Historic Homes Lost & Who Lived There
Who Burned Down the Freeman Farm House?
An Unsolved Sandwich Mystery
By Kaethe O’Keefe Maguire - FOSTA President
When Edmund Freeman died in 1682, with his wife Elizabeth already deceased, the Freeman Farmhouse went to his grandson, Matthew Ellis, who cared for him in his old age.
An eventual descendant of Edmund, Nathaniel Freeman became a town leader in the Patriot cause and he, much like Edmund, was a natural leader. Nathanial was once attacked by Tories who almost killed him. He lived at 10 Grove Street and is buried in Old Town Burial Ground on Grove Street. Remember the Tories congregated at the Newcomb Tavern at 8 Grove Street.
It was Nathaniel’s daughter, Sarah (1778-1852) who married Shadrach Freeman and lived in Edmund’s house for 57 years. Watson Freeman, (1798-1868) began the Freeman Burial Ground in 1827. The Freeman Farmhouse eventually passed to related family, the Clarks, who used it primarily as a summer residence. Edward Clark retired and lived at the home full time until his death in 1950. It still was without electricity.
The Fessendens had turned the home and area into a show place. Evelyn was the daughter of Charlotte Freeman Clark and John Slaughter Carpenter. Eventually, the huge family was no more in these parts and greatly scattered. However, Evelyn did much to preserve certain elements of Saddle and Pillion graves of Edmund and Elizabeth located within the farm area.
After 1950 the farm passed to Evelyn Fessenden (another old Sandwich name) Carpenter (1890-1978) only because she was the sole survivor of the next generation. She married Everard Stowell Pratt of Sandwich.
Edmund had established this grave site of two stones representing the saddle and pillion before his death upon the death of Elizabeth. This is located at the top of Wilson Road and can also be accessed off Tupper Road by foot following a path up hill. It is quite unique.
Tales tell us that Edmund and Elizabeth used to casually ride a horse over the whole property with Elizabeth astride the Pillion.
Evelyn deeded the Saddle and Pillion site to Sandwich to preserve it. By 1919 the family had placed bronze plaques on the bolder burial stones. If you have not visited this site, take a walk up that path off Tupper Road, clearly marked.
Evelyn decided to sell all but 11.5 acres surrounding the farm buildings before she died, thinking that would protect the house. The Canal Electric tower and buildings were already in place. She died in 1978 and her son, living in Cincinnati, took over the selling of the property listing it for $225,000. This was considered a steep price for the times and the condition of the property. The whole 11.5-acre parcel with buildings sold for $158,000 to Canal electric. Most town’s people could not afford the $225,000. Evidently no one knew less would be accepted. The whole sale was completed on May 12, 1980.
To say Evelyn Pratt’s son, Everard Stowell Pratt Jr, living in Cincinnati, was disengaged is putting it mildly. After his mother’s death it was he who set the price of $225,000 with no restrictions attached. His interest appears to be strictly financial.
In 1930 Mass Highway had cut through the farm area to build the new section of Route 6A, further endangering the formerly vast farm space. The new section of highway cut right thru what old timers call Wilson’s Hill. Additionally, the location was not the very desirable once Bourne left Sandwich 1884. The Select Board argued that the farm would never be a tourist site in that location, so far from Sandwich Village.
Stay tuned as the mystery continues and look for our next installment on this tragedy to our historic asset in August 13th Enterprise edition and here at our website.