Sunday, January 23, 2011

John Henry Temm


John Henry Temm (born John Henry Brown) (1853-1936) was, according to legend, born into this world in a boat in Portland Harbor in 1853.  He grew up in his uncle Robert's "Brownrig Boarding Houses for Seamen," on Fore Street in Portland, known by many to be the "houses of ill repute".  When JH was 11, the entire family moved to what was later known as the Temm Homestead in Scarborough (described at length in the Temm blog post).

In 1874, at age 21, JH was tried in superior court for assault and battery, but it's unclear who the victim was:

Portland Daily Press
Jan. 15, 1874

In 1891 and 1892, he had an apparently regular dispute with Martha C. Phinney, over a horse:

Portland Daily Press
Oct. 31, 1891

Portland Daily Press
July 27, 1892

In 1895, at age 42, just three years after his mother passed, he married Hattie Morgan-Downey, of Portland (although I found no official marriage record).  Hattie and her parents had briefly lived on the Beech Ridge Road when she was a teenager, so this is likely how they knew each other.  She had lost her husband James Downey to tuberculosis in 1894, and then within a year married John Henry (who was 13 years her senior).  She and her two daughters (Annie & Maggie) moved into the Temm Homestead in Scarborough and started their own large family.  John Henry farmed on the land inherited from his parents on the northeast corner of Beech Ridge Road and Dresser Road, mostly a dairy farm.  A funny story told to me by my Uncle Walter was that John Henry would head down to the potato farm further down on Beech Ridge Road (land later acquired by his youngest son Carl), and when buying your potatoes, you had to put them on the large suspension scale which dangled above the ground, and you'd pay according to weight.  John Henry would routinely stick his foot under the scale and lift it, causing the weight to read less, so he'd get his own discount! 

John Henry was a gardener, a butcher, and a water gatherer.  They said that certain people had a gift for finding water.  If a branch from an apple tree fell, certain people could see a fallen branch, and determine where the water well is located underneath.  According to legend, John Henry was one of these people.  It's likely that he participated regularly in the agricultural fair which was held in Scarborough at Nutters Field on Pleasant Hill.

According to my Uncle Sonny Jim, John Henry was a nice man, and a hard worker.  Sonny Jim was raised by him, and worked the farm day in and day out until John Henry's passing.  Sonny Jim remembers that John Henry one night had wandered out of the house, in his sleep, and walked down to the creek in the back of the house (a creek that never froze in the winter, to hear Sonny Jim tell of it).  He came back from the creek, and went back to bed.  Apparently in the dark, on the way back from the creek, he had stumbled and cut his legs up quite badly.  He died not too long after, in April of 1936, of bronchopneumonia.

The path to the creek...
Probably the route of John Henry's fatal sleepwalking

The Creek is quite far below this edge

The beautiful homestead
of John Henry Temm
Scarborough, Maine

John & Hattie had eight children on the homestead.  John Henry would give the kids chores to do, including gardening.  One day John Henry gave the kids specific areas of the garden they were supposed to weed while he was out for the day.  The kids didn't like the weeding, however.  He came back, and asked Hattie if the kids had done the weeding.  She said that they hadn't.  He went and woke all the kids up, and by lantern light they went out in the night and weeded the whole garden!  According to Sonny Jim, nobody on that farm enjoyed a day's work.

John & Hattie's kids gave them 37 grandchildren, 96 great grandchildren, and hundreds of descendants afterwards, most of them living their entire lives in Scarborough:

Clifford Henry Temm (1897–1973)
Clifford was the first Temm in the US Armed Forces. Drafted for WWI, he never left the States and it was his brother Carl, drafted for WW2 who would be the first to fight overseas in Germany.  He worked as a carpenter and volunteer fireman.  He married Susie Finney in 1926 and had 3 children, one of which died in infancy, and no grandchildren.  He ran a pine shingle business with his son Ralph.  The house he bought in County Road Westbrook in the 1926 is still in the family.  In 1927 he bought a square mile of Portland which now houses portions of I-295 and what was once Shopping Center on Marginal Way.

Adelaide May Temm-Ahlquist (1899–1980)
Front Row: Althea, Adelaide, Toy, Francis. Middle Row: Robert. Back Row: Olaf, Clarence, Leon
After graduating from Four Corners High School (later known as Scarborough High), Adelaide went to normal school and became a teacher.  She married Carl Erling Thorvald Ahlquist (aka "Toy") from Scarborough (but who was born to Swedish father and Norwegian mother), and they had 6 children and 21 grandchildren in their house on Beech Ridge Road.  Many of the children stayed on in Scarborough, but a few of them moved to the midwest.

Edwin Clinton Temm (1900–1900)

Edwin Clinton Temm (1901–1964)
Edwin married Marion Dolloff in 1928.  In 1943 he married Isabelle Butler, and bought a home on the Pope Road in Windham, where Aunt Isabelle (the family genealogist) lived the remainder of her life until 2011.  Collectively, Edwin had 5 children and 12 grandchildren.

Emily Iva Temm-Clarke (1903–1999)
(12 children, 40 grandchildren)

William Sanford Temm (1904–1975)
Bill Temm was married after both John Henry and Hattie's fathers.  He married Laura Barbour from Westbrook briefly in 1927.  In June of 1931 he married Alice Neault from Biddeford, born to French Canadian immigrants.  Alice and Bill (pictured above) and had 11 children and 23 grandchildren in their house on Beech Ridge Road right across the street from the old Temm Homestead once owned by his parents, on land once owned by the McLaughlins, who were founders of Scarborough and Cumberland County.  Bill's house is still in the Temm family.

Florence Ethel Temm (1905–1905)
(died in infancy)

Carl Albert Temm (1907–1974)
Carlie fought in WWII in Germany, and lived most of his life with his girlfriend, Fannie Varney, in their home and farm on Beech Ridge Road.  They had no children together.  Carlie worked at S.D. Warren in Westbrook, and died of a heart attack before he could retire.

Beech Ridge Road, Scarborough, Maine
TOP (L to R): John Henry Temm and his wife Hattie,
their children Adelaide, Clifford, and Emily
BOTTOM (L to R): Edwin, holding Carl
and another boy (possibly one of Hattie's grandsons,
Harold Dunn or Richard Brailsford),
and then William S. Temm on the far right.

(Clifford, Adelaide, Bill & Edwin, with spouses)
(ABOUT 1959)

An interesting note, I've been able to find marriage records for all the Temms and their descendants, except for John & Hattie's marriage (which was 1895 according to the 1900 Census).  1895 was actually a good year for record retention in Portland, so I'm not sure what happened.  I wonder if they ever were officially married?

According to the Town Report of Scarborough in 1922, John Henry suffered a fire at his homestead, and received $19.05 in abatement funds from the Town (which would be about $260 in 2012).

The Temms enjoyed the company of family friends Benjamin and Ida Shaw, who lived on the farmland property next door.  Ida passed on in 1928, while Benjamin died two years later.  Their son, Harold Wilson Shaw, died in 1932.  That left Benjamin's daughter, 45 year old Zelia Shaw, who never married, alone in the house.  She at this point moved next door into the Temm Homestead, then owned by John Henry's son Bill Temm, and stayed there until her death in 1969.  She was an honorary member of the Temm family.


John Henry's death certificate declared his father Marcus to be a Sea Captain.

(front and back)
Forest City Cemetery
South Portland, Maine
(John & Hattie, with son Carl,
Clayton, a deceased infant son of Clifford Temm,
and Alfred, a deceased infant son of Bill Temm)

Here's the pedigree chart for John Henry Temm.

He was 50% German and 50% Scottish.  His mother was of Scottish descent, and had noble roots (Blair Clan).

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