I come across strong women in my family time and time again, but every now and then I find a grandmother who pulls especially hard on my heart strings really bringing to the forefront what a long line of incredibly strong women we come from. Martha (Hadlock) Harris was one of those women.
Martha was born Dec 2 1748 in Gloucester, Ma, daughter of Samuel Hadlock & Hannah Toppan. Her dad died before she was 6 yrs old and her mother married Edmond Marshall removing to Ipswich, Ma. Martha and Joseph Harris Jr. likely met & fell in love in Ipswich, perhaps at his grandfather's place or family who had remained there. Joseph was the son of Joseph Harris Sr & Joanna Webber, and grandson of Thomas Harris & Johanna Pulcipher of Ipswich. Joseph Harris Jr & Martha Hadlock were married Sept 15 1771 in Haverhill, MA by Rev Badger but the record was lost early on. They lived in Ipswich for the first couple years of their marriage before returning to Joseph's hometown of Salem, NH and living nearby Joseph Harris Sr.
Martha was a young widow, her husband Joseph Harris Jr dying in Jun 1777 at Ticonderoga, NY in the Revolutionary War. She was 29 at the time, with three young daughters, having been married less than 6 short years. In Salem, NH living near her father-in-law, she raised her daughters Martha, Joanna & Sarah, my 4th great grandmother, an especially strong woman in her own right having lost 6 of her 9 children between March 11th and March 17, 1815 due to spotted fever and then carried on to have 3 more children & live until 1847.
Martha, with her dynamic persevering nature, her cow, her garden & her large hand loom provided for herself and her daughters by weaving and selling cloth, likely day after day to ensure a level of security for them all. She lived on the crest of a small hill off what is known today as North Main St. just past Town Farm Rd. Conflicting references has made it difficult to ascertain as of yet if her home was on the right or the left if headed north, but we can be certain it was just after the bridge and brook that passes there, which was once called "Widow Harris's Bridge".
One devastating day, her humble home on the hill burned to the ground leaving only the chimney. It is said "Willing hands, however, assisted her in saving her great loom" (History of Salem by Gilbert pg 348) So, she propped up the loom against the chimney, and built herself another house, presumably around it. Gilbert says she lived there many years until she received the pension and then built a new small but comfortable house nearby. I suspect she built the new house with the 100.00 she received from the sale of her land to her son-in-law Hezekiah Young in 1830, rather than as late as 1837. The Deed 260-507 states: For 100.00 dollars; land in Salem a20 acres beginning at a large rock by Hittee Tittee brook by the highway; northeasterly to land of ______Warner; also borders Daniel Emerson & John Ewins/Evins. It doesn't mention her house at all. (viewable online nhdeeds.com)
Later, this "new" house, Gilbert says, was moved nearby to the Town Poor Farm where she could live in it and be looked after a little better.
Gilbert states that for a short while before her home was moved, she lived with her grandson Dudley Jones who lived across the brook from her (p348) & he also states that "Granny Jones" was Widow Harris's daughter (pg 400). I do not show those relationships at all and fear an assumption was made on the part of Gilbert.
Martha's widow's pension file #14847 (viewable on footnote.com) confirms Joseph & Martha Harris definitely only had 3 daughters: Martha d: 1824 (m: Michael Taintor), Joanna resided in Belfast, Me as of 1837 & Sarah (my 4th grt grndmo) - this per Martha Harris's affidavit & her daughter Sarah's affidavit. "Granny Jones" cannot be her daughter.
" Granny Jones", Dudley Jones's mother, was "Hulda W. Harris". She was married to William Jones & had many children. All the records for their children I saw say "Hulda W. Harris". I have no idea who Hulda actually was the daughter of, but I suspect she was the daughter of Joseph Harris Sr. & his second wife Lydia. Making her a much younger half sister of her deceased husband.
Martha's affidavit dated May 4 1837, aged 88 (b: a1749) states he volunteered at first, came home & reenlisted 3 yrs with Capt Woodbury & Col Stark Regt. It confirms she was married Sept 15 1771 and that he died at Ticonderoga Jun 18 1777. Her maiden name was Martha Hadlock, and she reports that previous to & for a years or two after her marriage, they lived in Ipswich, MA. She claims she was married by Rev Badger of Haverhill and that she had a marriage cert that she kept with her husband's papers long after his death but they were all burned in the fire and Badger has been dead many years. She confirms no record of her marriage can be found and that she had 3 children Martha born in Ipswich; Joanna, & Sarah both born in Salem, NH. She states Sarah was about 7 months old when her father died.
The next page of the file is an affidavit from Sarah Young of Manchester widow of Hezekiah Young late of Manchester, deceased. "I am 60 years of age and my maiden name is Sarah Harris daughter of Joseph Harris & Martha Harris of Salem." Sarah states she was born Nov 15 1776 and confirms sisters Martha & Joanna as older than her. She reports Martha was born in Ipswich and has been dead about 12 years (Can't find her birth). She says her sister Joanna she suspects is still living in Belfast Maine. "My mother's maiden name was Martha Hadlock and as I was informed lived in Ipswich for sometime prior to and after her marriage." She confirms the fire, the papers and mentions her mother and grandfather Joseph Harris telling her that her father died at Ticonderoga in 1777. It is dated Apr 28, 1837.
The 1840 pension list says Martha Harris was 96 (b:1744), but her letter in 1837 & birth record indicate she was about 92 years old in 1840. The date of her death and/or a burial has not been found, but it was likely between 1840-50 in Salem, NH, as she disappears off the census.
Updated May 9 2016
Amylynne (Baker) Murphy