Hannah Keeps Her House


Hannah Merriman monument

When Hannah (McManus) Merryman died in 1889, no obituary appeared in the Brunswick Telegraph. Her children, though, engraved her epitaph on the family monument in Varney Cemetery. Mark Cheetham of Richmond, Maine, transcribed the stone in 2007:

In memory of
our dear mother
who tried to make
home happy and
who’s voice…her
comforting ways try to
do right…….there
is our good and loving mother

The fractured epitaph provides a glimpse of Hannah’s character but the numerous tangled connections in the McManus-Merryman family offer insight into events in her life that both aided and challenged her efforts to keep a happy home.

Hannah C. McManus

When Hannah C. McManus was born in 1806, Thomas Jefferson was president of the United States and Maine was a district of Massachusetts. She was one of seven children of Robert and Elenor (Coombs) McManus of Rocky Hill. Hannah’s future husband, Enos Merryman, was born the following year on a nearby farm.

Young Hannah and Enos grew up surrounded by siblings and cousins in a neighborhood that straddled the Brunswick-Durham border. Like the McManuses and Merrymans, most neighbors were of English and Scots-Irish stock. Several were members of the Society of Friends, though the McManus and Merryman families attended Congregational or Baptist churches.

Hannah was still a child when Americans fought the English in the War of 1812. Many local men joined the efforts to preserve the country’s independence and their own seafaring livelihoods. These included Hannah’s teenaged brother Richard and several McManus cousins, all of whom joined Capt. Richard T. Dunlap’s Company in Bath.

During that war, Hannah’s mother died, leaving seven motherless children. Though some, like Richard, were nearly adults, it would have been difficult for farmer Robert McManus to care for his children while also working the farm.

In 1813, Robert married Eleanor Crosby. Was it taxing for Eleanor to rear another woman’s young children or was she naturally warm and loving enough to nurture the grieving youngsters? Perhaps Hannah’s love of home and family was born during this time as she helped care for her six half brothers and half sisters. Or perhaps her extended family on Rocky Hill modeled the virtues that guided Hannah throughout her life.

Hannah’s teenage years during the 1820s coincided with the decade of Maine: the state gained independence from Massachusetts, “Main” Street became Maine Street, and Bowdoin College welcomed the newly founded Maine Medical School.

Rocky Hill residents experienced a severe setback in 1823 when Hannah was seventeen. A blaze started in the woods and burned four miles down the hill toward Brunswick village, spreading a mile wide as it raged. The wild fire destroyed twenty-two sets of buildings and killed numerous farm animals.* No help for rebuilding their lives would have come from the village so Hannah would have witnessed families and neighbors helping one another rebuild their homes and barns, while each struggled to replace the food and income from their lost crops and livestock.

New edited McManus Merryman Family Tree 2016

By the end of the decade, two families in the already close-knit community seemed to tighten into a knot, when four McManus women married four Merryman men. These included Hannah McManus and Enos Merryman, who married in July of 1829.

Mrs. Enos Merryman

Because Enos followed the sea, he was sometimes away for weeks or months at a time. During his absences, Hannah likely turned to her large extended family for company and comfort. So many of her children bore family names that it seems clear her kin were important to her:

Robert Lincoln (1830-1903) was probably named for her father or her older brother, Robert McManus. It’s not hard to imagine either of them bouncing the lad on their knee.

Harriet Knights (1831-1873) was born the same year Hannah’s brother, Capt. Robert McManus, married Harriet E. Knights of Portland. Perhaps the new Mrs. McManus stayed with the Merrymans while her husband conducted a particularly long voyage.

Walter Scott (1834-1881) may have been named for the author of many novels of the era such as Ivanhoe. Perhaps the family gathered around the fireside listening to the story read aloud by one of them, Hannah mending their clothing, Enos smoking a pipe purchased in a far away port.

George (1836-1858) is an echo of her brother Capt. George McManus. Did Uncle George fill the boy with tall tales of his sailing exploits, inspiring the boy to become a mariner? 

Enos (1840-1908), of course, was named for his father. Was the child a particular favorite of the father? Did the boy feel obligated to follow his father’s career path?

Fannie Quinby (1843-1920) may honor Elizabeth McManus’s husband Rev. Oliver H. Quinby, whom Elizabeth married in 1841 and who died in 1842. Was Elizabeth Hannah’s sister? No matter, Hannah’s heart must have broken for the new widow and mother of infant Oliver B.

John Henry (1845-1901) may well be a nod to Hannah’s brother-in-law John Merryman. John Henry followed the sea rather than his uncle’s farming ways, though he did emulate his uncle by making his way to California.

Portland Maine 1876 BPL

Hannah C. Merryman, Widow

Ships were still the main mode of long-distance travel when the first locomotive steamed through Brunswick in 1849. That year Hannah’s brother-in-law John Merryman headed west to dig for gold in California, and her husband Enos bought a Rocky Hill farm between River and Durham Roads. Their eldest child Robert was fifteen, just the right age for a first stint aboard ship. The youngest was only five, but no longer a baby needing constant attendance. The Merrymans seemed on the verge of easier times.

The 1850s, however, turned out to be a particularly difficult time for Hannah and her family. At the beginning of the decade, Enos, Hannah and their children lived in Portland, away from the comfort of their Rocky Hill family and friends. Also listed in their home in that year’s census were Elizabeth (McManus) Quinby Clough and Anna Clough, presumably Hannah’s sister and niece. Elizabeth had married Durham neighbor Josiah Clough after her first husband’s death. Was she in the city visiting Hannah that day or was she staying in their home?

The following year the Merrymans may still have been in Portland when Enos was ship-keeper aboard a ship docked at the port of New York and died of smallpox in January. It took days for Hannah to receive the news of her husband’s death because the telegraph hadn’t come to Brunswick yet. Did word come in a letter carried by stage or train, or in person by a mariner returning home to Brunswick?

A month later in Portland, the branches of the Merryman family tree tangled a bit more when Hannah’s eldest daughter Harriet Knights Merryman married Harriet’s own distant cousin, Thomas Merryman (1826-1892). Thomas was himself the son of two distant cousins, James and Mary (Merryman) Merryman. The joy of their marriage must have been tempered by the sadness that Enos was not there to witness his daughter’s marriage, nor delight in his first grandchild, a boy named Thomas.

1857 map Hannah Merryman home

Enos died intestate, so the Cumberland County Probate Court ordered the couple’s Rocky Hill real estate auctioned off to repay debts and mortgages nearing $900. The sale was held at the homestead in May of 1853. Hannah turned to family for help, borrowing money from Robert and Richard McManus, presumably her brothers of the same names. Her offer of $531 for the 34-acre farm on Durham Road plus another 10 acres nearby was the winning bid.

Hannah kept her home.

Next Blog: The Rest of Hannah’s Story


  • Ancestry.com: Various including City Directories, Family Trees, United States Federal and State Censuses, Vital Records (Birth, Death, and Marriage).
  • Vital Records of Brunswick, Maine 1740-1860 and The Forsaith Book. Compiled by Joseph Crook Anderson II, CG, FASG. Picton Press, Rockport, Maine, 2004.
  • Cemeteries of Brunswick, Maine, Varney Cemetery, M, <http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mebrucem/trans35.13.html>, compiled by Barbara A. Desmarais, ongoing.
  • Brunswick Cemeteries, Brunswick, Maine, Varney Cemetery, Cheetham, Donald, and Mark Cheetham, Richmond, Maine, 2007. Also see: <http://www.curtislibrary.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Varney-Cemetery-searchable1.pdf&gt;
  • Our Town, Reminiscenses and Historical Studies of Brunswick, Maine. From the Collections of the Pejepscot Historical Society, Brunswick, Maine, 1967. Edited by Louise Helmreich, Ph.D.
  •  A Genealogical Surname Index to the History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine by George Augustus Wheeler and Henry Warren Wheeler 1878. Compiled by Shirley Simington Schilly, Pejepscot Historical Society, Brunswick, ME, 1985.
  • Walter Merryman of Harpswell, Maine: And His Descendants, Sinnett, Charles Nelson, Rumford Printing Company, Harpswell, 1905.
  • Bird’s eye view of the city of Portland, Maine, 1876, Warner, Jos., Stoner, J.J., Portland, Me. 1876 The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library, <http://maps.bpl.org/id/10424&gt;
  • History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine. Wheeler, George Augustus Wheeler, MD. And Henry Warren Wheeler, Alfred Mudge & Son, Printers, Boston, Mass., 1878.






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Going Viral

Cover of Wheeler Brothers' History of Brunswick

A midnight browse through the pages of History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine* yielded more information about Brunswick’s earliest reactions to smallpox, the highly contagious, disfiguring, and often fatal Variola virus, and led to speculation as to the cause of the 1851 epidemics in Brunswick, Maine, and New York.

The Wheeler brothers reported that in October of 1792, during Brunswick’s first smallpox epidemic, citizens ‘voted not to allow any person in this town to inoculate for to take the small-pox, but to take all possible care to prevent the spreading of the disorder.’* For two months, 18 inspectors examined, smoked (in special smokehouses), and cleaned “all goods brought into town.”* Further, the inspectors were directed to “stop, examine, and cleanse any person whom they might suspect of being infected.”* The voters also approved quarantining infected persons in a 28-by-14-foot hospital to be built on the Town Commons. No doctor was allowed to treat smallpox patients without approval from the selectmen.

Thirty-four years later, Brunswick reacted differently to an impending smallpox epidemic. This time voters opted to fund inoculation for every unvaccinated person in town.

In 1851, the same year Enos Merryman died of smallpox aboard ship at the port of New York (see The Shipkeeper and the Housekeeper), there were a few cases of smallpox in the Brunswick area. Once again, the men voted ‘to cause the inhabitants of the town to be vaccinated without delay.’

Was it merely coincidence that New York and Brunswick had smallpox cases in the same year or did disease contracted in one location spread to the other? Let the speculation begin!

We don’t know if Enos was at the beginning or end of his voyage when he was docked in New York, nor if other Brunswick mariners were part of the crew. If he had just arrived in New York, and was already infected with smallpox, Enos could have been the starting point for the city’s epidemic. The disease could have spread out from him to the crew, then to the crew’s favorite venues, and outward to the rest of the city.

It seems more likely, though, that he was at the end of a voyage, perhaps having returned from an area where smallpox was endemic. Given that several of his Merryman and McManus kin were also sailors, one or more could well have been a crew member of the same ship and, having been infected with the virus, brought it to Brunswick when they returned home from their voyage.

Whether or not the New York and Brunswick smallpox episodes were related, 19th-century Maine mariners were physically connected to the world in ways that would have made them shudder at the term “going viral.”

Next Blog: Hannah Keeps Her House


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The Shipkeeper and the Housekeeper

Morguefile IMG_9338

Two centuries ago wooden ships used muscle and wind power to transport people, goods, and ideas along rivers, across great lakes, and over treacherous seas. In the early part of the 19th century, entire families from Brunswick and nearby Harpswell earned their livings in seafaring, whether as shipbuilders, suppliers, or sailors. Entire crews might have been friends and neighbors. For many, maritime occupations were temporary, meant to fulfill a desire for adventure or to provide income during lean times. Voyages were fairly short, often transporting goods up and down the Atlantic coast.

After the War of 1812, new technology allowed ships to travel further in less time than before, while carrying larger cargoes. At the same time, competition increased and investment companies demanded speedier and higher profits. Seafaring became faster-paced, crews smaller, and voyages longer. It was also less profitable and more dangerous than before.

New edited McManus Merryman Family Tree 2016Rocky Hill’s Merryman family provided its fair share of mariners. One of these was John Merryman’s brother, Enos (1807-1851), who married Eleanor McManus’s sister, Hannah (1806-1899), in June of 1829. (See John and Eleanor: River Road from Cradle to Grave.)

Coombs to Enos Jr

Portion of Deed from Thomas Coombs to Enos Merryman

The 1830 census listed Enos in Brunswick. He was still there two decades later when, in 1849, he purchased the farm of Thomas and Rhoda Coombs on Rocky Hill, between River and Durham Roads. The very next year, though, the 1850 Federal census recorded Enos (a mariner), his wife Hannah, and their 6 children in their own household in Portland. Enos may have found ready work there, since Portland was both the largest city and the largest port in Maine. He still kept the farm, perhaps renting it out while he and his family were away.

While at sea, mariners endured seasickness, stale food, close quarters, violent storms, and backbreaking work interspersed with spirit-numbing tedium. A sailor’s lot didn’t necessarily change when the ship arrived at port full of cargo since the vessel might have to wait days or weeks for a free berth before the cargo could be unloaded and a new one brought on. That’s why, in 1851, 45-year-old Enos was on duty aboard an empty vessel docked at New York City, acting as the ship-keeper or watchman. With most of the mariners on shore, Enos would have had, at best, a skeleton crew to help him protect the ship from thieves and vandals. The greatest danger he faced that year, though, wasn’t criminals. It was a largely preventable disease – smallpox.

Waterhouse Rev War

From the Papers of Benjamin WaterHouse, 1786-1836; Small pox Lecture, Sept. 1809, courtesy of Harvard University

Europeans brought smallpox to the Americas in the early 16th century. In fact, the disease may have killed as many as 90% of Native Americans during European colonization. In 1798, English physician Edward Jenner published his findings on his newly developed smallpox vaccine. Two years later, Benjamin Waterhouse tested the vaccine in the United States.

Waterhouse Harvard

From the Papers of Benjamin WaterHouse, 1786-1836; Small pox Lecture, Sept. 1809, courtesy of Harvard University

In 1809, Massachusetts (of which Maine was still a part) enacted a law to enforce either mandatory vaccination or quarantine during an outbreak. The committee appointed by neighboring Topsham to determine the number of inhabitants at risk of catching “Kine pox” (1181 people) reported their findings at the May 7th, 1810, town meeting:

…your committee are seriously impressed with the importance of uniting with the enlightened and benevolent men of this and foreign countries to extirpate that dreadful malady from the face of the earth, and we believe if any thing within the power of man can effect that desirable end, it will be by a general inoculation with the Kine pox, which the Great Disposer of events appears mercifully to have made a perfect, mild and safe substitute for this alarming and dreadful pestilence.

Vaccination worked; by the mid-1800s, the majority of Americans had never seen an incident of smallpox and didn’t see a need for preventive inoculation. Further, since smallpox spread in overcrowded and poorly sanitized conditions, it was considered a disease of the poor and morally bankrupt.

The very nature of seagoing vessels created crowded and unhealthful conditions for those aboard, and smallpox was endemic in many of the African regions where slaves were captured and loaded into ships. This meant mariners were especially vulnerable to the disease.

Waterhouse Smallpox progression2

From the Papers of Benjamin WaterHouse, 1786-1836; Small pox Lecture, Sept. 1809, courtesy of Harvard University

And so it was that in 1851, Enos Merryman contracted smallpox.  Perhaps at the beginning of his infection, he languished in his bunk while the crew enjoyed their time ashore. After a week, pustules rendered Enos’s face unrecognizable. His struggle to breathe kept him from sleeping; his inability to swallow prevented eating and drinking. Likely alone and in pain, Enos died, just one of the 562 people who succumbed to the disease in New York that year.

Enos never made it back to Rocky Hill; he was buried at Greenwood Cemetery in New York.

Next Blog: Going Viral

Notes: New York’s population in 1851 was approximately 500,000.

Selected Sources:

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John and Eleanor: From Cradle to Grave on River Road

In 1828 and 1829, four granddaughters of James McManus (see Sins of the Father) married four great-grandsons of Walter and Elizabeth (Potter) Merryman, early settlers of nearby Harpswell.

All eight parties would reside on Rocky Hill, between Durham and River Roads. Brothers John and Enos Merryman married sisters Eleanor and Hannah McManus, in 1828 and 1829 respectively. Then in short order, brothers Thomas and Henry Merryman married cousins Almira and Catherine McManus.

John Eleanor Family TreeJohn (1807-1891) and Eleanor (McManus) Merryman (1808-1891)

John was the eldest son of Walter and Hannah (Merryman) Merryman who moved the family from Harpswell to Brunswick when John was a young boy. Eleanor was the daughter of Robert McManus (see Sins of the Father) and Eleanor Crosby and lived on River Road her entire life. She wed John in 1830, the same year he opened his own blacksmith shop on “Main St.” in Brunswick, following an apprenticeship with Major Stinchfield.* They had a large family — ten children. By 1850, another generation was added to the household  when Eleanor’s eighty-five-year-old father lived with them.

Rocky Hill Farm

Along a wooded path on Rocky Hill, Courtesy of Barbara A. Desmarais, 2015

Mainers have long forged  a way of life that embraced the state’s rural nature. In addition to blacksmithing, John was a farmer. Growing food, whether crops or livestock, was hard work and everyone in the family had a role. John cleared trees and rocks from the hilly land; trained his horse and oxen to pull a wagon or harrow; plowed, planted, and hoed crops; and repaired farm implements and animal harnesses. The younger children learned the family business as they milked cows, fed livestock, and picked beans. Older siblings helped work the oxen or chopped wood for heating and cooking and undoubtedly hunted for wild game in the surrounding woods. Eleanor, in addition to giving birth to ten children, sewing the family’s clothes and cooking their meals, churned up to ninety pounds of butter each week — an amazing four thousand pounds of butter in 1860.

That year the household numbered fourteen people and again spanned three generations, including two of John and Eleanor’s daughters, their husbands, and children. The farm, hunting, fishing, and blacksmithing fed the large family. Blacksmithing supplied currency and goods, but sometimes hard cash was needed — and may have been lacking. Deeds indicate John mortgaged the farm in 1844 and 1881, successfully paying back each loan. In between those decades, the farm appears to have done well.

The 1860 Federal Agricultural Census showed the farm produced:

  • 10 bushels of peas and beans
  • 100 bushels of Irish potatoes
  • 4000 pounds of butter
  • 25 tons of hay
  • 180 bushels of oats
  • 25 bushels of Indian corn

The corn, oats, and hay probably fed the $300-worth of livestock:

  • 8 milch cows
  • 1 horse
  • 2 working oxen
  • 2 other cattle
  • 2 swine

 J Merryman Agricultural Census 1860 c2Though the crop production and livestock numbers were in the mid-range for River Road farms, John’s 100-acre farm overlooking the Androscoggin River was valued more than most, at $4000 in 1860 and at $5000 ten years later. He also owned $100 in farming implements and machinery — worth more than those of most of his neighbors.

No matter how well the family worked together, a sudden change in the weather could negate their efforts overnight. In 1869, an October freshet overflowed the banks of the Androscoggin and washed away two hundred bushels of corn from the John Merryman farm.

As John and Eleanor’s children reached adulthood, several followed seemingly different paths from their parents, leaving both farming and Brunswick. In 1850 Nathaniel headed west to California to mine for gold, then continued on to Oregon. Lydia and her husband, mariner Charles Merryman [son of Henry and Catherine (McManus) Merryman], moved forty-two miles south to Saco, Maine. As the national economy faltered after the Civil War, four siblings settled in the state Mainers had tried so long to leave behind –- Massachusetts — all in the town of Haverhill. Frances married John Henry Woodside who ran a variety store. Richard was a contractor and builder. William and Robert were both stone masons by trade.

Life in the gold mines 2

Courtesy of Library of Congress

It was actually John who led the migration from Brunswick.  Not quite forty years old, this “enterprising, energetic and hard working man” left for California in 1849 to seek his fortune during the Gold Rush. He stayed out west west years, coming home for three visits during that time. Later, in the early 1800s, he spent two years in Haverhill.* Each time, though, he came back to his River Road farm — and Eleanor. Eleanor must have had charge of directing the farm work during John’s nearly decade-long absence.

John and Eleanor were married to each other, and only each other, for sixty-three years, but two of their children married twice. Lydia divorced her cousin Charles Merryman in 1873 and married Judge Rufus P. Tapley. Robert married two Haverhill women.

When John died in 1891 at age eighty-four the Brunswick Telegraph wrote:

Mr. Merryman was…a good citizen and neighbor…

Rev. C. L. Waite, of the Universalist church, officiated at the funeral services which took place at the residence of the family at Rocky Hill on Monday last.  A large concourse of relatives and friends manifested their respect and esteem of the deceased by their presence on the occasion.   

John and Eleanor Merryman

Photo Courtesy of Barbara A. Desmarais, 2015

The newly widowed Eleanor went to live with daughter Lydia and her family in Saco. Eleanor died just 1 month later, at age eight-three. It seems fitting that John and Eleanor (McManus) Merryman are memorialized in River Road’s Riverside Cemetery, ending their journey very near where it began.

Next Blog: Enos and Hannah: The Ship-Keeper and the House-Keeper


  • Read about another Gold Rush veteran in Jotham Varney, Father.
  • *Quoted from John Merryman’s obituary in the Brunswick Telegraph, March 5, 1891.


  • Ancestry.com: Various including City Directories, Family Trees, United States Federal and State Censuses, Vital Records (Birth, Death, and Marriage)
  • Vital Records of Brunswick, Maine 1740-1860 and The Forsaith Book. Compiled by Joseph Crook Anderson II, CG, FASG. Picton Press, Rockport, Maine, 2004
  • Brunswick Telegraph, March 5, 1891
  • Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print, LC-DIG-ppmsca-32190
  • Walter Merryman of Harpswell, Maine, and his descendants. Sinnet, Charles N., 1847-1928, Rumford Printing Co., Concord, NH, 1905. https://archive.org/details/waltermerrymanof00sinn
  • History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine. Wheeler, George Augustus Wheeler, MD. And Henry Warren Wheeler, Alfred Mudge & Son, Printers, Boston, Mass., 1878


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McManus Women and Their Merry Men

New England Coast Library of Congress

New England Coast
Library of Congress

After the Revolutionary War, the first generation of Americans on Rocky Hill settled back into their daily lives of farming, shipbuilding and seafaring; marrying and raising families; and paying taxes. Massachusetts was deeply in debt after the war and looked to its northern districts for funds. By 1785, Mainers, both wealthy and poor, were assembling to express their desire for independence from Massachusetts.

Though England officially recognized American independence at the 1783 Treaty of Paris, the country continued to harass American merchant ships and to impress Americans into the British Navy. At the start of the War of 1812, another generation of Americans enlisted in the military to protect both their young country and their livelihoods. The danger to Brunswick-area residents was very real since our main mode of transportation was by boat and canoe, settlements having developed along our rivers, streams, and ocean. During the war, the English man-of-war The Rattler commandeered the fishing vessel of three Sinnett brothers from Bailey Island and used the boat to scout along the shores of Casco Bay. That war’s end in 1815 was celebrated as a second Independence Day, ushering in the “Era of Good Feelings.”

These good feelings didn’t extend to Maine residents, however. Since Massachusetts bankers had actually loaned the British money to carry out the war, residents had thought the area would be safe from serious damage during the war. However, in 1814 the British attacked, looted, and then occupied eastern Maine. Residents then expected aid from Massachusetts to retaliate against the British. Instead the state’s bankers refused to loan funds to the Federal government and the state government refused to send troops for the war effort.


Courtesy of Oshermaps.org

Finally, after almost 35 years of campaigning, Maine was granted independence by Massachusetts. The following year, 1820, the United States Congress passed statehood for both Maine and Missouri. The bill was known as the Missouri Compromise, which sought to maintain a balance between the number of free (Maine) and slave-holding (Missouri) states.

That year Brunswick began its own “Era of Good Feelings” which would last for the next 30 years. Covering almost 47 square miles of land, Brunswick had grown from a population of 1357 in the first census taken in 1790 to more that double, 2931, in 1820. The History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell reported:

In 1820 there were more than twenty stores, well filled with goods, and numerous mechanic shops of different kinds. There were one hundred and twenty-five houses in the village, besides five hotels and five places of public worship.

Over the next 4 years, 64 buildings would be built in the village, including 23 “handsome dwellings,” 7 stores, and a plethora of “mechanic shops” (trades such as bricklayers, blacksmiths, coopers, and carpenters).

All the same, Rocky Hill, like most of Maine, remained rural and homogeneous. The marriageable men and women necessarily looked to their neighbors and family friends for partners. This may be why in 1828 and 1829, four granddaughters of James McManus (see Sins of the Father and Ann at the Crossroads) married four great-grandsons of Walter and Elizabeth (Potter) Merryman, early settlers of nearby Harpswell.

The Brunswick Town Clerk recorded these intentions of marriage:

  • May 29 1828, Marriage is intended between Mr John Merriman and Miss Elenor C McMannas both of this town
  • June 12 1829, Marriage is intended between Mr Enos Merryman & Miss Hannah McMannas both of this town
  • July 26 1829, Marriage is intended between Capt Thomas Merryman & Miss Almira McMannas both of this town
  • Augt 8 1829, marriage is intended between Capt Henry Merryman and Miss Catherine McMannas both of this town
McManus Merryman Family Tree cr

McManus Merryman Family Tree, © Barbara A. Desmarais, Nov. 20, 2015

All eight parties resided on Rocky Hill, between Durham and River Roads. Brothers John and Enos Merryman married sisters Eleanor and Hannah McManus, in 1828 and 1829 respectively. Then in short order, brothers Thomas and Henry Merryman married cousins Almira and Catherine McManus. The next 4 blogs will describe each couple’s journey.

Next Blog: John and Eleanor: From Cradle to Grave on River Road


  • Ancestry.com: United States Federal Censuses
  • Vital Records of Brunswick, Maine 1740-1860 and The Forsaith Book. Compiled by Joseph Crook Anderson II, CG, FASG. Picton Press, Rockport, Maine, 2004
  • History.com, The War of 1812. http://www.history.com/topics/war-of-1812
  • OhioHistoryCentral.org, Ohio Mechanics Institute. http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Ohio_Mechanics_Institute?rec=782
  • Walter Merryman of Harpswell, Maine, and his descendants. https://archive.org/details/waltermerrymanof00sinn Sinnet, Charles N., 1847-1928, Rumford Printing Co., Concord, NH, 1905.
  • The Library of Congress, Primary Documents of American History, The Treaty of Paris. http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/paris.html
  • Ibid. Views from offshore of the New England coastline and islands at the entrance to Boston Harbor. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3a46234/
  • Ibid. On board the fishing boat Alden out of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Seining boat being towed by the Alden http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/owi2001030394/PP/
  • History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine. Wheeler, George Augustus Wheeler, MD. And Henry Warren Wheeler, Alfred Mudge & Son, Printers, Boston, Mass., 1878
  • Wikipedia.org, Brunswick, Maine. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brunswick,_Maine
  • The History of the State of Maine. https://archive.org/details/historyofstateof02will Williamson, William D., Glazier, Masters & Co., Hallowell, 1832.
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Rocky Hill Revolution

River Road Farm Photo courtesy Barbara A. Desmarais, 2014

River Road Farm
Photo courtesy Barbara A. Desmarais, 2014

The previous blog, Alphabet Soup, described three footstones found at Cook Farm on the north side of River Rd. near the top of Rocky Hill in the 1930s with only initials and one date to identify the decedents:

S E , died 1830, age 71



That blog told of the Eaton family, including Samuel and Dorothy (Danforth) Eaton, who were known to have lived on River Road and may have been the SE and DE represented by the footers.

This blog is about the Eatons’ Rocky Hill neighbors Enoch Danforth (a possible ED) and John McManus, and their families.

Image courtesy Library of Congress

Image courtesy Library of Congress

At the conclusion of England’s almost century-long war with the Native Americans (1675-1760), Enoch (1727-?) and his wife, Dorcas (Hutchins), were among those newly arriving in the southern mid-coast of Massachusett’s District of Maine. In May of 1763 both were received into Brunswick’s First Parish Church from their previous church in Arundel, Maine. That same year, the Brunswick town clerk recorded Enoch’s log mark. He likely bought his 100-acre River Road farm that year, too. Genealogies list 10 children: Enoch Jr, Sarah, Joshua, Abigail, David, Deborah, Daniel, Mary, Paul, and Abner.

After the French and Indian War ended, the English treasury was sorely depleted; Parliament passed several new “navigation acts” to collect more revenues from the colonies. The New World settlers relied on the mother country for goods they could not manufacture themselves, purchasing one quarter of England’s industrial output. The higher cost of goods plus the difficulties of raising crops in Maine’s rocky soil threatened the precarious solvency of many Brunswick families. Enoch Danforth, a mariner, must have been adversely affected by each new reduction in his income for in 1772 he mortgaged his property to his next-door-neighbor, mariner Daniel Marquand.

Perhaps that is why in 1776 his sons Enoch Jr and Daniel enlisted in the Continental Army to fight the British, their former countrymen. Both brothers were at the Battle of Cherry Valley, NY, in 1778, where Enoch Jr was taken prisoner by British forces. Daniel returned to River Road the following year, but his brother wouldn’t come home for two more years.

Their father didn’t stand idly by. In 1779, at the age of 52, Enoch Sr served two months on the privateer Vengeance, on the Penobscot Expedition. One thousand colonial marines and militiamen, along with 100 artillerymen led by Paul Revere, fought the British from land at the mouth of the Penobscot River. A 44-ship rebel flotilla battled from sea. Though the Americans ultimately reclaimed the area, the Vengeance and most of the other privateers and warships were destroyed. The survivors of the Expedition, including Enoch Sr, trekked home on foot.

McManus Yard Photo courtesy Barbara A. Desmarais, 2015

McManus Yard
Photo courtesy Barbara A. Desmarais, 2015

The Danforth men weren’t the only River Road residents to fight in the American Revolution. They weren’t even the only ones at Cherry Valley. Halfway down Rocky Hill, on the south side of River Rd. is the McManus Family Yard*:

The website Cemeteries of Brunswick, Maine describes the graveyard, also known as Rocky Hill Cemetery, as being halfway up Rocky Hill on the left side. The transcriptions include:

John McManus (1760-1843), his wife Elizabeth (McDaniel) (1760-1844), their son Harvey (1812-1873), and two grandsons: Thomas (1834-1837) and Harvey (1854-1858).

1777 Deed from John Chase to John McManus

1777 Deed from John Chase to John McManus

John was the eldest son of James and Mary (Corbett) McManus, Irish immigrants. His brother Robert was the subject of the post Sins of the Father. John was only 17 years old when he purchased his River Road farm next door to Enoch Danforth. Another brother, Daniel, also lived nearby.

Both John and Daniel served in the Continental Army along with Enoch Jr and Daniel Danforth. All four men were at the 1778 Battle of Cherry Valley, NY.

Brunswick Rev Vet Heading

Brunswick Rev Vet Annotated

Family tradition correctly states that John was wounded at Cherry Valley and received a lifelong pension. The 1840 Census of Revolutionary War or Military Pensioners showed only the McManus brothers still living in Brunswick. Daniel was either on his own or in Daniel Jr’s home, and John was with daughter Catharine and son-in-law Capt. Henry Merryman. Elizabeth McManus survived her husband John by a year, and continued to receive his pension after his death at age 84.

Daniel McManus, Elizabeth McManus, Daniel McManus Jr, Riverside Cemetery, Photo courtesy Barbara A. Desmarais, 2015

Daniel McManus, Elizabeth McManus, Daniel McManus Jr, Riverside Cemetery,
Photo courtesy Barbara A. Desmarais, 2015

When Riverside Cemetery opened at the foot of River Road and Pleasant St. in 1873, some monuments and bodies, as well, were relocated from McManus Yard to Riverside. This probably included Daniel McManus (1763-1851) and his son Daniel Jr. (1819-1842) since their monument, with its pre-1873 dates-of-death, is in Riverside.

The Danforth and McManus graves at Cook Farm, McManus Yard, and Riverside Cemetery are physical reminders that 250 years ago five English colonists from Brunswick, Maine, traveled down Rocky Hill to fight for control of their own destinies and came back home as Americans.

Next Blog: McManus Women and Their Merry Men

Notes: *Yard is a shortened version of graveyard.


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Alphabet Soup

Image from Collection of Barbara A. Desmarais

Image from Collection of Barbara A. Desmarais

The WPA entry for the three footstones still visible at Hazel Cook’s farm in the 1930s read:

GRAVESTONES on Hill back of COOK Farm, River Road,
Brunswick, Me. (Copied Evelyn Hennessey)

        S E                    D E                                   E D
died 1830              date obliterated              no date
ae 71

Approximately 12 or more graves unmarked.

Who were S E, D E, and E D? In a homestead burying ground such as the one at Cook Farm, decedents are connected by family or geographical relationships. Combing local marriage and historical records for the initials S E and D E yielded the 1780 marriage of Samuel Eaton (1759-1830) and Dorothy (aka Dolly) Danforth. Deeds showed several Eatons and Danforths living near each other on River Rd. beginning in the mid-1700s. These included Samuel and Dorothy Eaton, as well as Enoch Danforth, a candidate for E D. As we shall see, the Eaton family has deep roots in Brunswick.


In 1715 the Pejepscot Proprietors, owners of a great swath of land in southern and mid-coast Maine, offered men who enlisted as soldiers free passage by sloop from Boston to Brunswick and Topsham. Since the Proprietors expected the military service to be easy, in addition to wages, they would pay the soldiers 2 shillings a day to repair and maintain Brunswick’s stone fort. Further, once Fort George was completed, the Proprietors would engage the soldiers to split staves, shingles, or clapboards. After 6 months service, any soldier wishing to settle in either Brunswick or Topsham would be released from service (once his replacement arrived), and the soldier would then receive 100 acres to homestead. If, after a year of service, a soldier chose not to settle here, the Proprietors would petition for his discharge from military service.

Image from Wheelers'

Image from Wheelers’

Samuel Eaton from Salisbury in the Massachusetts Bay Colony was one of the first to arrive. Two of his sons, Samuel Jr and Moses, were soldiers attached to the fort overlooking the Androscoggin River. In 1722, these young men were players in the ongoing clash between colonists and the Wabanaki as the English continued to settle lands already occupied by native people.

That summer the Wabanakis retaliated for a previous English attack at Norridgewock by setting fire to Brunswick village, destroying it. They took some settlers prisoner, but “cruelly”* killed others. Survivors fled north to Fort George or south to the wooden garrison at Maquoit. When the Wabanakis retreated across the Androscoggin River to Pleasant Point in Topsham, Samuel Eaton Jr was sent to get help from Col. Harmon at “Arrowsick.”* He wrapped a letter from fort commander Capt. Gyles in eel-skin and hid the packet in his hair.

After dark that same night Harmon and his soldiers reached Pleasant Point by water, then slaughtered some 18 Wabanakis who were sleeping there. Those on guard returned fire, but didn’t wound any of the English soldiers.

However, at least one English soldier, Moses Eaton, had been captured by the Wabanaki during the English raid. When Harmon’s company returned to their whaleboats, they found Moses’ tortured and mutilated body. The soldiers buried their comrade at Pleasant Point.

Two more skirmishes between the English and natives occurred at Brunswick and Topsham before a 1726 treaty closed that particular Indian war.

By 1727, Samuel Jr had attained the rank of lieutenant and another Samuel (Samuel 3rd), possibly his son, was a sentinel at the fort. Samuel 3rd served in the militia until at least 1740. He died in 1742.

1802 Map of Brunswick and Topsham Villages from Wheelers'

1802 Map of Brunswick and Topsham Villages from Wheelers’

The Eaton family continued to grow, as did Brunswick. Despite the Indian Wars, the village that extended from the Androscoggin River south to Maquoit Bay expanded east to New Meadows, where Jacob Eaton homesteaded in 1737, and still later, west along the roads to Portland and Durham, where Daniel Eaton bought land in 1752. In 1757 Daniel Eaton and John Malcolm went to gather salt hay at Maquoit and “were waylaid by some Indians.”* John Malcolm escaped but Daniel was shot in the wrist, captured, and carried to Canada by Chief Sabattis. Daniel was sold there, but managed to return home the following year. Forty years later, when both Daniel and Sabattis were old men, they met once again when Sabattis passed through Brunswick. They chatted briefly but cordially, shook hands, and went their separate ways.

Just a year after Daniel escaped captivity, Samuel (1759-1830) was born, perhaps a son of Daniel. Whatever the relationship between the two men, the Eaton family of Brunswick continued to grow. The first United States census, taken in 1790, listed 4 Eatons as heads of households: Daniel, Daniel Jr., Moses, and Samuel. One Daniel may have lived at Maquoit, but the other three men resided near one another on the River Rd. Deeds of that era name several more Eatons. Unfortunately, the only clue as to relationships as one Eaton sold land to another Eaton was the use of “Jr” after some of the names.

In 1780, Samuel married Dorothy Danforth, possibly a daughter of Enoch and Dorcs (Hutchins) Danforth, who also owned land on River Rd. In 1798 Samuel bought 50 acres on the River Rd from his relative, Daniel. Over the next 3 decades Samuel mortgaged his land, paid his creditors, and mortgaged the land again: to William Stanwood Jr in 1799, Daniel Eaton Jr – 1800 and Daniel Eaton – 1805. In 1808 he repaid William Stanwood and re-mortgaged to John Swarthin, followed by Isaac Lincoln in 1814, and David Dunlap in 1823 and 1825.

In the early 1800s the next generation of Eatons purchased land: Abner, Martin, Moses Jr, and Samuel Jr. Given names were re-used, Eatons continued to sell land to one another, and still it was only the use of “Jr” that clarified the muddle of Eatons.

In 1829, at age 70, Samuel and his wife sold or mortgaged their 50 acres one final time, to David Dunlap. When Samuel died the following year, David Dunlap officially owned the former home of Samuel and Dorothy Eaton.

Some 6 years later, Abner Eaton, relationship to Samuel and Dorothy unknown, bought that same 50 acres of land, which he sold or mortgaged to Timothy Simpson and Richard T. Dunlap on the very same day he bought it.

The 50 acres near the top of Rocky Hill, bordered by the Androscoggin and River Rd. changed hands many times over the next century. A detailed review of deeds seems to indicate that Samuel and Dorothy (Danforth) Eaton’s farm was purchased by Hazel (Gunderson) Cook in the 1930s and remained in her possession until her death in 2003 at age 92.

Next Blog: Rocky Hill Revolution


  • Sloop photo, http://all-free-download.com
  • Ancestry.com: Various including City Directories, Family Trees, United States Federal and State Censuses, Vital Records (Birth, Death, and Marriage)
  • Vital Records of Brunswick, Maine 1740-1860 and The Forsaith Book. Compiled by Joseph Crook Anderson II, CG, FASG. Picton Press, Rockport, Maine, 2004
  • Cumberland County Registry of Deeds, 25 Pearl St., Portland, Maine and https://me.uslandrecords.com/ME/Cumberland/D/Default.aspx
  • Hazel Cook obituary, The Herald of Randolph, May 22, 2003
  • *History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine. Wheeler, George Augustus Wheeler, MD. And Henry Warren Wheeler, Alfred Mudge & Son, Printers, Boston, Mass., 1878
  • Images from Wheelers’, http://community.curtislibrary.com/CML/wheeler/index.html
  • The Lobster Coast: Rebels, Rusticators & the Struggle for a Forgotten Frontier, Colin Woodard, Penguin Books, 2005
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