This Old House Project

      Living is an old, historic house built in 1735 is a fascinating thing.  I have decided to trace our old house and the families that have lived in it.  Some of the records are easy to come by and some are not.  I am going to try to use Internet sites to illustrate the heritage of the house and the people that have lived here.  I also plan to use all the written resources that I can find.  It may take me awhile but.... 

Go to the stories of Deacon Joseph Fletcher
      When we bought our house in 1977, one of the first things that I did was purchase a reprinted copy  "A History of the Town of Dunstable, Massachusetts" by Rev. Elias Nason published in 1877.  Interesting that a hundred year separated our outlook on Dunstable, MA.  My paperback copy is getting rather tattered but I am going to give you some of the information that I have gleaned from reading it.
Quote #1
"One of the oldest houses in town is that owned by James T. Burnap, Esq.  It was built by Deacon Joseph Fletcher about one hundred and forty years ago, and is still in very good condition. " 

Quote #2
"Wolves were at this time very troublesome, and bears occasionally made their way into town; catamount also now and then annoyed people.  It is related that one evening, while Deacon Joseph Fletcher, who purchased a tract of about six hundred acres at twelve cents per acres in the Joint Grass district about the year1735, was absent at the mill, his wife Elizabeth, hearing something like the screaming of a child, went to the door, and saw the eyes of a catamount glaring her from a tree.  She fastened the door upon her visitor, yet fearing he might gain entrance through a window, she crept into a barrel, and in that uncomfortable position spent the night."  From The Fletcher Genealogy page 54.
Quote #3
"Joseph Fletcher was chosen deacon of the church, Feb. 23, 1764"
Quote #4
"Mr. Goodhue was married to Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Deacon Joseph Fletcher and Elizabeth (Underwood) Fletcher, July 28, 1757."
Quote 5
"SAMUEL MARK FLETCHER, Am. Coll. 1846. Born March 1822, and married Sally Kendall Taylor in November 1849.  He was the son of Capt. Mark, grandson of Phineas and great grandson of Dea. Joseph Fletcher, the first settler of the name in Dunstable.  He studied medicine in Philadelphia and practiced two years in Westerly, RI.  He was assistant surgeon in the war of Rebellion; he then practiced medicine in Denver City and Chicago, where he died in October 3, 1875. 
Quote #5
"Deacon Joseph Fletcher died July 17, 1784."
Time Line Fletcher Family
Taken from “Fletcher Genealogy: An account of the descendants of Robert Fletcher of Concord, MA” by Edward Fletcher of new York City Printed for the author by Alfred Mudge & Sons, 34 School Street, Boston, 1871. 
Other notes taken from “Fletcher Family History.  The descendents of Robert Fletcher of Concord, MA” by Edward H. Fletcher of New-York Printed for the author by Rand, Avery, & Co., 117 Franklin St., Boston. 1881.   Picture (drawing of house following page 90). 

Family divided into three branches.  First, the Chelmsford branch of William; second the Westford branch of Samuel; third, the Acton branch of Francis.  They were Puritans. 

Robert Fletcher. Born in 1592 in Chelmsford , England .   Settled in Concord in 1630.  The year that which seventeen ships arrived in  Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth.  Robert died in Concord, MA on  3 Apr 1677, he was 85.   The children were Luke, William, Samuel, Francis and Cary.
Robert married Sarah
.
William Fletcher.  Born in 1622 in England .  Came with his father to Concord when he was eight years old.  In 1653, settled in Chelmsford William died in Chelmsford , MA on 6 Nov 1677, he was 55. On 7 Oct 1645 when William was 23, he married Lydia Bates, in Concord ,  MA .  Children were Lydia , Joshua, Mary, Paul, Sarah, William, Ester and Samuel.

Joshua Fletcher.  Born on 30 Mar 1648. Joshua died on  21 Nov 1713, he was 65.
On 18 Jul 1682 when Joshua was 34, he married Sarah Willy.  She was his second wife.  Children Joshua, Paul, Rachel, Timothy, John, Joseph, Sarah, Jonathan, Elizabeth and Jonas.  All children were born in Chelmsford . 

Father:
Capt. Joseph Fletcher.
 Born on  10 Jun 1689 in  Chelmsford,  MA. Joseph died in  Westwood, MA on 4 Oct 1772 , he was 83.  This is the largest branch of the family with 720 names.  Children were Joseph, Benjamin, Timothy, Thomas, Sarah, Edith, Pelatiah, Joshua, Ruth and Mary.
On 17 Nov 1712 when Joseph was 23, he married Sarah Adams.
Mother: Sarah Adams.  Born on 12 Jul 1691 in Chelmsford ,  MA .  Sarah died in Westwood , MA on  24 Apr 1761 , she was 69.

Built house in 1735:
Deacon Joseph Fletcher.
 Born on  6 Jul 1713 in  Westwood , MA. Joseph died in Dunstable, MA on 17 Jul 1784, he was 71.At about the time of their marriage they removed and settled in Dunstable, where he bought six hundred acres of land at twelve cents an acre, - then an almost unbroken wilderness.  Here he lived fifty years, subduing and cultivating the land, and blest with competence as a result of his industry.  He was the leading man in the community and a pillar in the church; good citizen, and a devoted Christian.  All nine of his children followed him to the grave, - eight of them with their companions. 
On  21 May 1735 when Joseph was 21, he married Elizabeth Underwood.
            The homes of Deacon Joseph Fletcher and his sturdy sons, in a close proximity, are interesting relics of by-gone days.   About a mile and a half from the village of the old Dunstable, on the Hollis road, we cross the Jointgrass brook and ascend the hill beyond, and then leaving the old school-house on the left, we see a few rods to the west, an old fashioned two story dwelling, with copious barns.  Here lived Thomas (694), the eldest son of Dea. Joseph, settled and lived several years, stands a short distance north, and fronting the south, surrounded by five tall buttonwood trees.  Still farther north, about an eighth of a mile, s tall buttonwood and four elms stand guardians of the ancient homestead where the father Joseph lived and died.  His Son Phineas, grandson Mark, and great grandson George W., have in turn owned the sacred spot, hallowed by thirty births and half as many deaths. 
            Looking from here to the west of north, distant about an eighth of a mile, stands two houses about a stones throw apart.  The one with thee tall buttonwoods was the residence of Jonathan (685), the second son of Deacon Joseph.  In the other lived Jonathan’s son Samuel (737).  From Blanchard’s hill may be seen the church spires of Pepperell, Hollis and  Londonderry .
            The daughters married and settled in the vicinity.  It is related that the family gatherings were enormous for numbers, such as the day of small families cannot produce.  Such Thanksgivings!
            The following incidents, which are authentic, read strangely to one now living on the spot. 
            Joseph had gone to the nearest mill, which was in Westford, about eight miles distant, and had to remain away over night, his wife remaining at home alone.  In the evening, she heard something like a scream of a child.  Stepping to the door, she encountered the glaring eyes of a catamount perched in a tree.  She fastened the door, and then fearing the animal might gain access through the window, she crawled into a barrel and contrived to get its open end against the wall and there passed the night.
            While Joseph was hoeing corn in the field one day, and his little daughter Susannah, who had been playing around him, had laid down on the greensward in the shade at the side of the field and gone to sleep, he saw a large black bear crossing the field and going directly toward the sleeping child.  The gun was then always close at hand, and a well-directed shot saved the child. 
            On one occasion, the flock of sheep came rushing down Blanchard’s hill with a bear in full pursuit.  But Bruin, instead of feasting on the mutton he was after, furnished the table with his own steaks.
            The mother was kind and tender-hearted toward her children, and when the boys were caught in mischievous pranks, she would whip them herself, and then report them to the father.  She knew that her very gentle. Castigation would be as estoppels of any further punishment from the heavier hand of the father.
            A correspondent says: “Dea. Joseph was a remarkable man – kind, benevolent, always self-possessed; he seemed like the patriarch of old.  He continued to have re-unions of his family twice a year till they number over sixty.
Children:
Elizabeth 1736 - 1793
Thomas 1738 - 1802
Jonathan 1741 - 1813
Susannah 1743 - 1803
Amy (also spelt Ama) 1746 - 1795 
Sarah 1749 -
Joseph 1752 - 1832
Lucy 1755 - 
Phineas 1757 - 1833
Elizabeth Underwood.  Born on  2 FEB 1713/14 .  Elizabeth died on  23 Nov 1802 , she was 89.
Phineas (691) (1109) born.  November 28, 1757 ; married  Nov. 16, 1783 , Anna Burge; m. 2nd  Mar 10, 1796 , widow Alice Emerson.  He was a stalwart man six feet in height, and many anecdotes are related of his physical power.  He was an excellent and eminently pious man.  He was a worthy successor to his father Dea. Joseph, as the occupant of the homestead, where all his children were born.  Died July 1833.
Children: Anna, Mark, Sewall, Mark, Betsey,  Charlotte ,  Indiana , Sally, Sally A., Lucy, and Jane.

Mark (754) born.  September 14, 1790 ; married. Rhoda Fletcher (855)  Jan. 24, 1818 .  Lived at the old homestead in Dunstable, where his grandfather first settled, and where his children were born.  He was Captain of a militia company, and deacon in Congregational Church.  Died  Aug. 4, 1851 .
Children:  Rhonda Elizabeth, Nancy C.  Samuel M., George Washington and Susan Lucretia

George Washington born  April 15, 1826 ; married Mary Osgood, who died on 1868; married 2nd. Ellen G. Foss, of  Barton ,  VT  April 15, 1869.Rep. in leg. 

Picture taken Fletcher Family History page 90. Date most likely around 1881 or before.
Picture taken from "Images of America Dunstable" by Susan Tully and Susan Psaledakis, Arcadia Press, 1998. Date of picture not know to me but much later than above picture.  
Some above also taken from Ahnentafel Report
Helpful website:  Descendants of Robert Fletcher
My school website on Obadiah Comes Fourteen that includes A Telling Tombstone Tale  which includes pictures of the Fletcher tombstones in the Central Cemetery, Dunstable and more pictures of the house. 
Coming in the future more on my family history.  My maiden name is Oakman and I can trace my family to Mayflower connections.  

 

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