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3 3^11 7 




OCT -3 7 




During the last month of his life, Mr. Dow 
asked his friend and pastor, Rev. Clarence 
Strong Pond, to see that "Old Days at 
Beverly Farms," written by Mrs. Dow, was 
printed. He also asked me to write a sketch 
of her life to publish with it. The answer is 
this little book, a loving tribute from many 

Beside those whose names appear on its 
pages, Mrs. Alice Bolam Preston has drawn 
the front door and knocker of the "Home- 
stead." Mrs. Bridgeford and Mrs. Edwin L. 
Pride supplied the originals of the portraits. 
Mrs. Howard A. Doane, "Elsie," has collected 
information, in which task she has been helped 
by many of the neighbors. The money, with- 
out which we could have done nothing, has 
been given by Mrs. F. Gordon Dexter, Mrs. 
Charles M. Cabot, Miss Elizabeth W. Perkins 
and Miss Louisa P. Loring. 

Mrs. William Caleb Loring bought Mrs. 
Dow's house after her death and gave it to 

Page five 

St. John's Parish for a parish house. She 
directed that a tablet should be placed in it 
to preserve the memory of our friend. 

In examining the titles Mr. Samuel Vaughan 
found that Mrs. Dow's great grandfather, 
Jonathan Larcom, did not sell his slaves. 
He was administrator of his father, David 
Larcom's estate in 1775. In the appraisal, 
six slaves are mentioned by name, valued 
at £106 13s. 4d. but none are mentioned in 
the division. It appears that they became 
free when their master died. All slaves were 
considered free in Massachusetts when the 
State Constitution was adopted in 1780. 

Katharine P. Loring 

Page six 



Sketch of Mary Larcom Dow 9 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 25 

Lucy Larcom — A Memory 63 

Letters written by Mrs. Dow 68 

Appreciation by Sarah E. Miller 79 

Extracts from letters about Mrs. Dow 81 




"It seems as if the spirit had dropped out 
of Beverly Farms since Molly Ober died." 

One of her friends said this and the others 
feel it. For sixty years or more she was the 
leader in the real life of the place. And 
speaking of friends, there is no limit of them, 
for her genial kindly nature allowed us all to 
claim that prized relationship. 

Mary Larcom Ober was the daughter of 
Mary Larcom and Benjamin Ober. Mrs. 
Ober's parents were Andrew and Molly, 
(Standley) Larcom. Andrew's father and 
mother were Jonathan and Abigail (Ober) 
Larcom; they had eight children, the three 
youngest of whom are connected with this 
story. The oldest of these three was David 
who married Elizabeth Haskell known as 
"Aunt Betsey"; they had a son David. 
The next brother was Benjamin whose first 

Page nine 

The Life of Mary Larcom Dow 

wife was Charlotte Ives, and his second, 
Lois Barrett. Of this second marriage, one 
of the daughters was Lucy Larcom, the 
poetess and the editor also of the "Lowell 
Offering." Andrew Larcom was the youngest 
of these brothers. Thus it is that his grand- 
daughter, our Mary, was a cousin in the next 
generation of Lucy Larcom; although she 
was older than Mary they were always great 
friends and what Lucy tells us in "A New 
England Girlhood" of her experience is as 
true of one as of the other little girl. 

"Our parents considered it a duty 
that they owed to the youngest of us 
to teach us doctrines. And we 
believed in our instructors, if we could 
not always digest their instructions." 
"We learned to reverence truth as 
they received it and lived it, and to 
feel that the search for truth was the 
one chief end of our being. It was a 
pity that we were expected to begin 
thinking upon hard subjects so soon, 
and it is also a pity that we were set 
to hard work while so young. Yet 

Page ten 

The Life of Marij Larcom Dow 

these were both the inevitable results 
of circumstances then existing, and 
perhaps the two belonged together. 
Perhaps habits of conscientious work 
induce thought and habits of right 
thinking. Certainly right thinking 
naturally impels people to work." 
Mr. Andrew Larcom lived on the farm 
where Mr. Gordon Dexter now lives; here 
our Mary's mother was bom and passed her 
childhood. It was a delightful farm with 
much less woodland than now and its boun- 
daries were much larger; salt hay was cut on 
the marsh land that stretched toward the 
sea, and where it ended above the beach there 
were thickets of wild plum, whose purple 
fruit made delicious preserves. This marsh 
was not drained as it is now, little rivers of 
water ran through it at high tide reflecting 
the sunlight. 

When Benjamin Ober, who was first mate of 
an East Indiaman, married Mary Larcom 
they went to live in the house on the north 
side of Mingo Beach Hill. It was a smaller 
house then, and close to the road, with a 

Page eleven 

The Life of Marij Larcom Dow 

lovely outlook over the sea. A page of Lucy 
Larcom's gives so charming an account of 
"the Farms" it must be quoted here, as Mary 
Ober was fond of it. The old homestead 
was where Andrew and Mary Larcom lived, 
while "Uncle David" and "Aunt Betsey" 
lived in the house which we know as Mary 
Ober's house in the middle of the village. 
"Sometimes this same brother 
would get permission to take me on a 
longer excursion, to visit the old 
homestead at the "Farms." Three 
or four miles was not thought too 
long a walk for a healthy child of five 
years, and that road in the old time, 
led through a rural Paradise beauti- 
ful at every season, — whether it was 
the time of song sparrows and violets, 
or wild roses, or coral-hung barberry 
bushes, or of fallen leaves and snow 
drifts. We stopped at the Cove 
Brook to hear the cat birds sing, and 
at Mingo Beach to revel in the sudden 
surprise of the open sea and to listen 
to the chant of the waves always 

Page twelve 

The Life of Mary Larcom Dou) 

Stronger and grander there than any 
where along the shore. We passed 
under dark wooded cliffs out into 
sunny openings, the last of which 
held under its skirting pines the 
secret of the prettiest wood path to 
us, in all the world, the path to the 
ancestral farm-house . ' ' 

"Farther down the road where the 
cousins were all grown up men and 
women, Aunt Betsey's cordial old- 
fashioned hospitality sometimes de- 
tained us a day or two. We watched 
the milking, fed the chickens and 
fared gloriously. Aunt Betsey could 
not have done more to entertain us 
had we been the President's children." 

"We took in a home-feeling with 
the words 'Aunt Betsey' then and 
always. She had just the husband 
that belonged to her in my Uncle 
David, an upright man, frank-faced, 
large of heart and spiritually-minded. 
He was my father's favorite brother, 
and to our branch of the family. 

Page thirteen 

The Life of Mary Larcom Dow 

the Farms' meant Uncle David and 
Aunt Betsey." 

The Farms was of greater relative import- 
ance in those days. The farms were fairly 
fertile and were carefully tilled. Their 
owners, former sea captains, were well-to-do, 
there were two good schools and the Third 
Social Library was founded in 1806. The 
first catalogue, written in 1811, is still pre- 
served, there are some books marked "Read 
at Sea," among them "The Saint's Ever- 
lasting Rest," "Edwards on Affliction" and 
the first volume of Josephus, cheerful reading 
for the young captains. 

Toward the middle of the century summer 
fishing took the place of merchant voyages, 
so the sea-men turned to shoe making in the 
winter. Almost every house had its little 
10 X 10 shoe shop, in which was room for one 
man on a low stool, a chair for a visitor, an 
iron stove, a bench with tools, the oval 
lap-stone to peg shoes on, with rolls and 
scraps of leather, withal a pungent smell. 

In the house on Mingo Beach Hill our 
Mary Larcom Ober was bom in 1835 and 

Page fourteen 

the Life of Mary Larcom Dow 

here her father died in the same year. 
There was an older sister Abigail, who died 
when she was a young woman. 

After a while, the widow returned to her 
father's home; in 1840 she was married to 
her cousin David Larcom the younger, and 
they lived in the Larcom House at the 
Farms. As his father, the first "Uncle 
David" died, in the same year, his widow, 
"Aunt Betsey", moved upstairs. David and 
his wife with her children Abby and Mary 
lived below; four children were bom to them 
David, Lydia, Joseph and Theodore. 

From Mingo Beach Hill and the homestead 
the West Farms school was nearer, so Mary 
must first have gone to school in the little 
square building which was later for one year 
the High School, now since many years a 
dwelling house near Pride's Crossing. After 
the family moved to the Farms she probably 
went to the East Farms school, which was 
nearly opposite the church. She spent some 
time at the Francestown Academy, Hillsboro 
County, New Hampshire, and finished her 
education at the State Normal School in 


The Life of Mary Larcom Dow 

Salem where she was graduated with.the second 
class after its foundation. She with her sister 
Abby worked their way through this school by 
binding shoes. This was the women's share of 
the hand-made shoe described in Lucy Lar- 
com 's "Hannah binding shoes." 

Soon after graduation, Mary was appointed 
teacher in a grammar school at Brewster on 
Cape Cod. The next year she was engaged for a 
school in Castine, Maine . Here she found the 
pupils were big boys, almost men grown, and 
she feared she would not be able to manage 
them. However, when they found that she was 
a good teacher who could give them what they 
wanted to learn, there was no trouble. 

Then in 1858 and 1859 our Miss Ober began 
to teach the Farms School (the two schools 
being imited) on Indian Hill just above Pride's 
Crossing station; the building was remodelled 
later and is now the house of Mrs. James F. 
Curtis. Grades were unknown, she had some 
twenty to thirty pupils of all ages, but she 
managed to keep them in order and to teach 
them so well that they always remembered 
what they learned. She stimulated the bright 

Page sixteen 

The Life of Mary Larcom Dow 

children to greater effort and she encouraged 
the dull ones so that they were surprised into 
understanding. One of her old girls told me 
how they loved her but feared her in school, 
and enjoyed her when out. She especially liked 
boiled lobster and dandelion greens served 
together ; whenever these viands were for dinner 
the child was told by her mother to bring the 
teacher home to share them, and "then what a 
good time we had." She smiled as she said it, 
but there was a tear in her eye. 

At about this time Miss Ober was engaged to 
an attractive young man, a teacher in the 
Beverly Farms school. There was every 
promise of a happy life, but unfortunately 
he died. Miss Ober went on with her school 
until 1870, except during 1862 and 1865, but 
she was not strong and her health was 

In a much loved and worn volume of 
Whittier's poems, given to Mary Ober in 
1858-1859 is written in her own hand, "the 
happiest winter of my life." Pinned to a leaf 
is a cutting, with the following epitaph from 
an old English burial ground: 

Page seventeen 

The Life of Mary Larcom DoW 

"I will not bind myself to grief: 
'Tis but as if the roses that climbed 

My garden wall 
Had blossomed on the other side." 
The poems she marked are: "The Kansas 
Emigrants," "Question of Life," and "Gone," 
in this last poem she underscored the verse: 
"And grant that she who trembling here, 
Distrusted all her powers, 
May welcome to her holier home 
The all beloved of ours." 
These are keys to her thoughts, she believed 
in abolition, in the saving of the Union, she 
was absorbed in the Civil War, in the going 
away of relatives and friends, and she took 
great interest in the work of the Sanitary 
Commission. My grandmother, Mrs. Charles 
G. Loring, worked in the commission rooms 
in Boston by day, in the evening she would 
bring materials and drive about in her buggy 
to distribute them among the neighbors, 
collecting the finished garments to be carried 
back to Boston by an early train. Mary 
Ober often went with her, helping in all ways, 
and they became great friends; it was partly 

Page eighteen 

The Life of Mary Larcom t)ou) 

through her influence that Mary went to 
Florida for the benefit of her health i^i the 
winter of 1871. The next winter she took a 
school in Georgia under the "Freedman's 
Bureau" where she taught the little darkies, 
who adored her. In 1872 and 1873 she 
taught the children of the poor whites in 
the school at Wilmington, North Carolina, 
and it was here that she met Sarah E. Miller 
who was to be her devoted, life-long friend. 
This was the Tileston School founded by Mrs. 
Mary Hemenway, its principal was Miss 
Amy Bradley; it was perhaps the best known 
school carried on by the northerners in the 

For two years longer she taught half terms 
in Beverly Farms and then as she regained 
health and strength, from 1875 to 1899 Miss 
Ober was head of the Farms School, then in 
Haskell Street, beginning with a salary of 
$180. She never had a large salary. 
It was considered the best school in 
the town. The building 'was the wooden 
one, now a house, on the next lot to 
the brick school. She kept up with 

Page nineleen 

The Life of Manj Larcom Dou) 

the times, introduced grades and had 
several assistants as the years went on. She 
continued her career as a most successful 
teacher, she was strict but just and kind, 
always interested in her children whether in 
school or afterward, keeping in touch with 
them and following their careers with sym- 
pathy. When Mr. Charles H. Trowt was 
elected Mayor of the City she wrote: "And 
you were my curly-headed, fair-haired little 
boy in school." 

She had a happy home with her mother 
and stepfather; "Uncle David" she always 
called him, though she maintained the rela- 
tion of a loving daughter. Her mother died 
in the spring of 1876 and Mr. Larcom died in 

Miss Ober was always a great reader, 
she chose the best books and kept in touch 
with the topics of the day. We all remember 
her long walks in the woods and fields, her 
delight in the first spring flowers and the 
song of the birds; she shared Bryant's regret 
in the autumn, but her winters were made 
cheerful by her hospitality at home. Friends 

Page twenty 

The Life of Mary Larcom Dow 

were always dropping in to read, to sew or 
to have a good game of whist in the after- 
noon or evening. 

Another quotation from '*A New England 
Girlhood" seems appropriate here. 

"The period of my growing up had 
peculiarities which our future history 
can never repeat, although something 
far better is undoubtedly already 
resulting thence. Those peculiari- 
ties were the natural development of 
the seed sown by our sturdy Puritan 
ancestry. The religion of our fathers 
overhung us children like the shadow 
of a mighty tree against the tmnk of 
which we rested, while we looked up 
in wonder through the great boughs 
that half hid and half revealed the 
sky. Some of the boughs were 
already decaying, so that perhaps we 
began to see a little more of the sky 
than our elders; but the tree was 
sound at its heart. There was life in 
it that can never be lost to the 

Page twenty-one 

The Life of Mary Larcom Dow 

In reading this charming biography one 
is impressed with the strict doctrine under 
which Lucy Larcom was brought up. Miss 
Ober's theology was more Hberal. The church 
at the Farms was established in 1829 under 
the auspices of the First Parish in Beverly, 
(Unitarian) it was called simply the "Christian 
Church" and it was some years before it 
became Baptist. Miss Ober was an active 
and devoted member of the church and a 
good helper in parish work. 

It seems as if their common interest in the 
church and love for flowers must have first 
attracted her to Mr. James Beatty Dow, to 
whom she was married in 1889. Mr. Dow was 
a Scotchman with the virtues of that race. Of 
course he had a good education, he was a gar- 
dener by profession and a successful one. Beside 
his work for the church and the Sunday school 
he was interested in civic affairs; at one time he 
was representative at The Great and General 
Court and he was a member of the School 
Committee of Beverly. 

Mrs. Dow did not give up her school until 
ten years after her marriage but she paid more 

Page twenty-two 

The Life of Mary Larcom Dow 

attention in equally successful manner to 
housekeeping and social duties. Miss Miller, 
her friend from the days of the Wilmington 
School, was a constant and welcome guest. 
They loved books, they read and played 
together, they formed reading clubs to discuss 
works of importance and enjoyed poetry and 
good fiction. There were flashes of wit and 
a lightness of touch in Mrs. Dow's approach 
which were quite un-English, they may be 
attributed to her Larcom ancestry. The 
Larcoms were the La Combes of Languedoc, 
Huguenots who escaped to Wales, later moved 
to the Isle of Wight, and thence came to 
New England in the ship Hercules in 1640. 
TheObers came from Abbotsburyin England 
in early days, there is every reason to believe 
that they were also of Huguenot descent, by 
name "Auber," but this is not proved. 

The years passed rapidly, the quiet life at 
the Farms broken by little excursions to the 
theatre, concerts and visits to friends in Boston, 
with occasional trips to the White Mountains, 
New York and other places. There were 
endless interests and accomplishments and 

Page twenty-three 

The Life of Mary Larcom Dow 

enjoyments. The World War brought grief 
and tragedy and abounding opportunity for 
sympathy and action; by no one was a 
saner interest taken in all its phases than 
by Mary Dow. 

As time passed and strength failed, Mrs. 
Dow never grew old; she joked about her 
"infirmities" but we did not see them. She 
mastered them and kept on in her lively active 
interests and duties to the end. 

During the winter of 1919-20 Mr. Dow 
was very ill. His wife nursed him with too 
great devotion and her strength gave out. 
Mercifully, she was spared a long illness, she 
died on the eleventh of June, 1920. Mr. Dow 
lingered until the sixteenth of September. 

This is the end of the story, or is it the 

Page twenty -four 




In writing these hap-hazard memories of 
the old days at Beveriy Farms, I did not 
mean that they should be egotistical, but in 
spite of my good intentions I am afraid they 
are. You see it is almost impossible to sepa- 
rate yourself from your own memories! I 
throw myself upon the mercy of the Court! 
Summer of 1916. 

We have a little Reading Club here at 
Beverly Farms. We read whatever happens 
to come up, from Chesterton's Dickens to 
'The Woman who was Tired to Death," 
interspersed with real poems from "North of 
Boston." I belong to the Club. I am the 
oldest member of it, in fact, I am the oldest 
person in New England — on stormy days! 
When the weather is fine and the wind south- 
west, I am young enough to have infantile 
paralysis ! 

One day, in my enforced absence from the 
Club, my colleagues conspired against me. 

Page twenty-five 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

and with no regard to my feelings, selected me 
to write up some remembrances of old Beverly 
Farms. Hence these tears! Elsie Doane 
belongs to this Club. Elsie is behind me 
about half a century, if you allow the Family 
Bible to know anything about so indifferent a 
thing as age. She was one of the few infants 
under my care when she was pupil and I was 
teacher, who had a real love for literature for 
literature's sake, and we had good chummy 
times when it was stormy and we carried 
dinner to school, and ate it peacefully in an 
atmosphere that smelt of a leaky furnace and 
fried doughnuts, in spite of open windows. 

It doesn't smell that way now, for Mr. 
Little has made the school-house of that day a 
pretty summer home for whomsoever will live 
in it. Elsie promises to set me right whenever 
I go astray as to what happened at old Beverly 
Farms, how it looked, what legends it had — 
how its people lived and behaved, and so 
forth, and so forth. She is a foxy little thing, 
and I suspect that when she is floored on my 
reminiscences, she will appeal to her mother, 
who, she says is older than she is ! We do not 

Page twenty-six 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

promise any coherence in our stories. It will 
be somewhat of a hash that we shall give our 
listeners wherein it will be difficult to decide 
whether it is "fish, flesh, fowl, or good red 
herring." But we have no reporter at our 
Club, so we give our memories free rein. 

I often wish I could catch and fix, by the 
kodak of memory, some of the celebrities of 
my childhood, in this little village. 

What a character, for instance, was Uncle 
David Larcom ! Among the old Puritans who 
were his ancestors, and among whom he was 
raised, what a constant surprise he must have 
been! Certainly no hero of a dime novel 
could have done more startling and audacious 
things. He ran off to sea in his youth and 
stayed away from the village for three years. 
During that time, he had seen and experienced 
enough to satisfy Tom Sawyer; he had messed 
with Indian Lascars and acquired a taste for 
curry and red pepper which he never lost. 
And with the love for stimulating diet he 
gained a love for stimulating stories, and 
could draw the very longest kind of 'an innocent 
bow, that carried far and never hurt anybody. 

Page twentg-seven 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

Who could forget his yams of the sea serpent 
and his life on the old English Brig? "Has 
he got to the old English brig?" his waggish 
son would inquire, as he listened from an 
adjoining room. 

He gave away a wonderful old mirror, 
beautifully carved, with a lion's head at the 
bottom, and a boy astride a goose at the top, 
with leaves and bunches of grapes at the sides, 
and glass, as it seems to me, almost an inch 
thick. It hangs now in the drawing room of 
its possessor restored to pristine beauty and 
bearing an inscription setting forth that it 
came from the wreck of the "Schooner 

Uncle David told this yarn when he gave 
away the beautiful mirror. Nobody had 
ever before heard of this connection with the 
Schooner Hesperus. My own impression is 
that the mirror was brought to the old house, 
which I now own, by Aunt Betsey Larcom, 
the great grandmother of Elsie Doane. Dear 
old Uncle David! Sometimes his language 
was not choice, but how big his heart was! 

After he uncoiled his sea legs and settled 

Page twenty-eight 

Old Days at Beverly F'armS 

down to teaming, mildly flavored with farming 
was there ever a more generous or a more 
kindly neighbor? 

People often cheated him, in fact, he almost 
seemed to like being cheated. 

His patient wife once remarked that he 
always wanted to give his own things away, 
and buy things for more than people asked 
for them. He would match Uncle Toby's 
army in Flanders for profanity, but he would 
go miles to help a sick friend, or, (and this is 
to my mind, the last test of friendship in a 
horse owner) turn out his old "Bun" on the 
stormiest night that ever raged, to help a 
brother teamster up a hill. And when were 
ever his own rakes and plows and forks at 
home? Weren't they always lent out some- 
where? What a reverence for all things 
sacred, way down in the bottom of his large 
heart he always had! How deferential to 
ministers he was! How angry he would be 
at any unnecessary breaking of the "Sah- 
bath" as he called it. How steadily he read, 
(though he wouldn't go to church) all day and 
all the evening of the Lord's Day — taking up 

Page twenty-nine 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

his book at night, where he left it to feed his 
"critturs," and holding his sperm oil lamp in 
his hand as he finished his day of rest. Some 
of his expressions remain in my mind as, for 
instance "From July to Eternity," to indicate 
his weariness at something too much pro- 
longed. He liked to exaggerate as well as 
Mark Twain did, as when he used to wish on 
a furiously stormy night, that he were way 
over on Half Way Rock, always being careful 
to have a tremendous fire going, and a pitcher 
of cider at hand, before he expressed the desire. 
The memory of his good, religious father was 
always with him, and when he was in a par- 
ticularly genial frame of mind, he would sing 
snatches of the old tunes he had heard his 
father sing: — 

"The Lord into his garden comes 

The spices yield their rich "Perfooms" 

The lillies grow and thrive" 
was one of his special favorites. 

His kindly handsome face, his enormous 
size, his laugh, which was ten laughs in one, 
are among the clear remembrances of my 

Fagc thirty 

Old Days at Beverly Parm 

And I can hardly close this sketch better 
than by quoting his old family doctor's words: 
"Swear, yes, but his swearing was better than 
some folks' praying." 

I should like to "summon from the vasty 
deep" some of the other old people, both 
white and black, who lived here in the old 
days. Just back of where Mr. Prick's stable 
now stands at Pride's Crossing lived Jacob 
Brower, a little old man of Dutch descent, 
with his wife and family. She was a sister of 
Mrs. Peter Pride, who lived in the first house 
west of the Pride's Crossing station. I 
remember Aunt Pride as an extremely hand- 
some, tall, dark, dignified woman. She be- 
longed to the Thissell family. Lucy and 
Frank Eldredge came of this family, and 
Willis Pride, and I suppose "Thissell 's Market" 
claims relation too! 

The next house east of the station, on the 
other side of the road was a tumble down 
old house innocent of paint, and black with age, 
inhabited by three old African women — 
named Chloe Turner, Phillis Cave and Nancy 
Milan, all widows. 

Page thirty-one 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

The house, after the railroad cut it off from 
the main road, was so near the track that one 
could almost step from the rock doorstep to 
the rails, and the old crazy structure shook 
every time an infrequent train passed, we 
had four trains to Boston daily then. I remem- 
ber how the old house smelt and how the 
rickety stairs creaked under one's feet. 

When my great great-grandfather, David 
Larcom, married the widow of John West and 
brought her to his home (now the Gordon 
Dexter place) she brought with her as part of 
her dower, a negro woman, a remarkable char- 
acter, named Juno Freeman. This woman 
was the mother of a large family. Mary 
Herrick West's father was a Captain Herrick 
and he brought Juno, a slave from North 
Carolina in his ship. 

Juno's children took the Larcom name and 
remained as slave property in the Larcom 
family, till, in my great-grandfather's time 
they were sold. My uncle Rufus told me 
that this ancestor, Jonathan Larcom, was 
sharp, and, hearing that all slaves in Massa- 
chusetts were to be freed, sold his. 

Page Ihirly-livo 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

The old house I have mentioned was given 
to Juno Larcom, it being on the land known 
as the "gate pasture" and in after years, when 
Mr. Franklin Haven wanted to open an 
avenue there, he took a land rent from my 
stepfather, David Larcom, had the old house 
torn down, and put a little house for Nancy 
Milan (who was then the only survivor of the 
three old widows) right by my piazza, on the 
east side, and there Aunt Milan died peace- 
fully in the spring of 1869. 

Aunt Milan's mother, Phillis Cave, was 
brought to Danvers in the boot of Judge 
Cave's chaise, and afterwards somehow drifted 
to Beverly. Judge Cave's daughter, Maria 
Cummins, wrote the "Lamplighter," a book of 
great popularity in this region, in her 
day. Phillis worked in the best Beverly 
families, the Rantouls, Endicotts, and others, 
and used to walk to Beverly, work all day, and 
walk home at night. I remember wondering if 
all the washing she did had made the palms of 
her hands so much whiter than the rest of her. 

Aunt Chloe and Aunt Milan were pretty 
lazy old things, but everybody liked them 

Page thirty-three 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

and contributed good naturedly to their sup- 
port. After Aunt Milan came down to live 
by us, Mr. Asa Larcom and my step-father 
furnished a good deal of her living, and the 
town gave her fifty cents a week. She never 
could hear of the poor house. Wherever Aunt 
Chloe got the candy and nuts she always had 
on hand for children, I cannot imagine. She 
wore a pumpkin hood (a headgear made of 
wadded woolen or silk, with a little back 
frill,) and the Brazil nuts used to be taken out 
of the back of the hood. My brother David 
said he used to eat candy from the same 
receptacle, but then he was a Larcom and had 

The old brick meeting house had a wooden 
bench built upstairs near the choir, and there 
these three black persons sat, every Sunday, 
thro' their peaceful lives. I think that was a 
pretty low down trick of those old Baptists, 
particularly as the ladies in question always 
sat at our tables. 

We old dwellers at Beverly Farms, — Obers 
and Haskells and Woodberrys and Williamses 
and Larcoms, are pretty well snarled up as to 

Page thirty-four 

Old Days at Beoerly Farms 

relationship, and I am always coming upon 
some new relative in an odd way. 

For instance, Miss Haven gave me the 
other day the appraisal of my great grand- 
father's estate, that same David Larcom 
of slave times. He died in 1779 possessed of 
£899 sterling, all in real estate. I found in 
the appraisal and settlement among his chil- 
dren, that my old friend Mrs. Lee and I have 
probably a common ancestor, Jonathan Lar- 
com. It amuses us, because we have never 
before found any trace of commingling blood. 
I fancy it would be pretty difficult to find any 
two old Beverly Farmites, who are not related. 
My principal pride in the old paper is that it 
sets forth, over the signature of the Judge of 
Probate in Ipswich, that a Larcom once was 
worth about $5,000! (His brother's estate 
was appraised at £219 15s. 6d. Ed.) 

My good neighbor, Mrs. Goddard, came in 
last evening and brought me a fragrant 
bouquet of thyme and rosemary and marjoram 
and sage, which makes me remember that I 
have not yet tried to describe Aunt Betsey 
Larcom 's garden in those ancient days. 

Page thirty-five 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

The striped grass is still growing in one 
comer of my garden — the very same roots 
that were there in my childhood, and up to a 
year or so ago, the old Hlac bush that Uncle 
Ed. Larcom picked blossoms from when he was 
a small boy, was there too. Aunt Betsey's 
garden was a beautiful combination of use 
and loveliness. All along the stone wall 
grew red-blossomed barm and in the long beds 
were hyssop (she called it isop) and rue and 
marigolds and catnip and camomile and sage 
and sweet marjoram and martinoes. Mar- 
tinoes were funny things with a beautiful, 
ill-smelling bloom which looked like an orchid, 
and when the blossoms dropped there succeeded 
an odd shaped fruit, with spines and a long 
tail, which was used for pickles. Then there 
were king cups, a glorified buttercup, and a 
lovely little blue flower called "Star of 
Bethlehem" and four o 'clocks. Right here I 
want to say that Frank Gaudreau has more 
varieties of four o 'clocks than I ever supposed 
were known to lovers of flowers and I 
think he deserves the thanks of the village for 
his pretty garden. 

Page thirty-six 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

All the different herbs were carefully gath- 
ered by Aunt Betsey, and tied in bundles, 
and hung up to the rafters of the old attic. 
Sometimes I fancy I can smell them now on a 
damp day, and I like to recall the dear old 
lady in her tyer and cap, busy with her simples. 
I like to think of her as my tutelar divinity 
for I came to love her dearly, though I am 
sure that when I was first landed in her house, 
I was a big trial. Elsie Doane remembered 
another garden of that time, where, she says, 
they never picked a flower. I remember it too, 
but I had forgotten that they didn't pick the 
flowers. It flourished right where the engine 
house and those other buildings stand, and 
Elsie thinks the garden reached way out to 
the sign post. Uncle Asa Ober owned that 
garden — the ancestor of Mrs. Lee and Mrs. 
Perkins and Mrs. Hooper and Helen Camp- 
bell, and many others of our fast fading away 
villagers. His two stepdaughters were cousins 
to my mother, and they had a little shop in an 
ell that ran from the house to the street, where 
they did dressmaking and millinery. 

Right in front of the shop was the garden 

Page thirty -seven 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

all fenced in, but I had the right of way for I 
could sing! And whenever I learned a new 
music from Joe Low's Singing School, I used 
to be called in to act as prima donna to the 
two ladies. 

There were cucumbers in the garden exten- 
sion and artichokes by the old walls. 

But my regrets are not for the gardens. 
We have gardens now, but nobody can bring 
back the beautiful fields, stretching from the 
woods to the sea, where cows and oxen grazed. 
Nobody can bring back the brooks, now 
polluted and turned into ditches. Nobody 
can bring back the roadsides bordered with 
wild roses, now tunneled and bean-poled out 
of all beauty. I do love some of our summer 
people, particularly those who have kept 
their hands off and have not removed the old 
landmarks, but I find it hard to forgive the 
bean-poling and the cementing. Look at the 
lovely old Sandy Hill Road (West Street). 
Over these happy summer fields of the olden 
days walked James Russell Lowell and his 
beautiful betrothed, Maria White. Later he 
came again, — but without her. Among those 

Page thirty -eight 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

old first visitors to our Shore were John Glen 
King and Ellis Gray Loring. These two 
gentlemen married sisters, southern women I 
think; they took kindly to our New England 
cookery. Mrs. King, one day, asked my 
aunt, Mrs. Prince, if she could give them a 
salt fish dinner, with an Essex sauce. Mrs- 
Prince knew all about a salt fish dinner, but 
the Essex sauce floored her, and she humbly 
acknowledged her ignorance . "Oh ," said Mrs . 
King, "it is very simple. You take thin 
slices of fat pork and fry them out." Mrs. 
Prince laughed and proceeded to her kitchen 
to make "pork dip." Mrs. King also Uked a 
steamed huckleberry pudding and she said 
"And please, Mrs. Prince, make it all huckle- 
berries, with just enough flour to hold them 
together." We got four or five cents a quart 
when we picked these same huckleberries. I 
did not have a very big bank account in that 
direction, owing to my short sight, and to my 
preference for making com stalk fiddles with a 
jack-knife. I remember making one on a 
Sunday morning, uninterrupted by the "Sab- 
bathday dog" which was supposed to lie in 
wait for Sabbath breakers. 

Page thirty -nine 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

Diagonally opposite my house lived Mr. 
Nathaniel Haskell, a little old gentleman, who 
wore a cut away blue coat, with buttons on 
the tail, over which, in cool weather, he put 
a green baize jacket. How funny he looked. 
He was interested in what he called the tar-iff, 
and he was awfully afraid of lightning. I 
remember the whole family filing into our 
dining room whenever a specially dark cloud 
appeared. I do not think a single descendant 
of "Uncle Nat" is left here, tho' there was a 
large family. 

There was a cheese press in our back yard 
and ' 'changing milk " was a great scheme . One 
week all the milk from four or five farms would 
be sent to us and my mother would make 
delicious sage cheese. 

Then, the next week all the milk would go 
to "Uncle Nat's," and so on, till all the cow 
owners were supplied with cheeses, which were 
duly greased with butter and put on shelves 
to dry, a sight to make the prophet smile. 

I wish I could get a picture of Beverly 
Farms as it looked to my child's eyes. I came 
over to "the Road," as it was called by my 

Page forty 

Old Days at Bevcrln Farms 

maternal relatives, when I was five years old. 
They lived in that Paradise now occupied by 
millionaries, the region that holds the Gordon 
Dexter place, the Moore place, the Swift 
place, and part of the Paine place. At that 
time, the whole section was long green fields 
bordered by woods, the "log brook" running 
through it. There were then three roads in 
Beverly Farms, the road now called Hale 
Street, the beautiful old Sandy Hill Road 
(West Street) and the Wenham road (Hart 
Street). My two homes after my mother's 
widowhood were at the Gordon Dexter place, 
and at my father's old homestead, at Mingo's 
Beach (where Bishop McVickar lived). There 
were about twenty houses at that time, be- 
tween Beach Hill and Saw Mill Brook. This 
was West Farms and the Schoolhouse stood 
just back of Pride's Crossing station — after- 
wards removed to where it now stands as a 
dwelling house, occupied by the heirs of Thomas 

There was then no railroad and the main 
road ran by Mr. Bradley's greenhouses, and 
along where the railroad now is, coming out 

Page forty-one 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

near the schoolhouse. That part of Hale 
Street where the Catholic church is, was then 
Miller's Hill, a pasture, where I have often 
tried to pick berries. The railroad came in 
1845. The little shanties where the laborers 
who were building the road lived temporarily 
with their families, were a great curiosity. I 
used to run away and peep into them and I can 
remember how they smelled. My mother, 
who did the work of twenty women every day 
almost as long as she lived, made knotted 
"comforters" for these shanties. Our way of 
getting to Beverly and Salem was by stage 
coaches between Gloucester and Salem. In 
my few journeys in these delightful convey- 
ances I used to clamber to the top seat and 
sit with Mr. Page the kindly driver, who was 
one of our first conductors on the railroad. 

To the house where I now live my happy 
life, I was brought at five years. I could 
then read about as well as I can now. I found 
in this old house a garret, a beautiful garret, 
where bundles of herbs hung from the rafters, 
and where books, books galore had collected in 
old sea chests. Fancy my delight, at finding, 

Page forty-two 

Old Dags at Beverly Farms 

one red letter day, Christopher North's, 
"Lights and Shadows of Scottish Life." 

There were other books not so well fitted 
for the education of a child, but it was all fish 
that came to my net, and I calmly read up 
to my tenth year, "The Criminal Calendar," 
"Tales of Shipwrecks," Barber's "Historical 
Massachusetts," Paley's "Moral Philosophy," 
Pollock's "Course of Time," Alleine's "Alarm 
to the Unconverted," Richardson's "Pamela" 
and the ' 'Spectator ! ' ' Some years afterwards, 
when I had read the covers off this miscella- 
neous collection of books, some of the earlier 
summer people, the elder Lorings and Kings, 
I think, put a small library into Uncle Pride's 
house and gave us Jacob Abbott's Rollo 
Stories and a few other delights. Please 
picture to yourself the "light of other days" 
by which the reading and sewing and knitting 
of old Beverly Farms used to go on at night. 

Luckily, there was as much daylight then, 
as now. The lamp that illuminated my 
childish evenings was a glass lamp, that held 
about a cup full of whale oil, "sperm oil," it 
was called . There were two metal tubes at the 

Page forty-three 

Old Days at Beverlif Farms 

top of this lamp, thro' which protruded two 
cotton wicks. These wicks could be pulled up 
for more light or pulled down for economy, by- 
means of a pin. No protection whatever was 
afforded from the flame, and my hair was 
singed in front most of the time, as I crept close 
with book or stocking, to this illumination. 
One use of the old oil lamp was medicinal. 
If there were a croupy child in the house, he 
might be treated immediately, in the absence 
of a doctor, to a dose from the lamp on the 
mantel- I remember my blessed brother 
David being ministered unto in that way. 
After this, came the fluid lamp, with an 
alcoholic mixture that was dangerous,but clean. 
In hunting about among ancestors, I am 
sometimes reminded of the story of Dr. Samuel 
Johnson's marriage. The lady to whom he 
proposed, demurred a little. She said she had 
an uncle who was hanged. Dr. Johnson 
assured her that that need make no difficulty, 
for he had no doubt that he had several who 
ought to have been hanged. I remember my 
disgust at finding that I was related thro' my 
maternal grandmother, Molly Standley, to 

Page forty-four 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

"Aunt Massy." Aunt Massy, (her real name 
was Mercy) was a mildly insane, gray-haired, 
stoutish woman, who lived just before you 
reach the fountain at the top of the hill, on 
Hale St. There was a well with a windlass 
and bucket at one side of her old house and 
Aunt Massy used to lean on the well curb and 
abuse the passers by. She remembered all 
the mean things one's relatives ever did, and 
how she could scold! I was often sent to Mr. 
Perry's grocery store where Pump Cottage 
now stands and I lised to try to get by with- 
out hearing her uplifted voice. But if I had 
a new gown there was no escape. 

The two districts I have mentioned, (East 
and West Farms) were divided by "Saw 
Mill Brook," the little half choked stream that 
now filters under the road between Mr. 
Hardy's and Mr. Simpkins' places. It was a 
beautiful brook in those old days, clear water 
running through fields, with trout in it. The 
saw mill must have stood about where that 
collection of tenement houses now is. 

The "child in the mill pond" belongs to 
the legendary history of Beverly Farms. 

Page forty-five 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

Coming down the hill towards Beverly, the 
most terrible shrieks would often be heard, but 
if one crossed the brook to West Farms, all was 
silent. I never heard these shrieks, I took 
good care never to be caught over there after 
dark. I should have liked to see the little 
screech owl, who, no doubt, had his quiet home 
up back of the mill, and sang his evening song, 
after the miller had closed his gates. We 
villagers have a question to propose to all our 
friends of uncertain age, — "Do you remember 
the saw-mill ? " If, inadvertently, they confess 
to its acquaintance, it settles the question of 
age. It is as good as a Family Bible. 

Miss Culbert showed me the other day, a 
great find, the remnant of the "Third Social 
Library of Beverly." I had never heard of 
such a library and was greatly interested. It 
is now in our beautiful branch library, in a 
neat book case made by one of the Obers, in 
whose house the Library was placed. I mean 
the old Joseph Ober house which stood 
where Mrs. Charles M. Cabot's house is. 

Elsie did not live opposite that house then, 
but she was going to live there. I dare say 

J age forty-six 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

she wouldn't read any one of those books, any 
more than I would. The books date back to 
1810, and many of the honored names I have 
been mentioning are there, all written down in 
beautiful handwriting, and with a tax of ten 
cents opposite their names, for the carrying 
on of this little library. There are two ser- 
mons of the beloved Joseph Emerson, who 
preached at Beverly before there was any 
church here, a funeral sermon preached on 
the occasion of Dr. Perry's grandfather's 
death, loads of sermons by Jonathan Edwards, 
great bundles of religious magazines, and 
other interesting antiquities. Not one story, 
no fiction of any sort. Those forefathers of 
ours fed on strong meat. Among the curiosi- 
ties are several letters from anxious fathers in 
Boston, making the most vigorous and pathetic 
protest against a proposed second theatre in 
Boston on Common Street. 

A second theatre in Boston! The souls of 
young people in peril! One sighs to think 
what these good fathers would have said if 
they could have pulled aside the curtain of the 
future and seen little Beverly with crowds of 

Page forty-seven 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

children accompanied by their fathers and 
mothers and uncles and aunts and cousins, all 
pouring into the "movies!" (One of these 
movies named for Lucy Larcom!) One must 
go on, and now we are trying to hope that some 
good may come out of the "movies!" If our 
little religious library was the "Third Social" 
there must have been two more in old Beverly. 
I want you to go back in your mind to a Sun- 
day of that time when even a walk to the woods 
or to the beach was wicked, when the only 
books that were proper to read were religious 
books, when there were three religious ser- 
vices every Sunday and pretty awfully long 
services. My cousin and my sister and I 
crawled up a long ladder to the third floor of 
our bam, among the pigeons' nests, and, 
nestling down in the hay, produced a novel, 
a real novel, a wishy washy thing, that no 
money could hire me to read today, and with 
quiet whisperings read that wicked book. 
We were in mortal terror lest "Aunt Phebe" 
should suspect our deep degradation, and 
"Aunt Phebe" was not a foe either. She was 
a beautiful, big, kindly woman, as Mrs. 

Page forty-eight 

Old Days at Beverly Parms 

Crowell, her step-daughter, would gladly 

One whose memory goes back like Elsie 
Doane's and mine must remember the old 
brick meeting house. My memories of it are 
pretty hazy and I fancy Elsie will have to go 
farther back than her mother, for information 
about that fine specimen of architecture. It 
had neither cupola nor spire and must have 
been pretty ugly. It must have been the 
second meeting house, in which I recall the 
beautiful alto Mrs. Otis Davis's mother used 
to sing. I shall never forget how affected my 
childish ears were when she sang "Oh, when 
thou city of my God shall I thy Courts ascend" 
as the choir rendered the anthem "Jerusalem." 

Speaking of meeting houses, our third and 
present, one of the most beautiful and "resting" 
buildings one could worship God in, is a lasting 
memorial of the taste and genius of our 
beloved Mrs. Whitman. To her and to Mr. 
Eben Day, we owe its beauty; and to the 
generous old church members we owe its 
existence at all, for they gave freely to its 

Page forty-nine 

Old Days at Beverly Parms 

The first minister I have much recollection 
of was Mr. Hale, who lived with his family in 
the house now owned by Miss Lizzie Hull. 
My step-father bought a horse from him, and 
named him "Sumner." That was Mr. Hale's 
Christian name. I have often wondered how 
Mr. Hale felt to have a horse named for him, 
but I am sure Uncle David meant it as a 

In those far away days we had a hermit of 
our own. It would be more damaging to a 
claim of youthfulness, on the part of my 
readers to remember "Johnny Widgin," than 
to remember the saw-mill. 

One late afternoon, coming out with my 
playmates from Mr. Gordon Dexter's avenue, 
then my grandfather's lane, we saw a most 
grotesque figure, standing by "Rattlesnake 
Rock," just across the railroad — a tall man, 
of perhaps fifty years, to us, of course, "an old 
man." His trousers, which, thro' all the 
years I perfectly remember, were of some kind 
of once white material, with little bows of red 
ribbon and silk sewed all over them. He 
spoke to us gently but we were all terrified and 

Page fifty 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

ran home as fast as our legs could carry us. 
This singular being afterwards came and went 
in the village for several years, cooking his 
own little vile smelling messes on kindly dis- 
posed women's stoves, sleeping in bams, 
repeating chapter after chapter of the Old 
Testament for the edification of his hearers, 
and always gentle and kindly. I recall his 
recitation of the last chapter of Malachi 
beginning "And they shall all bum like an 
oven." He was, no doubt, mildly insane and 
of Scandinavian descent, but nobody ever knew 
anything definite about him. He lived a part 
of his time, in warm weather, in a hole or cave 
of rocks, on the beach formerly owned by Mr. 
Samuel T. Morse, below Colonel Lee's. He had 
a similar retreat at York Beach. He finally 
faded out of our lives, no one knew how. 
He may have been taken up in a chariot of 
fire like his beloved prophet Elijah, for all that 
any of us ever knew of his departure from 
these earthly scenes. He was supposed to be 
Norwegian, hence his name "Johnny Wid- 
gin." My grandfather said that if he could 
not pronounce "the thick of my thumb" in 

Page fifty-one 

Old Days at Beverti; Parms 

any way but the "tick of my tumb" he was 
Norwegian. That settled it in my mind, for 
my grandfather was my oracle. (Andrew 
Larcom, Grandfather Ober had died, Ed.) 

My grandfather did not go much to church 
but he loved his Bible and Psalm book and 
from several things that I remember about 
him, I think he was Unitarian in belief, though 
in those days I did not know a Unitarian from 
a black cat, and whenever I heard of one, I 
supposed he must be a terrible kind of being. 
I was a grown woman, when one day, speaking 
of Starr King and his love for the White Hills 
and his loyalty in keeping California in the 
Union during the Civil War, the woman to 
whom I was speaking said "Well, he wasn't a 
good man." "Not a good man," I said. 
"Why" said she, "You know he was a Univer- 
salist." We have got on a little since that 
time in toleration, but we need to get on a 
little more. 

My uncles on my mother's side were great 
hunters. Foxes and minks and woodchucks 
were plentiful in those days and a good many 
of them fell into my uncles' traps. I remember 

Page Jifty-two 

Old Days at Beverlij Farms 

remonstrating with my uncle "Ed Larcom," 
about traps, telling him it was cruel, and that 
I didn't see how a good kind man like him 
could earn his living that way. "Oh" he 
said, "They were made for me!" Doesn't the 
Bible say "And he shall have dominion over 
the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the 
air, and over all the cattle, and over every 
living thing that creepeth upon the earth?" 
My uncles all said there was no better eating 
than a good fat woodchuck; that the chucks 
fed on grain and roots and clean things. The 
manner of cooking was to parboil them, stuff 
with herbs and bake. 

Some years ago, I was invited to join the 
Daughters of the Revolution, and to this end 
to look up my ancestry. To my surprise I 
could not find a single forbear of mine who 
was connected in any way with wars or ru- 
mors of wars, and I reported that I hadn't 
been able to find any of my kin who ever 
wanted to kill anything but a woodchuck. 
Since this writing, my cousin. Dr. Abbott, 
still living, at the age of ninety-five in Illinois, 
has informed me that my remote ancestor, 

Page fifty-three 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

Benjamin Ober, did valiant work on the sea in 
the Revolution. 

Elsie Doane seems to think that these scraps 
of antiquity would not be quite satisfactory 
without mention of "Jim" Perry's grocery 
store, though she never bought a pound of 
coffee in it, and, if she says she did, she thinks 
she is her mother. It was our only store and 
so was quite a feature. It was presided over 
by Mr. James Perry, a tall dignified man, 
whom his wife in her various offices as help- 
mate, always called **Mr. Perry." Mr. Perry 
was color blind and whenever my mother sent 
me for blue silk or blue yam, he always 
selected green or purple. 

You may wonder how blue silk comes to be 
a grocery product, but this was really a depart- 
ment store. When we had a half cent coming 
to us, Mrs. Perry always produced a needle, 
for the exact change. You see how honest 
we were ! This honest department store stood , 
in fact it was Pump Cottage, for I think 
Pump Cottage is the same old jackknife with 
different blades and handles. Farther up, on 
the Wenham Road, lived Deacon Joseph 

Page fifty-four 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

Williams, a beautiful old gentleman, with a dis- 
position as sunny as a ripe peach. His house 
was small and his family large. All the Wil- 
liamses in this region would look back to 
that little house as their old family homestead, 
and I was sorry when Mr. Doane decided 
that it could not be remodelled, but had to be 
taken down. 

Deacon Williams had a dog, a little black 
fellow named Carlo, who always followed the 
good man about except on Sundays. On 
Sundays, Carlo took a look at his master and 
then went and lay down dejectedly. But, as 
I have intimated before, when you remember 
the Sundays of those days, a sensible dog 
really had the best of it. In a former page of 
these odds and ends of memory I have men- 
tioned Uncle Ed Larcom and his fondness for 
hunting. A good many of us aborigines of 
old Beverly Farms will remember his talks of 
his dog Tyler, a mongrel dog, half bull dog and 
half Newfound/anrf, as Uncle Ed pronounced 
it. Tyler, according to his master (and his 
master was the most accurate teller of stories 
that ever lived, always telling his yarns in ex- 

Page fifty-five 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

actly the same words,) was a most remarkable 
dog, understanding what one said to him 
as well as a man, going a mile if he were merely 
told to fetch a missing jacket, and as full of 
fun and tricks as a monkey. Uncle Ed used 
to delight his young audiences with anecdotes 
of Tyler, and in his old age, when mind and 
memory began to fail, it was rather hard to 
hear him say, "Did I ever tell you about my 
dog Tyler?" 

He must have been named for John Tyler. 
It was hard on a good dog to be named for 
John Tyler, one of the poorest presidents we 
ever had. 

There seems to be a great deal of interest 
among our summer people in the old houses 
still left at Beverly Farms. I have mentioned 
the James Woodbury house now owned by 
Mr. J. S. Curtis; another very old house is the 
William Haskell house, owned by Mr. Gordon 
Dexter. I have a little doubt as to whether 
the date on the house is right. I have a very 
strong impression that Aunt Betsey Larcom, 
bom Haskell, told me in my childhood that 
her father built the house in which Aunt Betsey 

Page ftfly-six 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

was bom, in 1775. She also said that when 
they dug the well back of the house, they struck 
a spring and were never able to finish stoning it, 
a fact which accounted for its never running 
dry, when all the other wells in the village gave 
out. I think Mr. Dexter bought it of the 
James Haskell heirs, but I am not able to 
state what relation James Haskell (Skipper 
Jim) was to Mr. William Haskell, or how he 
came into possession of it. 

I wonder how many people are now left in 
Beverly Farms who ever tasted food cooked in 
a brick oven. I am sure there are not many. 
But those of us who ate of an Indian pudding 
or a pot of baked beans from that ancient 
source of supply will never forget the delicious- 
ness of that kind of cookery. 

The pudding would stand straight up in its 
earthen pan, a quivering red, honey-combed 
mass, surrounded with a sea of juice to be 
eaten with rich real cream in clots of loveliness. 
The beans would be brown and whole, with 
the crisp home cured pork on top. That old 
New England cookery, it seems to me, filled a 
big bill for health and physical nourishment. 

Page fifty-seven 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

We did not know much about proteins and 
calories and fibrins, in fact, we had never 
heard of them. But we somehow hit upon 
the best combinations as to taste and effi- 
ciency. We almost never had candy, and we 
rarely had all flour bread. A good deal 
of Indian meal went into my mother's 

Our amusements in those days were primi- 
tive enough. On Old Election Day, which 
came the last Wednesday in May, there was 
just one thing to do. We youngsters had an 
election cake all shining with molasses on top, 
and raisins in the middle, and we went down 
to the beach and dug wells in the sand. Now 
and then we hunted Mayflowers (saxifrage) 
and played about the old fort left from the 
Revolution and now owned by Mr. F. L. 
Higginson. Evenings we had parties and 
played Copenhagen and hunt the slipper or 
knit the family stockings by our dim oil 
lamps. Winters, there were singing schools. 
Those were great larks if we came at the 
money to buy a copy of the "Carmina Sacra," 
or the "Shawm." I still think they were 

Page fifty-eight 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

fine collections of tunes, comprising all the 
old standbys. Mrs. Lee's father, Mr. John 
Knowlton, was a wonderful singing master, 
and a great disciplinarian, with a beautiful 
bass voice. He would stand a good deal of 
fun at the recess, but when Mr. Knowlton 
struck his bell and took up his violin, we all 
knew it meant singing and no nonsense. I 
think my grandfather, Benjamin Ober, and 
Elsie's great-grandfather, Deacon David Lar- 
com, were also singing masters in the old 
days, but neither Elsie nor I remember them, 
— old as we are. 

Over "t'other side," as we called it, in the 
house now owned by Mr. J. S. Curtis, lived 
Uncle "Jimmy" Woodbury. He must have 
been a "character." He was once very much 
troubled by rats in his barn. So he conceived 
a plan for getting rid of them at his neighbor's 
expense. Uncle David Preston's estate, where 
Miss Susan Amory's house now stands, was 
diagonally opposite. 

Uncle "Jimmy" wrote a letter to the rats, 
in which he told them that in Uncle David's 
barn was more corn and better corn than they 

Page fifty-nine 

Old Days at Beverlij Farms 

were getting in his bam, and he strongly- 
recommended that they move. Then Uncle 
Jimmy kept watch and on a beautiful moon- 
light night he had the satisfaction of beholding 
a long line of rodents with an old gray fellow 
as leader, crossing the road on their way to 
Uncle David's. (I tell the story as it was told 
to me). Uncle Jimmy's daughter, Mary, 
married Dr. Wyatt C. Boyden, for many years 
the skilful family physician of half the town. 
The fine public spirited Boydens of Beverly 
are her descendants. 

By the way, the old vernacular of the 
village ought not to perish from the earth. 
It was unique. Our ancestors just hated to 
pronounce any word correctly, even when they 
were fairly good scholars and spellers. They 
called a marsh a "mash." Capt. Timothy 
Marshall, the rich man of the place, was called 
Capt. "Mashall"; Mr. Osborne was Mr. 
"Osman";theObers were "Overs", a lilac was 
a "laylock" a blue jay was a blue "gee," etc. 

In closing these rambling papers of the old 
days at Beverly Farms, my conscience accuses 
me a little of not sufficiently emphasizing 

Page sixty 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

the virtues of the villagers. Truly, they 
were a good, interesting, law-abiding, religious 
people. Everybody went to church; a tramp 
was unknown; a drunken person was nearly as 
much an astonishment as a circus would have 
been. It would be unfair to class them as 
rude fishermen and shoemakers for they came 
of the old Puritan ancestry, who built their 
churches and schoolhouses on a convenient 
spot, before they attended to anything else, 
and they paid their debts so promptly that 
Mr. William Endicott, the good merchant of 
Beverly, said that he never had any hesitation 
in selling on credit to "Farms" people. As 
one got on to middle life, almost every house- 
holder had his horse, his cows and often a yoke 
of oxen. Our favorite conveyance to school, 
in deep snows, was an ox team with poles on 
the sides of the sled, where we held on with 
shouts and screams of laughter. 

Nobody thought of hiring a nurse in cases 
of serious illness. The neighbors came with 
willing hands and helped out. It was a 
peaceful little hamlet, with kind, straight- 
forward, honest inhabitants, and the small 

Page sixty-one 

Old Days at Beverly Farms 

remnant of us who are left have reason to be 
proud of our ancestry. 

Elsie repeated to us, the other day, the 
epitaph on her great-grandfather's grave 
stone, the Deacon David Larcom, who built 
my old house, who asked the town for a 
cemetery for this village and was laid to rest 
there in 1840, the first one to be buried in its 
peaceful shadows: "His life exhibited in 
rare combination and in an uncommon degree 
all the excellencies of the husband, the father, 
the citizen and the Christian." 

The epitaph was written by Lucy Larcom, 
whose home here was on West Street. After 
she left Beverly for Lowell, and was a factory 
girl, she wrote for the "Lowell Offering," a 
little magazine published by the nice New 
England working girls. Copies of this little 
magazine were in the wonderful attic of my 
house when I came here. They were probably 
scented with Aunt Betsey's simples that 
hung from the roof. 

How I wish I could have foreseen how very 
precious they would be to me now. 

Page sixty-two 

Head enlarged from a group taken about 1899 


By Mary Larcom Dow 

Extracts from the Beacon, published in Beverly 
for a charity November 1, 1913. 

I am proud to be asked to record some of 
my pleasant days with my mother's cousin, 
Lucy Larcom. It will, of course, be natural 
to me to speak principally of the six or seven 
years during which she lived at Beverly 
Farms, the only time in which she had a real 
home of her own. It has always seemed 
strange to me that Doctor Addison in his 
biography of her, should have dismissed that 
part of her life with so few words. I know 
that it meant a great deal to her. 

My very first recollection of her was as a 
child, when she, as a young lady, came to my 
house (then owned by "Aunt Betsey") spoken 
of so affectionately in "A New England 
Girlhood." Afterward, when I bought the 
old house, she expressed her great pleasure 
and when I told her I had spent all my money 

Pag^ sixty-three 

Lucy Larcom — A Memory 

for it, she said that was quite right; it was 
like the turtle with his shell, a retreat. 

When she came here in 1866, she was in 
her early forties, a beautiful, gracious figure, 
with flowing abundant brown hair, and a 
most benignant face. She was then editor 
of "Our Young Folks." She took several 
sunny rooms near the railroad station, almost 
opposite "The witty Autocrat." He dated 
his letters from "Beverly Farms by the 
Depot," not to be outdone by his Manchester 
neighbors. The house was then owned by 
Captain Joseph Woodberry, a refined gentle- 
man of the old school. 

She brought with her at first, to these 
pleasant rooms, a favorite niece who resembled 
her in looks and in temperament, and she at 
once proceeded, with her exquisite taste, to 
make a real home for them. The bright fire 
on the hearth where we sat and talked and 
watched the logs fall apart and the sparks 
go out, was a great delight to her, and I have 
always thought that that beautiful poem 
"By the Fireside" must have been written 
"in those days." 

Page sixty-four 

Lucij Larcom — A Memory 

The woods and fields of Beverly Farms 
were then accessible to all of us, and she knew 
just where to find the first hepaticas and the 
rare spots where the linnea grew, and the 
rhodora and the arethusa, and that last pa- 
thetic blossom of the year, the witch hazel, 
and she could paint them too. 

To this home by the sea, came noted people; 
Mary Livermore, Celia Thaxter, whose sea- 
swept poems were our great delight, and 
many others. I recall one great event when 
Mr. Whittier came and took tea. He was so 
gentle and simple. The conversation turned 
on the softening of religious creeds, and he 
gave us some of his own experiences. He 
told us that when Charles Kingsley came to 
America, he went to see him at the Parker 
House, and as they walked down School 
Street, Mr. Whittier expressed his apprecia- 
tion to Mr. Kingsley for his work in that 
direction. Mr. Kingsley laughed and said, — 
"Why, when I first went to preach at Evers- 
ley, I had great difficulty in making my 
parishioners believe that God is as good as 
the average church member." 

Page sixty-fwe 

Lucy Larcom — A Memory 

There was a comfortable lounge in the 
living room at Beverly Farms, by an east 
window, and by that window was written 
"A Strip of Blue." 

I do not think that Lucy Larcom had a 
very keen sense of humor, but she enjoyed 
fun in others, and was always amused at my 
absurd exaggerations and at my brother 
David's comical sea yams. This brother of 
mine strongly resembled her in face and build, 
and also in his determination not to be poor. 
They would be rich, and they were rich to 
the end of the chapter. Her income must 
have been always slender, but I do not think 
I ever heard her say she could not afford any- 
thing. If she wanted her good neighbor, Mr. 
Josiah Obear, to harness up his red horse and 
rock-away and take her about the country- 
side, she said so, and we would go joyfully 
off, coming home, perhaps from the Essex 
fields, with a box of strawberries for her sim- 
ple supper. Always the simple life with 
nature was her wish. 

She was decidedly old-fashioned, and though 
I do not suppose she thought plays and cards 

Page sixty-six 

Lucy Larcom — A Memory 

and dancing wicked, she had still a little 
shrinking from them. I remember that now 
and then we played a game called rounce, a 
game as innocent and inane as "Dumb Mug- 
gins" but she always had a little fear that 
Captain Woodberry would discover it, which 
pleased me immensely. 

Those pleasant days at Beverly Farms 
came too soon to an end, and for the last 
part of her life I did not see so much of her. 
She remains to me a loving and helpful mem- 
ory of a serene and child -like nature, and 
"a glad heart without reproach or blot," and 
I am glad to lay this witch hazel flower of 
memory upon the grave of that daughter of 
the Puritans, Lucy Larcom. 

Page sixty-seven 


Beverly Farms, 

April 25, 1893. 
My dear Miss Baker: 

I get such pleasant letters from you that I 
quite love you, though I dare say I should 
not know you if I met you in my porridge dish 
being such a short sighted old party. And 
liking you, when you joined those other des- 
pots and lie awake o' nights, thinking how 
you can pile up more work and make life a 
burden to school ma'ams, means a good deal! ! 

Here is Miss Fanny Morse, now, whom I 
have always considered a Christian and a 
philanthropist, commissioning me to count 
and destroy belts of caterpillars' eggs for which 
the children are to have prizes! 

The children indeed! The prizes are at the 
wrong end! Miss Wilkins and I come home 
nights — "meeching" along — ^our arms full 
of the twigs — from which the nasty worms 
are beginning to crawl ! 

And now come you, asking for a tree! Yes, 
yes, dear body, we will do our possible, only 
if you hear of my raiding somebody's bam 
yard for the necessary nourishment of said 

Page sixly-eighi 


tree, or stealing a wheelbarrow or a pick and 
shovel, please think of me at my best. 

Now as to Mr. Dow, I must write his part 
seriously, I suppose, as he is a grave old 

He says he will use a part of the money — 
after proper consultation with the selectmen, 
etc. And he suggests that a part of the money 
be used to take care of the triangle and the 
trees already planted. He will write you 
when he has decided where to put additional 
trees. And if I live through the week I will 
write you whether we got a '92 tree in any- 

Yours very much, 

Mary L Dow. 

Miss Baker was Secretary of the Beverly 
Improvement Society; these letters refer to 
her work. — (Editor.) 

Page sixty-nine 


Beverly Farms, 
March 21, 1899 
My Dear Miss Baker: 

I want very much to go to Mrs. Gidding's 
high tea but I do not get out of school till 3.30 
and the train leaves at 3.34. 

But after I am graduated from a school, for 
good and all, I mean to go to some of the rest 
of these "feasts of reason and flow of soul." 
We are making fine progress with the wurrums 
and Miss Wilkins is prospering with her enter- 
prise in Wenham. 

Yours truly 

Mary L. Dow. 

P.S. My regards to your father. I am 
sorry he has been ill. I told my sub-com- 
mittee that I thought, if Mr. Baker had been 
present when my resignation was accepted, 
they would have sent me some little pleasant 
message to remember. It seemed to me that 
after teaching about a century in the town 
they might have at least told me to go to the 
d , or something of that sort. M.L.D. 

Page seventy 


'•Beverly Farms-by-the-Depot" 1918. 
Dearly Beloved G. P. : 

"Pink" has just brought me this little 
squigley piece of paper, so that my letter to 
you may be of the same size as hers — some 
people are so fussy. You sent me nine or ten 
bushels of love, and I have used them all up, 
and am hungry for more, for that kind of diet 
my appetite is always unappeased. 

How I do wish we had you within touching 
distance as well as within loving distance; I 
have always had a great desire to see more of 
you since first my eyes fell upon you. I do 
just hate to get so old that perhaps I shall 
never see you again in the flesh. But I'll be 
sure to look for you, and now and then, when 
you get a particularly good piece of good luck, 
— I shall have had something to do with it. 
That does not mean that the undertaker has 
been called and to hear James and Sarah 
Elizabeth talk, you would suppose that noth- 
ing could kill me — I only mean that 84 years 
is serious; but, for the life of me, I never do get 
very serious for long at a time. 

Jimmy and I have been out to Northfield 

Page seventy-one 


for five days, went to meeting and sang psalms 
for seven hours a day. Jimmy takes to meet- 
ings, being as Huxley said of somebody "incur- 
ably religious" — and really I did not talk much. 

The country was so sweet and beautiful, 
the spirit of the place was like the New Jerusa- 
lem come down again. We slept in the dormi- 
tory in the little iron beds side by side, "Each 
in his narrow bed forever laid", only we did 
not stay forever. 

We meant to come home by way of the 
Monadnock region, and we had a few drives 
along the Contacook River, but we ran into a 
Northeaster, and came ingloriously home. 

Have not you been in lovely places, and in 
great good fortune in your vacation? I am 
glad of it. 

I love you — so does Jimmy — and Sambo, 
and so would Billy, the neighbors' dog, who 
hangs about me for rice and kidneys, if he 
knew you. As to Pink, she flourishes like a 
green bay horse, teaches French and is in good 
spirits. Molly goes away on a vacation to- 
morrow. Poor Jim! With us for cooks! 

Remember him in your prayers. 

Thine, thine, Molly Polly. 

Page seventy-two 


Beverly Farms. 

Jan. 25, 1919. 
My Dear Mrs. Goddard: 

I didn't know till the other day, when I 
accidentally met Mr. Hakanson, that you 
had had an anxious and worried time this 
winter, with Mr. Goddard in the hospital. 
I am glad to know that he is able to be at home 
now. Tell him with my love, that our old 
neighbor, Mrs. Goodwin, once broke her leg, 
and she told me that though she expected to 
be always lame, that in a year she could not 
remember which leg was broken. 

I hope you and the boys have been well, in 
this winter of worries. As to ice, I am 
scared to death of it, nothing else ever keeps 
me in the house. 

My old assistant at school, declares that 
one winter she dragged me up and down 
Everett St., every school day! Nothing like 
the quietness of this winter at Beverly Farms 
was ever seen. I think I must suggest to the- 
Beacon St. people to come down. We have 

Page seventy-three 


had a gcxxi many dark days, but now and 
then, I lie in my bed and watch the sun come 
up and glorify the oaks on your hill. 

And then I quote to "Jim" Emerson's lines: 
"Oh! tenderly the haughty day 
Fills his blue urn with fire." 

And he likes that about as well as he likes 
the stars in the middle of the night! 

By the way, we are thinking of going to 
Colorado and Florida next month for a few 
weeks. We have got the bits in our teeth, 
though we may have to go to the City Home 
when we get back. We mean to try the 
month of March in warmer climes. We 
haven't anything to wear — but that does not 

Miss Miller comes down now and then, 
always serene, though what she finds in the 
inlook or the outlook is difficult to see. 
Serenity in her case, does not depend on 
outward circumstances. 

God bless you all, and we shall be glad to 
see our kind sensible neighbors back. 

Mary L. Dow. 

Page seventy-four 

Letters .^ 

My Dear Mrs. Goddard: 

I told the nice young person at your door, 
that I hoped I should some day soon see your 
dear face, and so I do hope. But I under- 
stand all your busy moments, and you 
understand my limitations, my having been 
bom so many years ago; and we both know 
what fine women we both be, and that's all 
about it! 

Then there never was such a salad as 
we had for our fourth of July dinner. 
And I did have a little real oil, too good for 
any hawked about stuff. I put it right on to 
those dear little onions, and that happy 
looking lettuce! And that isn't all about 
that, for there are still carrots — gentle and 
sweet — for our tomorrow's lunch. I told 
"Jim" they were good for the disposition and 
he said he didn't need carrots for his! Men 
are awfully conceited. And I am so pleased 
to see Mr. Goddard a'walking right off, 
without a limp to his name. James and Miss 
Miller send love, and so do I, while the 
beautiful hill holds you and always. 

Mary Larcom Dow. 
Monday, July 7, 1919. 

Page seventy-five 


Mrs. Dow wrote to a California friend, 
Mrs. Gertrude Payne Bridgeford, a short 
time before her death: 

"I'd give my chance of a satin gown to see 
you, and I hope I shall live to do that, but if 
I don't, remember that I love you always, 
here or there, and I quote here my favorite 
verse from Weir Mitchell, 
'Yes, I have had dear Lord, the day. 
When, at thy call, I have the night. 
Brief be the twilight as I pass 
From light to dark, from dark to light.' " 
Her prayer was answered for the twilight 
was brief. 

Page seventy-six 


Dear Elsie : 

As soon as Mary said "E. Sill" — I found 
the Fool's Prayer directly. 

It was in my mind and would not stay out. 
How well it expresses that our sins are often 
not so bad as our blunders! A splendid 
prayer for an untactful person. Perhaps I 
should not go so far as to say that want of tact 
is as bad as want of virtue — but it is pretty 
bad! From that defect, you will go scot free! 
But I often blunder. 

Your TAT is here, I am keeping it as a host- 


Your Old Schoolma'am. 

Friday, April 9, 1920. 

Page seeventy-seven 



"Wouldn't it be lovely if one could fall- 
like a leaf from a tree?" 

"Longevity is the hardest disease in the 
world to cure, you are beat from the start, 
and get worse daily!" 

"Ah, dear, sometimes I wish — almost wish 

— I did not love life so well! But I try to 
think that if it is not a long dreamless sleep 
bye and bye, that I shall take right hold of 
that other existence and love it too!"^ 

And speaking of Mr. Dow's serious illness 
she wrote: 

"I try to believe that God will not take him 
first — and leave me with no sun in the sky 

— nor bird in the bush — no flower in the 

Page seventy-eight 




It was in the autumn of 1872 that I first 
met my friend, Mary Larcom Ober, at 
Wilmington, North Carolina, where we were 
teaching in the same school. 

In the spring of 1873, she invited me to her 
home in Beverly Farms. 

How well I remember that first happy visit 
to beautiful Beverly Farms, and the first 
walk in its woods. We went through the 
grounds of the Haven estate and then to 
Dalton's hill which has such a fine outlook. 

From that time my friend's home held a 
welcome for me whenever I chose to come, 
and the welcome lasted till the close of her life. 

What a hospitality, rest and peace there 
was in the dear "house by the side of the 
road," and a never-failing kindness and 
love . What cheer at Thanksgiving and Christ- 
mas festivals when friends and neighbors came 
in to bring greetings, and stayed for friendly 
chat or a game of cards. 

Page seventy-nine 

A ppreciation bij Sarah E. Miller 

In the first years of our friendship, I made 
close acquaintance with the woods of Beverly 
Farms, for we lived our summer afternoons 
mostly out of doors in those days. We had 
two favorite places under the trees, one, on a 
little hill deep in the pines, the other, with 
glimpses of the sea, and we took our choice 
of these from day to day. 

Here in the company of books, birds and 
squirrels we used to sit, read and sew till 
the last beams of sunlight crept up to the 
tops of the pines, then gathered up books 
and work and went home. 

I learned much of book-lore in those days 
from my friend, much also of wood-lore. 
She knew the places where the spring flowers 
were hidden, hepeticas, violets, blood-root, 
the nodding columbines, and all the others, 
and we searched them out together. 

The memory of those first years at Beverly 

Farms, and of all the following years are 

among the most precious possessions that I 



Page eighty 


From Mrs. Cora Haynes Crosby: 

"I have known and loved her, our dear 
wonderful friend who has left us, ever since I 
can remember, and what a friend she has been. 

Not only was she dear to father and mother, 
but just as precious with her great, noble, 
beautiful spirit to all of us younger ones, for 
she was no older than we. 

That happy outlook on life, her love of 

everything beautiful and fine in nature, books 

and people, made her an inspiration to all who 

knew her." 

From a letter by Mrs. Margaret Haynes Pratt: 

"Ever since I was a little girl, Molly has 
been almost a member of our household. As 
a child, her visits were as much a joy to me 
as to mother and father. 

I never thought of her as old, even then — 
and a child generally marks off the years in 
relentless fashion, for Molly was always young 
to me, as she must have been to everyone 
who knew her. 

It is wonderful to have had a nature that 
so helps all who knew her to believe that life 
is immortal." 

Page eighty-one 








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