Sunday, August 28, 2016


                We can only guess about this portion of Hannah’s life as virtually nothing has ever been written about it.  My guess is that John and Hannah and their little family probably lived with her parents, Zebulon and Lydia Libby until John could have prepared his farm for habitation.  Zebulon Libby was a blacksmith by trade and since Dominicus, William F and Philip all became blacksmiths it is possible that John picked up this trade at this time.  There is no evidence that John learned the blacksmith trade but it is a possibility.    

                In any case there is evidence that by the time of Almira’s birth John had already begun to make plans to move from the Scarborough area.  Their farm in Scarborough & Saco consisted of 72 acres.  By 1808 John and Hannah had built a house and a barn on the property.  Just fifteen days after Almira was born, John sold half of this farm for $600 dollars to Jonathan Foss.  As a later deed will disclose, this sale consisted of half of his land and half of his barn.  Probably the half of the farm that was sold was unimproved land.  It is doubtful that John could farm all 72 acres of the farm in any case.  Probably only a few acres were actually farmed.  The rest of the land was probably used for timber harvesting as that was a big industry in Scarborough.  Since John and Hannah continued to live on this land this deed of sale was for future consideration as Jonathan Foss didn’t record the deed for a year and a half (11 Aug 1809).  Obviously the arrangement was that when John was ready Foss could take possession.

                By September 1808 Hannah was again pregnant. This would not have been a good time for the family to move but on Almira’s first birthday on 8 Mar 1809 John made two interesting deeds.  First he sold the rest of his farm that they were living on to Jonathan McKinney (obviously a kinsman as his grandmother was a McKinney.)  As before this deed was for the other half of the farm including the house and half of the barn.  As the facts will show the family would continue to live on the land that they had sold for about two years.

Newry sign at intersection of Highways 2 and 26.

                On the same day as the previous deed (8 Mar 1809) made his first purchase of land in Newry, Maine.  His sales in Scarborough netted him the $1200 which was the same as he initially had invested in the 72 acres there. Newry was a frontier town in 1809 and the price of land was much less.  On that same day (8 Mar 1809) he purchased 50 acres (the south half of Lot 1 in Range 3) in Newry for $100.   Two months later John purchased Lot 2 of Range 3 (100 acres) and 14 acres of Lot 14 in the same range for $500.  Thus they went from owning 72 acres to owning 164 acres plus having a net profit of $600 dollars.      
                This property was probably totally undeveloped.  John would never actually clear more than a few acres of the total acreage as only a few acres would ever be used based on the town tax records.  But the effort to clear a single acre had to be enormous.  Having been to Newry this writer can attest that there are literally hundreds of trees on every acre and it would take a huge effort to clear this land.  In a previous episode on this narrative it was explained how a new farm in Maine was traditionally created.

Carter Home was about 1/4 of a mile behind this home.
                Because of the time it took to clear and prepare the virgin land for habitation it was common for farmers to remain on their established farm for 2 or 3 years while the new owner/farmer  would spend the summers (or at least part of the summers) clearing and preparing the new farm.  Once the new farm was developed enough then the farmer would physically move there.  This appears to be the pattern that John and Hannah followed.

                The year 1809 was a busy year for this young family.  Less than two months after this second purchase of land in Newry, Hannah gave birth to her third and last child in Scarborough, Hannah on 28 June 1809.  I am sure this was the reason John had put off making purchases of land in Newry.  Possibly before, and surely after, Hannah’s birth, John must have begun to cut down the trees on the land that he would need for his new farm.  He made $600 profit in the sale of his Scarborough land so possibly he hired someone to help him clear the Newry property.  It was too late in the season in Newry to plant anything in 1809 so this year was probably spent with John spending most of his time in Newry working on this new land.  Hannah was at home back in Newry tending to her newborn and year old Almira and 3 year old Dominicus.  There is no way she would have been able to take care of the Scarborough farm so probably the two purchasers (Foss and McKinney) or family members of one of their families helped care for the land that year.  In any case 1809 was probably a year of sacrifice by all.

                In 1810 the family probably again spent a year with John split between tending his farm in Scarborough and clearing more land and probably erecting a home in Newry.  Jonathan McKinney recorded his deed for the house, half the barn and his half of the 72 acres in Scarborough / Saco on 14 July 1810 almost a year and a half after he purchased it.  But it appears that John and Hannah still had possession of the home as they were enumerated there on the 1810 census (which wasn’t started until August 1810 and was taken over the following 10 months.)   It appears that John and Hannah didn’t actually move to Newry until probably the spring of 1811 – as they were first taxed there on that year. 

                So between 1810 and 1811 our little family bid their families farewell and trekked into upstate Maine to start a new life in a very primitive location.  It must have been hard on both of these natives of Scarborough to up and leave friends and kin.  One must think that there was something driving the family away from the sea coast up into the forests of upstate Maine.  The War of 1812 was already happening with the British impressing sailors daring to not trade with the British though the formal declaration of war didn’t occur until President Madison made the declaration on 8 June 1812.   In any case if John needed to stay out of the eyes of the British armies, moving to Newry was a good choice of a hiding place.

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