April 21, 2009

My Hometown: Methuen, Massachusetts

My Hometown: Methuen, Massachusetts

At the time of the earliest white settlers, what is now Methuen was part of Haverhill. This area extended north of the Merrimack River, westward to Dracut. Friendly Penacook Indians used the bands of the Merrimack and Spicket Rivers to hunt and fish from 1666 to 1683, and about this time residents of Haverhill and Andover settled in the eastern and southern parts of this territory that would one day be. (Source: Early Methuen History by Dan Gagnon)

The City Clerk of Methuen
is the guardian of old town meeting records dating from the incorporation of the town in 1726 through the present. A few years ago, the mayor asked me if I might be interested in transcribing these town meeting records. I was indeed quite interested in pursuing this work for two reasons: firstly, it would help all residents of this city known as the "Town of Methuen" to research not only the lives of their ancestors but to understand the work they had done as the fathers of our wonderful town; secondly, I as an Acadian researcher. I knew that early in 1756 Acadians had been exiled to the then village of Methuen. In fact, some 2,000 Acadians had been deported from their lands, in what we know today as Nova Scotia, to the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The Acadians had petitioned the Selectmen of the various villages and towns they lived in either because their children were taken from them or because they were being mistreated by the townspersons who had been assigned their care. Many had no clothes, no food and no medical care. All of these petitions would be sent to the General Court in
Boston and today these can be found in the Massachusetts State Archives under the title "French Neutrals" volumes XXIII and XXIV.

As a result of delving into local history, I learned a whole lot more than I had bargained for. Names I had so often heard over the years were en fleshed as I began to read about them in the old town records. Some had served in one capacity or another as the town was established and grew. A real thrill was when I came across a copy of the Declaration of
Independence that had been transcribed by Town Clerk Richard Whittier.

At the
March 8th, 1775 town meeting, one of the articles was "To see what the Town will act concerning providing bayonets for the Minutemen".

Another article for the April 22nd meeting in 1776 asked for a vote to support the Revolution: "To see if the Inhabants (Inhabitants) in Said meeting consider and etermen (determine) whether they will give their consent that the House of Representatives of this State of Massachusetts) Bay in New England together with the Consel (Council) if they consent in one Body with the House and by equel (equal) voice should Consent agree on and enact such a Constitution and form of Government for this State as the Said House of Representatives and Counsel as aforesaid on the fullest most mAtt (At)er deliberation shall judge will most conduct to the Safty (Safety) Peace and Happiness of this State in all after successions and Generations"

The next entry was written on July 17th, 1776 as follows:

Ordered that the Declaration of Independence be printed and a coppy sent to the Ministers of each Parish of every Denomination within this State and that they generally be required to read the same to their Respective Congregations as soon as Divine Service is ended in the afternoon of the first Lord Day after they shall have received it and after such publication hereof to deliver the Said Declaration to the Clerks of their several Towns or Districks who are hereby required to record the same in their Respective Town or Districts Books there to remain a Perpetual Memorial thereof. In the name and by order of the Counsel –

A true coppy attest John Avery Dystrict Secy

The above order was followed by the Declaration of Independence being entered into the record as shown in the above photo. It was then signed as follows:

Signed by order and in behalf of the Congress
John Hancock President
Attest, Charles Thomson Secretary
A true coppy Richard Whittier Town Clerk

As a result of getting so involved in the history of Methuen I learned first hand how America was built.

Yes, we read our history books and we think we understand all of it but I now realized what people across colonies of this country went through to obtain freedom from England and its king. It was an enlightening history lesson I shall never forget. There are no books that could have brought this reality home to me as did working in the actual records that spoke of the men elected by townsmen to attend meetings in Boston. The sacrifices the townspeople made when 156 men went off to fight in the American Revolution - how they provided ammunition provisions and blankets for them and even contributed to paying them while they served so that their families would not be in want. Townspeople took care of townspeople across the land.

It was exciting to read about the Continental Congress that was to take place in Philadelphia and then to transcribe the Declaration of Independence. What an experience!

When done, I knew that those transcriptions would help so many local people with their family genealogies. Names like Sargent, Rogers, Frederick, Dummer, Russell, Swan, Searles, Nevins, Bodwell, How and so many other founding families.

Now in the process, my second goal was also accomplished when I came across entries the Selectmen had made that concerned the "French families" - those French families were none other than the Acadians or "French Neutrals" who had been deported and exiled to Methuen. To that end, I found the following entries:

At the same meeting, the Town voted and made a new list of jurors. And at the same meeting, the Town voted not to fetch the French family from Amesbury.

We, the subscribers, being chosen a committee to reckon with Capt. Stephen Barker, Town Treasurer, we have proceeded, and have reckoned what he was to receive from the constables, for the years 1756-1757-1758 and 1759, both by rates and notes, and also eleven pounds and nineteen shillings, which he received, that was allowed by the Province to the Town, for providing for the French; and also four pounds, three shillings and two pence which he received from the sheriff of the County of Essex, bestowed on this Town towards the support of the school, making in whole ninety seven pounds, eleven shillings and one penny; and we find his orders to pay out of the Town’s money amount to one hundred and eight pounds, ten shillings and five pence, which is ten pounds, nineteen shillings and four pence more than what he had orders to receive as aforesaid.

Methuen, January 19, 1761

Daniel Bodwell Ebenezer Barker } Committee

We find there is due to the Town from the Province 12-13-0.
January the 19, 1761, on adjournment, the Town accepted the above reckoning and voted that it should be recorded.

Petitions of the Acadians exiled to the Town of Methuen in Essex County
From Volume XXIII at the Massachusetts State Archives we find these petitions from the Acadians to the General Court while they were exiled in the then Village of Methuen.

In the House of Representatives,
September 10, 1756

Voted that thirteen of the French Inhabitants now residing in Gloucester be removed to Wenham and that the other eleven now at the Said Town be removed to Methuen and that the Town of Gloucester be at the charge of their removal.

Sent up for concurrence, T. Hubbard, Speaker.

In Council, September 10, 1756, read and concurred, Thomas Clarke, Deputy Secretary - Consented to, W. Shirley

Page 317:

Bill of Captain William Allen, John Low Jr, Thomas Rand. Paid John Mallen for conveying John Muise & family to Methuen.
Bills for Joseph Douset & his family.
January 1756 to May 22nd - Bills for John Muse and family.

Page 402:

To the honorable his Majesty's Council of his Majesty's Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England now sitting at Boston, May twenty-fifth, 1757.

The petition of the Selectmen of the Town of Methuen whose names are hereunto subscribed, Humbly sheweth that your petitioners and their predecessors in the same office have taken great care and pains to support the French people which were ordered to dwell in our Town in such manner as might be least cost and charge to the Province and the necessary and unavoidable cost we have been at for their suport, we have exhibited herewith prayihng that your honors would be pleased to order that the same may be paid to our Town - all which is humbly presented by

John Bodwell, William Russ, Stephen Barker } Selectmen of Methuen

Page 403:

Methuen, March 2, 1757

September 1756 - Received a family of French people of the late inhabitants of Nova Scotia, viz., John Muse and his wife & children, that is his sons and three daughters (viz.) Enoch, about twenty years old; Joseph, about ten years old; Lawrance, about eighteen years old; John, about twelve years old; Joseph, about ten y ears old; Charles, about eight yeras old; Paul, about nine months old; and Margaret, about sixteen years old; and Lydia, about six years old; Mary about four years old. The wife of the Said John hath been very sickly the whole time she hatch been in our Town and the whole family unaccustomed to labor, having chiefly got their livelihood by hunting in their own county.

Daniel Bodwell, Ebenezer Barker ] Selectmen of Methuen

Methuen, May 23rd, 1757

An account of what we the subscribers have delivered to the above named French since the second day of March last.

John Bodwell, William Russ, Stephen Barker } Selectmen of Methuen.

Page 464

Methuen, September 24th, 1757

To his Exelllency Thomas Pownall Esquire, Captain General and Governor in Chief in and over his Majesty's Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England and to the Honorable his Majesty's Council of Said Province.

We the Subscribers, Selectmen of the Town of Methuen, humbly present the following for your Excellency's and your Honors' allowance, being a true and just account of the necessary cost and charge from the first day of June last past to the date hereof, for the support and relief of French inhabitants of Nova Scotia, which were ordered by the General court to dwell in our Town, namely, John Mewis (Mius) and his wife and nine children (viz.) Enoch, Lawrants (Laurent), Margaret, John, Joseph, Charles, Lydia, Mary and Paul. The eldest of which children is about twenty years old and the youngest is about one year and a half old and the woman during the time of this account hath been very sickly and helpless. We have carefully avoided unnecessary charges and made the account as low as we could, consistent with humanity and justice.

John Bodwell, William Russ, Stephen Barker } Selectmen of Methuen.

Page 547

His Excellency Thomas Pownall Esquire, Governor, and to the honorable gentlemen of the Council of Boston and honorable House of Representatives,

The humble petition of Lawrence Mieuse (Mius) most humbly sheweth

That the Selectmen of Methuen have about the beginning of last March sent him & his brother to work promising them the same wages that any had in place, which work they continued two months. But going for their wages your petitioner had three yards of old linen priced at 70 the yard, two pounds dried cod & one pound of hog's fat, his brother having little more if any. Your petitioner's family consisting of twelve persons have had allowed them by the town six pounds pork per week & one bushel Indian corn, which the Selectmen tell them will be reduced to half this winter. Your petitioner's brother has done work to the value of three pistoles & 15/, which he going to demand was not only refused payment butpushed out. The man following with a fire shovel struck him in the sie with which made him spit blood all that day and caused a great sore which has disabled him from work ever since. The same person says if it had not been for fear of justice he would as soon kill any of them as a frog. And as for yor petitioner's young family and hmself are almost naked for want of work or the price of his labor and alllodged in a very bad house. He has another brother who worked seven months for another man and would give him nothing, for which he had left him, but the man followed him to the house and almost stripped him naked and said if his father stood in his defense he would split his head. And when two poor women lay in they went to the Selectmen to get boards to stop the snow from blowing in on their beds and a couple of old little blankets to cover them, being plundered of everything valuable when moved from their farms, which they now oblige them to pay for. With sundry other grievances too tedious to mention, all of which he submits to your wise consideration not doubting your assistance and in hope of which he shall for your honors as in duty bound ever pray.

Lawrence + Mieuse
(his mark)

Page 548

In Council, January 10, 1758, read and ordered that James Minot Esquire, with such as the honorable House shall join be a committee to consider of this petition and report what they judge prooper to be done in the affair.

Sent down for concurrence, A. Oliver, Secretary.
In the House of Representatives,
January 10, 1758
Read and concurred and Colonel Choate & Colonel Buckminster are joined in the affair.
T. Hubbard, Speaker

Volume XXIV Page 14

Methuen, April 15, 1758
October 1, 1757 to April 15, 1758

The Said family consists of twelve in number, viz. John Muse and his wife and ten children, namely Enoch, Lawrence, John, Joseph, Charles, Paul, Margaret, Lydia, Mary and Susanna. The eldest whereof is about twenty-one years of age and the youngest about five months old.

Ebenezer Barker, James Ordway, John Mansur } Selectmen of Methuen. Pages 236 to 238

Accounts, March 17, 1759 to December 7, 1759

Extraordinary expenses in sickness with the measles.

Also to taking care of John Mius seven weeks, a French man that was sent by said court to Methuen, but taken sick in said Tewksbury with the fever and afterward the fever and age.

Page 283

To his Excellency Thomas Pownall Esquire, Captain General & Governor in Chief in and over his Majesty's Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, to the honorable his Majesty's Council and House of representatives in said province in General Court assembled at Boston, March 19th, 1760.

The petition of John Mius, late inhabitant of Cape Sable, humbly sheweth that your petitioner, when he was brought to New England dwelt some time at Cape Anne and then was carried with my family to the town of Methuen, where we have continued more than three years, where many circumstances occur to set forward my calamity, some of which I beg leave to mention to your Excellency and your honors (viz.) that my wife hath (been?] very poor and sickly ever since she been removed at such a distance from the salt waters and being accustomed only to fishing & hunting(?) for a livelihood at Cap Sable and neigther myself or my sons at all used to husbandry we cannot get such wages for our labor at Methuen or in the nieghboring towns as we might at Cape Anne and two of my sons spent the time the two last summers at Cape Anne with much more profit and advantage than they could have done where we now dwell and three of my sons are determined and promised to go thither again the summer ensuing and although under these disadvantages I am obliged to be very chargeable to the Selectmen of Methuen for the support of my family yet I would request nothing more of the province toward the support of myself, my wife and ten children than a house to dwell in at Cape Anne, I and my sons would choose rather than a house to dwell in and thirty dollars a year at such distance from the sea coast as we now live.

Your petitioner therefore humbly prays with submission that your Excellency and your honors would be pleased to take his case into your most wise and serious consideration and so order that your petitioner with his family may be speedily removed from the town of Methuen to the town of Gloucester and your petitioner as in duty bound will ever pray.

John Mius

In the House of Representatives, March 22, 1760

Read and ordered that the petitioner have liberty to remove himself and family from the town of Methuen to the town of Gloucester. But that he be obliged to subsist himself and family after such removal without any assistance from the government.

Sent up for concurrence, J. White, Speaker.

In Council, March 24, 1760, read and concurred, A. Oliver, Secretary,
Consented to, T. Pownall.

Pages 293 and 294

To his Excellency Thomas Pownall Esquire, Captain General and Governor in Chief in and over his Majesty's Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, to the honorable his majesty's Council and House of Representatives of said province in General Court assembled at Boston, April 1760.

The memorial of John Mius, a late inhabitant of Cape Sable, but now residing in Methuen, humbly sheweth.

That your memorialist, laboring under many difficulties and disadvantages in the place of his residence (which occasioneth him to be very chargeable to the selectmen) he sent his petition to this great & honorable court at their last session. In which petition he desired to be removed with his family from Methuen to the town of Gloucester. There to subsist himself and family without any help or assistance from this government, only a house to dwell in at Gloucester. How be it the order of this great and wise court on the said petition is, that the petitioner have liberty to remove himself and family from the town of Methuen to the town of Gloucester, but that he be obliged to subsist himself family after such removal without any assistance from the government. Now your memorialist humbly conceives that as he hath a great family and some of them small & helpless, a comfortable house to dwell in at Gloucester would be much less cost and charge to the government than what the generality of my country people have bestowed on them according to their circumstances. You memorialist humbly prays that your Excellency and your honors would be pleased in your wisdom to reconsider his case and circumstances and so order that I may have a house to dwell in at Gloucester provided at the cost of the province, that so with hard labor and industry I may subsist my self and family without any further charge to the government and your memorialist (as in duty bound) shall ever pray,

Test. Ebenezer Barker

John + Mius (his mark)

In the House of Representatives, April 17, 1760
Read and in answer ordered to the Selectmen of
Gloucester be directed to procure a suitable house for the petitioner at the cost of the Province.
Sent up for concurrence, J. White, Speaker.
In Council,
April 19, 1760, read and concurred, A. Oliver, Secretary.
Consented to, T. Pownall

Pagaes 346 and 347

June 24, 1760
Essex SS.
To the Selectmen of the town of
Bradford in the said county,

Pursuant to the power and directions given by the Great and General Court to a committee appointed to proportion the French inhabitants to the several towns in said county.

You are hereby required forthwith to cause to be removed to the town of Newbury Ann Lower, alis Dosset (Doucet), Hanna, Margaret, & Eliz. Dossit (Doucet) & the Widow Rashne, five French Neutrals, which were sent by order of the General Court to you & then deliver to one or of the Selectmen of Newbury.

You are also to deliver Mary Richards, a French Neutral girl, to one or more of the Selectmen of Methuen.

And you are to make return to me of your doings in the premises with the names of the persons so removed and the particular charge of removing them.

Salem, June 24, 1760 - Benjamin Lynde

COUNCIL MINUTES: pages 410 through 422

July 20, 1760

Marron Tebedo (Thibodeau) age 8, from
Joseph Leblong (LeBlanc) from Amesbury age 63
Margaret Leblong (LeBlanc) & infirm age 61
Mary Richards age 13 from Bradford

Page 376

Amesbury, August 7th, 1760

Honorable sir agreeable to your order sent to us to remove Joseph Leblong & Margaret, his wife, two of the French Neutrals, from our town of Amesbury to the town of Methuen, being twenty miles or upwards. Pursuant to said order we have removed the said Joseph Leblong (LeBlanc) & Margaret, his wife, from the town of Amesbury to the town of Methuen, & have delivered them to the selectmen of said town & herewith send you account of the charge of removing them.

Thomas Rowell, Stephen Barlett Jr, Eph. West, Selectmen of Amesbury.

I was able to connect the genealogies of these Acadian families who had been exiled to Methuen. For instance, John (Jean) LeBlanc was the son of Jean-Simon LeBlanc and Jeanne Dupuis who had been exiled to Westboro, Massachusetts.

As a result of my experience, I look forward to researching more local history and have been doing research in Lawrence, Ma where I grew up.

© Lucie's Legacy

Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
Acadian & French Canadian Ancestral Home

 Cross posted with the

Acadian & French Canadian Ancestral Home

April 20, 2009

Sarah and Corey's Bridal Shower

Sarah and Corey's Bridal Shower

This past Saturday a bridal shower took place for our daughter Sarah and her fiancé Corey.  (Yes, bridal showers are now held for both the intended bride *and* the groom.)

Thanks to the ingenuity of Sarah's sister, Rebecca, it was held at the Old Town Hall in Salem, Massachusetts.

Now Salem was one of the earliest villages in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
   The Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620 and others established Salem in 1626.  Salem was the fourth village established by the English so one may well imagine that Salem abounds in American history.  Like other villages that were established, Salem harbor opens onto the Atlantic Ocean.  All early villages were established with easy access to the ocean.

The Old Town Hall in Salem is no longer used as a Town Hall but it is a rather historic site.

So why an historic site for the shower?

When looking at venues for their wedding, Sarah and Corey decided they wanted a very special location.  They decided to take a look at Turner Hill Mansion in Ipswich, Ma.  They fell in love with the history and the heritage accompanying this venue.  As a result, they decided to have a "vintage wedding".

Turner Hill is one of the finest estates on Boston’s historic North Shore. The Elizabethan-style mansion is set among towering pines, formal gardens, rolling lawns and swan ponds.

In 1898, noted turn of the century architect William Rantoul was commissioned by Charles Goodnough Rice & Ann Proctor Rice of Boston to build a grand home. An extensive tour of Europe's historic castles and manors provided the Rice's and Mr. Rantoul with vision and inspiration for the home.

Completed in 1903, the mansion boasts hand-molded plaster ceilings, vivid wall friezes, gleaming oak hardwood floors and hand-carved paneling, doors and stairways. The reception hall’s wildlife motifs and windows were modeled after Haddington Hall in Scotland. These features constitute a structural work of art that could rarely be replicated today. At Turner Hill, the Rices raised their children and entertained their family and friends in grand style in the early 1900’s. A young George Patton (known as General Patton of WWII) was a frequent guest of Turner Hill and once entertained party guests from the book ladder in the library.

Shortly after Mr. Rice passed away in 1943, the estate was sold to The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, and the property was converted to ministry and spiritual retreat uses.

In a previous blog I talked about the La Salette Shrine and how I used to take my grandmother Arthémise Dumais Lévesque to the shrine on Sundays in the summer months.  She was very religious and really enjoyed her visits to La Salette with me as we were very close.  Who would ever have thought that all of these years later, our youngest daughter would be married in this special place in one of the beautiful gardens.. a place that holds so many special memories for me of those special summer Sunday afternoons with my grandmother.  I still cannot believe it!

In 1997, the Raymond Property Company purchased Turner Hill from the La Salette order, and worked to restore the property to its original splendor, and to reinvent the estate as a once-in-a-lifetime retreat for a new generation of guests and residents.

It is only since 2008 that weddings have been held at Turner Hill.

So as you see, there is a great deal of history in choosing this location including some personal family history with me and my grandmother.

How do Sarah and Corey plan to make this a vintage wedding that is reflective our families' heritage?   They have planned well.

First Sarah, her sister and I went looking for her wedding dress.  We looked at many beautiful dresses but none of them were "just right".  One Saturday we went to a bridal shop and rather than what we know as the traditional white wedding dress, Sarah opted for a dress that is off-white and gold.  Let me say that when she came out of the dressing room we were speechless - this was *it* this was defintely the dress she had been searching for.  The dress has no train so to compliment the dress and to create a train Sarah tried on a very long custom made veil.  Perfect!  The veil has been made to compliment the dress.  It is off-white with wide matching gold trim that matches the gold brocade on the dress.  Yes, perfect indeed!

So that part of the "vintage" plan accomplished.  What else could make this vintage wedding in keeping with both Sarah and Corey's heritage... they have scanned photos of the two families.  They have framed them and they will be on the guests tables and on the mantle of the huge fire place.  They have photos of their great grandparents and grandparents.  What a nice touch!

There are many more details but I will share those after the wedding next month.

My, I am so excited about how plans are moving forward that I have digressed... so back to the shower.  I arrived at the Salem Town Hall with my good friend Deb.  Rebecca was there with her husband Tyler and the bridesmaids so we proceeded to set up the tables and serving tables for the guests who arrived shortly thereafter.

Corey knew about the shower and he brought Sarah in at about 11:30 a.m.  She was totally surprised!  It was just the best surprise!  I had placed framed photos of Sarah from the time she was born through today on the staging in front of the gift table.  Eveyone so enjoyed looking at those photos!

The champagne brunch was superb, the generosity of family and friends unbelievable and the joy it all brought to both Sarah and Corey ... no words can express.

At the end of the shower Corey had a surprise for Sarah.  He began with a few words telling everyone that when he first met Sarah he knew this day would come... and he sang "Some Enchanted Evening" from South Pacific.  There was not a dry eye especially Sarah!  What a perfect ending to a perfect event.

I have said from the beginning that if Sarah and Corey are not meant to be together nobody is.

So that was our day.  Next Saturday evening is the Bachelor Party for Corey.  Sarah's Dad and brother-in-law Tyler will atttend.  Rebecca, Sarah, Mom and baby will go out together for the evening.  We'll have our own girls' night out!

Thanks for your visit today.  I hope  you have enjoyed reading about the happenings in my family.  It is a happy time and we are celebrating on through to the wedding.


Cousin Lucie

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