C-4-4

James French

James French, a cordwainer from New Ipswich, bought 100 acres of land here in 1791 and is undoubtedly the builder of the old part of the home on the site today. Little is known of him. In 1794 he sold the house and five acres to Dr. Samuel Skinner who moved here from E-4-9. A year later French sold the balance of the property to Bela Greenwood.

Skinner moved to this home when he was well into his fifties. He traded a hill farm and fifty-nine acres for a five-acre place closer to the center of things. The hill farm brought 43 pounds and he bought here for 12. Perhaps his practice was not lucrative enough to sustain him, for he mortgaged the place to Josiah Melville in 1800. Melville bought it from Skinner in 1814. Melville and subsequent owners did not live here but, probably, rented to Dr. Skinner until, at age 79 and “very poor”, he went to live with the Widow Sophia Griffin; he died there four years later.

Asa Spaulding bought the place in 1822 and probably built the addition that doubled the size of the house. It was here he lived while ran the tannery (C-4-5) and its associated bark mill (C-4-9) he purchased from Stephen Harrington that year.  He and his wife, Betsy W. Whitney, had five children. Only the two boys reached adulthood. Asa and Betsy lived in the house until they both died in 1869. They are buried in the village cemetery.

Mathew Monahan followed (1869-1881) with Asaph G. Priest next (1881-1889). Tragedy struck Asaph and his wife, Caroline. There was a serious epidemic in Nelson in 1882 called the “black diptheria” and the couple lost both of their children. They adopted a boy they named Homer Farnum Priest. Homer married Ethel Mary Martin and, in 1889, succeeded his adoptive parents on the place raising thirteen children. In 1912 Charles Flood bought the place and lived there until his death in 1938. He and his wife, Susan, are buried in the village cemetery.