The Old William Sears Homestead in East Dennis, Massachusetts #52Ancestors – Week 13 – March 26, 2018

The Old William Sears Homestead in East Dennis, Massachusetts

#52Ancestors – Week 13 – March 26, 2018

by Lelia Brownscombe 9 NOV 1992 and Ray Sears, Pam Sears Cooper and Marilyn Sears Lindsey 2018

(borrowed and enhanced from SearsR.com)

There are many old homesteads in Dennis Mass.  I don’t know how many are still in the Sears family.

This one was owned by James & Mary Emma Smalley and our Aunt Sabra grew up here.  Our Dad summered in this house, The Cedars, and brought us here for family vacations from the 1950s through the 1970s. So this is our favorite of all the homesteads.  This painting is by our cousin Harriet Corliss.

1954 The Cedars

But this is the story of a different house from another branch of our family – William Sears – although it is not owned by a Sears now.

1858 Sears Genealogical Catalog Map Page F4

Map of Dennis and East Dennis in 1858 by L. Ray Sears

East Dennis is in the middle of the Cape.

(Look under the B in the word Bay – near the seagull.)

1914 Q&P Map of Cape Cod

This story below was written by Lelia Josephine Dorr (1915-2001) who was the granddaughter of Elkanah “Kanah” Howes Sears and Lelia Tabitha Eldredge.  Lelia Josephine was our Dad’s first cousin.

Her first cousins-once removed Marilyn, Pam and Ray (see left -standing next to Claire at Isaac Sears’ house) added some enhancements from recent research.  March 5, 2011 in front of Isaac Berry Sears’ house which was built in 1887.

Lelia Josephine wrote:  “My grandfather Elkanah “Kanah” Howes Sears (1849-1914) was born in a house built in 1805 by his grandfather, Elkanah Sears (1758-1836), whose home on the Southwest corner of South and School Streets, East Dennis, had burned.  This beautiful Cape Cod house, located at 51 School Street replaced the destroyed one.”

Left: Elkanah “Kanah” Howes Sears (1849 – 1914)

Center: Lelia Tabitha Eldredge (1850-1940)

Right: Their Marriage Certificate from 22 Dec 1881 with even a photo of their minister

1805 William Sears House
1805 William Sears House

The William Sears House at 51 School Street (built in 1805 by Elkanah Sears)

We toured it on March 5, 2011.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves…we need to understand Cape Cod life from before 1758 when Elkanah Sears was born.  Cape Cod is the orange section on the upper map and the Town of Dennis is the red part on the lower map. {For some reason Martha’s Vineyard is included but Nantucket is omitted.}

1639 Town of Dennis in incorporated in Barnstable County MA
1639 Town of Dennis in incorporated in Barnstable County MA

The online Encyclopedia Britannica tells us that in southeast Massachusetts, Cape Cod juts out into the ocean, forming Cape Cod Bay.  This 65-mile-long appendage is rectangular in shape except at its easternmost point, where it hooks northward. Its offshore waters are among the most treacherous in the country, thus the numerous lighthouses on the shores.

22 Cape Cod Lighthouses
22 Cape Cod Lighthouses
15 Cape Cod Lighthouses
15 Cape Cod Lighthouses

The Paleo-Indian hunter gatherers became Algonquian-speaking people (later called the Wampanoag) who farmed and hunted to create their great societies.

ColonialLife
Colonial Life

At the beginning of the 17th century, European merchant vessels and fishing boats trolled the waters off the coast of New England and unfortunately made contact with the Wampanoag tribe.  They brought disease – probably smallpox – before 1615.  “Researchers say that the losses from the epidemic were so large that English colonists were more easily able to found their settlements in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in later years.”

The Sachems (both female and male) of the matrilineal society of Native Americans allowed the Pilgrims to hunt on their grounds without much interference.  Years later, after the settlers won their wars, most of the male Wampanoags were sold into slavery and many of the women and children were taken as slaves by the colonists.

Tribal practices were such that women owned land and inheritance passed down through the female lines regardless of their marital status.  Women and men also selected the chiefs.  So we see that the Native American tribes were democratic and women had more freedom and rights than their European counterparts.

1602 Gosnold at Cuttyhunk by Albert Bierstadt

1602 Gosnold at Cuttyhunk by Albert Bierstadt

Bartholomew Gosnold (1571 – 22 Aug 1607) who was an attorney, explorer and privateer and sailed with Walter Raleigh named the peninsula Cape Cod on 15 May 1602 because codfish were so plentiful in those waters.  He had been given a ship to attempt a colony in southern New England.  He died in Jamestown, Virginia when he was only 35 years old.

1620 Massasoit Meets Europeans Print small
1620 Massasoit Meets Europeans

Chief Massasoit from the Wampanoag Tribe meets the Europeans

The Wampanoag people were farmers and also lived off their catch from the sea.  With Massasoit as their chief, they helped the Pilgrims, who arrived in the fall of 1620, survive at their new Plymouth Colony.  The Wampanoag lost their lands through continued purchase and expropriation by the English colonists.

THE MAYFLOWER COMPACT

MayflowerCompact

“The Mayflower Compact was a set of rules for self-governance established by the English settlers who traveled to the New World on the Mayflower. When Pilgrims and other settlers set out on the ship for America in 1620, they intended to lay anchor in northern Virginia. But after treacherous shoals and storms drove their ship off course, the settlers landed in Massachusetts instead, near Cape Cod, outside of Virginia’s jurisdiction. Knowing life without laws could prove catastrophic, colonist leaders created the Mayflower Compact to ensure a functioning social structure would prevail.”

English explorer and colonist John Smith named the state for the Massachuset tribe, whose name meant “near the great hill”—believed to refer to Blue Hill, which rises south of Boston in an otherwise flat area.

The Town of Dennis (established in 1639) was a very isolated part of Massachusetts in the 1700s and 1800s.  It is out in the middle of Cape Cod which is all included in one county – Barnstable.

06.02.1685 Q&P Barnstable County, Mass
06.02.1685  Barnstable County, Mass

The Sears Genealogical Catalogue edited by Ray Sears tells us that “the Sears family arrived in Massachusetts around 1637 when Richard the Pilgrim Sares (GEN 1) settled in Marblehead, MA.”

“GEN 2 Richard’s son Captain Paul Sears (1635-1707) was in the militia and made claim for a horse lost in the Narragansett War and was the first to adopt the current spelling of Sears.”

“GEN 3 Paul Sears (1669-1739) was the 5th of 10 children. He and his wife Mercy Freeman had 12 children.  He owned and sailed whaling vessels.  He was a member of the church in East Dennis and one of his jobs was to keep the boys in order on the Sabbath Day.”

“GEN 4 Captain Edmund Sears (1712-1796) was a sea captain of a vessel engaged in trading.  He was involved in the Boston Tea Party and his 4 sons served in the Revolutionary Army.”

Boston Tea Party December 16, 1773

“GEN 5 Elkanah Sears (1758-1836) was a soldier and marched on the alarm at Dartmouth and Falmouth in 1778.  He and his son William were also the pioneers of a large and profitable cranberry business.  Elkanah’s relative, Sleepy John Sears (1744-1817) built the first salt works using solar evaporation of sea water.  This is the salt works that Elkanah “Kanah” Howes mentioned in his story of covering the salt bed during a storm.  He built the homestead in this story.”

CRANBERRY BOGS

“GEN 6 Captain William Sears (1808-1896) was the 7th of 7 children.  He was a farmer.”

“GEN 7 Elkanah “Kanah” Howes Sears whose wife Lelia also traced her family heritage back to Richard the Pilgrim was a carpenter and cooper and built windmills and the house on Sea Street in the village of East Dennis.  He built cranberry barrels and worked on the Methodist Church in the village. Lelia and her husband were 6th cousins once removed.”  It was common for distant cousins to marry especially in a village nicknamed “Searsville.”

For those of you who like charts (like me), here is the above information in abbreviated form.  As you can see, the myth that people died young back in the 17th and 18th centuries is not true for our family.

 

GEN 1 Richard (the Pilgrim) Sears (1590-1676) + Dorothy Jones (1607-1678)

86 yo                                                             70 yo

GEN 2 Captain Paul Sears (1635-1707)  + Deborah Willard (1640-1721)

72 yo                                                             81 yo

GEN 3 Paul Sears (1669-1739) + Mercy Freeman (1674-1747)

69 yo                                                             72 yo

GEN 4 Captain Edmund Sears (1712-1796)  + Hannah Crowell (1725-1802)

84 yo                                                             76 yo

GEN 5  Elkanah Sears (1758-1836) + Mercy Bray (1763-1846)

78 yo                                                             83 yo

GEN 6 Captain William Sears (1808-1896) + Ruth Berry (1807-1876)

88 yo                                                             68 yo

GEN  7 Elkanah “Kanah” Howes Sears(1849-1914) + Lelia Eldredge (1850-1940)

65 yo                                                             89 yo

GEN  8 Harvey Dorr + Lelia Estelle “Stella” Sears (1887-1970)

83 yo                                                             83 yo

GEN  9 Ralph Brownscombe + Lelia Josephine (1915-2001)

Abt 94 yo                                                     86 yo

And [Leslie Jr. and Lelia Josephine are cousins.]

GEN  8 Leslie Ray Sears (1892-1954) + Harriet Thurston (1901-1978)

62 yo                                                             77 yo

GEN  9 Leslie “Les” Ray Sears Jr (1928-1985)  + Claire Lavina Sanders (1927 – )

57 yo

GEN 10 =      1st cousins once removed = Leslie Ray “Ray” Sears III (1952- )

Marilyn Jean Sears (1954- )

Pamela Marie Sears (1958- )

1876 William Sears & Ruth Berry Sears
1876 William Sears & Ruth Berry Sears
1896WilliamSears
1896WilliamSears

So Lelia Josephine’s story continues with reminiscences of GEN 7:

“Elkanah Howes ‘ father, William, was also born in the 1805 house.  His mother was Ruth Berry (1807-1876).”

On 21 Jan 1836 Ruth married William Sears and had 3 sons: William Gray, Isaac Berry and Elkanah Howes Sears.  Ruth had been named after her mother Ruth Gray (1773-1868) and Isaac’s daughter, Ruth Berry Sears (1878-1965), was named after her grandmother.  It seemed to be very common to use last names for middle names in my family and for women to name their daughters after themselves.

Ray has fond memories of Cousin Ruth.  He wrote: I always remember Cousin Ruth because she showed us one of the best times on our summer visits to Cape Cod.  Her small white house on School Street in East Dennis across from Cousin Edmund’s was always tidy and fun to explore.  We wished she was our teacher because of all the attention she paid to us.

1805 William Sears House
1805 William Sears House

The William Sears House at 51 School Street (above & below)

1805 William Sears
1805 William Sears

1805 William Sears

1805 William Sears

Lelia wrote:

“I have an old silver tablespoon with the initials WR engraved on the handle. This was unusual because they stand for William and Ruth. The usual way was to use the first initial of the last name of the married couple.

GEN 7 Elkanah ‘Kanah’ Howes had two brothers, Isaac Berry who collected the autographs in the Sears Genealogical Catalogue and William Gray.

Isaac had his house built right across the street from William’s 1805 house on School Street.

House where Ruthie B. Sears lived
House where Ruthie B. Sears lived

Lelia wrote:

As a boy, Grandfather Elkanah “Kanah” Howes said if it rained, he had to get up in the middle of the night to help pull up the canvas which protected the salt beds from getting wet.

He also had a pet skunk and a turtle in his closet.

 

1776 Sleepy John Sears & 1st Saltworks - Brewster Ladies' Library, Brewster, MA
1776 Sleepy John Sears & 1st Saltworks – Brewster Ladies’ Library, Brewster, MA

The Saltworks that Kanah described were started by his ancestor “Sleepy” John Sears in 1776 and provided an income for many on the Cape.

Esther&JamesEldridgeHouse
Esther&JamesEldridgeHouse

Lelia continued writing:

On 22 Dec 1881, Elkanah married Lelia Eldridge (No 6984b. i). (I was
surprised that my grandmother’s line through her mother was back to Richard
Sears) She lived at 2666 Route 28, S Chatham. (The house is still there) She had been a teacher in Chatham before her marriage.

Lelia was born 7 Aug 1850 in Chatham MA. She died Jun 1940 in Santa Cruz CA and was buried in E Dennis MA.

She had a daughter who she named Lelia Estelle  (1887-1970) and everyone called her Stella.  Stella also had a daughter that she named Lelia Josephine (1915-2001) who wrote this story.

1914 Q&P Elkanah & Lelia Sears
1914 Q&P Elkanah & Lelia Sears

Kanah and Lelia Sears circa 1914

1922 Clambake at Cold Storage Beach with 3 Lelias

1922 Clambake at Cold Storage Beach with 3 Lelias

All 3 Lelias at the Clambake on Cold Storage Beach, Circa 1922

Left bench (Back to front): Katherine Louise Stegmaier, “Uncle” Edmund Hamblin Sears and Lelia Estelle #2; Right bench (Back to front) Samuel Thacher Sears – brother of Edmund H. Sears, Lelia T Eldredge #1, Mabel Williams and James “Uncle Jim” or “Billy” William Sears; child is Lelia Josephine Dorr (1915-2001) abt 6 years old

Lelia Josephine continued writing:  “Grandfather Kanah was a carpenter and had a beautiful workshop in the carriage room of the large barn on Center St. across the street from the church. He also called himself a mechanic probably because he installed and repaired windmills.  He built a church in Wellfleet, repaired the steeple on the East Dennis Church when it was struck by lightning, and repaired the Brewster Mill according to brother, Isaac’s notebook. He built many houses on Cape Cod.
When he was first married, Kanah, as his wife called him, worked in the Shiverick Shipyard on Quivet Neck according to Lelia Tabitha Eldredge’s diary written in 1882.

Ray learned that according to Dean Stanley Sears, Quivet rhymes with quiet.

1815 East Dennis Landmarks & Shiverick Shipyard
1815 East Dennis Landmarks & Shiverick Shipyard

 

The Shiverick Shipyard was located at the Compass Rose next to #11 on Cape Cod Bay.

Kanah and Lelia lived in a duplex at 26 or 28 South Street near School Street. It is still standing. All four of their children were born in this house, James William, Lewis Elkanah, Lelia Estelle and Leslie Ray. Kanah added dormer windows, a bathroom, a screen porch, pump house and water system to the 1805 house after 1905.  Kanah is buried in the South Street Cemetery.

1730 Q&P Page 01 Sears Coat Of Arms Historiography
1730 Q&P Page 01 Sears Coat Of Arms Historiography

Lelia Josephine wrote:

Here is a letter that Aunt Mabel Sears (Uncle Jim’s wife) sent to me.

[Uncle Jim’s name was James William Sears and was known as Uncle Billy on our dad’s side of the family.]

1930 Leslie Senior, his brother Jim and Jim's wife, Mabel
1930 Leslie Senior, his brother Jim and Jim’s wife, Mabel

1 Feb 1931

15 Grace Road,

W Medford, Mass.


Dear Lelia,
I have been going into the genealogical rooms in Boston lately. Having
great fun looking into my Williams ancestry- and incidentally I found one or two things I think nice for you to know about your Sears ancestors.

 You know probably the first Sears ancestor was Richard who was supposed to have come here in 1630 and your line from him is …

 Well your great great-great grandfather Edmund was a sea captain, and was unloading his ship in Boston Harbor when the Boston Tea Party occurred. He left his ship- boarded the vessel which had the tea on board and assisted in throwing it overboard. It was the Paul Revere Lodge of Masons who planned the affair.

 When Edmund Sears returned home he went to the “Bowfat” (a circle around the fireplace)and took the teapot and caddy and threw them out of doors telling his wife there was to be no more tea ever in his house, and also forbid the wearing of any article of British make.

 He had 4 sons in the Revolution and when there was a threatened invasion of the Cape, he rode horseback and offered his services altho then an old man.

You see you are a good D.A.R. candidate as well as a special bar for being a direct descendant of a member of the Boston Tea Party. Of course your mother is too. I am a member of Boston Tea Party Chapter and we have scarcely ½ dozen- who can claim descent from real Boston Tea Partiers and aren’t they proud of it? All I can claim is that I married one.

Also I find Wm Sears your great grandfather, your mother’s grandfather, and his father Elkanah set out the first cranberries ever cultivated on Cape Cod on what is now flax pond- owned now by Cousin Edmund.

These two things are a matter of record and I thought maybe you’d enjoy knowing them. The remark Edmund’s wife made when he threw out the

tea is also in record, she turned to the children who had gathered to “welcome” father home and said-“your poor father has lost his mind.”

The Sears Coat of Arms is beautiful and the motto is “Exaltat Humiles” If … you can translate that.

 Hope this will interest you. It did your Uncle Billy and he wanted me to write it to you. This is taken from published records and is supposed to be as authentic as any records can ever be.

Deep snow here 8 in & it is now snowing on top of that.

Love to all,
Aunt Mabel (nee Williams) Sears

1982 Q&P Sears Family Crest
1982 Q&P Sears Family Crest

A Painting by Joshua Mayo Sears (1888-1982) from

the crest in the genealogy by Rev. Edmund Hamilton Sears.

Stella and Harvey Dorr and Les Sears Jr                                   Harvey & Stella Dorr (Lelia Circa 1947                                                                                          Josephine’s parents)                                                                                                                                   Circa 1950

1960 Stella, Lelia J & Harvey Dorr
1960 Stella, Lelia J & Harvey Dorr

Stella, Lelia Josephine (the author of this story) and Harvey

Circa 1960

We are so thankful that our ancestors wrote down the family stories and made sure that others knew them.  Now we can faithfully and humbly continue to add to our collection in the vein of our family crest:  “Exaltat Humiles” which means “He exalteth the lowly” and “Honor et Fides” which means Honor and Fidelity.  But that’s another story…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ignore this table below.  I couldn’t figure how to delete it.

Sears Coat of Arms – The Historiography tells us that Sears means “one coming from the sea.”

 

Lelia Josephine wrote:

Here is a letter that Aunt Mabel Sears (Uncle Jim’s wife) sent to me.

[Uncle Jim’s name was James William Sears and was known as Uncle Billy on our dad’s side of the family.]

 

 

Leslie Sr, Uncle Jim (his brother) and

Mabel Williams (Jim’s wife) Circa 1930

1 Feb 1931

15 grace Road,

W Medford, Mass.


Dear Lelia,
I have been going into the genealogical rooms in Boston lately. Having
great fun looking into my Williams ancestry- and incidentally I found one or two things I think nice for you to know about your Sears ancestors.

 

You know probably the first Sears ancestor was Richard who was supposed to have come here in 1630 and your line from him is …

 

Well your great great-great grandfather Edmund was a sea captain, and was unloading his ship in Boston Harbor when the Boston Tea Party occurred. He left his ship- boarded the vessel which had the tea on board and assisted in throwing it overboard. It was the Paul Revere Lodge of Masons who planned the affair.

 

When Edmund Sears returned home he went to the “Bowfat” (a circle around the fireplace)and took the teapot and caddy and threw them out of doors telling his wife there was to be no more tea ever in his house, and also forbid the wearing of any article of British make.

 

He had 4 sons in the Revolution and when there was a threatened invasion of the Cape, he rode horseback and offered his services altho then an old man.


You see you are a good D.A.R. candidate as well as a special bar for being a direct descendant of a member of the Boston Tea Party. Of course your mother is too. I am a member of Boston Tea Party Chapter and we have scarcely ½ dozen- who can claim descent from real Boston Tea Partiers and aren’t they proud of it? All I can claim is that I married one.


Also I find Wm Sears your great grandfather, your mother’s grandfather, and his father Elkanah set out the first cranberries ever cultivated on Cape Cod on what is now flax pond- owned now by Cousin Edmund.

 

These two things are a matter of record and I thought maybe you’d enjoy knowing them. The remark Edmund’s wife made when he threw out the tea is also in record, she turned to the children who had gathered to “welcome” father home and said-“your poor father has lost his mind.”


The Sears Coat of Arms is beautiful and the motto is “Exaltat Humiles” If … you can translate that.

 

Hope this will interest you. It did your Uncle Billy and he wanted me to write it to you. This is taken from published records and is supposed to be as authentic as any records can ever be.


Deep snow here 8 in & it is now snowing on top of that.


Love to all,
Aunt Mabel (nee Williams) Sears

 

A Painting by Joshua Mayo Sears (1888-1982) from

the crest in the genealogy by Rev. Edmund Hamilton Sears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stella and Harvey Dorr and Les Sears Jr                                   Harvey & Stella Dorr (Lelia Circa 1947                                                                                          Josephine’s parents)

Circa 1950

 

 

 

 

Stella, Lelia Josephine (the author of this story) and Harvey

Circa 1960

 

We are so thankful that our ancestors wrote down the family stories and made sure that others knew them.  Now we can faithfully and humbly continue to add to our collection in the vein of our family crest:  “Exaltat Humiles” which means “He exalteth the lowly” and “Honor et Fides” which means Honor and Fidelity.  But that’s another story…

 

 

 

 

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