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I am researching the family of my 6th great-grandfather Nathaniel Brown, who was in Framingham in 1761, and spent the remainder of his life in Sudbury, Massachusetts.  This is the first half of the search.  The next time I post about this, I expect to have formed an answer.  What follows is how the search has gone so far.

First, go see Midge

The first thing that I did was to visit the Goodenow Library special collections room in Sudbury, Massachusetts with genea-blogger Midge Frazel of “Granite in My Blood.”  Midge’s husband and I are 5th (?) cousins in the Parmenter line; by coincidence, the Parmenter brothers we are descended from, Elias and Ezra, married girls with the same last name, Eunice and Susannah Brown.  So we share this search.  Midge had located the correct names for Susannah’s parents: Nathaniel Brown and Elinor Hayden.  There was pretty good evidence for the marriage and Elinor’s family tree.  We consulted some books while we were there, including Descendants of Deacon John Parmenter, Proprietor of Sudbury, Massachusetts 1639, published by Pioneering Parmenters of America, 2009.   The question was, who exactly was Nathaniel Brown.

Goodenow Library, Sudbury

Goodenow Library, Sudbury, Fall, 2013

 The Browns

Of course we wondered, could Susannah and Eunice be sisters.  Both are listed as children of Nathaniel and Eunice Brown in the Sudbury “tan book” (Vital Records of Sudbury, Massachusetts to the Year 1850, published by the NEHGS, 1903) in the birth records section, on pages 25 and 27.  In the 1850 federal census, they were apparently living next door to each other in Sudbury (page 82 of 105), both widows, aged 70 and 79. The parents are mentioned in the marriage records for each.  So they certainly seem to be sisters. Coincidentally, I am also descended from a third sister, Abigail,

Brown was a common name in southern New England, so pinning down this Nathaniel Brown was not going to be easy.  Midge found a candidate in Nathaniel Brown of Newton, Massachusetts, son of Thomas Brown and Abigail Cheney.  The obvious things one would try first in the search for evidence – census records, vital records, town histories, cemetery records, newspapers and deeds – were raising more questions than answers.

As I waited around for the time to explore some probate and court records, I took stock of the situation.  I also have some probate microfilm on order.

The things we knew

Nathaniel and Brown and Elinor Hayden were married 29 Dec 1761.

Nathaniel Brown of Framingham and Elanor Hayden of Sudbury were married December 29th ... 1761.-  pr Israel Loring.  From Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620, Wayland marriages p105, on Ancestry.com

Nathaniel Brown of Framingham and Elanor Hayden of Sudbury were married December 29th … 1761.- pr Israel Loring. From Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, Wayland births, marriages and deaths, p204, on Ancestry.com.  Snip by Midge Frazel.

As best I have determined from the Sudbury town records, Nathaniel and Elinor (Hayden) Brown had the following children:

  • Elinor
  • Jonas
  • Hannah
  • Abigail
  • Susanna
  • Uriah
  • Thadde (us?), no death record found
  • Eunice
  • Thaddeus
  • Joel
  • Nancy

Looking at Elinor‘s family (names matching Elinor and Nathaniel’s children highlighted in green):

  • parents:  Uriah Hayden, Hannah (Jennings) Hayden.   Siblings:  Eunice, Moses, Abigail (2), Hepseba, Ephraim, Susannah, Jonas, Lydia, Uriah

This is a striking case of a mother naming the children after her parents and siblings.

Another solid piece of evidence is the sale of property in Sudbury from the estate of Elinor’s father, Uriah Hayden, to Nathaniel Brown in 1770.  This included 60 acres, a house and barn and seemed to be the farm of Uriah Hayden prior to his death.  The deed was recorded in 1784 in Sudbury, volume 88, pages 141 and 142.  I was startled to see the name “Jonas Brown” in the deed but then recalled it was not recorded until 1784, when Nathaniel’s son was 19. Nathaniel paid Uriah’s sons Ephraim and Uriah, and the widow Hannah a price of 100 pounds.  All the men are recorded as husbandmen (farmers).

This makes it appear that Nathaniel took over the Hayden farm fairly early in his marriage to Elinor.  That sounds like something a person would do if they were a younger son, or didn’t have a father as they reached adulthood.

The questions we ask

Based on what’s here so far, a few possibilities for solving this appear:

  • Who was Thaddeus named for?  and how about Joel and Nancy?
  • Could there be deeds telling more about Nathaniel’s activities in Framingham and Sudbury?
  • Based on a marriage date of 1761, could Nathaniel possibly have participated as a soldier in the Revolutionary War?
  • Could there be a guardianship record for Nathaniel as a child?
  • Death record or probate for Nathaniel?

I wondered if the Newton, Massachusetts family would include a Thaddeus.

  • These are the possible parents of Nathaniel Brown:  Thomas and Abigail (Cheney) Brown. They were both born and married in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in 1737 Thomas purchased property in Newton from his father, Ebenezer, and the family relocated there.
  • The children of Thomas and Abigail were:  Aaron, Joseph, Thomas, Ebenezer, Abigail, Mary, Susannah, and Nathaniel (youngest).

While a few of the names overlap with Nathaniel and Elinor’s children, there is not a Thaddeus, Joel or Nancy to be found.  So far, I am not coming up with enough evidence that the Nathaniel born to Thomas and Abigail in 1761 was indeed the Nathaniel who married Elinor Hayden.  But the family includes enough matching names, and shows Nathaniel as a youngest son who might not have inherited from his father.  So they are still in the running.

The Brown Garrison House, pictured in Hudson's History of Sudbury Massachusetts, 1889, p. 199.  So far, I have found no link from the early Sudbury Brownes to Nathaniel Brown.

The Brown Garrison House, pictured in Hudson’s History of Sudbury Massachusetts, 1889, p. 199. So far, I have found no link from the early Sudbury Brownes to Nathaniel Brown.

I tried searching for Revolutionary War records, first for Nathaniel Brown and then for a (hypothetical) Thaddeus Brown.  “Nathaniel Brown” appears numerous times in the Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors books (vol. 2, p. 668) and the entry dated in Sudbury is likely to be him, at least.  But Fold3.com does not show any records that seem likely to be Nathaniel.  Similar searches for Thaddeus Brown show a resident of the town of Harvard in Worcester County, Massachusetts who served in the Revolutionary War and later obtained a pension.  A Thaddeus Brown was born in Cambridge in 1746, son of William, and there were other Thaddeus Browns in eastern Massachusetts as well.  Nothing seems to link to a brother Nathaniel, or a Thaddeus Brown old enough to be Nathaniel’s father.

There is a Middlesex County probate record for Nathaniel Brown of Sudbury in 1798, Case Number 3151.  I have not seen this yet (I have ordered the microfilm from the FamilySearch Center), and for some reason I have not found his death in the Sudbury records.  I cannot find a death record or date for Elinor, either.  Her last child was born in 1786.

Early Massachusetts land records are available (although lacking an electronic index) at FamilySearch.org.  Framingham, Sudbury and Newton are all in Middlesex County so I focused my research there.  Other than the purchase of the Hayden property in 1770, the records I am finding do not seem certainly linked to this Nathaniel Brown.  Surely, there must be one for the sale after his death in 1798.

Next Steps

  • Look for land records from anywhere in Massachusetts that mention Nathaniel Brown among the heirs, selling a father’s property.  That will take a while.  Keep pursing the land records made on his property after his death.
  • Examine the probate records for Nathaniel Brown when the microfilm arrives.
  • Review the microfilm for a 1752 probate record naming a Nathaniel Brown in Cambridge which involves guardianship (when it arrives).  Perhaps Nathaniel lost his family early, and so didn’t think of naming his children for those relatives. The early Middlesex probate index is here on Ancestry.com, or try this download here on FamilySearch.org.
  • Look over the 1790 federal census for Sudbury and nearby towns, looking at the other Browns.
  • Also seek any Thaddeus in Sudbury in the 1790 census.
  • Keep trying to find any property Nathaniel might have owned in Framingham before his marriage (so far not finding any).
  • Learn more about the Newton couple, Thomas and Abigail Brown.  Look for a probate record for Thomas Brown of Newton; it may mention a location for son Nathaniel. If that fails, try to pursue the life of the Nathaniel Brown born to Thomas and Abigail of Newton – see if he can be eliminated.
  • Talk to Midge again.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/04/06/the-things-we-know/

An early Sudbury house built by the Parmenters, in a line more closely related to Midge's husband than to mine.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

An early Sudbury house built by the Parmenters, in a line more closely related to Midge’s husband than to mine. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

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When I was newer to genealogy, I was surprised to find that in my Parmenter lines, there was a lot of intermarriage.  When you go back into the 1600’s and 1700’s, it’s not at all unusual to find what genealogists call “pedigree collapse.” Normally, the number of individuals in the pedigree chart for any given person would be two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on.  When cousins, second cousins, or even fifth cousins marry, it shrinks the number of ancestors the children would have had – you could think of it as collapsing some segments.   In the history of the world, there has been plenty of this going on.  There still is, apparently, if Wikipedia is to be believed.

The medical effects of this have to do with the ability, in this environment, for recessive genetic traits to match and effect the next generation.  Even if the children are healthy, succeeding generations could be impacted.

My gggg-grandparents, Buckley Parmenter and Persis Hunt, were first cousins.  My grandmother is related to them in the following way:

Buckley Parmenter chart

With the Parmenters, this practice of marrying cousins went on for centuries.  Here is what happened, in my line:

Buckley and Persis were not only cousins, the previous generations had also intermarried

Buckley and Persis were not only cousins, the previous generations had also intermarried

A look at the chart barely tells the story.  Abigail Hayden and Elinor Hayden were sisters.  Joshua Parmenter and Persis Parmenter, who appear twice, were (gulp) cousins once removed – she was his cousin’s daughter.  As I uncovered all this originally, mostly from the compiled Parmenter book (Descendants of Deacon John Parmenter, published by Pioneering Parmenters of America Editorial Board, 2009)  I quickly turned away and started researching other lines.  So all of my information needs further verification.

I was so taken aback by this that I didn’t learn the story of Buckley Parmenter and the Wayside Inn for several years.  And in many other ways, stopping the research preventing me from finding the real story.  Buckley and Persis had a son who was blind, and yet, he made a living as a musician, and married twice. None of the children married cousins, although two of the daughters married two brothers by the name of Darling.  Buckley worked his whole life at Howe’s Tavern, and according to one census record, Persis worked there too, at least after the children were grown. I like to think of them working together, he fetching horses, shoveling snow, serving pints of cider, and she, making beds and waiting on tables.  When the owner died, Buckley and Persis moved in with their daughter, in Wrentham, Mass., and Persis died within a year or two.  From her death record (that mentions “paralysis, 2 years”), I have an idea that concern for Persis, and a medical condition that required extensive care from her family, prompted Buckley to leave the neighborhood of the Parmenters and go where two of the daughters were now living.  Buckley and Persis are buried with modest markers – which seem to have toppled and sunk into the ground long ago – at the cemetery behind the daughter’s house in Wrentham.  This just sounds, to me, like a couple that was genuinely close.

Longfellow's Wayside Inn, Sudbury, Massachusetts

Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, Sudbury, Massachusetts

The question is, why was I so embarrassed by this, and sort of horrified?  Perhaps the family wanted to maintain their property, perhaps they found it more comfortable to marry someone so familiar, or perhaps they were unusually isolated in Sudbury for some reason.  It’s a good example of taking my own current ideas and life experience and expecting them to be valid in what was, essentially, a completely different culture.

A visit to Framingham

Recently, with a genealogy friend, fellow blogger Midge Frazel of Granite in My Blood, I went once again to Sudbury, looking at some materials at the Sudbury Library, and exploring the part of the Parmenter tree that I share with Midge’s husband.  At Midge’s suggestion we explored “Parmenter Road” which lies just south of Howe’s Tavern, in fact, over the border in Framingham.  Midge’s blog posts trace the story of finding a house in her husband’s Parmenter line.

Parmenter Road in Framingham

Parmenter Road in Framingham

There are lots of clues out there about my branch of the Parmenters:

  • they owned an inn themselves early on
  • they must have lived near Howe’s Tavern
  • there was a property in Framingham that passed from George Parmenter, to Amos, to Joshua (Buckley’s grandfather).
the special collections room at the Goodnow Library, Sudbury

the special collections room at the Goodnow Library, Sudbury, Mass.

I would like to see if I can substantiate any of that.  Midge and I have some records to seek on the related Hayden and Brown lines, and I expect deeds and other research will tell me more about where the Parmenters lived, and what they did with their lives.  Now, I’m on it.

In closing

I can’t be the only genealogist that has encountered this problem.  In the two hundred years since Buckley and Persis married, no descendants in my line have married cousins again.  It is what it is.  Midge tells me the name is pronounced “Parmitter” so I am going to adapt to that, too, and join the family.

The post you are reading is located at:   http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2013/10/20/pedigree-collapse-and-then-some

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One Autumn night, in Sudbury town,
Across the meadows bare and brown,
The windows of the wayside inn
Gleamed red with fire-light through the leaves
Of woodbine, hanging from the eaves
Their crimson curtains rent and thin.
          — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn, 1863

Buckley Parmenter

My gggg-grandfather, Buckley Parmenter, was born on March 31, 1798, in Framingham, Massachusetts (1).  His parents, Elias Parmenter and Eunice Brown, were descended from the founding families of Sudbury and Framingham.  He was the oldest of seven children.  Buckley is related to me in the following way:  his daughter Susan Maria Parmenter -> Addison Parmenter Darling -> Russell Earl Darling -> Edna May Darling Baldwin -> my mother.

Longfellow's Wayside Inn, Sudbury, Massachusetts

Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, Sudbury, Massachusetts

Early Life

Since there has never been any hint of this in my family, I was surprised to learn recently that Buckley Parmenter began employment at “Howe’s Tavern” or “The Red Horse Inn” (later known as The Wayside Inn) as a boy and continued in that role until late in life.  This surprising story was first uncovered by using the Million Short Search Engine which allows you to omit, say, the 1000 most popular web sites, or 10,000, or up to 1,000,000.  It’s useful in genealogy for accessing content from historical societies, blogs, towns, and other small sites.  The search brought up this sentence from from a book (2) excerpted on the Sudbury Archives site:

Squire Howe [Lyman Howe, the last Howe innkeeper] was there and had a housekeeper and Buckley Parmenter was the man of all work. The old bar room could tell of wonderful times if it could speak.(2)

I immediately realized it was the right Buckley Parmenter, since census records referred to him as a “laborer” and in 1860 the location “Hotel” was specified, with owner Lyman Howe.  Further books and web resources confirmed it.  Buckley was born in Framingham, Massachusetts, and is sometimes listed in the Sudbury census, sometimes Framingham – the inn is on the southern edge of Sudbury, near Framingham – I suspect his family lived on the inn’s farmland.  The inn, established by the Howe/How family in the 1600’s, has been in its current building since 1716.  Somehow, I never put it together before.

Photograph of Howe's Tavern, around 1860, from 1914 House Beautiful article

Photograph of Howe’s Tavern, around 1860, from 1914 House Beautiful article

The Parmenters had been in Sudbury since the beginning of the English settlement.  As land grew scarce for later generations of Parmenters, did they begin working on the farm associated with the inn?  Did Buckley’s father work at that farm?  Being the oldest, it’s possible Buckley helped on the farm and was gradually entrusted with more and more work at the inn. I feel like I know the end of this story, but it will take future research to discover the beginning.

Buckley Marries and Has a Family

Buckley was 22 when his marriage banns with Persis Hunt were read on 26 August, 1820 in Framingham.  Buckley and Persis eventually had five children (4):

  • Mary Elizabeth Parmenter 1822 – 1905 (married Luther Fuller)
  • Susan Maria Parmenter 1826 – 1910 (my ggg-grandmother; married Ellis Aldrich Darling)
  • Eliza Jane Parmenter 1828 – 1908 (married Wilson Darling, the brother of her sister’s husband, above)
  • Lyman Hunt Parmenter 1829 – 1887 (Lyman Hunt Parmenter was blind.  He moved to Boston as an adult and worked as a musician and music teacher, and married twice.  He has descendants who research genealogy.)
  • Almira Parmenter 1839 – 1913 (married Charles Fish)
Tap Room, Wayside Inn

Tap Room, Wayside Inn. Note the barred gate above the bar, ready to swing down during closed hours.

Did the children grow up nearby the inn?  The 1850 census (similar to 1830 and 1840) shows Buckley and Persis living with Lyman, age 21, and Almira, age 11, still at home (3).  In the households on either side were daughters Susan and Eliza Jane, with their husbands and a couple of young children each – no property value given for any of them (so likely no real estate owned). Buckley and the two sons in law were listed as “Laborers.” There was another Howe family, owners of the farm, nearby, separated by a few other farm laborer households.  When I visited the inn I heard about some farm housing which was (later) rented out, and I suspect the nearby farm may have been where the family was located when the children were growing up.  I think this Framingham location is what kept me from realizing he worked over the line in Sudbury.

The era of the 1830’s – 1860’s is perhaps best captured by Adeline Lunt in her article “The Red Horse Tavern” in an 1880 issue of Harper’s Magazine (6).  She was one of the many guests who made the inn their home for some part of the year. She described Buckley as follows:

Then there was Buckley – Buckley Parmenter – a faithful male servant of the Squire, and who had a home with him as long as he lived, and who would have laid down his life to serve him.  He was near seventy, but nimble as a squirrel, and as spasmodic in his movements.  He had a remarkable accomplishment, which was to take a board nail between his teeth and bite it in two!  Yet he was vulnerable, for one summer night he set to work to demolish a hornets nest from the corner of the house, and after getting it down he put it quietly under his arm and strolled toward the brook to deposit it there.  But the hornets were not disposed to take things thus quietly, and before he had half reached the spot, out they flew in every direction, stinging him fearfully.

The silly, boyish story about the nail makes me think of a story about Buckley’s great-grandson, my great-grandfather Russell Darling.  He died when I was a baby, but my older brother has a funny memory of him – Jay must have been about 5 or so – and the elderly Russell said to him “Go on, boy, punch me in the stomach as hard as you can!  I can take it!  Go on!”

Tap Room at the Wayside Inn, perhaps c1900

Tap Room at the Wayside Inn, perhaps c1900

The Red Horse Inn and the Squire

The inn belonged for many generations to the Howe family.  It is truly an historic inn, with roots going back to the 1600’s, on the main road leading west from Boston.  During stagecoach times, there was a good business in dining, drinking and accommodations for travelers and horses.  The house was expanded over the years to 18 rooms.

Lyman Howe was the last of the direct line of four Howe tavern keepers; he took over from his father, Adam, perhaps around 1830.  Buckley would have grown up with Lyman and his sister, Jerusha, and two additional siblings, one of whom was running the grist mill while Lyman ran the inn.  Jerusha Howe was an educated and refined woman who owned the first piano in that part of Massachusetts.  Engaged to a British soldier, after he returned to England to make arrangements for his new life and was never heard from again, she remained single for the rest of her life and died at 45 in 1842.  According to the stories I heard on a visit to the inn this weekend, her spirit haunts the inn.

Jerusha's piano was later re-purchased and placed in the front parlor.

Jerusha’s piano was later re-purchased and placed in the front parlor.

Like his sister, Lyman never married.  Known as “Squire”, cultivated and intellectual, he pursued some scientific and civic interests.  As railroads took the stagecoaches off of the Boston Post Road, business at the inn shifted from hurried stops to lengthy stays in the lovely country setting of the aging inn.

The history of the “Howe’s Tavern” or “The Red Horse Inn” is a fascinating one.  The inn played a prominent role at various critical times in American history, including the Revolutionary War.  The rooms are reminiscent of travelers downing cider, horses impatiently stamping out front, soldiers marching on the old Boston Post Road.  But that’s not why it’s famous.

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
          — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn, 1863
Center hallway at the Wayside Inn

Center hallway at the Wayside Inn

Buckley’s Later Years

The 1860 census shows Buckley and Persis living at the “Hotel” with owner Lyman Howe and four employees (5).  Lyman’s fortunes had declined in the previous 20 years, and debts had built up.  Business at the inn was unprofitable and perhaps Lyman Howe was not an ideal manager.

When Lyman Howe died March 26, 1861, it was the faithful Buckley that found him the next morning (7).  The estate went to a distant elderly relative, and there were many debts to pay.  There was an auction and many of the family belongings were sold, although according to Lunt’s article (6) the inn had been only sparsely furnished for decades. The elderly relative died in six months, and her sons maintained the property as a kind of long-term rooming establishment.  It was during this transition, in 1862, that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow decided on the inn as a setting for some narrative poems he was forming into a volume.

Longfellow had been familiar with the inn for decades, and the Squire and Longfellow were familiar with each other, although there is no direct evidence of a meeting.  Apparently, Longfellow’s visit that inspired the setting for his book occurred in 1862, after the Squire’s death, and the book was published in 1863.  Longfellow was urged by editors to go with the name “Tales of a Wayside Inn” and his volume assembles a set of characters, fashioned after his own friends and various devotees of the inn, including the Squire, to spin poetic tales while relaxing in front of the fire at the inn.

Tales of a Wayside Inn, 1863

Tales of a Wayside Inn, 1863

The book of beautiful poems was a huge success, and inspired many to want to get a look at the “Wayside Inn”, although The Red Horse Inn no longer operated as an inn after Lyman’s death. Its use varied in these years from long term guests or rentals to parties, outings and special functions only. It was a marketing plan that took 30 years to form, and involved some twists and turns, but eventually the inn was purchased by individuals with the money and imagination to turn the historic inn into the “Wayside Inn” which so captivated Americans.  And yet, as you can see in my photos, the inn manages to remain true to its actual past as a significant historical landmark.  Few buildings, when you walk through them, maintain so much of an eighteenth century simplicity.  Today “Longfellow’s Wayside Inn” is owned and managed by a historic trust.

Was Buckley still present during Longfellow’s visit in 1862?  By 1865, Buckley and Persis had moved in with daughter Susan and her family in Wrentham, Massachusetts.  Buckley died 28 April 1871 in Wrentham, and he and Persis are buried at the Burnt Swamp Road Cemetery in the Sheldonville section of Wrentham, just behind the house where Susan and Ellis Darling lived.

Longfellow’s friend, Thomas William Parsons, (called the “poet” in the Tales), penned a poem after the death of the Squire and, in a sense, after the death of the well-beloved inn.  It ends with:

Fetch my steed; I cannot linger:
Buckley, quick; I must away.
Good old groom, take thou this nothing –
Millions could not make me stay.
         – Thomas Williams Parsons, The Old House at Sudbury
Grave marker of Buckley Parmenter, Sheldonville, Massachusetts

Grave marker of Buckley Parmenter, Sheldonville, Massachusetts

Next Steps

  • Learn more about whether Buckley’s father Elias Parmenter had any connection to the inn
  • Re-investigate Persis’ death date
  • Work to carefully uncover more of Buckley and Persis’ grave markers in Sheldonville
  • Research all of the Sudbury lines including the Goodnows, Browns, Hunts and Parmenters.
  • Investigate the presence of the name “Buckley” in the Howe family (a young Buckley Howe was noted nearby in the 1860 census).  Was Buckley Parmenter given a name common in the Howe family, or was the later Howe named for Buckley Parmenter?

Sources

(1) “Massachusetts, Births and Christenings, 1639-1915,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/F4XC-VJV : accessed 05 May 2013), Buckley Parmenter, 21 Mar 1798.

(2) Curtis F. Garfield. Sudbury, 1890-1989, 100 years in the life of a Town, a 256-page sequel to A.S. Hudson’s History of Sudbury. Porcupine Enterprises, 106 Woodside Road, Sudbury, MA 01776.

(3) Year: 1850; Census Place: Framingham, Middlesex, Massachusetts; Roll: M432_323; Page: 454B; Image: 249.  Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]

(4)Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.  Original data: Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook).

(5) Year: 1860; Census Place: Sudbury, Middlesex, Massachusetts; Roll: M653_510; Page: 994; Image: 575; Family History Library Film: 803510.  Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]

(6) “The Red Horse Tavern” by Adeline Lunt, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, v. LXI, June to November 1880, p. 608-617.

(7) As Ancient Is This Hostelry: The Story of the Wayside Inn by Ridley, Alison and Garfield, Curtis.  Porcupine Enterprises, 1989.

Other sources:

History of Framingham, Massachusetts by J.H. Temple. Published by the Town of Framingham, 1887.

A History of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn by Brian E Plumb.  The History Press, 2011.

The History of Sudbury, Massachusetts 1638-1889 by Alfred Sereno Hudson. Published by the Town of Sudbury, 1889.

The Old House at Sudbury by Thomas William Parsons. Cambridge: Press of John Wilson and Son, 1870.

Tales of a Wayside Inn by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1863.

“The Wayside Inn” by Joseph S. Seabury, The House Beautiful, v. XXXVI, no.2, July 1914, p. 33-39.

Photos by Diane Boumenot.

The post you are reading is located at: http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2013/05/06/buckley-parmenter-wayside-inn/

Then all arose, and said “Good Night.”
Alone remained the drowsy Squire
To rake the embers of the fire,
And quench the waning parlor light;
While from the windows, here and there,
The scattered lamps a moment gleamed,
And the illumined hostel seemed
The constellation of the Bear,
Downward, athwart the misty air,
Sinking and setting toward the sun.
Far off the village clock struck one.
    — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn, 1863

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My 3x great grandfather Ellis Aldrich Darling was born in Wrentham, Massachusetts in August, 1824.

His father was:

  • Paul  Darling (1798-1877)    (Paul’s Darling descent: Elias5, John4, John3, John2, Dennis1)

and his mother was:

  • Nancy Ann Aldrich (1800-1879)    (Nancy’s Aldrich descent: Nathan6, Asa5, Jonathan4, David3, Jacob2, George1).

Ellis’ life was typical of the nineteenth-century New England family that did not choose to move west and acquire new and better land.  Born in the Sheldonville section of Wrentham, Massachusetts, Ellis’s father Paul was a farmer.  Ellis was the third of five children.

The village of Sheldonville, at the western edge of Wrentham near the Rhode Island border, was home to several growing industries in the nineteeenth century as well as some farming activity.  There were straw hat factories and bootmakers, and when Rhodes Sheldon established a successful boatmaking business, the village began to be called after him.

1876 map of West Street, Sheldonville (incorrectly called Sheedonville)

On January 1, 1846, Ellis married Susan Maria Parmenter of Framingham, Mass.  It’s not clear to me how they met, but later that year, Ellis’ brother Wilson married Susan’s sister Eliza Jane.  In 1850, the two couples were living near Susan’s parents, Buckley and Persis Parmenter, in Framingham. All three men were working as laborers.

Meanwhile, Back in Sheldonville

Probably Ellis’ nearest relation with any significant property was his grandfather, Nathan Aldrich, who lived to age 89.  Nathan likely (but I haven’t proved this yet) distributed his Sheldonville, Mass. property among his children and grandchildren during his lifetime. So in 1860, the U.S. census shows that Ellis and his family, and Wilson and his family, were living in Sheldonville.  Grandfather Nathan Aldrich and his third wife Lois, both in their late 80’s, were living in Ellis’ household. Ellis’ occupation was listed as Farmer.

Ellis’ parents Paul Darling and Nancy were farming in Sheldonville but living with their son Allen, who owned property by 1860.  Paul and Nancy never appeared to own property, making me think that perhaps Nathan Aldrich and daughter Nancy never completely made up the earlier drama in their lives and that Nathan never trusted Nancy with property. Paul and Nancy Darling passed away in the late 1870’s.

Children Arrive

Ellis and Susan had five children by 1860:

  •  Abby M. Darling 1846 –
  •  Nathan Ellis Darling 1848 – 1909
  •  Sarah E. Darling 1853 – 1925
  •  Addison Parmenter Darling 1856 – 1933  <–father of my g-grandfather Russell Darling
  •  Francis W Frank Darling 1859 –

When the Civil War draft came along, Ellis was 38 at the time, and married, so was considered Class II and evidently did not serve, despite some lucrative offers of support made by the patriotic town of Wrentham.  However his brother Wilson, a few years younger, was drafted.  Wilson enlisted as a Private in Company I, 45th Infantry Regiment (Massachusetts) on 7 Oct 1862. He mustered out of that regiment on 7 Jul 1863 at Readville, Massachusetts.  Wilson received a disability pension from the government beginning in 1871, and died in 1886.

Some Changes in the 1870’s

Grandfather Nathan Aldrich died in 1862.  In 1869 Ellis and Susan had their sixth and last child, James.  In the 1870 U.S. Census, Ellis may be enumerated twice – once in Sheldonville, employed as a bonnet presser, and once, perhaps, staying in a rooming house in Providence and listed incongruously as a “Farmer” with real estate worth $1600.  He certainly needed money to support his household, and “bonnet pressing” took place in Sheldonville, so other than personal difficulties I can’t understand why he would be in Providence.

During the early 1870’s, the older children began to leave home.  Daughter Sarah married a silversmith and moved to his home in Providence.  Addison joined them and learned silver engraving.  Son Frank joined his sister Abby at her husband’s home in North Attleborough and took a job as a bench worker in the growing jewelry business there.  He later married his brother in law’s sister.

The House

This map detail shows that E. Darling had a house on West Street in 1876:

E. Darling property lies between West Street and the Burnt Swamp Road Cemetery

Behind his house is the Burnt Swamp Road Cemetery, where Nathan Aldrich is buried.  Behind the cemetery is the home and soap factory of Leman Follett, who was married to Nathan Aldrich’s daughter Eliza Jane (1817-1900).  Ellis owned additional lots across West Street near the school, and heading down Burnt Swamp Road (the Cemetery street).

There is a plaque identifying this home, pictured below, on West Street, in the approximate “E. Darling” location:

Nathan Aldrich circa 1839

In 1880 Ellis was back in Sheldonville, listed in the U.S. Census as a “laborer”.

Ellis Dies at Age 59

When Ellis passed away May 16, 1883 in Sheldonville at age 59, the cause of death was listed as “paralysis and exhaustion”.  Ellis’ estate was administered by neighbor and contemporary George Sheldon, from the boatbuilding family.  George had been married to Nathan Aldrich’s niece Amey Ann Aldrich, who died young.  Susan’s brother Lyman Parmenter was the other administrator.

The real estate was valued at $1221.66.  There was a minor child mentioned, James.

Ellis’ debts amounted to $1185.00 and included:

  • Burial, $65
  • Nursing, $3
  • Advertisements and posters for the “Mortgagee’s Sale” $7
  • Widow’s allowance $100
  • Special allowance to the widow $20.30
  • Auctioneer $1.50
  • Sundry payments and charges $320.83 (possibly this amount includes all these mentioned)
  • town taxes for 1883  $15.10
  • Administrator’s fee (G. Sheldon)  $60

It was ordered that the property be sold at public auction.  The only record I have found so far for the sale is a Boston Journal news item on 12 Aug 1884:

“Wrentham. Susan M. Darling to Lydia E.B. Oliver, land and buildings on east side Burnt Swamp Street, $1000. “

There was “nothing to distribute” when the distribution time came, meaning the debts consumed all the value of the property.

Susan was living with her son Frank and his family in North Attleborough in 1900.  In 1910, she died just two weeks after the visit of the U.S. Census enumerator at her daughter Sarah’s house in Providence (276 Point Street).  She was 84 years old.

The Sheldonville Cemetery

Ellis and Susan Darling are buried at the Sheldonville Cemetery, located behind their house.

Ellis A. Darling, Died May 16, 1883 Aged 59 years and three months.

Susan died in Providence, but was buried in Sheldonville, the town where she spent most of her life.

Susan M. Darling Died May 1, 1910 Aged 84 years 1 month 7 days

The End of the 19th Century

What I sometimes think about the careers paths of my 19th century ancestors in southern New England is that in 1800 everyone was a farmer.  In 1900 no one was a farmer.  There were a few opportunities in a village like Wrentham, but I imagine that with no property, young people thought they had a chance for a better life in a city like Providence, with a wider variety of industries.  I can barely tell from these details whether Ellis and Susan had a happy life, but I hope they did.

Ideas for Further Research

I would like very much to fill this story out a bit more; my idea is to seek old copies of:

  • The Wrentham Recorder (1870’s)
  • The Wrentham Examiner (1870’s)
  • The Franklin Register
  • The Franklin Sentinel

Also, I need to find this deed of sale in 1884, and sift through all the deed transactions of Nathan Aldrich in his lifetime – of which there will be many.

In addition to numerous vital records and census records, the sources which provided evidence for this story include:

  • Baldwin, Thomas W. Vital Records of Wrentham, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850.  2 vols.  Boston, Mass, 1910. (link is for pdf copy free from Internet Archive)
  • Baldwin, Thomas W. Vital Records of Framingham, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850.  Boston, Mass, 1911. (link is for pdf copy free from Internet Archive)
  • Fiore, Jordan D.  Wrentham 1673-1973, A History. Town of Wrentham, Wrentham, Mass., 1973.
  • Martin, William A. and Lou Ella J. Martin. Dennis Darling of Braintree and Mendon and Some of his Descendants, by the author, 2006. Try this link to an electronic copy at the Brigham Young University Library
  • Massachusetts.  Norfolk.  Norfolk County, MA : Probate index; docket books and probate records [microform]. F72/N8/P76 vols. 149-153 “Ellis A. Darling, Wrentham”. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Probate Index, Norfolk County, Massachusetts.  Dedham Press, Dedham Mass., 1910.  Volume 1Volume 2
  • Providence City Directory, 1890. Providence, RI, USA: R. L. Polk Co., 1890.
  • “Real Estate. Norfolk County Transfers” (News Article).  Boston Journal, 12 Aug 1884.  Online Archives, Newsbank; 2011.
  • Sherman, W.A.  Atlas of Norfolk County, 1876.
  • Temple, J. H., A Genealogical Register of Framingham Families.  Town of Framingham, Framinham, Mass., 1887.
  • U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Link to this post: http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2012/02/27/the-nineteenth-century-life-of-ellis-aldrich-darling

Photos by Diane Boumenot.

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