Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hanover 1817 House, Hanover, Maine, vintage menu; Ezra Smith genealogy

1817 Hanover House, Hanover, Maine, Half Way Between Bethel and Rumford, U.S. Route 2, Telephone Rumford (Maine) 974-M1.


Historical Note

The Hanover 1817 House, originally the Smith Homestead, and remaining in the same Smith family for over 125 years, was built between th years of 1810 and 1817 by Ezra Smith, listed as a merchant in Topsham, Maine; and also a trustee of Bowdoin College previous to 1810, when he moved his family to Hanover.

Most of the woodwork in the house today - from the handhewn, foot-square beams to the handwrought circular staircase, mantels, and christian cross doors are the original, fashioned for the most part from "Pumpkin Pine".  Some of the Pumpkin Pine boards used exceed thirty inches in width.

The 1817 Craft and Gift Shop, housed in an oldtime blacksmith shop, cordially invites you to browse around, and inspect the wide variety of imported Royal Doulton and other china and glassware, potter, copperware, wooden ware, baskets, Maine mineral jewelry, and many novelties and souvenirs.

Another old-time blacksmith shop has been altered and thoroughly modernized into two double-cabin units, one room is pumpkin pine panelled and has a fireplace.  There are also comfortable rooms in the house for overnight or weekly accommodation.  Single cabins are available nearby.

The results of my online research are below.  Note: your corrections, additions and insights would be greatly appreciated - scroll down to the comments section below - thanks!

Ezra Smith was born on 2 November 1763, possibly in New Market, New Hampshire, the son of Winthrop and Mary (Moody) Smith.  He died 10 February 1846 in Hanover, Maine, in Oxford County.   Ezra Smith married Marcia Burley or Burleigh on 17 June 1794.  She was born 21 August 1772, the daughter of John and Mehitable (Sheafe) Burley.  Marcia died on 27 April 1859 in Bethel, Maine.

Ezra and Marcia (Burley) Smith had the following children:

  • Lucinda M., b. 19 December 1794; m. Reverend Charles Frost of Bethel; she d. 11 November 1859.
  • Saint John or St. John, b. 28 January 1799; he legally changed his name from Ezra Saint John Smith in 1825 (see Special Laws of the State of Maine, January, 1825); m. Susan Hopkins
  • Mary S., b. 6 Oct 1801; m. Mark P. Emery of Portland, Maine
  • Henry R., b. 28 November 1803; died out West
  • Marcia, b. 19 July 1805; m. James Stevens; she d. 21 November 1900
  • George E., b. 11 December 1811; m. Julia Ann Bartlett
  • Caroline E., b. 16 January 1815; m. Moses T. Cross 
I found a wonderful story in the Bowdoin "Orient" of April 7 1920, of an 1797 ledger that Ezra Smith kept while he was a merchant in Topsham, Maine:

The phrase, "busy as a Topsham grocer," once coined by a Bowdoin graduate, could not have been applied in his sense of the word to the methodical accountant of an interest- ing volume lately received at the library. For this well preserved leather bound folio volume, the library is indebted to Mrs. Clara S. Patten of Brunswick, who received it from her uncle, Dr. Asher Ellis. The book bears on its first page the inscription: "Ezra Smith's Ledger, No. 1 Topsham, Nov. 1, 1797." Mr. Smith was an overseer of this college from 1800 to 1811. He was born in New Hamp- shire about 1764 and died in Hanover, Maine, in 1846. The three or four hundred pages of this ledger are completely filled with the accounts kept by Mr. Smith at his store from November, 1797, to September, 1801, and constitute au- thentic evidence of many of the so- cial and economic habits of our an- cestors in these regions some hun- dred and twenty years ago. Mr. Smith kept a general store and dealt in a great variety of articles from all kinds of groceries, vegetables, meats, and ardent spirits, to shoes, dress goods, stationery, dictionaries, and almanacks, but no other books. Money was evidently scarce in those days. Relatively few accounts were settled with cash, most of them with commodities produced by the custom- ers, such as wood, lumber, farm pro- duce, and labor. Many of them worked off their bills by hard labor for Mr. Smith at long hours and at the rate of 75 cents a day. Miss Martha Fitts is credited with $12.54 for twenty-five weeks' work. An- other customer settled a long stand ing account in part by surrendering "one share in schoolhouse," valued at $4. In fact, his store seems to have resembled a miniature produce ex- change or a mediaeval barter station rather than the thing we know to- day as a store. The first account runs against a man who in nine days, charges gal- lons and gallons of brandy at 38 cents a quart, rum at 25 to 28 cents, besides lamb at 3 and 4 cents a pound, sugar at 14 and 15 cents, also a "yard of pigtail" (whatever that may be) it 4 cents. For these goods he de- livers boards at $5 a thousand. With two or three exceptions Mr. Smith's customers were hearty drink- ers. Most of the accounts deal chiefly with rum and brandy with occasional charges for "syder." This, however, is not so difficult for us to understand when we consider that life hereabouts was then exceedingly monotonous and offered virtually none of the substi- tutes for alcohol that the highly or- ganized society of today presents. Of chief interest to us are the prices then prevalent. We note the follow- ing: Sugar, 14 to 20 cents; molasses, 75 cents a gallon; "bisket," 17 cents a dozen; coffe, 28 to 38 cents; cheese, 13 and 14 cents; butter, 15 to 20 cents; lard, 9 cents; flour, 6 to 8 cents; pork, 14 cents; lamb and beef, 3 to 4 cents. Considerable difference in the prices of the same articles on the same day seem to indicate that this was no one price store. Tobacco, 15 to 35 cents a pound; brandy, 38 cents a quart; ram, 25 to 28 cents. Eggs figure rare- ly in these accounts; possibly every family was expected to keep hens. However, on September 17, 1798, eggs were sold at 13 cents a dozen; apples, 42 cents a bushel; corn, 75 cents a bushel; shoes, 92 cents to $1.25; "knit- ting pins," 2 cents a pair; "chizzels," 17 cents each. There is a detailed record of the cost of building a brig, $5,633.54. One gets the impression that life was not easy in those good old days. Although most articles of food seem cheap, cloth and clothing were high, and labor at seventy-five cents for a long day must be regarded as ex- ceedingly unproductive when compared with present day accomplishments. 

Ezra Smith lived in the part of Hanover that was once called Howard's Gore.  The town of Hanover was formed in 1843 from Howard's Gore and part of Bethel; in one reference I saw that the name Hanover came from German settlers in honor of the House of Hanover, but I'd like to have that corroborated.

This has been a very interesting family to research, to say the least! Here's a link to a family tree that I've made [again, please forward any corrections!]: Smith, Ezra, a mechant of Topsham and Hanover, Maine.

Thanks for stopping by!

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