April 10, 2011 – The Brookfields

Walking the Old Sturbridge Village is a big job and by the time I returned to my car I was ready to just take a few minutes, relax and rest.

A little backtracking was required to find Hwy 148 and I was soon heading north.  I tried again for the highway sign of the Brookfields and again the light changed green so I turned into this parking lot and positioned the car so I could get a picture of the signs. 

I am about to “Browse the Brookfields” and my first introduction is the town of Brookfield itself.  Hwy 148 passed under the turnpike I-91 and I was in Brookfield before I knew it. 

There was construction going on with a bridge into Brookfield reducing the lane to one and so I waited till the light changed green before I proceeded.  Soon I came to the intersection where you continue on 148 or turn onto Hwy 9 which takes you to West Brookfield where I have reserved a room at the Dragonfly Bed and Breakfast. I will return to Brookfield tomorrow to do research at the Town Hall and tour around to other places of interest.

Dragonfly Bed and Breakfast – West Brookfield just before the Village Green

I entered West Brookfield and turned the corner which revealed the village green and it was not too hard to spot the B&B.  I pulled into the driveway and saw that they had a parking area which I assumed was for guests so I repositioned the car.  The Dragonfly B&B house is beautiful.  It was built in 1780 and is in the Colonial style. It has been fully restored by the proprietors Mark and Michael.  I stopped and took a picture and hopefully there will be more. 

I noted that across the street was the Post and Boots Store and a stately house with green shutters to the right!  Barbara is with the West Brookfield Historical Commission. I was about to head to the B&B when a man approached me asking if I was Bonnie.  I said “yes,” and he introduced himself as Dick and he was also with the West Brookfield Historical Commission.  We easily moved into chatting and decided that I would come over in a little while and we would go on a tour of the area and to all the sites and then out to dinner.

The bad news was the Salem Cross Inn was closed for cleaning. AUGH!!! I was disappointed.  I had been looking forward to eating dinner there.  Apparently Dick, as well as Amy who is affiliated with the Quaboag Historical Society had investigated the Salem Cross Inn and had discovered that it was going to be closed for cleaning.  Dick wanted to know if I liked Chinese food and he suggested the Wok Inn.  I was okay with that! The Salem Cross Inn was formerly owned by the White family, a grandson of Peregrine White brother to Resolved my ancestor a 9th great grandfather and both son’s of William White and Susanna of the Mayflower.  I saw Peregrine’s cradle at the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, MA on a trip there years ago. 

I settled into the Dragonfly B&B being greeted by the proprietors Michael and Mark.  The stairs to the upper floor are very steep and narrow.  They were kind and helped me carry things in.  Mark offered to put my food into the little refrigerator outside my room and empty out the ice from the Styrofoam ice chest. I did not want it to chance staining the lovely old floors. Once that was done I headed across the street to find Dick and Barbara.

Barbara appeared and we ended up in their kitchen studying a larger version of the Brookfield Map that is online.  They have recently published the history of West Brookfield and here is the link for more information:  http://www.westbrookfield.org/qp_a_history_of_wb.htmIt   There is only one line on the Goss family in this book and pretty much what had been stated before in the other histories of the area. Here is their home page link:  http://www.westbrookfield.org/  It is one of the best websites of this nature I have ever seen!

We climbed into Dick’s “Cruiser” and we headed up Foster Hill.  Dick and Barbara pointed out where the sign posts were along the road in that historic area and more tidbits.  It is where the first settlement was up to 1675 the year of King Philip’s War which destroyed the settlement and it was abandoned for about 10-13 years after that terrible event.

West Brookfield had their big celebration last year and it sound like it was a big a success.  The old burying ground just has a plaque.  Barbara explained that you had to walk a very far distance to get to the actual location.  At the big celebration there were signs showing the way.  She said the Native Americans came and performed their “cleansing” rituals at the site. I bet that was very amazing to see.  Barbara was very impressed with their reverence.  I don’t believe they know who was buried there for their are no stones.  Later Amy was to tell me that it was an Indian burial ground?

Dick explained that there was the Quaboag Historical area and the Wickaboag Historial Valley area.  The West Brookfield Board of Commissioners has eight members and both Dick and Barbara are members of the commission for West Brookfield. 

We stopped at the Old Indian Burying Ground on Cottage Street in West Brookfield.  Dick had gathered brochures for me and there is a map inside the one for the cemetery highlighting some of the gravestones.  Dick and Barbara were enthusiastic and went off trying to locate Philip’s stone for me.  We wandered around a bit trying to find Philip Goss and his wife Judith Goss.  I went back to the car and obtained my photo of the stone and when I saw the double curve I knew right away. Just as I was seeing the tombstone both Barbara and Dick yelled to me that they found it! Philip Goss and Judith Hayward Goss are buried there.  They are my 7th great grandparents. Their tombstone is amazing.

I was totally impressed that it was in as good a shape as it was.  Of course it is starting to split on the top ridge. The foot stone is beginning to lean and actually looks like it is sinking? I told Dick and Barbara that I am there to help with any repair and I am sure that any other Goss descendants will be will to give assistance.  It the world will not preserve our heritage than each and everyone of us needs to jump in.  I will let you know if there is any need but at this time we are in good shape. 

A momentus moment and long in coming – Philip Goss & Judith Hayward’s Tombstone

This was indeed a BIG moment for me.  I had been studying the Goss family for over 10 years ever since the day I found the Philip Goss file in the DAR library in Washington D.C. and in that file was a manuscript by my cousin Paul H. Goss and other documents by Flora Osborn.  

Barbara took this an another photo for me.  It was great to share this very important moment for me. 

The wind has turned cold and it was dark and cloudy.  I am looking, well, odd but I don’t care.  I have come a long, long way!!!

We stopped at the sign post for the John Hayward Jr. Grist Mill.  I do not know exactly how John fits in with Judith’s family.  He established his grist mill in 1708 and it is on the road to Ware?  I think a little more investigating is in order.  Another for the To do List!

Grist mills were needed to grind the grain into a more usable and digestible food stuff.  So they were critical to the survival of a settlement. Town meeting histories will have a mention of them if not be devoted in some part to the encouragement of their construction.

We stopped at many other sites and I began to get a little confused as to where things were and tired.  So we headed to the Wok for dinner.  We chatted about life, past events, genealogy and just had a very pleasant time.  Dick and Barbara are from Long Island, New York and one day they just decided to move to West Brookfield.  I think they made the right choice! I thank them for their time, interest and most of all for the love of history and their willingness to fight for it and care for it.  We need more people like them!

Here again is the website for the West Brookfield Historical Commission  It has lots of good information about the history of the area an a biography of Capt. Philip Goss.  They have a map of historic sites to study. They have the Old Indian Cemetery and all the burials that they have been able to identify. It is a website worth studying seriously if you are a Philip and Judith Goss descendant and for all descendants as well.

I will be returning to some of these sites tomorrow and will give more detail of them in the next post.  One of the benefits of being at the site is that it starts to make more sense. 

We said goodbyes and I thanked both of them for their time and that it was greatly appreciated.  I headed into the Dragonfly and proceeded to get organized and ready for the day.  I called Amy and verified that we will meet at 9 am tomorrow at the Quaboag Historical Museum.

The Museum is a private organization while the West Brookfield Historical Commission is a required governmental board.  They are separate and distinct but they all know each other for it is a “small” town.