About Me

Growing up in a small New England town with a mother who was an antiquarian it was inevitable that I would be exposed to old things. After graduating from UMass/Amherst I lived in Connecticut, taught school, married, and raised three children in suburbia. A move to Newburyport MA renewed my interest in all things old. This background has now evolved into research, writing, consulting and all the things I love to do.

Prudence Fish

Tuesday, January 7, 2014



This  post is a continuation from Sally Bramhall, Part I.  The story was not written by me but was actually written in 1942 by Stella King White of Houlton, Maine and submitted to "Downeast Ancestry" in 1979 by Barbara Morse of Springvale, Maine, a descendant of Sally.  The magazine is no longer in existence and Barbara Morse is deceased.  See "Sally Bramhall, Part I.

Their route led them along the sandy Massachusetts coast, through Duxbury, Marshfield, Hingham and Quincy to Boston, a very good road, it was called in those days. They stopped several days in Boston to visit more relatives and to "see the sights". Boston then had a population of 25,000 and held much of interest. There was Old North Church, built in 1723 and made famous by Paul Revere’s ride; Faneuil Hall, built in 1742, and, the Old State House, built in 1748. Sally never forgot the interesting things she saw in Boston and they gave her much to tell her grandchildren long afterwards.

Leaving Boston, the young Bramhalls chose the Newburyport Turnpike as the best road..still considered the best because it is the shortest highway from Boston to Maine. Twenty miles more took them to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, an important city settled in 1623 and by 1803 having many splendid houses. As there was no bridge between Portsmouth and Kittery at that time (not until 1822), Sally and Sylvanus crossed the Piscataqua River into Maine by the ferry which ran regularly from Portsmouth wharf to the wharf in Kittery at the end of Love Lane.

"Old Ketterie" was no mean city, but a place of importance in early days. Settled in 1623, it was the oldest town in the District of Maine. Our young people took a little time when they reached Kittery to ride around and see the homes of the Pepperells, the Sparhawks, the Cutts and the Campernownes....all still standing (in 1942)..the fame of which had reached even to Massachusetts.

From Kittery, the travellers left the sea and turned directly north to Berwick. This was a thriving town (then undivided) of about 4,000 inhabitants, with a flourishing academy and some fine old houses. But Sally loved best to tell her grandchildren various old tales of witchcraft she heard along the way, and about the Witch Trot Road upon which she rode into Berwick and down the town’s oldest thoroughfare.

From Berwick the road would up through woods to Sanford and Springvale, two villages only two miles apart, Springvale then being the larger. They easily found a good tavern at Springviale and spent the night. Did Sally Bramhall have dreams that night that 138 years later, on April 14, 1941, another Sally Bramhall and her brother Curtis, lineal descendants of hers, would arrive in that town, this time to make their home? "Such stuff as dreams are made of."

The next morning they pushed on through the woods and vales of Gray and Gorham. Gorham was quite a town, even then, having been settled more than 60 years and having, the old chronicles boast, "a white Congregational Church." As they rode farther and farther away from the sea, they found more woods, fewer clearings and smaller settlements. Sally loved the Maine woods, so new to her.

At last, after a journey of 200 miles or so which took them two weeks, they reached Hebron and were received with open arms. The had had no untoward adventures along the way. No bears nor wolves had troubled them, nor Indians attacked them; they had only, as Sally always told it, "a lovely ride through the woods."

Sally and Sylvanus spent a happy summer with their Richmond relatives..Uncle Eliab and Aunt Hannah, Grandfather Henry and Grandmother, Sarah, and 10 or 12 cousins. The young people enjoyed most of all the cousins near their own age. The cousin nearest Sally was Israel, only 25, but already a widower. He had married June 4, 1800 Chloe Crooker of Hebron, but she had died in childbirth that spring leaving in his care two small children, little Chloe, born Sept. 5, 1801 and the baby, Israel, born May 10, 1803 and scarcely two months old when the Bramhalls came.

They were all living together in the big house and the whole family united in taking care of the children left motherless, in addition to helping with the rest of the work connected with a large house and farm...the knitting, spinning, weaving, rug hooking and braiding, quilt piecing, rag carpet weaving, plus the churning, cheese making and candle dipping. Sally, always an energetic body (so my mother told me) and "brought up to work", joined in the activities of a large family and the care of the little children. She soon came to love them, especially the baby, and their father, too.

When the end of summer came, Sally told her brother to go back without her; she was going to take care of the baby a while longer...he needed her...then she would go home. He went but his sister did not, for the next winter (in 1804) Sally and Israel were married. Accustomed as she was to the easier life of her girlhood home, nevertheless, Sally courageously took up the vicissitudes of a pioneer life in the District of Maine.

In the years that followed eleven children were born to them...eight daughters and three sons. The first daughter was named Sarah and the second Hannah, for Israel’s mother. If you look up our Richmond family line, you will be struck with the persistency with which the names of Sarah (or Sally) and Hannah alternate in each generation for more than a century...from 1723 to 1835.

Ireael and Sally moved from Hebron to Dixfield; when, we don’t know. In 1815, Israel’s name and that of his brother, Eliab Richmond Jr. (seven years younger and married to Sarah Bullen of Hebron) appear on the old Oxford County records as each having bought "100 acres of land, more or less" in Dixfield on Severy Hill. That, so far as we know, is where Sally and Israel always lived thereafter.

(The names of Israel Richmond and his brother, Capt. Eliab Richmond, Jr., are listed as serving in the War of 1812 from Dixfield)

The old records also tell of Israel drowning August 20, 1823, while fording the Androscoggin River at Dixfield...only this and nothing more. Thus, Sally was suddenly made a widow at age 44, with a family of 11 children..her two step-children and nine of her own, the youngest only 15 months old. Two of her children had died young.

Sally kept on bravely, even cheerfully, until all the children had married and had homes of their own. One can only guess at the loneliness and hardships of that period of Sally’s life. After 20 years of widowhood, in July of 1843, she married William Worcester of Dixfield, who was five years older. He lived about 10 years, then left Sally again a widow.

She lived to be 81 years old, surrounded by children and grandchildren who loved to hear her tell stories of her past. She would tell of playing with other children around Plymouth Rock, where the Pilgrims had landed, and of walking in the sand, letting the waves of the Atlantic Ocean dash up over her feet. She would speak of long ago Sunday afternoons when she wandered among her ancestors’ graves in the old cemetery on the hill overlooking Plymouth harbor. Then she would tell them about her ride via horseback from Massachusetts to Maine on a pillion, with her arms around her brother’s waist  to hold herself on, recalling all the little incidents along the way and the things she saw; the trees, birds and wildflowers of the Maine woods. Then, my mother told me, she would often close a story of Plymouth by saying, "I always intended to go back again some time, but (shaking her head sadly) I shall never see Pymouth again." She never did.

Sally died December 23, 1860 and lies buried in the old Severy Hill graveyard beside Israel Richmond, her first husband and first love.

The resting  place of Sally and Israel Richmond

Here is the letter my grandmother wrote to Stella King White as she prepared this story of Sally.

                                                                                                                Feb. 18, 1932

My Dear Cousin Stella,

Your letter came and I read it with  much pleasure and will try to answer your questions.  

My father was Zebulon Bruyant's son, his mother was Desire Richmond, a sister to Israel Richmond, who married for his first wife, Chloe Crooker; for his second wife, Sally Bramhall, whom I remember well.  She later married William Worcester of Dixfield.  Israel Richmond drowned in the Androscoggin River in Dixfield where he lived and where his daughters found their husbands.  White, Morse, Hall and Severy were all Dixfield men.  

Eliab Richmond's oldest children were born in Plymouth, Mass.  I have no date of the time he came to Maine but as near as we can think it was at the close of the Revolutionary War.  He brought his father, Henry, with him and he was buried in the graveyard near my old home, the house Eliab built in 1798.

Eliab was the first to break ground in the town...he was a nice old man.  My mother lived in the house with the old people and she liked him very much.  His widow lived eighteen years after his death. She left quite a property which was willed to her descendants.

My father bought the (Richmond) farm and there were 65 (this number may be inflated but it was many) heirs who had to sign the deeds, the Dixfield women (Sally's children) among them.  I don't remember how much each got.  (each couple received $219.96)

I will be 94 in August.  I am an old woman in years but keep young in many ways. I must close but hope to hear from you again.

Your Cousin,

Myra Bryant Paine

It is so easy for stories such as this to get lost. It is also amazing that this letter from my grandmother was found in the Maine Historical Society or Archives and forwarded to me unsolicited.  I'm so glad to have this history and I hope you enjoyed the "Saga of Sally Bramhall".


It has been called to my attention that the rug hooking in the early 19th century mentioned in the story was not accurate.  Rug hooking came into popularity at a later date, more toward the mid 19th century.  In 1942 facts were not as easy to verify as they are today.  We all are apt to fall into the trap of relying on our interpretation of what it was like long before our time.

1 comment:

  1. What hardship Sally injured . i think it is so very nice she was buried next to her first love.
    Thank you for this enjoyable post.