Family Stories – Reminiscences of the William Pearl Farm

(…from the February 2008 Newsletter)

William Pearl Homestead - Hammond Hill Rd, Hampton

The following story is from a letter that Pearl Scarpino (Mary Pearl (Emmons) Scarpino) wrote several years ago to Dot Vander Meulen, remembering the William Austin Pearl farm on Hammond Hill Rd. in Hampton. The farmhouse still stands across the road from Jim and Joyce (Pearl) Rodriguez’s house and it is where Joyce grew up. William A. Pearl was known as “Will”.

Pearl was curious about the farm and who owned it before Will purchased it in 1906. She did some research at the Hampton Town Hall and found out that the original purchase was for about 2 acres of land with a dwelling house thereon. The deed was signed by Frank Everett Pearl as Administrator of the estate of Charles Alworth Pearl. For this land, with house, Will paid $500. There were several more purchases of land listed for the next couple of decades which increased the size of the farm.

Further Notes about the Will Pearl Farm from Dot Vander Meulen…

Eleanor (Pearl) Moon told me about those sweet summer days when Aunt Stella and Uncle Arthur Pearl came down to their farm and they would make homemade ice cream with the children taking turns at turning the crank. They used ice from the ice house, cream from their cows, eggs from their hens and home grown fruits from the farm for flavor: peaches, strawberries, or huckleberries were some of the possibilities. Arthur and Stella had 6 children, the youngest, James, was born in 1925 and died at age 1 ½ years. The others were Edith, Florence, Alice, Idamay and Arthur. Will and Mabel had 4 children. They were Bea, the oldest, Dorothy, Eleanor and Bill. Dorothy, and Edith, both born in 1908, went to nursing school at Grace Hospital in New Haven, CT at the same time in the 1920’s.

Eleanor thought that her Dad, Will, learned to drive when he got his first car, but she was not sure just when that was. She said, “We lived at the foot of the hill and lots of times Pa didn’t have enough gas to make it to the top. He’d get halfway up and have to stop, turn around in the ditch so the fuel could drain into the carburetor and then he’d back up the hill.” Those cars of long ago had carburetors that were gravity fed, before the invention of the fuel pump. Backing up the hill made it possible for the gasoline to get to the engine and avoided the car stalling on the steep slope. Will’s cars were Fords and most had 2 seats, although Eleanor thought that he might have had a one seater (a bench seat) for his postal route at one time. Will had an uncanny ability to know exactly how fast his car was traveling without looking at the speedometer…a skill which fascinated his grandchildren, one of whom was me!