Monday, April 9, 2012

Wedding Serendipity

Our family tree is growing a new branch!  Last month our daughter was engaged to be married, and she jumped right into wedding planning.  She has always dreamed of being married in a historical house with some family connection.  Fortunately for her, there are many houses in our area that were lived in by ancestors and their close kin.  She was on line researching houses, and on the phone with many of them that made her “short list”.

My daughter’s first choice was the Fairbanks house, which was built by her 11x great grandfather, Jonathan Fairbanks (abt 1594 – 1668), in Dedham, Massachusetts.  It was built between 1637 and 1641.  She loved the fairytale look of the crooked roof line, and the history.  However, the house and grounds were too small for a big wedding.  It has hosted small weddings in the past.  There were no kitchen facilities for a caterer.  Disappointed, she moved on down the list.
The Mayflower House, Plymouth, MA

Next was the Mayflower House in Plymouth, which is used by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants as their headquarters.  If you have used the library, you have been there.  It has a lovely rose garden in the back, where I have attended garden parties for the Mayflower Society’s Trienniel Congresses every three years.  This garden was too small for a reception tent, but would be perfect for a wedding ceremony.  My daughter decided to move on down the list…

The 2000 Felton Family Reunion, Peabody, MA
The Felton Houses in Peabody, Massachusetts were built by her 10x great grandfather, Nathaniel Felton (abt 1615 – 1705).  The Nathaniel Felton, Sr. house was built about 1650, and later divided in half to build the Nathaniel, Jr. house next door.  Both houses have large additions and gardens.  There is a barn across the street used for functions, and our family is familiar with this from the Felton Family Association reunions held every summer in the barn.  There is room for a tent near some beautiful orchards.  My daughter was not in love with the site (perhaps it was too familiar to her from the family reunions?) so we moved on down the list.

The Francis Wyman House, Burlington, MA
The Wyman house, built in Burlington, Massachusetts in 1666 by her 10x great grandfather, Francis Wyman (1617 – 1699), is lovely, but has no bathrooms, kitchen or proper place for a party.  There are plans to erect a barn on the grounds in the near future, especially for functions and rentals.  Too bad, because my daughter lives right in Burlington and that would have been handy! 

The next house was the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts, which is inside a lovely carriage house that looks like a Loire castle.   The manor house that used to be behind it was destroyed years ago to form a town park.  Many weddings are held on the great lawn, with the “castle” in the background.  It was a bit too formal, too expensive, and not really owned by an ancestor, just a close cousin since Larz Anderson married Isabel Weld Perkins, and we have both Perkins and Weld ancestors.  Next…

The Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts sounded perfect.  I've passed by this old house many times and have seen weddings and functions going on in the yard.  It was built by Reverend William Emerson in 1770, who was Ralph Waldo Emerson's grandfather, and is my 1st cousin 7 generations removed.  Our Emerson ancestors lived for a long time in Concord.   The Old Manse is a very romantic house because Nathaniel Hawthorne lived here for a short time and etched love poems to his wife on the window panes.  It is also located right next door to the Concord Minuteman statue and the Old North Bridge for some delightful wedding photos, but would make her wedding right in the middle of lots of tourists and gawking.  The Old Manse didn't quite fit my daughter's plans either. 

I could tell that my daughter was becoming a bit frustrated in her search, since there were so many choices, and none were perfect.  She confessed that she always like the Pierce House in Lincoln, Massachusetts.  She used to pass it every day when she worked nearby at the DeCordova Museum.  It was beautiful, historical, and who cared if it didn’t belong to a member of the family tree.  We all went to visit it and she loved it so much that we put down a deposit for a day next spring.  My husband took a photo of the portrait of John H. Pierce that was in the hallway.  I asked the caretaker if he was descended of the Pierce’s of Watertown, Massachusetts (a wild guess!).  He told me that he didn’t know the family genealogy, but he knew that his real name was Hoar, and he changed it to Pierce.
Here we are at the Pierce  House
Undaunted, when I got home I took a look at my Pierce family tree on the computer.  I found an article about John Howard Pierce online, and how his father, Abijah Pierce Hoar, had changed the surname.  Abijah’s mother was Susanna Pierce.  I found her already listed in my database as a 5th cousin, 6 generations removed.  This was a rather distant kinship, but fun to tell my daughter about the connection.  However, before I called her I looked at John Howard Pierce’s wife’s name, Mary Elizabeth Wheeler.   She had six common ancestors with us (Coolidge, Hubbard, Heyward, two Munroe lines, and Stone).  Now, that was interesting! 

We’ll have to put a family tree under that portrait of John. H. Pierce on the wedding day!


For more information, check this list.  One of these historic Massachusetts houses could be perfect for your next function or wedding!:

The Fairbanks House, Dedham, MA
The Mayflower House, Plymouth, MA
The Nathaniel Felton, Sr. and Jr. Houses, Peabody, MA
The Francis Wyman House, Burlington, MA
The Pierce House, Lincoln, MA


Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations to your daughter! Wedding planning is so exciting. I love the idea of getting married in an historic home. Keep us posted? :)