1938 Hurricane – Letter from Elizabeth Pearl to her stepdaughters

A personal perspective of Elizabeth Pearl….
 
 Pearl Farm 1938 Hurricane Damage
 (My father, Earl Overbaugh, removing apple trees knocked down by the 1938 Hurricane on the Pearl family farm in Hampton, CT.)

Elizabeth was the 2nd wife of William Austin Pearl. She and Will did not have any children together, but Elizabeth was a loving stepmother, close to Will’s children, Beatrice, Dorothy, Eleanor and William Waite Pearl. She was my grandmother and it was not until I was a teen ager that I learned she was really a stepgrandmother. I loved her.

Grandma and Grandpa Pearl lived on Hampton Hill, on Main ST (the old Rt.6). In 1938, Rt. 6 was the main road between Hartford, CT and Providence, RI. Will and Elizabeth had a large house, newly built sometime in the early 1930’s I believe, and it was painted white with green trim. The house is situated still at the curve in old Rt. 6 where it turns sharply to the north to follow Main Street for a short way before turning sharply to the east dropping down a steep hill into the Little River Valley and from there on to Providence. Directly in front of their house, where the road turned to the north, stood a maple tree. This tree was in the middle of the intersection where Main St. and Rt. 6 joined and it is still there today protecting the house from careless drivers going too fast to make the curve. From the back of the house, Elizabeth and Will had a commanding view of the valley.

In 1938 an intense hurricane hit the New England states. The following letter was written by Elizabeth one week and a day after the storm and it is obvious from the penciled scrawl and difficulty in understanding the cramped, poorly constructed sentences and misspellings that she was still under considerable stress and exhaustion even though 8 days had passed. The letter mentions William (Bill, brother of Bea, Dorothy and Eleanor), Bert (William’s hired farmhand), Mildred (William’s wife and the mother of Joyce Rodriguez) and Maurice (Elizabeth’s son-in law from her first marriage. He lived in NY State). At the time, the town was serviced by the railroad and had its own railroad station.

It is this quiet and lovely community that the storm descended upon without warning and caused such devastation. Elizabeth’s letter is the relating of events to family living in other parts of Connecticut on how Hampton fared, and specifically how my grandparents had fared. It gives us a glimpse of the terror of this storm and how it affected the people of Hampton. No one expected it, no one had prepared for it. And, because there was no possibility of being designated as a federal disaster area at that time, these folks faced the monumental task of cleaning up from the debris and repairing the fabric of their lives on their own.

The hurricane hit on Wed. Sept. 21, 1938. This letter is dated Thurs. AM Sept. 29th and is addressed to Mrs. Eleanor P. Hall 650 Main Street, Hartford, Conn. c/o Shepard & Co. It is from Mrs. W. A., Pearl, Hampton,, Conn. It has here been edited only enough to make it more easily understood.

The Letter:

Dear Eleanor: Was glad to receive yours, and Dot’s and Bea’s letters yesterday. First mail since last Wed. Will Jewett goes to Willi [Willimantic] after it, as mail train isn’t running yet. Since this one track has been repaired [it] has been given over to food and freight for Boston. Yesterday was first train in here for week. Hampton was pretty badly hit (awful we thot till we saw Brooklyn. That is as far that way as we have been and that was terrible). No one killed or injured in our town was a wonder too. Everybody has crawled out from under and frantically working to repair roofs where it is possible to get materials which has been a big hindrance.

The roof over our bedroom, a corner off the main roof, and chimney came crashing down at once [and] blew in attic window. Some of the splintered glass Will found stuck in the attic door [some 12 to 14 feet from the window] and water poured in every where. Our hall paper, both up [stairs] and down is streaked.

Nothing but good workmanship kept this house together as it was rocked so the clock stopped twice. I thot our time had surely come when I saw Borgers porches both go, Miss Waters porch went right over the house and landed up to firehouse. One of our garage doors laid in by [our] back door [and] the cover over our well blew in front bay window and broke one glass [pane] as I was looking out. Fragments blew clear in the dining room. [The bay window was in the living room on the south side of the house and the glass would have blown clear across that room to the dining room on the north side of the house.]

Both of Mr. Fitts barn roofs and most of hay [and] part of house roof and many windows panes [blew away] which we don’t even mention now. Ford house roof and barn is a mess.

Our beautiful church steeple and belfry are in a heap between chapel and church. Parsonage chimneys and roof gone and tree on side porch. Can’t begin to tell you of everything, but our beautiful trees thru town was piled in every direction mostly in street and of course they took wires and poles also. Wed. night was like living in back woods no cars no lights. Next day the street was full of people wandering around so much to do no one seemed to know where to begin we were all in a daze. No phone to call for help. No way to get materials if we could. A temporary bridge which was only completed late Sat night into Willi. The enormous light pole by our place is still in a heap in our yard haven’t any idea when we will get juice as the Dyer Dam went out Sat which supplies power for Danielson so all workmen are laying a temporary line to Montville and after that we get fixed up. Can you imagine what that means to us. No electricity is a calamity to us no heat no anything and only water as Will dips and carrys up a pailful is so little. The porch and windows are like the road [a mess]. We can’t do cleaning till we get back to normal. We have a little hand lamp and borrowed Stella’s (Elizabeth’s sister-in law] oil stove to cook on as she was using her range [a wood stove]. Have been very thankful for the sunshine and that helps keep our spirits up and can work out side much faster if it doesn’t rain.

William and Mildred went out to Maurice’s [in NY State] Tues 4 PM [the day before the hurricane hit] with the truck to attend an auction of pure blood cows at Earlville 75 miles further on. He did and got one staid until Sat AM [when] they got over their radio the conditions this way. They had some [of the storm and rain] out there. Imagine our surprise to go down [Hammond Hill Rd to William’s farm] Wed AM and Bert told us [where William and Mildred were]. Tues night had a cloud burst here and took out most of small bridges and plenty of roads in town. Six big trees blocked William’s [road down the] hill. Will knew side roads would be left so he frantically set to work chopping and sawing and for three days to repair roofs and try and save William’s chickens. (126 drowned first night in open shelters.) Bert had dysentery so bad could hardly move so Fri and Sat Will bro’t him up here to eat. The maple in yard and ash across the road, apple tree, pear tree and lower ash are down also others on farm. Send this on to Dot as now we know they are all right will not be [down there] right away. If nice we may come out to Bea’s since you can let them know or read this. Love Mother.

…………….Dorothy Vander Meulen

 PearlHomeMainStreetHampton

William and Elizabeth Pearl’s home, photo taken sometime in the 1930’s.

Marian Arlene Pearl’s papers donated

 The following information, regarding the Genealogy of John Pearl and his descendants written by Marian Arlene Pearl, is given to us by Marion Emmons.

The Genealogy of John Pearl and his descendants was compiled and written by Miss Marian Arlene Pearl (known as Arlene) who lived in Augusta, ME. Marion Emmons obtained Arlene Pearls papers after her death 22 Oct. 1968. In 1987 Marion Emmons sent 473 copied pages of Arlene’s document to the Genealogical Library in Salt Lake City, UT and they are preserved on microfilm. Copies of the same 473 pages were sent in 1990 to Maine State Library Reference Dept. in Augusta, ME where they can be viewed by tape or typed sheets by the public.

The Jewetts and the Pearls

Ever since Hampton was a fledgling community, forming out of the wilderness of northeastern Connecticut, the Pearl and Jewett families have figured prominently. For years families with those last names participated in the life of the community in many capacities, their talents and hard work contributing to the well being and quality of life in the town. No longer are the Pearl and Jewett names prominent here. Families have moved away, children have married and taken on new surnames, old people have died so that gradually the names have disappeared from the consciousness of many now living in Hampton. I suggest that those who are interested take a stroll through the North and South cemetaries. There you will find many stones marking the spot where many with these names slumber beneath the sod.

There are many descendants of these families still living in this area, though their names are no longer Pearl or Jewett. Pride of family is evidenced each year as the Pearl family continues to celebrate its history and its uniqueness by coming together for their annual reunion.

The Jewett and the Pearl families joined together with the marriage of John Porter Pearl to Maria Jennings Jewett in 1847 in Hampton. John Porter Pearl was the great great grandson of John Pearl the immigrant. One of John Porter and Maria Pearl’s 8 children was my great grandfather, Austin Eugene Pearl, born in 1851. Austin and his wife, Mary Weeks Pearl owned a farm across from and a little south of where the Hampton Elementary School is now situated on present day Rte. 97. Their house still sits beside the road.

The first “Hampton” Pearl was Timothy Pearl, born in 1695 in Boxford, MA. He was the son of John Pearl the immigrant. Timothy was a tanner by trade. Sometime around the year 1716, as a bachelor, he moved to Connecticut and bought 100 acres from Ebenezer Jennings on what was then known as Appaquage Hill. That piece of land was near what is now Lewis Rd. in Hampton. His first wife, Elizabeth Stevens from Massachusetts died after giving him 6 children. His second wife, Mary Leach, also from Mass. gave him 9 more. Amazing for the time, all 15 children lived to adulthood.

Austin Pearl was not only a farmer, but also a carpenter, a home builder and a postmaster in Hampton. The Hampton Post Office during Austin Pearl’s tenure as postmaster (1913 – 1921) was located on the east side of Main St., just north of the intersection of Hammond Hill Rd. After he retired, the Post Office moved to the center of town into an addition built onto the Hampton Hill Store. The Pearls found the U.S. Post Office a good source of employment it seems. Besides Austin, his daughter, Evelyn (Pearl) Estabrooks, was the Hampton Postmaster from 1936 to 1964. His sons, Reuben and William Pearl, were mail carriers on Hampton’s rural routes; William serving for 40 years and Reuben for 45. Other family members who worked at the Hampton Post Office, in various capacities and at various times were: Eleanor (Pearl) Moon, Mary (Pearl) Stone, Mary (Pearl) Emmons, Gertrude Pearl, Stella Pearl, Helen Pearl, Will Jewett and Vincent Scarpino. These names will be familiar to many long time Hampton residents.

Austin was a staunch Democrat who served as state representative from 1901 -1902, serving under then Governor, George P. McLean. He was chairman of the Hampton Democratic Party for years and was also a town selectman for 13 years. The fact that my great granddad was a Democrat fascinated me because most of his descendants in my parent’s generation of whom I was aware were avid Republicans. I enjoyed teasing my mother about her ‘Democratic’ roots. She took refuge in denial.

Austin and his son, Arthur E. Pearl, built many structures still standing in Hampton. One was the Grange Hall. One of the ones that Arthur built was the home that my parents, Earl and Dorothy (Pearl) Overbaugh bought on Parsonage Rd. when they retired and moved to town in 1963. That house is a low, one story structure. It was originally built for the Peabodys as a summer home. The land on which it stands was called Petticoat Pastures. I was told that it was modeled after the Little White House of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Warm Springs, GA. Don’t look for a similarity today, though. The house has much changed over the years. If anybody can tell me of other structures that Austin and Arthur built in Hampton and environs, I would be most grateful.

Chester Jewett, Mrs. Allen Jewett, M. Louise Jewett were among the first officers of Hampton’s Little River Grange #36 when it was organized in 1885. Mrs. Chester (Mary) Jewett was an original charter member and was a member for over 77 years. William W. Pearl was not only Past Master of the Little River Grange and of the Quinebaug Pomona Grange, but also Past Master of the Conn. State Grange. Many Pearls and Jewetts were long time members of the Hampton Grange, holding offices and actively participating in that organization until it closed it doors in 2002.

Dorothy Vander Meulen, Family Historian

Photos of the Austin & Mary Pearl Family

Photos of most of the Austin and Mary Pearl family are below.
The family was as follows:
PARENTS:

Austin Eugene Pearl, (1851 – 1927) (father)

 

Austin Eugene Pearl, 1851-1927

Mary Weeks Pearl, (1857 – 1923) (mother)

Mary Weeks Pearl, 1857-1923

CHILDREN:

Eva Marie Pearl, 1876 – 1901

Eva Marie Pearl (1876-1901)
Eva Marie Pearl (1876-1901)

Arthur Eugene Pearl, 1878 – 1967

Arthur Eugene Pearl, 1878-1967

William Austin Pearl, 1880 – 1971

William Austin Pearl, 1880-1971

Reuben Everett Pearl, 1885 – 1957

Reuben Everett Pearl, 1885-1957

Mary Almeda (Pearl) Emmons, 1888 – 1948

Mary Pearl Emmons, 1888-1948

Florence (Flora) Belle Pearl 1891 – 1947: Never married.

Florence (Flora) Belle Pearl, 1891-1947

Evelyn Martha (Pearl) Estabrooks, 1899 – 1977

Evelyn Pearl Estabrooks, 1899-1977

 

Jewett-Pearl Reunions 1961 and 1962

Who said our forefathers & foremothers did not have a sense of humor!

Secretary’s notes 1961: “The twenty-third annual Jewett Family Reunion was held at “Our Acre”, Hampton; the home of Jos. and Evelyn Estabrooks on Sunday, August 20th with a picnic dinner served at 1:00 PM.

“A surprise feature after the dinner was a birthday cake provided by Marion Emmons for Jos. Estabrooks, Pearl and Philip Scarpino whose birthdays all occur on August 24th.

“While the children played games in the front yard, our president Viola J. Clapp called the meeting to order. The secretary’s report was read and approved. The treasurer’s report was also read and approved.

“The next item of business was the election of officers for the next two year period. Viola J. Clapp, President and Carl Jewett, Vice President were re-elected. The incumbent Secretary & Treasurer declined the honor, however; so the President requested various members on the distaff side of the family to take the job. It appeared though that all of the girls already had more work than they could handle, so ye scribe volunteered to try it, thus completing the slate of officers.

“Either because your Secretary was new at the job, or because your President was exhausted after trying to pick a new Secretary, there is nothing in the record indicating that any committees were named for the next year. However, the Secretary is of the opinion that it was more or less left to the President to pick committees and a location for the next reunion at a later date.

“The meeting adjourned at approximately 2:15 P.M. Respectfully submitted, Ulmer M. Jewett, Secretary. There were 61 in attendance.”

 **************

 Secretary’s notes 1962: “The twenty-fourth annual Jewett Family Reunion was again held at the home of Jos. & Evelyn Estabrooks on Sunday, July 29th at Hampton, Conn. The clan began to gather shortly after 12:00 noon, and before the day was over, some 51 members had put in their appearance.

 “The first matter to be taken care of was pictures by a staff photographer, the most publicized being one of Mary Jewett holding Kevin Pearl. This was of the oldest and youngest member in attendance.

 “A bounteous collection of food having arrived, a buffet dinner was served at 1:20 P.M., preceded by the saying of Grace by Annie Edmonds.

 “Near the end of the dinner period, a large triple decker layer cake appeared from out of the no-where and was placed in front of Madam President. With the arrival of the cake, an original poem written by Evelyn Estabrook s and read by Bertha Greer, indicated that this was the 15th wedding anniversary of the Leon Clapp’s. At about this time, Susan Griggs appeared with a large cake with “Jewett Reunion” spelled out on it. From this point on we became an assembly of cake eaters.

 “The meeting was finally called to order and the Secretary’s report was read and approved. The treasurer’s report was next read and approved. While the treasurer was counting the collection and striking a new balance, the President read the minutes of the 1st Jewett Reunion held in 1935. A show of hands indicated that there were 20 present today who had been at the first reunion.

 “A rising vote of thanks was given to Evelyn & Jos Estabrooks for having us with them again. It was then suggested that our 25th reunion next year be held at the Elmer C. Jewett homestead at Clarks Corner, where the 1st one was held. The present occupant, Faun Jewett Gordon being agreeable, all present were in favor of this location.

 “Members were again requested to report all births, marriages and deaths to our historian, Susan Griggs in Abington.

 “The meeting adjourned at approximately 3:30 P.M. and was followed by a social hour and more cake. Respectfully submitted, Ulmer M. Jewett, Secretary”

Wedding of Lewis Reginald and Beatrice (Pearl) Thayer, June 9, 1929

Lewis & Beatrice Thayer Wedding; June 9, 1929.

A photo taken on the steps of the Hampton Congregational Church, from the June 9, 1929 wedding of Lewis Reginald and Beatrice (Pearl) Thayer.

Children in front – Left to Right: Arthur Pearl, Jr., Margaret Pearl, Jean Marsh, Austin Emmons

Adults- Left to Right: William Austin Pearl; Eleanor Pearl; Gerald Thayer; Dorothy Pearl; Joseph Estabrooks; the bride, Beatrice Thayer; Rev. Mutart; the groom; Lewis Reginald Thayer; Rudolph Thayer; Arthur Hall; Ruth Topliff Crook; William Waite Pearl.

Grave Marker for Elisabeth Holmes Pearl (1662-1744) in Boxford, MA

Elizabeth Pearl Grave Marker

I recently located the grave marker for our ancestor, Elisabeth Pearl, at Mt Vernon Cemetery in Boxford, MA. Elisabeth was the wife of John Pearl, the founding member of the Pearl family in America. Her seventh child was Timothy Pearl (1694/5 – 1773), who established the Hampton, CT branch of the family in about 1720.

Elisabeth’s original stone was set into a granite marker at some point. The original inscription reads “Here lies buried the body of Mrs Elisabeth Pearl. Died March 26, 1744, in ye 82nd year of her age.” On the granite below, a note has been added about her husband: “1650 John Pearl 1710”. (The information we have states that John Pearl was born in 1645 or 1646 in Beverley, England and died in 1720 in Boxford, MA.)

Numerous other Pearl stones are in the Mt. Vernon Cemetery, including quite a few from the recent past.

………….Allen Vander Meulen III