SAMUEL BERRY – MASTER MASON
 

In 2006 Carleton Brown gave A-CHS a box of items. In that box was an account book, 12 ½ inches tall and 4 inches wide. Recently I studied the book and determined that it had belonged to Samuel Berry.

Family Record of Samuel Berry

Sharon Howland copied this record from Alexander Vitals. Editor’s comments are in (parenthesis) and/or following. According to the 1860 Alexander census, all were born in New Brunswick except the three who died young. The birth dates of the children indicate that the family moved to Alexander between 1857 and 1860, but something is wrong in that assumption. See below.

Samuel Berry was born Oct 15, 1811 at St. Stephen N.B. He died May 7th 1870 (age 58).

Cordelia Jewett Gray his wife was born Sept 19th 1815.

They were married July 26th 1840

Sarah Eveline Berry was born March 17th 1842. She died May 7th 1842.

Amelia Adelaide Berry was born May 18th 1843. (married Robert Clark Brown on August 24, 1863)

Albion K. P. Berry was born April 26th 1847.

Asa Libby Berry was born July 28th 1849. (Ace Berry, named for his mother’s stepfather)

Daniel Everette Berry was born August 20th 1852.

George Willard Berry was born March 4th 1855. He died Feb 28th 1857.

Mary Louisa Berry was born August 13th 1857.

Charles Winslow Berry was born Feb 4th 1863. He died June 11th 1869.

 

To understand this Berry family, we must look at the Asa Libby family. Asa (1793–1872) from Scarborough, Maine married Sarah A. Caldwell (1795 - 1879) from St. Stephen. Sarah had married first Daniel Grey and by him had three Grey children, Mary, Cordelia and John. Cordelia married Samuel Berry. We’ll meet John later. Grey or Gray, spelling changes from time to time.

Asa Libby came to Alexander via St. David’s, New Brunswick. He and Sarah Caldwell Gray married on July 20, 1820 and their first six children were born at St. David’s during the next decade. Sometime prior to the 1840 census the family settled in Alexander. It is interesting to note that Cordelia J. Gray, Sarah’s daughter, was alone in a separate household. Not long after the 1840 census came her marriage to Samuel Berry.

The 1850 census lists all occupants of each family in Asa and Sarah Libby’s home. The Libby children were Oliver, Abner, Alice and Amanda. Sarah’s daughter Cordelia Berry was in that household along with her children Amelia, Albion and Asa. Where was Samuel, their father?

Asa Libby owned and lived on lot 61, where Bert Varnum more recently had a big dairy farm. The Airline splits off a few acres from lot 61 on the south side of the road. The 1861 map shows the home of John Gray at this site. Ace Berry, a bachelor, lived at this site in the early 20th century. Farther south is lot 72, and here (about 1/3 mile south of the Airline) we see the home of Samuel Berry. This is also shown on the 1861 map. Asa Libby was a community leader, serving as a Justice of the Peace as early as 1842 and as Town Clerk as late as 1865.

Just a couple more comments before we get to the account book. Samuel Berry was listed in the 1860 census as a master mason. Most men were farmers or laborers. Carleton Brown, who gave us the book, is descended from Samuel Berry via Amelia and Robert Brown. Albion Keith Parris Berry (born April 26, 1847 in NB) was named for Maine’s second governor. Albion Keith Parris was elected at age 33 and served from 1822 until 1827. It was Albion K. P. Berry and his brother-in-law Albion H. Perkins who in 1876 sold Sand Hill to the Town of Alexander for use as a cemetery. Samuel Berry and his children Amelia, Albion, Asa and George are buried in marked graves in that cemetery.

Samuel Berry’s tall narrow account book is hard to read; its contents go from both ends, and its never known which way will be up. Here are a few entries. The names seem to be mostly Calais and St. Stephen. I’ve tried to pick items that give a picture of the work Samuel was doing

1846 Sold one Franklin stove $7.50; setting the grate $1.00; setting Franklin $2.00 by J. Albee; repairing Franklin $1.00

May 1846 Mr. James Albee paid $4.00 two days plastering; $1.25 one day whitewashing; 50 cents for collaring a chimney,

August 1847 Mr. Morey (would that be Gibbeon or William of Calais?) paid Berry $22.00 for 11 days work; man $4.50 for 4 and ½ days work; and (John) Gray $4.00 for 2 days work

August 1847 Mr. Albee’s Account: 5 days work $10.00; Fireplace $2.00; Set stove $1.00

Sept. 1847 Mr. Bowes paid $58 for 29 days work; $9.00 for one stove; $1.00 for one key

June 1848 Worked in St. Stephen 3 days on the hull

August 1848 20 & 1/2days work on meeting house $41.00; 8 casks lime $8.00; sand $4.00; water $1.00; 5 bushels hair $2.00; ash $1.00

1848 Company Bill By Toll; keeping oxen $13.00;one yoke $1.50; rum & turpentine $.50; long sled $5.50; bob sled $4.50; 4 meals $.40; rigging team $5.00; lantern $.50; ax $.50; shovel $.50

Sept. 1848 Setting pipe $.37; plastering house $2.50; topping chimney $2.50

Oct. 1848 George Boardman paid (John) Gray $9.00 for 4-½ days work

May 1849 J. L. Lovejoy cash $18.00; Franklin Eaton for mason work $5.00

August 1849 2 1/2 days work on Coopers house $2.50
 

Nov. 1852 Work on oven $.75

Sept. 1853 John McClay paid $10.00 for 4 days on chimney; $11.25 for 4 ½ days plastering;

Asa Libby to S. Berry: bbl flour $6.50; 16 pounds sugar $1.60; 2 pounds tea $.75; 28 pounds pork $7.50; fish $.50; stove $2.00 Table $6.00; chairs $2.00

Hiram Berry sold him a wagon for $30.00

Three items involve Asa “Ace” Berry. Joel Brown paid him $25.00 and he paid Charles Brown, his cousin, $2.00 for 3 gallons of molasses. The best writing is a separate tax receipt dated October 6, 1904. A. L. Berry paid $17.11 in full for his 1903 property taxes. Fred M. Harriman was tax collector, but the receipt was initialed F. M. H. Jr.

Where was Samuel Berry in 1850? It would be reasonable to guess that he was living in Calais or St. Stephen since many of the account entries refer to residents of those two towns. (Readers will remember that Calais did not become a city until November 18, 1850, after the census was taken and most of these account entries were made.

Thank you Carleton for sharing that old account book.