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Lilac Homestead on Young's Ridge in Acton

 

One of the things we all plan to do, in the work-a-day world of ours, is to go back home, some day, very soon.  That is where I want to take you now, home; to such a lovely place, unpretentious, its lawns stretching to meet the tall pines, a magnificent Norway Spruce with both green and brown cones, brought many years ago as a tiny sapling from Norway, a very young orchard with dwarf trees, apple and plum; one special tree called “fruit cocktail tree” has five different varieties of fruit.  The gardens are still a riot of color – pansies, day lilies, patient Lucy, brakes, hydrangeas and an herb garden, then a pathway leading to Wilson Pond, all extend a warm welcome.

This house, located on Young’s Ridge Road, near the west side of Wilson Pond, Acton, Maine, was built by David Horn in 1831.  It is a Cape Cod house with central chimney and three fireplaces, still in use.  An addition was built onto the west end of the house, several years later, two rooms downstairs and one upstairs.  This made the roof much longer than the usual Cape Cod.  Five generations of Horn’s have lived here.

David Horn, the builder, married in 1822 or 1823, Eliza Gilman Mason and seven children were born of this union.  Eliza died May 12, 1831 at the age of 28, when her eighth child was born, or soon after.  The infant died also.

David then married Eliza’s sister Ann Mason, about a year later, and to this union was born ten children.  Ann died February 17, 1852 at the age of 44.  David was born March 3, 1804 and died June 14, 1873, aged 69 years.

Sixteen of the original Horn children grew to adulthood and many lived to between 80 and 90 years of age.  Eliza Ann Wilkins was a little past 90 years of age when she died – the last of that particular family to leave the old home.

The children were cared for, after the death of both mothers, by their grandmother, Elizabeth Gilman Mason, who volunteered to come and live with them and to give what assistance she could.

By this time the house had been given a name, by a distant relative of the family, Mary Ricker Quimby.  It was called “Lilac Cottage” because of the lilacs growing around it.

Carr G. Horn, grandson of the original owner, finished buying out the remaining heirs and became sole possessor.  One elderly aunt was given a “life lease.”  She was the last living member of this first family.  She lived in the house until her health failed and she went to live with her granddaughter, Mrs. Edna Hooper, who was then proprietor of the Wayside Inn in Sanbornville, NH.  This was about 1917.

For a matter or approximately 25 years this home was vacant, rented only to summer visitors.  In the summer of 1956, Lilac Cottage was sold to Mr. & Mrs. Stanley G. Thwing, of Lynnfield Center, MA.  Shall we go inside and just wander from room to room?  The breezeway, the well house with its hand pump still working, old wide boards everywhere, beautifully cared for.

In the kitchen and laundry, the very old and the very new happily blended.  Electrically operated appliances, washer, dryer, range, refrigerator and a corner shelf of very old spice jars, old dishes, china and glass and houseplants. 

The dining room with its Harvest table, the Pine wood soft and gleaming as satin.  A hutch made for just that particular spot and wainscoting, one board from wall to wall; the Wedgewood walls and floor, black chairs, a beautiful fireplace with a fold down screen, sugar bowl lamps, two old commodes.

The front hall with low boy, dark green and celery paint, Devil Ivy in a gravy boat and a very old salt box filled with ivy.

The parlor with its electric organ, heritage wreath, old clock and chairs.  In 1970, a sewing and utility room was added, built by John R. Ricker.

In one of the several bedrooms stands a carved rose wood cabinet containing a music box – the record date says 1882.  Old pepper sass bottles stand on the bedroom windowsills.

The Eagle room, the master’s office, holds many mementos of Mr. Thwing’s life as an electrical engineer a the General Electric Plant in Lynn, MA and of the years spent in the textile industry in Lowell and Littleton plants.  Mr. Thwing spent three years at Lowell Tech.  His rank for that period was not less than 98%.

We have just barely touched this “house by the side of the road,” but we have felt its care, its protection, its love, enduring.  The memories of births, of deaths, of just plain living have mellowed into something intangible but very, very real.

~ To Mr. & Mrs. Stanley Thwing for their gracious hospitality and their information so willingly given, may I extend my most sincere thanks.

~Della M. Welch, 1970~

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