SMITH-MOREHOUSE COLLECTION

MC 25

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Judith Smith Morehouse was, by virtue of her marriage to Richard Smith, a member of what might be considered the founding family of the present day Town of Woodstock.

Judith was the daughter of Lieutenant John Jenkins of the old New Brunswick Regiment and who served in the Revolutionary War. She had at least two sisters — Mary Jenkins, and Elizabeth Dibblee, wife of Frederick B. Dibblee. In 1811 Judith was married to Richard Smith, the eldest son of Jacob and Martha Smith. Richard had nine brothers and sisters — Jacob Smith, Isaac Smith, Benjamin Smith, Oliver Smith, Elizabeth Upham, Martha Upham, Sophia Smith, Maria Bull, and Francis Smith.

Richard's father, Captain Jacob Smith (1749-1837), was one of the first arrivals in the area which was to become Woodstock, coming here in 1784. He was one of a certain number of loyal soldiers who had seen action in the War of Independence, and had been granted land by the Crown. For twenty-seven years, Jacob lived with his family and two slaves in a log house with a massive stone chimney, just below the mouth of Meduxnekeag. He is known to have built the first grist mill in Woodstock along the bank near his house. On December 23, 1811, he raised a large frame house at the precise mouth of the Meduxnekeag on the south side.

Jacob Smith's land included the point between the north side of the Meduxnekeag and the St. John River. He conveyed that piece of land to his son Richard (1778-1833), who completed the first frame house in Woodstock on November 9, 1805, near the foot of the present (1990) King Street. Richard eventually acquired all the former land grants as far north as Elm Street, extending to both waterfronts.

It is known that as late as 1826 these two houses were the only ones to be seen in that part of Woodstock known as "the Creek." In 1826, Richard and Judith built a second home on the north side of the Creek. It was large, faced south, situated just west of the main road at the present lower corner of Chapel and Main and marked the real beginning of Woodstock.

Richard died September 8, 1833. His last will and testament was registered and signed by Bartholomew Crannel Beardsley, Surrogate and Judge of Probates in the County of Carleton, on September 4 in that year. Judge Beardsley was the husband of Judith's sister, Mary Jenkins. Benjamin Smith and Frederick B. Dibblee were appointed executors of Richard Smith's estate. As Richard and Judith had no children, Richard's will devised all of his land to Judith "for and during her natural life," but provided for only limited land sales. Most surveyed lots could only be leased.

Before her second marriage to Frederick Morehouse, Judith Smith and her lawyer devised a scheme whereby lots would be leased for a period of nine hundred and ninety-nine years. With this arrangement, the tenants enjoyed all the advantages of freehold, while Judith Smith retained her ownership of the lands. The development of the north side of Woodstock was therefore determined in part by the terms of Smith's will.

Judith married Captain Frederick Morehouse, a militia officer who had commanded a troop of cavalry. Five years later, he took his own life, dying intestate. Judith Morehouse died twenty years later, in December of 1857. On April 16, 1860, the Morehouse mansion was destroyed by fire.

CONTENT:The greater part of this collection consists of everyday documents gathered by these early Woodstock families and their descendants relative to their business interests, responsibilities and personal communications.