Fernald E. Ham


Today I was walking through the Monroe Cemetery in Lexington, MA with some friends, and came across this gravestone for a man named Fernald E. Ham.

Aside from the absolutely majestic name, what also caught our attention was that he had three wives buried with him.

I looked the guy up, and turns out he was a farmer who also bred a new type of sweet corn. Plus, he owned 45 Holstein cows; no wonder he had no problem finding wives.

He was apparently also the vice president of the Burlington Cattle Fair in 1891.

What also came up in the search was Ham v. Kendall, an 1873 Massachusetts Supreme Court case where someone was given permission to build an ice-house on land that was later sold to Ham, and Ham knew that this person had a verbal agreement to keep the ice-house there for 5 years. The ice-house changed hands twice, and the third owner of the ice-house and his friends came to remove it from Ham's now-property (before the 5 years were up) even though they were forbidden to do so by Ham. Ham brought this case against them.

You should know that our Ham here unfortunately lost this case:

When the ice-house was erected upon the land under the agreement, it was personal property. The sales, whether of the land or the building, did not change its character in this respect. No notice to remove it was given to its owner, and he had a right to go upon the land and remove it, and appropriate the materials to his own use.

As for his interesting marriage history (including a woman 15 years his junior), I was able to track down his first marriage with Sarah F. Wyatt. They married in 1866 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He moved to Burlington with his wife and his first-born child, Hattie. Hattie died in 1877 and his wife Sarah in 1879, but as we know from the gravestone this was not the end of Fernald E. Ham's wedded career.

He married Helen A. Huff, who also died in 1882. This guy did not have the best of luck, but luckily he found a solution — marrying her sister Martha! How he finessed that, I have no idea.

Fernald E. Ham died in 1907 and was buried at that very spot. It's fascinating to me that everybody, literally everybody, has a rich life history that can be unearthed if you just dig into it a little.

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