Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Edwin Martin Currier - Part 4, The Author

The residential record of Edwin Martin Currier, residing at 95 Ludlam Street in Lowell continued to be listed on the Lowell City Directories without missing a beat from 1901 through 1911.  Edwin is still listed with the occupation of shipping clerk at his place of work, 572 Bridge Street, which we've already established is the Woods, Sherwood & Co. a manufacturer of white wire products. The 1910 Federal Census for Lowell shows Edwin still working as a shipping clerk for a "wire factory." His wife, Carrie, still lives with him at the Ludlam Street home that has been their residential address since 1896.


Sadly, in 1911 Edwin's wife Carrie passed away.  The cause of death listed on her death certificate was "chronic nephritis" which is basically a kidney disease. The certificate indicates Carrie was suffering with the affliction that killed her from the previous July, a little over four months. Only 63 years old when she died, Carrie's death came nine days following Edwin's 67th birthday. Her obituary notice appeared in the Lowell Sun newspaper the day after she died.  The obituary included reference to Carrie's membership and involvement with activities with the "Kirk Street" church, the same church mentioned in the obituary notice for Edwin's father, James Hale Currier, when he died in 1893.  I infer from this that Edwin might have also belonged to the same congregation but have found no documentation to support.  If that was the case it would make sense that the Kirk Street church could have been where Edwin and Carrie met prior to their 1895 marriage.  

The 1911 Lowell City Directory lists Edwin residing at 95 Ludlam Street but does not list him having any occupation.  Considering his age it may be a reasonable assumption that Edwin had retired from his shipping clerk job at Woods, Sherwood & Co. It may also be that the company was no longer in business.  The directory has no advertisements listed for the company in the 1911 edition and that's unusual...all of the years prior to 1911 included advertisements by Edwin's employer.   A Google search shows that sometime prior to 1922 the Woods, Sherwood & Co was acquired by the Worcester Wire Company but I don't know the exact year nor do I have any way to associate the company's demise with Edwin's lack of employment. The one thing that seems clear is that in the year 1911 Edwin is no longer a shipping clerk. 

The Lowell City Directories provided a consistent record of Edwin's life from 1868 through 1911. After the 1911 edition, however,  there are only two years in which I could find him listed.  In 1916 Edwin appears at a different address, 1638 Bridge Street in the Lowell suburb of Dracut.  This new address was located about one and a half miles north of the 95 Ludlam Street residence. And surprisingly Edwin has returned to the world of employment, listing his occupation as writer!  I know, I know, I titled this post "The Author" but there's a reason for that...Edwin was a published writer and in my book, that makes him an author. 

Lowell City Directories: 1911 edition on left, 1916 on right

Edwin's claim to the occupation of "writer" is supported by a listing of Recent Books in the January, 1913 edition of THE NEW ENGLAND HISTORICAL AND GENEALOGICAL REGISTER.  Edwin's published work, Address and Historical Sketch delivered at a Currier Family Reunion, compiled and delivered by Edwin at a gathering of Currier family descendants in Toledo, Ohio in 1910.
I obtained a copy of the publication from the New England Historical and Genealogical Society, and the title page appears below.

I've included a copy of Edwin's forward address of his publication. Other than his original letters to my great great grandfather, I've only been able to view Edwin's life through reports and directories. His narrative describing the circumstances of his attendance and contribution to the family reunion in Toledo offers a more personal glimpse of Edwin's thoughts regarding his family history research. Viewing the 1910 event through Edwin's eyes and seeing how much he enjoyed being there and interacting with other Currier descendants makes Edwin more human in my eyes than any directories, census reports, and obituary notices could ever provide. 

In my book, Edwin has every right to consider himself a "writer." And a good one, at that!  He traced his Currier family ancestors back to a Richard Currier, "who was one of the settlers of Salisbury, Mass. in 1640."  He does not cite the sources of his research but does not hesitate to mention when some of his narrative is the product of "family tradition handed down in our family."  Other documentation mentioned included recorded town registries of deeds and probate records.  And where there is none, he qualifies his research like the following statement on lineage: "We have no written proof that Samuel of Haverhill was a son of Richard of Salisbury.  The evidence is circumstantial."  So in the nineteen pages of Edwin's publication he puts forth 250 years of Currier family history with support when he finds it and mixes that with honesty about the assumptions he has put together.  Much of his research is filled with family tales (which he calls "traditions") and physical descriptions. Edwin's great grandfather, Nathaniel Currier ( my fourth great grandfather) is described as follows: "Nathaniel was of a sandy complexion, nearly six feet in height, and possessed of great muscular power.  He had the trade of shoemaking, and is said to have possessed much mechanical ability."  How Edwin came to know such detail about ancestors' appearances he does not say but I would assume it was from those "family tradition" sources.  Nathaniel Currier, for instance, was born in 1741 and died in 1826, long before photography was invented, so it would seem that complexion and height and muscular descriptions probably were passed on by generation to generation.

I was curious, of course, to see what Edwin might have reported in his address that would have come from responses to his letters to my great great grandfather, John Currier of Langdon, New Hampshire. I don't know how much information John was able to provide to Edwin.  He is included in the description of John's father's lineage in the following sentence: "By the first wife there were six children, and by the second, one child; seven in all, of whom five married and had families."  John Currier was one of those six and he also had two wives with two children from the first and one from the second. Three in all plus two step children the second wife brought from a previous marriage. Nathaniel had eleven children so Edwin had his hands full compiling the information.  Despite that huge amount of data, Edwin managed to construct a pedigree chart of Nathaniel's children as well as his childrens' children,  which Edwin titled,  the "Seventh Generation." I can account for all of the children and their families except for one, Nathan Currier. I'm not sure where Edwin came up with that one but with the accuracy shown in the rest of his work I probably need to dig some more to see if I can verify one way or the other. I feel a little guilty that I can do my research by computer while Edwin had to do his by live records searches and correspondence.  His chart is shown below:


If I was obsessed with genealogy I probably would have a better chance of constructing a more complete history of Edwin.  When I look at the chart I have no doubt that Edwin was obsessed with his research. It's hard to imagine the labor involved with constructing a chart like this as well as the previous 18 pages of detailed narrative. Unfortunately, I tend to take the lazy way out sometimes during my own research.  I'm easily distracted...the pool, the family, football games on TV and any dog I meet who isn't growling or snarling capture my attention and interest. When my wife and I visited Lowell, we visited the cemetery and took pictures of where Edwin lived and worked. And we visited the library to find obituaries for Edwin and his family.  My guilt comes from the fact that we could have done more.  We could have tried to visit the old age home where Edwin last resided (I'll get to that in this posting shortly). There's another library in town associated with the University of Massachusetts that might have revealed more information. I would have liked to visit the trolley museum in Lowell and the fabric mills tours as well. Both would have been able to provide more information on the time period during which Edwin lived and researched his family history.  What a treasure it would be to locate any notes and drafts Edwin might have used in preparing his published work!  But...cudda, shudda, wudda is my middle name.

The last city directory for Lowell listing Edwin was in 1919 with a very brief entry; in the Dracut section it lists simply "Currier Edwin M. rem to Lowell" which I presume means he was no longer at his Bridge Street address in Dracut but returned  (removed) back to Lowell.   Somewhere between his 1916 listing as a writer and his minimal 1919 listing in the Lowell City Directory, Edwin became a resident of the "Battles Home For Aged Men" located on Belmont Street in Lowell.  Along with nine other residents, eloquently described as "inmates" 75 year old Edwin is listed on the 1920 Lowell Federal Census Record.  I think the term inmates was standard vernacular for the time but it sounds a little harsh to my twenty-first century ears. The ages of the inmate/residents ranged from 72 to 92 so there was probably a good mix of ailments and disabilities requiring their confinement to a home, perhaps even dementia. I should have visited Battles (which is now a nursing home for both men and women) to see if they retained any records that could reveal more about Edwin.  But other other vacation plans were pressing our timetable so we departed beautiful downtown Lowell after two days of scouting around Edwin's neighborhood.

The Federal Census Record is dated 22 January, 1920.  Two and a half months later, Edwin passed away on Saturday, April 7, 1920.  His obituary published the following day in The Lowell Sun newspaper reported that the funeral services were held at the Battles Home and "were largely attended."  A Presbyterian minister officiated but I'm not sure if Reverend Craig was affiliated with the Battles home or if he might have been pastor of the Kirk Street church favored by Edwin's wife and father.  There were four pall bearers, one of whom, Charles H. Brown, was listed on the 1920 census as a fellow inmate at Battles.



I am not the first in our family to have come across Edwin Martin Currier and his research of Currier family history.  My maternal grandfather, Marshall Austin Currier (1868 - 1957), was doing his own research in the 1930's as evidenced by a letter he received from the town clerk of Pelham, NH dated January 9, 1932.  In response to a letter my grandfather had mailed to Pelham, apparently asking for "Currier family record of births or deaths etc,"  Mr George P Wood responded with information from "a sketch or genealogical record of the first Curriers and their children...that was gotten up by Edwin M. Currier a grandson of Jonathan."

The letter appears to be a copy of the original.  There are no folds in the paper to indicate it was folded into thirds for mailing.  Although not conclusive evidence of a duplicate, the sign off is noted, "George P. Wood (per E. Currier)"  and E. Currier is probably my mother, Emma Currier. So I assume the original letter had to be duplicated and my mother felt it necessary for some reason to identify this copy as such. This document as well as the original letters Edwin wrote to my great great grandfather in 1871 were found in various files and shoe box sized containers that my mother left with me and my sister after she passed away. I know from family "traditions" that my mother and her sister, Alice, were both interested in family history and quite likely assisted their father in his family history research. Whether or not they correlated Edwin's early letters with the 1932 letter I can't say. Marshall Currier had been a school teacher at one point in his life and both of his daughters were college graduates by 1932 so the three of them (and quite possibly assisted in their research by my grandmother, a nursing school graduate) had educational credentials enough for me to believe they were astute researchers.  I don't know if they were as obsessed with family history research as Edwin obviously was but there's little doubt they were strongly interested in the family genealogy. And from my grandfather's notes, it looks like part of his research relied almost word for word from excerpts from the 1932 letter.  

Marshall Currier's family history notes

In my second posting on Edwin Martin Currier, "Edwin Martin Currier - Part 2, Dismission to Lowell"  I described Edwin's 1877 posting in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register where he lamented the condition of a headstone belonging to one of his Currier ancestors. His concern was for the preservation of the stone "for many years longer." I had my own concerns for Edwin's headstone in Lowell.  Not with the condition of the stone and the grounds keeping; both were in excellent condition. But as pictured in my July 24 posting, "Interlude For Photos," the engraving on Edwin's stone was missing the year of his death, 1920.  I don't know if Edwin overlooked the coordination to complete the engraving on his stone or if he just put it off for a later date that never came. Maybe arrangements were made but not enforced. There were no other members in his immediate family available after his passing to follow up on completion of the stone's engraving.  I asked the Edson Cemetery office for recommendations of vendors that could apply the engraving and coordinated with one to complete the work.  Edwin's headstone is now complete. I think Edwin would be pleased to know that the commemoration of his final resting place has been corrected and preserved for many years longer.  And I pray Edwin rests in peace. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Edwin Martin Currier - Part 3, Family Matters

My search on Edwin Martin Currier continues.  Edwin's sister, Emma Currier (named Dorothy Emeline Currier at birth but somewhere along the line became known as Emma), was the first in Edwin's family to pass away. That was in 1889 at the age of 53. Her obituary published in THE LOWELL SUN, a weekly newspaper appearing on Saturdays, describes the ordeal Emma must have endured for a lengthy period of time.


The illness of "long duration and a very painful nature" was cancer and noted accordingly on the Deaths in the city of Lowell in the year 1889, as recorded by Lowell's city clerk office. There's nothing to indicate where on Emma's body the cancer attacked but wherever it was she must have been miserable if her family felt it was important enough to describe her ordeal in her death notice.  In today's vernacular Emma would have been eulogized for her courageous battle against the disease. The language chosen for this death notice are every bit as descriptive and heartbreaking as any words we might apply today.  I feel bad for Emma every time I read this obituary.


The city record of deaths was my first clue as to where the Currier family members were buried listing "place of interment" as Edson Cemetery, including the lot number,  #1803.  The remaining members of James Hale Currier's Lowell household in time all followed Emma and are buried in the same lot at Edson Cemetery in Lowell.  Emma's 1889 passing precluded her seeing her parents celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in 1890.  The following announcement appeared in The Boston Journal on October 15, 1890, one day after the elderly couple's anniversary date. 

Three years later in 1893 Edwin's father passed away. The Lowell Daily Courier published on Friday, May 12, 1893 posted the obituary for James Hale Currier. 

Again, the city clerk's office of Lowell provided detailed information in the Deaths in the City list for 1893.  I found it interesting that, according to this list,  James Currier's mother was born in Dracut, Massachusetts, a town adjacent to Lowell.  So perhaps James' move in 1867 from Pelham to Lowell was a returning to his roots sort of thing? That might be a stretch but considering Edwin's documented interest in genealogy,  it might be reasonable to conjecture that his father had a similar interest in family history.  More than likely the move was motivated by economic reasons; a search for improved income by relocating from a small New Hampshire farming community to the thriving industrial center that Lowell had become in the mid 1800's. And truth of the matter is, Pelham, NH was only about 10 miles north of Lowell so everything was pretty much in the same general area .  But I think it's fun to wonder about what motivated my ancestors to work as they did and live where they did while at the same time understanding I'm just guessing and will never know the truth. I don't want to stretch things beyond reason but at the same time, who's going to tell me I'm wrong? 

The death list cites cause of death to be "heart disease."  There are other deaths on the same page attributable to the same cause but for people much younger. There is one cause of death noted "old age" for an Elizabeth Kimball who died at the age of 93.  I'm not sure what the Lowell clerk's office determined to be the cut off age for an "old age" death vs. heart disease but if James indeed suffered from heart disease and made it to 83, disease or no disease,  I think he must have had one pretty strong ticker. Again, who's going to tell me I'm wrong?  

The Lowell City Directories offer a consistent record of Edwin and his parents throughout the 1890's. In the year following Edwin's father's death, the directories started listing Edwin's mother as "widow of James H." at the "house 4, rear 57 Willow" address along with Edwin at the same address.  Same holds true for 1895 but in 1896 the directory lists both Edwin and his mother at "house 95 Ludlam."  Obviously, Edwin and his mother, Dorothy R. Currier, have moved to a new Lowell address. 

This address change is not the only significant revision in Edwin Martin Currier's life.  In 1895 on September 11th,  50 year old Edwin married a 47 year old woman named Caroline E. Brownell who described her occupation as "domestic."

Caroline, born Caroline Elizabeth Brownell, was a daughter of John and Amy Davis of Northport, Nova Scotia.   In subsequent documents she was called "Carrie" including the 1900 Federal Census Report for Lowell listing Carrie residing at 95 Ludlam Street with her husband Edwin and her mother in law, Dorothy.  The city directories continued to list Edwin and Dorothy each year from 1896 through 1899.  But per the directory's standard format, Carrie was not listed. Carrie's year of immigration from Canada to the United States is reported as 1883 with 17 years in the USA. 

Edwin, still listing occupation as shipping clerk is the head of the household but rents the property at 95 Ludlam Street rather than owning it. Neither Carrie nor Dorothy list anything for occupation so I assume they both stayed at home keeping house. Dorothy was listed as age 87 which might be a good indication that whatever housekeeping responsibilities were performed probably fell on Carrie's shoulders.  Especially so when you consider that Dorothy was born in September of 1811 and the census was enumerated in June of 1900...I calculate she was a few months shy of 89!  And, indeed, Dorothy's advanced age caught up to her two years later...she died in May, 1902.  The town clerk record of Lowell deaths in that year showed her cause of death to be "old age." 

Dorothy's remains were interred in lot # 1803 in Edson Cemetery in Lowell with her husband James and daughter Emma.  

I photographed the Currier headstone on July 18, 2013.  The monument is in excellent condition and the grounds are well maintained.  Edwin paid for perpetual care of the lot in 1901 as verified by the registration card I obtained from the office at Edson Cemetery. His $100 investment appears to have been a good bargain...the cemetery grounds show signs of good care taking over the last 112 years. 

I will continue my search on the life of Edwin Martin Currier in my next post, Part 4 - The Author. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Edwin Martin Currier - Interlude for Photos

When we return home from vacation I will continue posting my research on Edwin Martin Currier. My posts of parts 1 and 2 took my search up through 1894 or so.  I wanted to present my study of Edwin's life events in chronological order and I will resume doing that when I post part 3. But in the meantime I wanted to share some recent photos I made in Edwin's home town of Lowell, Mass.  My wife and I worked in a couple of days of our vacation to New England to visit Lowell and see what we could document about Edwin.

Our first stop was a visit to Edson Cemetery. I had documentation that Edwin's parents and his sister were interred there and suspected Edwin was buried with them. I had written the cemetery in March but never received a reply. I called them in May and they confirmed that Edwin's family had a plot with five Curriers interred. A sixth interment was buried in the same plot but not for any Currier family member and that interment was the first logged into the cemetery's records. Edwin is shown as the owner of the lot.


Listed chronologically by date of death, Edwin G Brown was interred in lot # 1803 in 1882.  Apparently the Curriers purchased the remaining five burial sites within the lot and so joined Mr. Brown for their final resting place in the same plot. There is no headstone or marker for Edwin Brown but the Currier family has a family monument and each family members names are engraved with year of birth and death.

The side of the headstone facing east lists Edwin's parents, James Hale Currier and Dorothy (Richardson) Currier, and his sister, Emma D. Currier.  The family name is engraved on the base of the headstone. This monument is remarkably preserved with no erosion or deterioration of any kind from what appears to be a shiny marble facing.

The west side of the headstone displays the names of Edwin and his wife, Carrie Brownell.  Edwin and Carrie were married in 1895. I have documentation of this marriage at home and will include it and other docs when I get home and can resume posting the chronology of Edwin's life.  The first thing we noticed on this side of the headstone is that Edwin's year of death is not engraved. His name is the only one of the five family members that's missing death year.  According to the cemetery log for lot # 1803, Edwin passed away in 1920. I have no clue and the Edson Cemetery office had no idea either, on why the engraving on the headstone was incomplete.  According to the cemetery office records Edwin paid for perpetual service ($100) in 1901.  But the headstones and engraving thereon are a separate function from the services provided by the cemetery.  Perhaps Edwin didn't coordinate to have the work done by the time he passed away?  Edwin and his wife had no children so there was really no one else to accomplish the task.  Not to jump the gun on my pending post(s) on Edwin but when he died he was a resident of a home for "aged men" so he might have let the ball drop due to dementia or something. I guess we'll never know. When I asked the office how I might be able to have the engraving completed they referred me to a list of monument companies that could do the work. I'm waiting for a quote from one of them to see if I can coordinate completion of engraving to display Edwin's date of death.   Considering his interest in genealogy and the Currier family history, I'm sure he would have wanted the engraving to be completed.

Following our visit to Edson Cemetery we drove into the city of Lowell to photograph the places   where Edwin resided and worked. The first of these was 57 Willow Street where Edwin resided in "rear 4" with his parents and sister.

This is 57 Willow Street as it appears today. Three stories and multiple entrances hint that the basic structure may be similar or the same as it was while Edwin resided there (1868 to 1894). Exterior improvements have been made, of course, including the handicap access ramp on the left side of the building. However, as discussed in previous posts, this was the Currier family's address but not their residence. As noted above they resided in 57 Willow Street, 4 rear which was located behind the structure pictured here, probably right about where the blue dumpster is situated in the parking lot behind the house.

The next building we wanted to see was the manufacturing facility of Woods, Sherwood & Co where Edwin started his career with that company as a wire worker. The company no longer exists, at least not in Lowell. But a structure remains at 572 Bridge Street that looks similar to the elongated rectangle of the original plant shown on the maps posted in my Part 2 posting. Whether or not it is the same structure with improvements I couldn't say but it definitely is no longer a manufacturing plant but a multiple unit apartment building. 

The last  building we wanted to see was the residence Edwin shared with his wife, Carrie, and his widowed mother. I'll document their move to this last structure when I resume Part 3 but in the meantime, trust me on this, they resided at 95 Ludlum Street which was probably a shorter walk for Edwin to get to his job with Woods, Sherwood  & Co. 

The home currently has two entrances and three stories. We did not observe any other entrances on either side of the building so presumably two families live there, one on the first floor, the other on the second and perhaps the third floor.  I don't know if that arrangement was the case for Edwin or not but it wouldn't surprise me. According to the Federal Census Records for 1900 and 1910, Edwin rented the home at 95 Ludlum Street rather than owned. A savvy lessor would most likely rent out a three story building like this one to as many tenants as they could get away with. 

We finished our research of Edwin the following morning at the Pollard Memorial Library in Lowell. The library has almost a full floor dedicated to genealogical research, including microfilm newspaper copies. We found obituaries for all the Curriers except for Edwin's mother.  I was hoping also to find some info on Edwin's employer.  I had my fingers crossed I might find a group photo of the employees and the plant for Woods, Sherwood & Co., but no such luck.   The closest I came was a historical sketch published in 1897 on the leading citizens of Lowell that had a nice biography and a photo of Edward Woods, described as the "senior member" of Woods, Sherwood & Co. Since I have no way to scan any of this material away from home I won't be able to document my research until I get home to Florida. And when I do, my search will go on. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Edwin Martin Currier - Part 2: Dismission to Lowell

In my posting of Part 1, The Letters, I explained the origins of my interest in Edwin Martin Currier.  My curiosity arose from two letters Edwin had written to a branch of the Currier family, apparently that of my mother's great grandfather, John Currier, of Langdon, New Hampshire, in which Edwin stated that he had "formed the plan of writing a genealogical record of the Curriers."  I have now  formed my own plan;  to research and construct a chronological record of Edwin Martin Currier's life as best I can and, hopefully, see whatever genealogical record Edwin was able to put together. This post,  Part 2, Dismission to Lowell, will attempt to do that.

Edwin's letters were written from his home in Lowell, Massachusetts where he resided with his parents. But since I live in Florida all of my research so far has been online.  I hope to find more source material to add to my research of Edwin's life this summer on a vacation trip to New England. But in the meantime my research has been confined to whatever I can find on the Internet.  My two primary sources of information have been the membership-only websites,  Ancestry.com and The New England Historic Genealogical Society.  Other resources will be cited to reference any other information I've been able to uncover.

Ancestry.com's huge database steered me right to an extracted record of Edwin's birth, transcribed from New Hampshire, Births and Christenings Index, 1714 - 1904. I always prefer to use the original record as a source but I could not find the original index online. The man who became identified as Edwin Martin Currier was born November 5, 1844 in Pelham, NH. It appears from this transcription that he was named Martin Edwin, with the given and middle names reversed from his later identity. The indexed father's name, James H. Currier,  duplicates Edwin's lineage info in the letters to John Currier. His mother's name, "Dorothy P." in subsequent research coincided with her given name of Dorothy Page Richardson.

The September 1850 Federal Census for Pelham, NH shows another interesting twist on Edwin Martin aka Martin Edwin's name by listing him as "Martha E." and designating his gender as female. He (she) is listed along with parents, James H. Currier and Dorothy Currier, and an older brother and sister, James W. and Dorothy E.  I can only guess, but I suspect the gender confusion was caused by the enumerator simply making a transcription error when posting data on the final census record.  The record (shown below) is neat and clear of corrections of any kind, which indicates to me that it was a final transcribed compilation of census data and not a "real time" work sheet. Thus, five year old Edwin is recorded in history as a female named, Martha E. Currier.


Ten years later the Pelham Federal Census for 1860 is more accurate but not completely. At least the gender is correct with the "m" identifying him as a male. However, the age of Edwin, identified as "Martin E." is listed as 14.  Born in November of 1844, this census recorded in July of 1860 should have shown the young man to be 15 years old. Edwin aka Martin still resides with his parents but his older siblings have apparently moved on to reside elsewhere.


The ten year gap between these first two Federal Census records was the longest duration of time between recorded events of  Edwin Martin Currier. In 1868 a transcription of "Dismissions" from the Congregational Church of Pelham records Edwin's relocation to Lowell, Massachusetts. My first thought when I located this list from the William Thomas Hayes Historical Collection, on the Pelham Historical Society website was, "Oh Oh, were there dire circumstances causing Edwin's dismissal from his church?"  But after review of the form all of the names listed along with Edwin are in a column labeled "dismissed to" along with destination cities. Thus, this "dismission" list appears to be a record of church members who have moved on to different locales away from Pelham and not for any sins or transgressions the church found unsavory.

 Since this list is a transcription from the church's original records I'm reluctant to make assumptions about why Edwin is the only Currier listed.  Subsequent research shows that Edwin's parents also "transferred to" Lowell by 1868, proof of which I will get to shortly.  I've chosen not to guess how involved Edwin and his other family members may have been in the Congregational Church in Pelham. The transcribed records from the Pelham Historical Society website list five categories of church history including, marriages, baptisms, deaths, admissions, and dismissions. But the only other posting for the Currier family besides this one citing Edwin's move to Lowell is a record of his parent's marriage listing James H. Currier and Dorothy P. Richardson with a wedding date of 14 October 1830.  Whether omissions of additional family information is an indication of lackluster participation in church activities by the Currier family or information lost in transcription, I can't really say without being able to review the original records.  One thing is sure...Edwin and his parents (and probably his sister) relocated to Lowell, Massachusetts no later than the year 1868. Evidence of their 1868 residency in Lowell is provided by the LOWELL DIRECTORY, a city record of names of citizens and business enterprises published annually by Sampson, Davenport, & Co., of Boston, Ma.  These U.S. City Directories for Lowell and surrounding communities have provided me with a view of Edwin's life and career that generously supplement Federal Census Records that were only compiled every ten years. The City Directories providing a record of Edwin and, to a lesser degree his family, compiled thirty one years of data in the span of years from 1868 to 1919. Although not as detailed in data as the census records, the directories still provide some clues as to what Edwin's life in Lowell was about. Where he lived, in some cases where he worked, and almost always his occupation were posted in the directories. Significantly, this data was recorded in the twelve consecutive years from 1888 through 1899 which eliminates the common twenty year record gap genealogists face when researching the years between 1880 and 1900. The gap was created by the destruction of most 1890 Federal Census Records destroyed in a Washington, DC fire in 1921.  The 1868 LOWELL DIRECTORY is pictured below with Edwin and his father, James listed on page 77.


Edwin is listed as "boards" at 85 Willow Street with his occupation described as "wire worker."  His father is listed as "house" at the same address which indicates James was the primary resident while his son paid a boarding fee. I don't believe that James owned the residence because in the 1870 Federal Census there was no entry made for value of real estate. It's possible that Edwin paid his boarding fee to his father while his father paid rent to a landlord.  Females were not listed in the directories unless they were the primary resident, boarders, or widows of deceased primary residents. The next Lowell Directory available listing Edwin was the 1872 edition. Combining that information with data recorded on the 1870 Federal Census tells us a few more things about the Currier family residing in Lowell.

The census shows James H. Currier, age 68 listed first (and therefore head of household) with an occupation of "farm laborer."  His wife Dorothy R. is shown as 56 years old and listed with the occupation "keeping house." Their daughter, Emeline D., (like her brother, it appears she reversed her middle name with the first name recorded on the 1850 census record) is shown as 25 years old and has a job description "works in printing office." Edwin M. completes the family section in 1870, still working as a "wire worker" and is recorded as age 25.  Emeline's age is off by eight years; she should have been recorded as 34 years old. But she's not the only one listed with bogus age info because James was 62 in 1870, not 68 as recorded.  And Dorothy was actually 60 years old, not 56!   Two years later the city directory shows Edwin with what may be a promotion from wire worker to clerk. I'm assuming that could be a promotion. Moreover, the 1872 Lowell Directory lists the name of the company where Edwin works...he is a clerk at Woods, Sherwood, & Co.'s."  Edwin is still shown as a boarder (abbreviated as "bds.") at 35 Willow Street and his father, James H. still the primary house resident while continuing to work as a laborer.  The 35 Willow Street address is corroborated with Edwin's 1871 letters to John Currier of Langdon, NH wherein he closed with the same Willow Street address information.

The 1872 directory's listing of Edwin's employer was an unexpected but welcome gift to my research. According to the University of Massachusetts Lowell Center for Lowell History, city directories for Lowell residents were "arranged by name, work address, occupation, and home address." On most subsequent directories I located on Edwin, this was the content format. The name of his employer was never listed again, just the employer's address. I was curious about Edwin's work as a "wire worker" with Woods, Sherwood & Co so I tried to Google the company name. I found no listing to indicate they were still in business but Google did provide me with a good idea of the company's products with a listing of "Patents for Woods, Sherwood, & Co." that included illustrations of, what else?...wire work devices patented in the 1860's!


These illustrations of their patented wire products provides a much clearer picture of the work Edwin might have performed as a wire worker for Woods, Sherwood, & Co.  Some of the products almost appear to be woven. Whether or not Edwin's wire working was performed by hand or aided by machinery is unknown. Nevertheless, with the designation of clerk as his occupation in 1872 it seems safe to say that Edwin's work has been modified from working with wire to working with pen, pencil, and paper.

The next city directory I found listing Edwin was the 1875 edition.  This directory indicated some changes in Edwin's life. This listing conformed to the standard format:   "Currier Edwin M. clerk, 150 Bridge, b.4, rear 41 willow, Belvidere."  Edwin's father, James, is recorded as: "Currier James H. laborer, house 4, rear 41 Willow. Bel." So evidently the Curriers have moved to a different address on Willow Street and Edwin's job description continues to be that of a clerk.  The employer address for Edwin's clerk job is 150 Bridge. I wasn't sure what the "Belvidere" listing was until I found an 1879 City Atlas Map (from UMass Lowell Center) that showed Belvidere as a neighborhood within Lowell that included Willow Street.

I've highlighted Willow Street in yellow on the map to the left. The top right center portion of the map has an indicator showing the direction for North. The various "plates" of maps available on the UMass Lowell Center website, produced by a G.M. Hopkins Co. are oriented for street and name labeling as opposed to true North at the top of the page. Thus, according to the North indicator on this map, Willow Street is oriented slightly Northwest/Southeast.  

I zoomed in on this map to see if I could get a better idea of what the Currier family's move from 35 Willow Street to 4, rear 41 Willow entailed. These maps are quite good, expertly constructed even, and when compared to current satellite images I found them to be extraordinarily detailed and accurate. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the dwellings even included street address numbers! However, my own expertise in producing zoomed images was lacking and resulted in fuzzy blurred maps. So I took the liberty of making my own "improved" versions by darkening the dwelling outlines and street address numbers as well as property lines . And I color highlighted the two Willow Street addresses to show the relocation the Currier family underwent from 1872 (yellow) to 1875 (pink).  

I'm still amazed at how much detail the map maker was able to reconstruct. It appears that the property owner for both Currier residences was a woman named Ellen Smith. Ms Smith evidently owned a number of dwellings on the Northeast corner of a city block at the intersection of Willow Street and Chestnut Street in the Belvidere neighborhood of Lowell. With the dwelling structures pictured it appears the Currier's residence at 35 Willow Street was one of five apartments within one structure. When they moved three addresses south to "4, rear 41" their next dwelling contained two apartments with addresses of 39 and 41 Willow Street.  The map clearly depicts a second and separate structure behind the apartments fronting on Willow Street and a line on the map shows this structure also separated in two. Thus, I've concluded the rear structure cited on the directory as address "4, rear, 41" is where Edwin Currier and his family resided.

Lowell City Directories for the next nearly two decades show Edwin residing at the same address from 1875 to 1893. He was listed as a boarder in all the directories through 1888 but in 1890 was designated a "house" resident. Edwin's father, James H. didn't pass away until 1893 and was always listed with the designated "house" in the directory. Perhaps when Edwin was listed as a boarder he was paying room and board to his father. And when his own designation changed from boarder to house he was paying rent directly to the landlord?  Just one possible answer to one of many puzzles that I encountered during my research on Edwin.  From 1875 through 1893 the directories consistently (a few years omitted work address)  listed Edwin's place of work as 150 Bridge Street.  This address created  another puzzle for me. To show why, I have to jump forward to 1894 where the Lowell City Directory lists Edwin's work address as 572 Bridge Street. Starting in 1894 Edwin's work address was listed as 572 Bridge Street.  Did Edwin change employers?  Did his employer relocate the business?


A business notice from 1875 (from Historicmapworks website) lists Woods, Sherwood & Co, "Manufacturers of fine White Wire Household Goods" located at Bridge Street,  "near 7th Street."

                                                                        The 1906 map on the right (from Historicmapworks, again) shows the Woods, Sherwood Co. factory in the center of the map and just to the left of the intersection of Seventh Street and Bridge Street (the name "Bridge" not visible in this cropped image). When I viewed the 572 Bridge Street address on current Internet maps of Lowell, the facility location pictured here coincides with that address. As a matter of fact, the current satellite view even shows a rectangular structure similar in shape and size to the 1906 rendition.

I could find no correlation between the Woods, Sherwood Co. location as depicted on the maps with the 150 Bridge Street address. Current Internet map searches for the 150 Bridge Street address point to a manufacturing complex adjacent to the Merrimack River and a set of canals supporting a textile mill called "Boott Cotton Mills."  Boot was one of many textile mills that began production in Lowell in the early 1800's and continued manufacturing on into the 20th Century. I found nothing to suggest that Woods, Sherwood Co. was ever located in Boott's mill complex area.  The 1879 map below (from UMass Lowell Center website) shows the Boott Cotton Mills complex with Bridge Street forming the right side margin border. There are other businesses located inside the complex but no listing of Woods, Sherwood & Co. that I could see.


Even though Boott Cotton Mills was situated alongside Bridge Street and current Internet maps pinpoint the address of 150 Bridge Street at the eastern side of the complex, Boot's office address was listed on a 1894 city directory advertisement as being located inside the complex at "Amory Street, foot of John Street."      

The Boott Cotton Mills advertisement in the 1894 Lowell City Directory served me as a reminder that ads usually contained addresses. Since Edwin's employer address in the 1893 directory was 150 Bridge Street and then changed to 572 Bridge Street the following year, I searched through directories for both years to see what address Woods, Sherwood & Co listed on their advertisements.  I thought that cross check would shed light on if Edwin's revised work address was accurate or not. Sure enough, their ads showed that the company's  address number in 1893 was, indeed, 150 Bridge Street while in 1894 it changed to 572 Bridge Street. Moreover, the directory editors included a "Preface" notice in the 1894 edition that explained the mystery. "Since the last Directory was issued, nearly all the Streets in the City have been renumbered."  Thus, endeth the mystery of Edwin's employer's address changes.


Edwin's workplace address is not the only change of address recorded in the 1894 issue of the directory. The renumbering adjustment also applied to Edwin's residence on Willow Street. Starting with the 1875 directory his address on Willow had been recorded as "4 rear, 41 Willow." In 1894 this was changed to "4 rear, 57 Willow. A map of Lowell from 1896 (another map from Historicalmaps website) shows the very same dwelling that used to be side by side addresses of 39 and 41 Willow has been changed to 55 and 57 Willow.  Mrs Ellen R. Smith is still displayed on the map as the property owner but her real estate ownings look to have shrunk to just one main structure plus the building situated behind the 55 and 57 Willow Street address.


The notation "4 rear" on all of the Willow Street addresses is consistently listed in the directories from 1875 to 1894, even with Lowell's house renumbering adjustment.  The delineation  of separate numbered residences located at the rear of the property facing Willow Street is made more clear by the Federal Census record of 1880.  The enumerator that  year correctly listed the numbers "2" and "4" on the census form's "Home Address" column and  clarified these entries in the "Name of Street" column by the notation, "rear of 39 & 41 Willow St."  So the structure behind the main dwelling on Willow Street has even numbers, 2 and 4 (rear) correlating to the odd numbers 39 and 41 (and, later,  55 and 57) facing Willow Street. There were four families listed as residing in 39 and 41 Willow Street, presumably (my assumption) accommodating one family on the ground floors at each address and the other families on the second floors. I know from my own history growing up in Massachusetts that many cities and towns had double and triple deck homes constructed and this was especially common in industrial areas. The Boott Cotton Mills advertisement boasted of having over 2000 employees (majority female) working in their mill,  all of whom would have needed places to live. Single factory workers typically lived in boarding houses close to the mills. But farther out from the factories multiple family homes became the norm for families to lodge with a sprinkling of individual boarders sharing living space.  Walking distance for 25 year old Charlotte Duff, for instance, who resided at 39 Willow Street with her mother and sister in 1880,  and who listed her occupation as a "milliner" would have had to walk about six tenths of a mile if she made or sold hats anywhere near the Boott Cotton Mill complex.

39 and 41 Willow Street residents in 1880

   The next page of the 1880 Federal Census record (shown below) accounts for residents in the "rear' dwellings on Willow Street. There are three families listed as residing within the enumerator's "2 rear" and "4 rear" designation. It's possible the dwelling structure behind the multiple story building at the front also had multiple levels that would accommodate three families.  I would also note that the 1896 map had a line drawn at the back of but still part of the 55 Willow Street apartment that could possibly have been considered "rear" for census purposes. But one way or the other, Mrs. Ellen R. Smith seems to have been quite successful, at least in 1880, in renting out the residential property she owned on Willow Street. And it also implies the Curriers were satisfied with their housing arrangement because they resided in Mrs. Smith's properties for over 25 years. Or maybe Mrs Smith just made them a deal they couldn't refuse. By the way, current Google satellite pictures of the 57 Willow Street address confirm it is now a three floor dwelling. Unfortunately for this report, the "4 rear" dwelling so intricately depicted in the maps above, no longer exists. There is now a parking lot located where the apartments behind the main structure were once located.

The "rear" residences accounted for in 1880

Along with the Currier family's housing arrangements, the 1880 Federal Census recorded some interesting changes in family members' occupations. James, no longer a "farm laborer" is now listed with the job of "gardener." His wife is still shown "keeping house." Edwin's sister, Emeline, presumably in the same printing office she reported in 1870 is now a "type setter." And Edwin is listed with the occupation of "Insurance Agent." There's no way to know if this title was bestowed in error by the enumerator or, if accurate, suggests a major career change for Edwin. Perhaps it was an experiment or a "middle-age crisis" leap for the 35 year old Edwin but it doesn't appear to have been a long lived career. The 1878 city directory had shown he was a clerk. The next available directory (1881) described him as a "packer" back at Woods, Sherwood & Co. So if the insurance agent title was accurate it apparently didn't work out and Edwin was back in the wire business, and moved on to the position of "packing" instead of "clerking." 

Whether his home address was 4 rear behind 41 Willow or 57 Willow, Edwin had a distance of just over 1 mile to travel to his work place at 150 Bridge Street.  Probably Edwin walked from home to work and back. From his home the most direct route to travel to work was to follow Willow Street north for 2 blocks and turn left onto East Merrimack Street heading west for just shy of half a mile. Adjacent to the Boott Cotton Mills complex, East Merrimack Street intersects with Bridge Street. Once on Bridge Street Edwin would have proceeded north for a half mile to reach Woods, Sherwood & Co's facility.  He would have crossed three bridges on the route, first over the Concord River, second a small bridge over the "Eastern Canal" and, finally the largest of all three that spanned the Merrimack River and in doing so lent its function to its name, Bridge Street.  The 1891 State Atlas Map below (from Historicmapworks.com) is highlighted in pink to display his assumed travel  pattern between home and work. According to the National Streetcar Museum website, early 19th-century Lowell was a "walking city." This website relates that in 1864 the Lowell Horse Railroad Company established the city's first horse-powered streetcar on a line extended from Belvidere  (Willow Street's neighborhood) into downtown Lowell.  If this was transportation Edwin utilized he might have saved himself about half a mile of walking distance because this mode of transportation went west from Belvidere toward downtown Lowell where the mills were located. And later, according to the streetcar website, "the first electric streetcar began operating in 1889 on a line running from downtown across the Merrimack River into Dracut." Bridge Street, where Edwin worked runs generally north from the Boott Cotton complex across the Merrimack River and on into Dracut, a town on the northern city line of Lowell. There's no way to know if Edwin took advantage of streetcar transportation or not.  It may well be that Edwin walked or rode a bike to work. But it's interesting to trace his steps, so to speak, and imagine how he got to work.


I recognize I have bounced around rather haphazardly describing Edwin's residence and work locations during the years 1878 to 1894. I apologize but I'm sort of a sucker for visual aids in my research and the maps of Lowell, I think, provide tremendous insight into where, and to some degree, how Edwin lived and worked in the first fifty years of his life. Only maps from the few years that I posted in this piece were available online.  That said, I will try to resume describing  my research of Edwin in a more chronological sequence of his life events. The city directories continued throughout the 1880's to list Edwin at the same address on Willow Street and with the same occupation as a packer with Woods, Sherwood & Co.  The first indication I found that Edwin was still on board with his plan of  "writing a genealogical record of the Curriers" was an entry published in his name in the Notes and Queries section of the January 1877 edition of The NEW ENGLAND Historical & Genealogical Register. Edwin's note and query is the second comment on page 114 of the January 1877 Register and is pictured below.


Edwin's note lists information regarding his 4th great grandfather, Samuel Currier (1636 - 1713) and describes Samuel's gravestone located in Haverhill, Ma. He also cites the stone inscription and laments the condition of the stone having partially sunk into the ground. I don't know if Edwin expected an answer or assistance with his plea, "It is a pity this old relic could not be set upon a granite foundation...Who will assist in the undertaking?"  Perhaps someone heeded Edwin's plea because a photo of Samuel Currier's gravestone in Pentucket Cemetery (I obtained from Ancestry.com) does not depict any leaning that I can see. I don't know when this photo was taken but it was posted to Ancestry's website in 2011.
 But the interesting part for me was that this entry was my first evidence since Edwin's 1871 letters to my great great grandfather that he was still pursuing his family history research. Also interesting is to wonder how Edwin got to Pentucket Cemetery in Haverhill as it was located 25 to 30 miles northeast of Lowell.  There was railroad service between Lowell and Boston as well as Lowell and Andover in the mid nineteenth century but I have not researched if it might have been feasible for Edwin to reach Haverhill by train. How he arranged to travel to his ancestor's burial place will remain a mystery but I suspect he might have ridden by rail because train travel had proliferated throughout this area of the country and especially so during Edwin's adult life.

Two years later Edwin posted another query in the New England publication again, this time soliciting information about a "Henchman" or "Hinksman" surname that I'm not familiar with. I did plug the names into my Ancestry.com tree to see what I could find but nothing came up.  I could have tried the same thing on other websites but at this point I'm putting the subject to the side and perhaps will come back to it some future time. But for the time being I was gratified to see that my 2nd cousin 3 times removed was still in the research business. Without tracking down his "Hench/Hinksman" pursuit I could also relate to the possibility that Edwin's research had taken him down a path not immediately recognizable as connected to the Currier family.  But you never know until you follow a lead as far as you can if you're going to end up in a dead end.  I'm sure Edwin found this to be true because I have been there so many times I've lost count. I get interested in someone who gets married to someone whose relatives have more children and the branches just go on and on like a spider's web. Whether or not this 1889 query by Edwin was one of those endless branch searches or if he latched onto something solid I may never know. But I definitely feel a sense of brotherhood with Edwin for his family history research.

Another event in the year 1889 was not so great for the Curriers of Lowell.  Edwin's sister, Emeline died on October 20th.  The record of her passing was listed on a city record called "Deaths in the city of Lowell in 1889." Listed as "Emma" D. Currier, age 53 years, 7 months, and 23 days, address "rear 41 Willow" and born in Pelham, NH, Emeline's cause of death is recorded as "cancer."

I imagine the name Emma could have been a nickname of sorts for Emeline. Whatever she preferred to be called there's no doubt this was Edwin's sister, born to the same parents, James H. and Dorothy R. Currier.  Her work description on this record reads "compositor" which is simply another name for typesetter, the occupation listed on the 1880 Federal Census. Her burial is recorded as being in Edson Cemetery, lot # 1803.

Edwin's job title of "packer" had been consistently recorded as his occupation in the city directories from 1881 through 1889. In 1890 the directories changed from "packer" to describe his work as "shipping clerk." The progression of Edwin's career at Woods, Sherwood & Co. shows a trend of what appears to be increasing responsibility as he moved from wire worker to clerk, followed by packer to shipping clerk. I could be wrong but my own personal experience in transportation, albeit a century later, would classify Edwin's career progress as evidence of climbing the corporate ladder. In a very modest way perhaps, certainly a blue collar way but, nonetheless, his was an American success story.

 Even without the missing 1890 Federal Census, the next few years' City Directories showed few changes in Edwin's life as he approached his fiftieth birthday. He lived in the same house but was listed as a primary resident as the directories noted his address"house" from 1890 and on.  He worked at the same company and was listed as a shipping clerk each subsequent year. One change that did affect the Currier family was the death of Edwin's father, James Hale Currier on May 11, 1893.  Cause of death listed on "Deaths in the City of Lowell" record was "heart disease."  Dead a few months shy of his 85th birthday, James H. Currier's burial information shows he was interred with his daughter, Emeline, in lot # 1803 in Edson Cemetery in Lowell.


The following year in the 1894 edition of the Lowell City Directory we see the address change from 41 to 57 Willow Street along with a listing of Edwin and directly above his name, his mother, listed as widow of James H. Currier.  Below them and listed in alphabetical order in the Currier surname section is an entry for James H with the notation, "died May 11, 1893."  


This, then, is what we have established about the life of Edwin Martin Currier.  In 1894 Edwin will reach fifty years of age in November.  He has established himself as a working citizen of Lowell, Massachusetts. He has worked for the same employer for twenty six years, possibly uninterrupted except for a brief excursion into the world of insurance agency.  He has displayed evidence of a concern for and a curiosity about his family's genealogical history.  His family has diminished with the loss of two members, first his sister in 1889 and more recently, his father in 1893. Along with his mother he now resides in the same dwelling the Curriers have rented since 1875. And we still don't know the success, if any, of Edwin's stated goal "of writing a genealogical record of the Curriers. To this end my search goes on.