Eleanor Toothaker died July 22, 2006, at the age of 94. She was considered the town historian of Dixmont, Maine. She was always willing to answer genealogy and historic questions of those who would show up unannounced on her doorstep.
I was a distant cousin of hers having descended from William Toothaker, who built the home in which she lived, and from David Simpson, another early settler of Dixmont. Eleanor's research didn't end until her death. Whenever I would visit, she would ask me about a certain "puzzle." I helped her solve the puzzle of David Simpson's parentage and the ancestry of Mary Trimm who had married William Toothaker on Islesboro, Maine, for example. During one of my visits about two years before her death, she entrusted me with two packets of letters telling me, "You'll know what to do with them."
One packet contains letters from Mary (Trimm) and William Toothaker and their children to son William who remained in Maine. Authors include Jacob French and Sarah Ann French, Cumberland Post Office, Gurnsey County, Ohio; Frederick and Bethiah Scheringer; Sister Patch; Luther Simmons; Luther Toothaker, Mary Ann Toothaker, Nathan Toothaker and perhaps a person with the ast name of Frohock all in Morgan County, Bristol Town, Ohio. Frederick and Bethiah Scheringer - Frederick tells William Toothaker in Dixmonth to "send my and Alfred's letters to Rome, Iowa Territory, Henry County" as Rome was a new town "about five miles from my house." The elder William Toothaker and his wife, Mary (Trimm) Toothaker settled in Illinois. In one letter William laments, "Only God knows how I felt when I left [Maine] that day."
The second packet contains letters from Richard P. Clarkson, his wife Mary (Simpson) Clarkson, a sister of David Simpson in Dixmont, and their children to David Simpson in Dixmont. Richard P. Clarkson sold 50 acres of land to David Simpson in 1815 and moved west. In 1820, Richard's son, Coker Fifield Clarkson drove the wagon west at age 10 along with his mother to join his father. They settled in Brookville, Indiana. Richard P. Clarkson's son, Coker Fifield Clarkson, became a noted newspaper owner as did his sons. Biographies and the obituary of Coker Fifield Clarkson are found on the Internet and are very informative. They are not repeated here.Abstracts of Letters Sent to Toothaker Families in Dixmont, Maine,
From Toothaker Family Members in Ohio, Iowa and Illinois
It appears the parents, William and Mary (Trim) Toothaker remained in Dixmont while several children went west. The parents followed a few years later leaving behind son William and his wife Mary (Simpson) Toothaker, son Jacob who married Carol Randall, and daughter Bethiah who married Reuben Seavey. Letters were numbered in sequence by Eleanor Toothaker who was a direct descendant of both William Toothakers. She lived in the house built in Dixmont, Maine, by William Toothaker Sr. until she died at age 94. It is she who kept the letters and asked that they be preserved. "You'll know what to do with them." Sometimes several letters were sent in one envelope. These are separated by ------ lines.
1 August 13, 1838. To "Affectionate Parent." We are all well. Parent was in poor health when brother Scherringer left there [prob. Dixmont]. Sister Patch arrived here safe. Brother Scherringer arrived yesterday. Bother John is going to write to Hall Bagly to let you have some money. If you [parents] decide to come, Brother John will come to get you. Brother John was sorry you didn't come with them. [end cut off]. ------- Dear Brother and Sister. Brother John purchased a farm. Sister Patch plans to buy property. Brother Scherringer talks of Illinois. Brother Howard's folks are all well. Brother Scheringer . . . Brother William, if you come . . . Brother John will send a letter to [?] Bagley and for him or Luther or [?] to write to you. Direct your letter to Cumberland Post Office, Guernsey County, Ohio. /s/ Jacob French ------- Dear Uncle, Aunt and Cousins - we had a good journey and arrived 7 July. Godfrey is well and living with us. Plans to go to Illinois in Fall to look at country. Remember my love Grandmother and to you all and in particular my namesake. /s/ Alfred French ------ Mr. Alfred Toothaker. Most affectionate cousin, Suspect you'd like to hear from [our?] friends Howards and how they flourish. Bethiah is married again to a man by the name of Hill. She has been married twice in ten months and the rest of the girls are doing well. /s/ Sarah Ann French ------ George S. Toothaker. Good morning. I send my love to you and your little sister. William, I like very well on this instant to see you and Mary. Jacob, how are you? Have you got your new [?] . . . not I want to [?] you and Caroline and the babe. I want to see you - little William and Bethiah and Reuben. I send my love to you all mother an father. I was seasick. Nathan was sick a little. Mary Ann was not sick. Mother and grandmother send their love to you all. /s/ Luther Too . . . [on other side of paper Mary Ann writes] George S. Toothaker want to see you and little sister. Mary I don't want you to whip George. William I want to see you and Mary. Jacob I want to see you and Caroliine and Amelia; William T. Seavey . . . Bethiah Seavey. Reuben Seavey hiere is some [?] for you.
2. Jan 19, 1840. To William Toothaker family of Dixmont, Penobscot County, State of Maine. Very Dear Brother . . . Alfred is well. He and Godfrey started for Ioway. Mentions Godfrey's wife [not named]. Brother Snaringer[sic] bought 560 acres and Nathaniel bought 160 acres. Mother enjoys good health but is lame. Alfred is at Granvill College. /s/ Jacob and Ruth French, your brother and sister. ------ To Dear Aunt from neice, Mary French ------ To Cousin Miss Mary Ann Toothaker from Augusta French ------ To Uncle, Aunt and Cousin. Uncle William and Aunt Mary. Love to Luther, Mary Ann and Nathan. /s/ Your neice and cousin, Emeline French ------ Mother wants you Brother William to go to Isaac and get them blankets and teakittle so no more at present. /s/ Ruth French
3. Jan 23, 1840. To Mr William Toothaker. Dear Father and Mother [no signature; difficult to read] ------January 20, 1840 from Alfred Toothaker of Jefferson County ------ To Jacob Toothaker of Etny [Etna, ME] from Fort Madison, Ioway Territory. /s/ Alfred Toothaker
4. March 1, 1840. Dear Brother and Sister. Alfred works for a neighbor. Haven't seen Godfrey in three weeks. His wife is still in Ohio. Hogs were gone two weeks. I was gone to Madison and my wife was at neighbors. Only one home was Alfred when gogs came back. He set two dogs on them and drove them off. Alfred and Thaniel went out to look for them and found them a week later fat no more. /s/ Frederick Sheringer and Bethia Sheringer. Rome Iowa Territory Henry County. Rome is a new town five miles from my house.
5. August 9, 1840. Meigs Town, Gurnsey County, Ohio, Cumberland Post Office. I can git a livin hear easier than I can in maine. Your mother likes hear. I don't know if I'll go to Iowa in Fall. I heard that Jacob French was dead. Have not got a letter from Alfred. I remain your kind Mother and father. William and Mary Toothaker. ------ August the 9 1840. Dear Children - talks of trip: Stormy on ship to NY, rough in river to Phila. got to Iowa . . . then Ohio. Your grandmother is the same. Your uncle John's family is well. Your Aunt Polly's family is well. Howard's family is well.
6. October 10, 1841. From Meigs Creek, OH. To Mr. Reuben Gray. In March, Mother said she doesn't care where she lives as long as she gets enough to eat. Mentions Uncle John and family, Aunt Polly and family, Aunt Mehitable and family. Father is coming back there in June if he is well after his money. Luther Simmons is here and is going to Iowa in Spring. He was ten days coming here from Bangor [Maine]. Aunt Polly is going on in the Spring with Luther and James Roberts. Alison Howard is going on this fall. /s/ Mary and William Toothaker. ------ Mary and Lydia Gray want to see you. Mary A[nn] T Mother remembers love to all. ------ Dear Brothers and Sisters, write. I want William to write. I want to see you all and Miss Simpson
7. February 13, 1844. Morgan County, Bristol Town, Ohio. From Luther [S?] Toothaker. I am now going to school. Want to hear from you. You've not written (addressed to my friends). Nathan has made some sugar. Father has been tramping out wheat. Send a letter and let us know how Bethiah and Jacob are getting along. George, I would like to see you and your sisters. A word or two to you Bethiah, I would like to see your children and Reuben and the rest of the family. I expect that Maryann[sic] will be married in March to a preacher named Brown. ------ Dear Brothers and Sisters. Tells them off for not writing. /s/ Mary Ann Toothaker ------ Nathan Toothaker wrote - George, I want to see you and your little sister. Jacob, why don't you come out here? I think you are big enough. Mary Ann thinks she will come back there someday. Caroline, I want to see you. ------ Dear Children, don't work George to death. I remember my love to Mr. Gray's family and to Mr. Simpson's family. Reuben, we are l ooking for you to come on here in April. /s/ Mary Toothaker ------ William, I would like for you to wright to me concerning the business that I left with you. I would like to know if there is any prospect of getting any money from you and if you are alive. [more of same.] John Toothaker has sold his farm for 10 hundred dollars. He is going to Iowa to purchse more land and I want to go with him. John's family is well. Frohawk [this is perhaps a Mr. Frohock. The Frohock family is mentioned in a book, Searsmont: The Old Township by Dorothy Albin. The Toothakers lived in Searsmont before moving to Dixmont.] is still making shoes. /s/ William Toothaker
8. February 13, 1847. From Meigs Creek. Dear Brother, I am now in the state of Ohio. I have been in the state of Illinois and in the territory of Iowa. Father and Godfrey live in Illinois. I lft there last fall and the folks were all well there. Alfred lives in Iowa. He has two children. Godfrey's folks have four children. I am still living single. I was in Iowa last fall and the folks were all well. Uncle John has bought some land near Uncle Swarringer and Howard's folks are in the same place. Brody[?] [?] health was quite poor when I left there last fall. Mary Ann Brown lives here yet they are talking of moving to the west in the spring. I think I shall settle in the west in the spring. Nathan is living with the old folks yet. He is quite a sturdy boy. Have not heard from you in a long time. I heard that Sarringer and his family had started to come out to this country last summer or fall and I have not heard from them since last Fall. Let me know if that is true. I would like to hear from Jacob's family. Father has not bought any land yet. Godfrey is going to settle in Iowa when he dies[?]. Tell me where you live and where Seevy lives and Jacob. Tell Bethis to write. Write to Illinois, Pike County, Rockport Post Office. /s/ Luther S. Toothaker William Toothaker
9. Sept 12, 1847. Rockport, Pike County, Ill. I write at the request of your mother and father. Father is in ill health. Not heard from you since leaving Ohio. Send the money you owe them. Please write also about your sister Bethiah where she is and Godfrey and Nathan as well. /s/ E. D. Whitney [Two almost identical letters from Mr. Whitney to Jacob and to William Toothaker.]
10. March 8, 1857. Stetson [Maine] Dear Brother and Sister. I have not heard from you since you were here until a short time ago. Reuben saw Frederick. He said you were all well. I had a letter from Jacob's wife last Oct. They were all well. Nathan is married. I expect you heard Aunt Rose is dead and Louis Thay[?] died that Spring I came from there. Aunt Mercy is married again. Sorry I wasn't here when you came to visit. Let me know if you get a letter from our folks. Well, Mary, how do you like this long winter? I called my youngest Rosina - she's 8 months old. /s/ BTS [Bethia Seavey]
11. Martinsburg. Dear Brother, Sister and friends. Received your letter a long time ago and neglected to write. I saw Nathan 4 weeks ago. They were all well. So was Mother and Father. Joseph's folks are well so is Ameila. Her man has gone to Pike's Peak. The rest of the children are home. My baby is in her third year. I do all the writing for Jacob cannot write much. As ever your brother, sister and friends. J, T[?], S, M, E [probably initials of family] written by Elizabeth