Robert Hodsdon; John S. Pike (1815 -1888), retail merchant; Abby S. Pike (1814-1896)
c. 1800 - Hodsdon House – 31 Agamenticus Road
Robert Hodsdon (sometimes spelled Hodgdon) likely built this house in South Berwick, Maine, about the time of his marriage to Fanny Wadleigh (also spelled Wadley) on August 28, 1803. The house has a post and beam frame and appears to have been built as a commercial structure, perhaps a store. After the Hodsdons, the house was owned by merchant John S. Pike (1815 -1888) and his wife, Abby S. Pike (1814-1896). He was agent for The Union Store, located in the brick Business Block downtown.
The Hodsdons. According to early 20th century historian Everett Stackpole, another Robert Hodsdon was born in the late 1700s and died in 1810. His father was Richard Hodsdon, his mother Judith Fall, and he had two brothers, William and Andrew. William, born 1746, married Amy or Anna Nason in 1772, and fought in the Revolution. Their son Robert married Fanny Wadleigh in 1803, and they may have lived in the Hodsdon House through the middle of the 1800s.
The house is thought to have been built as a commercial structure or store. In its original form, there was probably an entrance and store on the gable end of the house facing toward Portland Street. A “back room” may have been behind a chimney mass, with probable living quarters upstairs.
Another early owner of the house was a merchant Samuel Parks (1784-1865), who could have had a store here, with his brother Thomas Boylston Parks (1789-1861), before the two owned the Parks Store on Main Street. Thomas B. Parks lived nearby in the Parks-Harding House on Portland Street.
At least one Hodsdon may have been a tanner. In 1856-57, according to a deed in the Old Berwick Historical Society archives, Robert Hodsdon and Joseph Goye, a tanner, bought Israel W. Goodwin’s tannery, apparently after his death. The Israel Goodwin House is nearby on Portland Street. Both Goodwin and Hodsdon apparently died around this time.
A deed of 1852 refers to land of Robert Hodgdon apparently at this spot. By 1856, when this map was made, Robert seems to have died but his widow still lived at the house, with her name spelled Hodgedon.
The decade 1830-1840 appears to be when the store was converted to a residence; Greek Revival style woodwork laid over earlier utilitarian finish work on the ground floor would seem to support this scenario.
The South Berwick Town Meeting Book of 1814-1852, page 310, mentions Robert Hodsdon’s property as a feature of the town’s 1843 survey, when Agamenticus Road, then called Junction Road, was formalized and widened. (The Town House mentioned here was situated where the Soldiers' Monument stands today at the intersection of Agamenticus Road and Portland Street. The “grave yard” mentioned here could be Portland Street Cemetery. Jacob Cheney was the Hodsdons' next door neighbor.):
“By the request of the Selectmen of South Berwick, I have surveyed and run the lines on both sides of the road which leads from the Town House (so-called) in said Town near Samuel Butler's to Wilkinson's Bridge (so-called), namely from said Town House to the Easterly end of said Butler 's field which lies on the North side of said road near Elisha Libbey's and make such alterations in the width of said road as are hereafter described, namely beginning at a post on the North side of said road near said Town House then North 80 degrees East 22 poles by said road as the fence now stands to the East end of Jacob Cheney's door yard to Robert Hodsdon's land, and South 78 degrees East through said Hodsdon's land 19 poles to a stake, then South 85 degrees East 8 rods, then North 89 degrees East 8 poles, then North 85 degrees East 8 1/2 poles to the road at the corner of the grave yard, then Easterly as the fence now stands by said road 219 rods to Elisha Libbey's well, then South 53 degrees East crossing the fence with Samuel Butler's field 22 poles, then South 71 degrees East 4 rods, then South 80 degrees East 4 rods, then South 86 degrees East 7 rods to said road at the Southeast end of said butler's field. Also on the Southerly side of said road beginning at the fence at a right angle from the last mentioned station then West as the fence now stands 13 poles to Jewett's Lane (so-called), then North 64 degrees West crossing said line 7 rods, then North 51 degrees West 11 rods by said old road to the corner of John Goodwin's field, then North 52 degrees West through said Goodwin's 15 poles and 10 links to a stake near the corner of said Elisha Libbey's house, then North 58 degrees West 28 rods and 8 links to the North side of an apple tree, then North 78 degrees West 17 rods to the Rail Road Company, the same 12 rods move to an elm tree which stands at the fence by said old road, then Westerly by said road 24 rods and 9 links to William A. Young's land, then crossing the fence into said Young, North 81 degrees West 19 rods and 9 links, then West 4 rods, then South 79 degrees West 11 rods and 8 links to said road at the corner of Thomas Jewett's field, then Westerly by said Jewett's field as the fence stands 28 rods, then South 66 degrees West 10 poles to the West side of the railroad to the widow Cushing's land, continuing the same course through said Cushing's land 20 poles and 21 links to a stake, then South 64 degrees West 20 poles, then South 74 degrees West 16 rods, then south 84 degrees West 8 rods to said road , then Westerly by said road as the fence now stands to the corner of Samuel Butler's field by his house, it being on the opposite side of the said road from when I first began as may appear by plan accompanying this report.”
-- Andrew Austin, Surveyor September 30, 1843
From The Cornucopia newspaper, South Berwick, June 22, 1871
The Pikes. After the Hodsdons, the house was owned by John S. Pike (1815 - 1888) and his wife, Abby S. Pike (1814-1896). According to the Records of the First and Second Churches of Berwick, in the 1700s there had been a Rev. John Pike of Dover, NH who led the Berwick church part time in the early days.
John S. Pike was agent for The Union Store, located in the brick Business Block. The Union Store was the South Berwick chapter of the first consumers’ cooperative in the United States.
“Union Store No. 79: General Goods was established by the New England Protective Union, with headquarters in Boston, Mass., about 1849, as a branch union,” reported the 1880 History of York County. “The store was once burned, but opened soon after. John S. Pike has been the agent since it first commenced business in the place.”
The 1872 location of the Union Store, highlighted in yellow, in downtown South Berwick as shown in a map excerpt from the Atlas of York County, 1872.
Before the Business Block was built, several small wooden stores had been burned in the great downtown Fire of 1870. A memoir by Mary Rice Jewett, sister of author Sarah Orne Jewett, said that Pike's first Union Store was a “hat, cap and fur business” destroyed in the blaze.
The Pikes had an infant son only 10 days old who died on August 22, 1848. Another son, Edward B. Pike (1841-1928) inherited the house. He later wrote a memoir about the Fire of 1870.
In 1871, John S. Pike lived in the Elisha and Sally Jewett House, 176 Portland Street, with his wife, Abby.
The Pikes are buried in Portland Street Cemetery.
The Hodsdon House is at the far right in this photo from the turn of the last century in the Old Berwick Historical Society archives.
(Summary by Wendy Pirsig from archives of the Counting House Museum. Updated in December 2020.)