McClellan Sterling Silverware

Here’s a story with many questions still left unanswered. Nevertheless, it is amazing what a bit of oral tradition, combined with document research and material culture can reveal.

For my bridal shower, I was blessed to receive from my aunt Maria a set of silverware that belonged to my great aunt Lillian McClellan, the sister of my great-great grandfather, Roddy McClellan. I also received a family bible that had also once belonged to Lillian (although the bible, along with the bookmarks within it, will be an interesting story for another time!)

This is the silverware, with a note from Maria:

The pieces are beautifully designed, with elegant floral patterns along the handles. In addition, the ends of each of the handles are engraved with the word “Lillian”:

For Christmas, my parents and Maria came together to give me a truly wonderful gift, certain to captivate the genealogist in me: Maria had a wooden silverware box that had originally belonged to Imogene (Everson) McClellan, Lillian’s mother, and it was also in this box Lillian kept her engraved silverware.

Here is the wooden silverware box:

On the top of the box, however, is a small gold plate shaped like a shield that has the name Barnard engraved on it.

Here is the Barnard inscription:

To the best of my knowledge, there in no family genealogical connection to any Barnards. In addition to the box itself from Maria, my parents added to the gift by doing research themselves. Dad’s knowledge of woodworking led him to the observation that the box was not hand-crafted by a family member – the work is beautiful and probably professional, as there is no external evidence of how it is connected (nails, pegs, etc). But neither is there any evidence of company markings or logos. Maria had pointed out that perhaps the silverware itself would have markings that would identify who made the silverware, and perhaps that would be connected to the box. My parents hypothesized that perhaps the silverware was purchased in the box, and that there might be a direct connection between the silverware and the box which held it. So my mother went online and found that the Barnard family of London had a long history of creating silverware, and that some of their markings indeed had symbols placed within a shield.

So for Christmas, I received not only the silverware box, but also a family story and some clues uncovered by my parents. The next part of this was to return home and check the markings on the silverware and see if they could be identified Barnard silverware.

On the fork, knife, and spoon were three hallmarks –
a lion, an ornate capital letter “R”, and a crown
(apologies for the quality, this is the clearest photo I could take of such fine detailing):

The lion marker is the most straightforward. This is a “standard mark”, which indicates the standard of the silver, in this case it is Sterling .925. The word STERLING after the marks also brings this point home! However, the use of the lion for the standard mark indicates that the silverware was made in Britain.

The second mark is an ornate capital R. This is the “date letter”, and is a little more tricky to interpret. The date letter system was introduced in London in 1478, and later in other major cities where silverware was made. “Its purpose was to establish when a piece was presented for assay or testing of the silver content. The mark letter changed annually in May, the cycles of date letters were usually in strings of 20 and each cycle was differentiated by a changing of the font, letter case and shield shape.” (from British Hallmarks) Although there are a wide variety of letters depending upon the city, Lillian’s silverware date letter seems to best match with London’s date letter of 1852.

Here are the London date letters (see the 1852 capital R):
Imogene Everson was born in 1852. Perhaps her parents purchased this silverware in honor of her birth, and Imogene later gave this silverware to her only daughter, Lillian, who then chose to engrave the silverware with her name.

The crown and lack of a maker’s mark are a bit of a curveball. The crown is an extremely generic symbol, and without a maker’s mark, it’s probably impossible to judge who exactly crafted this silverware. So the Barnard connection is still left a mystery. Perhaps the silverware was an inexpensive line of the Barnard’s. Perhaps Imogene simply received the box from elsewhere – a friend, a neighbor, etc. Whatever the case (and perhaps time will reveal more answers) it is wonderful to be in possession of objects with such a history, and I hope to someday pass these on to a daughter of my own.

To Maria, Mom, Dad, Lillian, and Imogene – thank you.

Howland Cemetery, Hanson, MA

Every summer I explore this cemetery, as it is on my aunt’s property, and never ceases ceases to captivate. I also try to photograph it each summer, keeping records over time of the state of the stones.

Per the advice and sharp eye of my Aunt Maria, we uncovered a broken headstone in the small Howland plot so that I could photograph it. Fending off the swarms of mosquitoes, I took several good photographs of it before reburying it, in attempts to longer preserve the stone from thieving hands. Several stones have disappeared over the years, with visitors to the campground nearby most likely the culprits, which is a shame.

The stone is of Pamelia Thomas (DRAKE) Howland, wife of Lewis Howland. She died 9 NOV 1869 in Abington at the age of 64 of consumption.

Her footstone reads PTH, it is pictured here resting on top of the base of another grave:

Here is a photo of Lewis Howland’s stone, the only full gravestone left:

Lewis Howland, it seems, was the first interred in this small plot. Dying of small pox, he was buried here on his land, and his wife and some of his family chose later to be buried here as well.

Here is another headstone base with no stone attached to it, along with a small chunk of marble gravestone with no visible writing on it:

More deed and will research is needed, but it appears that the land passed into our family via Lewis Howland’s brother Warren, who married Deborah Bates. When he died of consumption, ownership of the land passed to Deborah and her second husband Barnabas Everson.

Howland Smallpox Cemetery, Hanson, MA

My family owns a portion of land along Maquan Pond, which has been owned by the family for many generations. In the 1800s it used to be a combination farmland and unusable bogs. For a time it belonged to the Howland family, and their farm was not far from the pond. An isolated uprising of smallpox hit the town in the mid 1800s, and Lewis Howland and his family were affected.

Lewis Howland was a furnaceman, and he was the son of Warren and Peddy Howland. He was born 31 MAR 1806 in Pembroke, MA (which was soon to become Hanson), the eldest of 7 children. He died of small pox at the age of 40 years, on 14 APR 1846 in Hanson, MA. Since much of rural Massachusetts was still superstitious or uninformed about the nature of disease, his body was prevented from being buried in the public cemetery, and he was interred towards the back of the Howland farm.

Lewis Howland’s stone

Lewis Howland’s brother Warren had died just several months before Lewis himself. Warren Howland Jr. was born 23 JAN 1813, the son of Warren and Peddy Howland in Pembroke, MA. He married Deborah Bates 11 NOV 1840. They had one boy, Warren Howland III who was born 26 DEC 1845. Sadly, however, Warren Jr. died of consumption 22 JAN 1846, several months after the birth of his son. He was buried in Fern Hill Cemetery, Hanson, MA. Deborah Bates, now a widow, then had to deal with the death of her son several months later, 21 SEP 1846.

Deborah Bates Howland, now a widow and childless, soon remarried Barnabas Everson on 25 AUG 1848. Barnabas was a smart investor, and good with property, and soon owned the land on which the Howland farm was. It was through the Everson family that the land was then passed down generation after generation to our family ownership of it today.

That’s the history of the area that I have ascertained through family stories, documents, and gravestones.

As for the current state of this small cemetery, time and thievery have not been kind. The cemetery is surrounded by four granite posts with an iron rail around it. Only one stone fully remains, that of Lewis Howland, and the entirety of the stone has been removed from the ground and lies facing upwards. It is made from white marble, and has eroded, but the epitaph is still readable. There is evidence of another gravestone, with the base still remaining with two small iron posts sticking up from the base. Beside it is a footstone which reads, barely, PTH. This is the footstone of Pamela Howland, Lewis’s wife.

A great amount of leaves and overgrowth now cover the area. Several of the stones are missing, a prime target for those wandering near Camp Kiwanee.