News Clipping from the Salem Evening News, June 3, 1938 (a Massachusetts Newspaper).
Old houses in Essex Of Historical Interest
“To start this series of articles on Old Houses in Essex, which will appear in this paper every Friday for a period of several weeks, there can be no more fitting house to start with than the first house over the line in Essex from Hamilton, on the main road from Beverly to Gloucester through Essex.
This house is known by the old settlers of Essex as the “Joe Gill Allen” house and is located in what they always speak of as Lakeville.
Little is known of who built this house or when it was erected but from the very simple construction it can easily be imagined that it was built in the very early seventeen hundreds.
Frank Mears, who has always lived in the neighborhood and well remembers the Civil War days, speaks of a Henry, and supplied the clammers gentlemen when Mr. Mears was but a boy, living in this house. He was known to everyone as Uncle Henry, and supplied the clammers and others with baskets, as he was by trade, a basket maker.
Henry Burnham was a son of Westley Burnham, and Mollie Woodbury of Beverly. He was born June 23, 1783, and married Sally Poland, Jan. 1, 1805. He died in 1867.
Sarah Mears, a daughter of Samuel Mears, was brought up in this home and she in turn married one Joseph Gilman Allen of Clay Point, South Essex.
The house has remained in the Allen family up to the present time, although it has not been lived in as an established home for a great many years.
The house boasts a very large central chimney, the fireplaces and oven, however, being bricked up. There are few windows, extremely low ceilings, with five rooms on the first floor, the second story being one unfinished room.
Those who remember one “Charlie Sam” as the town wit, can well see why he used to say that this house used to be a two story and a half house that had been there so long it just settled down into the banking.”
Although my ancestors have lived in Essex since the 1630s, and the Allens were in Essex since about the time of the American Revolution, my grandfather and his brothers and sisters were not born in this house. He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when his father had gone to Boston to work as a pipefitter with his brothers during a tough economic time period at the turn of the century. This house was used as a summer house for the Boston side of the family when my mother was growing up in the next town, Hamilton, Massachusetts.
According to census records, all the men in this lineage were ships carpenters, since ship building was once the major industry in Essex. Several of the men were listed as day laborers or retired in their older years, but I couldn’t find anyone who listed their occupation as basketmaker. Perhaps it was just a way of making money on the side. The Allens, Mears and Burnhams are all buried near each other at the Spring Street Cemetery in Essex. Clamming is still a major industry in Essex, as well as tourism and antique shops. There is still one shipbuilder left in Essex.
I’ve posted a photo of this house as it appears in 2010. A small addition has been built onto the back of the home, and it has been lovingly restored.
People mentioned in the news clipping and story:
Generation 1: Westley Burnham, son of Westley Burnham and Deborah Story, born 27 August 1747 in Essex, died on 1 September 1835; married on 5 December 1771 to Molly Woodbury, daughter of Robert Woodbury and Hannah Preston, born 29 July 1749 in Beverly, Massachusetts, died on 27 April 1830 in Essex. Ten children, including
Generation 2: Henry Burnham, born 23 June 1783 in Essex, died 1 July 1867 in Essex; married on 2 May 1805 in Essex to Sally Poland, daughter of Abner Poland and Sarah Burnham, born 27 November 1780 in Essex, died 9 February 1861 in Essex, one daughter:
Generation 3: Sarah Ann Burnham, born 23 October 1821 and died 23 January 1848 in Hamilton; married 20 April 1844 in Essex to Samuel Mears, son of Samuel Mears and Lydia W. Burnham, born 29 December 1823 in Essex, died 13 January 1904 in Lynn. Samuel was married 2nd on 26 December 1848 in Wenham to Lydia Gray, daughter of Israel Gray and Lydia G. Lacy. Five children, including:
Generation 4: Sarah Burnham Mears, born 30 November 1844 in Essex, died on 4 March 1913 in Essex; married on 23 May 1863 in Essex to Joseph Gilman Allen, son of Joseph Allen and Orpha Andrews, born 22 May 1830 in Essex, died 9 April 1908 in Essex. Ten children, including:
Generation 5: Joseph Elmer Allen, born 24 September 1870 in Essex, died 12 March 1932 at the Masonic Home in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts; married on 1 November 1892 to Carried Maude Batchelder, daughter of George E. Batchelder and Mary Katharine Emerson, born on 22 September 1872 in Chichester, New Hampshire, died on 21 January 1963 at the Sea View Convalescent Home in Rowley, Massachusetts. Five children, including:
Generation 6: Stanley Elmer Allen, born 14 January 1904 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, died on 6 March 1982 in Beverly, Massachusetts; married on 14 February 1925 in Hamilton, to Gertrude Matilda Hitchings, daughter of Arthur Treadwell Hitchings and Florence Etta Hoogerzeil, born on 1 August 1905 in Beverly, died on 3 November 2001 at the Pilgrim Nursing Home, Peabody, Massachusetts. Seven children, including my mother.
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo