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Saturday afternoon, after dropping off dry-cleaning and taking pictures at Squier Lumber in Monson, I stopped at the house up Moulton Hill Road from the cemetery. It was my best guess as the likely Squier family home based on what the librarian in Monson told me about its location.

Because it was something minnehaha K. would do with excellent results, and also since it was only polite, I knocked on the door. A youngish woman greeted me while her mother kept their eager dog firmly in hand. Sure enough, yes; it was the Squier House.

The McCann family has owned it for 20 years now; the daughter has lived there since she was 4. She's a nuclear med tech (for which there are very few jobs in the area) and is studying nursing. They farmed the land for years. Now another farmer brings in the hay and such. The chickens are gone, as is the cow.

The current house was built in 1838. What's now the master bedroom upstairs has a wooden spring floor -- the Squier family used to hold "kitchen dances" there. Bouncy-bouncy. I'd never heard of a sprung floor in a house before Saturday. Monday I learned that there might have been one in the Squier House here in Wales, too. More research, more research. I expect there's always more research to do, especially for someone as driven by Story as I am.

The stairs to the second floor are very narrow and steep, with the most petite railings I've seen. Most of the house has been redone at various times over the years. Those stairs and the upstairs floors are all original. Mrs. McCann pointed out other original bits; I took pictures of them, and of lots more. I just uploaded the images to my computer an hour ago; does anyone have an extra month or two they could send my way? I promise to get them and the other Squier pictures online, and to otherwise put the much-needed extra time to good use.

Most of the original fireplaces have been removed or updated, but signs of their former existence remain. There were at least 6, all built off a large chimney in the center of the house. Off the back of the narrow kitchen, the Squier family had a birthing room. The kitchen has since been extended and now takes up the space the birthing room used to occupy.

The attached carriage house is now a 2-car garage. Original stone walls run along the west edge of the property, and maybe elsewhere, too. Across the street, still on land that's part of the homestead, there's a maple sugar shack among various outbuildings (chicken coop and more).

An old barn stands in front of the house. Well, off to the side from the front door, but it's in front of the house for all practical purposes. Not where you'd expect to find a barn...unless you know the story behind its placement. It's the original barn. The foundation of the original Squier house is in front of it. I don't yet know what year it went up, or when it burned, but the way this genealogy project has been going so far, I won't be at all surprised if the information turns up before too long. IIUC, the barn was built first, then the Squier family lived in it while building the first house. That house appears to have been attached directly to the barn.

The mother and daughter welcomed me warmly and showed me through the house, telling the stories they know. So kind, so generous with their time, especially since they had a surprise birthday party to attend in Boston that evening. They told me Mr. McCann knows many more of the stories, and loves telling them. He was off hunting for the weekend. I'm welcome back, anytime. I left my card, and will follow up with him....

Walking east across the fields toward Squier Pond, I met a carpenter and his son. The carpenter told me there's an Indian Mound in the fields between the house and pond. Someone dug it up in the 1950s and took lots of arrowheads out. His young son told me about finding an arrowhead while digging out there himself. I wonder how many generations of children digging in the yard, in the fields, in the woods will pass before there are no more arrowheads to be found. They were certainly plentiful in southern Michigan when I was a kid, but I don't hear much about kids finding them these days.

The McCann family has sold a few lots off of the land at various times over the years. A friend lives across the street in a newer home. The carpenter built the house and his barn workshop "recently" but modeled it after the old style in both design and look. It's pretty convincing from the outside. When I first saw it a few weeks ago, I wondered if it might not be the homestead instead of the house on the corner.

Squier Pond is a large pond in the woods at the east end of the fields. At the north end of the pond, there are some large square stones that the Indians used to harvest ice from the pond. I don't know how and I haven't seen them yet. The carpenter's son ran across the fields to tell me about them as "something else you might think is cool about the pond." Oh, yes; yes, indeed I do. I told him it may be Spring before I come back, but that I do want to see those stones. The boy told me how to get to them; it wasn't obvious from the part of the Squier Pond I visited.

I came home, wrote up an earlier version of these notes while they were fresh, fresh, fresh in my memory and sent them off to my sister and nieces. Then I headed over to Wales Cemetery #4 in the hope of finding Helen and Ruby Squier's gravesites before it got dark. Success there, too, and more Gobsmacked by Genealogy adventures followed on both Sunday and Monday, and more may well come yet this afternoon.

When I talked with the woman working at the library on Saturday, she was astonished at how quickly I've learned so much about the Squier families I'm related to, how many personal stories I know about them. Her brother has been working on family genealogy for years and has nothing anywhere close to this. Yeah, I'm astonished, too. It's two months tomorrow since my sister sent me the email with the electrifying news that in 1970, "Miss Helen Squier of Wales, Mass" had shared family geneaolgy information with our Great-Uncle Ted Squier.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 16th, 2010 10:06 pm (UTC)
This is true. I've knocked on the doors of family homesteads a couple of times, and always been invited in and told stories. And given gifts, come to think.

Does Helen have any siblings or relatives alive? I'm not sure who Ruby is.

Nov. 17th, 2010 07:38 am (UTC)
Your door-knocking inspired me to try my own, and it turned out very well. Thank you!

Ruby was Helen's older sister. Helen died in 1976; Ruby in 1985. They were reclusive, crazy cat ladies. They had another sister, Phyrne Squier Russell, who outlived them both. Phyrne was the town librarian for awhile, and traveled extensively. She went to college in Florida, and lived a couple different places in California. Her College Day program lists her as Sarah Phyrne Squier, but she went by Phyrne all her life from what I can tell so far.

I haven't found any living relatives yet, though every time I turn around, I learn about more and more Squier family members in the area. There aren't any left in Wales, or listed in Monson, but given how many were scattered throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut, it seems likely that the small handful of Squiers in west of Monson and over toward Springfield, and the 25 Squiers I've found "near Ashford" in Connecticut are going to be distant, distant, distant cousins somehow. I was already at 3rd cousins, 4 times removed (or, with others, 4th cousins, 3 times removed), so I don't know how far I'll go digging beyond the immediate vincinity.

The Wales library has a fat 3-ring binder full of Squier family correspondence and genealogy information compiled back in the 1920s that leaves my head spinning. There are also file drawers, boxes, and cupboards of historical info, and the librarian has given me full access to all of it. Today I even heard a cassette recording from when the librarian's aunt interviewed Phyrne to help capture the town's history. I've heard her voice! And now I want to digitize it, of course.
Apr. 13th, 2014 02:14 am (UTC)
squier family
My Squier family came from Monson Mass, Ashford conn. and moved to Alexander Genesee New York and from their to Iowa, and then to California. Philip born 1641 in Newburg Mass, sp Elizabeth Fuller, son John,sp. Millescent Scott, John, b 1768,sp Sousanna Riddle, Edward turner,b 1801 sp. sallyann, John Carlos,b. 1854 alexander Genesee New York, sp Evelyn Brush. Does any of this sound familiar to you. Have alot of information, will share. Enjoyed your article.
Olive Squier Mitchell, olivebranch36@aol.com

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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