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The house and lot of Mrs. Elizabeth Tawley was originally the estate of Dr. George Emery, an early surgeon of Salem. He was living in Salem in 1637, owned this land in 1652, and lived in this house as early as 1657.
May 1, 1677, in consideration of good will, he conveyed the house and lot to his kinswoman Elizabeth Tawley and her husband John Tawley, a mariner, the conveyance being made upon the condition that they maintain him during the remainder of his life.1
John Tawley died in 1690, and his widow Elizabeth and only child Elizabeth continued to live there. The daughter married Samuel Ruck before 1700, and they lived in this house, the widow Tawley boarding with them after 1703. A bedroom and pantry were added in the rear of the house when this change in the family occurred.
April 21, 1708, Samuel Ruck conveyed his wife’s half interest in the premises to Mrs. Tawley,2 ; and, Oct. 31, 1709, Mrs. Tawley conveyed the same interest to James Ruck, for £200.3 This interest of James Ruck probably ultimately came into the ownership of Samuel Ruck, Mrs. Tawley’s son-in-law, who, June 6, 1728, conveyed it to his children, Samuel Ruck, jr., of Salem, shipwright, John Daniels of Boston, ropemaker, and his wife Elizabeth, and Abigail Ruck of Salem, spinster, the mother of the children being dead, and, also, probably, the daughter Ruth, who is not mentioned in this deed.4
Jan. 26,1711, Mrs. Tawley conveyed her other half interest in the land and buildings to her daughter’s four children, Elizabeth, Ruth, Samuel, and Abigail Ruck.5 Mrs. Tawley died in the winter of 1713-4, having, in her will, confirmed the conveyance to her grandchildren.
The granddaughters, Elizabeth Daniels and Abigail Ruck, released the house and land under and adjoining the same to their brother Samuel, who was a carpenter, March 30, 1730.6 On the same day Samuel and Elizabeth released to Abigail the barn and land under and adjoining it.7
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Thus the whole title to the house and eastern end of the lot came into the ownership of Samuel Ruck.
On Christmas day, 1760, Mr. Ruck conveyed the southern half of the house and that portion of the lot to Jonathan Mansfield of Salem, blacksmith, the division line running through the front door and chimney, and the front door to be used in common, etc., “as long as said house shall be habitable.”8 This expression indicates that the house was then old. In this deed, the leanto on the back side of the house was reserved, with liberty to remove it within six months. Mr. Ruck called it “my mansion house.” The part of the house conveyed was the original house of Dr. Emery.
The northern part of this “double house” remained the property of Mr. Ruck until his death, in the spring of 1769. His administrator conveyed it to Henry Rust, cabinet-maker, Jan. 22, 1771 ; and the next day he conveyed it to Joseph Blaney, esq., of Salem, who, in turn, sold it to widow Sarah Collins of Salem April 22, 1777. Toward the end of the century it belonged to the estate of Hannah Taylor, deceased. Polly Collins, probably an heir of Sarah Collins, or Hannah Taylor, or both, married Nathaniel Cummings of Salem, blacksmith, Oct. 18, 1792. She and her husband conveyed their one-fourth interest in this part of the house and land to Joel Bowker of Salem, blacksmith, Sept. 12, 1797, the tenement being then occupied by the widow Williamson. Mr. Bowker sold this interest to George Smith of Salem, trader, Feb. 14, 1816 ; and Mr. Smith conveyed it to his son-in-law Thomas Frye Nov. 1, 1826. Mr. Frye sold it to Daniel B. Gardner, trader, and Joseph Gardner, 3d, inn holder, both of Salem, Oct. 2, 1847.
After his purchase of the ancient house, as already mentioned, to the westward of this house, and upon the higher ground, Mr. Mansfield erected a residence for himself. This is the house in the old colonial style, that is now standing. It was built between 1760 and 1768.
To the west side of the original house, Mr. Mansfield erected a building in which were constructed two tenements; and after that time this end of the old house, with the addition, was called “the long house.”
Mr. Mansfield died in the spring of 1791, having devised the long house to his four sons, Benjamin Bream, Ellis, Henry and Benjamin Mansfield.
Benjamin Bream Mansfield, cabinetmaker, conveyed his interest in the premises to his brother Ellis Mansfield Dec. 18, 1792;9 and, on the next day, Ellis conveyed the interest he had bought and also his own to Samuel Putnam,10 who was administrator of their father’s estate.
The western end, or tenement, of the long house was conveyed by Ellis and Benjamin Mansfield to Henry Mansfield April 13, 1793; and Henry Mansfield conveyed it to George Smith Feb. 3, 1800. Mr. Smith died in 184-, having devised the tenement to his wife Dorcas, who survived him and conveyed it to the Gardners, already mentioned, Oct. 1, 1847.
The middle tenement of the long house was occupied in 1793 and 1796 by Joseph Mansfield, and conveyed by the administrator of the estate of Jonathan Mansfield to Thomas Bancroft, esq., of Salem, Aug. 25, 1796. On the same day Mr. Bancroft conveyed the tenement to Samuel Putnam, who sold it to George Smith Jan. 12, 1801. Mr. Smith conveyed it to his daughter Mary, wife of Thomas Frye Dec. 13, 1830, and they sold it to the Gardners, already mentioned, Oct. 2, 1847.
In 1769, Mr. Mansfield’s end of the original house was occupied by his sons Jonathan and Amos Mansfield and Josiah Howard; in 1793 and 1796 by Joseph Ayers and Ezekiel Goldthwait; and in 1797 by the widow Ayers and Ezekiel Goldthwait.
Aug. 8, 1793, the administrator of the estate of Mr. Mansfield conveyed this part of the house to John Norris.11 Mr. Norris, who was a merchant of Salem, conveyed it to James Fuller and Joel Bowker, both of Salem, blacksmiths, Dec. 22, 1796.12 Oct. 12, 1797, Mr. Fuller released his interest in the premises to Mr. Bowker.13 For five hundred dollars the latter sold the tenement to George Smith Feb. 14, 1816.14 Nov. 1, 1826, Mr. Smith conveyed it to his son-in-law Thomas Frye,15 who sold it to the Gardners, already mentioned, Oct. 2, 1847.16
When the railroad was extended in 1847, it was found necessary to cut off a part of the ancient house; and at that time the Gardners purchased the entire estate, raising the corner portion of the building, probably at that time, and constructing the first story of brick
In the accompanying engraving the ancient house is that part of the structure which is on the corner, comprising the present second and third stories, and extending on either street as far as the projections in the building. The upper part has been burned away, and is now different from what it was years ago.
Upon the purchase of the premises, which was then known as ” The Frye estate,” the Gardners immediately transformed it into a hotel, which the proprietors called the ” Railroad House,” and put it in charge of Edward Stearns, who had come from Lowell. It was opened to the public on Monday, Jan. 31, 1848. It contained a considerable number of rooms for guests ; though the principal object of the proprietors was to accommodate railroad travelers with meals. In speaking of the new place the week before it was opened, a local paper said, “Their saloon and sitting room, on the lower floor, are very spacious and elegant, with marble topped tables and counters, French landscape paper hangings, splendid mirrors, &c.” Liquors were dispensed freely, and the room devoted to gambling, being the corner room in the third story, was in constant use. The place became notorious throughout the region. The estate is still owned by the heirs of the Gardners, few of the rooms being occupied. Here P. S. Gilmore, as the leader of the Salem brass band, began his famous career, the band room remaining as it was when he occupied it some thirty years ago.
Source: The Essex Antiquarian May 1899
Essex Registry of Deeds, book 4, leaf 156 ↩
Essex Registry of Deeds, book jog, leaf 80. ↩
Essex Registry of Deeds, book 21, leaf 131. ↩
Essex Registry of Deeds, book 21, leaf 133. ↩
Essex Registry of Deeds, book 51, leaf 54. ↩
Essex Registry of Deeds, book 24, leaf 128. ↩
Essex Registry of Deeds, book 56, leaf 222. ↩
Essex Registry of Deeds, book 56, leaf 238. ↩
Essex Registry of Deeds, book 155, leaf 146. ↩
Essex Registry of Deeds, book 155, leaf 147. ↩
Essex Registry of Deeds, book 157, leaf 19. ↩
Essex Registry of Deeds, book 161, leaf 106. ↩
Essex Registry of Deeds, book 162, leaf 249. ↩
Essex Registry of Deeds, book 209, leaf I9. ↩
Essex Registry of Deeds, book 243, leaf 274. William Lawrence Sluman, a minor, had a onehalf interest in the double house, which was conveyed to Thomas Frye Oct. 15, 1830.-Essex Registry of Deeds, book 258, leaf 246. ↩
Essex Registry of Deeds, book 388, leaf 201. ↩