William Doherty, barber, and Ellen Cleary Doherty; Chaney Family

Cleary - Chaney House

c. 1820 - Cleary - Chaney House - 330 Main Street

This duplex house is part of the South Berwick Village District on the National Register of Historic Places. It seems to have been the home of a Clary or Cleary family, as seen on the map at right from the Atlas of York County, 1872. A daughter, Ellen, married a barber named William Doherty. The Chaneys were another family associated with the house. James H. Chaney may have been married to Adeline Chaney, who still lived here at the turn of the century with adult children working at the mills.

A map of 1856 shows the house belonging to a J. Frost. The identity of this person is still unknown, though the architecture suggests the house dates to that time.

The 1872 map shows the house may have then been a duplex in the years immediately after the opening of the Cummings Shoe Factory nearby on Norton Street.

Ellen Clary or Cleary, perhaps a daughter in the family showed on this map, married William Doherty, a barber, in 1883. In downtown South Berwick there had been a Doherty’s barber shop, run by Daniel Doherty, William’s uncle, back at the time of the Fire of 1870.

The Maine Register business directory of 1880 lists William Doherty as one of two barbers in town, and he is listed as a barber in later directories through at least 1917.

At left, ad from Life newspaper, March 22, 1889, South Berwick

The son of William Doherty and Ellen Clary Doherty, Leo Richard Doherty, was born in 1887. He is listed as a student in the 1900 census, reported in the South Berwick Register of 1904. Deed research shows Leo owning this house. The census also reports both William and Daniel Doherty, both nephews of the earlier Daniel, as barbers. William Doherty died in 1921 at the age of 68.

It is not clear how long the Chaney family also remained in the house, but the 1900 census also lists a family group headed by Adeline Brann Chaney, housekeeper, living on Main Street. Household members were Cora and Bertha L. Chaney, mill operators; Charles and James Chaney, laborers; and Hiram Chaney, shoe operator.

According to Vital Records of South Berwick, Adeline Chaney was born in 1845. She died November 1, 1911 at 66. James H. Chaney died the same year at 68. Hiram Chaney, perhaps their son, married Amanda Mabel Higgens in 1899. Bertha L. Chaney had a son, Lionel Linwood, on January 28, 1900. James E. Chaney married Anna May Brosnan in 1917.

(Summary by Wendy Pirsig from archives at the Counting House Museum. Updated December 2020.)