Of Ancestors, and Cellar Holes, and Maps

This year, Colette and I have taken up the new hobby of genealogical research. Fascinating!  Addicting!  And oh so fun to discover the unknown!  One of the biggest surprises we unearthed was that our ancestors once lived in New Hampshire!  What a thrill to relocate, unwittingly, to the very state where some of our ancestors achieved a measure of notoriety.  So today, we took off for a day of exploration and research into our family history.

My fifth great-grandfather was the gardener to Governor John Wentworth, the last colonial governor of the state of New Hampshire.  So, driving north through the countryside, we came to this road.

Turning right on to this road, we followed along the edges of stormy looking Lake Winnipeasaukee until we reached the next sign.

Wanting to see whatever remained of the farm where our ancestor was the gardener, which some biographies say meant that he was the "estate caretaker", we turned down the dirt road.  Sadly, the house burned in 1820, and all that remains is the cellar hole (the basement walls), an historic marker, and the original well.

Then, following an internet clue that our ancestor's home still stood in 2003, we navigated through the countryside with our vague description clues and tried, in vain, to find it.  No success.

So, our next stop was the library in the town where he lived to do more research.  And excuse me, but have you ever seen a more charming library in your life!?!?  We loved it!  In the two hours we were there, four other patrons wandered in, and I realized that they simply borrowed books...didn't check them out...didn't have them scanned...just borrowed.  Amazing!  Small town life is delightful!  Oh, and there's a grandfather clock in the library...it chimes.  Perfect.

Book after book revealed very little or nothing at all.  The librarian even rummaged through the attic for maps for us (what a sweetie), but nothing that might provide a clue as to where our ancestor lived.  We did, however, find this sketch and floorplan of the Wentworth mansion!  So, now we had a better idea of what sat above that cellar hole.

Then, just when the library's hours were about to end...eureka!  A book with pages and pages and pages on him!  It included the lot number of his land AND a map with lot numbers noted!

Back in the car and back up one of the previously searched roads, we found it!  I knocked on the door and spoke at length with the current owner.  He knew exactly whose home he owned, and told us all about it.  The interior, he said, has all the posts and beams numbered for assembly.  The original windows are now used in the new barn.  Naturally, it's changed much over the last 200+ years, and sports skylights, additions, and siding dating to different eras, but this is it!  My great-great-great-great-great-grandparents' home!

The front corner of the house closest to me shows the old, original boards and corner post.

He pointed out the cellar hole, which he said is only about 20-ft. deep.

The original barn was already gone when he purchased the house in 1985, but the granite foundation stones were still set in place.  He dug them up and uses them as settees in his yard.

We will definitely go back again for more research and the scouting out other sites, a tavern and a shop, which our ancestor owned.  And those grandparents are buried in the woods across from their home.  It was starting to rain though, and the woods were full of hunters, so tromping through the woods in our dark clothing did not exactly seem the prudent thing to do today.

Gorgeous sunset on the way home.

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