Thursday, February 23, 2017

Phebe Gott's Quilt

People on the Land at Halibut Point, Part 4

October 27, 1908

My dear Lizzie, 

            You have married into a family with roots. I want to welcome you with this quilt. It shows how we have lived on this spot over 200 years. 

            My grandfather Joshua Gott is the thread running through this quilt. He told us stories by the fireplace all winter. He told us his grandfather Samuel built this house from the ship timbers that brought him here from Wenham in 1702. 

            In those early days there were hardly any other settlers near here. Samuel and his wife Margaret already had two children when they arrived. They bought some adjacent lots for Margaret's brother William Andrews. One of Margaret's sisters married Joshua Norwood at the Garrison House. You can see their three houses in the First Panel of the quilt, homesteading the land all the way from Halibut Point to Pigeon Cove. 

            In the Second Panel you notice that the Gott family depended on sheep. Samuel was a weaver. He and his sons made sheep enclosures from the stones they cleared out of the fields . The house had a lean-to kitchen. Samuel acquired other property for some of his fourteen children. Eventually just his son Joseph's branch lived here, but they had to share it with Captain Norwood who raised fifteen children in his half of the house. 

            That's how my grandfather Joshua grew up. Just as he turned twenty-one the Revolution broke out. He joined George Washington's Army for the defense of Boston and New York. Then he shipped out on the privateer Stark. There they are in the Third Panel, chasing a British prize at sea. When he came back from the War the United States were independent but Sandy Bay was still part of Gloucester. 

            Grandfather Joshua lived in this house with his wife Deborah, whom I never knew. He lived to be ninety-two. He took care of the orchards that you see in the Fourth Panel. In my childhood only two of his seven children were still alive, my father Joshua Jr. and Aunt Lucy. Grandfather Joshua always had time for us and his many friends. Perhaps he loved the sea more than the land. He sold the Fatting Pasture to David Babson in the 1820s. 

            Aunt Lucy must have had his grit. She married three times. Grandfather gave her second husband Job Dennen lifetime rights to take stone from ten acres of land out by the shoreline. You can see Job splitting a ledge in the Fifth Panel. My husband and I sold that land to him fifty years ago. Later on Ezra Eames tried to make a go of quarrying there. The Rockport Granite Company is working the Babson Farm pretty hard, but they never did get that piece of land from Ezra Eames's daughter Sarah Weatherell, who owns it now. 

            Back in 1835 my father Joshua was the first clerk and director of the Pigeon Cove Harbor Company. They built the breakwater and wharf that you see in the Sixth Panel. People called him Captain, like they did his father. Our land wasn't big enough to make much of a farm any more. He had a surveyor make up a plan with lots for each of his children, and the common pasture for all of us down on the shore between Sarah Weatherell's land and the Phillips' Ocean View Estate coming at us from Andrews Point. 

            My husband Charles McLellan and I inherited the lot with this house on it. We had to make a few property adjustments with my brother and sisters. We're the ones who wanted to keep the family going here, even though the surname has changed through my marriage to Charles. Everyone still calls it the Gott House. The Seventh Panel shows it bracketed by the estates at Ocean View and the quarry derricks on Babson Farm. 

            Charles is gone now too. Most of our children have gone footloose, which I understand. My brother and sisters and I gave up the pasture. We have a neighbor on the lot that Susan sold. Change is coming on the others. The electric railway goes by on Granite Street, and automobiles. People are on the move in the Eighth Panel. 

            Lizzie, it seems you and Kenneth are going to make a home here together. This is the oldest gambrel-roofed house on Cape Ann. I've jostled with it for seventy-three years. This picture in the Ninth Panel is the way I feel about it. Just like us it needs plenty of caring. I'm pleased you feel that way too. With you and Kenneth it is in good hands. 

            This is the best way I could tell my story. You will have it with the quilt over you every night. You will be blessed as I have been blessed in this old house, even as the world swirls around. 

Phebe Gott McLellan

I have invented the Quilt and Phebe's Letter to convey how she might have felt about these facts and trends of family history.



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