President Lincoln appointed postmaster, abolitionist, Main Street proprietor, gold star dad, overseer of the poor, gardener: William H. Haskell house history 44 Pleasant St., Gloucester Mass

44 Pleasant Street Gloucester Mass_former home William H Haskell_20180817_©c ryan (2)
44 Pleasant Street 2018

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
Brother: Epes
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

Willilam H Haskell Gloucester Mass front page article obituary

“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.

RENOWNED GARDENER

“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.

FAMILY HISTORY

“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.

 

President Lincoln referred William H Haskell Gloucester Mass postmaster

William H Haskell appointed

 

President Lincoln nominated William H Haskell postmaster Gloucester Mass
William H. Haskell nominated

 

William H Haskell misspelled.jpg
Note misspelling from Haskell to Haskill

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 Park Service trail Essex County Brochure Poets Shoemakers and Freedom Seekers_Abolitionists and 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

National Park Service 2018 brochure _National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom

 

14 thoughts on “President Lincoln appointed postmaster, abolitionist, Main Street proprietor, gold star dad, overseer of the poor, gardener: William H. Haskell house history 44 Pleasant St., Gloucester Mass

  1. The Haskells organized the first antislavery society on Cape Ann during the fall of 1838. (West Parish) — Thomas Haskell, President; William H. Haskell, Vice President; Sarah C. Haskell, Secretary and Librarian; Hehitabel Haskell, Treasurer; Henry Haskell, Elizabeth Haskell, and Mrs. Wm. Haskell, Counsellors. The Society had about 30 members.

    The other society was organized by the end of the year in Annisquam. At this time, most of Cape Ann disapproved.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great research Catherine and I cannot tell you how much I enjoy the history lessons. “My motto is you never graduate from the school of experience and history is a big part of that where you been and how far you have come. We still have a ways to go cradle to walking on and beyond!” 🙂 Dave & Kim 🙂

    Pat Metheny Group – To The End of the World (1 Hour Extended) (Great music to relax too after a long day of research & work! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The Haskells organized the first Anti-Slavery Society on Cape Ann in the fall of 1838 (West Parish). Officers were listed as Thomas Haskell, President; William H. Haskell, Vice President; Sarah C. Haskell, Secretary and Librarian; Hehitabel Haskell, Treasurer; Henry Haskell, Elizabeth Haskell, and Mrs. Wm. Haskell, Counsellors. The Society had about 30 members.

    Thomas Haskell worked closely with black abolitionist Charles Remond and with William Lloyd Garrison for the Essex AntiSlavery Society during the critical 1840s. It is possible that William Haskell hosted the few self-emancipated slaves (e.g., William Wells Brown, Henry Watson) who came to speak at various venues on Cape Ann during that decade. The risk for all parties was too great after the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law was passed and the lectures by the “fugitives” ended.

    Other Haskell history of interest:
    Deacon Nathaniel Haskell, referred to by William Haskell above, had a negro girl listed in his 1766 probate inventory willed to Nathaniel Haskell.

    Hitty Haskell was known to be a friend of Lucy Stone, Wendell Phillips, Lydia Maria Child and William Lloyd Garrison.

    Mehitable Haskell took the podium at the 1851 Women’s Convention at Worcester to say the following:
    Perhaps, my friends, I ought to apologize for standing here. Perhaps I attach too much importance to my own age. This meeting, as I understand it, was called to discuss Woman’s Rights. Well, I do not pretend to know exactly what woman’s rights are; but I do know that I have groaned for forty years, yea, for fifty years, under a sense of woman’s wrongs. I know that even when a girl, I groaned under the idea that I could not receive as much instruction as my brothers could. I wanted to be what I felt I was capable of becoming, but opportunity was denied me. I rejoice in the progress that has been made. I rejoice that so many women are here; it denotes that they are waking up to some sense of their situation. One of my sisters observed that she had received great kindness as a wife, mother, sister, and daughter. I, too, have brethren in various directions, both those that are natural, and those that are spiritual brethren, as I understand the matter; and I rejoice to say I have found, I say it to the honor of my brothers, I have found more men than women, who were impressed with the wrongs under which our sex labor, and felt the need of reformation. I rejoice in this fact.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lise. So interesting! For GMG readers who may not know, Lise Breen has been researching and writing about history of enslaved and abolitionists in Gloucester, Cape Ann, North Shore and beyond.

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      1. See what I mean Catherine. You inspire research by so many. My West Gloucester friends and ancestors were the backbone and laborers who helped build this city. You make all of us what to learn more and you give all of us the roots to start with.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. *****One paper reported that “older citizens recall how Mr. Haskell would hide the slaves in the barn back of his house while awaiting favorable opportunity to send them away.”*****
    Boston Journal, Aug. 28, 1902.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. From my younger days, I remember a cave off Bray Street in WG that was said by old-timers to have been used as part of the Underground Railroad. I went looking for it when I was visiting home sometime around 1990 but couldn’t locate it. There had been changes in land ownership and I didn’t have time to go knocking on doors and see if I could find anyone that still remembered the location. – Bruce Roberts

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Bruce, thanks for adding to another post and more about West Gloucester. Fascinating that you remember hearing this history– that these local stories and lore were shared– and even more memorable that you later went to find the cave. Bet this comment will send others looking.

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  6. Catherine so thankful for your interest and all of your research. You inspire others to reach into our memories of growing up here and start conversations about what we heard from family and friends being raised here in Gloucester. Your initial research is invaluable and makes it so much easier and fun to do our own research. I love that you you introduce us to another piece of our past and we are able to share those stories and memories with childhood friends like Bruce and others in the community. Thank you for all your hard work.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you, Catherine.

    The first “abolition vote” was tallied in 1841. The abolitionist nominee for Governor garnered two votes from Gloucester and 55 from Rockport. The total Liberty Party abolitionist vote from Essex County was 3004.

    I have a good idea of the names of Cape Ann’s antislavery organizers. Maybe these people cast the first votes: West Gloucester’s Thomas Haskell is very involved in antislavery activities all over Essex County and Boston. Some of Haskell’s early Cape Ann colleagues included Gloucester’s Addison Davis, Rockport’s Dr. Lemuel Gott (who ran for Senator as a Liberty Party candidate in 1843), and Annisquam’s Ignatius Sargent.

    One Universalist minister, John Allen, helped to organize abolitionist conventions for the two years he was in Rockport. They were guided by Salem’s black abolitionist, Charles Lenox Remond.

    Their open meetings were often interrupted by hostile comments and yelling, and they always faced the possibility of a dunking or egging or worse. Addison Davis wrote about one encounter in the Southwick Town Hall.

    “When I had about half finished my lecture, a parcel of rowdies commenced stamping their feet, which failing to stop, or they thought they would try something more effectual. This was the dashing an egg against the partition near which I was standing, by which means I was pretty well besmeared, as well as some others near me…
    Not one individual, except myself, uttered any rebuke to the mob, though some of the most influential men of the place were present, and witnessed the whole transaction. If they had any influence at all, it was on the side of the mob.”

    Even in Annisquam, home to one of Cape Ann’s two antislavery societies, abolitionists were shouted down, and a meeting taken over by their opponents, led by Gideon Lane, Esq.

    The abolitionists were called “agitators” for good reason. James Davis, Jr, a member of the Annisquam AntiSlavery Society, set the matter straight and said in response to Gideon Lane and Timothy A. Smith, “Abolitionists produce discord.–The Truth generally does, but the fault is theirs who oppose it, not its friends.”

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