About 4 miles from the farmhouse in Whitefield where Emery Glidden was born in 1833, a little girl named Martha Ellen Woodbridge lived in another farmhouse in Newcastle. She was born on October 20, 1831, the sixth child of Thomas and Sophronia (Dammon) Woodbridge. Her older siblings were Harrison, Hartley, Rebecca, Franklin, and Lydia Ann, and they ranged in age from 13 years to 2 years when Martha Ellen was born. Thomas and Sophronia had three more children after Martha Ellen: Luther in 1834, Ruth in 1837 and Abiel in 1840 when his mother was 44 years old. Martha Ellen seems to have preferred her middle name as many times her name appears as Ellen or Nellie.
|Ellen Woodbridge's Ancestors|
|Timeline from Ellen Woodbridge's parents to my grandfather Orville Glidden|
Ellen's second great grandfather, Christopher Toppan was a clergyman in Newbury, Massachusetts. In the early 1700's he made many purchases of land in Lincoln County, Maine, until he owned nearly all the land which later became the towns of Damariscotta and Newcastle. When he died in 1747, he left the property in the what became the village of Sheepscot to his daughter Susannah who was married to Benjamin Woodbridge. (Sheepscot is the village where Emery Glidden's great great uncle Job Averill operated a ferry across the Sheepscot River.) Benjamin and Susannah, Ellen's great grandparents, moved to Sheepscot around 1750. They sold land to other settlers, and a road called The King's Highway was built. It is now one of the oldest roads in Maine.
Three of Benjamin and Susannah Woodbridge's sons built houses to the north of Sheepscot in what became known as the "Woodbridge Neighborhood", and later was called North Newcastle. In an 1857 map, there are several Woodbridges still living in North Newcastle. The "Thos. Woodbridge" on the map is Ellen's father. Nearby is a home labeled "H. Woodbridge". Hodge Woodbridge was a cousin to Ellen's father, and so most likely these two homes were built by the sons of Benjamin and Susannah Woodbridge. The Hodge Woodbridge home was still standing into the 1950's and still owned by a descendent, Mattie Woodbridge, a granddaughter of Hodge Woodbridge. After her death, the house was torn down to widen the road. The barn still stood for some years after that, but it is gone now, too.
|Thos. Woodbridge in North Newcastle (near center of map)|
|Mattie Woodbridge's farmhouse|
|North Newcastle - Mattie Woodbridge's farm is foremost on the right|
The village of North Newcastle was just a small group of farmhouses, not much different today than when Ellen was gowing up. The closest church the family could have attended was the Newcastle-Alna Baptist Church a few miles away in Alna. There was a one room schoolhouse (labeled SH on the map) that Ellen and her siblings would have attended. When Ellen was attending school, embroidering samplers was part of the curriculum for the girls, and the samplers often included the alphabet, the girl's age, a rhyme or a verse, or even local scenery. Slideshow about samplers in Maine schools
In 1847, when Ellen was sixteen years old, her sister Lydia Ann, the sibling closest in age to her, died. Ellen's brother Hartley had moved to Roxbury, and was working as a pianoforte maker. Her sister Rebecca was married there in June of 1847 to a young widower with three little daughters. Five months later in November, Lydia Ann died in Roxbury. Perhaps the sisters had followed their brother to the city to find jobs in factories. Unfortunately Lydia's death is not recorded in the town records, but reading through the other death records in Roxbury at the time, there are many deaths from diseases such as dysentery and scarlet fever.
|From The Age, Jan 14, 1848|
In 1850, Ellen's brother Franklin was working as a farmer in Newcastle, but sometime thereafter he went to sea. For four weeks in the fall of 1857, a notice appeared in a New York City newspaper telling of the death of a young seaman named Franklin Woodbridge. According to a probate document, he had about fifty dollars. Since the notices were placed in the paper searching for relatives, it seems likely either he was found dead or was unable to communicate how to contact his family before he died. One wonders when and how his parents found out about his death. It must have been a terrible shock to the family when they found out he had been dead for weeks or months.
Some ads placed in local newspapers by some of Ellen's uncles.
|Ellen's uncle James Woodbridge owned a store in Hallowell. Ad in Maine Cultivator, June 26, 1841|
|Another uncle of Ellen's. Ad in American Advocate, Nov 7, 1816|