Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Jerusha (Wood(s)) Gilbert Barr - Marriage Contract found in Land Records

I have been updating this post to use in Dear Myrtle's Study Group
examining Elizabeth Shown Mills' Quick Lesson Number 5 from Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source . This lesson calls for considering the laws and customs of the area and time period in which a document was created, in order gain a better understanding of its meaning and significance.
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 5: Analyzing Records,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 10 April 2016.)
   While searching for land records at, I came across an interesting entry in the index.  The marriage contract of Jerusha Gilbert, located in Deed Book 429, Page 461 and 462, is a contract between Jerusha, widow of Harvey Gilbert, and James P. Barr, agreeing that Jerusha will maintain sole control over the property she inherited from her late husband and any profits derived from it. 

Online image, Massachusetts Land Records, Worcester County;  1840-1889, Grantor Index, entry for Harvey Gilbert to James P. Barr; ( 29 April 2014.)


   Here is a transcription of the contract dated 16 November 1847.
James P. Barr to Jerusha A. Gilbert
This intention of the parts made and entered into this sixteenth day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty seven by and between James P. Barr of Brookfield in the county of Worcester of the first part, and Jerusha A. Gilbert of said Brookfield in the said county of Worcester of the other part Witnesseth that whereas the said Jerusha A. Gilbert seized to her + to her heirs of certain real estate and personal property situate and lying in said Brookfield a schedule whereof is hereunto annexed which schedule is hereunto signed by the said James P. Barr and the said Jerusha A. Gilbert upon the contract of which marriage the said James P. Barr hath agreed that if the same shall take effect then notwithstanding the said marriage he the said James P. Barr his executors, administrators or assigns shall not and will not intermeddle with, or have any right title or interest either in law or equity in or to any part of the rents issues + profits of the said real and personal estate of the said Jerusha A. Gilbert a schedule whereof is hereunto annexed but same shall remain contain and be the property of the said Jerusha A. Gilbert to her sole and separate use as she the said Jerusha a shall think fit + appoint free from the control and interference of the said James P. Barr.  And the said James P. Barr for the purpose of making this said agreement effectual in law doth for himself his heirs executors administrators and assigns covenant to and with the said Jerusha A. Gilbert by these presents and in the manner following, that is to say, that if the intended marriage shall take effect, he the said James P. Barr shall + will permit and suffer the said Jerusha A. Gilbert to give grant and dispose of her said separate estate as she shall think fit in her lifetime and to make such will or other writing as aforesaid and thereby to give order or devise limit + appoint her said separate estate to any person or persons for ant trust use interest or purpose whatsoever, and also it shall an may be lawful to + for the said Jerusha A. at any time from + after the said marriage shall take effect to commence any action or suit in law or equity in her own name against any person or persons for the recovery of any sum or fund of money now due or to grow due to her Jerusha A. on her said separate estate as aforesaid ______. In witness whereof we the said parties above named have hereunto set our hands and seals the day above written signed sealed in the presence of us.
James P. Barr (Seal)
Jerusha A. Gilbert (Seal)
Mary Ann Bliss
Jesse Bliss
[Following the agreement is a schedule of property, including a farm of about 110 acres, real estate being the same lately owned by Harvey Gilbert the late husband of said Jerusha A who is now deceased. Also listed were a few cows and some household furnishings with no value given, and a promissory note.]
   Evidence that a marriage between Jerusha Gilbert and James P. Burr, took place on Nov. 18, 1847 in Brattleboro, Vermont, just two days after the above contract was signed was found in the Family Search collection of "Vermont Vital Records, 1760-1954," which includes images of index cards and not an actual record.  I  also found Jerusha's 1869 petition for guardianship of two of her children with James Barr, which states that she is the widow of James P. Barr.

Vermont, Vital Records, 1760-1954, image index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 Apr 2014), 004542971 > image 2940 of 3920; citing State Capitol Building, Montpelier.

Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1881, images, FamilySearch (,1055526701 : accessed 30 Apr 2014), Worcester > Case no 3696-3781, Barnes, Samuel-Barrett, Danforth K, 1731-1881 > image 647 of 1113; citing Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts.
  The statute at that time said that either party in a marriage could retain individual rights for property owned before a marriage if a marriage contract was signed before the marriage. A description of a statute enacted in Massachusetts in 1845 and later codified as MGL c.209 §25. Antenuptial settlements; force and effect is explained on this web page Brief History of Enforcement of Prenuptial Agreements in Massachusetts
   Why was the document created? It was the available legal way for Jerusha to protect her interests and keep control of the real estate and personal property which she had inherited from her first husband, Harvey Gilbert. [See Worcester County Probate case 23649]
   Why was it of importance to her?  Some insight may be gained by looking at -
   1. The history of the property and in particular, the real estate which belonged to Jerusha.  Was this originally Wood property or Gilbert property?
    2. Jerusha had 4 children (Lyman, Susan, Amelia and Harvey) with Harvey Gilbert who were minors at the time of her marriage to James Barr. Perhaps she wanted to provide for them from the revenue of the farm or the proceeds of its sale.
   3. Other reasons not yet evident including possible character issues involving families involved. Was it just common sense and customary practice for a woman to protect her own interests in this way? (I have not seen any other marriage contracts, but perhaps I should look for others.)
   Action Items
   1. Trace this history of the property prior to Harvey Gilbert's Death. I know it bordered other Gilbert lands, and was originally sold to a member of the Gilbert family by a member of the Wood family. I need to look at the family relationships of the landholders for possible relevance.
   2. Reexamine probate records for Harvey Gilbert including Guardianship records for his children.  Also look for probate files for Jerusha's parents, Harvey, Srs. parents and siblings.
   3. I remember being disappointed to learn that Jerusha sold the property to her father-in-law, Aseph Barr, just 11 months after her marriage to his son.  I need to go back and determine if she sold all of the property in question, and to see if I can understand possible reasons for the sale. Were there financial or other discernible reasons for the sale?
  4. Look for instances from that time period where other woman with property married, to see if and how they maintained ownership of property brought to the marriage.
   5. Read newspapers from that time and place, and books about that era, to gain a better  insight into things that may have influenced the lives of Jerusha and her family.
New Information Since Writing This Post
Guardianship records for the four children of Harvey and Jerusha Gilbert show that Jerusha tried to have their guardian removed after he threatened to take them away from her and bind them out.  It appears that either she changed her mind, or that she was unsuccessful, as I did not find a document allowing or disallowing her request, and the children were not released by their guardian until years later. Susan Barr age 11 appears in Jerusha's household in the 1850 U.S. Census, but not the other Gilbert children. None of the children were found in her household in the Massachusetts State Census of 1855. Further examination of these and other records is needed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Clifford J. Hyuck - Beloved Country Doctor

    Clifford John Huyck was born Dec. 25, 1873 in Exeter, New York to Robert L. and Margaret (Warner) Huyck.  He studied medicine at New York Homeopathic College and Flower Hospital,  New York City, and was an 1896 graduate of Cleveland University of Medicine and Surgery.   A handwritten letter found in  (Town Records of Hancock, New Hampshire),  shows that on July 3, 1897, Dr. Huyck was appointed a health officer for the town of Hancock, and took the oath of the office that day.  It was a three year appointment.  That same year, on November 10th, Clifford married Elnora Parintha Pangburn, in Palermo, New York.  The young couple lived in Acworth, Sullivan, New Hampshire in June of 1900, where, in August of that year, a daughter, Freeda Elnora, was born.
   The family left New Hampshire the following year, and Clifford went to work in Massachusetts, in the Westborough Insane Hospital, as an Assistant Physician. He made a five year study of Neuropsychiatry while there.  From Westborough he moved to Gilbertville, (a village in the town of Hardwick, MA), and then to West Brookfield in 1907.  Clifford and Elnora, welcomed a second daughter, Margaret Lovina into the family in 1912.
  On October 25, 1918, during World War I, Dr. Huyck accepted a commission as a Captain in the United States Army Medical Corp, and served at Fort Porter in Buffalo, New York.  He was honorably discharged on Feb. 28, 1919, and returned to West Brookfield to resume his practice, and once again participate in the affairs of local organizations.  He was a Mason, chairman of the town's Board of Health, and was instrumental in gaining the charter for the local American Legion Post, chartered August 1, 1920.  Dr. Huyck was also active in Civil Defense matters.
  Clifford Huyck died in Cushing VA Hospital in Framingham, MA on August 31, 1952, and was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery in West Brookfield.  He was remembered in a tribute in the Springfield Sunday Republican, published Sept. 7, 1952, as a "beloved country doctor.... a highly important factor in the community.....friend, counselor, and benefactor, as well as doctor."

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Maggie (Joyce) Osborn - A Tragic Death

   Margaret Joyce was born February 28, 1863, in West Brookfield to Irish immigrants, William and Julia (Hyland) Joyce.  As a young woman, she moved to the city of Springfield, Massachusetts, where she found work as a housekeeper.  There she met and married, Hubert P. Osborn, a Civil War veteran.  Sometime after their marriage, on May 11, 1892, the couple moved to nearby Agawam, MA, where they were enumerated in the 1900 U. S. Census.  Hubert left Massachusetts and headed west to South Dakota, where he died in 1906.  I have been unable to ascertain Maggie's whereabouts between the time of the 1900 census and the fall of 1914 when she secured a room in a lodging house at 72 Pynchon Street, in Springfield.
  Page one of the "Springfield Republican" published Wednesday. December 30th, 1914, has the following headline:

                                        THREE KILLED BY GAS

                                      IN LODGING HOUSE ROOM

                                                 TWO WOMEN AND A MAN
                                        Mrs. Margaret Osborn, her Sister Josephine Joyce,
                                              and Man believed to be Their Brother
                                                         Dead When Discovered

   Maggie had arranged for lodging in the home just a couple months prior to her death.  It appears that her sister Josephine (born Julia) may have been with her at the time.  According to neighbors, the two sisters and the man (who turned out to be James Mahoney and not their brother James, as first thought), had been drinking liquor quite heavily for days.  The room was equipped with a coin operated gas supply, known as a quarter meter, which supplied gas to a stove and a burner. Apparently the time on the gas meter expired, the flames went out, but the gas had been left on.  Sometime later someone put a quarter in the meter, re-lit only the stove, and thus gas filled the room.  All were asphyxiated and dead when discovered by a neighbor who was alerted by the odor of the gas.
  Police investigated, and were, at first unable to identify the victims. Using information from neighbors, who knew the women to be from West Brookfield, and knew the man as Mr. Joyce, Springfield police made inquiries in West Brookfield.  Maggie's identity, and the probability that the sister know as Josephine was most likely Julia were later confirmed.  The police, in the course of the investigation found a copy of Maggie and Hubert Osborn's marriage record, and also a letter from the commandant of the soldiers' home in Hot Springs, South Dakota, informing Maggie of Hubert's death.  A letter from, Willie, a nephew, was also found. (Willie was most likely Josephine/Julia's son William Edward Joyce.)
   Margaret Osborn's death certificate, Registered No. 1776,  filed in Springfield gives the cause of death as "Accidental Suffocation due to the inhalation of illuminating gas during a period of intoxication."  Her sister Lizzie gave the personal and statistical information on the form, providing a birth date which was one year and one month later than Margaret's birth date in West Brookfield town records. 
  The newspaper article, found on the Genealogy Bank site, provided information, new to me, regarding the death of Hubert.  I also had not known that Julia used the name Josephine.  The article also contained information that I knew not to be true.  Maggie's brother James had been named as a surviving uncle to Willie, in a 1941 obituary, so I was quite certain that he was not the man found dead with Maggie and Julia.  A nephew, Claude Bugbee was named.  Claude was not a nephew, but his wife Julia (Bell) Bugbee was a niece.

Sources; - Massachusetts Vital Records 1841-1910, Massachusetts Vital Records 1911 - 1915 - above named article; and obituary of William Joyce, Springfield Sunday Union and Republican, Aug. 3, 1941, pg. 14A


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Martha L. (Warren) Maynard

    Martha Lyman Warren was born May 29, 1828 in Westborough, Massachusetts.  Three months before Martha was born, her father, Lyman Warren, died at the age of thirty-two, leaving his widow, Sally (Claffin) Warren, to raise their four young daughters.
    I have no information about Martha's life from the time of her birth until 1850, when she was enumerated in the US Census with the family of boot manufacturer, George Daniel, in Holliston, MA.  Also living in Holliston at that time, in the household of Josephus Cutler, was a young boot maker named Onslow Maynard.  Onslow was also originally from Westborough. Martha Warren and Onslow Maynard married in Springfield, MA, by Clergyman S. G. Buckingham, on October 16, 1850.  By the time of the 1855 Massachusetts Census, the Maynards had settled in West Brookfield where Onslow worked as a shoemaker.  They shared a dwelling with Martha's sister Jane, and her husband Lyman H. Chamberlain.   Martha's mother, Sally Warren, lived in the Chamberlain household.
   In 1861, Onslow took over the management of the refreshment concession, including a large dining room, at the Boston and Western Railroad depot in town.  Martha, who assisted him, quickly developed a reputation as a wonderful cook. Every train passing through town stopped in order for passengers and crew to eat. Onslow died in 1873, and Martha continued the business as long as the facility remained.  When a new train station was built in 1885, Martha opened a small eatery not far away.  Later she opened a small business at the corner of Central and Front Sts., just across the road from the new depot.  This business, which included a restaurant, and a store where newspapers, candy, and tobacco were sold, was operated by Martha until her retirement.
   Martha was a member of the Congregational church choir for many years, and while Onslow was still living, she helped him with old fashioned singing schools according to her obituary.  She died at home in West Brookfield on February 2, 1919, at the age of ninety, and was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery.  She never had children, and no close relatives survived her. 
   A short Biography of Onslow Maynard found on page 179 in Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts, Volume 3, by Ellery Bicknell Crane, says that Onslow studied music, and was proficient in playing the guitar, harp, base viol and piano.  It further states that he "travelled extensively throughout the United States concertizing, and was widely known as a musician of ability."  I have not found evidence of his travels or performances, but as the biography later stated, he did teach music in West Brookfield as evidenced by his stated occupation of "Music Teacher" on the 1860 US Census.

 1. A History of West Brookfield: 1675-1990; Jeffrey H. Fiske; West Brookfield Historical Commission; 2009
 2.  Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of   Worcester County, Massachusetts, Volume 3; Ellery Bicknell Crane;
 3.  MA Vital Records,
  Worcester County Land Records;
 4. 1855 MA Census, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900 US Census,
  5. Obituary of Martha L. Maynard; Springfield Daily Republican, 2/14/1919, p. 17;