The Wood / Houghton / Doe Farm – An Old Landmark Gone

Last week the landscape on the south end of Bingham village changed with the demolition of the old Doe Farm. It was a building with a long history, on land first occupied by Ephraim Wood and his descendants, and soon the town will enjoy the convenience of a new gasoline station at this location. This article remembers some of the people who have called that place home over the past two centuries.

According to Bingham’s 1962  Sesquicentennial History, Ephraim Wood was one of the first two settlers in Bingham, the first being William Fletcher. Samuel Titcomb drew a plan of the area in 1790, when Daniel Cony ordered a survey of settlers in the William Bingham’s Million Acres. The plan shows a tract of land reserved for Ephraim Wood, across from the southern end of the big island in the Kennebec.

Titcombs_SurveyKR

Detail of Samuel Titcomb’s 1790 plan of settlers on the Million Acres.

In 1806, Wood received a deed from Daniel Cony for one-half of lot #9, as delineated on a plan made by Phillip Bullen in 1800. In 1807, he received a deed for the entire lot #11, also on Bullen’s plan. He later received a deed from Phillip Bullen, the surveyor, for seventy-five acres in the north part of lot #8 in Range 2.

bullen_detail

Detail of Phillip Bullen’s Plan of Bingham, 1800, showing lots sold to Ephraim Wood. (Copy in the author’s collection)

Ephraim was born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1759, and is said to have been a teacher in the area before he came to Bingham about 1784. His parents, Oliver and Lucy (Hosmer) Wood, had moved to Norridgewock about 1773. Ephraim married Lephie Goodrich, daughter of Joshua Goodrich, Jr., his Bingham neighbor to the north.

The next transaction involving the Wood property is a deed dated December 20, 1839, in which Ephraim and Lephie assign one-half of their property to son-in-law James Tillotson Young “in consideration of love and affection and also the sum of ten dollars.” It is interesting to note that the deed was witnessed by Ebenezer Thatcher, who was a son-in-law of General Henry Knox, and owned property here. Thatcher died in Bingham in 1841.

James Young had married Lucy Wood in 1820, and settled on land just south of the entrance to the Mahoney Hill Road. He sold that land in 1838, and it is probable that the family then went to live with, and care for, her parents at the Wood farm.

Ephraim died in August 1841, and Lephie in December that year. In 1842, the heirs to Ephraim’s estate deeded the other half of the Wood property to James, for the sum of five hundred dollars. The heirs were:

  • Nathan and Lydia (Wood) Baker
  • Dr. Zachariah and Asenath (Wood) Spaulding
  • Sewall and Sarah (Wood) Baker
  • Samuel Wood
  • Mary Wood
  • Martha Wood

The only part of the original lands that did not pass to James was a parcel Ephraim had set aside for his son, Samuel. That parcel was where the Gateway Cabins and family home are now located. Samuel, somewhat debilitated by a severe childhood illness, lived on that property until he passed away in 1893.

wood_1860

Detail, Chace Map of Bingham, 1860. (Old Canada Road Historical Society)

James and his family were living on the Bingham property when the census was taken in 1860. In November of that year he sold lot #11 to Vernon Gilman of Anson and George W. Johnson of Industry, and the family moved to Wisconsin. This deed mentions that the sale included “Eaton Island” in the Kennebec, the whole property containing 147 acres, more or less. These men sold the property to Wilson Greaton of Anson that December. Greaton conveyed it to Levi Powers, who sold it to Alonzo Tobey, a river driver from Norridgewock, in 1863.

In 1865, Tobey sold the property to Thomas F. and Clarissa (Dinsmore) Houghton of Anson. This deed, too, mentioned that the sale included Eaton Island.

houghton_thomas_clara

The Houghton’s had two daughters, Althea and Marita, and a son Thomas. Marita Houghton married Bingham merchant Mark Savage, and after he died she built the house that is now the Old Canada Road Historical Society building. Althea Houghton married Ingram Pierce, and they were parents of Gertrude Pierce Shoppe. Althea died in 1892, when Gertrude was only four years old. Ingram remarried in 1903, and Thomas Houghton sold him lot #11 in 1904.

houghton_sisters

Marita (left) and Althea, daughters of Thomas and Clara Houghton.

houghton_ingrampr

Ingraham (Ingram) Pierce and wife Althea Houghton Pierce – parents of Gertrude Marita (Pierce) Shoppe. (Collections of Old Canada Road Historical Society)

Ingram Pierce died in May 1924. His widow, Lillian (French), moved to Farmington with their children Mary and Donald. She sold the Bingham property to Vernard I. (Bunny) Pierce and Henry J. Lane on September 23, 1924. This deed also included Eaton Island, and reserved the right of passing over the land to the Somerset Railway, Kennebec Log Driving Company, and the public highway.

doe_farm_pierce

The Ingram Pierce Farm: Gertrude Pierce and her half-sister, Mary C. Pierce. Collections of Old Canada Road Historical Society

The following week, on September 30, 1924, Pierce and Lane sold the land and buildings to Kathleen F. Doe of Bingham. They reserved all the softwood east of the railway tracks, and were prohibited from cutting in the “sugar berth.” They maintained the right to cross the land to cut and remove stumpage for a period of three years—and, they agreed to paint the buildings on the front and west.

Harold and Kathleen Doe operated the Riverside Dairy on this site, and made home deliveries throughout the area.  Janette Doe Robinson remembers delivering milk with her father to the families in Moscow at Daggettville during the construction of Wyman Dam in the 1930’s.

Doe_Farm_janet

Janette Doe (right) on horseback at the Doe Farm in Bingham. Photo donated by Janette Doe Robinson.

The home was later occupied by the Herron and Benson families.

Sources:

  • Somerset County Registry of Deeds
  • Collections of Old Canada Road Historical Society.
  • Vital Records. Ancestry.com
  • Title photo by Carolsue Beane Hill, August 31, 2018

© 2018 by Marilyn Sterling-Gondek

 

 

 

 

 

 

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