|Testimonial in the 1940 Sears Modern Homes Catalog|
I don't know whether or not the testimonial appeared in an earlier catalog (Sears, and likewise, Gordon-Van Tine, repeated their testimonials from catalog to catalog, and flyer to flyer), but, I don't believe that any more information was given than this, even if it did appear earlier than 1940. Why? Because respected researcher Rebecca Hunter, on page 40 of her book, Putting Sears Homes On The Map: A Compilation of Testimonials Published In Sears Catalogs 1908-1940, listed this South Hadley testimonial of F. R. Lyman with simply, "?" under the "Model Name" column.
Nonetheless, I have found F. R. Lyman's house, and it is a Sears Collingwood, built in 1938, at 65 Hockanum Road, Hadley, Massachusetts (though his testimonial says South Hadley, the chairperson of the Hadley Historical Commission, Diana West, explained to me that the town line where South Hadley starts, is about 2 miles south of this house). But it wasn't a 1-2-3, easy-as-pie search, because that little detail -- the house number -- took a good bit of digging to find out.
Why? Because none of the census data, nor any of the city directories, used a street number for their listings for Mr. Lyman. Using these resources, I found that F. R. Lyman was Fred R. Lyman, and I found that he lived on Hockanum Road... where he is listed as living in 1900 -1950. But, until 1940, though listed as living on that same road, he was always listed as renting the home in which he lived - and I found him first as listed with a wife named Ellen, in 1910. However, by the 1920 census, he was a 48-year-old widower, with boarders, having also a 30-year old housekeeper (and her daughter) living on the property. His housekeeper, herself, was a widow.
|1910 Census, showing Fred and first wife, Ellen, and their son, Earl. Another Lyman, possibly Fred's brother, Enos, lived on the same street. None of these houses on Hockanum Road were listed with house numbers, until about 1950.|
|The 1920 census shows Ida as a live-in housekeeper, with her 10-year-old daughter living there, as well, along with some boarders. The property where Fred lives is a farm, that he is renting, on Hockanum Road in Hadley.|
|This is from the 1940 census, showing, now, Ida as Fred's wife, and a little "o" next to "head [of household]", showing that Fred owned his home on Hockanum Road. Still, though, no house numbers!|
|The narrowed-down list from Ancestry.com, of city directory listings for Fred R. and Ida B. Lyman.|
At the same time that I was trying to narrow-down the search via city directories, I was also Google driving Hockanum Road, hoping to spot a house that I would recognize as a Sears model. I was thrown a bit by the Amherst label for the Lymans, but, fortunately, I know this area of Hampshire County, Massachusetts, a bit -- completely coincidentally, Hockanum Road is the street where my mother grew up, in a Sears No. 110/Silverdale that her grandparents built in 1911. She lived on the other side of the river, though, in Northampton (of course, when I saw that my F. R. Lyman was on Hockanum Road, in Hadley, Massachusetts, I was pretty excited! That made this search even more interesting to me.) Because of my familiarity with the area, I knew that Hadley and Amherst were by each other, and that the city directory for Amherst no doubt included South Hadley (even though, in actuality, this house sits in Hadley, not South Hadley, as I have now learned, in October 2023). I hoped, then, that by Google driving different sections of Hockanum Road over on that side of the river, I might possibly run across a house that I recognized as a Sears house.
|Near Highway 91, you can see the Northampton side of Hockanum Road. |
Across the river, you see Route 47/Hockanum Road, in the Hadley area of Hockanum Road. The red marker is in the general area of Fred Lyman's Sears Collingwood.
|The 1950 city directory for Amherst, Massachusetts.|
Of course, this meant that, in order to match up the Collingwood I had found on Hockanum, as Fred R. Lyman's testimonial house, I still had to find out for sure:
1-- that 65 Hockanum Road in Amherst, was the same thing as 65 Hockanum Road in South Hadley (edit: In actuality, the house sits in Hadley, anyway, not South Hadley)
2-- that the 1950 Lymans of 65 Hockanum were still living in their Sears house, so that 65 Hockanum would, indeed, be the address of a Sears house
3 -- that, hopefully, the Collingwood on Hockanum was sitting at number 65 spot
And, Google maps wasn't helping. When I typed in "65 Hockanum Road", it did not plop me down in front of that Collingwood! Where it pointed me was a good bit down the road... in front of a heavily wooded section of the road, with no house on it... or near it. As I moved down the road, the street numbers changed oddly. What I hadn't yet noticed, however, was that there was a mailbox on the road, a good bit to the right of the property of that Collingwood... and, in nice big letters, it read, 65.
Before I Noticed The Mailbox
Armed with a house number for the Lymans, and a Collingwood on Hockanum Road that I did NOT yet have a house number for (duuh!), I decided to further my search using Hampshire County's section of the Massachusetts Land Records website. From searching my own family history there before, I knew that you could do (online) an easy "name search" or "address search" to get property information on deeds and mortgages (etc.) that were recorded at a date all the way back to 1948. But, I knew that my Collingwood was probably built in the 1930s, so I didn't think I'd find anything for Mr. Lyman, in that time period. For anything earlier than 1948, they do have, amazingly, records all the way back to the 1600s, I believe... but, you have to have a book number, and a page number, for where your record is located. And... you have to know which of the 24 clickable links in the list below, is the right one in which to input the information.
I decided to try to put in the address, anyway, and see if I could start by taking the oldest of the current records, and go back and back and back, through the successive book and page numbers, as the property changed hands over the years (each record always mentions in what book, and at what page, you can find the most recent previously-recorded transaction). But, I didn't get a good list, and it seemed like that would take forever.
So, I decided to go ahead and try a "name search", in the current records (back to 1948), to see if Fred R. Lyman might come up. And.... lo and behold, he did!
|There was Fred R. Lyman... the first listing, dating from 1956.|
But... it still did not give an address!
It did, however, give the book and page number of where I could find the original deed listing, and the date! Book 920, page 299, from January 18, 1937. Armed with that, I was able to use the "unindexed property search" section of the "Recorded Land" portion of the database, and I got a hit! It lead me to the actual document of the original deed, when Fred R. Lyman, and his second wife, Ida V., bought their land from Joseph A. Skinner, of South Hadley.
|(Source: Massachusetts Land Records, Hampshire County, Unindexed Property Records, Book 920, page 299).|
However, following a bit of a trail, I finally got a listing of more transactions for that same property, and finally found it described as sitting at "65 Hockanum Road". Bingo. That finally linked, for me, the land owned by Fred R. Lyman, with the land on which was sitting the Sears Collingwood. That was the testimonial house, for certain.
|I don't even remember what transaction this was for, but I know that it was linked to the same property the Lymans' land.|
Here is the best image that I was able to get using Google Maps. It's not great, but, it's not too bad, and it clearly shows that the house is a Collingwood, even though it's not the best shot in the world. I'm headed out that way later this summer, and I may be able to get a better photo. Until then, here is Fred R. Lyman's house:
|65 Hockanum Road (Route 47), Hadley (Amherst area), Massachusetts|
And, here it is, compared to the image from my 1938 catalog:
|You can even see that the panes in the front window are the same -- the 1940 catalog shows a slightly different window.|
|You can just see that there is a window, where there should be, on the right side, front bedroom.|
This shot, as covered as it is by the tree, does show the other two windows on this side, that belong to the bathroom, and to the back bedroom. You can also see the mailbox, with the prominent 65 for the street address. Prominent, yes. But it took me a number of passes to notice that, and realize that it belonged to this house, as it is a bit to the side of the property.
Here, you can see a nice little clipped-gable garage, probably from Sears, as well. The Tudor model garage was this size, with windows like this, but wasn't shown in the 1938 catalog as having clipped gables. I imagine that was an option, or that was offered in a garage-only catalog.
|Image from my 1938 Sears Modern Homes catalog (also available HERE, on Archive.org)|
As it turns out, by the way, the Lyman family is actually one of the oldest families in Hampshire County! I don't know how far removed Frederick R. Lyman was from the earliest Lyman families of Hadley and Northampton, but he is no doubt related. When I asked my mom if the name Lyman was familiar to her (because it did seem to ring a bell to me), she said, "Oh, yes, the Lyman family was well known in Northampton." I dug a little, but I didn't get too involved in the different generations of Lymans. Still, I found sources that gave me information like this, about the Lymans in the mid to late 1600s:
|( Source )|
|That area of Hadley where Fred R. Lyman lived, was known as the Village of Hockanum.|
|Here, we see an Enos Lyman! There was an Enos Lyman living, in 1910, in the home next to Fred R. Lyman, on Hockanum Road. Obviously not THIS Enos, but descendants naming their kids after early-settler ancestors?|
I knew that Hockanum Road, had first been called, "Hocaknum Ferry Road", because, from the mid 1700s through about the first decade of the 1900s, there was a ferry that ran from the Northampton side of Hockanum Road, over across the Connecticut River to the Hadley side of Hockanum Road. I found a source that gave me information from around 1900, showing "Grandpa" Lyman, helping a little girl fish, at the Connecticut river (she was from another prominent Northampton family, the Johnsons).
another historic source that mentioned the Lyman family as purchasing land in the 1700s, in Hockanum Village, and that mentioned a Lyman as the first appointed ferryman, in 1755:
I found some historic photos, showing folks crossing the Connecticut River, on the Hockanum Ferry, around 1900:
|This is labeled as crossing from Northampton to Hadley, circa 1905, on the Hockanum Ferry.|
|A ticket stub, apparently from the late 1800s, for the Hockanum Ferry, found in Hadley.|
|This is said to be the Hockanum Ferry having just landed, in Northampton, on Hockanum Road, circa 1900.|
Finally, one thing that I found very touching, was nearby South Hadley's monument to the town's dead, during the Civil War... which is referred to with the term, "The Great Rebellion".
|The monument was erected in 1896, and, in 2000, a plaque was added |
with the names of those soldiers from the town who died in the war.
(Article made available by the South Hadley Historical Society; source for image)
"This monument is erected to commemorate the loyalty and patriotism
of our citizen soldiers who fought for liberty and the union
in the Great Rebellion of 1861-1865"
And, in 2000, the town added this plaque, with the names engraved upon it, of the town's young soldiers who died in the war:
There has been much talk recently, of the Confederate versions of these town monuments, meant to honor the memory of the sons of those towns, who died in the war. Unfortunately, for so many of us, those Confederate monuments are also reminders of what the Confederate government shamelessly sent their young men to war for, which included a desire to continue a system that allowed for financial profit at the loss of human dignity for men, women, and children who were enslaved and forced into unspeakable conditions-- families ripped apart, women raped as a matter of common occurrence, men and women beaten savagely to force them into submission. Where are the monuments to honor those families, and their losses? For every standing Confederate Soldier monument, there ought to be, right next to it, an equally grand and somber monument to honor the first-generation African Americans who suffered and died so that the shameful and noxious economic system of the south could continue. The loss of the lives of the no-doubt naïve young Confederate soldiers who were forced into battle to defend an economic system that should not have continued, is sickening and sad, and their families' grief is understandable. But no monument to them should stand, without also including a plaque admitting to the shamefulness of the caste system of the south, and the systematic de-humanizing of the workers on whose backs the southern plantations earned their wealth.
UPDATE, JUNE 2022:
The Lyman testimonial Collingwood was up for sale this spring, and just sold. It has had a nice paint job... pretty bright, but nice and fresh. I snagged these photos from this real estate listing, June, 2022. I won't post all of the 19 photos, but let's just get a look inside.
|Sears Collingwood, 65 Hockanum Rd, Hadley, MA • Testimonial house of Fred R. Lyman|
|I imagine this is a Sears garage.|
|That's a Sears Colonial fireplace surround.|
|I wish that there had been one photo of this bump out, from the exterior.|
|I like the idea of putting the laundry room in the breakfast nook, for modern living, anyway.|
|I know the colors are bright in here, but that appears to be an original Sears door, and this all looks nice and fresh... certainly helps liven up that plain counter top.|
Here's a pretty good Google Streetview shot from 2018, showing the left side bumpout, with the new, fresh paint job since what the house had back in 2015, when I first wrote this blog post:
|The side bumpout is something we look for, on this model.|
The house sold pretty quickly! Let's just hope that it isn't torn down, and a big McMansion put up. This is pricey land around here, and this is a big lot, so, sadly, it's possible. (UPDATE: I have heard from the new owners, who love their Sears Collingwood bungalow !)
UPDATE October 2023: Thanks to a comment from Diana West, Chairperson of the Hadley Historical Commission, we have clarification that this house sits in the town of Hadley, not the separate and distinct town of South Hadley, whose town line is about two miles south of this property. The village of Hockanum was always part of Hadley, not South Hadley. Why F. R. Lyman's testimonial letter was labeled as being from South Hadley, I don't know, but I'm very happy to have the correct information!
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