This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. Joan M. Barnes.
My research began in 1989 when my brother Paul found a Bible among some picture albums or papers given to him. Inscribed on the inside cover were names: Alva Holt, Rhoda, Juliett, Alva Dexter and so on. We knew Vera Holt (our paternal grandmother), her brothers and sister, and had listened to her stories of Alfred Holt, her father, but we had never encountered these names before. Thus began our search. We started by walking through cemeteries in Canaan, Clinton, Benton, and Winslow, Maine. We found them in the last row of the New and Old Cemeteries of Canaan. We moved from there to resources at the Maine State Library, State Archives, and the National Archives. We produced an outline of the Holt lineage and with this narrative I hope to fill in the interesting information beyond vital statistics. These were people, not numbers.
You will quickly notice that the majority of the narrative focuses on the men. Unless a female was a widow and head of the family, their names are often only known or recorded when they are born, baptised, married or died. I have included the wives of each of the Holt men and if anything of interest was discovered about them in the records, it is included.
"SOUTHon. -- A List of names of suche Passengrs as shipt themselues
at the towne of Hampton, in the James of London of iijc tonnes William Cooper
Mr vrs New-England, in and aboute the vt (5th) of Aprill, 1635."(1)
Forty-three males passengers were counted including one Nicholas Holte of Romsey, England, occupation cited as tanner. Females and children were mentioned as being on board the James but not individually named. The James arrived at Boston on June 3, 1635. Several sources report that Nicholas was accompanied by a wife, Elizabeth Short, and at least one child, Hannah. He and his family went from Boston to Newbury, where they were some of the first settlers, and remained there for about ten years. According to the Vital Records of Newbury, Elizabeth and Nicholas expanded their family with the birth of three more children (Elizabeth, Mary, and Samuel).(2) For the entire list of children see the ancestoral record I compiled on Nicholas Holt taken from the vital records mentioned above and the vital records of Andover, Massachusetts(3).
Nicholas married three times. His first wife Elizabeth Short married him before they left England and arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. She was the mother of 9 of children out of the 11 children he fathered. Elizabeth died in 1656 and her age is not recorded. Nicholas married his second wife, Hannah Bradstreet in 1658. She bore him a daughter and a son, but died in 1665 when her son John was only two years of age. Nicholas married a third and final time to another widow, Martha Preston (possibly nee Hart) in 1666. She outlived him.
Nicholas was a very active citizen in both Newbury and Andover(4-6). On May 17, 1637 his name appears as one of ten people who walked from Newbury to Cambridge and took the freeman's oath to qualify to vote in the Governor's election. In April of 1638 Nicholas was also chosen to be one of the surveyors of the highways and in June of 1638 all the able bodied men of Newbury were enrolled and formed into four companies under the command of John Pike, Nicholas Holt, John Baker and Edmund Greenleafe. They were required "to bring their arms complete one Sabbath day in a month and the lecture day following," and "stand sentinell at the doores all the time of the publick meeting."(7)
In 1644, Nicholas Holt and his family became, once again, pioneers. They moved from Newbury to accompany their pastor, the Reverend John Woodbridge, to "Cochichawicke," now Andover, Massachusetts. "On a leaf in the town records containing the list of householders in order as they came to the town his name is sixth. He was one of the ten male members including the pastor elect who composed the church at the ordination of Mr. John Woodbridge, October 24, 1645."(8)
It is hypothesized by a secondary source that Nicholas's motivation for emigration into the wilderness was "that he might enjoy the privilege of worshipping God according to the convictions of his own mind..." (9) Religious freedom may indeed have been a motivation and it was true for many but one cannot forget the other motivation: land.
According to Greven(10), the "third largest estate in Andover was owned by Nicholas Holt and provided the basis for the settlements of five sons and for the maintenance of paternal control for most of a long lifetime." He owned no land outside of Andover and he acquired little besides the original division grants from the town. This vast estate would provide settlements for all of his sons.
In 1662, Nicholas received the fourth-division grant of 300 acres from the town. Some time prior to 1675, he moved his family from the village to build a house located on his third division, in the area later known as South Parish. His house was built on a great hill, Holt's Hill, later known as Prospect Hill. On today's map of Andover, Holt and Prospect Roads mark what was probably the dwelling area of the Holt family and part of their land grant holdings.
The paternal control Greven refers to pertains to the fact that Nicholas Holt was slow to grant lands to his sons so they could marry and start families. "With the exception of two daughters who married in the late 1650's, the Holt family remained together on their farm until 1669, when the two oldest sons and the eldest daughter married"(11) (Samuel, Henry, and Hannah). Both sons were given land in the third division to build upon but neither son was given the deed to the land, which meant that Nicholas retained legal rights and control of that land.
Finally, in 1681, Nicholas gifted Samuel and Henry with the titles to each half of the third division of land. In return for the gifts each son was to pay Nicholas twenty shillings a year for so long "his naturall life Shall Continue". (Essex Deeds, v. 32, p 130-131, v. 34, p 225-256)
Nicholas's life continued until January 30, 1685 with a disputed life span of 104 years or 83 years depending on the source. "In his early life he carried on the business of manufacturer of woodenware. A few years before his death, in distributing his property among his children, he styles himself a dish turner. The word "tanner" on the roll of the ship James is probably an error of the recording official."(12) Henry, his second son, is my ancestor and the narrative continues with him.RETURN TO TOP
Henry (b. 1644) was married on February 24, 1669 to Sarah Ballard, daughter of William Ballard. They had fourteen children, nine of whom were sons. Our line descends from Humphrey. For a complete listing of Henry's offspring, see his Ancestoral Record
As I wrote above, in order for Henry to gain independence and begin his family life, he depended on the generosity of his father. In 1669, he was given land to start his own farm and be able to support a wife and family. His father however did not give him the deed. Henry's name appears again in 1678, as one of a list of "Male Persons in Andover from sixteen years old that took oath of allegiance" to the King of England.(13) In late 1681 or early 1682, Nicholas Holt conveyed to Henry one-third of one division of his land plush 130 acres of upland. In return for the gift Henry was "obligated to pay twenty shillings yearly to his father for his maintenance."(14) Henry was active in his community and would hold different offices such as selectmen in 1690; "surveior" in 1693 and 1696; and constable in 1694. (15)
Humphrey (b. 1693), like his father and grandfather before him, lived prosperously in Andover and remained there until his death. His intention to marry Abigail Fifield (of Hampton NH) was recorded in the Andover Vital Records, December 30, 1715, and they most likely married early in 1716. They had eight children, four of whom were sons. Jonathan, the youngest son, was our ancestor. To see the complete list of Humphrey's offspring visit his Ancestor Record.
According to Greven, Humphrey had a modest amount of land in Andover. He served a one-year term, in 1747, as the Assessor for the South Church of Andover Massachusetts. At the time of his death in 1754, Humphrey only had fifty-six acres with buildings. The eldest son inherited the entire estate. The remaining sons received money and two of those remaining sons had been given, by Humphrey, tracts of land in a new settlement: Lunenburg, Massachusetts.(16) Humphrey's sons, William and Jonathan, went where the opportunity to prosper would be greater.RETURN TO TOP
Jonathan Holt (b. 1727/28) married Rachel Taylor in Andover on February 25, 1752. Their daughter's birth is recorded in the town records of Lunenburg as April 20, 1753. Sometime between their marriage and the birth of their child, the Holts moved to the new settlement of Lunenburg, Massachusetts onto a tract of land given to them by Jonathan's father Humphrey. Rachel tragically died one day after the birth of her daughter on April 21, 1753, likely of complications of that birth. Jonathan being left a widower with a new baby, married again within the year to Susana(h) Holt (a distant cousin) on November 14, 1753. We can trace her heritage back to Nicholas Holt also. Her father was James Holt (1711-?); Timothy Holt (1683-1758); James Holt (1651-1690); and the patriarch Nicholas Holt. Click on Jonathan's Ancestoral Record for the complete listing of children.
Before going further it should be noted here that a major portion of Lunenburg became incorporated as the town of Fitchburg in 1764. Jonathan Holt's farm was located on the town line separating Fitchburg from Lunenburg. Information on Jonathan Holt and his family can be found in the records of both towns.
His home was on what is now Pearl Street in Fitchburg and turns into White Street over the Lunenburg line. It seems that Jonathan prospered and was an active citizen, like his forefathers. In May of 1764, John Demary sold his farm to Jonathan Holt, whose farm was near Demary's land. Jonathan held different offices in both the towns of Lunenburg and Fitchburg. He held the office of "surveyer of lumber" in Lunenburg; was the "Hogg reves", which means he would see that the hogs were branded, had rings in their noses and didn't damage crops; a "surveyer of Highways and collector of Highway taxes in 1777; town constable in 1778; and in March of 1779 he was chosen as the "deere reves", a position probably like a modern game warden.(17)
During the French and Indian War there was a company of soldiers composed of men from Stow and Lunenburg and commanded by a Capt. James Reed and part of the regiment commanded by Colonel Josiah Brown. "A muster roll of Capt. Reed's company, containing sixty-six names of men who marched on an alarm for the relief of Fort William Henry--return dated January 8, 1758," lists many men from Lunenburg/Fitchburg including Jonathan Holt.
This experience came in handy for Jonathan who, at age 48, was a Minute-man and served in the Revolutionary War. Recorded in volume 8 of the compendium entitled, Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors is the following information regarding Jonathan Holt (Sr.):
The alarm was for the defense of Lexington and Concord, the first battle of the War of Independence. Jonathan's four eldest sons volunteered for service in local regiments and the Continential Army.
Jonathan Jr. was twenty years old in 1775, and enlisted immediately. His service is detailed in his section below. To review the service of the remaining sons, please visit the page on military service.
Jonathan's wife, Susannah died in 1801, and he married a third time. Azubah (Butterfield) Searle of Townsend was reportedly forty (40) years his junior.(19) They had two children, the youngest had not yet been born when Jonthan died on March 17, 1805. He was seventy-eight (78) years of age.RETURN TO TOP
Born in Lunenburg, Massachussetts in May of 1755 (pension record) or 1756 (Lunenburg vital records), Jonathan Holt was the son of Jonathan Holt Sr. and his second wife, Susannah Holt. In 1775, when Jonathan was 20 years old, the colonies wanted to be free of the British. He enlisted in August of 1775 for 5 months of service with Captain Stearns in Colonel Doolittle's regiment. In February of 1776, he enlisted again with Captain Pope under Colonel Josiah Whitney's regiment. Jonathan Holt would enlist a total of 8 times for 6 months, or shorter, service from August 1775 to December 12, 1780.
His pension record (W24457) at the National Archives, contained two applications for Revolutionary War service pensions, one dated 1818, and one for increased pension in 1832. The 1832 application has the more readable and detailed account of his service -- including the fact that he was "with the troops" in New Jersey when Major Andre was executed. Major John Andre, a British officer, was caught behind enemy lines, after meeting with Benedict Arnold(who at the time served as a Major General in the Continental Army). Andre was hung for being a spy on October 2, 1780.
From the description, Jonathan's experience in the army was primarily guarding encampments, bases of operation and captured troops. No battles are referred to in either of his applications for pension. Jonathan's brothers also served and their records can be found here: military service.
After the revolution, Jonathan moved to Jaffrey, New Hampshire, where he met and married Mary "Molly/Polly" Bailey (daughter of Issac Bailey). The Bailey's were originally of Lunenburg. Mary and Jonathan married in either November or December of 1782 and proceeded to produce a family of 5 children (4 sons and 1 daughter). The list of offspring and other data can be found in Jonathan's ancestral record.
According to his pension record, the Holt family lived in Jaffrey eleven years before moving to Canaan, Maine in 1799. There seems to be some discrepancy in that number because they were married in 1782 and all of his children were born in Jaffrey. In a book on Jaffrey history, I found that on May 27, 1786, Jonathan Holt and family were "warned away from Jaffrey" by the constable. Townships and villages would do this to remove their liability for the support of paupers (the poor) by warning them away from town all person moving in for a settlement. The object was to prevent the emigration of the poor from older townships.(20)
It is unclear whether Issac Bailey interceded on their behalf, but they did remain in Jaffrey. Jonathan Holt and his family are recorded in the 1790 US Federal census of Jaffrey town, NH. The Holt's last child was born in 1793 and his birthplace is recorded in NH vital stats(LDS online catalog) as Jaffrey.
By the 1800 US Federal Census, they are living in Canaan, Maine. The Jonathan Holt family were one of the first to settle in Canaan. There they raised their children and it is assumed farmed their land. All of his sons followed his patriotic example by serving in either the Aroostook War (Issac) or the War of 1812 (Alvah, Asa & Jonathan). They are present in subsequent census records until Jonathan's death on December 12, 1832. He is buried in the Old Village Cemetary, with a Revoluntary War marker near the tombstone. His wife, Mary, lived with her son Alvah Holt, until her death in 1840. Mary signed her name to the application for widow's pension, rather than leaving an X, evidence that she had been educated.RETURN TO TOP
Born in New Hampshire in 1787, Alvah Holt spent the first 10+ years of his life in that state before moving with his family to Canaan, Maine, circa 1798-1799. In the 1810 US Federal census, Alvah may be one of the two males, between 16-26 years of age, living at home with their parents and a younger sister.
While I can't yet find documentation to support my suspicions, I believe that Alvah Holt married Rhoda sometime between 1810 and 1812. As you'll note in the family record, Alvah's first child is born in 1812, before he enlists as a soldier and goes off to serve in the War of 1812. In addition, his wife Rhoda continues to be a mystery. I have not yet found their marriage record and I'm not certain, but have a guess, as to her maiden name. One clue emerged when examining the death certificate of Alvah and Rhoda's eldest son, Alvah Dexter (AD). He died in 1903, after the state of Maine started to keep more complete records. His mother is listed as Susan Walker. My theory is that Susan Walker is Rhoda's mother and that the person informing the authories of AD's death confused the two.
Another clue that I discovered that supports my theory that Rhoda's last name is Walker, is that their eldest daughter is named Olive, which is a unique name even for that period of time. An Olive Walker married Ebenezer Goodridge in Canaan, Maine in January of 1813 and one of their daughters is named Rhoda. I believe that Olive Walker Goodridge and Rhoda Holt are sisters and each named a daughter after the other.
On January 7, 1813, Alvah Holt travels to the nearby town of Fairfield and enlists as a private with Captain Vose and the 21st US Infantry. The clerk recording his enlistment marks down the following items to describe Alvah: 5 feet 11 inches tall, blue eyes, light hair and light complexion. Alvah is 25 years old and his occupation is shoemaker.
According to his recollections on a document in his pension file, Alvah was immediately "marched to the Frontier," which would be upstate New York near Lake Erie. Enlisting at the same time and accompanying his brother, was Asa Holt.
Alvah's service was shortened by injury. According to his application for pension, he injuried his arm during the Summer of 1813 and then when building barracks at French Mills in New York during the following November of 1813 a piece of timber fell on him and further injured his left arm. Alvah was subsequently discharged in January 1814 after spending some time in the hospital.
According to the documents in the pension record, Alvah's injury did serious damage to his arm and the surgeons that filled out the government forms would estimate the arms damage in percentage -- that the damage affected the use of his arm by 2/3rds. As he got older, the examination reports by surgeons would state that his arm had atrophied and the use of it would be nil. Alvah received a pension and it was periodically increased when his doctors would fill out the appropriate examination report forms. (NARA record, Pension #19709)
When Alvah returned home, he set about establishing his farm and family. In the 1820 US Federal census of Canaan, he and Rhoda have three boys below the age of 10. In 1830, they have three girls between the ages of 5-10, 2 boys between 10-15, and 1 boy of the age between 15-20. In 1840 US Federal census, Alvah's family is recorded as residing in Clinton Maine. By 1860, Rhoda and Alvah are alone and by 1870, Alvah is a widower living with his son, Alvah Dexter. His occupation is listed as "retired shoemaker" and his age is 82. He dies three years later on December 11, 1873.RETURN TO TOP
Alva Dexter, or Dexter as he is sometimes referred to in the census records, was born the eldest son of Alvah and Rhoda Holt on March 26, 1816. He was born and raised in Canaan, Somerset County, Maine and didn't seem to venture further afield.
He married Melinda Lydia Nason, daughter of Elisha and Sally Nason (formerly of Berwick, York County, Maine). Dexter and Melinda were married in 1842 and proceeded to establish their farm and family. They had two sons and four daughters. Unfortunately two of their daughters died at very young ages (1 and 3 years old), while a third daughter, Mary Adlaide, died in 1863 at the age of 17. It is unknown what caused these children to die.
The 1860 US Federal Census reveals that Dexter's real estate was valued at $200. In 2010 dollars (dollar to dollar comparison), this amounts to $4,854. In 1870 the value of his farm climbed to $500, his 82 year old father was living with them and two of his remaining three children were living at home (Violetta and Manley).
On January 15, 1872, Melinda Nason Holt died in Canaan, Maine at the age of 56. Two years later, Dexter married Lydia Tuttle, the widow of Reuben Tuttle and mother of four. Dexter was 58 when they married and Lydia was 47. By the 1880 US Federal census they were the only occupants of the household.
In 1870 and 1880, Maine's farms were part of the US Federal Agriculture census. Dexter Holt's farm can be found in that census data. His farm was comparatively much smaller than others. He had 8 acres of tilled land and 5 acres of woodland. His farm produced barley, oats, and potatoes. In 1870, they churned 100 lbs of butter and in 1880, they churned 266 lbs of butter.
In the 1900 US Federal census, Dexter and Lydia were 85 and 73 respectively and had been married 26 years. Dexter died on September 19, 1903 and pneumonia was the cause of death. Dexter's death certificate also stated that his mother's name was Susan Walker. I believe that this was a mistake on the part of whoever reported the death. I do believe that this is a reference to his own grandmother.RETURN TO TOP
Rufus Sherman Holt's place in the Holt Family story convey's both success and tragedy. Rufus is the eldest son of Alva Dexter and Melinda Holt. He is named after his father's youngest brother, who only lived five years. It is likely that Rufus spent his youth attending school and laboring on his father's small farm. Or perhaps he worked on the farms of neighbors or relatives.
What we know is that on April 3, 1866, at the age of twenty-three, Rufus married Abby Goodrich Keen, a widow and mother of one child (Georgiana). Abby's parents were John Goodrich and Abigail Goodridge of Canaan. Abby's first husband, Alfred Keen, was drafted into Company C of Maine's 19th Infantry Regiment as a private on August 10, 1863. Alfred was 23 years old and was killed less than one year later in Petersburg, Virginia. His pension was awarded to his widow and the guardian of his daughter, Rufus Holt. Abby and Rufus's first child, Alfred, was born on August 4, 1866. Exactly four months and one day after his parent's wedding.
I'm left wondering if Alfred Keen and Rufus Holt knew each other. I'm also left wondering how sensitive and generous Rufus may have been to agree to name his first child, and son, after his wife's first husband.
By 1870, Rufus and Abby had added two daughters, Mary Adelaide and Nellie, to the family. According to the US Federal Agriculture census of that year, Rufus rented and managed a large farm consisting of 70 acres used land and 75 acres of woodland. The value of the real estate was $1300 and his largest crop was 500 bushels of potatoes.
But tragedy struck the very next year. On August 3, 1871, Abby died and the cause of the death was not recorded. I do not know yet what happened in the intervening years, but by the 1880 US Federal census, the family had split up. Rufus boarded with the family of William H. Flagg in the 1880 US Federal census of Benton and was a farm laborer. The children were taken in by others. Alfred lived with his Aunt Violette Holt Foster. Both Mary Adelaide and Nellie were found living with the family of John R. Flagg in the 1880 US Federal census of Winslow Maine. I have not found any blood or marriage connections between the Holt and Flagg families at that time. Abby's daughter, Georgiana died in 1879. I'm not sure if she had been sent to live with her Keen or Goodrich relatives.
More research is needed in the land records and possible court records of guardianships.
Unfortunately there is a major gap between the 1880 and 1900 census due to the loss of the 1890 census. In 1900 and 1910, Rufus is boarding with the Stephen Abbott family in Benton, Maine. His occupation was listed as Grocer. His death certificate records that Rufus was a retired merchant. Rufus's second wife, Esther, was the widow of Stephen Abbott. They married in December 1912.
As for his daughters, Nellie F. Holt was found in the 1900 census working as a servant in the house of the Pickford family of Leominster, Massachusetts. I found Nellie's marriage certificate to Ernest Blake in Portland Maine in 1907. The certificate indicates that this is Nellie's second marriage. I have no record, yet, of the first marriage or even the name of her first husband.
Mary "Addie" Holt married Everett J. Soule in 1887 and proceeded to live with him in Mt. Vernon and then in Oakland, Maine. He died in 1901. She married Henry Williard in 1906 in Winslow. I found them living in Portland in the 1910 US Federal census.
For the 1920 US Federal census, Addie and her sister Nellie Blake (and their respective husbands) were all living together on Cottage Road in South Portland. According to the record, Williard was a tailor and Blake worked as a grocer. Ernest Blake was born in Canada and immigrated to the US in 1895. He became a citizen in 1900.
Rufus died on January 13, 1918* only six years after his second marriage. He died of double pneumonia which he suffered for 10 days and was gone. He was 74 years old.
*not 1908 as mistakenly transcribed in ancestry.com
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Alfred Rufus Holt, was born, August 4, 1866, only a few months after his parents, Rufus Sherman Holt and Abby Goodrich Keen Holt, were married. He was their only son. Tragically, Alfred's mother died in 1871, and by 1880, we find the family was split up and living apart from one another. Alfred was living with his Aunt Violetta. His father lodged with the William Flagg family in Benton and his two sisters lived with the John R. Flagg family in Winslow.
On November 5, 1899, Alfred marries Flora Belle Goodridge (spelled Goodrich on the marriage certificate) in Skowhegan, Maine. He was 32 years old and she was 20. In the 1900 US Federal census of Canaan, Maine, they are boarding with Flora's half-sister, Idella Nelson, and family. Alfred and Flora were also parents to 2 month-old, Carroll. Alfred's occupation was Farm Laborer.
In the 1910 US Federal census, Alfred and Flora have been married 12 years, and they have four children (Carroll, Nellie, Vera, and Merton). They own their house on what looks like Peavey or Penney Road in Canaan Maine. Alfred and Flora can both read and write. Alfred is a farmer.
Sometime between 1910 and 1920, however the marriage breaks up. According to information on Carroll Holt's 1918 WWI draft registration card, his residence is with his mother in Waterville, Maine. But he worked for United Paperboard Company in Benton. More tragedy follows with Carroll contracting influenza and double pneumonia. His illness lasted 7 days and he died on November 27, 1918.
A change of residence also occurred in those intervening years because by the 1920 US Federal census places the Holt Family in Benton Falls, Maine living in a house owned by Alfred on River Road. While Alfred's wife, Flora, is listed on that census, I don't believe she was physically residing in Benton.
My suspicions are based on the evidence presented in the birth certificate of the son Flora had by Edward Flagg. Roy Edward Flagg was born, May 20, 1920 in Augusta, Maine. The birth certificate also shows the residence of his parents at the time was Vassalboro, Maine. From stories told when I was a child, the family knew that Flora had left Alfred at some point. There are various reasons why their marriage broke up. Suffice it to say that it did. I have yet to find a divorce decree, but Flora eventually married Edward Flagg in 1947. I have recently learned from a cousin, that Alfred continued to support Flora with food and perhaps money even though she was separated from him and living with Flagg.
By 1930 Alfred is living alone. His home is valued at $2000 and he is a laborer. The census indicates his marital status as widower, which is clearly not true.
As for his three remaining children, Vera would live with Archie Barnes in Portland, Maine. She would have three children by him. As for Nellie Holt, I found two marriage certificates, one marriage to John Thomas Cummings in 1921 that took place in Greenville, Maine and her second marriage to Merle Nelson in 1935. I have not found whether Cummings died or they divorced.
Merton E. Holt at the age of 33, joined the War effort in Bangor Maine in 1942. I could not find any indication that he went overseas. He returned to Canaan Maine and married Margaret Burrill in 1948.
My father spoke of living with Grampa Alfred periodically during his lifetime. One funny story I remember happened when my father was very young when Grampa Alfred drove a motor vehicle (Ford Model A or T) for the very first time. My father was very young and they went careening off the road through the bumpy fields. My father described wrapping his arms around Grampa Alfred's neck to keep from bouncing out of the truck.
Alfred Rufus Holt would live a long life and would eventually pass away at the age of 95 on October 27, 1961. He is buried in the Joy Cemetary, on the Canaan-Clinton line. He lies near his son Carroll and daughter Vera. The only woman he married, Flora Goodridge Holt Flagg, passed away in 1965.RETURN TO TOP
My grandmother, Vera Flora Holt, was born in the rural area of Canaan or Benton, Maine in 1905. Her mother left the family sometime between 1910 and 1920, when Vera was still a child.
I do not know how or when she met Archie Barnes, but she had her first child by him in 1925, when she was 20 years old. He was at least 10 years older and had traveled from across the country.
Memories my father shared gave me a sense that Archie also had money because he was a skilled laborer. They lived in Portland during World War II, where Archie was a welder helping to build ships. There were also stories of living in Benton with Grampie Alfred too. I would have to guess from information given to me by other relatives that living in Benton occurred after a beating from which Vera had to recuperate.
In the 1930 Census of Portland Maine, Vera and Archie are together, living with them are two children -- Beverly and my father Louis. Also living with them is Archie's brother, Harold, under an alias. It was well known in the family that Archie was born with a different name (Lewis/Louis Stoll) but what was not widely known until the late 1970's was that Archie and Vera were not married. They actually could not marry because Lewis Stoll had left a wife and three children behind in South Dakota
I do not know when Vera and Archie split up. Vera would go to live with her father in Benton, keep house for him and the Reed family, who were neighbors. My father graduated from the high school in Fairfield, Maine in the late 1940s and my aunt worked at Keyes Fiber Company in Fairfield, Maine at the time.
The personal memories I have of my grandmother is that she lived with us during the times my mother was ill. When I was very young, my mother had to have surgery. Grammie Vera came to stay to take care of us and I remember she slept on the cot in our bedroom. Grammie Vera may have had OCD because she wanted a clean house and would make us wash our hands numerous times and most thorougly.
She loved birds and cemetaries. Outtings she would take us on were walking in the woods by the homestead in Benton and listening to the birds. We would also visit the Joy Cemetary so that she could "visit" with her father and brother. She loved to walk through the cemetary and read the tombstones. Vera especially loved the Mary Jane's tombstone because of the poem inscribed on it.
There were times she lived with her sister Nellie out in Benton and in the 1980s she shared an apartment in Canaan, Maine with her aunt Elizabeth "Lizzy" Goodridge Sandy. She died at the Mid-Maine Medical Center in Waterville, Maine on November 10, 1984. It was the only time I ever saw my father cry. Grammie Vera is buried in Joy Cemetary near her father Alfred and her brother Carroll. Inscribed on her tombstone is a line drawing of a bird.