Thursday, April 14, 2011: Nights Pasture, Lancaster

By the time breakfast came at the College Town Inn I was packed and ready to go.  I had to reschedule some activities in the morning before leaving Lancaster because of the pouring rain the day before. 

My first goal was the find the “Night’s Pasture” area in Lancaster.  I had attempted it the day before but was just not getting the right feel for the geography.  Marsha, of the Special Collections, at the Thayer Memorial Library, suggested Center Bridge Road.  I decided to try it and low and behold there was the Nashua connecting to the North Branch? I was so happy!!!! Marsha also explained that the area was used for growing corn. 

There is a map in the book written by Henry S. Nourse on page 264 and also 266 that is a drawing of the lands of the old settlers.  The book is the Early Records of Lancaster 1643 to 1725, by Henry S. Nourse, 1884.  This book is at Google Books but that copy has bad pages in it.  Fortunately the maps are in tack.  They are really wonderful and there is an area at the confluence of the North branch and the Nashaway River that is right were  one of the areas of Joseph Rowlandson’s titled the “Nights Pasture.”  This is part of the lands that Philip Goss I (1654 to 1698) purchased in 1687. 

Do not expect much.  It is a large open area without much there.  A road has been added since and a bridge.  Just know that I could tell through the trees that the North Branch and the Nashaway were coming together.  They were not turbulent but serene as they merged! 

Southwest side of the Center Bridge

More Southwest Side
Still more south side
Nashaway River Southeast

Trying to show the meeting of the North branch with the Nashaway


Coming from the northwest


Trying to even more show where the North branch meets the Nashaway River

Northeast from the road to the field

Southeast side of the bridge North branch

The field from the road looking northeast on the west side of the bridge

Field area looking north

The field area looking northeast

What is a “Nights Pasture?”  Well, Nourse talks about that in the same book and it is rather fun to read.  The nights pasture was for the animals to go at night.  See page 299 for more information about the night pasture and enjoy Nourse’s explanation. 

Oh, the Great Elm Historical Marker is just east of this area? 

The next stop was the marker for the Rowlandson Garrison which would be more of the Joseph Rowlandson land ownings.  I found it where the opening is in the stone wall along Main Street before you get to the cemetery which is on the left.

I again refer you to the maps in Nourse’s book I mentioned about.  Have Fun!


Wednesday April 13, 2011: Lancaster Wanderings IV – The Thayer Memorial Library Special Collection

I was still at the Old Settlers Burial Field and it was fast becoming 3 pm and I decided it was time to go to the Thayer Memorial Library.  My hosts at the B&B gave me a tip that in the Town Hall you might find some interesting information.  I did not have time to go and investigate but maybe you could find some interesting information there?  Try the Town Clerk?

There is a parking lot on the street north of the church where the government and library buildings are.  I overhead the librarian mention this to a patron the day before.  It is easy to walk between the church and the library and a very nice place to park. You can park in front of the library but that is limited. 

Thayer Memorial Library on Court Square, Lancaster, MA, parking to the left

The Thayer Memorial Library has a Special Collections area.  It is  filled with history.  The history of Lancaster and beyond.  Recently they updated their website and it easy to find it for it has its own label – Special Collections.  Just look across the top area of the website.  Click on that and start exploring.  It really is important to make an appointment with Special Collections ahead of your visit.

So I headed out and back up the path an through the Middle Cemetery to my car.  I ran into another lady who was also going to the library to do research and she knew about me.  She told me the name and I said I had not seen it in the areas I had looked.  I could not help her.

Call the library and listen to the choices given and select the call # given and leave a message.  Also check the hours for the Special Collections is limited in hours although they can try to accommodate your needs.  Be prepared to explain carefully what you need and in detail for the head of this Special Collections will have everything laid out for you when you arrive and she will also access other information if you need her too.  You can also email her but the email bounced after they uploaded a new website for the library. 

My appointment at the Thayer Memorial Library in the Special Collections was at 4:15 pm when the collections opened and it was about 3 pm.  I decided I needed to get to the library and start doing some research. 

I wandered around the library trying to figure out where things are.  It has these many rooms.  Not many tables.  I found the history section in the back area  over to the right.  They did have the book on the Inscriptions of the Nashaway towns and that was helpful.  The book my Marvin on the History of Lancaster had a map of the Old Settlers Cemetery and I was able to find the Philip Goss (1654 to 1698) tombstone.  This was going to help. 

Marsha the Special Collections head found us at the table and introduced herself.  I was busy doing other things and then realized they were waiting for me.  I apologized.  The other lady had joined me and a young man who had been very helpful was sitting at the end of the table.  He was not going to be going to the Special Collections room in the basement but he did seem interested. 

We followed Marsha downstairs.  The Special Collections Room is down a hallway last door on the right past the bathrooms.  There is hallway into a big room filled with bookshelves stacked with records, books and more. 

Marsha had pulled items for us to review at these tables and we all set to work.  We only had 4:15 to 6 pm to work so I had to move quickly. 

My goal over the last ten years has been revisiting the sources that Paul H. Goss used in his manuscripts and articles to try to solve the Goss lineage problem.  I am getting down to just a few more to find but you do have to realize a lot of republication has taken place.  Paul died in 1963 and that was 48 years ago. 

Here are a few things I was troubleshooting on this day!
1.  In his manuscript he mentions the Frederick Lewis Weiss manuscript of “Early families of Lancaster, Massachusetts, 1643-1700,” published 1941.  This was only obtained at the Thayer Memorial Library.  It includes an index of the descendants of the founders of Lancaster mostly those connected to the the First Church of Christ in Lancaster 1653- to 1942.  I believe there are 3-4 volumes in binders of his notes on these families.  It has a pretty good history of the Goss family.

2.  Another item of interest was the Nourse notes.  These Nourse’s handwritten notes on the history of Lancaster.  I am referring to Henry Stedman Nourse the author of many of the histories of Lancaster and the vital records compilation. 

The title on the binder was:  Brief Historical & Genealogical Sketches of the Earliest Proprietors and Pioneers of Lancaster, MA 1883 Vol 2, H.S. Nourse Vol I. This is not in the catalog for I don’t have a print out.  I have to give credit to Elbert Garrett Goss for telling me about these notes.

3.  The descent of John Prescott, founder of Lancaster, MA 1645, from Alfred the Great, King of England 871-901 by Frederick Lewis Weiss.  This is a small pamphlet and I have to admit I am impressed.  Unfortunately it is not my line for Philip Goss I married first Hannah Hopkins and she went off to Jamaica and there was a divorce.  He remarried to Mary Prescott, John’s granddaughter for a second marriage.  My line is down from Hannah. 

4.  Paul H. Goss mentions a Joseph Willard and A Memorandum of LancasterMemoir and Miscellaneous Writings of Joseph Willard, Historian of Lancaster, Resident 1821-1833, died 1865 at the library. It contained information on this man but it was only on his family and other articles but nothing about Lancaster history specifically so I have to admit I am puzzled? Marsha looked high and low for anything else but did not find it. Now Paul was a Reverend and anything involving ministers he was very interested in.  So maybe this was one of his heroes? So this one source is still a mystery. 

Back when Paul did his research they did not do specific footnotes of the materials and so it is difficult to figure out what he is referring to and when he made the lists at the end of a section he really didn’t specify where he obtained the the previous section?  I am not being critical of my cousin because that is how they did things back in his time frame of 1890 to 1963.  For the researchers of today it can be frustrating.  I am frequently noted to say: “Paul what were you thinking?”  Paul is a hero of mine and I marvel as to how did he ever figured this all out without a computer!!!! HA!

5.  The history of the First Church of Christ in Lancaster, MA 1653-1840 by Frederick Lewis Weiss.  This title was about the ministers who served and did not go into the members.

6.  I was curious about the descent of John Houghton Jr. who married Mary Prescott after the death of Philip Goss I in 1698. 

John Houghton of Lancaster, Mass. and some of his descendants, by Annie Lane Burr and Thomas Hovey Gage about 1925.  I found John Jr. and it referenced his marriage to Mary Prescott.  Houghton is a big name in Massachusetts.

7. Memorial of Josiah Kendall, one of the first settlers of Sterling, Mass., and some of his ancestors and of his descendants.  By Oliver Kendall, 1884.  This book is online at World Vital Records which is sometimes available at an archive free to access.  I just opened the book to see how it was organized and it was very nicely done.  The author had it presented well.  This Josiah is interesting and how is this Kendall Family connected to Mary Kendall?  Now I have tried to dig into the Kendall Family line and I have run into some interesting problems.  Paul’s version of the history of the Kendall family is very confusing in his manuscript and hard to follow.  I am not sure he really knew?  Anyway I am still puzzling it out.  This book states that the son of John Kendall who married 3 times and one of his wives was Elizabeth Comey and they had a son John Kendall b 1684 but he died young.  It was the son John Kendall born 1699 who married Deborah Richardson. 

This Josiah Kendall that is the subject of the above book was born in Sterling in 1712 and his parents are Lt. Samuel and Elizabeth Kendall, grandparents are Thomas Kendall and Ruth, great grandparents are Frances and Mary Tidd Kendall.  I hope I got that right!

A website The Tracks We Leave has interesting information about the Kendalls:  They have a different John Kendall married to our Mary.  Hmmmm……?  Click on tabs on the right and start exploring.  Very interesting!!!  I am still pondering this all???
As usual you have to make decisions about what to dig for and not and time limits your choices.  I could be spending my life (I am) on this Goss family and into the next life. HA!

The room was cool, set to a low temperature and we all kept our coats on.  Marsha is at first a little serious and she really had a New York accent but after awhile she starts to giggle and smile and then she gets really into pulling records for you and wanting to know if she can help.  I have to admit that having the records all ready for me is pretty cool.  Sometimes I would just prefer to browse the stacks but you can’t always do that in an archive.  I asked what the rules were and Marsha told me that some items could be copied and what could not be.  So you do have to inquire. 

I had a list of things I wanted to ask so Marsha sat next to me waiting to assist me.

1. Garrison – West Regiment of Middlesex

She thought this was probably in Bolton past the Eastwood Cemetery there had been a garrison there.  This was mentioned in an article in NEHGR the year 1692

2.  Main Street in Lancaster.  Is it close to the original highway?

Yes it is but not specifics where given and I was just defining it so I could interrupt a map out of Nourse’s history of Lancaster that showed the land holdings of the early settlers.

3.  Atherton Bridge where is that?

On Bolton Road.  I found this link on historical bridges.  The bridge has since been rebuilt.  Marsha commented that she can’t believe she used to drive on the old rotted bridge and from the looks of it in the picture I can see why:  This bridge is mentioned in deeds and descriptions in the history books for Lancaster.

4.  Prescott Mill is that in Clinton?

Yes, it is now where there are apartments called Prescott Mill Apartments.  I think it is on Water’s Street in Clinton. 

5.  Wecapekat Brook?

It is in Sterling and use to be very important in the past.  It is near Hwy 62 and Sterling Road.  I might need to do a little more digging.  I have not found a really good topo map and the Massachusetts one I have looked at and I want details like the names of the hills and more. 

6. Nourse and Marvin the authors of the histories of Lancaster, are they reliable?

She said they were both very good.  Sometimes a history book can be well done but others are not as great.

7.  I mentioned the Kendall connection to the Goss family

She said that the Sterling Library was good for Kendall information.  There was also a Kendall Road in Sterling and a Kendall Hill.  So she took out a piece of paper and drew an map for me. Then giggled that she had sent me on a wild goose chase!  I will double check before I go a wandering.  Her map and what my Streets and Trips mapping software tell me are not the same? 

These questions I asked have a lot to do with the descriptions that are in the history books regarding land and locations of former homes and more.  Of course on a map of today you can’t find them because they rename things over the years.  Please forgive me if I get things wrong.  I really need a detailed map of Lancaster and the area.  Also there are multiple spellings for a geographical feature which can really cause confusion. 

I had completed my research for the day.  There is so much more but I do need to get to my Legacy Database and the Goss Manuscripts and get that all organized when I get back to Seattle. There is so much information that I have. 

I asked if I could wander the stacks and she said yes, just don’t touch anything.  So I wandered through the aisle studying the titles and realized they have quite a collection of Massachusetts books, histories and series and more.  I believe it is all on the online catalog for at least accessing maybe not the Lancaster Collection?  If not you can call the library and it has a great list of the names of the department heads and their number and you can leave messages or use the email online.  Her email was bouncing when I tried it before I came on this trip but they had just launched a new website so I hope it works now. 

I asked whether there was a Lancaster Historical Society and she said that it was really the public part of the Lancaster Historical Commission which is listed under Departments at the town website

I have not had much success at accessing them but they do hold meetings and announcement them on the town website.

There are maps of the historical sites in Lancaster.  One is so fuzzy I can barely read it and the other that is mentioned on the Town website has a broken link.  Another one I found has small print? I did not have time to try the Courthouse across from the Library.  They might have some information? What I do not know but it was a tip.

Clinton has an Historical Society and she said it was very good. She also mentioned the Sterling Library was a good source.  I was surprised that there was no Lancaster Genealogical Society?  I did visit Clinton for dinner the first night and as I walked the town I started thinking “industrial” and Marsha smiled and said that Clinton was textiles?  Jack mentioned plastics for pharmaceuticals? Nypro was the name he gave.  I decided I needed help so I give this link about Clinton at  Wikipedia:,_Massachusetts  The article gives some interesting links.  It is a start. 

I was content and very pleased with the afternoon work at the Thayer Memorial Library and I had fun. 

There is Goss History in Clinton but mostly John Goss history, the 1/2 brother to Philip Goss II (should be II).  I think Elbert Garrett Goss’s manuscript that I referenced at the Family History Library is probably a good place to start for that line of descent. 

When I rolled into town I got lost in Clinton and didn’t take a left when I should have to go to Lancaster.  No big deal but it is a bit of a challenge to get around Clinton.  Not the first place to go when you get to Lancaster till you start to get a feel for where you area.

Via Alto in Clinton, MA – Very nice!


Clinton’s downtown!

As I go on this trip I realize that I am just going to have to come back.  So when I go to Boston in a few years I will work my way west.  I was told that Massachusetts residents will live in a town and commute to Boston, even from West Brookfield?  “They just get on the turnpike!!!” 

I left the library happy and content, but tired and hungry.  Sandee’s was closed? So I found a Colonel Sanders Kentucky fried…I like the biscuits.  It was a good dinner if a little salty. 

I am hoping the rain has finally stopped!

Note:  Because there are so many Philip Gosses an in different generations, I prefer to use Paul H. Goss’s labeling to keep things straight.  So if I use the Roman Numerals please don’t assume it is attached to that person in their real name like Sr. or Jr.  One of Paul’s manuscripts is digitized by the Family History Library and you can get a copy there:  Here is the link Paul Henry Goss FHL  This copy is probably one of the final copies for in reading it I see that he has fixed things like spelling and other edits