Sunday, October 2, 2016

350th Anniversary of the Francis Wyman House, Burlington, Massachusetts and a Family Reunion

Wyman Descendants, photo by John Goff
In 1666 (or thereabouts) Francis Wyman (1617 - 1699) built a home in Woburn, Massachusetts, on land that is now 56 Francis Wyman Road in Burlington, Massachusetts.  He had over 1,000 acres near the Shawsheen River.  This homestead is now owned by the Francis Wyman Association, and celebrated it's 350th anniversary this year.  Over 30 descendants from all over the USA (from as far away as Nebraska, Wyoming, California, Oregon and Washington), England and New Zealand came together to commemorate the occasion and honor their Wyman Ancestors.

It was a chilly, raining day for the reunion on October 1st,  but that did not dampen the spirits of the Wyman family.  The house was open for tours, there was a cookout, and a family meeting.  We were entertained by colonial music and a musket salute by a group of Revolutionary War reenactors. Salem architect John Goff gave an excellent history of the house to the family members, with some new information about the structure of the building.  In the evening we all warmed up in a local restaurant to share a meal and good conversation. A good time was had by all!

The Massachusetts Society of the Sons of the
American Revolution Col. Henry Knox
Regimental Color Guard
John Zafiris, Jr., Jack Cunningham, Bob Bossart and Bill Carlson

Francis Wyman, our immigrant ancestor, was a tanner who owned property in "downtown" Woburn for his business, but he built his homestead on what was considered the frontier.  Nearby were several Christianized "praying Indian" villages, which were considered good protection against unfriendly Indian and French neighbors to the west and north.  As Wyman accumulated land, one of his deeds was witnessed by Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, the first Native American (Wampanoag) to graduate from Harvard.  The history of this land goes back further than the lifetime of our ancestor Francis Wyman.

The Wyman house stayed in the Wyman family for many generations, and then was sold out of the family.  It was in decrepit condition when descendant Benjamin Wyman saw the home in 1898 and established the Francis Wyman Association to buy the farmhouse and restore it.  A caretaker lived in the home until 1996 when an accidental fire destroyed most of the interior stairwell up to the roof.  This is the 20th anniversary of the fire.  After several rounds of renovations the house is open to the public again as a museum house. There is still much work to be done to the interior.

Above, John Goff gave a talk on the history of the Francis Wyman house, and the evidence through out the house of renovations over 350 years. You can see the fire damage on the walls, ceiling and mantel behind John.  Although he is not a descendant, John Goff has been an active volunteer for the past 20 years working on the renovations after the fire.  Below, descendants gather in the parlor room to for tours of the Wyman homestead. 

The Francis Wyman house is the oldest home in Burlington, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.   The mission of the Francis Wyman Association is to preserve the homestead and the story of the Wyman family.  You can participate in this mission by donating your time, materials or money to the association at this webpage

For the truly curious:

My Wyman lineage:

More about the fire at the Wyman house:

Click on the video below to see the Burlington Cable Access TV show on the 305th Anniversary of the Francis Wyman House:

Another BCAT video of the history of the Francis Wyman House


Published under a Creative Commons License

Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "350th Anniversary of the Francis Wyman House, Burlington, Massachusetts and a Family Reunion", Nutfield Genealogy, posted October 3, 2016,  ( accessed [access date]).

1 comment:

  1. Such a wonderful post. So far no Wyman ancestors but I do have some Wyman cousins.