John Alden, Part 4

Written by Lamont Healy
 | Wednesday, 18 July 2012 14:00
Major Judah Alden left the Judah Alden House (built in 1790), at the corner of Alden and Tremont Streets, to spinster daughter Mary Ann in 1845. She lived in the house for about 40 years, and her heirs sold it to George F Bradley in 1911. The property then passed to Frances M Shaw, James Stannard, Theodore Brody and in 1966 to Carl A. Weyerhaeuser.

Frederick Weyerhaeuser having emigrated from Germany in 1852, first worked in Erie, Penn. where he met and married Elizabeth Bladel. The young couple moved to Rock Island, Ill. where Frederick worked in a sawmill, eventually becoming foreman and saving his money. When the financial panic came in 1857, he was able to buy the mill in partnership with his brother-in-law. He later acquired interest in several other mills, attributing his success to his “will to work.”

In the 1860s, he began buying tracts of land in Wisconsin, Minnesota and later, in the 1890s Idaho, Washington and Oregon. In 1891, the family moved to St. Paul, Minn. where Frederick was a friend and neighbor of James J. Hill, the president of the great Northern Railway. Hill owned millions of acres of land given to the railroad in return for constructing the transcontinental rail line from Lake Superior to Puget Sound in Seattle. From 1900 to 1903, Frederick and his partners bought land from Hill and others and thus was born the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company.


At first the company sold standing timber to other sawmill owners but later acquired and built its own sawmills and manufactured and sold finished lumber. Frederick, not one to seek publicity, was termed the “timber king” by the New York Times in 1913. When he died in 1914, he owned more forestland than any other person in the world.

Frederick had seven children who survived him, one of whom, John Phillip, succeeded him as president of the company. Demand for lumber greatly increased during this period with the military needing lumber for barracks, ships and planes during World War I. There was such a demand that the U.S. government actually had soldiers working as lumberjacks in Weyerhaeuser forests. Later, John Phillip’s two sons ran the business, John Phillip, Jr. in the Seattle-Tacoma area and Frederick King “F. K.” Weyerhaeuser in the St. Paul area. F.K and his daughter Lynn Weyerhaeuser Day were instrumental in founding the Forest Historical Society in St. Paul.

The Art Complex Museum of Duxbury was founded by Carl A. Weyerhaeuser at the urging of his wife Edith (Greenleaf) who was the co-founder. Carl was the great grandson of founder Frederick. The family story goes that Carl was offered an expensive Packard by his father Charles A. when he graduated from Harvard. He instead chose a Dodge and a Rembrandt print. This was the beginning of his collection of art and books. The library in the museum houses over 4,000 books based on Carl’s collection.

In addition to the exhibits, the museum provides art classes, education and concerts, and allows other non-profit organizations to hold functions in the buildings. The main building is a beautiful structure with large laminated curved wooden beams designed to simulate the waves of Duxbury beach. It stands on former John Alden land where the fifth generation Judah built his home. The museum houses American paintings, prints, Shaker furniture and Asian art.

Carl and Edith had five children, four of whom still live in Massachusetts and actively support the charitable works of the museum. For a town the size of Duxbury to have an art museum of this stature is fortunate indeed.

The 1637, a “hi-way” was laid out to enable the settlers of these “shore lots” to travel by land to Plymouth and also as a route to the first and second meeting houses. The roadway ran from Hall’s Corner, by the houses of the early settlers, up to Millbrook. It was halfway between what are now Tremont and Washington Streets. The layout lists the owners as the road crosses each property: John Washburn, William Palmer, Peter Brown, Henry Samson (not listed in the layout), Henry Howland, Experience Mitchell, John Alden, Philip Delano and Edward Bumpas.

All this information was helpful in locating the land grants. On the Alden property, the roadway passes east of the original location of the first Alden House along the Wright Dike at the millpond and through the school complex near the Performing Arts Center building, and the library, crossing what is now Alden Street and Railroad Avenue to St. George Street, and then up to where Duxbury’s only traffic light is at Tremont Street, or just north of there, where Ford’s store was.

The “Hi-way” (nothing more than a cart path) is relatively easy to find from the school complex south past the Wright Dike, to the Duxbury Yacht Club golf course driveway, then beyond the DYC parking lot almost to Surplus Street. From the intersection of Surplus and South Station Streets, the way becomes somewhat of a mystery.

Other than the Alden Houses, there are several date-boarded houses on the Alden grant. Judah Alden’s house (1790) on the corner of Alden and Tremont streets is currently part of the Art Complex Museum property. The Thomas Southworth (pronounced Suthard) house (1701) currently owned by Clarence “Chuck” Walker and his wife, Marie, is at 1161 Tremont St. Thomas Southworth was married to Sarah Alden, daughter of Jonathan Alden and granddaughter of John and Priscilla Alden. This farm comprised some 20 acres and includes all or most of the Farmer property on Alden Street. The Philip Delano house (1716), located at 37 Bow (as in bow and arrow) St. is one of the older houses in town. There is some question about the grant that it sits on. Although John Alden was granted this property, there are some who say it was granted to Philip Delano. It is possible that John Alden did not utilize the property and it was later granted to Mr. Delano; this was not an uncommon occurrence.

Street names on this grant include Alden Street, for the obvious Alden connection; Railroad Avenue, because it was close and parallel to the railroad line and station; and St. George Street, which was renamed after Georgianna Wright’s son George who was killed at age 21 in a fall in an elevator shaft in Boston. The street had previously been called Harmony Street. St. George Street is most likely why the Duxbury sports teams are the “Dragons,” because according to ancient legend St. George slew the dragon.