Monday, August 15, 2011

A Furniture Label leads to some old Ancestors!

My grandfather's sister, Janet Wilkinson Blades (1898 - 1981) owned this pretty little sewing table at her home in Beverly, Massachusetts.  I blogged about this house at this link last year  where I told the tale of how Janet, in her declining years, gave away all her furniture and possession from this 1676 era home.  Several pieces of furniture were taken to her retirement apartment in Beverly, and after her death in 1981 these few pieces were divided up amongst family members.  I have a small bedroom rocking chair from Auntie Janet, and my mother has this little sewing table.

Last week Mom was cleaning drawers, and took one and turned it upside down to empty the contents onto the bed when she saw, for the first time, this label pasted onto the bottom.  Isn't it funny how something she owned for thirty years can yield up clues to it's past?

I'm proud to say that Mom, who is not the most computer literate person in the family, Googled the name of "C. Dodge" and the word "Manchester".  Her Google search led to finding the website for the Winterthur Museum which held the papers for the Cyrus Dodge Furniture Company.  The Winterthur Museum is in Delaware, but their online archive gave her many clues to the origins of this little sewing table.   Mom called me immediately with all her news.

Over the weekend we visited Mom and took these photos.  I also took some time to look at what Mom uncovered on Google.  Dodge is a name that comes up a lot in my family tree, since the original Dodge immigrant ancestors were brothers who immigrated to Beverly in the 1600's.  There are many, many Dodge marriages in our genealogy.  Cyrus Dodge (1814 - 1887) was a descendant of this same Dodge family.  

In reading the Wintherthur records, I saw that Cyrus Dodge was an apprentice to John Perry Allen.  This Allen furniture builder built a mill to saw veneers on the creek right across from where my aunt lives now in Manchester-by-the-Sea, and very close to where my cousins are rennovating the Forster Leach House.  In fact, John Perry Allen's son was named George Forster Allen!  Well, my Mom is an Allen with roots in Manchester, and with a little digging I found that John Perry Allen was a cousin!

                            William Allen (1602 - 1678)
                             m1st. Alice Norman
                            Samuel Allen (1633 - abt 1700)
                            m. Sarah Tuck
Joseph Allen ( 1672 - 1727)          Jonathan Allen (1684 - 1768)
m1st. Catherine Leach                   m. Mary Pierce
                |                                                |
William Allen (1711 - 1785)          Jacob Allen (1721 - 1805)
m. Mary Ingalls                              m. Mary Tarring
                |                                                |
Isaac Allen (b. 1740 - ?)                Nathan Allen (1768 - 1837)
m. Abigail Burnham                        m. Elizabeth Perry
                |                                                |
Joseph Allen (1776 - 1861)            John Perry Allen (1795 - 1875)
m. Judith Burnham                          m. Ruth Allen (2nd cousins)
Joseph Allen (1801 - 1894)
m. Orpha Andrews
Joseph Gilman Allen (1830 - 1908)
m. Sarah Burnham Mears
Joseph Elmer Allen (1870 - 1932)
m. Carrie Maude Batchelder
Stanley Elmer Allen (1904 - 1982)
m. Gertrude Matilda Hitchings
        My Mother
(born one town over in Ipswich, Massachusetts!)

Now I just have to send my photos to Winterthur Museum to see if they can help me to date the little sewing table.  The C. Dodge Furniture company was operated between 1841 and 1965, which is a very long time!  It would be nice to see if it dates from before Janet's wedding in 1927, for it possibly belonged to her mother, Isabella Lyons (Bill) Wilkinson (1863 - 1935), or her grandmother, Phebe Cross (Munroe) Wilkinson (1830 - 1895).   


For more information:

The C. Dodge Furniture Company Papers at the Winterthur Museum

Manchester, Massachusetts Vital Records

Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, by William Richard Cutter, 1908, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland,  Volume I, pages 240 - 248 about the Allens of Manchester, Massachusetts (available on Google Book Search)


To cite/link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "A Furniture Label leads to some old Ancestors!", Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 15, 2011, ( accessed [access date]). 


  1. Heather,

    You write the best stuff! I love this! Great discovery and research. Any connection to the Ethan Allen company?

  2. Fascinating sleuthing. Mom did a great job! And what a beautiful piece!

  3. Yay for your mom! Don't you just love when a family member takes an interest enough to check stuff out?

  4. A great discovery Heather. One just never knows where the next clue may come from. Having done a talk on how to start Genealogy from your home, this sure brings to fore what I was indicating.

  5. I own many pieces of Dodge Furniture- its well made and you have a treasure!!

  6. I own many pieces od C Dodge Furniture- and its wonderful- you have a treasure - Great Blog!!!