Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Wymans of Winslow Maine

The Wymans in my family originally stem from Hertfordshire England.

Francis Wyman (1619-1699) was my 8th great grandfather, and he migrated to the New World with his brother John in 1644.  They settled in Woburn, Massachusetts.  John's son, John Jr., was killed in King Philip's War.

The Wyman family expanded throughout colonial Massachusetts for several generations, and I believe many traces remain there today.  Francis Wyman's grandson James (1702-1766) moved with his wife Bethia and their many children to Maine, eventually settling in Swan's Island in Pownalborough.

James' son William and his wife Love Chick (I verified that was her real name) were my 5th great grandparents, and they left Swan's Island for Bowdoinham in Sagadahoc County in 1765, and eventually settled in Winslow, Maine in 1770.  They ran the Wyman farm along the Winslow side of the Sebasticook River (now Kennebec River).  William possibly fought in the Revolution.  His wife, Love, was well known throughout Winslow as "Grandma Wyman".

According to Osborne family tradition, in March of 1783, William was felling a tree on his farm, and misjudged where he should be standing.  The tree fell on him, killing him (and supposedly another family member) instantly.  Grandma Wyman buried her husband (and possibly her son) at the spot where he died.  Family legend goes on to state that Grandma Wyman later buried her own father, Moses Chick, there as well (but according to some online trees, he had already died in 1738 in Berwick, in Southern Maine, so I'm not sure what the real story is here). 

According to Wyman genealogy site, a 1/4 acre reservation was made for the burial site, on a deed dated April 7 1806 by William's son Moses, who had sold to James Wall about 12 acres of the northwest corner of lot 36 of the property, reserving 1/4 acre 'near the Pond Hole where my father and others lie buried'.  However, this reservation was ignored in later deeds.  In 1891-3 Hollingsworth and Whitney Co. (now Scott Paper Co,) built a pulp mill on the land.  The 'Pond Hole' was filled in and the grave sites obliterated. The human bones unearthed were declared to be those of an ancient Indian burial ground.  Without further research, they were re-interred in a park near the town hall and marked with a commemorative stone.

Below is an excerpt from a letter from around 1910 written by Lydia Osborn-Fuller-Moody (my 2nd great grandmother) to Maud Maple-Miles (her husband's cousin):

"Your great grandmother's father [William Wyman] and, I think, her brother or uncle, are buried on the bank of the Sebasticook River in Winslow.  No one save these two were ever buried there and a few years ago, a man who owned the farm [at the time] said he should plough right over those old graves.  He was reported to the government.  The officer sent by the government to investigate found him ploughing the field.  Halted to talk to him a while, then asked 'What are you going to do with those graves?'  'Plow them under,' was the reply.  'Oh!  I wouldn't do that,' said he.  'Yes, I shall," said the owner of the farm.  The officer then made himself known, demanding in the name of the government not only that the graves be undisturbed, but that a substantial double fence be placed around them.  I was driving past there a few years since and was very glad to see a well-preserved double fence painted white."

Now, I'm curious as to the location of this mini cemetery, and if it's still around, 100 years later.  I doubt that the location is the Fort Hill Cemetery, which IS located along a southerly bank of the Kennebec, since that was an established area during 1910, and had hundreds of graves there even at that time.  But, there are several Wymans buried there, including grandchildren of William Wyman.

I also heard rumor that the Hollingsworth & Whitney Paper Mill (now owned by Scott Paper), when built, was the subject of some debate, since they had found bones at the construction site.   But that mill was built in 1892, so I don't think that it would be the same site as what I'm describing above, since again that was around as late as 1910.  But that mill is indeed along the eastern bank of the Kennebec, so it's possible.

Either way, William's death by tree left his wife Love with seven children to take care of.  She relocated to Waterville for the remainder of her years.  Her home was located at the site that was later occupied by the Elmwood Hotel (and is now a Rite Aid).

One of Love's children was my 4th great grandmother, Lydia "Martha" Wyman, who married Ephraim Osborn, and moved across the river to Fairfield, where the Osborns were already firmly established (especially thanks to the prosperous Osborn Farm run by Ephraim's nephew Timothy Osborn, who had married Lydia's sister Sarah).

(ca. 1860)

Lydia Wyman lived the duration of her life in Fairfield, and died in 1864 (aged 94) at the home of her daughter, Sarah Ann Osborn-Fuller (nicknamed "Ann"), just before Ann's family left Fairfield to start a dry goods business in Ottumwa Iowa.  During her later years, she would often go across the river by paddle boat with her daughter's family to the Winslow side of the river and visit the graves at the little Wyman site across the Kennebec, and also to get to her farm, where she had to milk her cows and manage the milking process.

Many of the Wymans grew to be successful in business (one founded Central Maine Power, another Wymans Dairy) and others more eccentric (Seth Fish Wyman who wandered off into the woods in Mattawaumkeag, Maine in the mid 1850s' to hunt and fish, never to be found again).

The pedigree of sisters Lydia & Sarah can be found below.  They are of 100% English colonial stock, with a very small percentage of Welsh (less than 2%) stemming from the John Day line:

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