A morning with the Bradstreets

Jabez Howland Home in Plymouth

Yesterday was quite an adventure! We took the subway to Braintree, MA, only to find that the trains to Plymouth had been canceled about 3 month ago. So, we decided to rent a car (had planned to do so that evening anyway) and drove to Plymouth. Had hoped to see the home of Jabez Howland, son of John Howland, my pilgrim ancestor. (I’m quite proud of the fact that MY ancestor fell out of the Mayflower and was pulled back in – what a goof ball!) Would have been nice if the tours of the house were still going, but they’d already stopped for the day by the time we arrived.

This morning we set off for Ipswich and Rowley, Massachusetts, neighboring towns where my colonial ancestor Humphrey Bradstreet resided. Humphrey emigrated from England to the U.S. in 1634 and shortly thereafter was granted land in what became the town of Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Humphrey Bradstreet’s Farm, in the Bradstreet family from 1635-2007

The farm is thought to the be the oldest farm in the U.S. The Bradstreets originally farmed onions, but this venture was changed to cows when the “onion maggots” ruined the crops. The Bradstreet farm remained in the family from 1635 to 2007, when it purchased by the town of Rowley, Massachusetts. The current barn on the property was constructed about 1774, and the house about 1850.

Bradstreet Farm – 1635

Much to my delight, the town is seeking to sell the home and barn along with seven acres to someone interested in farming. While not practical for us to purchase, it provided great discussion for us today – quite a fantasy, envisioning a move to Massachusetts to live on my ancestor’s farm! Ed suggested we become potato farmers and also have a winery. I don’t think we could support our family farming potatoes, but hey, fantasies don’t have to make sense!

Inside of the Bradstreet barn

In addition to the Bradstreet farm, the town also owns a second Bradstreet property, called the Platt-Bradstreet home, which currently houses the historical society.

The Platt Bradstreet House

The Platt Bradstreet home contains many ancient Bradstreet relics, along with other items owned by other early Rowley settlers. Of particular interest to me, of course, were the items from Bradstreet family members. Thankfully, I’d made an appointment with the historical society and Ed & I had our own private tour of both Bradstreet properties.

Nathaniel Bradstreet's rifle, used in the Revolutionary War

Nathaniel Bradstreet’s rifle, used in the Revolutionary War

Nathaniel is not my ancestor, but a family member who served in the revolutionary war and also lived on the Bradstreet farm. Many of the items found at the Platt Bradstreet home had been moved from the Bradstreet farm.

Pie Safe from Bradstreet Farm

Pie Safe holding planes dating back to early 19th century

This “pie safe” was originally utilized to store baked pies. It is now used to house the planes and other tools that were originally owned by the Bradstreet family. Both the pie safe as well as the planes were moved to the Platt Bradstreet home from the Bradstreet farm.

The Bradstreet family apparently used this tool for shoe making

Used for making shoes, these items were found at the Bradstreet farm

Standing on the ground where my 10th great grandfather lived, and where my 9th great grandfather was likely born, was quite overwhelming. I wanted to take in every detail, and spent a lot of time looking at the landscape, the trees, focusing on what my Bradstreet ancestors saw when they looked outside their windows. As fabulous as it was to simply be on their land and in their barn and homes, even more impressive was seeing the Bradstreet coat of arms.

Bradstreet Coat of Arms

Lastly, we visited the “Old Burial Ground” in Rowley, and saw the gravestone of my 9th Great Grandfather, Capt. Moses Bradstreet, who has the oldest stone in the cemetery (buried 1690).

Gravestone of Capt. Moses Bradstreet, died 1690 – Old Burial Ground, Rowley, MA


One response to “A morning with the Bradstreets

  • Sarah Passell

    Thrilled to find this account online. I just reached the point in my genealogical investigations at which I uncovered my descent from Humphrey and Bridget Bradstreet. And it turns out there’s a farm still anchoring their history in the Massachusetts Bay Colony! Humphrey and Bridget were parents of Mary, who married John Kemball and became the mother of Abigail. Abigail Kimball married Isaac, one of the sons of Mary Estey (or Easty); Mary Easty was one of those convicted of witchcraft in Salem, along with two of her sisters, and hanged. Abigail and Isaac became the parents of Sarah Easty, who married Timothy Richardson and gave birth to another Timothy. This Timothy fathered Stephen Richardson, and Stephen was my great-grandmother Edna Richardson Meyers’ grandfather. I knew my great-grandmother, but the only memory I have of her is from when I was three and she was around 80.

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