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.