Friday, January 9, 2015

Farm-Spotting: The Simon Gates Home Farm in Gardner, Massachusetts

Since I wrote Amanuensis Monday - Post 247: Letter of Administration for Estate of Simon Gates (1739-1803) on 5 January, and then plotted the boundaries of Simon Gates Home Farm in Plotting the Metes and Bounds of Simon Gates Home Farm in Gardner, Mass. on 7 January 2015, I've been working on trying to locate the actual location of the farm in Gardner, Massachusetts.

What I knew was that the Simon Gates home farm in 1803 was located in the "northeastwardly" part of Gardner, with neighbors of Daniel How, John and Lucas Dunn, Edward Jackson, and Josiah Kendall.  Here is the home farm plotted using the Deed Platter from I found online:

The breakthrough came when I downloaded the Gardner, Massachusetts history book from Google Books.  Pages 30-31 described the family of Simon Gates:

The book provided this information about the Simon Gates home farm:

"Gates, Simon, moved from Westminster to Gardner without changing his residence; the town line crossing his farm, he had a right to belong to the town he chose, and being a just man, he decided to come to Gardner, because he thought it his duty to go where he could do the most good.  He had a good farm on what is called Beech Hill, where his grandson Horace Gates now lives, and was one of the principal men building up the town."

So there is my clue.  Several years ago, I found an 1870 map of Gardner online (I don't recall where...bad genealogist!), so I looked in the "northeastwardly" part of Gardner and easily found the name "H. Gates" on the map.  This area is just west of Westminster, and just east of the railroad that is on the 1870 map and the current Google map.  I circled the name "H. Gates":

Now I think that this is the place - how can I find the location on a current map?  I opened Google Maps, and entered Gardner, Mass. and zoomed in a bit on the eastern part of Gardner with the approximate dimensions of the 1870 map image above:

You can see the railroad to the west of the current Correctional Facility, you can see the stream to the northeast of the Correctional Facility along May Street, and you can notice that the boundary between Gardner and Westminster is straight rather than jagged.

Zooming in a bit more, I saw the roads near the Correctional Facility looked somewhat like the boundaries on the platted map.  I guessed at where to put the red circle to represent the approximate location of the "H. Gates" (and therefore Simon Gates 1803) farm:

Zooming in even more, I guessed at where the home farm boundaries are [If I were a great genealogist I would have used the rod measurements, converted them to the Google Map scale, and plotted them accurately] and drew them on the map below:

These may be slightly off length-wise and angle wise, but I think they are approximately correct.

It appears that the 1860 home farm house was on the grounds of the North Central Correctional Institution in Gardner.  Here's a satellite view of this area:

If I've sited the red circle correctly, it looks like the home farm was in the area just outside the  eastern institution fence.  I guess I won't try to visit the site the next time I'm in Gardner!!

For reference purposes, the location is just north of the intersection of Chapel Street and North Gardner Road.

This was fun...

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Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver


Jan Murphy said...

Randy -- if you can get a chance to catch Lisa Louise Cooke's presentation "Time Travel With Google Earth", she shows how to do cool things with Google Earth and the historical map collections at -- like how to line up the historical map with current Google Earth images. She also demos how to use the historic information contained in Google Earth itself. I see she is giving another presentation, "Using Google Earth for Genealogy", next Tuesday at 8 central (it's on the GeneaWebinars calendar) so there may be some overlap. I don't know how much experience you have with plotting using the land patent legal descriptions, but if your readers are just starting out, this may be a good way to get some tips. I enjoyed Lisa's webinar -- she was a fun presenter.

Chad Milliner said...

You know you're a genealogist if you ask the judge at your traffic ticket hearing to sentence you to the prison situated where your ancestor used to live.