Saturday, July 28, 2012

Home History - Part II

Update:  See Home History - Part III for the latest information.

After my wife's jaunt to the government offices of our town (see Home History - Part I), I had a list of owners through the 1840's which was when our town became incorporated. Going back further was difficult at that time with the records being in a different township and also the handwriting and legal jargon make deciphering the documents worse.  Due to the recent arrival of our newborn son, making subsequent visits are not possible. Searching online is the only resource that I can use for the time being.

Referencing back to Part I, in detail now, my wife wrote out a paragraph of the property description as listed in a contract from April 15, 1842.
I, Hannah Merriam, of Wethesfield in the County of Hartford for the consideration of the love and affection which I have and entertain for my daughter, Hannah Merriam of said do grant and confirm unto the said Hannah, my daughter, one equal half of my home lot and all buildings theron standing in common with my son, Burrage:  Said lot containing two acres be the (illegible) more or less and is bounded northerly by land of William Web, easterly and south only by highway, westerly by land of Jason Boardman - Reserving to myself the use and improvement of the said desirable (illegible) during my natural life.
1842's listed seller was a Hannah Merriam. A search for the surname and my town brought up the inventory of burials in the local historic cemetery. Looking through the list I came across an interesting find. A reverend presiding over the local church, who's tomb's inscription read:

This Monument 
is Sacred to the Memory of the
Rev'd Burrage Merriam
Pastor of the Church 
of Christ in Stepney
who departed this Life
Nov 30 A.D. 1776
in the 38th year of his age
and 12th of his Ministry.

Ready & Active in Service
Through a Series of Bodily
Distresses Endured to the End.

Remembering my wife being annoyed that she couldn't decipher the earliest records of the Merriam family, getting confused with multiples of the same name appearing in the records, I recalled that there were two Hannah Merriam's from the above description of 1842. I began researching the genealogy of the Merriam family to see if I can organize this confusion of multiple names. Luckily for me, an author by the name of Charles Henry Pope has already done so in great detail. I eagerly read through the pages of Mr. Pope's 1906 book titled Merriam Genealogy in England and America and came to this entry (page 84, descendant number 67):

I then looked up Asahel, being the only surviving male child of Burrage (page 122, descendant number 146):

Both Asahel and his father, Burrage, married women named Hannah!  But that did not get me to the 1840's so I continued to follow the family line.  The only offspring producing child of Asahel's six was Edmund, the youngest.  Here is his entry (page 194, descendant 330):

After this point, the home is no longer in the ownership of the Merriam family.  I organized the names into a family tree for ease of understanding:

This tree proves that there were two women, both with the name of Hannah, of the Merriam family, living in my town in the 1840's, the good Reverend's daughter-in-law and granddaughter.  Which matches the tax records found by my wife.

While searching, I also found more information on Rev. Merriam.  Author Franklin Bowditch made a multi-volume collection of graduates of Yale University which he published in 1896.  In his book titled Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, Volume II, May, 1745 to May, 1763, Burrage Merriam is listed as:

All this leads me to believe the following (pending further research through probate records): 

Reverend Burrage Merriam graduated from Yale College (University) in 1762, and took up a position as Pastor at the Congregational Church of Stepney Parish on February 27, 1765, after the initial pastor passed away.  In the same year, he married Hannah Rice.  Sometime between February and September of 1765, he had our home built for his new family (perhaps starting in the spring when the ground is softer).  Upon his death in 1776 (assuming a flu-like illness which may have also taken his second born) the home passed to his wife, Hannah.  Their surviving son, Asahel Merriam, went on to marry Hannah Robbins and had six children.  Of whom, one was named Hannah.  Asahel passed away in 1808, and his mother later passed in 1816.  Asahel's wife, Hannah Merriam (Robbins) is the most likely heir who lived here with her children until her death in 1845.  Her daughter, Hannah Merriam (the 3rd?) continued living in the home until she (or her estate) sold it to James Warner in 1863 or thereabouts.  From then on, the Warner family owned the property until 1965, when it was sold to an "outsider" (reference Part I).

The next step is to find the Reverend's deed (if possible) and his will.  Then those documents proving the passing of the home down the Merriam line.  Once we have these events confirmed, the story's beginning has, well, a beginning.

Part III can be followed here.