Jedediah Jenkins (1767-1852) and Jerusha Parks (1763-1855), farmers

Jedidiah and Jerusha Jenkins House c. 1810

c. 1810 – Jedediah and Jerusha Jenkins House - 105 Portland Street

This house is part of the South Berwick Village District on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1806, Jedediah Jenkins (1767-1852) married Jerusha Parks (1763-1855). Her brothers owned the Parks Store on Main Street.  The Jenkins property included a garden and a “very superior orchard,” as well as 5 3/4 acres of fields.  In the late 1800s, the house became the home of Nicholas Hanson, Jr., a druggist whose shop was in the Business Block, and his wife Lucy.

Jedediah Jenkins or Junkins had married Love Butler in 1795, and had a daughter, Lydia. When Jenkins married Jerusha Parks in 1806, he was 39 and she was 43. They had no children known to have survived to adulthood. A daughter, Nancy, aged 7, died in 1813. Lydia Jenkins died in 1816 at age 20.

We don't know Jenkins' occupation, but the prominence of the mention of his orchards suggests he may have been a cider distiller. The death of a 17-year-old apprentice to Jenkins, Nathaniel Watson, is recorded on December 25, 1815, in Vital Records of Berwick, South Berwick and North Berwick.

According to research by Parks descendant Thaxter Parks Spencer, "Jedediah was the son of Renold [sic] and Content Jenkins [VCP 28:479] of Eliot, ME... He was born in 1767 [probably in Eliot] and by the stone in Portland St. Cemetery, died August 15, 1852 @ 85 years. He had brothers, Ebenezer, James, Stephen, and daughter Elizabeth Varney (they are listed in Renold's will)."

A survey and map of South Berwick in 1805 shows that a Junkins family had a field across Portland Street, as well as having a house and store at the Corner where Main and Portland Streets meet.

On this 1805 survey, Robert Junkins, whose relationship to Jedediah is unknown, was reported as having been compensated for loss of property during the widening of the highway. This may have been a Robert Junkins who married Mrs. Esther Rogers in 1781, according to Vital Records. (Their children included Mary Brewer (b. 1782), Samuel (b. 1785), Henry (1789-1809—died at New York), and Nancy (c. 1806-1813). Esther died in 1808, and Robert prior to that time.

Jenkins' Stake

The way we connect Jedediah and Jerusha Jenkins to the house at 105 Portland is through what we know about Jerusha’s family. According to research by Parks descendant Thaxter Parks Spencer, she was the eldest daughter of Edward Park (1740-1807) and Jerusha (Seaver) (1744-1804) Park, originally of Milton, Massachusetts. By the 1800 census, the Parkses had come to South Berwick from Dorchester, Mass., with eight out of their 14 children. They were energetic entrepreneurs, and in the early 1800s owned several pieces of property in downtown South Berwick, chiefly the Parks Store on Main Street, which was operated by Thomas B. Parks, Samuel Parks, and their brother-in-law, Job Harris.

Samuel lived in a house across Main Street from the former Parks Store, near the later site of South Berwick Town Hall. Thomas eventually moved to Somersworth, NH, where he owned a store, invested in the Grand Falls Slate Quarry Company, and headed the Great Falls and South Berwick Branch Railroad.

By the 1850s, Jedediah and Jerusha Jenkins were very old. Jedediah died in 1852, at age 85, and Jerusha in 1855, age 92. They are buried in Portland Street Cemetery. On the map of 1856, an excerpt from which is shown below, we see the house listed as in the possession of Jerusha’s brother, Samuel Parks.

But a few years earlier, about the time Jerusha Jenkins died, Samuel Parks, 72, had been found insane by the York County Court of Probate, according to papers in the Parks family and the Counting House Museum. In 1856, Thomas had taken over his brother’s affairs under a judge’s order.

On the morning of April 28, 1856, at this house on Portland Street, a handbill states, an auction would be held for “One Two Story Dwelling House, in South Berwick village 38 by 31, with appropriate out-buildings and Garden, and a very superior Orchard, the whole occupying 1 acre and 20 rods of land adjoining the homestead of Benjamin Nason Esq., and being the homestead of Jedediah Jenkins, late of South Berwick, deceased. Also A Field containing about 5 3/4 acres, and adjoining the premises about described.”

As ordered by the court, Thomas Parks auctioned off the Jenkins house and other Samuel Parks properties in South Berwick, in order to raise over $5000 to meet Samuel’s debts. By that time, the Parks Store was occupied by Daniel W. Quimby, who was living just two doors away from the Jenkins house, according to the 1856 map.

A town map of 1872 shows the Jenkins house owned by druggist Nicholas Hanson, Jr. (1831-1904), who had an apothecary shop in the village. Hanson had been raised at the Hanson Homestead, 143 Main Street. His drug store had been one of those destroyed in the great South Berwick fire of 1870, but in 1871 he was able to move his business into the new business block, at the south end of the section known as the Masonic Block. Hanson also had furniture store in the former Brown Store at 12 Portland Street.

Hanson married Olivia Chadbourne in 1841 and Lucy Wentworth of Somersworth, NH, in 1863. He was a Master Mason and member of St. John's Lodge, No. 51.

(This summary by Wendy Pirsig is from archives at the Counting House Museum.  Updated 2020.)