The land on which we call home was originally part of the Mosher-Haskell Grant, which was 1,000 acres of land on the south end of Greenwood bordering north Norway. These land speculators would have seen obtaining this tract of land as a lucrative investment given it’s proximity to the bustling and growing soon to be town of Norway.
After a number of sales, Nathan Foster sold part of Lot #7, which was sixty acres in total, to Amos Noble. This tract of land bordered north Norway, exactly where our farm is today.
The Stevens Family
On November 6th, 1810, Jonas Stevens Jr. of Norway purchased Lot #7 from Amos Noble. Jonas was married to Mary Hobbs, and they had nine children. An interesting fact about one of their children is that their daughter, Sarah Stevens, was born on October 17th, 1787, and was the very first child born in the town of Norway. Jonas, Mary, and their family were the first settlers in the Hollow, which today is referred to as Richardson Hollow. Jonas and Mary lived at their homestead in the Hollow for 19 years, and then sold it in 1829 to their son, Noah Stevens.
Noah did not remain long at the homestead in the Hollow, and by 1833, the property was sold to Noah’s brother and another son of Jonas and Mary, Ethiol Stevens. Ethiol was married to Hannah French. For the 36 years that Ethiol and Hannah made their home in the Hollow, they raised 9 children just like Jonas and Mary did before them. How interesting that Jonas and Mary raised nine children here and then watched nine of their grandchildren being raised here. I wonder if they saw their grandchildren around the farm and had flash backs to their younger days raising their own children.
The Noyes Family
On the summer solstice of 1869 (June 21st, 1869), Isaac P. Noyes purchased the property from Ethiol Stevens. Isaac was the son of Captain John Noyes Sr. His brother, Henry Noyes, lived on the north side of Lot #7 with his wife, Mary P. Noyes. 18 acres of the north end of Lot #7, owned by Henry and Mary Noyes, was sold on September 2nd, 1870 to Isaac.
Isaac Noyes and his wife, Elmira Herrick, lived here between 1869-1897. In the 28 years that they lived at this home in Hollow, they raised three children.
When Arthur was thirty years old, Isaac and Elmira deeded the property to their surviving son, Arthur Augustus Noyes. In our barn, you can still see “A. A. Noyes” stamped into the barn wood. Arthur married Ida Herrick, and they had six children together, and they lived here for 33 years. In June of 1919, Arthur Noyes was able to buy the north end of Lot #7 from Antti Niskanen, a Finnish immigrant and land speculator that had only just bought the property on March 12th of 1919.
It had taken over a century for Lot #7 to be completely owned by one person after having been divided by the Moshell-Haskell Grantors, however it did not stay that way for long. Just a few short years later, on April 18th, 1922, Arthur and Ida sold the south end to Jack (Jaakko) Mustonen, again dividing Lot #7. Arthur and Ida moved to the north end, which was part of their family’s history. If you recall, Arthur’s father was Isaac Noyes, brother to Henry Noyes. The north end that Arthur and Ida moved to was Henry and Mary Noyes’ homestead, which they had acquired from Captain John Noyes Sr., Arthur’s grandfather.
The land in Lot #7, which had two homesteads, one in the north and one in the south, was not going to be owned by the Noyes family for much longer. On May 15, 1930, Arthur Noyes sold the north end of Lot #7 to Jack Mustonen, who now owned both the north and south ends, the second time in history where the Lot #7 was whole again.
The Mustonen Family
Jack (Jaako) and Leena Mustonen were immigrants from Finland. This region had a lot of Finnish immigrants during the late 1800 and early 1900’s. What attracted them to this area was that there were many available farms that were being sold at a relatively inexpensive price. Why were these properties so inexpensive? Often because the children who grew up on these farms did not wish to pursue a life of farming. For the Finnish immigrants, it was the perfect opportunity to leave their turbulent mother land that experienced poverty and a fight for independence against Russia.
Can you just imagine the hope that Jack and Leena had coming across the Atlantic to pursue their dream of farming?
When Jack and Leena bought the south end of Lot #7 in 1922, their son Helge was 7 years old. I imagine Leena watching as her son played outside around the farm, and think that she must have felt peaceful and content knowing that Helge would not have to suffer what Leena and Jack went through in their native Finland. I imagine that Jack may have been proud that he and Leena had bravely and successfully pursue a better life for their family.
The story of Jack and Leena turned sharply into a tragedy. Helge was diagnosed with cancer, and by August 19th, 1934, Helge, who was only 19 years old, died. That grief completely shattered the Mustonen family. After surviving a tough life under the oppression of Russia in his youth, pursuing his dreams in the land of opportunity, and raising a family in the peaceful Hollow, Jack went into the barn and never came out. It was August 20th, 1940, six years after his son’s death, that Jack Mustonen committed suicide in the great barn at the southern homestead of Lot #7. Leena had left her homeland, lost her son, and now had lost her husband. She must have felt so utterly alone. Sadly, she too took her life on January 11th, 1941. The short lived lives of the Mustonen family ended in pain, grief and despair.
The Rogers Family
After the deaths of the Mustonen family, Lot #7 was deeded to Peter Kuvaja and John Mattson. They sold Lot #7 to Lyndon and Gertrude Philbrook in 1943, who sold it to Earle and Eva Rogers and Alvin and Laura Cram on May 31, 1945. Earle and Eva lived here for eleven years, until they sold it to Albert and Margaret Davis on July 16, 1956.
The Davis Family
Albert and Margaret Davis were originally from New Jersey, where they owned a furniture company. Moving to Maine, it seems they pursued a life that was simpler and full of peace. At the time of the purchase, the house was in need of serious repairs. Albert and Margaret breathed life into the old farmhouse and made it a beautiful home. They raised beef, hosted many wonderful celebrations with family and friends, and truly brought joy and happiness back to the property that had so recently been wrought in tragedy. Proudly, they christened the property “Mineral Hills Farm”. 42 years after purchasing the farm, Albert passed away on April 18th, 1998. His daughter Margaret because a trustee of the estate, and eventually sold it to Albert and Nancy Willard.
The Willards, Diane Biren and Peter Tommila
Albert and Nancy Willard purchased Lot #7 on September 25, 2000. That same day, they sold the south lot to Diane Biren. Diane owned the farm until 2004, when she sold 25 acres and the buildings on it to Peter Tommila and Lynda Ross.
The St. Amant Family
On March 16th, 2016, Paul and I purchased the farm from Peter Tommila. We, like Jack and Leena, saw beauty in a property needing life breathed back into it. We, like many of the past family’s that lived here, are pursuing a simpler life, where our joy comes from the hard work of farming. Our history remains to be written. We hope it is not marred by tragedy. We hope it is full of life and love.