44 Pleasant Street now (above); then (below)
William Humphrey Haskell
Dates: b.January 23, 1810 – d.August 26, 1902
Parents: Eli (b. 1776 Gloucester, MA) and Lydia (Woodbury Bray) Haskell
Grandfather: Elias Haskell
First Wife and two daughters: Sarah Ann Bray (1811-1836) “died September 12, 1836 leaving two daughters* now deceased, one of whom (Sarah*) married a Mr. (Thomas*) Symonds of Reading and the other (Judith*) married Edwin Bradley of Rockport and was the mother of Mr. Edwin Archer Bradley* of Gloucester, Mass.” E Archer Bradley was Captain Sylvanus Smith son-in-law. E Archer Bradley is listed in the 1913 Polk directory as Vice President of the Gloucester Mutual Fishing Insurance Co and Director Rocky Neck Marine Railway Company.
Second Wife and six children: Mary S. Smith (died August 15, 1889) Married July 19, 1838. They had six children: “William G. Haskell of Washington, DC, Col. Edward H. Haskell and Charles A Haskell of Newton, Frank A. Haskell of California and Mrs. Saddie, wife of Samuel W. Brown of this city. One son, Asaph S. Haskell, laid his life on the altar of his country at Morehead City, N.C., September 28, 1863, of yellow fever while a member of Co. C, Twenty-third Regiment, where he had gone awaiting transportation home, his death occurring on the date of the expiration of his term of enlistment.”
Raised: West Gloucester, learned the trade of shoemaker according to obituary
Gloucester 250th Anniversary: served as Vice President of 250th celebration committee
Residences: 44 Pleasant Street (was between Dale and Pleasant streets and beyond where Carroll Steele is located now) formerly address 32 Pleasant Street, rear– either may have evidence Undergound Railroad. Haskell’s lots spread between Dale and Pleasant.* Another Haskell (Cpt. John Haskell) was associated with 34 Pleasant (former Moose Home) and Melvin Haskell with 136 Main Street.
*Biographical information supplemented August 29th-updated thanks to Sandy and Sarah with Gloucester Achives. I wanted to confirm Haskell’s address and home, because streets and numbers change on maps over time, and because I knew Sandy could help best with tracking down cemetery information about Haskell’s first wife. and the daughters’ names missing from records. Haskell’s first wife is buried in West Gloucester- historic Sumner St. Cemetery. Haskell and his first wife had two daughters. Sarah Ann Frances, born September 28, 1832 in Gloucester, died young, in December 1853. She married Thomas S. Symonds July 1851. (Haskell and his second wife named one of their daughters, Sarah “Seddie” Symonds Haskell, after his first child.) The second daughter, Judith Goldsmith, born February 20, 1836, married Edwin Archer Bradley on November 8, 1854.
OBITUARY WAS FRONT PAGE NEWS
“OLDEST MALE RESIDENT DEAD: William H. Haskell Closes Life at Age of 92 years- An Original Abolitionist and Life-long Republican
“The venerable William Humphrey Haskell, whose serious illness has been previously mentioned in our columns, closed a long earthly life yesterday afternoon, the end coming as peacefully and quietly as if he was dropping off for a night’s sleep.
“Mr. Haskell was the oldest male resident of the city, and was born at West Gloucester January 23, 1810, being in his ninety-third year at the time of his death. He was one of a large family of children his parents being Eli and Lydia (Woodbury Bray) Haskell, and his boyhood and early life were spent in that section of the city.
“He learned the trade of shoemaker, and at the age of 18 years purchased his time from his master for $100, and commenced the manufacture of boots and shoes at West Gloucester, employing a few men and finding a market in the fitting out stores at “the harbor.” His business was interrupted by the hard times and the financial panic of 1837, and he worked for a Mr. Brown, a shoe manufacturer of Ipswich, for several years.
APPOINTED BY PRESIDENT LINCOLN – ORIGINAL ABOLITIONIST
“In 1842 he took charge of a retail store in this town for Mr. Brown on salary and commission, and a year and a half later purchased Mr. Brown’s interest and went into business for himself on Front (now Main) street, nearly opposite Short Street, where he continued for some time after his appointment as postmaster by President Lincoln in 1961, when he disposed of the business to William T. Crockett.
“He started in business at a time when anti-slavery views were unpopular, and his sympathy with that cause was not relished by many of those in political power at the time, and so strong was the partisan feeling at the time that he was an object of special enmity on the part of some of his business associates. He lived, however, to witness the success of the principles he advocated, and although his political belief was for many years unpopular, his personal and business integrity was never assailed.
“His memory of contemporaneous events was remarkably clear, and his reminiscences of the anti-slavery days preceding the war of the rebellion were of unusual interest. He was one of the four men who cast the first abolition votes in Gloucester, and he enjoyed the personal friendship of Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison, Parker Pillsbury, Horace Greeley, and many others of the abolitionist leaders who were instrumental in the promulgation of the anti-slavery doctrines and in shaping the sentiment of New England and the northern states, while he himself was no idler in the cause, many a fugitive slave bound for Canada and freedom by the “underground railroad” had occasion to thank him for concealment until it was considered safe for him to continue his journey.
LOCAL POLITICS – OVERSEER OF POOR
“Aside from his activity in the anti-slavery movement, Mr. Haskell took a lively interest in local political affairs and has frequently been honored by his fellow citizens in preferment to office. He was chosen tax collector for the West Gloucester section in 1836, 1837, and 1838 but his most extended service was in the position of overseer of the poor, to which office he was first elected in 1847 continuing for three following years. He was elected representative to general court in 1831, and for a decade declined to accept further political honors.
“On the advent of the republican party into power in 1861, he was appointed postmaster by President Lincoln, and was reappointed at the expiration of his term, but was removed by President Johnson in 1867, on account of his refusal to support the “swinging around the circle” policy of the latter. During his incumbency of the office, the business was largely increased and many reforms were instituted.
“In 1867 he was again elected as an overseer of the poor, and was chosen secretary of the board being continuously re-elected and holding the position until 1886. He was by disposition admirably fitted for the duties of this position, and during his term of office cared for the wants of the unfortunate poor with discretion, keeping also in mind the duties owed to the town and city.
“He was greatly interested in horticulture, and his garden in the rear of his residence on Pleasant Street was attestation of his devotion to this science, it including in its limits many choice varieties of pears and other fruits. He was secretary of the Cape Ann Horticultural Society during its existence, and was recognized authority upon matters pertaining to fruit growing and the care of trees.
“He had many interesting reminiscences of the visits of Rev. George Pickering to Gloucester, through whose efforts Methodism was established on Cape Ann, and whom he remembered hearing preach by invitation of parson Fuller in the old West Parish Church on Meeting House hill. He also recalled that in 1814, when he was years old, the daughter of Parson White, who married Deacon Nathaniel Haskell, placed her hand on his head with the remark, “Little boy, I hope you will live to be as old as I am, I wonder if you will,” she being at the time 94 years of age.
“Mr. Haskell was twice married, his first wife dying in 1836 leaving two daughters now deceased, one of whom married a Mr. Symonds of Reading and the other married Edwin Bradley of Rockport and was the mother of Mr. Edwin Archer Bradley of this city. His second wife was Miss Mary S. Smith, whom he married July 19, 1838, and the couple celebrated their golden wedding July 19 1888, when they received the congratulations of a large circle of friends. Mrs. Haskell died August 15, 1889.
“The second union was blessed with six children, all but one of whom survive. William G. Haskell of Washington, DC, Col. Edward H. Haskell and Charles A Haskell of Newton, Frank A. Haskell of California and Mrs. Saddie, wife of Samuel W. Brown of this city. One son, Asaph S. Haskell, laid his life on the altar of his country at Morehead City, N.C., September 28, 1863, of yellow fever while a member of Co. C, Twenty-third Regiment, where he had gone awaiting transportation home, his death occurring on the date of the expiration of his term of enlistment. He also leaves six grandsons, seven grand-daughters and two great grandchildren.
“He was attendant at Trinity Congregational church, although not affiliated with any particular sect. His funeral will take place Friday afternoon at 2 o’clock from his late residence, 44 Pleasant Street, and at his request his six grandsons will officiate as pall bearers.” – End obituary
His entry was sparse in the 1900 published Short account of the descendants of William Haskell of Gloucester, Massachusetts by Ulysses G. Haskell
History of the establishment of the Post Office
Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution, known as the Postal Clause or the Postal Power, empowers Congress “To establish Post Offices and post Roads”
Excerpt from Guide to House Records: Chapter 16: Post Office and Post Roads Chapter 16. Records of the Post Office and Civil Service Committee and Its Predecessors related to the timing of William H. Haskell’s appointment
16.11 Pressures of the Civil War influenced the Post Office Committee to provide for the shipment of small parcels of clothing and other articles to soldiers (37A-G11.17), and, more importantly, to find a safe way for soldiers to send money home, a demand that eventually led to the adoption of postal money orders (33A-G16.7). Seeking further expansion of the banking functions of the Post Office, farmers and reformers representing recent immigrants petitioned for a postal savings system to aid rural areas and small depositors (41A-F19.1, 45A-H18.5, 47A-H18.1). The system was not finally adopted until 1910, and it lasted until 1966.
William H Haskell appointed
Consider adding another shoemaker – from Gloucester, MA
Essex County brochure: Poets, Shoemakers, and Freedom Seekers: National Park Service Abolitionists and the Underground Railroad in Essex County
National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom 2018 brochure: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/ugrr/siteadmin/upload/All_Pages_5312018_3.pdf