Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Cabinet and Coffin Maker

Combined blog post from July, 2010

 The Cherry Sewing Table (Update)

Update: Dorothy Hanna, my Facebook friend, who lives in Mystic, recently gave me more information about Daniel the Cabinet Maker!  ["I searched the Mystic River Hist Society database and house history files. Our records show him living at 15 Gravel Street, Mystic, CT and making coffins as well as furniture."] The real estate listing says the building at this address was built in 1835. 

They Wrote in Their Drawers

It was customary in my family to pass furniture down in generations. Furniture has changed so much over the years, it is hard to find purpose in antiques. The legs on this table make it taller than tables are today.

When we moved into our first apartment, my mother forced upon me a table known as "The Cherry Sewing Table". Apparently, all the family furniture had a name! I think that this might be because pieces moved around so much that people began to ask each other who owned what piece of furniture.

I located, recently, the 3x5 cards that my grandmother gave me of the furniture and items that I was going to inherit. When I packed those cards in a new rubber band, I went looking for the table that I had forgotten about. I wasn't even sure I still had it. I sold the contents of my parents house and took only a few pieces of furniture. Most days, I wish I hadn't bothered.

My husband dragged it out from the back of the basement. I needed to decide if I was going to move it to our new house. The problem is that my husband had put it in the back bedroom of our apartment which served as his office and left the window open. It rained on the top of the table. We dried it off but it didn't look the same so we put items on top of it to hide the damage from my mother. Fortunately, she didn't ask about it again and we moved it to our house (35+ years ago) and put it in the basement.

I opened the drawer in the table and got a big surprise! There was writing under the shelf liner in the drawer!

Daniel Denison EDGECOMB made the "cherry sewing table" that I own in 1823 just before he married for the first time. 

In his own hand, inside the drawer, his name looks like it has an e at the end. However, to locate many of the census records, I had to spell it as EDGCOMB. It has to do with the way us native New England folks drop certain letters when speaking.

Just researching this one person was a lot of work but I enjoyed watching his occupation run through the census years. When he was young he was a ship joiner and when he was old, he a cabinet maker. I clipped part of that census record to show here for educational purposes.

I am still looking for the cemetery where Daniel is buried probably with both his wives. His first wife was Harriet ASHBEY and his second wife was Esther STANDISH. 

The Fish Family
"This table originally came from the house of Simeon FISH in Mystic [Connecticut] and was given to Eliza Denison Stewart in 1856 at the time of her marriage"

Obviously, this writing was put inside the drawer a long time ago. I don't know whose handwriting this is but it might belong to Levina FISH, who was Eliza Fish DENISON's mother. It matches nothing else in the family bible or in other pieces of furniture I own.

Levina FISH (one of my third great grandmothers) was a driving force in this family. She was a strong willed woman who assumed the matriarchal role quite easily. She was the wife of Isaac DENISON, Jr. and blended right into the DENISON family before they knew what hit them. Eliza and Dudley married in 1856 just as it states in the drawer.

Simeon FISH (1797-1863) was the brother of Levina. He was the son of Deacon Sands FISH (1762-1838) and his wife Bridget GALLUP (1768-1842). Simeon is buried in the Old Fish Burying Ground in Mystic on the Groton line with his wife Eliza Roe RANDALL.

This cemetery is on private land and I was given permission to photograph all of the graves there and the family shared a plot map and dates. I purchased, last year, the Fish genealogy compiled by Lester Warren Fish, A.B. M.D. in 1948 which is more interesting than the usual genealogical works because it is not only well researched, it is full of information about the people whose graves I have been photographing.

Simeon8 #1987 page 307 [and his sister Levina] (Sands7, Nathan6, Nathan5, Samuel4, John3, Alice2, John1) Simeon was a" farm boy, became a shoemaker, merchant, ship owner and farmer. He accumulated a large property, spoke plainly and abhorred dishonestly."

Inherited Antique

"For Eliza Fish Denison, given by her to her son Charles E. Stewart" "Made by Daniel Edgecomb, Mystic, 1823"

If these notes had not be written in "their drawers", I would not have known the history of this table. It is confirming evidence that the writing in the family bible was done by Eliza Fish Dension Stewart. She lived with her son after her husband died, and lived a good long time with them. My grandfather was a teenager when she died and must have listened to her stories of the family history. Charles, my great grandfather, kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings. Most of them were about the North Stonington area, so I donated it to the North Stonington Historical Society after photocopying several pages of articles and obituaries.

Because this lower inscription says "for", it confirms that this piece of furniture was given to her from the Fish household, passed to my great-grandfather, my grandfather, my mother and now to me.

But, what is most mysterious is the original notation about Daniel Edgecomb. Daniel Denison Edgecomb (1802-1887) was the grandson of Rachel Denison (1734-1815), wife of Joseph Copp. Rachel was the great grandaughter of John Borodell Denison and his wife Phebe Lay who are in my direct line.

1 comment:

Carol Yates Wilkerson said...

Isn't it fascinating to see how their occupations changed as they grew older and more (or less) skilled? One of my husband's ancestors was listed as a farmer one decade, then as a house builder in a following census. I suspect he was both at both censuses. He injured his back so in a still later census he was just back to farming.