Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Marble Farm Historic Site 2019

April will be a perfect time to visit the Marble Farm historic site, as hundreds of daffodils will be in bloom. The trip involves a walk north on the Assabet River Rail Trail to a location just south of the Maynard/Acton border.

Granite steps leading to basement of the two-family house
that was at the Marble Farm site (house burned, 1924) 
As for this site’s history, start with a witch trial. In 1692, Joseph Marble, resident of Andover, Massachusetts, posted bond for his two nieces, accused of witchcraft. Abigail Faulkner, their mother, had already been convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to be hanged. Her execution was deferred because she was pregnant. By the spring of 1693 the witch hunt frenzy was over. Abigail was pardoned, her daughters never brought to trial.

Locally, records show Joseph Marble buying 140 acres of land in Sudbury in 1704. Exactly what land he bought and from whom has not been confirmed, but a good guess is from William Brown and at the northeast edge of what is now Maynard. Joseph is recorded as attending Sudbury town meetings. Joseph’s son John and his neighbors petitioned to switch their land to Stow in 1730. In 1871 the same land was included in the creation of Maynard, carved out of parts of Stow and Sudbury. Thus, over the years the homestead was located in three towns.

The family line at the homestead was as follows: Joseph Marble, then his son John, John’s son John, and that John’s son, John. (Whew!) John-the-last is buried in Glendale cemetery with his wife Lois. Their daughter Sarah Marble married Daniel Whitney and they inherited the house. Their daughter Mary Whitney married Joel Parmenter. Mary and Joel lived in Sudbury until Daniel Whitney died in 1871, then back to the homestead, making it the Parmenter house until Joel died in 1919. Mary’s and Joel’s son Harry owned only half of the house and none of the farm at the time the house burned to the ground in 1924. The house was never rebuilt and the barns (spared by the fire) are long gone. The land is owned by the town of Maynard.

A few highlights: The original immigrants John and Judith Marble, John and Elinor Whitney and John and Briget Parmenter, all arrived in New England in the 1630’s as part of the Puritan Great Migration. Joseph’s “witch” sister-in-law gave birth to Ammi Ruhamah Faulkner in 1693. His name was derived from Hebrew and translates as “my people have been saved” – apt for a child whose pregnancy saved his mother’s life! Around 1740 Ammi moved to South Acton and bought the mill. His home is now the historic Faulkner Homestead. His first cousin John Marble was already in residence at the Marble homestead, a mile down the road. Whitneys were early inhabitants of Stow; Parmenters early inhabitants of Sudbury.

Access from Trail to Marble
Farm site. Click on
photos to enlarge.
The site consists of a 28’ x 32’ house foundation and surrounding stone walls. In April 2009 Maynard’s Boy Scout Troop #130 cleared the site and installed a post and chain fence around part of the foundation. The east border is a walled ditch running parallel to the Assabet River Rail Trail. A historic plaque marks the site. The house burned on April 2, 1924. The nearest fire hydrant was too far away to be of any use. From clearing some of the debris that had partially filled the foundation over the years, the original basement floor appears to have been a layer of sand, on top of which was a thin off-white layer, possibly plaster or crushed limestone, topped by wooden planks. The last were scorched to charcoal by the fire. Uncovering the planks released a fleeting scent of the fire of 87 years ago.

Marble Farm was the topic of a presentation to the Maynard Historical Society in 2009. In attendance were two descendants of Joseph Marble! Charles Marble was a descendant of John, one of Joseph’s sons. Sally Wadman, maiden name Chandler descended from one of Joseph’s other sons – Edmund – who had married Mary Jewell in August 1711.Their daughter Dorothy married Moses Chandler in 1742, and through their son, Samuel Chandler, reached down through eight more generations to Sally. Chandler is another New England name dating its arrival to the early 1600’s, in this case to a William Chandler who arrived around 1637. Thus, through Sally’s genealogical research she was able to connect with her Marble, Jewell and Chandler ancestors who all arrived within 20 years of the Mayflower.

David Mark with daffodil sculpture for "Trail of Flowers"
Present-day, much of the site is overgrown again with Oriental bittersweet, sumac, blackberry and Japanese knotweed. Dead trees have fallen or are threatening. Volunteers cleared a portion between the foundation and the rail trail this summer past and planted grass. In October, more than 1,000 daffodils were planted. This was the first step toward converting Maynard’s portion of the Assabet River Rail Trail into a “Trail of Flowers.” The project will continue in 2019 with more mass plantings, and people whose property abuts the trail will be invited to put flowering plants at the back of their yards. A website to this effect will be launched later this year.

Parts of this column saw print in 2010 (Mark’s ninth column). He initiated the “Trail of Flowers” concept in the fall of 2018. He had so many volunteers for the Marble Farm planting event that all he had to do was point where to dig.

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