In which Carrie Wood appears somewhere unexpected and upends everything I think I know

Having gotten nowhere trying to connect Reuben Moore and Thomas Harbach, I’m going to stick a pin in them for a bit. It’s been a few weeks of chasing other leads and digging through various threads, and at some point I circled back around through the Newton City Directories… and found Carrie Wood.

Carrie Wood was one of the Kenrick Serving Women — or more to the point, a woman I identified as her mother, Delia Wood, did.

Carrie and Delia Wood

This is the 1900 US Federal Census for the household of Sarah Frances Jones Kenrick, widow of John Adams Kenrick, Jr. There are no ages listed, but the two right-hand columns in this image indicate that these are  white females, and I’ve seen this pattern before — including in the same census, clear across the country, in my own family. “Servant” and “boarder” with matching last names should be mother and child. In my family’s case, it was a daughter born out of wedlock. In this case, it’s hard to be sure.

I figured a child in that kind of situation would probably be in the under-10 set, putting her born in, say, 1895 +/-5 years. I figured we should then expect to see her getting married 15-20 years later. She should be findable in the census, once I had a married name to go with a maiden name.

As it happened, that wasn’t where I found her first.

One of the interesting aspects of organizing my research in terms of the timeline of the house and grounds is an inherent tendency to ignore what happened to each family once they left. The connections between the Durants and the Dewings gave me a reason to keep tracking the Durants after they left, but I hadn’t applied the same to the Kenricks.

So I started following Sarah Frances Jones Kenrick. I knew where she was in 1900. In 1910, she and her daughters Mabel and Jeannie (and two of her sisters) were living in the same place around the corner. Note the maid, Mary Brennan, is listed as Irish/English, continuing the Kenricks’ general trend in domestic employment.

1910 SFJK

Image: 1910 U.S. Federal Census, household of Sarah F Kenrick

Around the same time, I was working on an immigration project and was going through the Newton City Directories, which are a good tool for tracking businesses as well as families between censuses, and I was specifically looking for boarders and boarding houses. And that’s when I found Carrie Wood, boarding in the house of Sarah Frances Jones Kenrick.

Here they are from 1901 to 1907 (hover/click to see which year is which):

The (b) represents “boarder,” which would be true of any grown adults or non-family. Catherine, Jennie, and Lucy were Sarah’s sisters and sister-in-law, and her daughters were both grown — and Carrie would have been marked in the directory as a boarder, by convention, because she was a non-family member. But these entries raise a few questions — namely, what happened to Delia? Beyond that, though, what was Carrie’s role in the house?

After some initial searches for Delia turned up no useful results, I thought perhaps the second question would be easier to answer, but that’s where I found Carrie in a place I didn’t expect. In 1909, she wasn’t in Sarah’s house anymore — she was back at the Kenricks’ old home, 286 Waverley Avenue.

Her turning up in another home — especially the home of someone with a prior relationship to the family — seems to domestic service. But also this began to tell me more about Agnes Holden, too, someone I’d begun to suspect might be more significant to the house and its families than our museum’s research and interpretation had yet uncovered/represented. I’d been looking into Agnes and her husband, Austin, whose decade-ish of ownership of the house was otherwise a seemingly random punctuation in the larger train of ownership. We’d started to think there might be more to it when my colleagues M. and J. noticed Durant-Dewing furniture in photos of the house from the Holden years. Now this pointed to a stronger relationship to the Kenricks than we might otherwise have figured, too.

But I digress.

In 1910, Agnes Holden was living in Boston, though that seems to have been a short blip, as she’s back in the Waverley Ave. house in 1911 with her mother and some people named Shore, whom I’ll have to follow up on. The 1913 directory still lists Agnes, but with the note, “removed to Cambridge,” meaning her departure was relatively recent at the time of publication. In any case, Carrie doesn’t seem to be with the Holdens or in the house on Waverley Ave. past 1909.

So where was Carrie in 1910? If I could find her in the 1910 Census, I could confirm her occupation and relationship to the head of household.

It took some digging — I had to find her first in the 1911 Newton directory, then search the head of household’s name from that listing in the 1910 US Federal Census, where she was indexed as “Cora/Carie,” which hid her in my initial searches.

And lo and behold, she isn’t a servant. She’s a “lodger,” working as a “conveyancer,” which I take to be a sales position of some sort. And in 1910, she was 51.

1910 Robert Goode w Carrie Wood Lodger

This was a bombshell. If she was 51 in 1910, that put her born in about 1858/1859 — a full generation more than the under-10 I took her for in my first read of the 1900 Census. And yet, it’s Delia who’s listed as the servant, not Carrie… so did I have mother/daughter backwards? But it also reveals what the 1900 Census didn’t — that Carrie, her mother, and her father were all born in Massachusetts.

So pretty much, I have to go back to the drawing board with everything I think I know about Carrie Wood.

I’ll start the next entry with a new list of questions about Carrie Wood, but I’m more hopeful now that finally I’ll actually get the “full story” (or something close to it) on one of the Kenrick Serving Women!


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