Town Crier

There is now a vacant lot at 80 Main St., facing Silver Lake. Until last week, there was a 10-room Victorian house there. On Wednesday, it was torn down. Attorney Michael Newhouse plans to build a new office there, using some elements of the old house that were saved. He has already built a new home next door.

From 1945, the old two-and-a-half story house had been the home of the Eaton family. Long before that, it had been a summer home of Hor­ace and Emma Caswell.

The Bernard Eaton family moved to Cottage Street in Wil­mington in 1938. Seven years later, they bought the beautiful Caswell house, in the point between Main Street and Glen Road. Making their move quite memorable, the ice house across the street burned the same day they moved.

Bernard and Elsie Eaton raised a family of nine in that house. Mr. Eaton, a wel­der, kept a bountiful garden until it was destroyed by town’s installation of a sew­er line in 1981. He died in 1992, Elsie Eaton in 1981.

In front of the house, at the intersection, stands a monument to Ronald Eaton, a Na­val aviator killed in Korea on June 24, 1952. Eaton bail­ed out after his Corsair was hit, and landed behind ene­my lines. However, when a helicopter came to his rescue, he was killed in the rescue attempt.

The following story was written in 1973 by Capt. Larz Neilson, founder of the Town Crier. He grew up next door to that house.

It is a three-story structure of graceful lines, built in the second half of the nineteenth century, in a style that has been called Victorian. It stands on a nice but small grassy plain, extending from Silver Lake down to Lubbers Brook. It sits between Main Street and Glen Road, which was once the main road to the center of town and which dates back to at least 1741. The easterly bounds had been an old ditch, dating back to 1720 or earlier, which connected Silver Lake with the brook and served to keep full the millpond of the Thompson - Harnden mill.

The area around Sandy Pond, which was later re­named Silver Lake, was a quiet and beautiful place in the years following the Civil War. Horace Caswell, a New Brunswick native, had the house built for himself and his bride, Emma Marshall, some time after 1872.

Emma was born in South Boston but was raised in Wil­mington. The family moved to Wilmington some time before the Civil War, perhaps shortly after 1850. Emma’s mother, a widow, ran a boarding house at the other end of Glen Road in the days before the Civil War, in which lived men who worked as ba­k­ers in the Bond cracker bakeries.

The Caswells seemed to al­ternate between living in Boston and living in Wil­mington. Their son Bertram was born in Boston in 1875. Their names do not appear in lists of persons present at various socials in this town, as for instance, at the chur­ches or the parties of Mrs. Dr. France Hiller.

But Emma Caswell was alert to the goings on in the community and years later could gossip over the back yard fence about the foibles and scandals of the past, in Wilmington. She was a lively lady, very much alert.

In the days before World War I, Horace, now retired, built a store and ice cream parlor on Main Street. The streetcars would come out to Silver Lake with Sunday crowds and Horace was there to greet them, as was another vendor, Mr. MacFarland on Grove Avenue.

The building that housed Hor­ace’s ice cream parlor later became a TV repair shop.

When Horace died in 1917, his son, Dr. Bertram Caswell took over, along with his wife Charlotte, better known as Lottie.

Bertram had a long, low car in which he drove back and forth to his office in Boston, at the Metropolitan Life In­sur­ance Co. Having that kind of car, it might be inferred that was a fast driver, but the opposite was the case. He was one of the most steady plodders this writer has ever known, and he drove his car the same way.

Lottie was a worker. She kept the back yard going. She kept pet bantams. She had several raspberry bushes and a large garden. Every summer, she grew vegetables that she can­ned each fall. Hun­dreds of glass quart jars would be in that cellar each fall, all filled with can­ned food.

Nearby was a large field, known as Purbeck’s, where Marjorie Road and Davis Road were later built. For many years it was a hayfield. After the last hay cutting, it was a veritable sea of dai­sies, growing where there are now homes and trees.

Lottie’s daughter, Doris and her girlfriends would go into that field, laughing gaily, and gather their daisies. It was a sight to behold, beautiful blonde Doris, who grew up to be a model and actress.

Later, Doris acquired a Mar­mon, a big flashy car, much in contrast to that driven by Bertram. It was one of the things to see in the old town, Doris and her Marmon beside Bertram and his car.

But the times were changing. Dr. Caswell sold the property in the late 1920s, and disappeared from town, and with him Lottie and Doris. They lived in Medford and Somer­ville. In May 1930, at age 23, Doris married silent screen actor Kenneth Harlan, his fifth wife of nine. The marriage lasted seven months. When they split in January 1931, it was announced that she would return to the stage in New York City.

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