The Library (Part 2) – The Old Mill

milford-buildings

(This is the latest installment of the series that starts with The Old Mill.  The previous chapter was  The Library (part 1).  The Table of Contents is here)

(Note 2 – I split this chapter in half to make for shorter reading.  This is the second half  The first is here )

“Anything in particular you’re looking for?” Mike asked.

“I guess we should start at the beginning,” I said.  “I mean, most of the info I have came from Galvin and I think…”

“Galvin.  Ha!  You don’t have to smoke weed now, do you?  When you want to trip out in an alternative reality you just need to call Galvin. ”

“Yeah, that’s why I came to you.”

“Smart man.  OK, you know about Jonathan, don’t you?”

“Jonathan Bartholomew Goode, more popularly known as Johnny B. Goode, of course.”

“Funny, but your sense of timing can use help.  Anyway, Jonathan was wealthy, the richest man around.  Not only did he own a huge amount of land, but he had holdings all over, though most of them in Boston.  He’d been eyeing the mills over in England and once they hit our shore he started talking to people to try to get investors.  He wanted to have the first mill in New Hampshire, but of course he missed.  Still, when mills cropped up in northern Massachusetts and then even in New Ipswich in our own state, people became interested.”

“I’m sure they did,” I said.  “With farming playing out and all, I’m sure it was a great investment.”

“It seems obvious now, but a lot of people back then didn’t see it right away.  He acted as fast as he could and in 1803 he laid the corner stone.  He had enough to start work in 1804.  That’s fast.”

“I’m sure.”

“About that time, When the building of the mill was in full swing, his oldest, also Jonathan….”

“Johnny Junior?”

“Right.  Anyway, the younger Jonathan came home from Harvard and announced that he was in love and was going to marry Abigail Twiss.”

“Hold on a minute.  I though Thomas married Abby.”

“Who’s telling this story?  Just as I said, Jonathan became engaged to Miss Twiss.  So, the Twiss family, being much richer than the Goodes, came out to inspect the home where their family was going to live.  They were a little skeptical of the town, but liked the mill.  The old farmhouse, on the other hand, was totally wrong for an up and coming socialite.”

“I can imagine.”

“But they made a compromise.  They’d help the Goodes build and furnish a proper house so that Abigail would have a place to stay.  They would expect reciprocal visits and insisted that the Goodes throw balls on occasion, with the Twiss family in attendance.  Old Jonathan jumped at it.”

“So, the Goode Mansion was built largely with Twiss money, then?”

“Started, at least, with a large infusion of Twiss money.  Abigail came out and stayed at the old farmhouse.  Margret Goode,” he looked at me with mock sternness, “and not a word about all of the reused names.  As I was saying Margret, the first Margret, was placed as a chaperone over the young lady.  Actually, Abigail was more of a girl, barely 17, but headstrong.  Margret, on the other hand, was a bit head-soft.  Truthfully, in today’s world we would say that she had severe depression.  She often withdrew from the world and several times had to be stopped from committing suicide.  When she had good days, she was very good, sharp as a tack, but on off days…”

“I’m assuming the Twiss saw her on a good day, but that when she had the girl under her care…”

“Not right away, but something like that.  It didn’t take long for Abigail to become mistress of the house.”

“I’ve seen 17-year-olds like that.”

“The marriage was supposed to take place in early 1804.  In December of 1803 tragedy struck.  Jonathan and Thomas went out riding.  It isn’t written what they were doing or where they were going.”

“I’m assuming it’s Tom and Johnny Jr.?”

“My, you are familiar with the Goodes to be so informal, but yes, it was the younger Jonathan.  A little later Thomas came charging back at full speed.  Jonathan had been thrown from his horse.  They all went out after him.  On some back road where the two boys were never supposed to be, they found Jonathan’s crumpled body.”

“Great.”

“There were rumors flying, as you’d expect.  Everyone loved Jonathan but hated Thomas.  He was a bit cruel and self-centered.  The older Jonathan, though, trusted his second oldest.”

“From the way you said that, it sounds like that wasn’t wise.”

Mike laughed.  “I’ll let you decide.  As you would imagine, the Twiss family wanted their daughter back, as well as the money they had put into the house.  Abigail didn’t want to leave.  She loved being “the Lady” in a household the size of the Goodes.  There were rumors that Jonathan didn’t mind her being there either.  It is well documented that he was a lady’s man and had a couple of mistresses, perhaps an illegitimate child or two or five.”

“So having the sexy, sassy Abby in the house raised his…”

“Keep it clean, now.  Not that Jonathan did. Ha!  Winter came on and it was a nasty one, making travel to Boston difficult, so they had a reprieve.  Sometime in February, Thomas came up with a solution.  He proposed to Abigail.”

“Ah, I knew it.”

“At first she seemed horrified by the prospect, but then he won her over.  They then went to her family.  The Twiss’ weren’t won over as easily.  If the people in town hated Thomas, the Twiss family hated him even more.  He was an uncouth provincial, and a mean bastard at that.  After long negotiations, they did say they would allow the marriage and stop their demand for what they felt the Goode family owed them.  They even agreed to contribute one third of the remaining price of the house but wouldn’t help in furnishing it.”

“Tough negotiators.”

“They were.  You have to remember that Jonathan had sunk a fortune into the mill.  He didn’t have a lot of liquid cash to build the house and couldn’t pay back the Twiss family what had gone into the house.  He went into debt finishing the house.”

“Ouch.”

“On the other hand, you also have to remember that Jonathan owned a lot of the land that later became the downtown of Amesbury.  He built tenements and sold other land a tiny bit at a time.  The mill was beginning to make money, and he had money coming in from the housing.  But his outlay was huge and he had creditors.”

“Things happened too fast, then.”

“Yes, and it didn’t help that Thomas spent all of his time in Boston.  He was supposed to be managing their investments, but he did an awful job of that, losing more than he gained.  Nobody knows exactly what he did down there.  After they were married Thomas would disappear for long stretches at a time.  Abigail loved being the head of the household, with or without him being there, mostly without.  Jonathan was the master of the mill and was what I’m sure you would call a slumlord, but the lady folk ran the household, and that meant Abigail.  But then…”

“Let me guess, she became pregnant and the calendar wasn’t her friend.  Or perhaps I should say it wasn’t Thomas’ friend.”

“Exactly.  Thomas moved back in and tried to cover up the timing of everything.  And then a second disaster struck.”

“Jonathan.”

“Right again.  Only Thomas and Johnathan were around.  A fire started in the house.  Thomas got some of the servants who were working in the fields and stables, but it was too late for Jonathan.  They did save most of the building, which was amazing.”

“How convenient.”

“Thomas, of course, said he was outside when it started and by the time he saw the fire, smelt smoke, he couldn’t get to his father.  The rumors were even worse than when the younger Jonathan died about a year and a half earlier.”

“I’m sure.”

“Thomas had the builders finish a few rooms in the new house.  He said he couldn’t live in a house that smelled of the smoke that killed his father.  He moved the family to the new house on July 10th, 1805.  Martha was born later that day.  He said the sudden move forced the baby to arrive almost three weeks early.  Those who saw the child said she looked normal, not premature.  But those 19 days, you see…”

“Made the child his.”

“Yes.  That became the official story, that Martha was born 19 days premature and was lucky to survive.  After a short stint at home, taking care of arrangements and such, Thomas started spending more and more time in Boston.  It was a little at first, but more and more.  When he was gone, his younger brother, Samuel, took over the management of the mill.  Samuel was young, about 16 when Martha was born, but matured quickly when he became the male head of the household.”

“Oh oh.  The way you said that, makes me wonder about history repeating itself.”

“You should be telling this, since we’ve been right every time.  This time, though, when Thomas came home to sit with his pregnant wife, his brother, Samuel, went into Boston to live with his relatives down there.  He started Harvard shortly after.  He never said he was afraid an accident might happen, but he wasn’t an idiot.  He did well in life, but living in Boston.  He also took his two sisters, leaving  just the mother, Margret, Thomas, Abigail, Martha and soon enough, the baby Margret, living in the new mansion.  They eventually removed furniture from the old house, replacing just a little, and so had a wonderful place setup.”

“So far this sounds like a soap opera.”

“A soap opera has nothing on the Goode saga.  But that’s enough for now.  It’s a quarter past seven and the good folks downstairs will want to kick us out.”

“Ah, we never made it to the 1821 fire.”

“All in good time, my friend.”

“Thanks a lot for telling me all of this.  Obviously Galvin didn’t have any of this right.  Do you mind if I stop by next week for more tales?”

“Of course not.  Not enough people come up here and take advantage of our storehouse of information, so I’m always happy to talk to people when they do make it.  Of course, most of the time they’re searching for a bathroom.  And after that, everyone seems to start looking at their phones after about five minutes…”

“Not me.  I find it all fascinating.”

“It is fascinating!   Anyway, see you later.”

“Thanks again.  Later.”

The sun was beginning to sink as I made my way home.  I had to wonder what Barb Adams’ game was to try to make Charles the hero in all of it.  Mike obviously didn’t think much of him.  And that fire, I still had no ideas.

I wasn’t sure if all of the new information made what was happening clearer or murkier.

The Old MillPrevious – – Table of Contents  – – Next

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2 thoughts on “The Library (Part 2) – The Old Mill

  1. Pingback: If We Were Having Coffee on April Fool’s Day 2017! | Trent's World (the Blog)

  2. Pingback: Amy (Part 1) – The Old Mill | Trent's World (the Blog)

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