Sunday, August 23, 2015
The early records of the Town of Erving, MA are full of documentation of property transfers that were registered with the Town Clerk. Most involve livestock. One entry caught my eye as I was paging through Volume 6 dated 1846 - 1887 in the Clerk's office in Town Hall recently.
John Ames of Erving submitted a statement in which he gave his son, Wallace, to James Bass, until he should reach 21 years of age. John states that Wallace was ten years old on 16 January, 1863. Bass is to "clothe and school" the child and care for him "in sickness and in health." The documents do not reveal much more of the circumstances, but I followed the trail.
Wallace was born in Northfield in 1853, as his father said. In 1860, John and his wife Susan lived in Northfield with three children: Eunice, 11, Henry, 9 and Wallace, 7. All three children are found in the Northfield births, but are unnamed. John was a farmer, but did not have any real estate, according to the census. They were older parents, John giving his age as 59 and Susan as 43.
In 1865 the Massachusetts census lists young Wallace with James Bass. The household also includes James' wife, 4 year old daughter, and Asa Packard, age 13. I had hopes that Wallace was going to learn an exciting trade, but Bass is a farmer in Erving. Henry was also living away from his parents in 1865. He is listed with an elderly Clark couple in Stow, MA. John, Susan and Eunice are also listed in Stow. Eunice married John Manning in Stow before the end of 1865. She was only 16.
In 1870, Wallace is known as George W.Ames, still with the Bass family at 17. By then, James had two young daughters, but his wife was not listed. Eunice and her husband John were listed in Bolton.
In 1875 both Henry and George W. married. George was 22 and past his responsibilities to Mr. Bass. By 1880 George W.Ames and his wife Jennie had a son and a daughter in Erving, and his mother, Susan was in the household. They are listed in 1900 in Swanzey NH and in Keene in 1910. Eunice had her children in Bolton and Royalston,and was in Richmond NH in 1880. Henry married in Fitzwilliam, NH, so the family all seemed to be looking north.
There are many details missing in this story, but it seems to be the story of a family on the edge. I'm sure it wasn't unique.