John Byard’s Farm (PEO.44)
Photos and text about the farm and family of John Byard
Saralyn Billings Byard’s collection of historical documents and photos includes the materials used to create this story about the family and descendants of John Byard.
John Byard, the fifth of the ten children of Robert and Abigail Glover Byard was born 24 Apr 1778 in Sedgwick, Hancock, Maine. In 1805 he began buying the land along Reach Road that became the site of his house and farm as well as additional properties in other areas of Sedgwick, probably to increase his access to land suited to growing hay, harvesting wood or grazing cattle1. Although the farm included significant acreage much of the land was rocky and poorly adapted to planting so John got additional work as a laborer and by using his team of oxen for twenty five cents a day.
In 1803 at the age of 25 John married 21 year old Eunice Hale (1782-1808), the daughter of settler Samuel and Eunice Hale and they had three children;
- Abigail “Nabby” G. Byard (born Aug 30 1804, died 1832). She married Stephen Allen (1799-1856) on Jul 3 1827and they had 3 children.
- Jonathan Byard (born Dec 16 1805) died as an infant
- Eunice (Aug 1 1808, died 1885). She married Stephen Allen (1799-1856) on Feb 19 1834 and they had 7 children.
Sadly, John’s wife Eunice died Aug 16 1808 at the age of 26 probably from complications related to the birth of baby Eunice on August 1st.
In 1809 John then married Judith Eaton Dodge (1777-1829), the widow of Hezekiah Dodge (1771-18042) and daughter of Moses (1745-1807) and Patience Bridges Eaton. Judith brought the two daughters from her marriage to Hezekiah, Lydia (b. Jan 12, 1800) and Joanna (b. Feb 17, 1804). Judith and Hezekiah also had a son named Moses but he had died at the age of two (Dec. 12, 1801-Feb 12, 1803).
John and Judith had four children;
- Hezekiah Dodge Byard (25 May 1810-10 May 1892) He was named after Judith’s first husband,
- Judith Byard (21 Apr 1812-1892 in Massachusetts)
- John Byard (17 Jul 1814-28 Sep 1852 in Eastport, ME)
- Moses Eaton Byard (9 Feb 1819-28 Sep 1856 in Boston, Mass.)
John died 31 Aug 1820 at the age of 42 leaving Judith with the farm and 8 dependents; Abigail age 16, Eunice 12, Lydia 20, Joanna 16, Hezekiah 10, Judith 8, John 6, and Moses Eaton 1.
John died without a will, perhaps because of his early death, and his estate went into probate where some of the property was sold to pay his debts and his widow Judith was given a portion of the farm and land as her dower. Though the specifics of Judith’s portion may seem overly detailed, it does ensure that she will have a home for the rest of her life. Later she was given some additional monies to help support her and her family.
This is a transcription of a portion of Judith’s dower in 18213.
“Pursuant to a warrant from the Honorable Alford Johnson Jr. Judge of the Probate of wills for the County of Hancock—We whose names are hereunto subscribed having been duly sworn—have proceeded to assign to Judith Byard (the widow of John Byard deceased ) her Dower in the estate of the said John Byard, Viz—One third part of the mansion-house that is today the Southernmost front Room on the ground floor the __ over the same also one third part of the garret Mrs Byards part being the southwest end with the part of the cellar directly under aforesaid front room-
Together with a privilege in the kitchen the wash house the pantry the entry the outerdoors the cellar way and the stair cases and the Hoghouse—We also assign to the said Judith Byard the south east end of the barn containing the long crib the thrashing floor and one third part of the ground floor ( not the __ floor) which __ horse Marked JB on the __ with the use of the shed and barn yard in common one third part of the __ front of the house below the road Bounded as follows viz—Beginning at the corner bound between Daniel Morgan Jr and running from thence on the boundry line between the land of Daniel Morgan Jr and the aforesaid premises to the Town Road from thence on the Town Road twenty three rods and one third of a Rod to a stake and stone in the side of the road near the stone wall near the old house from thence by a number of stakes and stones to a stake and stones near the shore and from thence fifteen rods to the first mentioned bounds—Then beginning at Daniel Morgan Jr corner bound ___ thence running on the boundry line between the said Daniel Morgan Jr and the said Estate to the head line from thence running seventeen rods to a marked __ on the top of a large rock. From thence running south 44 east to a stake near the stone wall on the upper side of the road from thence running on the road twenty six rods to the first mentioned bounds—The whole of said dower in the homestead amounting to the value of seven hundred and eight dollars and thirty three cents–Also we have laid out and assign to the said widow Byard (a certain part of the lot of land lying on the County Road said lot being No 139) as her dower.”
Judith survived John by 9 years and died in 1829 at the age of 52. By this time her son Hezekiah was 19 and undoubtedly had assumed the role of the man of the family. Within the next few years he began to buy up his father’s original farmland and additional acreage thereby creating a successful working farm.
As Hezekiah built his farm he also created a family. In 1831 he married Maria Trussell (1811-1906) and together they had eight children.
- Frances “Fanny” Maria (13 Dec 1832- 24 Apr 1918 in Northport, ME.) Married Samuel G. Herrick in 1852
- George Augustus (15 Mar 1835-3 Mar 1915 in Fortuna, Calif.)
- James Pearl ( 30 Sep 1838-14 Sep 1904 in Maine) became a merchant and part owner of the schooner We’re Here
- Edward Alphonso ( 6 Jul 1844-7 Jul 1914 in Sedgwick)
- Henry Florentine (9 Dec 1841-2 May 1920 in Eureka, Calif.)
- Eva Georgine ( 22 Aug 1847- 23 May 1907) married Henry Clay Hamilton in 1868 and moved to Brooklin
- Harriet L. (1850-1902)
- Nellie L. (11 Jun 1851-2 Mar 1937 Auburn, ME) married (1) George Haskell Buker (28 Apr 1850-25 Mar 1883 in Castine) and (2) Rev. William Cox Curtis and at the time of her death was living in Auburn, ME.
George and Henry moved to California and never returned to Maine while Hezekiah lived and worked on the farm his entire life. He died there in 1892 of “old age” and the farm then passed to his widow Maria and his son Edward Alphonso Byard.
Edward had gone to sea at an early age and became a skilled mariner. In a newspaper interview of his wife Abby she told of him being made skipper at the age of 18 on the bark Fanny which was involved in trade with the West Indies. He was also captain on the schooners Amelia Cobb, the Susan and the We’re Here.
In 1869 Edward A. married Abigail Mary Eaton (1846-1939) and they had four children.
- Edward James (17 Apr 1872-25 Sep 1969 in Castine, ME.)
- John Augustus (15 Jun 1874-19 Nov 1956 in Aberdeen, Washington)
- Carl Henry (21 Dec 1879-24 Sep 1921 in New Haven, Conn.)
- Betsy Maria (27 Dec 1882-1966) married Frank Eugene Withee in 1906
Though Edward was at sea a good part of the time, his wife and children lived and worked on the farm and it was there that he eventually retired. Edward A. died in 1914 of pneumonia and in 1916 his widow, Abby Mary Byard, sold the farm and property to their oldest son, forty-four year old Edward James Byard.
Edward J. had been born on the farm and was to live his entire life there. In 1900 he married Alice Smith Blodgett (1879-1942) from Brooksville and they had six children.
Paul Frederick (1902-1985)
Ronald Edward (1905-1982)
John Lewis (1907-1973)
Barbara Alice (1908-1999)
Proctor Blodgett (1913-1998)
Priscilla Elaine (1924-2011)
The following article from Saralyn Billings Byard’s collection was dated 1938 by Abigail Mary Byard’s grandson Paul F. Byard (1905-1982). It was written by Henry Buxton, a writer for the Bangor Daily News who was known for his in-person interviews.
Saralyn’s typed copy of this article follows and is a bit easier to read:
Henry Buxton says.. Mrs. Abbie Byard Recalls Events of Eighty Years Ago Sedgwick Nonagenarian Describes Golden Era of Sail
In an old square white house in Sedgwick, overlooking the Benjamin River, I chatted with a delightful old lady of 93 whose exceedingly clear memory escorted me back over the years to the coastal Maine of 80 or more years ago.
It is from such sources as this that one can obtain an accurate picture of the glamorous days of sail when every Maine coastal village boasted of its large quota of sea-captains, mates, bosuns, and able seamen. Those were the days when Maine was known the world over for its hardy seamen and staunch sailing vessels.
This old lady is Mrs. Abbie Byard, widow of Captain Edward A. (Alphonso) Byard, and a descendant of the original Byards who migrated from Salem, MA to Byard;s Point in Sargentville in 1763. One of these, Robert Byard, was seized by the Indians and held captive for six months. The old house where I interviewed her was built by her grandfather in 1819 and six generations of her family have lived in this fine old dwelling which is a splendid example of early colonial architecture.
I found Mrs. Byard sitting in a rocking chair beside a large window through which streamed October sunlight. She was garbed neatly in a blue dress with small polka dots and I was impressed by the strength and nobility of her profile. Mrs. Byard lives with her son, Edward Byard and daughter-in-law Alice Byard and it was easy to see that she has the benefit of loving care and consideration. Here again I found an example of the splendid care Maine people give their old folks. Never, in the nearly three years I have been writing this column, have I found a single instance of wanton neglect of old people.
Mrs. Byard was born in Sedgwick, February 25, 1845, the daughter of Danial Eaton. “It may be rather confusing” she told me, “that my mother was a Byard and I married a Byard, both my mother and my husband being descendants of the original Byards who settled Byard’s Point in Sargentville in 1763.”
ROMANCE IN MAINE
“I love to look back upon the days of childhood for they were sunny, happy days of fun and laughter. There was romance in Maine then, for most of the men folks followed the sea and they brought home strange stories of adventure in foreign lands. Most of these men were of strong character and great courage. Life for them was not a haphazard thing, but a real pattern through which ran the golden threads of truth and wisdom.
“As a girl, I went to school to the little schoolhouse on Sedgwick Hill. We had women teachers in the summer and men teachers during the winter term. Winters were more severe then in Maine and often father had to break a road through the snow so that we could go to school. There were more pupils then than there are now. When I was a girl, 60 or more boys and girls trudged up over the hill to the schoolhouse.
“When I was a girl, I went to dancing school over on Byard’s Point, but in later years I was too busy to dance and have not stepped onto a dance floor since my girlhood. My ancestor, Robert Byard, initiated hucking bees when he settled on Byard’s Point in 1763 and this custom was continued every fall for nearly 100 years. I can remember attending the last one with my grandfather, and it was great fun to witness the excitement when someone found a red ear.
“I married Captain Edward S.5 Byard, October 27, 1869. He began going to sea when he was 14 years old and his rise was rapid as a skillful navigator. At the age of 18 he was made skipper of the bark Fanny which was engaged in the West Indies trade. Prior to that, he made voyages all over the world and went ashore in many foreign ports. In the closing years of his sea career, he skippered the fishing schooner Werehere from Lamoine to the Grand Banks.
“This schooner was later made famous in Kipling’s book Captains Courageous. My husband was never shipwrecked and losing only one man during his career of 60 years at sea. This man was named Eaton and he hailed from Deer Isle. He was lost off the Grand Banks.
MADE ONE VOYAGE
“I made but one voyage with my husband and that was the summer we were married. It was intended that I should sail with him to the West Indies but owing to bad weather conditions I left the ship at Boston.
“I have lived in this house for 68 years and I would never be happy anywhere else. It was built by my grandfather 119 years ago and every room has meaning to me. All my life I have been associated almost entirely with my own relatives. The four Sargent boys of Sargentville were all sea captains and they married into my family. Two married Eaton girls and the other two, Byard girls. We were one big, happy family and never needed to go outside the family for entertainment. Our husbands were away at sea most of the time and while they were gone we filled our time with paring bees, canning bees, and sewing bees. Life was never dull when we were all together. Life was simple, honest and clean and the spirit of kindness dwelt in everybody’s heart. I have always been a homebody and during my spare time did a lot of fancy work. I did tatting until I was 90 years old when my hands became too stiff to work the shuttles.”
Mrs. Byard has four children: Edward J. Byard and John A. Byard of Sedgwick; Mrs. Betsy Whithie of Hamilton and Carl H. Byard of Aberdeen, WA.6
This story was written by Saralyn Billings Byard, Sedgwick and
Pam Simmons, Sargentville, Maine and Redwood City, California
1 Hancock County Registry of Deeds, Book 18 pages 36,37, Book 28 page 357, Book 28 pages 410, 411, 412, 413
2 Sedgwick Vital Records, pages 15, 55
3 Hancock County Registry of Deeds, John Byard Probate Warrant for Dower, June 7th 1821.
5 Edward S. was an error. It should have been Edward A.
6 Handwritten note by Marjorie (Paul F. Byard’s granddaughter) at the bottom of Saralyn’s article, “Betsy was nicknamed Bessie. John A. Byard “Seattle, WA and married a woman from Gate, WA. Carl H. is crossed off-he died in 1921 in New Haven, CT.”