Researching Miss Hague…a peek into American history

“I always called it Miss Hague’s house. She was an old lady who lived there for years. She had one of the first cars in Stockbridge. Her license plate was the number 3.”     

Susan Leroy Merrill, Yale Hill resident.

Miss Marion Hague owned the red house from 1914, perhaps even earlier, until 1971 when the house and contents passed onto the local Episcopal minister upon her death. I was so excited to find the letters and her cancelled checks that it has led me to do a fair amount of research, digging up clues and trying to string together random snippets of information to find out more about her.

Doing the research about Miss Hague has been like slipping down Alice’s rabbit hole and the next thing I know I am somewhere else, my own version of Wonderland-Miss Hague’s world, and weeks have passed and I haven’t posted a word.

Surprisingly this has also become six degrees of separation for my husband Will, who is related in various ways to several of the main characters in Miss Hague’s life that I have stumbled upon,  including the artist Lydia Field Emmett who also owned one of the three plots of land in the deed, Frank Crowninshield who started Vanity Fair, and Joseph Hodges Choate, lawyer and diplomat.

My research into whom Miss Hague’s parents were has become a fascinating look into American history..think gold mines…abolitionism…artists… There is much much more to discover and post.

This is my teaser alert….

Miss Hague’s father, James D Hague, Harvard educated, was a mining engineer in San Francisco, Ca. He purchased North Star Mining Company,Grass Valley California, in 1887. It was the second largest producing gold mine in the country. Miss Hague’s mother was Mary Ward Foote, great grandaughter of General Andrew Ward who served under George Washington in the Revolutionary War, also cousin of Harriet Beecher Stowe, American abolitionist and author, and sister in law of Mary Hallock Foote, an American illustrator and author.

How is that for starters? It only gets better from here.

 

Ever wonder what it is like to live on a construction site?

The excavator, good morning and all
The excavator, good morning and all

A banging hammer, the high-pitched whine of a saw… the sounds of voices outside the window elbow me to surface from sleep.

I peep at the clock. 6:45 AM

I try to shut out the noises of someone else’s day beginning and roll onto my stomach, burrowing  my head under the pillows. I momentarily slip back into stillness and search for the fragments of the dream I was in. I wasn’t finished with it. But the remaining slivers of that dream dissolve abruptly until there is nothing left for me to remember.

Wheels of a truck crunch over the packed snow and ice and come to a halt in the driveway. The door opens and slams shut. A fleeting bit of quiet…then an engine starts…the excavator’s grumble of diesel, ornery in the bone chilling cold. The staccato beat of its jackhammer stabs at me.

My husband, cradled in our nest of feather duvets, hears nothing. He is deaf in one ear and has turned that to his advantage.

I surrender. OK…You win…. I am awake. I am getting up.

I swing my feet over the edge of the bed. The floor is icy cold. I look for my cashmere cardigan to throw on over my underwear but I can’t find it.

The phone rings. I bolt across the room to grab it before it wakes up Will…

“Hello?”

Outside my window is the excavator.

I mean…. right outside.

As I start to speak into the phone.. I realize I am so close that I lock eyes with the operator and we greet each other with a good morning nod. I try in vain to hop out of his line of vision; hopeful he can’t see too far in the cottage. After all, the visual of a scantily clad 60 something might impact his operating skills.

And so begins another day, living on the construction site.

The excavator, right outside the window
The excavator, right outside the window
Beginning to dig the foundation for addition to the red house
Beginning to dig the foundation for addition to the red house