Windham Life and Times – May 20, 2022

South Windham, Some South Side Residents from the Past.

A flax wheel like those made by Adam Templeton. This photograph was taken sometime, just after, the turn of the twentieth century. As you can see, it is an abandoned farm of which there were many on the south side of Windham, and today just their foundations remain. I believe this is the John Simpson farm, but of course I cannot be sure, and it could be the crumbling remains of any of the family homes of which I have written about recently. There were many farms running along Marblehead Road, the old Simpson Road, and Spear Hill Road running into Salem. Salem was home to many of Windham’s original Scots-Irish residents and they socialized and had family connections across the town lines. I now find myself peering though my windshield looking in the woods for the old foundations on Marblehead Road. There are many there if you look in the winter time.

One of the oldest and most prolific families on the South side of Windham were the Simpsons. Alexander was the emigrant ancestor of most of the Simpsons of Windham; was of Scotch descent; came from the north of Ireland to Windham and bought land of James Wilson, for 105 pounds, old tenor, Nov. 24, 1747. He settled in a meadow (another Indian meadow?) about forty rods southeast of Robert Simpson’s house. His brother-in-law, Adam Templeton, came with him, and they both reared log-houses upon the surface of the ground, with no cellars, within a few rods of each other. Simpson was a weaver, and could do exceedingly nice and fine work. He often said, ‘he could weave anything, when the warp was strong enough to bear the weight of his beaver hat.’ Templeton was a wheelwright, a maker of spinning wheels. These wheels he carried on horseback and sold through out the settlement. While living in their log houses they commenced to hew their farms from the wilderness, and also followed their trades. A slight depression in the soil marks the spot where they excavated for the spring from which they procured their water. After living here several years, Simpson moved about 50 rods southwest, and built a framed house on what is now the highway, only a few yards south of the Deacon Dana Richardson house on the opposite side of the highway. The old cellar is still there. At this place he died December 12, 1788 at 67 years. His wife Janet Templeton, died July 28, 1787 at 68.  They had 9 children.

    John Simpson’s cellar has a historical marker where he lived at the head of Golden Pond…He was a Revolutionary war solider, and at the battle of Bunker Hill he had two of his fingers shot away by a cannon-ball; he was a pensioner the last years of his life; he was a well-to-do farmer, capable and one of the wealthiest men in the southerly part of town, He married Mary Hennessey, a conscientious but high-tempered woman, In those days the justice’s courts were often held to settle neighborhood difficulties, and when she was brought on as a witness she was often too honest and outspoken for the good of her side of the controversy…she died January 3, 1804. John then married Margaret Smith, the alleged Revolutionary war solider who supposed was with the Continental army during the invasion of Canada.

     The interesting thing about Leonard Morrison as a historian is his old Scotch trait of blatant honesty and here he presents the story of Alexander Simpson, another South Windham resident. He was born November 28, 1756. He first settled in Bow, N.H. where he married Mary ______. He returned to town previous to July, 1789 and resided most of the time, till after 1805, on the place owned by William Smith, near T.W. Simpson’s. His wife was particularly unfortunate in being insane (OK so this raises some unanswered questions, did Alex marry her when she was insane…or did she go insane…details, details) She was known to take one of her children in a pillow-case and journey on foot, carrying her child, to visit her native town of Bow; at another time she clandestinely gathered up provisions, took her child in a pillow-case, left home, and before she was found, lived for two or three days in the old Cross cellar, in the woods near Isaac Emerson’s. He removed to New York, with his family, and resided near Watertown. There was quite an emigration at that period to what was called the ‘Black River Country,’ and many Windham people removed there. The then ‘Far West’ was only five hundred miles away.”

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