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Catalog entry

inv. 119
View Across the Marsh and Mill Pond in Town Parish
1863
Graphite on paper (2 sheets)
10 x 26 in. (25.4 x 66 cm)
Inscribed lower center (in pencil): View across the marsh and mill pond in Town Parish / F.H. Lane del. / Painting made from this sketch for the Misses Babson. Maria Babson and Mrs. William Friend (Emma Babson)
Inscribed verso (in pencil): S.H.M. [Samuel H. Mansfield]

Commentary

This beautifully detailed drawing is the sketch for The Babson Meadows at Riverdale, 1863 (inv. 11), a painting that the inscription on this drawing indicates was made for the two Babson sisters. The pencil grid indicates the way in which Lane used the drawing to transfer the composition to canvas. 

The viewpoint is from the yellow Babson house looking across the marsh and the mill pond of Riverdale Mills towards the ancestral Babson house. Pole's Hill can be seen clearly on the left, and the Riverdale Methodist Church and Riggs School in the background.

In the drawing Lane does not include the hay wagon or female figure on the road that appear in the painting.

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Related Work in the Catalog

 

Explore catalog entries by keywords view all keywords »

Subject Types:   Landscape »
Landscape Types:   Farm / Buildingscape »   //   Field / Meadow »
Cape Ann Locales:   Riverdale Marshes & Meadows »   //   Town Parish »
Activities of People:   Farming »
Building Types:   Mill »

Historical Materials
Below is historical information related to the Lane work above. To see complete information on a subject on the Historical Materials page, click on the subject name (in bold and underlined).

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Traditionally known as the Babson-Alling House, this two-and-a-half-story gambrel-roofed structure was constructed in 1740 for Joseph Allen, Jr., a successful merchant and land owner, and his family. It is located at what was once Gloucester’s Town Green, the center of civic and religious life during the Colonial era. The gable end of the house sits parallel to Washington Street and the front façade faces south.  By Lane’s time, the house was occupied by the Babson family; the fields surrounding it were given over to haying, gardens, and grazing of cows. Shortly before Nathaniel Babson's death in 1863, ownership of the Babson House was taken over by Maria and Emma's uncle, Gustavus Babson (1820–97). The house remains privately owned.

– Martha Oaks (May, 2015)

photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 612. Homestead of Gustavus Babson, Riverdale
Procter Brothers, Publisher
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Stereo view of the house owned by Nathaniel Babson (Emma and Maria). The house was sold to Gustavus shortly before Nathaniel's death.

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artwork
Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester
Fitz Henry Lane
1863
Oil on canvas
22 x 36 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Roger W. Babson, 1937 (779.02)

Detail showing a flat-bottomed gundalow loaded with marsh hay and being propelled by men with long sweeps.

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map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail of Old First Parish)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

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publication
1861 Cape Ann Advertiser 2.8.1861
2.8.1861
Newsprint
From bound volume owned by publisher Francis Procter
Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck

"We visited the studio of Mr. F.H. Lane a few days since, and spent an hour very pleasantly in viewing the paintings of this talented artist. There are quite a number of beautiful pictures now on exhibition among which is a spirited picture of an 'Outward Bound Ship'; there is an air of life about this painting which characterizes the works of this artist, and in gazing upon it the ship seems imbued with motion and with a slight stretch of the imagination we can fancy that we hear the rippling of the water under her bow, so natural is the scene. It is a master piece.

There is also a view of the 'Outer Harbor' taken from the Point, which is a gem. It should be seen to be appreciated as no description of ours will do it justice.

A scene at Town Parish, showing the old meeting house on the Green, with its tall spire, as it appeared in days agone. The old Ellery house, and Babson House are prominent features, which with the surrounding scenery form a picture which will prove of interest to the visitor. It is faithful to nature and well executed.

Mr. Lane has just commenced a large painting of 'Boston Harbor' which bids fair to prove one of his best efforts, if we can judge from the picture in its present state. Numerous other pictures adorn the walls, and those of our citizens who have a taste for the fine arts should not neglect to visit the studio. Mr. Lane ranks among the Marine Artists of the country, and his paintings meet with a ready sale."

Image: Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck
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map
1823 Saville highway map
William Saville
1823
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
Grayscale version of color original

Map of Riverdale from the Mills to the Whittemore House at Middle and Washington Streeets ordered by a committee of selectmen, William Pearce, Samuel Stevens, Daniel H. Rogers with John Mason and Anthony Presson.  Map drawn by surveyor William Saville and present to the committee in June, 1823. It contains a enlarged view of The Green, including the Ellery and Babson houses painted by Lane. 

Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail of Annisquam River)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

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photo (historical)
Riverdale
E. G. Rollins
c.1869
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

View of the Babson Farm taken from Pole's Hill, showing the old Murray Meeting House (rear section of barn), fields and Mill River. In the background is the skyline of the major buildings at Harbor Village, including the first version of City Hall destroyed by fire in 1869.

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The Riggs School stood in a meadow on the east side of Mill River, across the street from the Riverdale Mills, on the south side of Reynard Street where it leaves Washington Street. It was built in 1850, and replaced an even earlier school across the street. It is the large white building, just to the left of the distant Methodist church, in Lane's The Babson Meadows at Riverdale, 1863 (inv. 11). Children from much of the Fourth Parish, including Riverdale and Wheeler’s Point, went to this school for their first eight years of primary and grammar school. By 1913, it was the second oldest school standing in Gloucester and needed improvements such as modern toilets, better ventilation and heating, and fire escapes. Lane’s great-great niece, Florence Lane (great-granddaughter of Fitz H. Lane’s brother Edward) attended this school. It was eventually torn down in the late 1950's, and a twenty-first-century development of single-family houses fills the site. 

Current location: south corner of Washington and Reynard Streets.

– Sarah Dunlap (September, 2013)

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The Riverdale Methodist Church building was the second Methodist church built in Gloucester, and is currently the site of the Gloucester United Methodist Church at 436 Washington Street. The Harbor Methodist had been built in 1828. Ten years later, in 1838, both this and the first Methodist church in Sandy Bay/Rockport were built. The first Methodists had met in Gloucester in 1806, in a nearby Riverdale house then owned by John Edney. For a brief period, 1823–28 or so, Rev. George Pickering held Methodist meetings in the old First Parish meetinghouse at the Green. Lane's mother and brother were active early Methodists, but they attended services at the Harbor Methodist Church, the so-called "Church on the Rock."

The Riverdale Methodist Church was erected by Harris from Ipswich (either Ephraim Harris, 47, carpenter or Isaac T. Harris, 24, housewright). The lumber came from Cambridge on a vessel owned by Captain Levi Cleaves, a Sandy Bay Methodist, and was brought ashore at the Riverdale Mills and hauled the short distance up the hill to the site of the church, on land given by Samuel Curtis. 

Internal improvements to the building were made in 1852, but the outer appearance remained unchanged to the time when Lane painted it, in the distance, in his The Babson Meadows at Riverdale, 1863 (inv. 11)

The bell that still hangs in the steeple is the original, hand cast in 1806 by Paul Revere & Son Boston. It originally hung in the Congregational Old Sloop Church in what is now Rockport and was rung to alert the townspeople of an imminent 1814 attack by the British during the War of 1812. In 1840, since the townspeople of Sandy Bay thought the tone of the bell clashed with that of their other bells, it was sold for $156 and moved to this church where it is still rung, despite a thin crack that resulted from a British cannonball hit.

The church caught fire in 1952, but the bell did not fall from the tower. The major portion of the current building is new, including an altar mural by Howard Curtis.

– Sarah Dunlap (September, 2013)

photo (historical)
Riverdale Methodist Church
E. G. Rollins
c.1870
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Riverdale Methodist Church on Washington Street above the Mills. Mill River and Wheeler's Point to left rear distant background Annisquam Point.

Also filed under: Riverdale Mills »

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map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail of Annisquam River)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

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Although earlier mills were built on Mill River, up river in the woods, the site of the Riverdale Mills is supposedly the site of the first tide mill built in Gloucester, a sawmill erected in 1652. A second grist, or corn, mill was added in 1677. They became part of the business enterprise of Rev. John Emerson, pastor of the one church in all of Gloucester from 1663 to 1700. Emerson and his partners were most concerned with the sawmill and with cutting 20,000 board feet from common land timber—their concession from the Town. Later reconstructed versions of those two early mills can be seen in the distance in Lane's painting The Babson Meadows at Riverdale, 1863 (inv. 11) where they appear near the middle of the canvas, peaking over the left top of the solitary green-leafed tree by the stone wall.

The mills seem to have been mostly owned, in the first two centuries, by the Town, with rights to them awarded to capable managers and millers. For a while, around 1706, the mills were run by John Ring and were long known as Ring's Mills, and then as Bennett's Mills. For much of the first third of the nineteenth century, they were managed by the merchant Zachariah Stevens, uncle of Lane's good friend Joseph L. Stevens, Jr. It is not clear who the miller was during his time. Stephen Brown became the miller in 1835. When Lane painted this scene in 1863, the mills were run by Levi Brackett, Stephen Brown, and his son Edward Brown, and they were known as Brown's Mills. Grain was brought in sacks, ground and returned in sacks to the owners, the cost being mostly the miller's wages. Levi Brackett who lived at 372 Washington Street (to the left of the view in Lane's Babson Meadows) and Stephen Brown's son Edward H. Brown ran the mill until after Lane's death.  

Brackett retired in 1875 and the mills were sold to Albert Dodge, who owned them into the twentieth century and had two turbine wheels installed which were turned by the out-flowing of the stored-up mill pond water, a source of power that lasted for 12 to 15 hours a day. The mills were torn down in 1926, but an old millstone, presumably from the grist mill, lies near the Richdale's market at 410 Washington Street. 

Current location: on causeway over Mill River, between 400 and 410 Washington Street (Rte. 127).

– Sarah Dunlap (November, 2013)

photo (historical)
Riverdale Methodist Church
E. G. Rollins
c.1870
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Riverdale Methodist Church on Washington Street above the Mills. Mill River and Wheeler's Point to left rear distant background Annisquam Point.

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map
1823 Saville highway map
William Saville
1823
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
Grayscale version of color original

Map of Riverdale from the Mills to the Whittemore House at Middle and Washington Streeets ordered by a committee of selectmen, William Pearce, Samuel Stevens, Daniel H. Rogers with John Mason and Anthony Presson.  Map drawn by surveyor William Saville and present to the committee in June, 1823. It contains a enlarged view of The Green, including the Ellery and Babson houses painted by Lane. 

Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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This high rocky ledge rises between Mill River and the Annisquam River, between Ferry and Wheeler Streets. The origin of its name is a source of speculation: it might refer to some Powell or Poulle owner in the seventeenth century, and for decades it had a signal pole and then a flag pole erected at its peak. Since the late 1990s, it has been public open space, with access by Sunset Hill Road (off Ferry Street) which becomes a dirt path. One can explore and climb to many high spots on this large hill that overlooks Riverdale, the Annisquam River and its marshes and islands, and obtain lovely views of West Gloucester, the Dogtown woods to the east, and the city buildings to the south.

– Sarah Dunlap (June, 2015)

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Riverdale is one of Gloucester’s many neighborhoods. Although its boundaries have never been formally set, it runs from the historic Town Green north around the shores of the Mill River. Dogtown is upland and Wheeler’s Point is to the west. Riverdale has been continuously inhabited since the late 1600s. Landmarks in the neighborhood over the years have included a dam built across the upper end of the Mill River; a corn mill which ran off tidal waters that flowed out of a pond created by the dam; Poles Hill, a huge granite outcropping at the intersection of what are now Wheeler and Washington Streets; a Methodist meeting house; and the original Town Green. A history of the neighborhood, privately printed in 1950 and available in the archives of the Cape Ann Museum, has this to say about the derivation of the name Riverdale:

"This section of the town (of Gloucester) has long borne the name 'Riverdale,' said to have been given it in 1859 by Lodowick H. Bradford, a Boston man who married into the Brown family which then owned the mills. The name does not appear in Babson’s History; he alludes to the section as the 'old town.' It kept its purely Yankee population and character longer than most other parts of the city."

– Martha Oaks (2015)

photo (historical)
Riverdale
E. G. Rollins
c.1869
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

View of the Babson Farm taken from Pole's Hill, showing the old Murray Meeting House (rear section of barn), fields and Mill River. In the background is the skyline of the major buildings at Harbor Village, including the first version of City Hall destroyed by fire in 1869.

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map
1823 Saville highway map
William Saville
1823
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
Grayscale version of color original

Map of Riverdale from the Mills to the Whittemore House at Middle and Washington Streeets ordered by a committee of selectmen, William Pearce, Samuel Stevens, Daniel H. Rogers with John Mason and Anthony Presson.  Map drawn by surveyor William Saville and present to the committee in June, 1823. It contains a enlarged view of The Green, including the Ellery and Babson houses painted by Lane. 

Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Also filed under: Babson House »   //  Low (David) House »   //  Maps »   //  Meetinghouse Green »   //  Riverdale Mills »

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photo (historical)
Postcard of Riverdale, Annisquam
Hugh C. Leighton, Portland, Maine, publisher
c.1900
Postcard
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Also filed under: Annisquam River »

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From the days of the earliest English settlements on Cape Ann through Fitz Henry Lane’s lifetime, subsistence farmers harvested hay during the summer and autumn months and stored it away to feed livestock during the winter. They also sold it to others in the community for cash or bartered it for other goods and services. Two types of hay were harvested: English hay, meaning hay that was cultivated, and salt marsh hay which was cut from tidal areas where it grew naturally. Many farmers dealt in both. Hay was transported either in wagons drawn by horses or oxen, or by gundalows, flat bottom work boats which could easily maneuver in shallow marsh areas. One example of a family who engaged in haying was the Ellerys who lived at Gloucester’s old Town Green. An account book which Benjamin Ellery (1744–1825) kept is preserved in the archives of the Cape Ann Museum. It reveals that Ellery dealt in both cultivated and natural hay as well as other commodities. He also owned a gundilow, oxen and wagons, all of which he used for his own purposes and made available to others on a barter basis. The practice of haying died out on Cape Ann as automobiles and trucks came into use during the first quarter of the twentieth century and livestock disappeared from the area.

– Martha Oaks (April, 2015)

artwork
Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester
Fitz Henry Lane
1863
Oil on canvas
22 x 36 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Roger W. Babson, 1937 (779.02)

Detail showing a flat-bottomed gundalow loaded with marsh hay and being propelled by men with long sweeps.

Also filed under: Babson House »   //  Gundalow / Scow »

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Emmeline (Emma) Rogers Babson (1839–1905) was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the eldest of the two daughters of Nathaniel Babson and Emmeline Davis (Rogers) Babson.

Her mother died when Emma was five and her father, who was a house painter by profession, a selectman, and active in the abolitionist movement, never remarried.

Emma attended the Oread Institute of higher education for women in Worcester, Massachusetts, for one year (her sister Maria attended for one term), before returning to Gloucester, where she brought income into the house as a dressmaker. She married William Hovey Friend (1840–1914) in 1869, and immediately moved to San Francisco, California, where her husband had been residing since 1863.  He was a bookkeeper for several firms, and at one time represented the California branch of the Gloucester wholesale fish business of John E. Pew & Sons. In 1896, he became the postmaster of Oakland, California, where he was also trustee and deacon of the First Presbyterian Church for many years. He and Emma had two sons, William Nathaniel Friend, born in 1870 and Roger Berry Friend, born in 1873.

Emma was one of the original organizers of the Ebell Society in 1876 (formed to promote and advance the study by women of literature, science and art), and although suffering from ill health, continued an interest in its affairs until her death. She also helped to organize the Oakland Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, was a member of the General Society of the Mayflower Descendants, and a life member of the YWCA. She was active in the first campaign for woman's suffrage in 1896, and when the Spanish war broke out she was instrumental in organizing the Oakland Red Cross Society, whose first meeting was held at her home. She was also an avid collector of china and wrote authoritatively about it. She wrote many other articles on a variety of subjects, including art. She died in Oakland, California, in 1905.

Lane made paintings for Emma and her sister Maria from three sketches.

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Maria Rogers Babson (1840–1913) was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the youngest of the two daughters of Nathaniel Babson and Emmeline Davis (Rogers) Babson. She died unmarried in California at the age of seventy-three.

Her mother died when Maria was four and her father, who was a house painter by profession, a selectman, and active in the abolitionist movement, never remarried. Maria and her older sister Emma both briefly attended the Oread Institute of higher education for women in Worcester, Massachusetts—Maria for one term and Emma for one year.

Maria moved to California in 1870, following her sister who had married and moved there the previous year. In California, both sisters became active in a variety of charitable, social and religious organizations. Maria was a charter member of the Ebell Society and Club (formed to promote and advance the study by women of literature, science and art), its General Curator, and indefatigable promoter for many years. She also was prominent in the Oakland Red Cross Society and helped found the Convalescent Home during the Spanish war. She was treasurer of the fund for the children's room in the Carnegie Library and involved in the organization and perpetuation of the Oakland Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She took a significant interest in the activities, especially the missionary work, of the First Presbyterian Church, being an honorary member of the American Board and an active member of the Occidental Board of Foreign Missions. She died at the home of her nephew in San Francisco on May 1, 1914. (1)

Lane made paintings for Maria and her sister Emma from three sketches.

(1) Past and Present of Alameda County California, Vol. II
  (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1914)
, 472-475.

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Nathaniel Babson was a Gloucester merchant and a town selectman from 1847 to 1850, and again in 1860.  He was a strong supporter of abolition and brought speakers into town to lecture on the subject. He was part owner of two schooners, the "Dianna" in 1855 and the "Flying Cloud" from 1855 to 1859.

According to notes on his drawings, Lane made a painting for Nathaniel Babson of Stage Rocks, and three paintings for his two daughters of their family home.

Nathaniel Babson (1810–63) married Emmeline Davis Rogers (1816–44) on January 16, 1838. He was the son of Capt. Nathaniel Babson and Eliza Gorham Low and a cousin of Edward and John James Babson, his father and their father being brothers. Emmeline was the daughter of Shubael Gorham Rogers and Mary (Davis) Rogers. They had three children: Emmeline Rogers (1839–1903) who married William Hovey Friend; Maria Rogers (1840–1913), who did not marry, and an unnamed daughter who died in the year of her birth, 1844. In the 1860 census, after his wife’s death, Nathaniel Babson was described as a [house] painter and their daughter Emmeline as a dressmaker.

Shortly before his death, ownership of Nathaniel Babson's home went to Maria and Emma's uncle, Gustavus Babson (1820-1897)

.

photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 612. Homestead of Gustavus Babson, Riverdale
Procter Brothers, Publisher
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Stereo view of the house owned by Nathaniel Babson (Emma and Maria). The house was sold to Gustavus shortly before Nathaniel's death.

Also filed under: Babson House »   //  Historic Photographs »

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PDF
view ]
Gloucester Lyceum Record Book
1849
Handwritten ledger
Sawyer Free Library
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Marks & Labels

Marks: Inscribed upper left (in red ink): 86 [numbering system used by curator A. M. Brooks upon Samuel H. Mansfield's donation of the drawings to the Cape Ann Museum]

Exhibition History

1980 National Gallery of Art: National Gallery of Art, Washington, District of Columbia, American Light: The Luminist Movement, 1850–1875.

Published References

Cape Ann 1974: Paintings and Drawings by Fitz Hugh Lane, fig. 36.
Moses 1991: "Mary B. Mellen and Fitz Hugh Lane," p. 830. ⇒ includes text
Citation: "View Across the Marsh and Mill Pond in Town Parish, 1863 (inv. 119)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=119 (accessed May 30, 2020).
Record last updated December 27, 2015. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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