Windham Life and Times – June 3, 2022

South Windham- The Emerson Family

The Emerson House on Marblehead Road

This antique colonial located on the corner of Marblehead and Copp’s Hill Road was built by John Emerson in 1820. It is the last of the old family homes still standing, that were located in south Windham on Marblehead Road. It’s interesting that it was occupied by the Emerson family until 1957.

     Morrison says, “Michael Emerson, came from England in 1652, and settled in Haverhill, Mass. He was a commander of one of the garrison houses, and in 1691, he with others repulsed an attack of Indians made upon him. He was the father of fifteen children, and from him most, if not all, of the Emersons in this section descended. His oldest daughter , Hannah, married Thomas Duston, of heroic memory.” (Hannah Dustin was taken captive by the Indians in 1657. She had just given birth and the Indians killed here newborn baby. She and three others escaped by scalping 10 Indians. They were paid 50 pounds for the scalps by the General Assembly of Massachusetts) She was heroic, and her name became historic on account of her bravery and endurance, the story of which is familiar to all.”
     “John, his grandson was the father of Peter, who was born in Haverhill in 1732. The latter served several years in the French and Indian was, and was in Braddock’s defeat. While in Pennsylvania he married Mary Stanton; returned to Haverhill, where they had twelve children, five sons and seven daughters. He came to Windham in 1784, and settled where Isaac Emerson now lives, having bought the farm of the first settler, Abram Annis.”

    “John’s son Isaac married Margaret Dunlap of Bedford. He was the only member of his father’s large family who remained in Windham. He owned as resided on the ancestral acres till about one year before his death; he bought March 1828, of William Davidson, the farm upon which James Emerson lives. He was the ancestor of the Emersons of Windham. Born in Haverhill in 1772; came to town in 1774; married Margaret Dunlap of Bedford in 1793; died 1811. When his wife came from her father’s house in Bedford, to her new home, where Isaac Emerson now lives, in Windham, she brought as a memorial of her early residence, some red rose bushes, that in their blooming season they might gladden the home; and yearly they bloom in the garden, and their fragrance fills the air; but the hands which planted and tended them, nearly a century ago, have long since gone back to dust.”

    Their son John D. was born July 16, 1797. He married Betsey Corliss January 24, 1824. “He lived upon the farm now occupied by his son Isaac Emerson. He enjoyed his farmer’s life. In politics he was a democrat; but never let his party predilections influence him much in town affairs or in choices of town officers. He was Selectman in 1843. On the nineteenth day of January, 1871, at a special town meeting of the town, called to see if the citizens would accept the bequest of Col. Thomas Nesmith, for the establishment of the Nesmith Library, under conditions imposed, some felt unfavorable towards the project, as it would entail a slight yearly expense on the town. Not so felt Mr. Emerson; with his great public spirit, he was earnestly in favor of the establishment of the library, and was willing to give freely of his substance, that those of the rising generation, and of all future generations in town, might have the inestimable benefits of a free public library, something which he had never enjoyed. After the acceptance of the gift, he promptly made the motion, that the town appropriate a proper sum in preparing the library room and cases for the reception of books, which motion was readily passed. Let this recorded act stand as a memorial to him. He was a good citizen and an upright man. He died October 5, 1872. Mrs. Emerson was a true farmed wife; had an intense love of out-door life, and her happiest hours were spent caring for her bees and flowers. She lived to the good old age of and died at 84 years.”

    Their son Isaac, who was born December 13, 1825 lived upon the home farm. He inherited a strong love for fruits and flowers, and became a successful fruit grower. He covered his farm with orchards of apple and peach trees., from which he realized great profits during the war (The Civil War). His farm was reckoned at the time the second in the county for its fruit crops. He was Selectman in 1860 and 61; representative in 1862 (but deprived of his seat by the House), ‘63,’64. In politics a Republican. He married December 13, 1853, Lucetta Reed of Lowell, Mass. She died April 11, 1871, He married his second wife, Mrs. Jane (Bagger) Brown. They had three children including William L. who carried on the farm.

    William Emerson had a long tenure as the town treasurer from 1919 until 1935. He also realized the opportunity to be found in land on Cobbett’s Pond, He developed many parcels into camp lots. William Emerson “is the only known person who had his funeral held from the chapel at “Searles School.” The service was performed by Rev. Lester Evans, with Thomas Waterhouse at the organ and a choir from the Presbyterian Church.  Its interesting that the descendant of John Emerson, Bessie, who also lived in the property after she inherited it from her father in 1940, was “well-known for her long and faithful service as the Windham librarian.

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