Saturday, October 9, 2021

The Maynard Family

On October 19, at 7:00 p.m., the Maynard Public Library will present a Zoomed talk titled: “Meet the Maynard Family.” It is produced by the Sesquicentennial Steering Committee as part of Maynard’s celebration of the 150th anniversary. Register at 

Given the town was named after Amory Maynard in 1871, there is remarkably little presence of the man today. There is a street – Amory Ave – but no statue, no school, no park. There is a family crypt, and a clock tower built by his son. No descendants live in their namesake town.

Amory Maynard
In 1846, at the age of 42, Amory Maynard moved his wife and three sons from Marlborough to a house in the sparsely settled Assabet River valley, so that he and his partner, William H. Knight, could dam the Assabet River and build a woolen mill. They started with carpets—in time switching to blankets and wool cloth. Part of their good luck was already being in wool goods when the Civil War cut off northern cotton mills from access to southern cotton.

Looking in the ancestral direction, Amory was six generations away from John Maynard who had decided to leave England for the colonies. John transited the Atlantic, year and ship unknown, but by 1638 he was among the initial settlers of Sudbury. One branch of the family moved to Marlborough. The September 1850 census listed Amory and his wife Mary as heads of a two-unit household of 24 people that included his family, the Adams family, servants and mill workers. Lorenzo, the oldest son, was 21; Lucy Ann Davidson (a house servant) was 16. They married in October, she having just turned 17, and they had their first child thirteen months later. William married Mary Adams, the girl next door, in July 1853. Both marriages lasted more than 50 years and together produced twelve children. Harlan Maynard, the third son, died at age 18; one source specified typhoid fever.

William Maynard
William had a lesser role in the mill's business affairs than older brother Lorenzo. In the 1860s he lived in Boston for a while and worked for the Fitchburg Railroad. Tax records from 1871 find him back in Maynard, and show Amory, Lorenzo and William with incomes of $9,000, $4,000 and $800, respectively. The combined land ownership of the Mill, the A&L Maynard Company (a real estate and construction business) and Amory's personal holdings came to 270 acres. Ten years later, Amory owned a mansion on Beechmont Avenue (now Dartmouth Street), extensive land holdings and cash assets of $65,000; Lorenzo also owned a mansion, also on Beechmont and cash assets of $35,000. William at age 49, married and with seven children, was living in a house owned by his father.

Amory Maynard stepped down as mill Agent in 1885, shortly after having suffered a stroke. Lorenzo was promoted from Superintendent to Agent. Lorenzo's son William H. Maynard became Superintendent. "Agent" was equivalent to today's title of Chief Operating Officer. Although Amory was the largest shareholder, the post-bankruptcy financial reorganization of the Assabet Manufacturing Company in 1862 had resulted in T. A. Goddard becoming President of the Company.

At about the time of Amory's retirement, his son William moved himself, wife and five youngest of his seven children first to Pasadena and then to Los Angeles—at the time a smallish city of 25,000 people. Historical accounts state the move was for William's health—nature of illness unstated. It is plausible he had tuberculosis, as moving to a hot, dry climate was that era's treatment of choice. But it is also a bit interesting that he moved the year his brother took over the Mill. Regardless, three years later, William was well enough to relocate east, but chose Worcester over Maynard.

Amory Maynard's death in1891 left Lorenzo and William wealthy men. Lorenzo continued as Agent of the mill and Maynard resident. He personally paid for construction of the clock tower in 1892. William continued to live in Worcester until his death in 1906. At about the same time as the clock tower construction Lorenzo also paid for the chapel addition and installation of over a dozen stained glass windows in the Union Congregational Church, a place of worship which his father had been instrumental in getting started in 1852. Six of the windows were dedicated to Lorenzo's parents and to his four deceased daughters. For complex reasons, including an end of federal protective tariffs in the 1890s, the Mill failed in late 1898. It was purchased in 1899 by the American Woolen Company.

Only known photo of
Lorenzo Maynard
Lorenzo moved to Winchester, where he died in March 1904, a millionaire at a time when an average worker's wages were $500 per year. His son William H. Maynard was his sole surviving heir. An October 1904 newspaper article noted that Lorenzo and five other deceased family members were relocated from burial in Maynard to a new mausoleum in the Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge—a place where all the "best" people were being buried. Correspondence on file at Mount Auburn confirms that Lorenzo bought the plot, #6111, on Crystal Avenue, in April 1903 and immediately ordered the construction of an impressive structure made of granite, twenty-four feet tall, with five stained glass windows. Contributing causes for the post-mortem move were bad feelings left over from being displaced at the Mill, plus the 1902 effort to change the town's name to Assabet.

William’s oldest daughter, Mary Susan, had remained in Maynard when the family decamped to California. Her granddaughter, Mary Sanderson (1874-1947), was the last descendant to live in Maynard. Between deaths and daughters, the family name vanished. There are differently surnamed living descendants via Lessie Louise and Harlan James, but none here.

Inside the crypt, looking
up at the skylight
The family crypt, located on the north side of Glenwood Cemetery, is an imposing earth-covered mound with a granite facade facing the road. The mound is 90 feet across and about 12 feet tall. The stonework facade is 30 feet across. The ceiling of the crypt has a glass skylight surmounted by an exterior cone of iron grillwork. "MAYNARD" graces a granite lintel above the entrance. The six-foot tall double doors are intricately carved Italian marble. One door had been cracked across and repaired.

Inside, there are eight vaults, three each on the left and right sides and two across the back. Each vault was designed to hold three caskets. Above the three on the left is "W. MAYNARD." Above the two at the back is "A. MAYNARD." Above the three on the right is "L. MAYNARD." Some of the vault doors have names and dates incised. In the center of the room is a large marble-topped table. The crypt was constructed in 1880, while Mary (1805-1886) and Amory (1804-1890) were still alive. They are both interred there, along with their third son, Harlan, who had died in 1861 and was first buried in the cemetery, later relocated to the crypt.

As mentioned, Lorenzo and his family are interred at Mount Auburn Cemetery. William and his wife are buried in Hope Cemetery, Worcester. They had moved to Worcester in 1888. Of their seven children, Mary S. Peters is the only Amory grandchild buried in Maynard.

Maynard family descendants visit family crypt (2018) 
Click on photos to enlarge
Because no descendants live in Maynard, there has been a bit of misconception that there were none. Not true. William had seven children. William’s daughter Lessie Louise Maynard married Paul Beagary Morgan of the wealthy and well-known Morgan family of Worcester. Lessie and Paul had five children, who begat children of their own. Another line descends from William's son, Harlan, to his son John, to three daughters. Hence, none of the descendants have Maynard as their last name. In 2018, one great-great-granddaughter of Amory and Mary, and six great-great-great grandchildren visited Maynard to see the family crypt and peruse parts of the town familiar to their ancestors.


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