plan of land and Buildings in the Vicinity of Frog Pond,” 1771, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport.

Who is Stephen Hooper? This is one of my favorite description of who he was, “Merchant and shipbuilder, son of Robert “King” Hooper of Marblehead, settled in Newburyport and became one of the town’s most prominent residents. Active in the West Indies trade, he was a partner in numerous privateering ventures during the Revolution. Although in 1786 he was the second richest man in Newburyport, by 1790 his net worth was only a fraction of what it once had been.” (From of all places, “The Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States, Volume 6,” Columbia University Press, By Maeva Marcus).

And I found a portrait of Hooper done by Henry Pelham (the stepbrother of John Singleton Copley), a miniature, set in gold,  painted in 1773, it’s a watercolor on ivory and it’s in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I’m not kidding.

Stephen Hooper, by Henry Pelham, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Stephen Hooper, by Henry Pelham, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Stephen Hooper, by Henry Pelham, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

There is a portrait of Hooper’s wife by Copley, which was loaned to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston around 1911, but it’s in a private collection, so there is no way to see what she looks like.

And Stephen Hooper moved in the rarified society of Newburyport, he “hung out” with folks like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Aaron Burr, General Lafayette, and yet, now in 2016, it’s really, really hard to find out much of anything about Stephen Hooper, an eminent and wealthy merchant who it was thought would always be remembered in our city’s history. There is Dalton Street, the Dalton House, Tracy Mansion (the Newburyport Library) all reminders of his contemporaries, business partners, brother-in-law, friends, but no hint that I know of, that Stephen Hooper was once a “player” in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Signature on a letter dated 1776 by Stephen Hooper

Signature on a letter dated 1776 by Stephen Hooper

Signature on a letter dated 1776 by Stephen Hooper

Piece of the envelope for the letter from Hooper, Newburyport 1776

A Piece of the envelope for the letter from Hooper, Newburyport, 1776

A Piece of the envelope for the letter from Hooper, Newburyport, 1776

*”History of Newburyport Mass: 1764-1905,” 1906, by John James Currier

**”From Common Land to Public Space: The Frog Pond and Mall at Newburyport, Massachusetts, 1765-1825″ by Martha J. McNamara, in “Shaping Communities, Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture,” The University of Tennessee Press, 1997

Romance, Politics, the Civil War Statue and a House on Pond Street, Newburyport, MA

Civil War Statue at Atkinson Common - Newburyport, MA

Atkinson Common – Newburyport, MA. Detail of a photograph by Scott Patterson of the Civil War Statue (found on flickr, the Creative Commons (CC) license)

One of the things that I love about “If This House Could Talk,” is that the stories that were told were not of Newburyport residences who Newburyport tends to think of as “rare and important,” but of folks, regular folks who had compelling stories, and people who had long been forgotten and who were remembered once more.  In looking for the next story, I was researching the Civil War statue at Atkinson Common and came across a name, “Walter B. Hopkinson,” and I thought, “Let’s find out about him.”

Atkinson Common, courtesy of the Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library

Atkinson Common, courtesy of the Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library

Alice Tappan Whittier Hopkinson

Walter B. Hopkinson was born in 1866 and was the son of William N. Hopkinson who served in the Civil War and lived at 339 High Street. As a very young man Walter married Alice Tappan Whittier. They lived at Bartlett Spring Farm, which if you go towards Maudslay State Park from Three Roads on Ferry Road, and go right (instead of left towards Maudslay) over the bridge, you end up where the the MerrimacK River bends towards the mouth of the river, and that is where the farm was located. It must have been gorgeous.  Alice, who was described as a “lady of rare accomplishments and universally beloved,” died in 1898, leaving young Walter Hopkinson a widow.

Where Bartlett Spring Farm would have been,

Where Bartlett Spring Farm would have been, Google Maps

Eleanor S. Hopkinson

Evidently Walter fell in love again, this time with his younger sister’s good friend Eleanor Robinson.  Walter was very much involved with the Republican party. And I found this wonderful story in The Chicago Tribune, Friday, June 22, 1900.

“THE CONVENTION BRIDE

Although Walter B. Hopkinson of Newburyport , Mass., has not attracted great attention on the floor of the Republican convention at Philadelphia, few of the delegates have the object of more interest. Mr. Hopkinson’s claim to fame lies in the fact that he brought with him to Philadelphia  the only bride who attended the convention. According to the current story Mr. Hopkinson has been engaged for several years to Miss Eleanor Robinson of Newburyport, but has had great difficulty in getting the young woman to name the day. Finally he determined on desperate measures. “I am going to be a candidate for election as a delegate to the National convention.” he said one evening. “If you will consent to fixing our marriage at an early enough date I will take you with me if I am chosen.” Miss Eleanor consented, and then Mr. Hopkinson had a bad week or two, during which time he feared he might not be successful in getting the appointment. He was finally chosen, however, and the couple ate their wedding breakfast in Philadelphia last Monday morning. After the breakfast some of the Massachusetts delegation heard how matters stood and arranged a reception, which was attended by all the Massachusetts men, including Senator Lodge, who made handsome little speech of congratulation. National Committeeman Sam Fessenden of Connecticut, and other notables. Since the reception Mrs. Hopkinson has been known as the  ‘convention bride.’ ”

The Chicago Tribune: Friday, June 22, 1900

Walter B. Hopkinson, from the 1900 Chicago Tribune

Walter B. Hopkinson, from the 1900 Chicago Tribune

Walter B. Hopkinson was the 42nd mayor of Newburyport

I found out by chance in my search that Walter B. Hopkinson also became the 42nd mayor of Newburyport from 1917-1918. Apparently at the time he was “rare and important” –  just now completely forgotten, who knew? So I went to the Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library where they have a history, written by Todd Woodworth, of all the mayors of Newburyport, and yup, Walter B. Hopkinson turns out the be a very important person in the history of our city. Again, who knew? And how quickly “we forget.” Walter’s portrait hangs in the foyer in City Hall, right by the stairs on the right hand side as you go upstairs.

It turns out that Walter was a descendant of one of the first settlers of Newbury (this is a very big deal). He was a tea importer, employed by a Boston firm for 40 years and was president of that firm for 12 years. He was mayor of Newburyport during World War I, from 1917-1918. And he was chairman of the committee which presented the Civil War Volunteer monument at Atkinson Common to the city, as well as presenting the Civil War tablets that are there. He researched records from all over the country to make sure that the list was accurate . Walter was also a Republican delegate to the national convention in Philadelphia in 1900 and an alternate delegate in 1904. And when he died all municipal flags were flown at half-mast, and the members of the city council met at City Hall and went to the funeral together. He died in 1946.

Portraits of four mayors of Newburyport, Walter B. Hopkinson is the portrait on the lower right hand side.

Portraits of four mayors of Newburyport, Walter B. Hopkinson is the portrait on the lower right hand side.

Portrait of Walter B. Hopkinson at Newburyport City Hall

Portrait of Walter B. Hopkinson at Newburyport City Hall

7 Pond Street

Walter and Eleanor lived at Bartlett Spring Farm, and in 1905 decide to move into town. They move to a lovely Victorian Queen Anne house, built around 1881 at 7 Pond Street. What’s really interesting is that the deed is not in Walter’s name, but is in Eleanor’s name and it stays that way until she, as a widow sells the home in 1949.  It is given to Eleanor for a dollar by Chauncey Dodge of the Newburyport Dodge Shoemaking empire (the story there – I have no idea, but another instance of a woman being given a piece of property for one dollar, like Abbie Foster of 74 High Street).

7 Pond Street, Newburyport, MA

7 Pond Street, Newburyport, MA – Google Maps

Everything is Infill

I went on a map hunt for Pond Street which is by the Bartlet Mall.  In the 1851 Map of Pond Pond Street and a large area close to Frog Pond is completely undeveloped.  According to the map, there is a school house where the George Washington statue now exists. Frog Pond is a different shape, and there are houses right next to Frog Pond.

1851 MAP

1851 Map

1851 Map

In the 1872 map, the railroad had come into the area (where CVS is now), but the lot where 7 Pond Street will be built is still empty. Walter and Eleanor’s house was built around 1881 and was part of 3 plots that were sold at that time.

1872 MAP

The Mall 1872 map

The Mall 1872 map

Detail of the 1872 map

Detail of the 1872 map

The 1924 map from the Newburyport City Assessors Office shows the area completely built up, and you can see where 7 Pond Street is located, along with the other three “developments,” three other beautiful Queen Anne homes.

1924 MAP

The 1924 map

The 1924 map

Detail of the 1924 map

Detail of the 1924 map

 

167 Water Street, Newburyport – Gordon Welchman (and Bossy Gillis too)

167 Water Street

167 Water Street

167 Water Street

This is another story discovered from “If This House Could Talk-Newburyport” – 167 Water Street.

167 Water Street, poster for “If This House Could Talk”

167 Water Street, poster for "If This House Could Talk"

167 Water Street, poster for “If This House Could Talk”

For those who remember the film “The Imitation Game” which was about how the German code was broken in during World War II, there was one person who was there and who was left out of the film – Gordon Welchman, a hero who along with his colleagues shortened the war by two years and saved millions of lives.  There is a recent documentary in 2015 by the BBC called “Bletchley Park: Code-breaking’s Forgotten Genius” about Gordon Welchman. It was aired on the Smithsonian Channel as “The Codebreaker Who Hacked Hitler.”

Book on Gordon Welchman

Book on Gordon Welchman

Book on Gordon Welchman

Gordon Welchman is a fascinating person and a very big deal. He moved to America and became an American citizen. In 1972 he moved to Newburyport and bought 167 Water Street. He died here in 1985. 167 Water Street is now a B&B and has a Gordon Welchman plaque.

Plaque for Gordon Welchman on 167 Water Street

Plaque for Gordon Welchman on 167 Water Street

Plaque for Gordon Welchman on 167 Water Street

The house next door was also part of “If This House Could Talk” and their sign gives the the information that the Greek Revival Row House (which includes where Gordon Welchman lived) was built in 1845 and was part of the factory complex of the James Steam Mill.

Poster for 169 Water Street – “If This House Could Talk”

Poster for 169 Water Street - "If This House Could Talk"

Poster for 169 Water Street – “If This House Could Talk”

1851 Map Showing Row Houses on Water Street

1851 Map Showing Row Houses on Water Street

1851 Map Showing Row Houses on Water Street

And in my hunt to find out a little bit more about 167 Water Street I discovered that in 1945 it was bought from the City of Newburyport by Bossy Gillis a multi-time mayor of Newburyport (Bossy Gillis has had books written about him – another big deal). And during “If This House Could Talk-Newburyport” Yankee Homecoming 2016, it turns out that Bossy Gillis owned two other properties that were documented in this very cool project. It doesn’t appear that Bossy Gillis actually lived at 167 Water Street, I’m guessing that he rented it out.

Bossy Gillis 1945 Deed for 167 Water Street

Bossy Gillis 1945 Deed for 167 Water Street

Bossy Gillis 1945 Deed for 167 Water Street

And the last fascinating tidbit that I found was that Bossy Gillis’s deed in 1945 was signed by the treasurer of Newburyport not the Mayor.  And 1992 it was brought before the City Council for clarification. The person who sponsored it was then City Councilor and future mayor Lisa Mead. Then City Councilor (and former mayor)  Ed Molin moved that it be approved and was then signed by mayor Peter Matthews. (There may be a story about Bossy Gillis’s 1945 deed, maybe a clerical error, I do not know.)

1992 Deed Claification by the Newburyport City Council

1992 Deed Claification by the Newburyport City Council

1992 Deed Claification by the Newburyport City Council

Bossy Gillis

Bossy Gillis

Bossy Gillis

Abbie Parish Noyes, Newburyport, MA

ABBIE PARISH NOYES

Abbie P. Noyes

Abbie P. Noyes

When I did all the research into Abbie Foster to find out all about her, one of the things that really struck me was how little valued women were, especially single women, during the time of my research which was from about 1850 to 1913. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised but I was. Abbie was an entrepreneur, she had a business downtown for over 10 years. She built a gorgeous house on High Street. Little praise would be an understatement, even in her obituary. Obituaries of married women were different, the church and civic organizations that they belonged to and a flattering portrait of their character were mentioned, but for Abbie Foster, none of that.

However, during the research for “If This House Could Talk,” I did find a lot of research on another Abbie, Abbie Parish Noyes who inherited 85 Lime Street. The glowing write-up was not in Newburyport, but in Utah. You got that right, Utah. Abbie P. Noyes was a missionary to the Mormons in Utah and she appears in the the book Women in Utah History. She also appears in the Utah Division of State History, in “The Abbie Parish Noyes Papers, A Register of the Collection at the Utah State Historical Society.”

85 LIME STREET

85 LIme Street

85 LIme Street

“Abbie Parish Noyes was born in Dedham, Massachusetts on 28 August 1861. Her parents are something of a mystery: her father was evidently a school teacher, for she later described her own teaching experiences to him as she would discuss them with a colleague. In an autobiographical sketch written later in life, she indicates that her mother died on 4 January 1871, yet her letters home during 1889-1890 are addressed to “Mother” or “Folks,” which seems to indicate that her father remarried and that she developed a close relationship with her stepmother. She also had a brother, James Young Noyes, who was born 7 March 1864. She visited and wrote to her brother in Colorado Springs during the school year of 1889-1890, while he was evidently a student at The Colorado College, another Western outpost of the Congregational Church, though he is not listed among that college’s alumni.

Illness and death seemed to plague the Noyes family during her youth. In addition to her mother, her paternal grandmother and an uncle died in January 1871. Most critical in terms of her own life, however, was the death of her mother’s father while Miss Noyes was visiting her grandparents in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Her grandmother was seriously afflicted with rheumatism and unable to care for herself and Miss Noyes agreed to live with and care for her. It must have been a difficult decision for she had just graduated from high school and a friend in Dedham, Miss Martha Burgess, had offered to finance her college education.

Miss Noyes stayed with her grandmother until her death eight years later. No doubt aware that she was devoting the best years of her youth to the care of an invalid, she determined to make the most of the situation and to mitigate her loss of college training by seizing any other educational opportunities that presented themselves. Her grandmother, fortunately, was herself well educated and appreciated Miss Noyes’ willingness to read aloud to her. During the summers, too, she took advantage of the close proximity of a Chatauqua program at Framingham and completed nearly the entire course for a diploma. Immediately upon her grandmother’s death, Miss Noyes wrote, “I felt myself free to offer myself to the New West Education Commission to teach in some one of their many schools.” The Commission accepted her application and sent her in 1889 to Ogden, Utah to teach in the Ogden Academy.” From the Utah State Historical Society.

So I was very impressed to see this young lady, who inherited 85 Lime Street get the credit she so richly deserved.

THE POSTER 85 LIME STREET FOR “IF THIS HOUSE COULD TALK”

Poster for 85 Lime Street "If This House Could Talk"

Poster for 85 Lime Street “If This House Could Talk”

All of this was discovered because of “If This House Could Talk.” The poster that the owners of 85 Lime Street made includes Abbie Noyes as well as the history of this beautiful house.

Abbie and her husband S. Foster Jaques along with their daughter Mildred Noyes Jaques are all buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Newburyport.

Where Abbie Foster got the Money to Build 74 High Street

74 HIgh Street, the house that Abbie Foster built

74 HIgh Street, the house that Abbie Foster built

A while back I wrote a post about Abbie Foster who built that beautiful, fancy mansion at 74 High Street. I found out that she was given the land for $1.00 but wasn’t able to figure out how a working/middle class, 48 year old lady got the kind of money to build such an amazing house. Well, I found out.

Ghlee Woodworth had suggested it was probably from an inheritance, but when I wrote the first piece on Abbie, I couldn’t figure out who might have given her that much money. Some more digging and mystery most probably solved.

Abbie married Daniel Foster in 1891. Daniel was 20 years older than she was and they were married for a couple of years before he died.

I found Daniel’s father’s will in the digitalized version of the newspapers, and it turns out that his father, Thomas Foster left everything to Daniel, with the hope  that if he had no children, he would like his money to be divided between various religious and civic groups.

During the time after his father’s death, Daniel seemed to lead a fairly modest life. He boarded and then eventually lived as a married man and died in Abbie’s maternal home at 14 Spring Street, which she shared with her sister Helen. No fancy stuff.

And then eureka, I then found Daniel’s will.  He left Helen, Abbie’s sister, $6,000, which was a whole lot of money back then, he left Abbie the rest of his estate and made her the executor of his will. He left various family members very small amounts of money.

Daniel’s family then, according to the newspapers, contested the will. They lost. Daniel clearly loved Abbie and liked her family a whole lot better than his own.

So that is how Abbie Foster came to be able to build that gorgeous Queen Anne Victorian at 74 High Street.

Young Victorian Woman

Young Victorian Woman

And it is so frustrating no to be able to find a photograph of Abbie. I did however find a couple of photographs of Victorian woman around the time Abbie would have been alive.  One is of Abbie P. Noyes (maybe more about her later) who was about Abbie’s same age and owned a Victorian home in the neighborhood on Lime Street. The other is of Frances Folsom Cleveland, the wife of President Grover Cleveland – a bit of a stretch, but I so much would like to give Abbie Foster of Newburyport who has been forgotten all these years a voice and a “face.”

Young Victorian Woman

Young Victorian Woman

Everything is Infill, Horton Street, Newburyport, MA

Horton Street form the Newburyport Historic Surveys.

Horton Street from the Newburyport Historic Surveys.

Doing research for “If This House Could Talk” (which was/is awesome) I learned a lot about our neighborhood.  Horton Street is a small Street that is just below High Street and runs between Federal and Lime Street.

THE OLD ALMSHOUSE

The old Almshouse, built in 1794, Newburyport, MA

The old Almshouse, built in 1794, Newburyport, MA

Most of that area was owned by the City of Newburyport and that is where the old Almshouse used to be with its gardens and orchards going all the way back to almost Lime Street. The old Almshouse was built in 1794 and was on the corner of what is now Prospect and Federal Streets. The Newburyport Archival Center has a photo of it, and the building looks gorgeous.

THE NEWBURYPORT HISTORIC SURVEY ON HORTON STREET

Horton Street, Newburyport HIstoric Surveys

Horton Street, Newburyport HIstoric Surveys Page 1

Horton Street, Newburyport HIstoric Surveys Page 2

Horton Street, Newburyport HIstoric Surveys Page 2

Reverend Horton left money in his will for a new Almshouse, and the old was was demolished in 1888. Horton Street was laid out in 1887.

REV. WILLIAM HORTON

Rev. William Horton

Rev. William Horton

The old Almshouse shows up on various maps.

1872 MAP

1872 Map showing the old Almshouse

1872 Map showing the old Almshouse

1884 MAP

1884 Map showing the old Almshouse

1884 Map showing the old Almshouse

1880 BIRDS EYE MAP

1880 Birds Eye Map showing the Old Almshouse

1880 Birds Eye Map showing the Old Almshouse

And then I found a 1900 map that show all the houses, all the new development, the incredible infill that had been built pretty much all at once on Horton Street and also along Federal Street and part of Prospect Street where the old Almshouse had once been.

1900 MAP

1900 Map showing Horon Street and all the new development

1900 Map showing Horon Street and all the new development

ONE OF THE HOUSES BUILT ON HORTON STREET

Horton Street House

Horton Street House

Victorian in Newburyport, Everything is Infill, 20 Orange Street

Alex Dardinski wrote awhile back ago that the during the Victorian era, Victorian architecture was what we would call “major infill” from about 1885-1900.  20 Orange Street, which is gorgeous (as well as 74 High Street, see earlier entry) was infill.

20 Orange Street

20 Orange Street

Craig Bobby a Victorian house enthusiast from Northeast Ohio contacted me and wanted to know if I could locate a house that he thought might be in Newburyport. And, yup, it is in Newburyport – 20 Orange Street, an absolutely gorgeous Victorian built around 1890. Mr. Bobby had matched the house to plans by an architect by the name of D. S. Hopkins, author of “Cottage Portfolio” and “Houses and Cottages.”

THE PLANS BY D.S. HOPKINS

Plans by architect D. S. Hopkins

Plans by architect D. S. Hopkins

Plans by architect D. S. Hopkins

Plans by architect D. S. Hopkins

Plans by architect D. S. Hopkins

Plans by architect D. S. Hopkins

I’ve included a detail from a 1851 map of Orange Street, and I’ve circled where the house is now. And, yes indeed, back in 1890 that house was major, major infill.  The house is now historic. Its original owner was Henry T. Moody. It is a Queen Anne Victorian and is part of the historic surveys done to make our small New England City a National Historic District.

THE 1851 MAP SHOWING THE LOCATION

Orange Street, Newburyport, 1851 Map

Orange Street, Newburyport, 1851 Map

THE NEWBURYPORT HISTORIC SURVEY

20 Orange Street,Henry Moody House, Newburyport Historic Survey

20 Orange Street,Henry Moody House, Newburyport Historic Survey

20 Orange Street,Henry Moody House, Newburyport Historic Survey

20 Orange Street,Henry Moody House, Newburyport Historic Survey

THE ORIGINAL 1889 DEED

The original 1889 Deed for 20 Orange Street, page 1

The original 1889 Deed for 20 Orange Street, page 1

The original 1889 Deed for 20 Orange Street, page 2

The original 1889 Deed for 20 Orange Street, page 2

20 Orange Street

20 Orange Street

The House that Abbie Built, Newburyport, MA, Abbie L. Currier, Abbie L. Foster 1846-1913

The house that Abbie Built

Abbie L. Foster's House, 74 High Street Newburyport, MA

Abbie L. Foster’s House, 74 High Street Newburyport, MA

Abbie Foster seems to be one of those forgotten people with an intriguing story, and the story so far has a huge hole. In 1895 Abbie Foster built a HUGE Victorian McMansion on High Street. I’ve figured out a whole lot about Abbie Foster, but not how she got an astounding amount of money at age 49 to build that glorious Queen Anne house.

I started to get curious about all of this thanks to Jack Santo’s project of “If This House Could Talk.” Jack is trying to get folks to write something very short about their house and put it on a poster board during this year’s Yankee Homecoming so that folks can walk around Newburyport and learn about the city’s history. It’s very cool.

I started to look into the history not only of my house but of our little Newburyport neighborhood.

In our neighborhood there is a short little dead-end street called Foster Court, and I found out that it was named after a woman, Abbie Foster.  I don’t know of any street in Newburyport that is named after a woman, so I wanted to know more.

Abbie Foster was born in Newburyport to David Currier a shoe maker and his wife Mary Currier in 1846. They were working/middle class folks, Abbie had one brother and two sisters. Her sister Helen Currier never married and they lived together all of their lives, either with their parents, then boarding with their mother and after their mother’s death, together.

I found an article in a 1886-1887 city directory about a “Fancy Goods” shop downtown, “A. L. Currier” and yup, that’s Abbie. Here it is:

Miss A. L. Currier, Laces, Trimmings, Jewelry, etc., No. 58 State Street. –The attractive lace, trimming, and jewelry establishment of Miss A. L. Currier, No. 58 State street (where the Book Rack is now, on the corner of Pleasant and State Streets), has for ten years been one of the popular shopping places for ladies of Newburyport and vicinity.  The store is arranged with taste, and the stock is always select and desirable.  Every fashionable article in laces, trimmings, gloves, and notions generally, the latest novelties in ladies’ fancy goods, and all kinds of elegant jewelry, are to be had here at lowest possible prices, and satisfaction is uniformly guaranteed.  Miss Currier is a very prompt and reliable business lady.  She is a native of Massachusetts.”

A description of Abbie's store from a 1886 City Directory

A description of Abbie’s store from a 1886 City Directory

Abbie was single until she was 44, and in 1891 she married Daniel Foster who was 60. This was Daniel’s second marriage, there were no children from his first. He came back to Newburyport in 1887 and seems to have boarded in different places, including where Abbie’s family lived, which was 14 Spring Street.  Daniel died in 1893 only 2+ years after they were married.  Abbie was a widow for 20 more years.

AFTER Daniel dies, in 1894 the heirs of Solomon Haskell and Mark Haskell gave Abbie the land that she built her house on on High Street and the land that what was once known as Haskell field and is now known as Foster Court. They gave the land to her for $1. Abbie gives the right of way to the City of Newburyport in 1898 and it is named after her because she owns the land. Foster Court does not show up on any map until 1940.

The first question I had was why in the world would these folks give land for a $1 to Abbie?  I talked to Ghlee Woodworth and Melissa Berry and they both suggested that there was probably a family connection between the Curriers and the Haskells. And yup, after a lot of digging around, there was a connection, and I’m going with that they were distant cousins, and they gave her the land. It’s the only thing that makes any sense.

And Ghlee Woodworth and Sharon from the Newburyport the Archival Center went and looked in City Hall for the tax records, and Abbie starts paying taxes on the land in 1896, which probably means she probably built the house in 1895, however, she did not take out a mortgage, so she must have built it with cash?  The tax records show that the house was worth $9,000 which in todays’ money is somewhere around $250,000 and $300,000 but the house itself in today’s market would be well over a million dollars. It’s a fancy place.  Abbie did take out a mortgage for $10,000 from the Institution for Savings in 1910. I have no idea why.

I looked into Daniel Foster, her husband, thinking maybe the money came from him. But if he had that kind of money, why did he board all those years, why not buy a house. I’ve included the write-up of Daniel as well as the write-up of Daniel’s father Thomas Foster, who among other things was a Revolutionary War hero, and owned N & T Foster with his brother Nathaniel Foster downtown in the building that is now called the Phoenix Building. Nathaniel was a clock and watch maker, and Thomas was one of the “old time” silver smiths, before Towle Silver existed, and many people apprenticed with him.  I thought the  money might have come from there. Some obviously did, but Thomas had a whole lot of children beside Daniel. I haven’t found Daniel’s will yet, it sounds like there was money, but not that kind of money, not the kind of money to build a High Street fancy mansion.

A write-up on Daniel Foster

A write-up on Daniel Foster

A write-up on Daniel Foster's Father, Thomas Foster

A write-up on Daniel Foster’s Father, Thomas Foster

Mark of N&T Foster Silver, Newburyport, MA

Mark of N&T Foster Silver, Newburyport, MA

The other person I thought might have helped Abbie was her brother Warren Currier who lived at 190 High Street.  Among other things he was Mayor of Newburyport from 1873-1874 and was a partner in Summer, Swasey and Currier a very successful shipping merchant business at 45 Water Street. I did find Warren’s will, and he gave Abbie maybe around $1,000, big bucks, but not enough money to build a $9,000 house on High Street.

Helen Currier, her unmarried sister who lives with her all her life and dies in 1901, living at 74 High Street, had first been a school teacher and then the principal at a school on School Street (I’m assuming it was or became the Jackman School). I looked up the salary of a woman teacher and it was miserable, enough to help support her mother and father, but not much more than that. No money there.

So Abbie builds this spectacular house at 74 High Street. The 1900 census shows that she lives there with her sister and a servant.  The 1910 census shows that she is living alone in that great big house with one servant. She lives there for 17 years. This is far, far away from where she grew up as a shoe-maker’s daughter.

And I found someone who knew someone who remembered Abbie, someone who lived in the neighborhood. He referred to her as “Old Lady Foster.” Abbie was in her 50’s and 60’s when she was referred to as “Old Lady Foster.”

And I found a write-up of her funeral. Not an obituary, and no obituary for her sister Helen.  A write-up. Here it is:  “The funeral of Mrs. Abbie Louise Foster, widow of Daniel Foster was held from her late residence, 74 High street, yesterday afternoon. Rev. C. S. Holton officiated. There was a large number of friends and relatives present.”  The pallbearers were her doctor, another doctor in town, her neighbor at 62 High Street and a clerk at one of the banks. No family.  It doesn’t include any glowing details of how wonderful she was, what church and organizations she belonged to the way many of the write-ups in the newspapers seemed to do (at least all the ones I saw when I was going on a hunt for Abbie’s obituary).

The write-up of Abbie Foster's funeral

The write-up of Abbie Foster’s funeral

And I asked around at the Archival Center at the Newburyport Library as to what folks thought it meant. I know when I moved here in 1981 there was still a very strong class system here in Newburyport. There was still the upper crust on High Street and then everyone else, and it was even more pronounced earlier in the century. “Old Lady Foster” for me is kind of a derogatory term. Maybe she “made it” and was accepted by the folks on High Street, or maybe not. I’m hoping that when the old newspapers from the 1890’s which are being digitalized by the Library’s Archival Center come back sometime this summer, maybe I’ll know more. Maybe I’ll find out some more answers about Abbie Foster and the house she built on High Street and where she got all that money.

Many thanks to the Newburyport Library’s Archival Center and all the wonderful people who work and volunteer there. I found a lot of stuff on Google and FamilySearch.org is pretty amazing along with Salem Deeds online, salemdeeds.com.

Truman Nelson, Newburyport, Historic Preservation, a Lost Story

On one of the Facebook Newburyport groups Dick Sullivan (former City Councilor and mayoral candidate) mentioned that Truman Nelson had played a big part in the restoration of Newburyport during Urban Renewal.

My response was that I did not have a clue who Truman Nelson was.  Another member of the group said that he was on the video about Newburyport, “A Measure of Change.”

Truman Nelson from "A Measure of Change"

Truman Nelson from “A Measure of Change”

This is Truman Nelson, the photo is from “A Measure of Change.” I’ve seen that video a ton of times and had never questioned who in the world he was.

And it’s hard to find out information on Truman Nelson.  Going to Salem Deeds Online, Mr. Nelson owned 2 homes in Newburyport on Olive Street, 23 Olive and 15-17 Olive, both bought back in 1966, before Urban Renewal.  Dick Sullivan remembers Mr. Nelson’s family at 23 Olive and Tom Kolterjahn remembers going to Mr. Nelson’s house at 15-17 Olive to talk about how to renovate the old homes in Newburyport that people were working on.

23 Olive Street, Newburyport, MA

23 Olive Street, Newburyport, MA, Google Maps

23 Olive Street is described as, “One of the oldest homes in Newburyport; built 1699. Five working fireplaces,wide pine board floors, gunstock corners, beautiful moldings and trim. Full bath up half bath down.” The information is from Zillow.

15-17 Olive Street, Newburyport MA

15-17 Olive Street, Newburyport MA, Google Maps

15-17 Olive Street is the John Burrill House, c 1790, There is a write up on the Massachusetts Historic Commission, as well as on the Historic Surveys on the City of Newburyport’s website.

And in my hunt to find out exactly who Truman Nelson was, I found this writeup on Amazon, The Truman Nelson Reader:

“Truman Nelson (1911-1987) was a self-educated novelist, essayist, lecturer, and social activist. He never finished high school and supported himself in his early years as a factory worker, labor organizer, actor, and playwright. Encouraged by F. O. Matthiessen, he turned to writing and in 1952 published his first historical novel, The Sin of the Prophet, a study of Theodore Parker and the Anthony Burns case. That book earned him his picture on the cover of Saturday Review and designation as the magazine’s “Writer of the Year.” Two novels soon followed: The Passion by the Brook (1953), on George Ripley and the communal movement at Brook Farm, and The Surveyor (1960), on John Brown’s abolition efforts in Kansas. These three novels established Nelson as a major writer on the history of American radical thought. His later essays and polemical writings were influential in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, when Nelson traveled, taught, lectured, and acted in the front lines of the struggle for racial equality.

In recent years, Nelson has been neglected by scholars, critics, and the general public, and many of his writings have been allowed to go out of print. The Truman Nelson Reader is intended to restore his voice and to prompt a reevaluation of his work. The collection brings together excerpts from Nelson’s published novels, selected essays, and a portion of his last, as yet unpublished, novel on John Humphrey Noyes, founder of the Oneida Colony. Also included are essays on William Lloyd Garrison, Henry David Thoreau, John Brown, and W.E.B. Du Bois, as well as selections from the 1960s: “The Torture of Mothers,” written after the first Harlem riots; “The Right of Revolution,” reportedly found on Ho Chi Minh’s desk at the time of his death; and “The Conscience of the North,” a meditation on Theodore Parker’s meaning for the civil rights movement.”

The Truman Nelson Reader

The Truman Nelson Reader

And I found this reference to Truman Nelson on Martin Nicolaus’s website, where he refers to Mr. Nelson’s preserving his colonial-era home in Newburyport:

“One of the speakers at the Town Hall rally after the Cuba trip was Truman Nelson. He was a high school dropout who worked in General Electric factories until he was 40, but meanwhile educated himself during long hours in public libraries and began writing fiction. His first book, The Sin of the Prophet, was published by Little, Brown; it told the story of the abolitionist intellectual Theodore Parker. When I met him, Nelson had recently finished The Surveyor, a novel about John Brown and the Harper’s Ferry raid. He was fiercely interested in Cuba and was a strong supporter of Robert F. Williams. He had just bought a colonial-era house in Newburyport, a short drive from Boston, and was busy removing generations of old paint to reveal the beautiful old woodwork underneath.”