Object of the Month: February 2014 – Pomp’s Orchard

To celebrate African American History month, February’s Object of the Month is a transcribed oral history detailing “Pomp’s Orchard”, the cottage and orchard of Pomp, a former slave of the House family. Pomp was an African American slave owned by the House family of Hanson, Hanover and Whitman (then part of Abington) in the late 18th century. He was a young man when slavery was ruled unconstitutional in Massachusetts in 1783. For a time he continued to live and work for various House family members, including the family of Samuel and Hannah (Cushing) House on King St. in Hanson (then a part of Pembroke). Pomp may have been the free person of color residing in the house of Samuel House of Pembroke (now Hanson) in the 1800 Census. By the 19th century, however, the bachelor Pomp had built a small cottage and cultivated a small farm and orchard “across the fields” from the Samuel House house, on a small dirt road which today is known as Glenwood Place.

Pomp’s orchard was remembered almost a century later as a very picturesque property. He built a small wooden cottage, dug a well for water, and on the surrounding quarter of an acre planted berries and fruit trees. He constructed a stone wall which encompassed the cottage and property, and had a gateway at the entrance of the property along the road. Pomp’s orchard was located along the dirt road which was informally called Jackass Place, in honor of the donkey of blacksmith Robert Thomas who lived at the end of the road and was Pomp’s neighbor. The road later was referred to as Josselyn Place, and today known as Glenwood Place.

In 1827, Pomp, went swimming and drowned in a “pond hole” opposite the road from the Nahum Stetson house on King St. (present-day 305 King St.), which may have been the mill pond, known today as Factory Pond. He was buried on the property of the Samuel House family on King Street. It is probable that this burial site was not marked with a gravestone. Its exact location today is unknown, in part because the Samuel House property was subdivided into several lots throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. However, it is probably located near 274 King St.

Shortly after Pomp’s death, Hanson resident Thomas Pratt purchased a house formerly owned by Benjamin White on King Street in 1834, that “stood on the hill just south of the former home of Samuel House on King Street”. Thomas Pratt “had it moved across the fields” to Glenwood Place and placed it by or on Pomp’s orchard, probably in part because Pomp had already cleared and cultivated the land there. Pratt’s house today still stands, as 104 Glenwood Place. In later years, Thomas Pratt shared the story of Pomp and his orchard to his grandson, Lucius W. Arnold, who in the 20th century told Pomp’s story to Hanson historian Joseph B. White for White’s book History of Houses in Hanson, Mass.

Joseph B. White, History of Houses in Hanson, Mass. (1932), Plan No. 3, Site No. L, Pomp’s Orchard. From the collection of the Hanson Historical Society.

Joseph B. White, History of Houses in Hanson, Mass. (1932), Plan No. 3, Site No. L, Pomp’s Orchard. From the collection of the Hanson Historical Society.

In Joseph B. White’s History of Houses in Hanson, Mass. (1932), Lucius Arnold reported to Joseph B. White “Between the L. P. Bergin place No. 50 Plan No. 3 and the Caleb Arnold place No. 51 Plan No. 3 [on Glenwood Place] was a quarter acres of land all walled in with a gateway as entrance. Inside the wall was a small cottage and a large variety of fruit, berries, etc. and a well. This plot was occupied and cultivated by an old colored man, formerly a slave in the old James House [sic, Samuel House] family on King Street. He was never married, but gave his whole time in the care of his little farm and cottage. In 1827, he was drowned in a pond hole opposite the Nahum Stetson place on King Street, and was buried on the James House farm [sic, Samuel House farm]”.

Samuel House property on King Street in 1830, where Pomp was buried in 1827. He may have drowned in the Mill Pond (today called Factory Pond). From 1830 Map of Hanson, Mass. Original map located at Plymouth County Registry of Deeds. Photograph courtesy of Donald Blauss.

Samuel House property on King Street in 1830, where Pomp was buried in 1827. He may have drowned in the Mill Pond (today called Factory Pond). Pomp’s orchard was not marked on the 1830 map.
From 1830 Map of Hanson, Mass. Original map located at Plymouth County Registry of Deeds. Photograph courtesy of Donald Blauss.

[Posted by Mary Blauss Edwards, Hanson Historical Society Curator]

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