Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Temm Family of Southern Maine

My immigrant ancestor was named "Wilhelm Marcus Timm", from Hamburg, Germany.  His name changed to Temm upon arrival in America (not before it had changed a couple other times.  Marcus and his many mysteries are the subject of a separate blog page devoted to him here.

Another page devoted to the history of the German Temm migrations to America can be found here.

Anyhow, now for the facts I've discovered from records, regarding the Temm Family history in Maine...

Marriage Notice
Portland Weekly Advertiser
Nov. 16, 1852

Marcus Timm married his wife Sarah Jane "Brownsby" Browning (1825-1892) in Portland on Nov 10, 1852.  Sarah was born in Truro, Nova Scotia in 1825 to John Robert Browning (sometimes known as Brownrigg) & Isabel Blair from Nova Scotia.  Sarah, her sister Bethia, and her brother Robert Jr., had migrated from Nova Scotia around 1851.

For the 1860 Census in Portland, Marcus & Sarah gave fake names "William and Sarah Brown", and all the kids had the last name Brown as well.  It's easy to see they got the name from Sarah's maiden name, Browning.  Why they did this, I'm not sure, but it certainly lends itself to the Temm story of a man escaping authorities.  But he lists himself as the Landlord here.  Check it out at the bottom of the page (click to enlarge):

The 1858 Portland Directory shows a William Brown as living at a boarding house on 128 Fore Street, which would be across the street from the other houses owned by Robert Browning (see below).  They lived in Ward 3, which is the region south of Congress Street and east of Franklin Street.  Sarah's brother Robert Browning Jr also lived in Ward 3, on Fore Street, where he established a row of seamen's boarding houses.  I wonder if Marcus stayed in one of these boarding houses, and that was how he met Sarah...?  These seamen's boarding houses were known back then to be "houses of ill repute", according to my grandfather, Frank Clarke, who, coincidentally, later sold moonshine to the sailors in the current versions of these houses on Fore Street from the 1930s onward.

Prior to moving to Scarborough in 1864 (which is the earliest any Temm lived in Scarborough), Marcus & Sarah had five children in the East End of Portland who survived to adulthood:

-The eldest of their children was my great grandfather, John Henry Temm (1853-1936), born John Henry Brown.

-Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bell Temm (born Elizabeth Bell Brown) (1856-1884) worked as a housekeeper at her uncle Robert Browning's seamen boarding house on 103 Fore Street.  Around 1880, she married a farmer by the name of Thomas M. Smart, and lived near the Temm Homestead in Scarboro.  They had three children (Thomas Franklin Smart, aka "Frank", Isabella and Willard).  She died one day after her 27th birthday, in Scarborough, giving birth to their third child.  The three kids were given over to John Henry to be raised by him, according to Sarah's Will.  Frank ended up being raised by Lizzie's sister, Sadie Temm-Edwards.  It appears that Frank married a Georgia Harding in 1905 and moved to Winthrop, where he died in 1906, with no children.  As for the other two kids, Isabella married a Gardner Edwards (who may have relation to Lizzie's brother-in-law Dennis), and lived in New Gloucester, they had one child, Archie (who had no kids), and Elizabeth's youngest child Willard married a woman named Mamie Hadley, and had five children.  When Mamie and one of their children died tragically in a fire, Willard abandoned his kids and remarried to a much younger woman, leaving his kids to be raised by Isabella.  Willard has several living descendants (who would be the only living descendants of Lizzie Temm).  It states on Lizzie's death record that she is buried in Forest City Cemetery.  They have no record for her, but according to them their records are spotty before 1915 anyhow.  It's likely that she's buried in the lot started by her uncle Robert Brownrig.

-Sarah Jane ("Sadie") Temm (born Sarah Jane Brown) (1858-1935) married Dennis Edwards in Salem, Massachusetts, but settled in Freeport, Maine.  They had three children who survived to adulthood (Pearl, Dana & Pauline).  Dennis was killed in the summer of 1898 by a train while riding his horse in Freeport.  I'm in touch with one of Pearl's descendants, and have learned quite a bit about this family.  Sadie later married a John Brett, and had no further children.  On Sadie's 2nd marriage record in 1903, it stated that Sadie's father William Temm (Marcus) was born in Portland, and that Sarah Jane Brownrigg was born in Machias.  I wonder if Marcus' need to lay low made everyone say he was from Maine, even 35 years after his death.  Also, Sarah Jane's parents had moved to Machias, Maine at one point, so it's likely that Sadie believed Sarah Jane was born in Machias.

-Robert James Temm (1860-1863) (shown as "Infant Brown" listed in the census record above), appears in a Death Notice in Portland Daily Eastern Argus on 3 Oct 1863.

-Catherine Mary Temm (1865-after 1905) went by the name Kate Temm, and never married.  She was born just after the Temms' move to Scarborough, and their reversion from Brown to their correct surname "Temm".  Aunt Isabelle stated that she remembers stories about her living in Woodfords area of Portland and working as a waitress.  This sent me looking through the Portland directories, where I found "Katie Timm" living at 112 India Street, and working as a waitress, for the year 1896.  She shows up in the 1900 Census as a waitress and lived at 54 Free Street, in the boarding house of Dennis Kilday.   On this census, she declares her parents to be both from Maine (just like her sister's death record had stated).  On the 1905 City Directory, she's working as a waitress at 10 Moulton Street (John L. Gibbs Restaurant), and roomed at 54 Center Street (just a few blocks away - house is now a parking lot next to Staples School).  Her name vanishes from City Directories after 1905.  No further records found.

Their move to Scarborough was fortuitous, since it was two years prior to the Great Fire of Portland in 1866, although the fire spared Robert Browning's houses.

Chronological review of the extensive real estate records involving Marcus & Sarah Temm and heirs:

-1854, "William Brown" purchases 17 Atlantic Street, in Portland's East End, from John Weeks.


-22 June 1864, Sarah purchased several lots of land in Scarboro from S. Bartholomew Jones of Portland for $600.00, inclusive of access and common area usage to a large barn and cellar and other common areas.  This land appears to be north of the land owned by Sarah at the corner of Dresser and Beech Ridge.  Concurrently with the above deed, George Jewett of Portland sold Sarah a neighboring portion of this property for $100.00.  Together, this makes the "30 Acre Property" referred to below.

-September 1866, "William Brown" sells 17 Atlantic Street to Adeline Hutchinson, two months after the Great Fire of Portland, likely when real estate was lower in price, even though the house (and most all of Munjoy Hill) escaped the fire:

-18 April 1871, two and a half years had passed since Marcus' death, and Sarah purchased and mortgaged from Edward Moses, a neighbor, a 16 acre lot on Beech Ridge Road contiguous with other property owned by her, and was known to be part of the Dresser Farm.  The mortgage was a three year term, for a purchase price of $300.00.

-7 March 1873, Sarah had failed to pay the mortgage, and the property was seized by Wilbur Dresser (whom the Dresser Road was named for), as attorney to George Jewett (assignees of Ed Moses).  The property was seized 'peaceably and with no opposition from Mrs. Temm or any other person'.  The witnesses for the foreclosure were John & Mary McLaughlin, part of the prestigious McLaughlin family (whose graves are situated on Beech Ridge Road just outside Bill Temm Jr.'s house, right across the road from Sarah's Homestead).

-4 September 1875, Sarah officially sold the 16 acre Dresser Farm lot to Jewett.  It's unclear why she was entitled to wait over two years to do so after it had already been seized.

-In 1880, Sarah purchased a 3/4 acre portion of her neighbor Dominicus Libby's property for $10.00.

Portland Daily Press
Feb. 24, 1885

-In 1885, John Henry Temm purchased and mortgaged from A.A. Mitchell of Deering an approximately 16 acre portion of land just north of his mother's land for $320.00.

-January 1891, Sarah failed to pay the delinquent property taxes on the combined land (a whopping $7.12 due from the tax year 1889), so the tax collector claimed to seize the property.  Sarah died exactly one year later of pneumonia in January of 1892, at age 66. 

-In March of 1892, Sarah's estate was probated, with the Administrator being her friend and neighbor, Wilbur F. Dresser, and an abstract of her will was provided:
First, I wish to give one undivided half of all my Real Estate to my beloved son John Henry Timm.  I wish the remainder of my property consisting of one undivided half interest in my Real Estate and all my household furniture except that part already given to my Daughters as above to be divided equally between my beloved son John H. Temm and my beloved daughters Sarah J. Edwards and Catherine M. Temm and the children of Elizabeth Smart now members of my family the three children to have what would be their mother's share and I do hereby appoint my son John H. Temm trustee of these Children of Elizabeth Smart.
-In November of 1892, John H. Temm suffered a foreclosure on his 16 acre property, and it had to be given back to an heir of Mr. Mitchell, the holder of the Note.

-On 23 Jan 1893, the Town of Scarborough tax collector recorded another tax deed against the property, for the same unpaid property tax from 1889 - in the amount of $7.12.   The deed states that a bill for taxes was posted, and nobody from the estate of William Temm, deceased, came forward to resolve the debt, so the 30 acre Temm Homestead Farm was therefore sold to the Town of Scarborough for its payment of the tax arrears.

-On 11 July 1896, John Temm & Hattie (newly married-although I can't find any official record of it...) signed a mortgage deed for the 30 acre, 16 acre, and 3/4 acre collective homestead benefiting Isaac Rogers of Standish for $400.00.  They had one year to pay Rogers back or else lose the property.  This leads me to believe that the Temms must have got the property back from the tax collector and Mr. Mitchell's heir by some method (although I see nothing of record).

-On 8 August 1896, Wilbur Dresser as executor of Estate of Sarah Jane Temm, four years after her death, sold the 3/4 acre property and the 30 acre property held by the Estate to Isaac Rogers of Standish.  I guess the probate deed above had no effect?  And why would a neighbor become the executor to her estate when she already had three surviving adult children capable of this?

-12 April 1898, John & Hattie lost this same property to Isaac Rogers via Court Order, plus attorney fees ($11.25).

-31 Dec 1898, Hattie struck a deal with Lowell Simonds of Old Orchard.  He bought the 3/4 acre property and the 16 acre property from Hattie, and Hattie gave that money to Isaac Rogers to call off the foreclosure proceedings on the 30 Acre Lot.

-13 Jun 1899, Hattie sold the 30 acre Temm Homestead after all to Lowell Simonds, ending the 35 year period that the Temms actually owned the original Temm Homestead at 99 Beech Ridge Road (NE corner of Dresser Road and Beech Ridge Road, once owned by Sarah Jane Temm).  However, the Temms still lived on that land and rented until 1920, when they moved down the street (see below).

After Simonds, the successor owners of the Temm Homestead were the Waterhouses, Walter Breil, Eugene Brown, Joseph Roy, Ralph Erickson, and Thomas Filieo.

Carl Temm Homestead

-3 May 1920, John & Hattie purchased and mortgaged new property on 75 Beech Ridge Road (unknown acreage) from Wilbur Dresser for $1200.00, for a three year term.  This large property was 'between Dunstan Corner and Gorham', and later became the Carl Temm Homestead.

-27 Sep 1924, John mortgaged the new large property to Albion Perley.  Mortgage was satisfied.

-17 Jan 1930, John signed a deed selling his property at 75 Beech Ridge Road to his sons Clifford & Carl Temm, with stipulation that the property not change hands until his own death.  The deed was recorded on 2 Apr 1936, just one day after John died, and carried with it a $700 unpaid mortgage.

-13 Dec 1941, Clifford and his wife Susie sold off their half interest in the Homestead to Carl Temm.  by then the land was unencumbered by mortgage.

-27 Mar 1975, Carl had passed away, and his probate appeared to pass all property holdings (including the Temm Farm) to June Moon, Alvin Temm (nephew), Charles Temm (nephew), Ralph Temm (son) and Nellie Guptill (girlfriend).

In 1935, the old McLaughlin property across the street from the old Temm Homestead was purchased by John Henry Temm's son, William S. Temm from Bridget Sheehy.  The property had been sold by the McLaughlins to the Benjamin Shaw, who sold it to Harriette Harmon, who later sold it to Sheehy.

Benjamin's daughter, Zelia Shaw, was a neighbor and a family friend to William Temm.  The Shaws kept their own farm next door to the Temm Homestead, but in 1932, when Zelia lost her parents and brother all within a 4 year span, Zelia sold the house and moved in with the Temms.

There could be other records.  Indeed there should, to fill in the many gaps.  But the extensive Temm property owned by Sarah at one time is no longer owned by her, but adjacent properties were purchased by John Henry's children Bill & Carl, and many of Bill's descendants live there still.


Timm vs. Temm

As for the spelling of the name "Timm" vs "Temm", that's an issue that's rather easy to explain.  All records (marriage, real estate, birth, death, etc.) were handwritten in fancy cursive during the 1800's.  Typing records only came into play at the turn of the century.  Many of the oldest documents for Sarah & Marcus have their names spelled Timm, but not all.  Some have it spelled "Tomm".  Others have spelled the name "Temme".  None of the records were written in Marcus or Sarah's own handwriting, mind you.

I find it interesting that the old address books for Portland in the 1800's have nothing but "Timm" spelled.  It would seem to me that the original name was indeed Timm when it was German, and due to some common misreadings of old penmanship, the name (since it's a soundalike too) gradually became "Temm".  A look at any of the old records would convince you very quickly that if a stenographer wrote out "Timm" and forgot to dot the "i" even once, it could change history. 

Another theory could be that Marcus changed it deliberately from Timm to Temm upon arrival in America (even though he later went by "Brown" after he married Sarah Jane), in order to avoid authorities and perceived enemies.  He went by Marcus in all documents, even though his first name was Wilhelm.  And, all real estate was wholly owned by his wife Sarah.  He never signed off on any of it.  He did, after all, break the law...even though it was German law.

According to Marcus' death record, he was buried at Forest City, just like his son John Henry.  John Henry's grave appears below, and from the inscription and available records, only he, his wife, their son Carlie, and two infant grandchildren are here: 

Marcus might be listed under "Tenna", which is how his death record was misspelled.  His wife Sarah's death record states she was buried in Scarborough, but that seems pretty odd, she is probably buried with Marcus.  I have no clue where Marcus and Sarah's daughters (Lizzie and Kate) are buried.  I do know that Sadie is buried in Burr Cemetery in Freeport, with her children:

Since Temm/Timm is a somewhat unusual name, I'm hoping the connections can be easily made to other Temms - perhaps this blog post can be a launching point.


  1. Hello I'm a 9 year old kid in Maryland and I am in the Temm family!! My great grandfather was William Temm of Scarborugh Maine. My Grandfather and father are both named John Henry :) Thanks for your help- I am doing a school project.

  2. Hi Johannes, make sure you read this other page too, about John Henry's wife Hattie:

    Feel free to email me if you need more help.

    Your cousin,
    Scott Leonard

  3. Great stuff Scott!

    Got confused trying to follow the land deal history but still was interesting.

    My dad was reading the post too and was able to tell me exactly where the new house was built on the (first) Homestead land.

    That young kid (above) should be my cousin Chip (John)'s son from my Uncle Johnny Temm. I was told his family was living in Maryland.

    As always, great stuff and thank you!

  4. Kristina Temm VachonJanuary 3, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    This is cool- I know someone is doing the family tree on my grandmother's side(Alice Neault Temm wife of William Sanford Temm) and have seen a lot of info on that but never the Temm side. I look forward to reading it more. The house that you show on the old homestead lot was just build this year 2010 and is across the street from where my Dad (C Roy Temm) grew up. My Aunt Barbara, Uncle Billy, Uncle Johny and Uncle Alvin still own the property from my Grandfather's (Bill Temm) farm.
    I started to look into this some years back but felt overwhelmed and never mad it very far.
    Yes - Chuck that is Chip's son.
    Somewhere along the lines I believe one of my Grandfather's sister's married into the Green family and they have descendants that still live on Beech Ridge Rd in Scarborough too - just a short distance from the original homestead.

  5. Hi Kristina, yep and also your aunt Franny is down there near Alvin. And yes, Adelaide's daughter Althea married Charles Green. Their son David lives next door to the old Ahlquist homestead where Althea grew up, with his family. His wife Kim also studies the family genealogy.

    -Scott Leonard (descendant of Emily Temm)

  6. Loved your story and had hoped your Timm's were the same Timms' in Nebraska but they are not. Sure would have been great if they were the same.

  7. Hi. Fascinating. I own the "New" home at the corner of Dresser & Beech Ridge. I am so excited to learn this history - and now know the origin of the cellar hole that was there before we built out home.
    We will treat this place on Earth with love and affection.

  8. Hi Scott,

    Every once in awhile I get a bug to search my family's geneology. This time, I think I may have found something. I believe we are second cousins once removed as my great-grandmother is Adelaide Temm-Ahlquist. I'd love to chat with you about family history sometime!


    1. I would love that too. Feel free to email me: