Thursday, December 1, 2011

Where Did My Alpheus Smith family reside in Medfield, Massachusetts?

After writing Treasure Chest Thursday - Isaac Seaver + Lucretia Smith Marriage Certificate this morning, I wondered where the residence was when Lucretia (Smith) Seaver was young. 

I had some clues:

1)  In William S. Tilden's book (History of the Town of Medfield, Massachusetts, 1650-1886, published Boston by Geo. H. Ellis in 1887), the family genealogy section of the book provides this summary for Aaron Smith, Lucretia's paternal grandfather:

"Aaron Smith was born in Walpole in 1765, and came to Medfield about 1782. He married in 1795 Mercy Plimpton, and bought the place on South Street near the South School-house. He died in 1841, his wife in 1850."

2)  In the Tilden book, the summary for Alpheus B. Smith (Lucretia's father) says:

"Alpheus B. Smith married in 1826 Eliza Dill of Eastham, and the same year bought the place on High Street near the South School-house. He died in 1840, his wife in 1869."

3)  In the 1860 US Census, Elizabeth H. Smith (age 60, female, widow, born MA) headed a household in Medfield, Norfolk County, Massachusetts which included Daniel D. Hammet (age 40, male, $2000 in real property, $400 in personal property, born MA), Cynthia Hammet (age 45, female, born MA) and George D. Hammet (age 18, male, born MA) ( Page 851, Dwelling #780, Family #841, Lines 3-6, on National Archives Microfilm Series M653, Roll 515).

4)  On, there is an 1876 map for Medfield, Norfolk County, Massachusetts in the U.S., Indexed Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1916 collection.  This map is shown below:

When I looked at the map above, I found the "South-street Schoolhouse" at a fork in the road, and just down the road that angles off to the east-southeast is a house with D.D. Hamant as the owner in 1876.  Hmm.  Is that the Daniel D. Hammet in the 1860 census?  I circled the area in question.

I think so!  I think that this is the house in the 1860 U.S. census that was owned by David Hamant, but that Eliza Smith was the first person listed in the enumeration for some reason.  If I ever search for land records for Alpheus and Elizabeth Smith, my hypothesis is that I will find they sold the land to David D. Hamant.  Note:  Hamant is in the Smith line in Medfield - a Patience Hamant (1735-1780) married Moses Smith (1732-1806) and was the grandmother of Alpheus B. Smith. 

What about the location of this house on today's map?  Here's a Bing map for this same area, with an X marking the approximate spot for the Smith/Hamant house:

The highway going southeast from Medfield towards Walpole is shown - it starts out as Spring Street in Medfield center, then becomes High Street where South Street crosses it.  So the main streets apparently have the same names - at least they match the Tilden book street names.

The satellite map for this area, blown up, looks like this (centered on this house location):

Zooming in the Bing map on the circled houses, it appears that the houses are fairly modern.  But I'm pretty sure that this is the location where the Alpheus and Elizabeth (Dill) Smith  family resided from 1826 until Eliza's death in 1869.  The South-street school house does not appear to have survived the ravages of time - there's a grove of trees on the site as shown in the satellite view above.

That was fun...I think I've found the birth place, and residence of, my second great-grandmother, Lucretia (Smith) Seaver (1828-1884).


Celia Lewis said...

Great fun, indeed! Isn't that fascinating? The online maps are a wonderful treasure for hunting. Cheers for sleuthing this residence.

Chris said...

It appears from this 1852 map of Medfield that "Asa Hamant's Heirs" then owned the place marked "D. D. Hamant" in 1876. I believe that Eliza Smith was in 1852 living just northwest of the Hamant place.

The 1850 census shows Elizabeth H. and Lucretia Smith and Lucy Butterfield living in the same dwelling, though maintaining separate households. The 1855 state census also shows Eliza Smith living in the same dwelling as Lucy Butterfield. Their households were enumerated in 1855 between those of George M. Smith and Ebenezer Babcock. Looking again at the 1852 map, a Mrs. Butterfield is shown living just above the Asa Hamant place, between George M. Smith and Ebenezer Babcock—probably on the same place occupied by "G. Gilmore" on the 1876 map. (Notice that George M. Gilmore is listed just before Daniel Hamant in the 1870 census.)

As Eliza was listed first in both 1850 and 1855, it's quite possible that she was the actual owner of the dwelling, despite its being listed under Lucy's name on the 1852 map.

As you noted, the 1860 census entry suggests that Eliza was the head of household, though Daniel Hamant owned the property. It's possible that Eliza had already sold her property and moved next door to the Hamant place. It's also possible that she had transferred her property to the Hamants on the condition that they keep and care for her until her death. This might explain why she was counted as the head of household, though she evidently did not own the dwelling.