The farm at 204 Dodge Rd. in Rowley is associated with several mills on the nearby Mill River. A chamfered First Period summer beam indicates that the oldest part of the house was constructed by Isaac Platts in the late 17th Century. The rare New England Dutch gambrel-roof barn has a ceramic tile silo. Nearby on the Mill River, several water-powered mills were constructed.
Rowley historian Joseph N. Dummer wrote the early history of the property at 204 Dodge Rd. in Land and houses of Rowley (Rowley Library archives):
“The estate was granted to Isaac Platts (1672-1711), and sold by his grandson Isaac Burpee in 1764 to Jonathan Burpee (105-151). Jonathan and Jeremiah Burpee in 1764 sold the estate of 40 acres with buildings, including the cyder mill to Rufus Wheeler (127-122). “Rufus Wheeler built the present house after he bought the place. The heirs of Mr. Wheeler sold the estate to Charles and Caleb Chaplin in 1856 (722-219). Just beyond where the Daniels road enters, the lot was sold in 1830 by Matthew Stickney to Calvin and Caleb Chaplain (258-200).”
“Caleb Chaplin in 1892 sold the estate to Brotherton Martin (1363-351). He in 1912 sold it to Fred W. Stuart of Beverly for a summer home (2180-416). Phineas Dodge sold (an additional) 17 acres in 1913 to Mr. Staurt (2192-457). He moved that house to a point near his house. The mill site and saw buildings were sold by Ernest and Sybel Walton to Fred W. Stuart (2204-70). With this purchase Mr. Stuart owned all of the land between the bridge and the southern side of the Chaplin Estate. All this he sold in 1929 to David H. Howie (2818-597).”
A house is shown at this location in the 1794 Plan of Rowley, with a sawmill some distance behind it. In the 1830 Rowley map, the owner’s name is Wheeler. In the 1856 and 1872 Rowley maps, the owner is “C. Chaplin.” The Chaplin family developed and grew the property from the 1830s until the end of the 19th century. Their deeds refer to part of it as the Stickney Farm. The ancient Stickney mill was along the Mill River behind the property.
Stickney family history in Rowley
Benjamin Stickney, born 4 Apr., 1673, moved to Rowley before 1694, and lived with Daniel Tenney on Long Hill Road, Byfield Parish. From 1699 to 1726 he purchased of various owners, land at Long Hill and built a house on top of the hill in 1700. This was his home throughout the remainder of his life and his eleven children were born here, nearly all of whom married into Rowley families. His son Samuel built, in 1733, a cloth mill, and soon after, a sawmill, on the site of what was in later years been known as Dummer’s sawmill. In 1735, he built a house near the mill, which was his home during the remainder of his life. He died 4 Apr., 1778. His great grandson Matthew Stickney sold a part of the estate between this property and Daniels Rd. in 1830 to Calvin and Caleb Chaplin.
The 1677 Platts-Bradstreet House is located on Rt.1A, 233 Main St. in Rowley is home to the Rowley Historical Society. The name of Jonathan Platts first appears in 1690 as a keeper of cows at that end of Town. Eight children were born to Jonathan and Elizabeth Platts. His son, Isaac Platts (1672-1711) had a daughter Hannah who married Jonathan Burpee. Isaac Burpee in 1764 sold this property to Jonathan Burpee, who in the same year sold the estate of 40 acres with buildings, including the cyder mill to Rufus Wheeler.
In the 1830 Rowley map, the owner’s name is Rufus Wheeler. His ancestor David Wheeler is said to have been brought to America in the ship Confidence, sailing from Southampton, England, April 24, 1638. He removed to Rowley, Mass., before 1669, the year his son Joseph was born. At a meeting of the Inhabitants of the Towne of Rowley, March 16, 1702-3, it was voted that the inhabitants of the Towne of Rowley living in the neighborhood near Long hill could join with the farmers of Newbury could build a new Meeeting House in what became the parish of Byfield. The Wheeler family were prominent members of the parish, and several settled in a nearby part of Rowley that is now part of Georgetown known as Wheeler’s Corner.
All branches of the Rowley branch of the Chaplin family are descended through the sons of Hugh Chaplain, Joseph, John and Jeremiah. The oldest section of the Chaplin–Clarke House at 109 Haverhill St. was built c. 1670 by Joseph Chaplin. John Chaplin, born 11 December, 1646 and his brother Jeremiah removed to the better farming area in the western part of the town at today’s intersection of Rt. 1 and Rt. 133. The neighborhood came to be known as Chaplinville, from the number of their descendants who have lived there. John Chaplin joined with his neighbors in setting off Linebrook Parish in June, 1746. He became a prosperous landowner, and lived to a great age, dying 24 January, 1767, in his ninety-third year.
Caleb Chaplin Sr., born 20 Mar 1764, was the son of John Chaplin and Hepsibah (Jewett) Chaplin. His son Caleb Chaplin (1783 – 1856) married Sarah Davis (1783 – 1857 ) of Topsfield. They had two daughters, Betsy and Sarah, and three sons, Charles, Caleb, and Calvin (1805-1879). On May 31, 1866 Calvin and Hannah Chaplin deeded half of their land and house to Charles Chaplin (Salem Deeds 704, 288). Charles and Calvin Chaplin are both listed in County records as living at Rooty Plain, occupation farmer. Rooty Plain was a small community on Rt. 133, in the vicinity of Dodge Rd., Boxford Rd. and the Mill River.
Stuart, Howie and subsequent owners
The barn and silo were constructed by Fred W. Stuart of Beverly, who owned the farm after the Chaplins, from 1892 until 1929. Stuart owned the patent for a “shoe last” with his son, Maxwell A. Stuart, and owned the F. W. Stuart & Co. at 16 Congress St. in Beverly, manufacturer of shoe lasts. Stuart’s accumulated properties included the Pearson Stickney and Dummer mill site on Glen St., as well as the nearby properties at 45 Long Hill Rd. and 66 Long Hill Rd. The 1920 tax assessment for Fred Stuart, from the Annual Report of the Town of Rowley, shows the value of the new barn being considerably more than the house. In the 1910 assessment, the house was valued at $850, but the larger of two barns was valued at $300, the same as in 1900. David Howie’s 1940 evaluation was $1000 for the house, and $2800 for the barn
He sold the farm and surrounding properties in 1929 to David and Harriet Howie, who owned the property from 1929-1951. Mr. Howie was employed in Boston and they lived in Rowley in the Summer. Rowley tax assessments for the period show a long list of properties throughout out the town that Howie owned. David Howie sold to James and Anna Hall, August 1951. The property was sold to Anne and Richard Harnett as Rowley Farms Trust in 1980, who sold it to the present owner in 2009.
Outwardly, the original front of the house faces away from the driveway and barn, but the opposite side has been modified so that it appears almost identical. The present downstairs hall is continuous from each of these doorways. An 18th or 19th Century stairway to the second floor descends toward the doorway opposite the barn and driveway. Although much of the early fabric has been removed, surprisingly, a First Period chamfered summer beam with a lambs tongue stop is exposed in the right upstairs bedroom, confirming that part of the present house dates at least to the 1735 home of Samuel Stickney.
The image in the 1794 Rowley map indicates a five bay house with a central chimney. A massive stone foundation for a central fireplace exists in the cellar. Based on these observations, the right side was a one-over-one very late First Period half house that was doubled in width after Rufus Wheeler purchased it in 1764. The central fireplace and chimney were later removed to create a central hallway during ownership by the Chaplin family. Further modifications and additions date to after the property was purchased by Fred Stuart in 1913, and by David and Harriet Howie, who owned the property from 1929-1951.
Barn and silo
By the late 19th Century, this property had become a large and profitable farm. The tall gambrel roof barn measures approximately 36′ wide x 60′ long and is in unusually good condition, with 20 oversized stalls, and an attached glazed tile silo of the same period. The present owner was told that the barn was built in the 1920s during the depression and took 5 years to build. The owner at that time hired out-of-work people to build it. Rowley tax assessments show that the barn was constructed during the ownership by Fred W. Stuart between 1910 and 1920.
There are two forms of gambrel barns, the Dutch gambrel, in which the eaves flare slightly upward past the walls, and the English gambrel, which appeared in the late 19th and early 20th Century, and has straight eves. The gambrel barn became popular in rural farm areas. The development of balloon-frame construction and the use of trussed rafters allowed clear spans above the stalls for large amounts of hay, using mechanized hay trolleys that came into favor. Driven by the need for massive hay storage, the English gambrel roof barn style had its “heyday” between the first and second world wars. Most of the approximately 600 American Dutch-style gambrel barns date to the 18th and 19th century, many concentrated in the Hudson Valley. It is unusual to see a large Dutch style gambrel roof barn in the North Shore area. A large gambrel barn is at Appleton Farms in Ipswich, but does not have the Dutch curves at the ends of the rafters.
Attached to the barn is a silo with glazed ceramic tile walls. Intensive dairying operations in New England during the late 1800s resulted in a switch from hay to corn. Silaging made possible the fermentation of the crop while it was green, instead of waiting for it to dry in the fields. Round masonry silos were structurally suited for the high pressures exerted by tall stacks of heavy wet corn; They resisted wind, eliminated dead corners, and made the threat of fire negligible. For a few decades, companies offered gas-fired ceramic hollow blocks in various color schemes for silos and surrounding buildings. Commercialization of these kits proved to be short-lived, as farmers found them overly expensive, and in the early 20th Century, farmers began using more-affordable concrete blocks.
Sources and further reading:
- Land and houses of Rowley / Joseph N. Dummer, (Rowley Library archives, typed but unpublished)
- Houses and Lands of Rowley by Joseph Dummer, Page 145
- Houses and Lands of Rowley by Joseph Dummer, Page 146
- Rowley : 1640-1936 : a history of the town of Rowley, Massachusetts compiled from the Registry of Deeds & probate records of Essex County, by Joseph N. Dummer
- Early settlers of Rowley: Platts
- Early settlers of Rowley: Stickney
- Early Settlers of Rowley: Wheeler
- Early Settlers of Rowley: Chaplin
- The Stickney family : a genealogical memoir of the descendants of William and Elizabeth Stickney, from 1637 to 1869
- The genealogical and encyclopedic history of the Wheeler family in America
- Wheeler family in Rowley
- John Chaplin (1758-1837) of Rowley, Mass. and Bridgton, Me. his ancestry and descendants
- Genealogical and Family History of the State of Maine: Chaplin
- The Story of Byfield, a disappearing parish
- The Farmers’ Tower: The Development of the Tower Silo by Loran Berg
- Our New England Barns
- Legacy of the Disappearing Silo
- History of Structural Hollow Clay Tile in the United States by Jeremy C. Wells, Construction History magazine, Vol. 22 (2007)
- United State Department of the Interior, First Period Buildings of Eastern Massachusetts
- Analysis and Design of a Rigid Frame Gambrel Barn by Charles Erskine Rice
- Wikipedia: Gothic-arch barns
- USDA Designs for Farm Buildings in the Northeast States, published in 1951
- 1928 Sears Roebuck Co Modern Farm Buildings Barn Equipment catalogue
- Town of Rowley Annual Reports: Tax evaluations for 1890, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1940. (Local History Room, Rowley Public Library).
- The earliest part of this house was constructed by Isaac Platts before 1720, and was sold by his grandson Isaac Burpee in 1764 to Jonathan Burpee: Salem Deeds 105/151.
- Jonathan and Jeremiah Burpee in 1764, 40 acres with buildings, including the cider mill to Rufus Wheeler: Salem Deeds 127/122
- Matthew Stickney to Calvin and Caleb Chaplain (property across the street): Salem Deeds 258/200
- Fitch Poole, Morrison, Nutting et al to Charles Chaplin an 8 acre lot, “being part of the Stickney Farm…the right of way leading to Stickney’s Mills” February 6, 1837, Salem Deeds 297/20
- Henry Poor et al to Charles Chaplin, “part of the Stickney Estate which is described in the deed of Fitch Pool and others to Chaplin this day,” Feb. 11, 1837 Salem Deeds 299/208
- Calvin and Hannah Chaplin to Charles Chaplin, May 31, 1866: 1/2 undivided. House and land. (Salem Deeds 704, 288)
- Heirs of Wheeler, sale of estate to Charles and Caleb Chaplin in 1856: Salem Deeds 722/219
- Caleb Chaplin to Ada and Brotherton Martin, Dec. 5 1892 (Salem Deeds 1363/351)
- Ada Martin to Fred Stuart 14 acres with the buildings thereon, “8 acres conveyed to me by Charles Chaplin, and all the real estate that was conveyed to me by Caleb S. Chaplin by his deed dated December 5, 1892” Salem Deeds 2180/461
- Phinneas Dodge to J. W. Stuart, a parcel of land, January 21, 1913: Salem Deeds 2192/457
- Fred W. Stuart to David Howie: land granted to Stuart referring to deeds of Phineas Dodge and Ada Martin, December 9, 1927: Salem Deeds 2749/115,
- Stuart to Howie: September 10, 1929 Salem Deeds 2818/597. (Cambridge residents Harriet and David Howie also owned the property at 66 Long Hill Rd.)
- David Howie to James and Anna Hall, August 1951: Salem Deeds 3841/247 and 6705/44
- MacNeil to Anne and Richard Harnett as Rowley Farms Trust, parcel one of seven, “with the buildings thereon” on the westerly side of Dodge Rd., May 1980: Salem Deeds 6705/37 and 6780/176. The 2005 Rowley Reconnaissance Report refers to this as the Hartnett Farm
- Anne and Richard Harnett to Billie Bo Farm, April 2010: Salem Deeds 29411/238
- 1918 Beverly City Directory
3 thoughts on “Platts-Wheeler-Chaplin-Stuart farm, 204 Dodge Rd., Rowley (c. 1700 and later)”
Thanks for such a thorough history. It is interesting that there is not more documentation on the construction of the barn – it must have been quite an undertaking and involved a large number of people from Rowley. One small point, the transfer of 204 Dodge Rd from Hartnett to BillieBo Farm was April 2010 (not June 2009).
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I added some information about early 20th Century gambrel barns and kits sold by Sears. This barn seems more substantial. I plan to stop by and take measurements of the length, width and height. If the barn was built during the depression, it might have involved the CCC or WPA. I’ll stop in again at the Rowley Library to look through the town reports for those decades, which unfortunately are not online.
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My Grandparents where James and Anna Hall. We loved that farm growing up and spend every possible moment with them. My mother and her sister, in the 1950s were very involves in 4H raising sheep, cows and chickens and winning awards and even a trip to Chicago for the 4H national convention one year.
My Grandfather used the lower floor (basement) to build boats. I learned more skills, math and history in the weeks building boats with him in 2nd through 4th grade than I ever learned in school.
My grandmother kept a “front garden” along the drive way for all the families vegetable needs and did a lot of canning in the fall. My Grandfather, a weekend farmer, tried his hand at potatoes, peanuts (inspired I think by Jimmy Carter), corn and always hay and alfalfa for personal use or to sell to local farmers.
We skated on the pond in winter, recreated the fife and drum corp every July 4, had every Christmas eve dinner in that dining room and every night chased my grandfather round and round that central staircase until my Grandmother was done dishes and put a stop to our nonsense. It appears that the stairs are still painted in the Buff color that my grandfather painted everything because he had so much left over boat deck paint.
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