Sunday, November 13, 2011

Isaac Osborn & The Fairfield Homestead

Isaac Osborn (1755-1845) was a sea captain (just like his uncle Jonathan Osborn) and Revolutionary War veteran who lived in East Hampton, Long Island, New York, with his older brother Ephraim, and their father, Jedediah Osborn.  Isaac & Ephraim left Long Island in the 1770s, and moved to Winslow Maine and each married the Wyman sisters (Sarah and Lydia, respectively), and eventually settled in Fairfield, Maine (which was then deemed 'wilderness'), and lived farmers' lives.  Isaac's wife Sarah was "crazy," according to their granddaughter Clara.

On 10 November 1810, Isaac purchased, for $800, the land he had been living on for less than two years - a large farm lot on Skowhegan Road (now Route 201), in Fairfield (formerly known as Kendall's Mills), Somerset County, Maine (then still part of Massachusetts) 5 miles north, and across the Kennebec River, where many families were setting up large scale farmland.  Farming was a desirable new career at the turn of the 19th century for retirees such as Isaac.  This land had been worked on by Isaac's son, Jedediah, and an in-law of Jedediah's, Barnabas Jackson.

Below is the text of Isaac's deed for the initial 1810 purchase of Homestead land (later expanded):
Know all men by these Presents, that I John Getchell Jr. of Vassalborough in the County of Kennebec and Commonwealth of Massachusetts gentleman In consideration of Eight hundred Dollars paid by Isaac Osborn of Fairfield in the County of Somerset and Commonwealth aforesaid yeoman. (the receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge) do hereby give, grant, sell and convey until the said Isaac Osborn and his Heirs and assigns forever, a certain tract or Parcel of land situate in Fairfield aforesaid & bounded & described as follows, viz: East by Kennebec River, South by land occupied by William Jewitt, West by the Second tier of lots from said River, & North by land improved by Barnabas Jackson and Jedediah Osborn, being lot No. 2 in fifteen mile lot D. one, & the same lot of land on which the said Isaac Osborn now lives TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the same to the said I. Osborn and to his heirs and assigns to his and their use and benefit forever. And I do covenant with the said Isaac Osborn and with his heirs and assigns, That I am lawfully seized in fee of the premises - That they are free of all incumbrances - That I will warrant and defend the same to the said Isaac Osborn and to his heirs and assigns forever, against the lawful claims and demands of any persons.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I the said John Getchell, Jr. have hereunto set my hand and seal this tenth day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ten.

Signed, sealed and delivered John Getchel, Junr. (his signature) in presence of Thos A. Hill

Wilson Colcord Kennebec ss. November 10, 1810.

Timothy and his five elder brothers expanded and developed the farm their father left him, and became quite successful and somewhat wealthy for it.  Timothy received the property from his father upon Isaac's death in 1845.  Timothy transferred the Homestead to his son William in 1882.  William transferred it to his son Elwood in 1949.  Elwood's grandson owned it until 2013, when he sold the property in pieces to non-family members, but this house was a staple of the Osborn family for over 200 years!

History of Isaac's TEN children:

-Jedediah (1788-1877), the eldest, set up a large family farm in 1822 in nearby St. Albans, and brought his father Isaac to live with him until Isaac died in 1845.  He married Sarah Jackson (who was raised by Quakers after running away from home).  They had seven children together, including their son, Sullivan Holloway Osborn, who left Maine in 1851 to join the California Gold Rush, and started his family there.

-Deborah (1790-1873) was named after Isaac's mother.  She married Zebediah Littlefield, and moved to Wisconsin.

-Isaac Jr. (1792-1874), soon moved to Saratoga, in NY State and started his family and farm there.  He and his wife Millie Morse had six children.  By 1870, they were all living in Grass Lake, Michigan.  Judging from the letter he wrote below in 1815 to his brother William at the Homestead, he was a poor speller, and wished to come home since apparently he left Fairfield due to his many fights with William:

"Letter addressed to William Osborn, State of Massachusetts, County of Summerset, Town of Fairfield - December the 10th 1815

Dear Brother

I must inform you that I am well at present and I hope that these few lines will find you enjoying the same. I received one letter sense I left home from you whitch pleased me mutch, you informed me that you hadant sold my property, which I wish you would sell them as quick as you can conveninenly and write to me and let me know ho you have sole them and I will come home. I have purchase me a plan in Middle Town in the Town of Half Moon in the County of Saratoga in the State of New York, and I follow my trad and it is as good a stand as in the State, and I must inform you further that I am Married and am a doing well, I was married to Mrs. Mille Moyes on 23rd of November in the year 1815. I mus inform that I am contented with the marriage state, you remember that you and I had a good many scrapes together when I lived to home. I am a fraid we shant have as many more, I wish you would remember me to Father an Mother and all enquiring friends.  You must inform the girls that I am sorry to leave them, but tis the case and they musant morn to much for me for it is all in vane, and you must in my part and yours in two sense it is so. I have no more in particular bu thare is some thing yet I will tell you now what it is it is some thing you may depend now you shal here it in a minit now it comes like something else here it is, I am tired of writing ad I must quit. My pen is poor my ink is pale my love to you shall never fail.   Isaac Osborn (Jr.)

-William (1794-1880) never married but lived in a house he built adjacent to his brother Timothy, and worked the farm with him.  William fought in the War of 1812, and received a pension the last two years of his life.  He also became a doctor.

-Jacob (1798-1830) married Lydia Burrill, and had one child, Milton.  They lived on the family farm, but when Jacob died young, Jacob's brother Timothy married Lydia.

-John W. (1800-1893) initially took a different path, and became a shoemaker, but eventually started a small farm in nearby Pittsfield and later Canaan (until his death there in 1893).  He lived for a time in New Brunswick (possibly to live with cousin Josiah from Winslow - son to Ephraim) and he married a Sarah B. from there.  They had their two sons, George and William there, but moved back to Fairfield by 1850.  Genealogists often confuse him with a John W. Osborn, son to Ephraim.  My theory is that the latter John doesn't exist at all.

-Sarah (Sallie) (1802-1897) briefly married a Humphrey Burgess, had a son Orlando, and ended up living by herself on the poor farm in Fairfield (odd considering that her siblings were successful farmers). Orlando moved to Nebraska.

-Timothy (1805-1898) (my 3rd great grandfather) married his widowed sister-in-law, Lydia Burrill, with whom he had three daughters, and stayed his whole life on the Homestead left to him and farmed and sold hay.  In 1882, he left the farm and house to his 21 year old son, William Noyes Osborne, who continued the hay business as well as starting up the Rocky Hill Spring Water company.  William left the property, and the family businesses, to his son Elwood (nicknamed "Eno"), who left it to his grandson Eric, who currently owns it in 2011.

-Annie (1807-1849) married Joshua Wing, who started his own farm in St. Albans, not far from her brother Jedediah.

-Mary (1811-1831), the youngest, died unmarried at age 19.

Below are a series of maps from the mid 19th century, whereupon we see the labeled house lots of many Osborns, Wymans, Burrills, Fullers, and other families which figure prominently into multiple family lines.  The dates may be off by a few years, and I'd welcome anyone in the know to correct them.

ca. 1850

ca. 1865



Letter from Ruth Osborn-Munnoch, great granddaughter to Isaac, writes the following about old Isaac, who had died 50 years before she was born:

"Isaac Sr. (I heard) once a year went to Bangor with a yoke of oxen, with a loaded hay rack of dried apples, cheese, butter, eggs or anything saleable, the trip (one way I suppose) took 3 days going and 3 days back as the driver used to walk beside the oxen.  Now how would anybody put away any savings selling dried apples, etc.  He would bring back flour, sugar and supplies for the winter."

Ruth had a very colorful writing style, and was very free with the family information, more of her letters can be found here.



  1. Hi Scott,
    My name is Pat Osborn and Isaac Osborn and Sarah Wyman are the 3rd great grandparents of my husband Forrest Glenn Osborn. He goes by Glenn and was born and raised here in Boise, Idaho.

    I would like to compliment you on what a great job you've done on this site. It is really a pleasure to see well done genealogy after all the erroneous stuff I've seen on Ancestry.

    I've been doing genealogy for many years now and corresponded with a lot of people. One of them was Elwood Osborne and I really enjoyed hearing from him. I was also in touch with his daughter, Charlotte and still am off and on.

    Thanks for the good work.
    Pat Foster Osborn

    1. Thank you so much! I would love to learn what you know as well. My email is

      Scott Leonard

  2. Hi Scott. I just found your page. My name is Judith Osborn Lopez - I am the great-granddaughter of Sullivan Osborn and the great-great-granddaughter of Jedediah (Jeddiah) Osborne. I have several letters from Elwood Osborne to my aunts in Northern California - one is still living at 96. I have a picture of Elwood and Estherann in front of this home. I am so happy to know that his grandson is carrying on the tradition!

  3. Thanks for sharing all the great information. Judith was kind enough to send me the link. I am the great-great-grandson of Sullivan Osborn who cam to California for the gold rush. I am still fairly new to genealogical study, so I owe a lot of thanks to those like you who have made their research available.

    1. My pleasure. Did Sullivan really have 15 children?? I see that on Ancestry, anyhow.

    2. Yes, although I think the real credit goes to Joan Beach, his wife. Only 13 of them lived to adulthood. My great-grandfather Benton was the youngest.

  4. Great information and photos! I'm a descendant of Isaac and Millie Morse Osborne's daughter, Selina (Mrs. Peter Althouse Keeler).

    1. Hi there, thanks for writing. This is an interesting branch of the family because they had moved to Michigan, over what I believe was a family squabble. Do you have any other information regarding Isaac Jr's reasons for leaving Maine and going so far away?

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I have no clue. It does sound as though there was trouble in the family. My guess is that Isaac Jr wanted to take advantage of the abundant land and lumber in the new Territory of Michigan. Or, perhaps his son-in-law (Peter Althouse Keeler) persuaded him to settle in Michigan. Peter married two of Isaac Jr's daughters, Jane Eliza (1st wife) and Selina (2nd wife).