Myra Louisa (Sawyer) Hamlin.

Eleazer Hamlin and his descendants; online

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lEleaser Ibamlin anb Ibis

Zbciv Ibomes

By Myra Sawyer Hamlin





Two CoDles Received

FEB 5 1909

Copyritnl tntiy


Copyright igoq
By Alyra Sawyer Hamlin, Bangor, Maine.


This little book, with its many omissions, does not aim
to be comprehensive as to genealogy, biography or his-
tory. While indebted to H. F. Andrews' Hamlin Family,
to Charles E. Hamlin's Life and Times of Hannibal Ham-
lin, to Dr. Cyrus Hamlin's My Life and Times, for many
facts, the compiler of this sketch has designed only to
trace the relationship of the families of the tribes of
Eleazer most closely allied, and to set in a local back-
ground a few of the most prominent ancestors of the
present generation. The inspiration of the work is due
to Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Hamlin of Boston, without
whose cooperation it could not have been done by

Myra Sawyer Hamlin.


Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be
long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

'HE historian of the Hamlin family notes
that the Hamlins were originally Teu-
tonic tribes living along the banks of
the river Elbe, the name Hamlin being
derived from the old Saxon words Ham
and Lyna, meaning home and pool.
Since then the home is of intrinsic value to the Hamlins,
as shown by having been carried in the name for many
centuries, it has become the task of one of the tribe of
Eleazer to gather and preserve some of the memorials
of the homes in which many of their ancestors were born
and reared and from which others went forth to perpet-
uate the family traditions in wider fields.

In this day of passing things it might seem a foolish
task, but it is because this is a day of fleeting things that
it has been judged wise to gather and hold the records
of a few of the relics of some of the men of note for the
benefit of the generation now growing up, out of knowl-
edge of traditions, out of touch with the spirit of the

It is only because our ancestors cherished their belong-
ings that from generation to generation some prized arti-
cles have been handed down from father to son, that in


our modern homes it is the oldest chair, desk, chest, plate,
cup or piece of silver that has the most value.

The will of James\ 1683, bequeaths to his daughter
Sarah " Two of my pewter plates which she shall chuse"
and one to his son Isaac, "as each of my sons and daugh-
ters as are now married have each had one."

How precious would be these pewter plates to any one
of the present generation! That each and every article
of household furnishing had its sentimental as well as
material value is shown by the notes in many another of
these old wills. James^ bequeaths to his wife in addition
to real estate and wearing apparel, his "cain," which
"cain" she is to keep even though she marry again.

Eleazer^, 1678, bequeaths to his heirs besides real estate,
a definite list of household belongings which would look
paltry to us today as a whole, but any one of which would
be a priceless treasure as an heirloom. These pewter
plates, silver spoons, linen sheets were probably long since
buried in the sands of Cape Cod where the footprints of
the Hamlins are still marked by town roads and farm
sites bearing names carried by the ancestors of men whose
homes are far distant from that early homestead.

The American Hamlins are descended from the English
branch of their race, whose origin is clearly proved by
the old Norman and English Chronicles. The first au-
thentic records of individual Hamlins were made by
William the Conqueror in his Battle Abbey Roll. On this
roll is inscribed the name Hamlin de Balon. The
Doomesday Book records Hamlin or de Balon, sometimes



spoken of as Hamelinus. He was lord of the town
of Balon, son of a Norman chieftain. Hamlin probably
came to Cornwall at the time of the Earl of Montasne
and there founded the family from which the American
Hamlins are descended. Most of the descendants migrated
to Devonshire and the main branch of the English family
is chiefly identified with its history. They are today one
of the representative families of Devonshire and it is due
to their energy that the woolen business, the staple
industry of the old country, still flourishes in the valley
of the Dart. Visitors to the beautiful village of Clovelly
always hear of the Lady Hamlin and her lovely Manor
House which is one of the sights of the town.

In 1260 Sir William Hamelyn was member of Parlia-
ment from Totnes. Under Edward the Fourth William
Hamelin was sheriff" of Leicester and Lincoln. James
Hamlyn of Clovelly was created baronet in 1795.

The pioneer Pilgrims who came to the continent in
1620 were followed by a second group of English men
and women who shared their convictions. They were
mostly Cambridge graduates and held about the same
social status as Cromwell, Hampden and Prynne. James
Hamlin of Devonshire was one of this number. He was
a son of Giles Hamlin of Devonshire, whose brother
Thomas of London had the privilege of signing himself

James is the ancestor of a larger part of the Hamlin
race in America, of which the number recently estimated
by Andrews is about 20,000. A numerous progeny also



sprung from Captain Giles, who settled in Middletown,
who is supposed to have been a brother or close connec-
tion of James.

Cape Cod was a bleak and desolate place when James
and his companions took up their life there. The
country was flat and sandy and the soil hardly capable
of cultivation, but after much toil they founded the town
of Barnstable, of which James Hamlin was one of the
incorporators. The land which he received was called
Hamlin's Plains and his home remained standing for
many years after his death. In 1690 James died full of
years, leaving a good name and a large family, most of
whom were born in Barnstable. Five sons are supposed
to have survived their father, and it is said that each
agreed to spell his name differently which is well borne
out by the diversity of spelling the name in different
branches of the race. They however continued to live
an unbroken family a long time in and around Barn-
stable, and in the history and chronicles of Cape Cod are
spoken of as good citizens, church going and patriotic
people. James, the second, son of the ancestor, was the
father of ten children. His third son Eleazer, through
whom the descent of interest to this book is preserved
was in turn the father of seven children. It is probably
his son Benjamin who maintained this line. His wife
bore him eight children, the seventh of whom, Eleazer,
was the grandfather of Hannibal Ilunilin, Vice President
of the U. S. under Abraham Lincoln; of Cyrus Hamlin,
Missionary to Turkey and founder of Robert College,



Constantinople; of Nathan Sumner Hamlin who was the
grandfather of Charles S. Hamlin of Boston and his
brothers Edward and George, grandfather also of Elijah
Hamlin, in whose great granddaughter, Elinor Cutting
Hamlin, daughter of Edward of Boston and Helen Ham-
lin of Bangor are united two important branches of the
main family tree of Eleazer, that of Asia and Cyrus.


Xine of 3£lea3er

I. Eleazer Hamlin, b. 1732, d. 1807; m. Lydia Bonney of Pembroke.

^ Children:

1 Asia, b. 1753, d. 1780 \\->f

2 Elizabeth, b. 1754

3 Alice, b. 1756

4 Africa, b. 1758

5 Europe, b. 1759

6 America, b. 1761

7 Lydia, b. 1763

8 Eleazer, b. 1765

9 Mary, b. 1767

10 Cyrus, |

11 Hannibal, )

Married Sarah Bryant, born Lobdell.
Children :

12 Asia, b. 1774, d. 1778

13 Sally, b. 1775

14 Isaac, b. 1778

15 Asia, b. 1780, m. Susan Read of Westford

16 Green, b. 1782

17 George, b. 1784

Married Hannah Fletcher, of Westford ; no children.


lEleasev Ibamlin

1bi6 IbomestcaDs at Pembroke, IbarvarD aiiD TKIlesttorD,


T is probable that Eleazer Hamlin was
born at Eastham, but at an early age he
struck out for himself and settled at
Pembroke which was then a part of the
Parish of East Bridgewater, in the rec-
ords of which we find many deeds of
property made to him. Though a dominating and sing-
ularly individual race, the Hamlins have been more or
less influenced by the maternal strain in all branches,
and Lydia Bonney who bore Eleazer eleven children was
no mediocre personage, nor was the widow Bryant who
was his second wife and presented him with seven more.
Both of these women came of good New England families
in which could be traced many of the sterling qualities
which have helped to distinguish the families of the sons
and .^ughters which they bore. As Eleazer was a man
of affkirs it is probable that much care fell upon his help-

• He is described as a large, powerful, energetic man, of
kindly disposition, independent and original. This
originality is nowhere more noteworthy than in the selec-




tion of nHmes for liis family. The family records had
been full of Biblical names, but he was a reader of his-
tory and a great admirer of Scipio Africanus, and insisted
upon naming one of his eldest sons for that Roman General.
But as everybody called the boy Africa, Eleazer pursued
a new line on the nomenclature so that the next three
boys were America, Europe and Asia. Of Asia he was
peculiarly fond, as the name was repeated twice again
upon the death in childhood of the boys of that name.

Returning to his love of generals, Cyrus and Hannibal
followed. These sons were born in the town of Pembroke
in the small one story and a half house which still stands
and the records of the baptism of thirteen of the children
in the chronicles of the second church in Pembroke show
that but four of the children were born in Harvard,
Mass. The house and church, of which we have photo-
graphs, still remain, although both have been more or less
remodelled in the century and a quarter since Major
Eleazer removed to Harvard. The house is of a type
fast passing away, as few remain and none are now built,
yet in the days of its construction it best met the require-
ments of the colonists in New England. The large cen-
tral chimney with brick oven and open fire place from
which hung the crane and spit is a distinctive feature of
these old houses which have brought to the generations
following many a piece of wrought iron or hammered
brass. One pair of andirons from perhaps this very
house found its way to Paris Hill with Dr. Cyrus the
father of Hannibal, and a crane was at Watcrford in the





home of Cyrus the missionary, of remote ancestry which
may or may not have hung in the fire place at Pembroke
or Harvard.

The journey from Pembroke to Harvard in the days
of the revolution must have been a considerable task, and
with his large family a great expense to Major Hamlin
and the household goods must have suffered some scatter-
ing in the transition. In 1777, having already served
with distinction with General Durant around Cambridge
and Lexington and receiving the title of Major, he re-
moved to Harvard where he bought a farm of 128 acres
including potash works in the town of Harvard on the
road to Groton. This place had been one of the historic
places of the town, having been owned by the family of
Burrs. Rebecca Burr having married John Davis, the
Burr homestead came to their son Aaron who sold it to
Eleazer Hamlin. This was a much larger house and
Major Hamlin made some additions to it, besides build-
ing a large barn, both house and barn being still in exist-
ence and owned by Lowell Sprague heirs of Harvard.

These houses were not a full expression of those strong
ambitious men of the time and it must not be judged
that they expressed their ideals of what was beautiful and
artistic or even comfortable. We of today must remem-
ber that the New England colonists battled with a rigid
climate, had limited facilities for building, stern require-
ments of economy of fuel and service. Many of the fea-
tures of the old houses, especially the long covered out-
buildings so closely connected with the dwelling house,



were a concession to the severity of the climate, and an
economy of labor for the men of the family who must do
so much of the work of carrying fuel, caring for animals,
drawing water, and the exigencies of farm life. If we
can bring our minds to look back upon these homes in a
spirit of loving admiration and respect, we cannot fail
to wonder that from them came such men and women of
refinement and cultivation and intellectual strength, able
to rise above discomfort and material limitations and to
accomplish so much which today, in our steam heated,
electric lighted houses even, seems impossible to us.

Eleazer Hamlin at Harvard took up the work of farm-
ing and making potash, and was according to all the
records of the town an influential citizen and of abundant
means. He retired from the army before the close of the
war to relieve his wife of the care of the increasing family
and the farm, but four of his elder sons continued in
service till the end.

In the records of the town of Westford which later and
permanently became his home, there is this statement:
"This remarkable man had five sons who were educated
at Harvard College and of his descendants not less than
fifteen have had college educations."

It has not been possible to verify this fully but it is
well known that several of the sons had more than a
common education. But it is borne out by tradition
that Cyrus attended Harvard Medical Lectures, Asia was
popularly called Judge Hamlin because of his uncommon
knowledge and good education, not because of any

Highboy, From Kleazer Hamlin's House in Westford.


judicial dignity. Hannibal taught school in Maine and
George went to Russia and entered the Army of the Czar
and was an officer in the later Napoleon's Campaign.

To these may have been given the Harvard education,
but not to the sons who served in the revolution, Africa,
America, Eleazer^ as these shortly after "went down to
Maine" and made for themselves homes in the wilder-
ness, on the tract of land which the Court of Massachu-
setts had given Major Eleazer as reward for his services
in the war.

It was after the flight of the elder sons to Maine and
possibly while the younger ones were at college that
Major Hamlin married a third time Hannah Fletcher, a
fine looking woman said to be the aunt of Grace Fletcher
who married Daniel Webster. Mistress Fletcher owned
a tavern on a farm in the town of Westford not a dozen
miles from Harvard. Her farm and his own in Harvard
made him one of the largest land owners in the State
and he took up his residence in Westford. Asia who was
born at Harvard, May 15, 1780 went with his father and
lived in Westford in the homestead until his death. He
was a fine judge of stock, fine sportsman and had a good
education. He married Susan Read and there were
seven children of whom Nathan Sumner was the head of
the Massachusetts branch of Eleazer Hamlin's family.

Eleazer Hamlin became as prominent in the aflkirs of
Westford in the time of peace as he was in the affairs of
Pembroke and Harvard in times of war and he was one
of the founders and stockholders of the present public



library in Westford. The homestead which he occupied
during his life is one of the pleasant places of Westford
and is still occupied by one of the direct heirs of his line.
His son Asia succeeded to its possession and later Cyrus,
his grandson, resided there. At the present day it is occu-
pied by the widow of his great grandson, Mrs. Charles A.
Hamlin, born Elizabeth Kimball. With the passing of
time and changes few of the old furnishings of the house
remain but the handsome " Highboy" now in the posses-
sion of Charles S. Hamlin of Boston, once had place in
this home. It is probably of a period of about 1750, the
overlapping drawers making it likely to be of the early
date. It is a piece of very rare beauty and great value
as an heirloom, marking a degree of distinction of living
which probably surrounded the early ancestor in his
Westford home.

Eleazer Hamlin is buried by the side of his son Green
in the east burying ground at Westford. His tombstone,
a large, fine, slate slab of the fashion of a century ago,
showing that it must have been erected at about tlie time
of his death, bears the inscription, " Dec. 1, 1807, age.
75 years, & 5 mos." His forceful personality lives in
many of his descendants who today know not where he
lived or died.


%inc of Bsia

Asia Hamlin, b. 1780, married Susan Read of Westford.

Children ;

1 Nathan Sumner, b. 1806

2 Susan, b. 1808, m. Pelatiah Fletcher— d. 1850

3 Hannibal, b. 1814, d. 1814

4 Cyrus, b. 1815

5 Sarah D., b. 1820, m. Ira Richardson— d. 1844

n. Cyrus Hamlin m. Dinah Cortelyou — d. 1889

1 Sarah, b. 1844

2 Catherine, b. 1847

3 Henry, b. 1852

4 Charles A., b. 1857, d. San Rafael, California, 1896

HI. Charles A. Hamlin m. (1) Edith E. Walker of Burlington,
Mass. (2) Elizabeth Kimball of Littleton, Mass.

1 Gertrude, b. 1893

2 Evelyn, b. 1895


C^ru8 IfDamlinarbeffir^t)

Paris Ibill

YRUS the first was the twin brother of
Hannibal the first, and the name has
already been repeated in succeeding gen-
erations of the tribe of Eleazer thirteen
times, while Hannibal is found in the
genealogy by Andrews fifteen times.
This Cyrus was the son of Eleazer and probably resem-
bled his father more closely than any other of Eleazer's
sons. He was of commanding size, standing six feet in
height, and in his prime weighing over two hundred
pounds. His cheeks were ruddy and his eyes a gray-blue,
but his thick, heavy, jet black hair and bushy eyebrows
gave to his massive head the general appearance of a
dark toned man. This type has been repeated in several
members of later generations, notably Elijah Hamlin and
his son Augustus, as well as Edward Hamlin of Boston,
followed the type of the early ancestor, Eleazer, rather
than Hannibal and the members of his family, whose
dark eyes were inherited from the Livermores. There is
a tradition that the name of Cyrus must be accompanied
by the degree of Doctor. This first Cyrus came as a phy-
sician "down to Maine," not however to break his way
throuo-h the wilderness like his brother Hannibal, but to



the township of Livermore, where Deacon Elijah Liver-
more, from Waltham, Mass., had already founded a town.
The young physician won the affection of the Deacon's
daughter, with whom it is probable went some worldly
goods to the home which was later the birthplace of Elijah
and Hannibal, in Paris Hill.

Deacon Livermore had a fine house in Waltham, Mass.,
where his daughter Anna married Dr. Cyrus, and in 1806
the latter purchased in Paris Hill a tract of land " south
of the County Common, twelve rods and twenty links in
width between the common and the farm of Lemuel Jack-
son, and extending from the county road on the east to
the lot line on the west, thirty-one rods, also all the land
west of the County Common and meeting house to within
five rods of the northwest corner, containing seven acres."

The Hamlin homestead at Paris Hill remains to this
day, though one hundred years old, a dwelling house of
the best New England model. High studded even for
today, the rooms are large and square, and furnished with
fine windows commanding the best views North and West
and South and East, views unmatched anywhere else in
New England and paralleled only by those of the adja-
cent villages. The foothills of the White Mountains are
discernible on the West; Streaked Mountain on the East,
and on every side the peaceful valley of the Androscoggin
with its orchards and well-kept New England farms envel-
oped in a mountain haze that is like the atmosphere of a
Corot in autumn.

Dr. Cyrus built his house to live in, and from the open


Spanish Cabinet, Hannibal Hamlin's House.


hospitality of the hall running through the house, to the
cosy cheer of the library, well filled with books, there
radiated a cheer and charm of culture and comfort little
known to the wilds of Maine at that early day. Paris
Hill was however in those days the shire town and emi-
nent lawyers and judges, Parris, Emery, Rawson, gathered
about the county buildings and shared in the hospitality
dispensed by Mrs. Hamlin from her Strawberry Lowestoft
china and her Sheraton sideboard. The Doctor's own
library was augmented by Gov. Enoch Lincoln, who for
many years made his home in the Hamlin house. Eight
children were born to Dr. Cyrus and his wife Anna, in
this house, of whom Elijah was the first and Hannibal
the statesman the seventh.

Hannibal, after his brother Elijah went to Brown Uni-
versity, had lessons in practical farming from his elder
brother Cyrus, who of a rare fine type died in early man-
hood. It was Hannibal who planted some of the trees which
today add to the beauty of the old place at Paris Hill.

His sister Eliza also did much to beautify and improve
the homestead when, after the death of her parents and
the marriage of sisters and brothers, she was left alone to
keep up the house. It was Eliza who opened the north
parlor to the view of the White Hills by putting in a
wide expanse of glass windows, and having it papered
with the soft grey satin paper of which the artistic panels
and garlands are of a mode of the present day. It is
even now in a state of perfect preservation, although it is
sixty years since it was done.




By the breaking up of this homestead in 1860, upon
the death of Eliza, the sister of Hannibal, Vesta and
Elijah, there was a scattering of household goods. It
was less easy in those days to send furniture by freight
or express; a few articles were sent to Bangor where both
Elijah and Hannibal had homes, a few to Calais where
Vesta, the elder sister, who had early married Dr. Holmes,
and the rest remained in Paris Hill, where the choicest
pieces have been carefully preserved in the family of the
youngest daughter of Elijah, Mrs. Julia Carter. At the
present time the fine old Sheraton sideboard and the
Windsor chairs which Elijah took to Brown University
(and unlike the college boys of today brought home
again), are the possession of Mrs. Mary B. Carter, the
widow of James Livermore Carter, grandson of Elijah
Hamlin. So highly prized is this piece of furniture by
Mrs. Carter that she has had an extension of her dining
room built expressly for it and there it stands in the old-
est house on Paris Hill, "full of honors and years," fitly
placed and as proudly conscious as mahogany can be of
the fact that it has remained in one town ever since 1806.

The " Strawberry " Lowestoft china tea set, familiarly
known by the family of Dr. Cyrus' heirs as "Grandmother
Hamlin's Strawberry set," was for a generation also in
the possession of the Carter family but was generously
given a few years ago to Helen Hamlin, daughter of Dr.
Augustus and first wife of Edward of Boston.

The Grandfather's Clock which with its moon face tell-
ing the tides, marked the time for the household at Paris



Hill, is now in the home of Gen. Charles Hamlin in Ban-
gor. The clock works are of brass and the case of a fine
piece of curly birch and it was made by a well reputed
clock maker of the 18th century, Burnham by name.
The round inlaid Heppelwhite table, now in the home-
stead of Hannibal Hamlin in Bangor, was at one time in
the South parlor at Paris Hill. The brass knocker, oval,

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Online LibraryMyra Louisa (Sawyer) HamlinEleazer Hamlin and his descendants; → online text (page 1 of 3)