JONATHAN HEATH House
Known around town as the Martin Potter farm, the house built on what is now the Heath Road by Jonathan Heath is one of the earliest houses in town. In fact, as Whitefield was yet to be incorporated at the time it was built, the house was actually built in Ballstown.
Legend has it that Annie Heath, though very afraid of bears, took a hatchet and rode as straight as she could through the woods from King's Mills to Choate's Corner, marking a pathway as she rode. Much later, she was to stand in her doorway in the evening listening to the howling of wolves. It was a lonely place.
Halfway down the road thus laid out was a large tract of land owned by her family (she was a Glidden) and sold to her husband Jonathan Heath in 1784 - 400 acres for 8 pounds sterling. On this land they built their home. For the first ten years they lived in a log cabin (thus avoiding taxes). Later they built a post and beam framed and clapboarded cape, much like that built earlier by Jonathan's brother Asa down by the Sheepscot River (still standing today).
The hand dug cellar had fieldstone walls laid up and topped with granite sills. Bark still remains on some of the floor joists. Massive beams averaging four feet apart frame the structure, with corner posts flaring wider at the top. Floorboards downstairs were narrower than the wide pine attic flooring. Roof boards ran from eaves to ridgepole across supporting purlins, and gaps between boards were covered with birchbark before the hand split shingles were nailed in place. It was a tight and well built dwelling.
The long gone central chimney was the heart of the house. The keeping room fireplace provided a cooking hearth with the massive brickwork probably acting as a giant radiator, and an open space in front allowing heat to rise to the loft - but still mighty cold in winter! Two other fireplaces heated parlor and back room.
Interior space was finished over time, with a plank wall in one area (one board being 27" wide and 2" thick), and beaded paneling in another. The walls were plaster and lath - early laths hand-split and spread accordian fashion, and others the later machine sawn type. Plaster included horse or cow hair and lime (which probably came from the lime kiln on nearby Weary Pond Road). The parlor eventually was walled with hand-planed pine paneling, wide wainscotting and a built-in corner cupboard, complete with small bubbled panes of glass in the uppermost door - a rare treasure. Many changes evolved over the next two centuries as subsequent inhabitants adapted the house to fit their needs, but many original features still remain, attesting to the skill and practical sense ofthe original builders.
Jonathan sold a couple hundred acres to Enoch Heath and fifty more to Timothy Ware, a neighborhood developed and it was a little less lonely.
In 1817, Jonathan sold the farm to Rufus and Maria Choate, who held it about ten years, selling off a parcel of land in 1826, and selling the balance of the farm to Thomas and Abigail Lufkin in 1827 (first requiring that Annie Heath sign off her right of dower to the land sold them by her late husband. Although neither Jonathan nor Annie Heath could write and their deeds were signed by their mark written over and under an "X", they were capable in the things that mattered, and built a good sound house.)
Mention of a "burying ground" on the south side of the farm appears for the first time in the deed to the Lufkins. It is reputed to contain about ten graves, designated only by unmarked fieldstones. In a sad twist of fate, when the Lufkins sold to Edmund and Maria Mathews ten years later in 1837, a clause in the deed read "reserving only sufficient land to secure the present burying ground as it is now occupied." This may explain why the Mathews three young daughters are buried in the Noyes Cemetery on the Hilton Road. The girls, 11 year old Josephine, 7 year old Harriet, and Lucinda - almost 5, all died within a three week period in late spring, 1853.With only their son remaining alive, the Mathews sold the farm less than two years later for $200.00 less than they paid for it and moved on. James and Angeline Dunton of Bath were the purchasers, but two years later, in 1857, they in turn sold the hundred acre farm to Daniel and Emeline Dunton.
Fessenden B. Turner and his wife Annie M. were the next to occupy the place, purchasing it in 1866. They sold off a 14 acre plot to Samuel Kennedy in October of 1870, and the balance of the property to timber dealers Treat, Lang and Company a month later. Treat, Lang and Company only wanted the timber, and sold the land within a couple of months to John Potter. In their deed, they reserved "all the growing and down timber on the entire place that is ...6" in diameter outside the bark at the usual place of cutting or falling timber", and gave themselves four years to get it out.
The farm remained in the Potter family for almost 100 years. Ownership passed from John to his son Forrest ("reserving the right of keeping horse, harness and wagon on the premises"), and from Forrest to his brother Martin in 1921.
Martin had many interests including printing and photography, and his old printing press still exists. He was quite concerned over the
condition of the Heath Road, parts of which were impassable at certain times of year, and wrote a treatise in which he hoped for its improvement. Martin was a large man and very strong, and it was said of him that whenever heavy lifting was required, Martin was called upon to help. Martin never married, and he lived on the farm until his death in 1961. He is buried in the Whitefield Cemetery.
Electricity came to the Heath Road in 1949, with the end of the line on the northern end of the road at the home of Edward Heath, a descendant of the original Enoch, who had purchased his land from Jonathan Heath, builder of the old cape in the 400 acre wilderness. Over time this wilderness became a neighborhood housing families many of whose names still exist or are familiar to many in town today, and others long gone. In addition to Glidden, Heath, Choate, Lufkin, Mathews, Dunton, Turner and Potter, some other names in the area before 1900 include Ware, Tibbetts, Bailey, Kenny, Davis, Rairden, Preble, Lewis, Carleton and Jewett.
The Martin Potter farm went for taxes in the mid 1960's, and was subsequently owned by Alton & Berniece Rogers, Chester Chase, and Frederick & Helen Greene. It was purchased in February 1973 by its present occupants, Denis & Ann Marie Maguire, who enjoy sharing it with all its previous inhabitants.
Here is a blog of this place called : redhouseinwhitefieldmaine