Thank Goodness for Henry A. Fish

Rough Draft of Fish Map , 1923

Henry A. Fish is not a name that comes immediately to mind when thinking about Duxbury history, but it should.  His unpublished “Notes” as well as his published booklet entitled Duxbury Massachusetts Ancient and Modern: A Sketch with Map and Key (1923) are quite possibly the most used items in the Drew Archives. 

He was born in 1853 in New Ipswich and married Alice Carson in 1880.  The couple settled in Duxbury, living in the Prior Farm house on Depot Street.  The house was in a perfect location for Henry, who worked for the nearby Old Colony Railroad.   For a time he supplemented his income by making brooms and brushes and sold farm equipment.  He also dabbled in photography.  During his later years, however, he became too ill to work.  While his wife, Alice, took in boarders to pay the bills,  Henry filled his days researching local history.  It is my understanding that Alice was completely unaware of what he was doing and was rather surprised to see the published pamphlets arrive at the back door. 

I refer almost everyone who comes to the Archives to the “Fish Notes” and “Fish Map.”  While there are certainly errors that have been pointed out by historians over the years, the overall work is quite impressive and very comprehensive.  He was lucky enough to live at time when many of the “cellar holes”  of the original Duxbury settlers were still visible.  His map carefully plots out where each cellar hole was located and to whom it belonged.  For those decendents and genealogists looking for where  exactly their ancestors lived, the map and key are invaluable. 

So, here’s to you Henry, and thanks!

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