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History of Home

The Hale-Goodrich House Dinner Lecture June 9, 2013
The House that Frances Built
2016 Main Street Glastonbury CT
By Susan G Motycka

This is the house that Frances built. The house where my father and grandfather were born; the housewhere I grew up! About 50 years ago my parents decided to downsize and sold the property. Much has changedsince then--more than I ever could imagine.
The Goodrich association with this property first began in 1646 when my ancestor, William Goodrichpurchased parcel #13 in Naubuc Farms. Naubuc Farms was the section of Wethersfield on the east side of the Connecticut River. At first it was undeveloped farmland, but in 1639 the proprietors of Wethersfield had itsurveyed and it was divided into 34 parcels. Each parcel began at the river and continued three miles into the wilderness. The width depended on the topography of the land. Parcel # 13 was one of the narrowest plots. The southern border of his property is just north of this house. Although William never lived on this side of the river, generations of his children and grandchildren built homes on his property. A section of the yard near where we're seated tonight was owned by his grandsonJeremiah, my 5th great grandfather.

In 1740 Jeremiah sold 4 liz acres including his house, a shoemaker's shop,and a tanning house with tanning fats, to Zephaniah Hollister and moved to Portland. Zephaniah continued to operate the tannery.During the Revolution, Ebenezer Plummer and Sylvester Pulsifer had a potash work here. Theypurchased wood ashes from Glastonbury families and turned them into potash. Potash is an importantingredient in gunpowder. It's also needed to make lye for soap and for "pearl ash," which was a predecessor of baking soda. An interesting product; you could shoot it, wash with it, or cook with it. About the time Jeremiah sold his property, Timothy Hale purchased 26 acres in the adjoining parcel #14 and built his homestead, which is directly across the street from this house. He gave that house to his son,Timothy Jr. and gave adjacent land to his grandson Benjamin who built the yellow Georgian brick house. (It's interesting to note that after the death of his 15t wife, Hannah, Timothy Jr. married Ruth Kimberly, the widow of J ererniah Goodrich.) Benjamin was an only child. He inherited extensive property on both sides of the country road, which is now Main Street. In 1812, when his son, also named Timothy, got married, he gave him land on this side of the road. Timothy built a small red brick house. Seven years after his marriage Timothy died. He was in New Orleans, returning from Liverpool, England where he had arranged a freight of coal and brick for his brother's ship. He had been in poor health and his father thought a sea voyage would do him good. Obviously it didn't. He left his 26 year old widow, Ann and two young sons; 3 year old Atwater and baby, Timothy Jr. Ten years after their father's death, Benjamin gave his grandsons additional acreage and buildings. Timothy Jr. died a few years later and Atwater inherited his share. Atwater developed the property into a sizable farm. He raised corn, rye, hay, potatoes and tobacco. By the age of 24 he was a successful farmer and an eligible bachelor. That's when Frances entered the picture. Frances Sage Edwards grew up on a farm in Bridgehampton, Long Island. Her ancestors were early settlers of Long Island. Another branch of the family came to Wethersfield. I don't know how she met Atwater. Records show that members of the hale family married members of the Wethersfield Edwards family. It's also possible that Atwater was a friend of Henry Snook of South Glastonbury, who was married to her older sister Deborah. Certainly Frances came to Glastonbury to visit. The CT River provided easy access to Long Island via the Sound. By steamship Glastonbury and Bridgehampton were a mere 10 Y:z hours apart. A distant cousin described Frances and her 6 sisters as "strong women of hardy stock." Probably based on youthful photos in which they're all rather pudgy! In contrast, a memoire written in 1930 by Mary Hale, who lived in the "yellow brick" across the street, described Atwater as "a very small man with a squeaky voice."

In October 1842, 20 years old Frances married Atwater and moved into the little red brick house. Of course her 42 year old mother-in-law also lived there. She had been left Y:z of her husband's estate and life use of the house. Several years after a happy but childless marriage, Frances' brother Herman suddenly died of consumption. His widow, Lucy was left with 3 children under the age of 4. Unable to support herself and the
children, she made a difficult decision. She sent Maria and Deborah to live with relatives and took a job as a nurse, while her mother cared for baby, Herman. Anne Hale shared a similar hardship. Atwater was Deborah's age when his father had died. Frances was
extremely close to her family, so their decision was probably an easy one. They wanted to adopt 3 year old  Deborah Hale Edwards. Deborah, or Dell has she was called, had been given the middle name Hale. It is entirely possible that she was their godchild. Frances and Atwater promised to give her a home and a good education. Six months later, Lucy gave up the "care, control and all rights and custody" of Deborah and brought her to Glastonbury. According to Mary Hale's memoire, the family led a dull life, She wrote that Atwater was" reputed to be quite 'near.' How we hated to see him coming. He would stay forever talking about some old plough or some
such thing. His wife was of a more expansive nature, and after he had gone, she had a good time, spending the money he had so carefully saved .... There was an adopted daughter, Deborah, about my age, and I used to feel sorry for her because it didn't seem as if she could have any good times in that house, what with her father and
his mother, Aunt Ann." I think that Mary tended to exaggerate a bit. She was perhaps somewhat of a "busybody." In 1891, Deborah noted in her diary that: "Mary Hale called this morning, I have not seen her for some time but she has not changed a great deal."
Several years before Frances arrived in Glastonbury, the First Church had moved to its third and present location. The Hales were active church members. Frances had a large collection of religious books- many of which I inherited! She must have been in a study group. I have a picture of her in her parlor with several other women, all have Bibles on their laps.

In 1859, with other members of First Church, Atwater, Frances and Ann
signed a pledge of temperance. They pledged not to manufacture, sell or use any intoxicating drinks and beverages. This was way before Prohibition.
Young Deborah may have attended the school on the Green, just behind the Town House. Later she probably attended the private school across the street in the Conference house, just north of Joseph Wright's house. The Conference House was once owned by First Church. It was used for Sunday school, lectures and other church activities. Later, Deacon Wright's son used it for a private school. The building is now located to the south of this house. Deborah bought it and had it moved there in the 1890s. In 1869,23 year old, Deborah married 25 year old John Quincy Goodrich of Portland. His family lived near the Glastonbury town line, but his relatives lived next door and further up the street. He had probably known Dell for many years. After their marriage the young couple lived on his family farm in Portland. John kept a diary for many years. Because of that, I know quite a bit about what life was like for the
Goodrich and Hale families. My ancestors became "real." I experienced their joy and their heartbreak. Atwater died of typhoid pneumonia in December 1874. He left an estate of about $80,000, which included a large farm. The following March his mother, Ann died; leaving all of her household possessions to her daughter-in-law. At the age of 51, Frances was a wealthy woman.

In October 8, 1875 the following article appeared in the Hartford Courant. "The splendid residence of Mrs. Atwater Hale is now about completed and the grading of the grounds is being done by Mr. J. B. Mosley who has remarkable tastes and capabilities." Further study of family records revealed that the house had been built by Albert Barrows at a cost of approximately $7000. In those
days, that was a considerable sum. It was a short time between Atwater's death in December and the house's completion in October. Had Atwater and Frances planned to build a new house? Did they ask John and Deborah to relocate and help manage the farm? Or were these decision made by Frances? Was the old house in poor condition or too small to accommodate a second family? There is no record of what happened to the "red brick." And--unfortunately there are no diary entries from that time period, so these are questions we can never answer. With the help of her son-in-law, Frances planned and supervised the construction of her fashionable new home. Even though there were no personal entries, John listed many of building's features in the back of his
diary. Everything was to be of the "best quality:" The "best tin for the roof of the bay windows;" "gutters lined with the best tin;" "the "best long clapboards." Brass knobs were specified for the doors. Plans called for heptagon bay windows with inside blind and fasteners with walnut corners. Glass doors for the pantry closets. There was concern for the quality of the slate and its color and shape ... , and mention was made of "hooks in Plant room." It wasn't called a "Herbarium." That's a 20th century realtor's description.

In 1980 a historic survey described the house as a magnificent example of Victorian architecture ... a mansard roof with multi-colored slates; a molded cornice with a heavily paneled frieze; a front doorway with an arched entrance supported by slender round columns; and double doors with etched glass panels.
Following its completion, Frances and the Goodrich family, which now included 5 year old Addie Verginia, moved into the new French Second Empire style house. Several years later, on November 22, 1879, my grandfather, Charles Edwards Goodrich was born. During the past fifty years each owner has made appropriate-and sometimes questionable changes. It's no longer white with green shutters ... I guess my family was too conservative to experiment with color. Rooms have been altered and reconfigured. They serve different purposes. The original kitchen was in the back of the house where the family room now is. The two story ell with a mansard roof had a separate chimney for the stove. When my parents were married, the room above the kitchen became their kitchen; today it's the master bath. When this house was built it had no bathrooms. As
soon as modern plumbing became available a second floor rear bedroom and a downstairs closet were converted into bathrooms. 1'd been forewarned about the red bathtub! If anyone thinks it was there during the Hale-Goodrich years, think again.

In his diary in April of 1887 John wrote that Mr. Totten and Mr. House were getting ready to put an addition on the kitchen. Perhaps that's when the large enclosed porch was built. The porch had a flat roof, unlike the rest of the house. It had windows on 3 sides, glass in the winter and screens in the summer. The porch became the entry for the kitchen and the second floor stairway, which continued to the 3m floor. The
original house had two open verandas on the south side, one became the first floor sun porch and the other no longer exists. The sun porches were added in the 1920s when my father was recuperating from pleurisy. The original dining room has been converted to a kitchen; the living room is now the dining room; and the once formal "front parlor" (or as we called it "the piano room") is the living room. All three still have Italian marble mantled fireplaces, designed to burn coal. A large pantry fills the space that once was the middle stairway. For some reason, that was removed by a previous owner. Although it was quite steep and somewhat dark, it was very convenient. It probably was once used by the household help, since it was adjacent to the 3rd floor staircase. Behind the stairs was the office room with its huge storage closet. A similar closet on the
opposite side of the room later became a bathroom. Next to the office were two bedrooms. Each had a small wood burning fireplace. The front foyer had, and still has, two sets of entry doors. Probably to keep the cold out! I'm glad to see that the cranberry glass window still lights the front staircase landing. The full-length gold mirror in the front entryway was originally in the upstairs hall next to my bedroom door. In that space is a new stairway to the 3M floor. The mirror is the one furnishing that hopefully will always remain in the house.The family bedrooms and sitting rooms were on the second floor.

During the 90 years that the Hale and  Goodrich families occupied the house, as many as six generations lived there together. I really don't know who
slept where. The hired help often used the rear bedrooms as well as the two bedrooms and sitting area on the third floor. The north side was unfinished attic. All the servants' quarters were accessed by the stairway from the back porch. There were no fireplaces on the second or third floor; instead they had small coal stoves. In 1885 plumbers put in a new steam furnace. I think some of the old radiators may still be in use.
The basement had coal bins, accessed by an outside chute. There was a cold cellar for preserving fruits and vegetables and many cupboards for storing canned goods and homemade wine. The main area of the basement was designed for sorting and stripping tobacco. There were formal gardens on the south and east side of the house. The beds were enclosed by rose covered arbors. Peonies served as the center piece. Iris, poppies, phlox, and other colorful flowers bloomed from spring to fall. Apple trees and grape arbors provided fruit for pies, preserves, and beverages. John Goodrich kept horses, cows, chickens, pigs, and a team of oxen. Numerous outbuildings, carriage
sheds, barns, and a tobacco shed were located behind the house. A corncrib and an outhouse for farm workers were next to the barn yard behind the cow barn.
The side and rear property included Hubbard Brook and the swamp area, bounded by Williams Street, Maple Street, and the Green Cemetery. The rear area along the south and east was fenced pasture. The rest of the land was used for crops. Hay, corn, and rye were raised in the meadows. The family owned additional land between Neipsic Road and New London Turnpike where most of the tobacco was grown. John's diaries indicated that he was active in town politic and town elections. He  was a "school visitor" (sort of like the Board of Ed.). His daily entries weren't always exciting.-For example-- May 11, 1878 "Have been to Hartford with the butter, bought a new team harness for $20. Joe spaded up Dell's flower beds. Fixed the stove pipe and took out two loads of manure. Moved the kitchen stove into the basement." (Apparently they cooked in the basement in the summer to kept heat out of the kitchen. Gas grills hadn't been invented back then. My Dad loved to grill; he built the fireplace that's in the back yard.) In contrast to John's activities, the women seemed to have more fun.

The following October he wrote: "Dell and Mother Hale started for Michigan this afternoon. They intend to be gone 3 or 4 weeks and visit Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Kansas. Addie and I went to Hartford with them. It is quite lonely tonight without them." A later entry said that on the way home they stopped in Grand Rapids and Frances bought a parlor set. It was delivered to the Hartford and New Haven Freight Depot in December. John took the horse and wagon to Hartford to pick it up. Frances often went to Sag Harbor where she owned considerable property including a farm. (She left them to her sisters in her will.) She usually took the steamer Sunshine from Naubuc. If she needed her carriage she had to go to Hartford because the boat didn't stop in Glastonbury long enough to load horses. Sometimes Dell and the children would accompany her. Occasionally John went too. They could leave after breakfast and
be in Long Island in time for dinner. Frances liked to travel by train and enjoyed having her daughter as a companion. I was surprised to read that in 1880, when my grandfather was only a year old, Frances and Dell went to Colorado for 6 weeks. John
was left at home with the children. That was probably possible because the family employed several servants. According to the census of 1880, in addition to Frances and the Goodrich family, there were 3 laborers and 2 domestic workers. Two came from Sweden and another from Ireland. John mentioned going to Castle Gardens by boat to hire "greenings" off the boat. (Castle Gardens was the predecessor of Ellis Island. It opened in 1855 and closed in 1890.) If the workers had families, he provided housing. Typical pay was $9.60 a month. Unfortunately several of the workers had a serious problem with alcohol. Obviously they were not members of First Church and didn't sign the pledge or attend the frequent Temperance Lectures. Usually the trouble concerned the men, but occasionally the women were involved. While Frances and Dell were on one of their many trips, Mary, the hired girl got drunk. John locked her in her room but she jumped out the window and nearly broke her leg. Dell and John frequently went to Groton to see Dell's natural mother. Lucy had remarried a distant cousin named Albert Avery. My great-aunt said he didn't like children, although he raised Dell's brother Herman. Throughout the diary John mentions visits from Mother Avery. During the last years of her life, she lived here in this house. Obviously Dell adjusted well to having two mothers.

John died unexpectedly in 1890. Deborah continued his diary for several years. She was heartbroken and  at times it almost made me cry. She purchased a new cemetery lot in the Green Cemetery. She could see his grave from her kitchen window. She continued to hire workers and maintain the family tobacco farm. Several years later Frances died and 45 year old Deborah inherited the house and property.
Her life turned around soon after she hired Elijah Keene to manage the farm. The diary entries slowly changed. A love story evolved. She wrote that on the way to Grange one evening, Elijah said that people were starting to talk. That's about where the diary ends. In 1893 Deborah and Elijah were married. In addition to raising tobacco, Elijah had a veterinary practice. I have no idea how he became a veterinary surgeon. There's no record of formal study. Perhaps he just put up a sign. He was also a noted
horseman; he and his horse Ginger were regulars at the Pinney Race track. (The Pinney Race track was located about a mile down Main Street. The race track covered the area now known as Buttonball. That's why the streets are named Carriage Drive, Surrey Lane etc.) After my grandfather, Charles completed his studies at Worcester Academy, he and his step father, Dr. Keene established a freight company, "Keene and Goodrich Express, Heavy Teaming in all its branches." The business was connected to the early telephone line. It was prior to the time of motor-driven vehicles.

 And speaking of the Telephone line .. . earlier I mentioned that Dell bought the old Conference House and moved it to the lot on the south side of her house. She installed a "water closet" with the necessary water and sewer connections and leased it to the Southern New England Telephone Company for the 1st local telephone exchange. In 1911 the "Hello girls" kept busy connecting calls to the 101 telephones in town. There was extra room in the house after Addie got married, so in addition to 2 farm workers and 2 hired girls, Deborah rented rooms to Everett Hurlburt, a chemist and later President, of J. B. Williams Soap Factory, (he married the bosses daughter) and another soap mill worker.

When Charles married Helen Belle Griswold in 1905, they moved into the house with Deborah and Elijah. The property was an active farm, similar to the one at the corner of Main and Griswold Streets where Nellie, as she was called, grew up. Nellie and Charles had a son, John Quincy, who was named for the grandfather he never knew.
For many years Charles continued to raise tobacco. In 1918 he was elected to the State Legislature. For 24 years he was a Commissioner for the County of Hartford. By 1940 he was no longer involved in tobacco farming and his land and tobacco sheds were leased to The Consolidated Cigar Corporation. When my father married Grace Miller they moved into the second floor of this house. That's where my brother, John Quincy Goodrich Jr. and I enter the story. Jack and I were fortunate to grow up in this fascinating house. Of course we didn't realize it. My friends thought I was lucky, but I envied their modern capes and ranch houses. They had new furniture, but we
had old "Victorian stuff." My bedroom, which was above the front parlor, had a bay window. The room was as large as the living room in my current home. The old steam heat rattled the radiators. I always checked the closets and under my bed-just to make certain there were no ghosts present. Outside of my door was the main stairway leading to my grandparent's quarters. I spent lots of time downstairs with them- we all did.
After my grandmother died, my mother moved her kitchen downstairs. Only the washing machine and ironing board remained in the "upstairs kitchen." Practically every room had a name: "the office room, the plant room, the TV room, the piano room, the train room, the upstairs sun porch, etc. We often played in the empty 3m floor attic bedrooms. Our large side yard was the neighborhood playground. There was plenty of room for ball games, croquet and badminton. If we'd known then about the Tannery and Potash works that were once there, we would certainly have done some serious digging. Instead our digging was mostly around the barns. All we ever found were old cow bones. The barns were another treat. We jumped in the hay and played in the old veterinary office. There were all kinds of old wagons and sleighs. Sometimes my father or grandfather would hitch up one of the horses and we'd go for a ride. I had my own horse and had plenty of places to ride in the Glastonbury meadows directly across the street. My grandfather owned several cows, so we always had milk, cream and homemade butter. How I wished we could buy that margarine with the purple spot you rubbed until it became yellow. Behind the house were large gardens. I remember how hard my mother and grandmother worked canning all the vegetables that George, our hired man, brought in. They had a wonderful relationship.

We were truly a blended family. Although my grandfather no longer raised tobacco, the Cigar Corporation leased the one remaining shed in our backyard. We'd often watch the workers as the hung the leaves. After the crop was removed, we'd have a wonderful time playing in the large empty space. By the time my grandfather died in 1952, maintenance was getting to be a problem. Times had changed. My Dad, who was a bank president, was active in church and state and local activities. He served on the local Board of Finance for 25 years. (Everyone in the Goodrich family has always been involved in local government.) He found it difficult to continue as a "Gentleman farmer." Full time help was a necessity both inside and outside of the house. Jack and I went away to school. My parents were alone in the big house. When Dave and I were married, they didn't offer us the opportunity to live upstairs. Instead, my father found us a good mortgage for the house we planned to build. We did end up living there for about 6 months before our house was completed. By that time our daughter, Deborah had been born; again the house held three generations. In 1963 my parents built a new house and sold the old homestead. The shed, barns and out buildings are just memories. The property has been subdivided and a driveway cuts through the north lawn. But the house that Frances built remains an imposing fixture on Main Street. Thanks Brian and Jane for your time consuming and meticulous restoration of this wonderful house ... and sharing it with us.