One of my favorite childhood memories is of the hours that I spent as a ten year old with my grandfather Arthur Hale Veasey in his woodworking shop in the basement at 5 Windsor Street. The room was filled with tools of every sort, many passed down from his grandfather who was a master carpenter. For Christmas he had given me a wooden boat model, a sloop that would require hours of sanding, painting and rigging under his critical eye and patient instruction. I cannot recall the words that were spoken then, but I feel instinctively the generational bond that passes from parent to child to grandchild.
To comprehend and appreciate my family history I need more than dates and charts. I must understand the context of the times in which our Veasey ancestors lived. Looking back through eleven generations, it is not possible to recount all the conversations or to determine for certain the goals, aspirations and events that motivated their movements. We can however, draw conclusions based upon the historic timeline in which each succeeding generation lived, survived, and prospered. More than enough documentation exists to piece together the ancestral line. However, very little was recorded of the wives and daughters in the early generations. This is the unfortunate result of a society that did not show proper appreciation for their remarkable contributions in colonial and post colonial America. Yet the words and deeds of later generations validate what we always knew of the strength and character of the women in our family.
I wish to acknowledge the excellent editorial assistance and oversight of Leslie Veasey Schade and genealogical assistance of David Splaine and especially the historical review and constant encouragement of my wife Susan.
Finally, it is with fondness and appreciation that I dedicate this work to Arthur Hale Veasey, Jr., Decius Beebe Veasey, Katharine Ensign Veasey Goodwin and John Edwin Veasey. They have been the keepers of the family flame, which they have lovingly preserved, celebrated and passed along to succeeding generations.
The Great Migration
In 1630 England was the center of a turbulent seventeenth century dominated by growing religious, political and social unrest between King Charles I and his supporters, and Parliament. On one side were the Royalists, mostly unscrupulous noblemen privileged by birth or rank, and on the other side the so-called “Roundheads,” townspeople, farmers and religious Puritans who supported Oliver Cromwell. During this dark period of uneasy peace leading up to the outbreak of Civil War in 1642, approximately 21,000 English men and women immigrated to New England. More than 250 ships embarked for the new world with the Winthrop Fleet of 1630 highlighting the Great Migration.
Not all immigrants were escaping religious or political intolerance. It is likely that many of the early recruits to America were down on their luck Londoners looking for a means of social or economic improvement. Yet they were remarkable people bound together by extraordinary forces of their times. As one modern historian put it, “for these people, going to America was the equivalent to our going to the moon with no return flight.” They were departing the old world forever and taking the wrenching voyage to America.
North America in colonial times was a land of farmers. Unlike later immigrants, our early ancestors found no cities or industrial centers to secure skilled or unskilled employment. Only vast regions of hills and valleys awaited them, uncultivated and overgrown from which timber and rocky fields were cleared to carve out an agrarian society. They were common folk, yet they were skilled and industrious and devoted to family, faith and community.
Captain Thomas Wiggin 1592 – 1667
Captain Thomas Wiggin was a strict Puritan who believed the Anglican Church should be rid of all Catholic influence and that to escape its heresy a “New England” was needed in the new world. He commanded one of the early explorations to New Hampshire during this period and was appointed by English entrepreneurs* to make land acquisitions and organize potential settlers. He and his fellow passengers departed England from the mouth of the Thames estuary at Gravesend aboard the ship James. Many of these early adventurers sold their only possessions to pay for the voyage. The journey took about eight weeks and the relatively small but sturdy ship, carrying 100 Pilgrims and Puritans along with horses, cattle, goats and provisions landed at Salem, Massachusetts on October 10, 1633. After disembarking the voyagers who did not wish to go further, Captain Wiggin and 30 hearty passengers sailed up the coast and dropped anchor at Hilton Point, later to be known as Dover, New Hampshire. At this place in the wilderness where no town or civilization existed, forests were cleared, homes were built and a settlement was established.
* The Viscount Saye and Lord Brook whose other Patents included what is today Old Saybrook, Connecticut
George Veasey 1635 -- 1673
The Veasey (Veazie) Family in England has an ancient history, the seat being in Chamney, Oxfordshire. George Veasey was born in England in 1635 probably near or at Chamney. We can only guess what circumstances motivated him to leave family and homeland for America. By the time he made the Atlantic crossing the Great Migration had come to an abrupt halt since King Charles I stopped emigration to the colonies at the start of the English Civil War. Therefore, his means of passage may have been a merchant ship or navy vessel but this is unknown. What is known is that he first appeared as a landowner on the tax rolls in Dover, NH in 1659 and that he received a land grant in Berwick in 1662. He married Mary Wiggin (1641-1700) of Exeter, the daughter of Captain Thomas Wiggin and Catherine (Maison) Wiggin on January 23, 1664.
Captain Wiggin was by now the first Governor of the Upper Plantation of New Hampshire, a soldier by profession (not Ship’s Master), similar to the pilgrim profile of Captain Myles Standish. He was both explorer and holder of massive lands east of the Squamscott River and he made more than one voyage to entice English settlers to the new world. It is possible that Captain Wiggin befriended and recruited a young George to the colonial wilderness, though this writer has not found his name on any transcribed passengers list.
George and Mary had three children: George, Jr. was born at Exeter October 20, 1665, and settled in Stratham. An infant son Edward was born April 27, 1667 but survived for barely seven months. Thomas was born about 1670 at Stratham. George Veasey died just three years later in 1673 of unknown causes, aged 38. His widow Mary later married Captain William Moore (More).
Colonists in New England needed permission in the form of a patent or charter from the King to establish a settlement. The Royal Charter vested ultimate power in the General Court. Townships only held land on certain conditions. Families in each town had their “house lot,” and “acre right” in the undivided meadow and land was held in widely separated pieces. Field meetings were convened at specific intervals to determine the time for planting, harvesting and turning the cattle into the commons for grazing. Authority was given to townships to establish places of public worship, to recruit and support its ministry, to establish a means of defense from Indian attacks, to provide for the safekeeping of arms and munitions and to elect constables and surveyors of highways. Two or three men were selected to oversee the orderly establishment of roads and boundaries and to send to the General Court all names of idle and unprofitable persons, thus the derivation of the name selectmen.
In this wilderness society, the town was the center of civility and survival. Homes were usually built on a knoll or drumlin and nearby fields were cleared for proper drainage, where the rain would run off to ensure the land would dry quickly. The abundance of shell and sea fish in the Great Bay attracted both settlers and indigenous Indians. While several nearby settlements, some as close as Newfields across the river, endured hostile attacks during the Indian uprisings, Stratham had shared in their agricultural prosperity with the native Squamscots during times of famine and enjoyed peaceful relations. As a result not a single attack was recorded.
Other than ministers and a few lawyers, nearly all inhabitants of the settlements were husbandmen or farmers. These settlers learned from the Indians how to “fish the fields” by laying down perch, alewife, smelt and eel to fertilize and replenish the land every three years. Rye, buckwheat, barley and Indian corn were raised along with turnips, beans, pumpkins and peas. Salt pork, smoked bacon, sausage, eggs, domestic fowl, cheese, Indian pudding and molasses were among the foods that provided sustenance and bounty. New Hampshire’s geography limited farms to single family production however, and in later generations many New Englanders became fishermen, shipbuilders, merchants and sailors.
Work in the household was extremely difficult and exhausting. Housewives cooked meals, made clothing, gave comfort and administered aid to family illnesses in addition to cleaning. They made household goods to use and sell, took care of their animals, maintained the fire and tended to the kitchen gardens. Society was by and large unappreciative, and as a result their remarkable deeds and contributions are not well documented.
In the mid-1660’s, Stratham’s population consisted of four families (Wiggin, Veasey, Scammon and Waldron) who owned all the land. Yet, it did not take long for others to discover the area’s fertile soils and relatively level topography enabled them to grow successful fruit and vegetable crops as well as feed grains for cattle and hogs and hops for brewing beer.
Thomas Veasey (Vesey, Vezey) 1670 – 1750
Thomas Veasey, born about 1670 at Stratham was called “Old Mr. Thomas Veasey” although this moniker appears to be ascribed to more than one T. Veasey (Vezey, Veazie). He established himself as a man of standing in the community. He married Mary Leavitt, born January 13, 1667 and they had ten children: George, Samuel, Benjamin, Thomas, John, Jeremiah, Agnes, Elizabeth, Hannah and Sally.
On January 10, 1715 –16 the inhabitants of Quamscott Patent petitioned His Honour George Vaghan Esar, Lieut. Governour and Commander in Chief over his Majesties Province of New Hampshire to grant them a township separate from all other Towns and Parishes. Among the signers of this document were Thomas Vezey and George Veasey.
The Church exercised a powerful influence in the affairs of the community and the seating in the Meeting House was a reflection of stature. Seatings were determined by rank, which was a measure of wealth, profession, ability, and whatever else determined a man’s consequence among his peers. At a town meeting September 18, 1717, Thomas Veasey, Thomas Rollins and Jonathon Wiggin were the three men selected as sufficiently fearless, impartial and competent to award the seats. Stratham historian Charles Nelson asserts that by consulting the record one could ascertain the exact relative rank of every man from Captain Andrew Wiggin who was the recognized foremost citizen, down to humble Holdridge Kelley, who was awarded the remotest seat in Humility Row. According to the committee’s report dated December 31 1718 George Veasey, Jr. occupied second front gallery, and Benj. Veasey occupied third front gallery. Without explanation Thomas Veasey’s assignment is not listed. However, it is later recorded that in 1735 Thomas deeded his pew in the Stratham Meeting House.
“It is betwixt Col. Andrew Wiggins pew and ye pew that was granted to Benjamin Leavitt, dec. (on lower floor at ye right of ye great doors going into Meeting House) Reserving to my self & my wife to sit in sd. pew during our natural life & also my maiden dau. Hannah so long as she lives or belongs to ye town of Stratham.”
Thomas Veasey did not make a will but deeded land to each of his sons soon after the age of 21. Old Thomas died August 7, 1750 at or near the age of 80.
Capt. George Veasey 1695 - 1773
Born in Stratham in 1695 he married Hannah Wiggin in March 1773.
They had five children:
Simon; b. 28 Oct. 1720, d. young
George; b. 12 Dec. 1722. m. Lydia Morrison
Judith; b. 21 Nov. 1724, d. 8 Jan. 1742/43
Simon; b. 9 May 1727, d. 22 Jan. 1742/43
Thomas; b. 19 Dec. 1729, m. Anna Neal
He received deeds to his father’s land in 1718 and homestead in 1732. George and Hannah deeded property top their son George in 1742.
Thomas Veasey 1729 –1797
This is “Old Thomas” Veasey who died July 22, 1797 according to records at the Stratham Historical Society. Thomas was married to Anna Neal (Annie Neil) who died October 30, 1809 at the age of 82. She was a direct descendant of Captain Walter Neal, founder of the Strawbery Banke settlement. He was first Governor of the Lower Plantation at Piscataqua and a rival to Captain Thomas Wiggin.
It is reported that Jonathan Owen, a New York Tory was quartered at the Thomas Veasey house during the Revolution. Charles Nelson’s History of Stratham states that seventy-one Tories from New York were banished to New Hampshire in 1771 and quartered throughout six or seven Rockingham County towns, mostly with families of Tory sympathizers. It is doubtful, however, that Thomas was a Loyalist since two of his sons and a nephew served in Captain Samuel Gilman’s Company of Col. Enoch Poor’s Regiment, but he may have extended household privileges to this displaced Tory, probably for a stipend paid by the authorities.
Thomas and Annie had five children: Anna, Joshua, Simon, Thomas, and Olive. A sixth child died June 4, 1771. Mortality was an every day fact of life in colonial Stratham. Several epidemics spread through New Hampshire towns unequally at different times. One notable Stratham outbreak was a throat distemper in 1754-55. The scourge affected all ages but children were especially susceptible. Stratham kinsman, George Veazey, Jr. buried his wife and four children in a six-year period from March 1754 to April 1760. Lockjaw, dropsy and consumption were other oft-mentioned causes of death not to mention accidental deaths on the colonial frontier.
The War for Independence
The middle 1700s were troublesome times and the thorny issue between England and the Colonies was taxation. It was not so much the amount of the tax, but the principle of the British Parliament’s arbitrary right to impose a pecuniary and perpetual debt upon the Colonies. The tax on tea was not large but the precedent was unacceptable to most strong willed colonists. The first official action by the town of Stratham in defiance of the Crown was taken at a special meeting called February 7, 1774 in which the following proclamation was issued:
“It is therefore with pleasure we have now assembled to join our free suffrages with those of our fellow subjects in America, and thus openly, avowedly, and solemnly protest and declare that we are born free men and will remain so under our present happy constitution as long as we have lives to lose or fortunes to spend in defense of that and our freedom which cost our ancestors so much blood and treasure.”
When the British invaded Boston it was an attempt to intimidate the unruly Americans rather than to engage them. But the events of April 19, 1775 proved otherwise and moved the town of Stratham to military preparedness. Guns, flints, lead and powder were among the items on the town books that year. At a special town meeting on April 29 it was voted to enlist twenty-four residents as minutemen. In May, New Hampshire organized three regiments for Continental service. The second regiment, commanded by Col. Enoch Poor, enlisted eighteen men from Stratham, all in the company of Captain Samuel Gilman of Newmarket.
Joshua Neal Veasey 1753 - 1850
Joshua Veasey was born at Stratham December 23, 1753 and died in Deerfield, NH December 28, 1850. He settled in Deerfield and followed farming for a livelihood. His wife Molly (Mary) Fifield was born September 9, 1758 in Stratham. She was baptized on December 10, 1758, the daughter of Joseph and Hannah. They were married October 15, 1777 in Hampton and moved to Deerfield about that time. Together they raised eleven children, some of whom went to Maine, some west, and some into the army. They were: Mark buried at Deerfield, Levi, Nancy, Joseph, Thomas buried at Deerfield, Sally, Joshua, Dolly buried at Deerfield, Jonathan, Simon, and Coker.
Joshua was a soldier in the Revolution. He enlisted in April 1775 serving six months near Boston, in Captain Samuel Gilman’s Company - Col. Enoch Poor’s regiment, in which his brother Thomas and cousin Eliphalet also served. Their company missed the Battle of Bunker Hill, as Col. Poor's regiment was stationed at Portsmouth and at Exeter to repel a possible British invasion by water. The day after the historic skirmish, Poor and his regiment were ordered to Boston. They arrived June 25, 1775, and were a part of the siege, which led the British to evacuate Boston, on March 17, 1776. Joshua was a pensioner of the United States in his old age and was listed as one of the few Revolutionary War survivors at Deerfield in the US Census of 1840. Molly died in October 1850 at the age of 92. Joshua survived her by just two months and they were buried at his farm on Griffin Road.
A list of the Men enlisted in Capt. Gilman’s Company & Returned included:
NAMES AGE OCCUPATATION PLACE OF ABODE
Eliphalet Veasey 27 Husbandman Stratham, Rockingham
Joshua Veasey 21 Husbandman Stratham, Rockingham
Thomas Veasey 25 Husbandman Stratham, Rockingham
Of the 171 Stratham men who entered the service, there were many missing in the ranks that returned. Eliphalet Veasey came home sick at the close of the war and died soon after and was, therefore, counted among the men lost in the Revolution. An old Gazetteer published many years ago reported: “ there were twenty-three men from this town lost in the Revolution. It would appear that our account still falls six below the reality. But whichever may be correct, the sacrifice was ample.”
The War of 1812
“Free trade and sailors rights.” This was the American battle cry of the war fought on the oceans between 1812 and 1815. The United States was upset by the British navy’s arrogance on the high seas. England had introduced restrictions to impede trade with France with whom they were at war. Desperate to find sailors for a fleet of over one thousand ships, they didn’t hesitate to stop and search American ships, confiscate contraband and impress seaman into His Majesty’s Royal Navy. This infuriated the Americans who responded by building fast frigates, engaging in ship-to-ship warfare and sending out several hundred privateers to attack British merchant ships. As a result British commercial interests were severely damaged, especially in the West Indies.
It is in this historic period that an adventurous Levi Veasey sailed the Atlantic as a seafarer, barrel maker and soldier.
Levi Veasey 1782 - 1836
Levi Veasey grew up in the rural town of Deerfield, New Hampshire. In this small village his family assumed a certain amount of military distinction, since his father had been a volunteer in the Revolution. Like many young men of his generation Levi sought to escape the monotony of farm life leaving family and home to learn the trade of cooperage. After a likely apprenticeship of three to four years he was hired aboard one of the merchant vessels that sailed from Newburyport to the West Indies importing molasses, sugarcane, coffee and rum. Ship’s coopers were valued seamen often called "barrel makers." A barrel was only one kind of cask, one made by what was known as a "tight cooper." Other casks included the firkin, kilderkin, hogshead, butt, rundlet, tierce, puncheon, and pipe, and required skilled practitioners of the trade.
Little more is known of his seafaring career. He is listed among those citizens of Rockingham County, NH who served their country in the War of 1812-14. He was a volunteer in Capt. Stephen Brown’s Company, a citizens militia that was dispatched to Portsmouth in anticipation of a British naval invasion that proved to be a false alarm.
He married Sally Janvrin on November 12, 1811 and they moved to Kensington, NH. Sally was the daughter of George Janvrin and Dolly Lovering. Transcribed records at the Kensington Library reveal that in 1811 Levi bought one half of a house built by fellow townsmen Stephen and Micajah Page on South Road about two miles from the center of town. He later acquired the other half and here they raised four sons on a small farm until his death of causes unknown in 1836, aged fifty-four. Sally died Nov. 13, 1837 aged forty-seven and the four young men were left to fend for themselves.
America was on the watershed of becoming a more occupationally diverse country of merchants, tradesmen and industrial laborers verses the mainly agrarian society of the past, and the sons of Levi and Sally Veasey were representative of this new generation. One a butcher, another a stair builder by trade, a farmer later turned artist, and a laborer in the mills of Lowell. They were honest hard working young men who went their own separate ways yet kept their sense of family, loyalty and kinship when their paths crossed.
Kensington records show that Jefferson, the youngest went to work in the mills in Lowell until poor health caused him to return home to live with his brother George “who gave him half the house free” until he died at the age of twenty-five. George married Angelina Stevens and moved to her family’s home in East Kingston, NH where he became a traditional butcher, a preparer of meats and purveyor of other goods and provisions.
Brother Thomas survived to the age of 85 years, eight months and thirteen days according to his gravestone. He gave his occupation as portrait artist and resided for some period of time in New York. In his final years he stayed at the home of his nephew George B. Veasey at 21 Chestnut Street in Bradford, Massachusetts near Kimball Tavern. He is buried in the family lot in Kensington Cemetery.
The house at 146 South Road stands today but was rebuilt by later owners using the same lumber after “the old house went down” from causes not disclosed.
Dennis Veasey 1819 – 1895
Dennis Veasey was born January 29, 1819 one of four sons to Levi and Sally Veasey in Kensington. He had a common school education. When his father died in 1836 he was seventeen and he most likely left home soon thereafter, to begin a career as an apprentice carpenter. He married Isabella French, daughter of Enoch French and Parmelia Tilton of Deerfield, NH on September 15, 1844. They had five children: Ella born in 1845, Edwin born 1849, Arthur D. born 1854, Charles E. born 1860, and Isabel born in 1862.
In 1850 they resided in the Bunker Hill section of Charlestown where Dennis owned real estate and established himself as a stair builder, a trade he would follow for the rest of his life. He was a member of the Boston Lodge of Odd Fellows, a fraternal organization of social and financial support in the absence of trade unions. At some point in time and after the Census of 1860 he removed his family to Chicago, Illinois perhaps in pursuit of post Civil War building opportunities but this is not recorded. What is known, however, is that during this brief time of their Midwest migration, their oldest daughter Ella was introduced to her husband Professor Oscar Faulhaber.
Oscar Faulhaber immigrated to America from Germany where he had studied at the Universities of Stuttgart and Tubingen and began what would prove to be a prominent educational career in the modern languages. He taught in a Chicago High School and was reportedly later connected with the Haverhill High School in Massachusetts. By 1870 the Professor and Ella (who was fifteen years his junior), were married, had two young children and were living in Chicago. They moved back east sometime after the devastation of the Great Chicago Fire, and in 1874 he was appointed instructor for French and German languages at Phillips Exeter Academy. Later in his career he taught at Harvard. His command of the English language was said to be exceptionally fine and he was familiar with all the leading languages of Europe. Ella passed away in 1892 at the relatively young age of forty-seven. Faulhaber survived her for ten years and continued living in Haverhill and Exeter until his death in 1902.
Dennis and Isabella had already returned east and moved to Haverhill in 1868. They resided for a short time at his brother George Veasey’s house at 4 Mill Street, close to the Beach Soap Factory, which was an odorous place from the tallow and other by-products that spewed from the plant smokestack. George owned a provisions establishment located at 5 Water Street and kept a slaughterhouse near Plug Pond. He was married to Angelina Stevens and they had resided in East Kingston, NH before moving to Haverhill by 1857.
Dennis was 51 years of age in 1870 when he bought Lot #5 in the Highlands Section of the city from Samuel White. He built, the first house on the Highlands, at upper Kent Street, later named Highland Avenue near Pond Street (Kenoza Avenue). He kept a shop at the rear of 54 Fleet Street and was listed in the 1876 Essex County Directory under “Stair Builders.” He was a Whig, later a Republican in his politics. Relatives and friends described him as a man of more than average mental ability, intellectually curious and a constant reader. He was a man of strong, handsome features as seen by his photograph, one of the earliest among Veasey descendants.
Home life at 41 Highland Avenue was conventional for its day and quintessentially New England. Edwin was a clerk in a bank and lived at home along with his younger siblings Arthur, Charles and Isabel. They were in the news briefly in July 1883 when a hot air balloon went off course and, according to the Haverhill Bulletin, the basket struck the house at 41 Highland Avenue breaking a couple of blinds and tearing slate from the roof. The wayward aerialists were identified as C.H. Goodwin and A.M. Sheldon.
Dennis was a Deacon at the First Universalist Church, which was located on Summer Street at the corner of Bartlett Avenue. They were pillars of the community in every way and in 1894 Dennis and Isabella celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary at their home with a notable reception of friends and family.
Retired for several years but always active, Dennis was downtown on the morning of April 12, 1895 when he was distressed by a stomachache and he had to be assisted home. He rested there in bed for most of the afternoon before suffering an apparent heart attack. The Haverhill Evening Gazette reported the next day: “The death of Mr. Dennis Veasey at his home last evening was sudden and takes away a highly respected resident.” Isabella survived her husband and remained at #41 until her death in 1903.
Of their children, Ella, devoted to Professor Faulhaber, died before her time, leaving three daughters, Fannie, Josephine and Valerie and a son Louis, who pursued a business career and was the New Jersey State Manager of the Casualty Insurance Company of America.
Edwin migrated west, married Mamie Young and eventually settled in Portland, Oregon. His daughter Anna Veasey Colt was an infrequent visitor to the Highlands with her husband Cornelius. Cornelius Colt was a Lake Forest graduate and associated with his father in the livestock business before removing to Portland where he was president of the Union Meat Company.
Arthur remained in Haverhill and resolutely launched his career path.
Charles operated, a boot and shoe store on Merrimack Street with a partner Samuel Hood. Hood and Veasey, however, was a short-lived enterprise and he soon ventured to New York, then Ohio and finally Chicago. Along the way he met and married his wife Grace and they raised daughters Ruth and Helen Veasey.
Dennis and Isabella’s youngest child Isabel married Henry Clay Coen at 41 Highland Avenue on the same occasion as their 50th wedding anniversary. They lived in Chicago for a short time and thereafter resided in New York City.
Post Civil War Victorian America was an era of tremendous change and growth. In the period spanning the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876 until the San Francisco Exposition of 1918 the US population doubled, the frontier closed and technology and invention raced the nation in to the 20th century.
Americans became more mobile with the expansion of the railroad and the advent of the horse drawn trolley and the automobile. This along with transport along canals, expanded commerce and the nation sprang forward with a burst of industrialization and technology that brought modern conveniences such as the vacuum cleaner and the electric light bulb into the American home. Advances in communication united the nation with the faster dissemination of news and events via the telegraph and the telephone. All of this led to a more prosperous, educated people with more leisure time to enjoy entertainment and the material goods that were flooding the market.
Arthur D. Veasey 1854 – 1927
Arthur Dennis Veasey was born in Charlestown October 13, 1854, the third of five children to Dennis and Isabella Veasey. He attended schools in the Bunker Hill District and then in Chicago during their brief Midwestern residence. When they returned east to Haverhill he completed his education at city schools and graduated from Haverhill High School in 1872. He began his career as a clerk at the Haverhill Post Office under Post Master David Boynton. He left that position to become a clerk in the store of Abram French a wholesaler and importer of crockery and glass in Boston.
One morning in 1874, as he rode the train from Haverhill to Boston, Arthur had the good fortune to meet and sit across from Ezekiel James Madison Hale, Haverhill’s foremost businessman and industrialist. Mr. Hale had assumed ownership of his father’s mills by the Little River and had added to the enterprise over several years including a much bigger mill in South Groveland. In the process he became one of the largest textile manufacturers in the region and the city’s most prominent philanthropist. Realizing that he had the renowned gentleman’s undivided attention, Arthur engaged him in discussion for the duration of their commute and so impressed him with his sharp mind and engaging conduct that E.J.M. later offered the ambitious young man a position at his woolen mill in South Groveland.
At the mills he used all his acumen and resources to learn every single aspect of the job and he was soon promoted to the title of Assistant Manager. He ascended rapidly, and made himself indispensable to the owner through his extensive contacts and thorough knowledge of the textile industry. He assumed more of the day-to-day oversight of the mills as Mr. Hale became more attentive to his philanthropic deeds. When E.J.M. Hale died in 1881 his executors placed Arthur D. Veasey in charge of the mills for the salary of $10,000 per year, a substantial sum in those days. Eleven years later, after persistent business negotiations he and Benjamin P. Hale purchased the mills and continued the business under the name of the Groveland Mills. In 1903 he bought out the interests of his partner and became sole proprietor. The mills were now one of the oldest makers of flannel and flannel dress goods in New England and were dominant among the flannel manufacturers of the day.
Clara W. Kimball was the daughter of Alfred and Mira B. Kimball. The Kimballs were an established local family whose ancestral roots could be traced back for several generations in Haverhill. The Veasey and Kimball families lived close by to one another and were active in the Universalist Church. Although seventeen years his junior, Arthur developed a close friendship and with Alfred Kimball. He courted and was engaged to Mira’s sister Etta O. Chesley before she died unexpectedly.
After an appropriate passage of time his attention was unavoidably drawn to the Kimball’s daughter Clara. Clara was born in 1862 and after attending Haverhill schools she graduated from Dean Academy with the class of 1881. She was attractive and bright and Arthur soon asked for Clara’s hand in matrimony. They were married on October 23, 1883. They moved three doors down from his parents to 47 Highland Ave where they had a son Arthur Hale and twin daughters Valerie Follett and Clara Lucile.
By 1897 Arthur D. Veasey was a highly successful manufacturer, and over a period of several years he had acquired a series of six lots on Windsor Street to establish the site for a new home that would reflect his prominent stature. The land was located behind his parent’s Highland Avenue house and next to the home of his father-in-law Alfred Kimball. The notable Boston architect, J. Williams Beal was hired to design the house and oversee its construction. The home at 4 Windsor Street was Colonial Revival in style, and featured Federal period characteristics such as Palladian windows and a bowed end wall. The original building contract specified the quality and detail of the materials and work, stating repeatedly that they be accomplished in “the very best manner.” When it was completed, the big yellow mansion was the most gracious and elegant of homes in the exclusive Highlands, and a center for social gatherings.
In 1909 he built the Bungalow overlooking Johnson’s Pond in Groveland. This property was close by to the mills, an easy daily commute compared to the trek from Haverhill to Groveland and back. It was first occupied on February 19, 1910 but it was designed as a summer home away from the city and elevated high on a drumlin where the breeze would bring cooler temperatures. Clara enjoyed it greatly and they came to use this retreat as long as the seasons allowed. It was built of logs and rough-hewn timbers and had the feel and charm of a hunting lodge with its fieldstone fireplace and lush sunflower gardens. A cottage was later added to the property for Lucile and Ransom Pingree so that their visits with the three grandchildren would linger for extended periods of time.
The Veasey twins were known far and wide. Society writers of the day reported, “As young girls every taste and whim of theirs were gratified, but these were exceedingly few.” Both were reserved young ladies whose social activities were befitting the daughters of one of the most prominent magnates in Essex County. They were socially gracious debutantes but they were equally content skeet shooting at the Bungalow or canning vegetables from Clara’s garden.
Lucille married Ransom C. Pingree a successful Haverhill attorney. They later lived in Boston at 36 River Street and were friends to Admiral and Mrs. Richard E. Byrd. Twin sister Valerie made headlines three years later when she fell in love with Clifford G. Miller, the family chauffer and married him in the historic King’s Chapel to the delight of Boston’s society watchers who chronicled the events leading up to the nuptials like a romance novel.
In 1925 the business was incorporated under the name Groveland Mills, Inc. and while retaining the title of President this successful man largely retired and left the operation to Arthur Hale.
Arthur D. Veasey died at age 72 following a prolonged illness.
The mills were closed soon thereafter as the textile industry in New England was in decline and the Great Depression was just around the corner. Clara survived Arthur for seventeen years and continued to live at 4 Windsor Street until her death on January 3, 1944. She was 81 years old.
Arthur Hale Veasey 1885 - 1960
Arthur Hale was the given name to the son by Arthur to honor his friend and mentor E.J.M. Hale, and Arthur Hale was what his family called him throughout his life. He attended Haverhill Schools graduating from the old High School on Winter Street before taking a college preparatory year at Phillips Academy in Andover. He continued his education at Amherst College where he was class of “aught eight” and a member of Chi Phi fraternity. He remained there for three years before his father decided he had had been educated enough and it was time for his son to join him as his right hand man at the mills in South Groveland.
He is described in his younger days as tall and according to one Boston society scribe “looks like a movie man.” He enjoyed hunting and fishing the Maine woods with his father and would usually return home with a deer and several partridge. He was well traveled and worldly in many respects. He had a talent for mechanics and could fix almost any piece of machinery at the mills where he was well liked by the men. He was adept at maintaining the “machine” and would drive his mother and sisters throughout the countryside, to the shore, and to Boston when the roadways permitted.
In spite of a strong fortitude in December of 1908 he contracted typhoid fever, which was still a scourge in the day. Bedridden and very sick for months with a body temperature ranging from 101 to 104 at its worst, his mother Clara Veasey arranged for live-in nursing care. So debilitating was the illness that it was February before he was able to dress and join his family at the dinner table.
By March he had regained his health when twin sisters Lucile and Valerie arrived home from Smith College for a two week vacation. It was during the second week that Persis Spencer came to spend a week with the girls. Persis was from Illinois, the daughter of Charles H. and Emaline Spencer and had attended Bradford Academy with the twins. Persis was athletic and artistic. She performed in several plays while at Bradford and was left inside on the field hockey team. Her classmates on the occasion of their senior dinner also voted her best dresser. It was soon hereafter that she became the object of the older brother’s ardent attention.
After a year long courtship Arthur Hale traveled by rail to Chicago and asked Mr. Spencer for his daughters hand in marriage. On August 31, 1910 Arthur Hale and Persis announced their engagement.
“Brilliant Wedding at Home of Bride’s Parents in Chicago” proclaimed the Haverhill Evening Gazette. They married on April 11, 1911 at 7:30 in the evening at the Spencer home at 6140 Kimbark Avenue in Chicago. The Veasey entourage had arrived days earlier by rail to celebrate the occasion. Ransom Pingree served as best man and Valerie and Lucile were bridesmaids.
By 1912 Arthur Hale and Persis were living at 41 Highland Avenue and anticipating the birth of their first child. On January 17 Persis complained of a severe head cold, which she later thought to be a grippe or tonsillitis. Although severely weakened she gave birth to a baby daughter on January 22. Mr. and Mrs. Spencer arrived as her health took a morbid turn for the worse. She died the next day of complications arising from streptococcus and pneumonia.
Persis was buried two days later at Linwood Cemetery at a private service with family and intimate friends. It was very cold and there was snow on the ground.
On January 27 and without warning the baby’s health deteriorated. She died the next day reportedly of bacterial meningitis caused “from the poison in her blood.” Baby Persis is buried next to her mother at Linwood.
Decia Beebe Veasey 1894 - 1975
Decia Beebe was born in Melrose July 16, 1894 the daughter of Decius and Katharine Ensign Beebe and the youngest among eight children She was educated with her twin sister Margaret at the Walnut Hill School in Natick and at Smith College. The Beebe’s were a prominent family that had made their fortunes as leather merchants. Her grandfather Lucius Beebe was well known in Boston circles and in his day was counted among the wealthiest men in the country. The family was philanthropic and gave generously to the communities in which they lived, Wakefield and Melrose.
Decia and Arthur Hale met at the home of Tom and Lena Mitchell. Lena was a friend to Leslie Beebe who prevailed on her younger sister to accompany her to this particular social event in Haverhill. Arthur Hale, a widowed bachelor for several years was present and eligible. Tall and elegantly attired, the Melrose ingénue caught his eye and with a proper introduction the seeds of romance were sown. After an appropriate courtship Arthur Hale and Decia Beebe were married at her family home at 63 Foster Street in Melrose on September 10, 1921. They embarked on an extensive wedding trip to Europe aboard Cunard Line’s R.M.S. Aquitania (a sister ship to the Lusitania that was infamously torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1915). They returned home one month later to reside at 5 Windsor Street.
The Windsor Street residence was as gracious a home as could be found in Haverhill with servants quartered on the third floor and the family’s bedrooms and lavish baths leading to a spectacular staircase from the second floor down to the grand foyer. Italian wallpaper covered the walls leading to mahogany paneled living and dining rooms where works of Sanford Gifford and Albert Bierstadt in large gilded frames filled the rooms. Holiday gatherings were celebrated here with formality and warmth throughout several generations.
Outside of the home she was active in her support of the Universalist Church, Smith College Alumnae, the Papyrus Club and many civic organizations. She was a lifelong patron of the Friday afternoon Boston Symphony Orchestra performances, a cultural enrichment that she shared with her friends and family.
Decia and Arthur Hale raised four children here: Arthur Hale Jr, born in 1922, Decius Beebe born 1925, Katharine Ensign born 1928 and John Edwin born in 1930.
The Traditional Yachtsman
Arthur Hale Veasey was a yachtsman of the old school. Sailing was a sport of gentlemen and its rules and traditions were to be observed and honored. On board, the proper flags were flown at all times; the owner absent flag when away, the owner aboard flag to alert fellow yachtsmen upon arrival in a new port of call. The Veasey pennant flew prominently on the after-mast and the Cruising Club of America flag ever present on the foremast. He was a proud member of that august organization and he would recommend friend or acquaintance for membership only if he could personally attest as to their seamanship.
He was the owner of four memorable yachts:
1931-33 Blackbird, schooner 43’ l/o/a
1934-37 Bluejacket, schooner 49’ l/o/a
1938 Alda, sloop 31’ l/o/a
1939 Kwoneshe, yawl 38’ l/o/a
The Bluejacket was his favorite and he sailed her with vigor up and down the New England coast. He purchased the boat in Maryland. The previous owner, a fair weather sailor was caught in a gale and abandoned her at sea. When rescued by the Coast Guard and asked if he wanted them to tow the vessel ashore he said “no” and added emphatically, “I never want to see that boat again.” When Arthur Hale took possession of the refurbished boat in Oxford, Maryland he hired a young deck hand named Sterling Hayden to sail with him to Marblehead, Massachusetts. Hayden later became an actor and one of Hollywood’s leading men and remained friends with AHV even as an occasional visitor to Squirrel Island.
Captain Gardner Green was an old salt from Deer Isle and AHV employed him often to assist in several navigations including the sail back to Marblehead at the end of the season. Upon completion of one voyage he paid Captain Green in cash. Green went missing soon thereafter, and his body was discovered days later in Marblehead Harbor the apparent murder victim of nefarious robbers. Marblehead police gave the homicide scant attention, portraying it as just another sailor incident. AHV, knowing the Captain’s integrity and fine character, pressed for a more vigorous investigation to no avail.
During another memorable voyage in July 1936 Arthur Hale was in Tenants Harbor, ME in the company of brothers-in-law Harry Stanley and Lawrence Beebe when he hailed a boat that was seeking anchorage close by. The friendly sailors, observers of the yachting customs of the day, invited Arthur Hale and his party on board their vessel for a libation. The hosts’ identities were soon revealed. James, John and Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. were bound for Pulpit Harbor where their father, FDR would meet them the next day and board the President’s schooner Sewanna for the last leg to Campobello. AHV and crew found the Roosevelt men to be thoroughly enjoyable company.
Arthur Hale was a member of the Corinthian, Eastern, Boston, and Boothbay Harbor Yacht Clubs as well as the Cruising Club of America. While he claimed his share of racing trophies, seamanship and the traditions of yachting were his joy. With the outbreak of World War II pleasure craft could no longer navigate the seas freely and were restricted due to the dangers of German submarines on the Atlantic seaboard. Arthur Hale reluctantly gave up large boat ownership but never lost his love of ocean sailing, participating in many Cruising Club events and exhorting sailors of all skills from his porch overlooking the cove at Squirrel Island.
In 1936 Arthur Hale and Decia rented the Carrington cottage at Squirrel Island, Maine. Arthur Hale found the distance from their summer house at Seabrook Beach to Marblehead Harbor where his boat was moored an inconvenient trek and the deep-water cove at the Island was an ideal spot to keep his yachts Bluejacket and later Alda and Kwoneshe while enjoying the summer colony’s unique charm. Thereafter, they rented the Dingley Dell on the Squirrel’s paw location until purchasing the Veasey Family cottage in 1946. AHV was instrumental in advancing the Squirrel Island Boating Association or SIBA as it is known today. In recognition of his devotion to the Island’s activities the Arthur Hale Veasey Memorial Regatta, a day of sporting competition at Spring Cove is held every August. Decia was an Island fixture, the grand lady of a more formal day and always prepared to offer a gracious welcome to all visitors. The house at Squirrel Island became a special part of the lives of each and every succeeding generation and a keeper of countless memories.
In later years they enjoyed travel taking several cruises including a splendid four month Round the World Cruise on board the Cunard line’s RMS Coronia in 1958.
On July 3, 1960 Arthur Hale Veasey was walking to a Squirrel Island social event at the old Casino. He stopped to rest briefly at a bench near the Chapel before continuing. Shortly after arriving he suffered a fatal heart attack. Decia Beebe Veasey survived him for fifteen years before succumbing to complications from a stroke that she suffered at her home at 5 Windsor Street at age eighty-one.
In addition to their children, twelve grandchildren, twenty-nine great grandchildren and three great, great grandchildren guarantee their legacy.