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Jed's parent's house "The Adams House" | by kd.swenson
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Jed's parent's house "The Adams House"



One of the first settlers at Newbury, Massachusetts, was one Henry Sewall, who came over from England in 1634, bringing with him cattle, servants, and provisions. He was allotted six hundred acres of upland and marsh land at Newbury, according to agreement made before he left his native country. This land bordered the river Parker, near what is now known as Byfield proper, a fertile, woodland country with rolling hills and rich land. He married Jane Dummer, settling later on the grant of land that had been apportioned to him for the first stock farm in America.


Near the foot of the hill, at the parting of four roads, was a lot of land that he bequeathed to his wife, with ten pounds yearly. The grant of land later on was divided into several house lots, one of which was the home of William Longfellow, the emigrant ancestor of the Longfellow family in America, who married Anne Sewall. This shows the connection through marriage of the prominent families who settled in this region.


Captain Abraham Adams was born in Newbury, May 2, 1676. He followed the sea in early life, sailing first to the West Indies, and soon rose to the command of a vessel, making fourteen trips to England, besides many coastwise trading voyages. In 1703 he married Anne Longfellow. She was a niece of Judge Samuel Sewall, and lived on the part of the old Sewall grant then known as " Highfield," which name was given to the estate that Abraham Adams' father gave to him at the time of his marriage, although the deed was not passed until two years afterwards. Upon this land Captain Adams built his mansion, an unpretentious house following the lines of that period. It stood in the midst of the tract which at that time was much larger than it is to-day, although even now it is still possible to walk a mile in a straight line from the homestead on ancestral ground covered with heavy timber and showing broad meadows.


Stone walls were not then built to define boundaries, and the highway was a mere bridle-path running by the door and on between the houses of Henry Sewall and William Longfellow to the ford over the brook, at that time a considerable stream. The captain, who took kindly to farming, greatly improved the land, and on the grant are still found small apple-trees that grew from those set out by him in 1706. The seeds for these trees were brought by Captain Adams when he returned from one of his voyages. Tradition relates that while bringing them from the ship his oxen stopped in the ford at Cart Creek, and the captain, in a discouraged mood said: " I would rather dump the seeds in this cart into the creek than to put them in the ground." He changed his mind, however, and became a very successful farmer.


After Captain Adams' marriage to Anne Longfellow, he promised to give up his life on the sea and devote his time to farming. Whether with this he made a mental reservation is not known, but in his shipyard half a mile away he afterwards built several vessels and engaged in a coastingtrade. Unlike the other farmers of the day, the products of his farm were carried to New Orleans and other ports and bartered for rice and molasses. The old shipyard can still be seen, but the vessels have long ago disappeared. The narrow river winding to the sea shows little space for shipping, and even in its most prosperous days it was necessary to launch the rudely built ships sidewise.


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Taken on September 18, 2009