Family associations

My grandfather in Topsfield along with his sister Margaret and son Charles, December 1953.

Right here I don’t imply surname associations or descendant teams — I imply a household’s affiliation with a spot. This idea is on my thoughts as my father prepares to promote his home, constructed 27 years in the past on land that his dad and mom had purchased again within the Twenties. For that matter, my paternal grandfather[1] was born in a home his dad and mom constructed and on a chunk of land that had (already, in 1898) been within the Steward household for about 150 years.

Unhappy to say that neither my great-grandparents’ home nor the older John Steward Homestead nonetheless exist. Each outlived their perceived usefulness, and the land on which they stood (in Goshen, New York) was developed right into a freeway exit virtually 60 years in the past. Stewards had lived on the Goshen place for 220 years at that time; the primary had been my grandfather’s great-great-great-grandparents John Steward (1715?-1770) and his spouse Elizabeth Bradner. Whereas a later John Steward left Goshen for New York Metropolis about 200 years in the past, the nation property remained within the household for one more 140 years — my grandfather was born there, and his father,[2] paternal grandmother,[3] and paternal great-grandmother[4] all died there, regardless of their typical residence in Manhattan.

The John Steward Homestead in Goshen.

My grandfather got here to Massachusetts to attend Harvard, and, having married a Boston woman, he stayed. His siblings scattered, to California, to Manhattan, to the diplomatic corps, and to Italy. By the point the Steward homes in Goshen had been going through demolition, he was well-established in Topsfield, on the North Shore of Boston. Certainly, over the past years of the Goshen homes, my grandparents, dad and mom, and uncle and aunt every had a home on the property my Steward grandparents purchased following their wedding ceremony in 1927. Even when bidding on the Goshen land had been a risk, their new roots in Massachusetts had been already well-established.

The Steward household in Goshen, December 1928. My grandfather stands at far proper.

I used to be born in Boston, however for the primary 9 years of my life we lived in Topsfield. (Even when my dad and mom separated, my father moved right into a former storage constructing belonging to his brother, initially part of my Ayer great-grandparents’ property in close by Hamilton.) Later, my father moved to Manchester, on the coast, till, following my grandfather’s demise, he inherited my grandparents’ home in Topsfield.

My grandparents’ steady land, the place my father constructed his new home.

He determined to not transfer into his dad and mom’ home, and bought it, reserving a number of acres subsequent door on which to construct a brand new home. If my grandparents’ home was the place we spent most Christmases between 1962 and 1990, my father’s new home subsequent door was the locale for Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings from 1994 till 2019, the final 12 months we may all collect earlier than the pandemic. So, once more, for a lot of my life, two homes on Asbury Road have been household facilities, the place my father’s two brothers and three stepbrothers — and their rising households — could possibly be anticipated throughout the vacation.

This 12 months, for the same old causes — and people distinctive to this pandemic time — we received’t collect at my father’s home for a household meal. (We’ll, nevertheless, be making ready to vacate the home — a unique form of festivity!) I nonetheless can’t fairly imagine it, that I received’t get within the automotive with baggage of presents to drive the acquainted path to Topsfield. I ponder how my grandfather felt, the primary time he didn’t make the journey to Goshen, or later, when his dad and mom’ home bought, or later nonetheless, when it was demolished. There’s a void, with the lack of this assortment of bricks and mortar, and whereas I’m lucky to have many images of those homes, each at Christmas and at different instances, the bodily lack of these rooms the place all of us as soon as gathered makes an absence in actual fact and in spirit.

It’s a coincidence that this festive time of 12 months might be marked by the top of 1 chapter in my household’s life. There’s a lot to have fun, and reminiscence can do a lot. The loss is a bit like a phantom limb, although, and I hope that the stability at Christmas will development towards joyous reminiscence quite than unhappy memory. We have now had about 280 years in simply two (predominant) locations, and someday quickly all these associations will reside firmly previously.

I believe that’s price a toast.


[1] Gilbert Livingston Steward (1898-1991) was married to Anne Beekman Ayer 1927-47 and to Victoria Tytus Coolidge in 1951.

[2] Campbell Steward (1852-1936) married Margaret Atherton Beeckman in 1885.

[3] Catharine Elizabeth White (1818-1867) married John Steward in 1841.

[4] Martha Jackson (1787-1820) married John Steward in 1811.