If you go through the Kelley book, Wilmington’s record of births, marriages and deaths, you occasionally find some strange names. In the Eames family, you will find Eloives and Eluta, born in 1806 and 1808. In the Ford and Morrill families, there is Cadwallader, the captain of the Wilmington Minutemen on April 19, 1775.
There is one other name found in the Eames family that might cause you to take a second look. That would be General Anthony Wayne Eames, born on Feb. 22, 1796 to John and Azuba Eames, their ninth and youngest child.
There is a logical explanation for naming an infant “General.” He was named for Gen. “Mad Anthony Wayne, the leader of the U.S. Army in the 1790s. The nickname refers to Capt. Eames prowess as a general. He was still alive when the Eames baby was born, and probably John Eames admired Gen. Wayne.
In his book of Wilmington men in the Revolutionary War, Bill Meyer, late captain of the Wilmington Minutemen, speculated that John Eames might have fought under Gen. Wayne at Bemis Heights, Freeman’s Farm and Stony Point, all battles near New York.
Having the first name General did not lead young Mr. Eames into a military career. Other than the birth record, there is no record of him using the name General at all.
The Ames-Eames genealogy has a note about the John Eames family, “moved to Dracut.” The only mention in Dracut is in the assistance rolls from the 1860s, listing Anthony Ames as receiving rent and sickness aid from 1862 through 1869. Under remarks, it says, “thigh bone broken.”
In addition to money for rent & sickness, he also received $75 for an artificial leg. However, it is a stretch to assume this was the man named for the general. The names Ames and Eames are often interchanged, and the genealogy has them listed together.
The Eames family was one of the town’s oldest. The first Eames in the area were brothers Robert and Thomas Eames, who came from England in 1634. Robert was in Dedham in 1648, then in Charlestown. As early as 1651, he was in Woburn. He sold his homestead in Woburn center to his son John in 1697. He owned land at Boggy Meadow, on New Boston Street in 1694. The area became known as the Eames - Ames neighborhood and the members of the family remained there for 200 years.
Thomas Eames eventually settled in Sudbury, then Framingham.
It is possible that Robert’s son Samuel Eames lived near the Ipswich River crossing known as Jenks, now in Wilmington. Woburn historian William Richard Cutter wrote: Samuel Eames, son of Robert, born at Woburn, Sept. 2, 1664, died there March 5, 1747. Married Mary. In 1710, he owned land in Woburn situated in present Wilmington, and near a bridge near the Reading line known at that time as Matthew Edwards’ bridge.
Daniel Eames, son of Samuel, bought a far in 1724 in what was then part of Woburn. The farmhouse had been built a year earlier by Ephraim Buck. It is today the of the Wolf family, on Woburn Street opposite Wildwood Street. The farmhouse remained in the family for some 150 years.
Daniel Eames married Abigail Harnden Nourse, the widow of Jacob Nourse, son of a woman who was hanged as a witch in the infamous Salem witch trials. Abigail was a survivor of the Harnden massacre in 1707, at a site near the present Woburn Street School. From that union sprang a family that long dominated Wilmington.
Daniel Eames turned the farm over to his son John in 1754. He and Cadwallader Ford engaged in some land deals in Maine, then part of Massachusetts. They bought soldiers’ script issued by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the French & Indian Wars. This was then redeemed with large tracts of land in what is now Maine. This led to someone writing a letter, now in the state archives, calling them “a royal pair of rascals.”
About 100 years ago, two of the three selectmen were Eameses, as was the town moderator and the treasurer. The Kelley book has four pages of Eames births and an equal number of pages for Eames marriages. The list of deaths only takes two pages. In 1921, the town listed 26 adults named Eames. The Eames name disappeared from town 23 years ago. Today, there is nobody by that name living in Wilmington, though there are probably descendants by other names. One of the few reminders of the family is Eames Street in South Wilmington.