Marcia Thomas – Marshfield’s First Historian
by Nancy Braithwaite
“Miss Marcia gathered the broken fragments of William and Nathaniel Thomas’ (grave) stones, placing them together until she could decipher them.” This according to “Richards’ History of Marshfield” by Lysander Richards the first president of the Marshfield Historical Society in 1913. He is referring to Miss Marcia Abiah Thomas, considered by many, including to Mr. Richards, to be Marshfield’s first historian. She was born in August of 1800 to Luther and Rebecca (Dingley) Thomas. Marcia Thomas distinguished herself by becoming an early advocate of historic preservation. She and her sister Sarah worked tirelessly gathering geneologic information about the families of many of the settlers of Marshfield for Marcia’s book “Memorials of Marshfield”, even spending many hours recording the inscription from old grave stones in the “Old Burying Ground”, which were also included in her book. In the preface to “Memorials of Marshfield”, Marcia writes that the information contained within the book was drawn from materials sufficient enough for a larger volume, but since this was her first effort at putting such a book together, she approached the task with “diffidence”, hoping the public would “look with favorable indulgence upon (this) little offering.” As it happens, despite the abundance of information resulting from her research, “Memorials of Marshfield” was Marcia’s only published work. She so deeply believed in her work, however, that she could frequently be seen discussing historical matters with such passion that she would laugh and cry at the same time. According to Mr. Richards, it was largely because of Marcia Thomas that the first fair was held in Marshfield, for the purpose of raising funds to fence in and preserve the “Old Burying Ground”, now known as the Winslow Cemetery. She also bequeathed a sum of money to be used to erect a monument in that cemetery “To the memory of the early settlers of Green Harbor”. Marcia’s sister Sarah, who also believed in historic preservation, saw that Marcia’s wishes were carried out and lived to see the monument dedicated.
In 1997, the “Marcia Thomas House” was moved to Webster Street, and is now the headquarters of the Marshfield Historical Society.
Additional Information About the Family of Marcia AbiahThomas
Researched and compiled by Janet E. Peterson
Luther Thomas[Sr.], son of William and Abiah [Thomas] Thomas, b. at Marshfield 25 January 1757 (Marshfield Vital Records p. 102, hereafter MVR), m. 1st at Marshfield 18 November 1799 Rebecca Dingley daughter of Jabez and Rebecca (Phillips) Dingley (MRV169, 177, 148); Rebecca Dingley Thomas d. at Marshfield 30 March 1808 age 37 (MVR411); Luther m. 2nd at Marshfield 13 December 1809 Abigail Hewet daughter of Joseph and Ann (Waterman) Hewet (MRV265, 156, 141); Luther Thomas [Sr.] d. 24 October 1831 age 74 (MVR208&411); Abigail (Hewet) Thomas d. 4 December 1839 age 72nd yr. (MVR411)
Children of Luther and Rebecca (Dingley) Thomas: (MVR103)
Marcia Abiah b. 30 July 1800; d. unm. 14 September 1879 age 79 yrs, 1 mo. 5 days (D/R)
William Foster b/ 25 January 1802; d. unm. 26 July 1883 age 81 yrs. 6 mos. (D/R)
Sarah b. 20 February 1807; d. unm. 14 October 1896 age 89 yrs. 8 mos. (D/R)
Child of Luther and Abigail (Hewet) Thomas:
Luther [Jr.] b. 30 November 1811 (MVR103); m. 1836, 5 children (see genealogy continued)
When Luther Thomas [Sr.] died in 1832 his estate included personal property and several pieces of real estate, one of which was his homestead farm located on the northerly side of what is now Ocean street to the east of the First Congregational Church and continuing east past the intersection with the present Webster Street. After his death his four children continued to reside on this farm, Luther [Jr.] and his family in the original house and William F. and his two sisters Marcia and Sarah in a new house they built on the farm a short distance to the west of the original house. A reasonable estimate as to the year the new house was built is ca. 1835 based on the fact that their brother Luther Thomas [Jr.} married in January 1886. Federal Census Records for the years 1850, 1860, and 1870 list Marcia, William, and Sarah Thomas residing on the same household and Luther Thomas [Jr.] and his family in another. Lysander Richards, who was personally acquainted with Marcia Thomas, states in his History of Marshfield volume 2 pages 99 and 100; Luther Thomas [Jr.] half brother of Marcia and Sarah [Thomas]- – succeeded to the estate [of Luther Thomas Sr.] “His sisters and brother built a new house for themselves near by)” Luther Thomas [Jr.] “tore down the old historic house of his ancestors for three generations, building anew upon the same site about 1868.”
The tax valuation of the Town of Marshfield for the year 1857 indicates that Luther Thomas [Jr.] and his brother William F. Thomas had divided the farm, formerly owned by their father Luther [Sr.] and determined the boundaries between them. Luther [Jr.] is assessed for buildings and a twenty acre home lot (and other property) and William F. for buildings and nineteen acre home lot (and other property). When William died in July 1883 his buildings and nineteen acres were transferred to his brother Luther Thomas [Jr.]. In December of that year, 1883 Luther Thomas [Jr.] sold this property to his sister Sarah Thomas. Sarah died in October 1896 and her brother Luther [Jr.] Luther [Jr.] in November of the same year. Sarah Thomas’s only heir was her nephew George H. Thomas, only surviving child of her brother Luther [Jr.]. George sold Sarah’s house, outbuildings, and three and hone third acres of the land in 1908 to Ada M. Cahoon of Marshfield, describing it as “on the northerly side of Ocean Street near the Marshfield Railroad Station, part of the William F. Thomas Homestead.” (ref. Plymouth County Deeds and Probates)
Luther Thomas [Jr.] son of Luther and Abigail (Hewet) Thomas m. at Duxbury 7 January 1836 Abigail t. Sampson of Duxbury (Duxbury VR 297) daughter of Capt. Andrew Jr. and Saba (Howland) Sampson (Duxbury VR 137, 297); Abigail T. (Sampson) Thomas d. at Marshfield 21 June 1888 age 73 yrs, 29 days (D/R); Luther Thomas [Jr.] d. at Marshfield 19 October 1896 age 84 yrs. 10 mos. 19 days, farmer (D/R).
Children of Luther [Jr.] and Abigail T. (Sampson) Thomas b. at Marshfield: (MVR 103,318,325,&B/R)
Anne b. 19 June 1837
Henry b. 7 February 1839
Alice Jane b. 24 December 1844
Abbie Frances b. 25 May 1848
George Herbert b. 10 March 1852
Anne Thomas, daughter of Luther [Jr.] and Abigail [Hewet] Thomas, m. at Marshfield 26 October 1864 Smith Taylor, master mariner, son of William and Elsie S. Taylor (M/R); Anne (Thomas) Taylor d. at Marshfield 24 February 1883 age 45 yrs. 8 mos. Smith Taylor m. 2nd at Marshfield 13 October 1886 Rosella Little. He d. at Summer Street, Seaview, Marshfield, 30 March 1906 age 70 yrs. 8 days (D/R)
Children of Anne (Thomas) and Smith Taylor
Edward Smith b. at Provincetown 13 August 1865 (B/R)
Emily Warren b. at Marshfield 16 July 1867 (B/R)
Henry Thomas, son of Luther and Abigail (Hewet) Thomas d. unm. At Milford, Mass, 1 May 1905 age 66 yrs. 2 mos. 24 days, farmer, buried Evergreen Cemetery, Brighton (D/R)
Alice Jane Thomas, daughter son of Luther and Abigail (Hewet) Thomas m. at Marshfield 20 December 1868 Charles H. Taylor, expressman, son of Henry and Alice P. Taylor (M/R). Alice J. (Thomas) Taylor d. at Newton 29 November 1889 age 44 yrs. 11 mos. 5 days (D/R) Charles H. Taylor d. at Jamaica Plain 8 May 1895 age 49 (D/R)
Adopted son of Amice J. (Thomas) and Charles H. Daylor b. Jamaic Plain:
Horace Henry b. 1 May 1859, d. unm at Marshfield 21 December 1889 (D/R)
Abbie Frances Thomas, son of Luther and Abigail (Hewet) Thomas d. at Marshfield unm. 27 October 1896 age 48 yrs, 5 mos. 2 days (D/R)
George Herbert Thomas, son of Luther and Abigail (Hewet) Thomas m. at Marshfield 26 March 1879 Ellen M. Peterson, daughter of Jabez and Phoebe (Shurtleff) Peterson (M/R) George H. Thomas d. at Marshfield 29 March 1933 age 81 yrs. 19 days (Town Report 39); Ellen M. (Peterson) Thomas d. at Marshfield 30 June 1938 age 81 yrs. 1 mo. 1 day (Town Report 107);
Children of George H. and Helen M. (Peterson) Thomas b. at Marshfield:
William Henry b. 26 July 1880 (B/R); d. 28 February 1881 age 7 mos. 2 days (D/R)
Edith Frances b. 1 February 1883 (B/R)
Mary Abbie b. 10 September 1888 (B/R)
Directions: Take either Exit 11 or Exit 12 off Route 3
From Route 3 take Exit 11 (Route 14) east . Bear left at the fork onto Route 139. Continue through the intersection of Route 3A for 1.4 miles. Turn left onto Webster Street. The Marcia Thomas House will be ¼ mile on the left at 65 Webster Street.
From Route 3 take Exit 12 (Route 139) east for about 3 miles (many traffic lights) into the center of Marshfield. Turn right onto Webster Street (CVS Pharmacy opposite). Proceed for about 2 miles. The Marcia Thomas House will be on the right at 65 Webster Street.