Irving Wendel Harlow - Interveiw
Written and Transcribed by: S. G. Moritz
Introduction: I started portions of this work in college, about 30 years ago. I attribute my interest in history and the Harlow Family to my grandfather, Irving Wendel Harlow. To him, and now to me, the annual family association meeting and reunion in Plymouth is a highlight of each year. My grandfather took me in tow to see the Spirit of 76 painting in Marblehead's Town Hall, and the Revolutionary War fort protecting Marblehead Harbor. We spent many hours absorbing history in the Peabody Museum, Salem, in and around Lynn and Nahant, in Plymouth and in more cemeteries than I can remember. I only wish that I had been a little older when I knew him, so that I could have learned even more than I did.
An Interview with My Grandfather
I interviewed Irving Wendel Harlow, my grandfather, for a college course on "History of the Family" on February 15, 1986, Irving Harlow had no memory of a brother of Rufus, but he did remember a sister named Olivia (Mary Olivia?) who died at about 90 years of age.
Irving Harlow visited the (Richardson) family homestead in Nova Scotia as a boy.
As part of my course work, I asked my grandfather (and grandmother) to write about some elements of their background and family. The following is a verbatim transcript of what Irving W. Harlow wrote. Additions that I made for clarity are in brackets "[ ]".
My Grandfather Wrote:
"I was born in Cambridge, Mass, on February 22, 1903. My father was a carpenter and stair builder. He went to work as stair-builder for a firm in Salem, Mass. We moved to Salem and did not unpack with-in a week we found a nice cottage, fenced in yard, fruit frees and grapes also a place for chickens. The house was heated with stoves, wood and coal. The house was lighted with kerosene lamps. Mother had a beautiful lamp - a large brass base with a chimney and hand painted white globe around the chimney. Mother did not care for Salem so we moved to Lynn. I started to go to school.
Dad [Rufus Harlow] had become active in formation of the Carpenters Labor #1516 Salem and was elected recording secretary, a job he held for 35 years.
[Rufus Harlow was a Baptist] Grandfather Richardson started to take me to St. Paul's Methodist Church so I continued in the Sunday School until we were married and living in Swampscott so we transferred to the Church of the Redeemer, Methodist in Swampscott.
In 1922 I started as a shoe [shop?] apprentice in a carpenter builders finish mill on inside finish for houses, stores, offices, etc. [Grandpa liked the smell of wood, and that he always had something to do]
In early 1900, in Lynn, Mass, if one wanted to buy bananas they went to a fruit store, there was nothing but bananas and they sold at 15 for 25 cents.
When Concord Grapes were ripe and apple cider was in nothing else was. Thanksgiving and Christmas they had Boston Celery. Your grocery store supplied you meat, vegetable, can goods, cereal, cookies.
Stage plays were popular as well as vaudeville or short acts were popular too.
We had seen the change from lamps and lanterns, electricity, from horse to automobile, picture slide to moving pictures, the telephone and its improvements.
Band concerts were popular, always a large crowd. If there were any new songs published a song plugged[r?], we call him, was there to sing 1 or 2 [verses] and the brass band to help him. This happened during the summer and fall season.
Weekends at our house was lively. Both my sisters, Dorothy and Mildred played the piano and everyone liked to sing and there was a lot of good music written during those years.
For a person who lived in or near Boston in early 1900, there were so many interesting places to go. For one that had to shop for food there was the Boston Market of which Fanuel Hall is a part. About the center of the market area Horse drawn teams loaded with vegetables or fruits or nuts would arrive early and the police would blow the whistle and the teams would jockey for position side by side on both sides of the streets, The buildings on both sides at sidewalk level were wholesale and or retail meat dealers also there were bar-rooms and restaurants. So you see shopping on Saturday where the price was right was interesting.
Sunday one could go to the Public Garden where the flowers are beautiful, all trees are labeled, thus one can learn. Boston Common to sit and watch the crowd go by.
Revere Beach was only a dime from Boston. There were always thousands of people on the weekends enjoying the sights, amusements, and surf. There was a passenger boat 2 decker, good size going from the beach to Boston and back all day long. Also, one to Nahant.
It was during the 1750s that Robert Harlow and Eunice Freeman and Family (4th and 5~ generation) left Manomett (Plymouth, Mass.) and forty [families] also, to pioneer the town of Liverpool, Nova Scotia. [Robert was buried in the Old Cemetery, Milton, Queens, NS. Milton was part of Liverpool and was sometimes called "the Falls' until it was re-named in 1830. Rufus P. [Poole] Harlow (8th generation) my-father retuned Mass. and we his descendants were again born here.
It was James Harlow (6th generation), that rode thru the woods to Sable River NS and selected a tract of land and moved his family to it. He was a farmer, carpenter, shipbuilder.
Smith Harlow (7th generation) his [James Harlow] son, built up the road a house that is still standing on a knoll with Sable River down in front of the house and a lake in back. When the railroad came thru the lake was drained. A point of land jutted into the river, on this they built their ships. Here my father grew up. Smith Harlow was a farmer and ship builder. At the turn of the century my father had been here at least 10 years and lived in Boston on the north side of Beacon Hill and was a city dweller. Transportation was by horse-car; steam train or by [streetcar]
He [Rufus Harlow] was a carpenter and stair builder.
This is my mother's (Harriet Richardson's) parents:
William T [Tilley] Richardson. Born 1831. Married Dec 17, 1863. Died May, 1922. Married Levina Griffin. Born Nov 18, 1841.. Died 1931. 12 Children.
[There are still Griffins and Richardson's in the Sable River and Louis Head area. of Nova Scotia. Louis Head is a village that is east of the village of Sable River, both on the south shore of the Sable River.]
He was a Captain of a ship carrying freight sailing up and down the east coast from the Gulf to Nova Scotia. He also had a farm. Mother told me they raised all the vegetables, the fruits, etc. They bought their molasses and Flour by the barrel. They always had several Canadian Geese and rabbits hanging in the shed. Also a moose hanging in the shed. All the fish, lobsters, clams they wanted. This farmland came down the ocean.
The cobbler stayed at the house while he repaired and made new shoes.
They also had cows, a bull, pigs,, sheep, hens. As far as food was concerned they were well taken care of. The wool from the sheep was washed, carded and spun for yard and to be woven into cloth. They hooked their own rugs as well as braiding them. Also patchwork quilts and hen feathers were saved to make warm mattresses for their beds during the cold winters. There was a horse and team also a yoke of oxen to work on the farm." [This marks the end of my grandfather's writing.]
My grandfather explained how they made boots from moose hide. They cut the moose leg above the knee and below the fetlock. Then they slid the hide off the muscle and turned it inside out to clean, dry and tan. Then they sewed the lower, narrow area from the fetlock, which became the toe and the knee the heel, after it was turned hair side out.
During the interview, Irving also explained that Smith was a road commissioner and ran a post office out of the house in Sable River, Like many men then, he actually did a lot of different things. He would cut lumber in the fall, and put the lumber on ice to float to the sawmill in the spring flood. [In the general location of the shipyard, the Sable River and Tom Tigney River join, and it is easy to see how logs would have been cut and boated down in spring floods to the sawmills.] On one occasion, he said Smith got wet, felt ill, and died of inflammation of -the bowels. As Smith died of Smallpox (the family story being that they were buried in the dead of night so the neighbors wouldn't know why they died), this stony may have been attributed to the wrong grandparent. It may have fit James Harlow, known to have been a shipwright.
Rufus also studied for the ministry at Arcadia University but did not become a minister. Instead, he emigrated to the United States and became a stair builder, which would use the woodworking tools with which he would have been familiar. I have Rufus' books on stair building, given to me by Irving Harlow.
Note: The 6th - 9th generation genealogy for Irving W. Harlow 9, Rufus 8, Smith 7, James 6, Robert 5, 4, 3, William 2, Sgt. William Harlow 1 can be found on the genealogy page of our web site (www.harlowfamily.com).
This website created by
Dactyl technologies, LLC