One of the untold stories we have discovered in Claypit is that of the Park family. Before beginning our research, we had not heard of the Parks and it seems as though their name was all but lost to time. However, with the discovery that Orrin and Jane Park were buried at Claypit, we faced a new task. We needed to answer the question–who were the Parks of Pawtucketville?
The Parks were not one of the original families to settle Dracut.Their story does not begin until November 5, 1809 when Robert Park married Mary Bradstreet Coburn. Robert was born in 1786 in Windham, New Hampshire and Mary was a Dracut native.  She was born in 1788 and was the daughter of Samuel Coburn and Leah Bradstreet. It is not clear as to why Robert moved to Dracut, but it could be surmised that he moved to the area to find work in the nascent Lowell mills.According to the 1820 census he was engaged in manufacturing. They were only married eight months when Mary died.
Robert remarried shortly after his wife’s death.In an odd twist, he remarried and took his sister-in-law, Sarah Coburn, as his bride on December 12, 1812.  Sarah is interred in Claypit as well as her brother, Nathaniel Bradstreet Coburn.It should be noted that her brother, Nathaniel B. Coburn, was a rather prominent member of Pawtucketville society and at one point was a Deacon at the Pawtucket Congregational Church.Coburn was also chosen as a church elder on August 15, 1831 and served in that position for seventeen years.
Robert and Sarah had nine children. They were:
Isaac Coburn (b. July 19, 1810
Mary (b. January 21, 1813)
Robert Jr. (b. November 2, 1814)
Sarah Rebecca (b. October 31, 1816)
Darius (b. October 3, 1823)
Parmelia (b. January 10, 1826)
Sylvester (b. January 29, 1828)
Alexander (b. October 24, 1829)
Clarissa (b. July 18, 1832) 
Of the nine children, it is Robert Jr. and his family that we have been able to connect with Claypit. Robert Jr. married Relief M. Brown on February 25, 1837.  Relief was born in Rehoboth, MA which is located in southern Massachusetts near Taunton. It is not clear as to why Relief moved from Rehoboth to Dracut. There are several possibilities. First, the Brown family moved to the area to work in the mills. Second, they were related to the Brown family in Pawtucketville. Third, it was a combination of the two reasons. They wanted to work in the mills and they had relatives in the area. Of course, there could be other reasons for the Browns to have moved from Rehoboth to Dracut that are unknown to us.
Robert Jr. and Relief had two children; a girl and a boy. The girl, Rozilla, was born on April 10, 1838 . The boy, Orrin, was born in 1841.
Orrin’s nonage was marked by serious losses. His sister, Rozilla, only lived until age fourteen. She died of consumption (tuberculosis) on December 24, 1852. His mother, Relief, died the following year at only age thirty-eight and his grandmother, Sarah, died on April 24, 1858.
His father remarried in 1854 to Letitia Sawyer who was twenty years his junior. According to the 1860 census, Orrin and his father were farmers. The family’s real estate was valued at $4,000 and personal estate at $1,000. This appears to be about a slightly higher than average estate compared to those of the Park’s neighbors. Joseph V.B. Colburn and Anfart Colburn by far had the largest estates in the Pawtucketville neighborhood in 1860 both valued at $10,000. In fact, most of the Colburns in Pawtucketville had estates that were significantly higher than those of their neighbors. Timothy Colburn’s estate was valued at $7, 000. There was a second Timothy Colburn listed on the census and his estate was valued at $9,500. One of these Timothy Colburns owned a saw mill on Claypit Brook. This obviously contributed to the Colburn’s sizeable estate. Willard Colburn’s estate was valued at $4,000 and Peter Colburn’s estate was valued at $7,000. However, most their neighbors have significantly smaller estates. For example, Henry Fowler’s estate was valued at $1,150; Ralph Fox’s was valued at a meager $350, David Farmer’s at $450, Warren Webster’s at $1,550, and Edmund Thomas’s at $700. So, when comparing Robert Park, Jr.’s estate with that of other families, he appears to be doing quite well. This could be due to the fact that his father had married into the Colburn family and his mother, Sarah, had brought into the marriage a dowry or had been given prime farm land upon her marriage to Robert Park which in turn remained in the Park family.
In 1860, Orrin was now nineteen and was most likely courting one of his neighbors, Jennie Thomas, because they married the next year on December 25, 1861. The Thomas family lived in the same area as the Parks. Most likely they lived only a street or two away from each other. The Thomas family was quite large. According to the 1860 census, there were eight family members; parents, Edmund and Cynthia, and children Laura, Jennie, Rosina, Georgiana, Edmund, and Mark. Edmund was listed as a farmer and they had a boarder living with them, Arrow Palmer, who was listed as a farm laborer. The oldest daughter, Laura, worked in the mills. It does not list what Jennie was doing for work at the time. 
They were married at the First Congregational Church in Lowell by Pastor J.L. Jenkins. Unfortunately, Orrin and Jennie’s marriage was cut tragically short. They were married just over five months when Jennie died from convulsion fits on May 28, 1862. It cannot be known for certain, but Jennie was probably an epileptic and died from an epileptic seizure. Very often the exact cause of death was not known or misunderstood in the 18th and 19th centuries so we can only conjecture as to what exactly convulsion fits were. However, epilepsy seems a very reasonable assumption.  Jennie was only about twenty years old and her husband was now a widow at age twenty-one. She was buried in Claypit.
When studying and researching local history, historians must be ever mindful to the larger events occurring in the nation, or the world, at a particular point in time. Average citizens were not exempt from much larger politiscal and socio-economic changes happening around them. This is true even for the citizens of Dracut in 1862. The United States was in the midst of a Civil War in 1862 and Orrin Park was one of the many young men who enlisted in the Union Army that year.
Having just lost his wife three months earlier, Orrin enlisted on August 25th. He enlisted in the 6th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment. His enlistment was to last nine months. In total, President Lincoln had called for 300,000 men to enlist for nine months and Massachusetts was asked to fill a quota of 19,080 to help meet this goal. If Massachusetts could not find 19,080 volunteers than it would be necessary to employ a statewide draft. However, the quota was indeed filled and the 6th Infantry Regiment was to form at Camp Henry Wilson in Lowell. Most of the regiment’s companies, which included Company A, were mustered in on August 31st.
Dracut had at the very beginning of the Civil War convened a town meeting to decide what action the town should take to aid the Union cause. On May 6, 1861, the citizens voted to pay $10.00 per month any man who enlisted. However, the town subsequently rescinded their vote from May 6, 1861 and a passed a new order which stated that a company would be raised from Dracut. This too was rescinded because Dracut men were volunteering in companies in Lowell. It is not clear as to why Dracut men would enlist and join companies forming in Lowell, but they did, and Orrin Park was one of these young men.
Park’s Company A left Lowell and went first to Washington, D.C. and then to Fort Munroe, and finally to Suffolk, Virginia. The 6th regiment would eventually engage in battle with Confederate General Longstreet at Suffolk but Orrin Park would not live to see this engagement. He died on November 15, 1862 from typhoid fever at Suffolk. His body was brought back to Dracut and he was laid to rest with his late wife, Jennie at Claypit cemetery.
With the death of his son, Robert Park, Jr. had lost the last remaining member of his family from his first marriage. He had remarried, Leticia who was twenty years his junior, and they had a son, Othinel in June 1862. This would be the only child to come from his second marriage.
According to the 1870 census, the Robert Park Jr. was now a stone contractor and the family had a domestic servant, Margaret Kelly. On June 12, 1879, Robert Park, Jr. passed away from Bright’s disease.
Othinel was married on June 20, 1895 to Clarinda Oliver at the First Congregational Church in Lowell by Rev. George F. Kenngott. According to the 1900 census they were living at 179 Varnum Avenue. The Park home is still standing at 179 Varnum Avenue and there is a sign of the front of it which reads, “Park House 1887.” His mother, Leticia, and uncle, Francis Sawyer, were also living with him. Othinel listed his occupation as a musician and was a well known musical figure in Lowell. He was a member of the Lowell Musicians Association (Local 83) as well as a member of the American Orchestra of which he was the sole surviving member when he passed away on March 10, 1934 at age seventy-one.28 Othinel and his wife never had any children.
The story of the Parks does not end here. We are still researching this forgotten family of Pawtucketville. However, what must not be lost in their story is the fact that it was uncovered at Claypit cemetery.
2 According to Robert Park, Jr.’s death certificate, his father, Robert Park, Sr., was born in Ireland as was his mother, Sarah. Sarah was definitely born in Dracut on May 7, 1791. Robert may have been born in Ireland but it is more likely he too was born in Windham, NH.
4 Early census records do not give, unfortunately, detailed information. According to the 1820 census, Robert was the head of household and there were several children and a woman between the ages of 26-44 living in the home. It can be assumed that the woman would have been Sarah who was his wife at that time. The enumerator then listed only one person in the household who was engaged in manufacturing. It can be assumed this was a reference to Robert.
7 Robert Sr. died on July 21, 1847 (Vital Records of Dracut to 1850, p. 289) and Sarah died on April 24, 1858 from Dropsy (Dracut Vital Records, 1858, p. 191, #7) Dropsy is characterized by swelling that begins in the feet and spreads to the abdomen. It is often caused by heart and/or kidney disease.
8 Vital Records of Dracut to 1850, pp. 88-89. Also, there is a notation in the index that these births were “out of town.” It does not specify as to where but according to the 1870 census Robert Jr. listed his place of birth as New Hampshire. Since his father, Robert Sr., was originally from Windham, NH perhaps he too was born in Windham. At the very least, this would lead to the conclusion that the other three children were also born in New Hampshire. The veracity of this theory can be proven by locating birth records in New Hampshire which to date has not been done.
10 We know there was a Brown family living in Pawtucketville. William Brown is buried in Claypit. However, Brown is a common name and we have no actual evidence to link the Browns of Dracut with the Browns of Rehoboth.
11 Ibid, p. 89. The Vital Record index lists her name as Rozilla. However, her death certificate lists it as Ropsilla. We have not found her name on anything else so we are unsure which spelling is correct.
15 A possible reason for such discrepancies in estate values listed on the census could be due to citizens not giving the enumerator an accurate value. This would be done to avoid paying higher taxes.
16 Edmund Thomas was born in Canada and his wife, Cynthia, was born in Vermont. All of their children were born in Massachusetts except, Jennie, who was born in Canada. Jennie also appears to be a nickname. On her death certificate she is listed as Jane.
22 The 6th Infantry Regiment lost a total of eighteen men to disease. http://www.civilwararchive.com/Unreghst/unmainf1.htm#6th9mo. Web site accessed April 20, 2007.
26 According to his obituary from The Lowell Sun, March 12, 1934, Othinel had lived in his home at 179 Varnum Avenue since he was two. This would then put into question the date on the sign in the front of the home.
27 Francis Sawyer died on October 16, 1908 at his home at 11 Fowler Road, Lowell. (Lowell Vital Records). According to his obituary in The Lowell Sun, he was a veteran of the Civil War. He served in Co. E 2nd Massachusetts Artillery.