Family located: Otisfield ME; Gilmanton NH, 178-;
Otisfield ME, 1797
The date on which Jonathan Edwards settled in Gilmanton is not known. The public records of Strafford County show that he located there prior to 1784, since on Dec. 29th. of that year his brother William conveyed to him for the sum of fifteen pounds "a certain tract of land lying and being in Gilmantown & is a part of the ninth Lot in the ninth range belonging to the original right of Samuel Thing of said Gilmantown." In the description of this lot, mention is made of a house, then occupied by Jonathan Edwards, located on adjoining lot.
The first census of the United States (1790) shows that at that date the family of Jonathan Edwards of Gilmantown, N. H., consisted of 2 males over 16 years of age, 1 male under 16 years of age, and 2 females which included his wife.
In the Spring of 1797 he moved from Gilmantown to the Plantation of Otisfield, now town of Otisfield, Me., a distance of over seventy-five miles, arriving at his destination in May. He was accompanied by his wife and family, and transported all his goods upon a single ox cart. Upon this journey a four years old colt was ridden by Nathaniel the youngest son. No doubt, like his brother William who preceded him in Feb. of the same year, he made the last eight miles of the trip through the virgin forest, guided by "blazed" trees which marked the trail.
As family tradition does not indicate that he was to have a house ready for occupancy upon his arrival, it is probable that one of his first cares was to build a place in which to live.
The building of the pioneer house of that date and locality consisted essentially of the following:-
A chimney was erected from stones cemented together with clay mortar. The upper section of the chimney was often made of small sticks cemented together and plastered upon the inside with clay mortar. The walls of a house of dimensions approximately sixteen feet by twenty feet consisting of white pine or cedar logs, laid upon each other and "halve" framed at the corners, were then erected usually adjoining the chimney, rarely around it.
Upon the log walls ribs or purlins were laid and a thatched roof constructed from hemlock or other firm bark, although a more permanent construction was formed from so-called "long shingles," six feet or more in length, riven with an axe or frow from the trunks of large pine or cedar trees which produced material requiring little dressing in order to form a weather proof roof covering. All crevices in the walls were usually chinked with moss, although sometimes plastered full of clay mortar. Iron nails were made by hand and, at best, were costly and not easily obtained, consequently the pioneer used wooden pins for very much of his construction work.
In the absence of glass for windows, such a log house as here described, was often lighted by day through open apertures in walls, but as a protection in winter these were closed with wooden lids; sometimes, however, they were covered by a sheet of oiled paper only, which transmitted a small amount of light. By night the house was lighted by burning an oil dip or by burning candles which was more modern.
The interior of the house lacked practically all the comforts of today. The floor was covered with sand. All the cooking was done over or in front of an open fire place at the base of the stone chimney. Cook stoves were unknown. Along one wall of the house bunks of solid timber, for sleeping purposes, were built. These were often cushioned with hemlock boughs or straw.
Among Jonathan's first labors, since he arrived in the spring, must have been that of preparing the land for planting purposes and planting of same. This involved the felling of trees, burning them, junking and piling such portions as would not burn freely, and the planting of land with seeds without having previously plowed it. After the crop had started to grow, he must have been kept busy cutting the weeds and sprouts on the stumps in order that the crop might have a chance to mature.
Since home-made linen was one of the important items of the pioneer's household, flax was one of the first crops grown. Rye, corn, and potatoes were the most common food products.
After Jonathan settled in Otisfield he engaged in clearing an additional area of land. One day, while he was chopping, the ax glanced and cut a hole in his boot. Feeling sure that he had badly cut his foot, and seeing something red through the hole, he was fully assured of this, and immediately started for home a third of a mile distant. Arriving there he allowed some member of his family to draw off his boot very carefully, only to find that he had seen his red stocking through the gapeing hole and that he had not even received a scratch from the blow of the ax. In later years he referred to this accident as "the scare of my life."
1800 Otisfield (Cumberland) ME
1 male 10-16
1 male 1 female 16-26
1 male 1 female 45+
1810 Otisfield (Cumberland) ME
1 male 1 female 45+
1820 Otisfield (Cumberland) ME
1 male 1 female 26-45
1 male 1 female 45+
1830 Otisfield (Cumberland) ME
1 male 1 female 10-15
1 male 15-20
1 male 20-30
1 female 40-50
1 male 50-60
1 male 80-90
Jonathan Edwards and wife Hannah are buried in Forrest Edwards' Cemetery, Otisfield ME.
He lived first above the Dunkertown schoolhouse but later moved to where Ephraim Jillson since lived.
Source: History of Otisfield by William Samuel Spurr; Reprinted by the Town of Otisfield, 2nd edition