Monday, April 11, 2011: The Brookfields – At Last!!

It is a little surreal for me today.  I have been working on the Goss family for years and collecting the manuscripts of my cousin Paul Henry Goss, Flora Montanye Goss and several other researchers. Paul and Flora did a lot of research on the Goss family back in the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s.  I have been collecting their articles and manuscripts for over 10 years.  I have been revisiting the sources Paul gave as he wrote about the history of our family and updating them due to re-publication and other issues.  To actually be in a place where the historical events took place that Paul writes about is so very amazing and to follow a little in Paul’s footsteps is very exciting for me!  The Family History Library has digitized one of Paul’s manuscripts that you might find interesting:  The Goss Family  I have studied it and believe it to be a later version of his manuscript.

Breakfast at the Dragonfly is provided and I was particularly looking forward to the scones that they had featured on their website.  The Dragonfly Bed and Breakfast was built in 1780.  Everywhere you look you see a dragonfly.  Even on the nice glasses they provide.  Very clever and not overdone.  Mark and Michael picked out the colors and decided on the design.  I think they did a great job.  My room has dark navy blue walls.  I had painted by living room that color, actually darker but my hubby didn’t like it.  This has lots of white trim and a white ceiling so it cuts the amount of dark blue a lot. Also the room is facing north and west so their is a lot of light.  My first night in the inn I was listening to the sounds of West Brookfield.  It gets very quite at night and few cars are on the road.  There are not that many streetlights so it is dark in that area of the town.

I had made arrangements to visit the Quaboag Historical Society. It is housed in one of the old train depots. I had to hurry for I had spent too much time eating breakfast and chatting with Michael and Mark.  They have a son Sean and he is a handful.  Roxy the cat was hiding out!  She had greeted me when I came in the day before and meowed softly, I got down to return the favor and she wandered away.  I am missing my two kitties at home, sigh!  Roxie reminded me of my calico Breezy.

The train depot or Quaboag Historical Society is at the south end of Cottage Street.  The walls inside are knotty pine.  Yeah, I know I am the only human in the world who loves knotty pine!

Quaboag Historical Society – Serving the Brookfields & More
Inside the Quaboag Historical Society – A variety of Exhibits

I called out for Amy and she was in the back working.  She had left the door slightly ajar.  Amy apparently is the whole show at this society.  She is the one in charge.  She is also very busy.  She gave me a tour.  I looked at books, pamphlets, maps and a few more things and bought some items.  She really didn’t have genealogies but she is interested in receiving them.  Another item for the ToDo list. Like all other societies this one needs the help of others.  I do not live in the area or I would offer my services.  I thanked Amy for her time and interest.  I wish I could have spent more time asking her tons of questions.

I sat in the parking lot for a little while deciding what I would do next.  The Brookfield Town Hall or the Old Indian Cemetery.  I headed for the cemetery.  I had time.   This time I wanted to document the cemetery and the tombstone of Philip Goss and Judith Goss.

To get to the Old Indian Cemetery you head west or east on Hwy 9 and when you are in the middle of the town of West Brookfield and come to the courthouse and the library you turn north onto Cottage Street and drive about 2.5 blocks or to the tan house with the white shutters but not before you get to the West Brookfield Beach. You cannot miss the cemetery it is on the left and the boundaries are a stone wall about 2 feet high all the way around it. It is situated in a grove of pine trees.  You cannot see it on Google Earth because of the Pine Trees but it is there, I guarantee it!  The West Brookfield Historical Commission website has pictures of the entrance and a list of the burials:  I have every confidence that they have as complete a list as possible.

I began photographing this cemetery.  My goal was not to do every stone but to give an idea of what the cemetery looked like, the condition it was in and the size and shape.  My primary focus was the headstone of Philip and Judith Goss.  As I studied the area I realized there was also a foot stone and noted that was indicated on the West Brookfield list.  There is another stone next to the foot stone but it is really buried in the ground.  I also searched around for other indications of another grave.  I was looking for the son of Philip and Judith but I would probably need other tools to determine if he was there and my hubby might have ideas.  The foot stone was tilting to one side on the edge and seemed like it was sinking.  It also had lichen growing on it.  The area around the two stones was empty and that makes me suspicious that there might be more burials. If you look at the whole cemetery you see stone tilting either forward or backward.  Others are leaning to the right or left.  There are a few broken stones and even a sinking stone.  I wonder if there are other stones buried below the surface?  Hard to say!

Entrance to the Indian Cemetery – West Brookfield
Capt Philip Goss & Judith Goss Headstone and Footstone
Haymaker Monument – in the back corner to the left

I have more photographs of the cemetery and a video.  I will upload them to the blog after I return home.  It is really difficult to do blog while traveling.

My next goal was to head for Brookfield and go to the library or the town hall.  I ended up at the town hall a big red brick building.  The floors in the foyer creak really loudly.  I am afraid I stopped and experimented a little.  CREAK, CREAK!!  I opened the door of the Town Clerk’s office and came into a little room with three people.  There was a man talking to the clerk about guns.  I waited.  I told him I was interested in vital records in the 1700’s and he handed me a copy of the Brookfield Vital Records to 1850 book.  Apparently I was not going to see original records.  He told me they were in the vault.  He vouched for the records in the published book? I gave him some of my brochures that I had prepared for this trip on my blogs.  He was friendly but I could see that they were really not set up for dealing with genealogists.

Brookfield Town Hall

Brookfield Town Hall website

A quick check of the Family History Library catalog and much to my amazement the vital records of Brookfield are all in published form not original records??? The Massachusetts Archives has the 1841 to 1910 vital records online but I do not know if they have them on microfilm for Brookfield??  Something tells me there is a good story if not a sad one here????  I will do more investigating this access to the originals.  I am now very concerned.

I found the Brookfield Library (Merrick) at the end of the village green on the east side.  It was closed on Monday and opened in the afternoon on Tuesday.  I would be gone by then.  When I studied their online catalog I did not find much at that library for genealogy.  If they have a filing cabinet filled with history, I do not know.  I was not going to be able to find out by visiting for they would not be opened and I had to get to Lancaster.

Merrick Public Library
Memorial Square

It was time to move on to North Brookfield so I headed up Hwy 148.  It was around 12 noon and I was getting hungry so I decided to stop at the Brookfield Orchards.  There were signs everywhere.  Someone knew how to promote the business.  If I recall the roads are Ward, Elm and Lincoln Road.  Just follow the signs you can’t miss it for all the buildings are red and white.  On the left is a big field of apple trees.  They have not blossomed.  I bet that is pretty.  You can tell there is a large orchard for the trees go on forever.

The Brookfield Orchards Store is large with a variety of things for sale: pottery, dishes, crafts items, jams, jellies and canned items, books, maps, junk and even a museum of collections.  I spied apples being processed and some were going for a bath in a large container.  This place has and sells everything.  The older lady was eating her lunch and she readily answered my questions about the goods and store.  As I wandered the last area of the store I found some old maps of North Brookfield, Brookfield and West Brookfield and more.  They were about the 1880’s and taken from an county atlas.  They were charging $12-15 dollars for some and a small fortune for the others.

Going for a swim!
Just look for this Sign

I returned to the front but nobody was around.  I waited about 10 minutes an a young girl entered and I asked if she was in charge and she nodded yes.  I told her I wanted a dumpling and a slice of cheese.  What a tremendous about of energy level drop.  She was more interested in other things.  I was grieving for the other older lady and wondered where she was at least I could have a fun conversation with her.  The Brookfield Orchards was fun.  If I had more time or was staying awhile I would have purchased some apples.  I live in Washington State so you can understand my interest.  The older lady she mentioned that the strains of the apples were all different in the various apple growing areas.  The store is almost like a museum and you could spend some serious time there.  My dumpling was tasty The cheese was Vermont cheese and it was good.  I did gobble them both down.  Seems to me it needed a big dollop of whipping cream!  I think they serve them with ice cream?

North Brookfield was the next stop on my wandering of the Brookfields.  I took Elm Street into North Brookfield and came upon the Walnut Grove Cemetery.  I had some cars behind me so I turned into one of the entry ways and explored this cemetery for a short while. Find A Grave has a listing of the interments coming in at 569.  I think the cemetery is bigger so you might need to do more investigating?

After I finished with the Walnut Grove Cemetery I came upon the North Brookfield Town Center and I recognized the Town Hall from a picture.  I was trying to figure out what was happening with the North Brookfield Town Hall.  It looked like it needed a paint job really bad.  When I tried to open the doors to enter they were locked and it looked like the Town Clerk and other officers were not in their offices.  It looked abandoned? If you go to this link you see that their hours are rather short Tuesday and Thursday 12 to 3 pm and Tuesday evenings 5 pm to 8 pm.

North Brookfield Town Hall
First Congregational Church on the Town Square

Lesson learned:  Check the website.  I really didn’t want to do anything there because their records are not far enough back for me but I was curious and wanted to explore.

As I drove north I noticed a cemetery on the left at Maple Street and Main. They were doing some road work and I didn’t want to get caught in the middle of that so I left.  I believe it is the North Brookfield Cemetery on Maple Street and Find A Grave has a listing of the interments up to 152.  Something tells me that this is not a complete list.

After taking some photographs of the North Brookfield Library (Haston Free), Town Hall and village green I headed north.

I was going in search of the plaque commemorating the home of Rufus Putnam.  Rufus Putnam founded Marietta, Ohio.  Marietta, Ohio is where Solomon Goss and Olive Scott Goss settled after leaving Pennsylvania.  It is just to coincidental to be ignored.  Solomon Goss is a son of Philip and Mary Kendall Goss.

Rufus had land next to and overlooking Horseshoe Lake in North Brookfield.  I drove on a regular two lane highway till I turned off onto Oakham Road and then I turned onto Rufus Putnam Road.  The road started to get rough, pot marked, and covered in some areas with loose gravel.  I found Horseshoe Lake which is reserved for the drinking water of the area and has all these signs posted all other warning people not to swim or play in the lake.  I was trying to decide if I wanted to go up this hill.  A van came down it at a fast clip so I could tell it was not too bad. So I took the plunge. I got to the top of the hill and to my surprise there actually was a marker for the Rufus Putnam home.  The view was wonderful of Horseshoe Lake and the surrounding area.  I can’t believe I found the plaque!  WOW!! Try this article about him:

Horseshoe Lake
Site of Rufus Putnam’s homestead
Rufus Putnam Road
Horseshoe Lake Looking Down from about Rufus Putnam’s Home

I left the North Brookfield area and took Hwy 67 back to West Brookfield and it brought me out almost into the main part of town.  I stopped and P&S Pizza for some fish and chips. The piece of fish was huge!  It was the best fish and chips I had ever eaten and I was on Cape Cod.  The waitress said it was haddock?  They are right there on Main Street across from the Ye Old Tavern.

The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library in West Brookfield was open. There were several titles I wanted to check out regarding the work of a Archie Jay.  The librarian gave me some keys.  One key was to the Archie Jay collection which was a 2 drawer lateral filing cabinet.  The other keys were to the historical book collection.  I did have to sign a register but they didn’t ask for any blood.  HA!

I climbed the very steep stairs to the 2nd floor and found a wonderful room with several rooms.  The historical collection was housed in a small alcove.  I opened the filing drawer and set to work.  The files are arranged by subject and I was particularly interested in gristmills, the Goss Garrison, maps, family histories.  I took a lot of photographs of interesting things.  They really didn’t have the type of map I was looking for.  Mr. Jay’s collection was well organized in files and was sort of a grouping of manuscripts, newspaper articles, copies of published works for family histories, written notes and handmade maps. It is a 2 drawer lateral filing cabinet. Mr. Jay was the town historian for years.  Barbara and Dick had the good fortune to meet and know him as he was winding down his activities.

Apparently this collection had been added to the catalog by the West Brookfield Historical Commission and this implies that if a town library has any historical or genealogical materials you are going to have to inquire.  I was having no luck except for the West Brookfield library (Merriam-Gilbert) in finding any historical or genealogical references in the online catalog or any section of a library website referencing genealogy or history.  Who knows what information is out there that is not catalogued…Oh my!  The other issue is money.  I am seeing the lack of it and how it is affecting the records.

I liked the Merriam-Gilbert Library and would loved to spend a little more time there.  It was very lovely inside and the librarians where helpful and friendly.

Merriam-Gilbert Library, West Brookfield right across from the Town Hall on Cottage Street
Stained Glass Window 2nd Floor of the West Brookfield Library
One of Two Large Locked Bookshelves
Off to the Indian Cemetery to visit Philip and Judith Goss.  I dallied their in the cemetery for my 3rd visit enjoying the serenity of it.  A young child was laughing in the backyard next to the cemetery.  The day was sunny and very warm.
Philip & Judith Goss – Footstone
Headstone:  Philip on the  left and Judith on the Right
Back in my room in the Dragonfly Bed and Breakfast I settled in to work on my blog posts and do other chores.  As I worked I watched the day end in West Brookfield.  There was actually a sunset with a little bit of orange.
It would soon be time for bed.