Indian Burying Ground Is Feature Of Norway Estate
One of Norway's historic places, situated at The Falls, is owned at present by Wilfred H. Edminster, superintendent of schools of the Norway-Waterford-Oxford District, and George D. Gould, his father-in-law, and is occupied by them and their families. The estate is one of the oldest homestead farms in Norway Village and is known as the old Olcott Brown estate. It is beautifully situated commanding a view of the hills and mountains. It was in 1833 that Titus Olcott Brown came to Norway from Gray. He was a veteran hotel keeper, and in early life was engaged in the hotel and transportation business in Lancaster, N. H., and was the first person to carry through the notch of the White Mountains to the seaboard at Portland.
At Norway he bought the hotel built and kept by Ezra Beal and in company with his son-in-law, Amos Purington, carried on the business until 1842 when the house was sold to Anthony Bennett. In the meantime, Mr. Brown had bought the farm in the lower village where he lived after retiring until his death in 1855, at the age of 90 years.
Building The House
The son, Titus Olcott Brown, Jr. came to Norway in 1833 and built the house at The Falls, across the street just above the store, which for a number of years was owned by Judge W. F. Jones, now passed along to his heirs. He engaged in the tanning business and later established a foundry and a general store. After the death of his father he moved across the street to the big house. Mr. Brown, senior, had made many changes in the first original small house, and the son made many further additions and improvements. This estate covered many acres on what is now Fair Street and at several instances purchases were made by the Oxford County Agricultural Society. The tract now known as Brown Street was donated by Mr. Brown from the estate for the erection of a group of houses by C. B. Cummings. To the east of the house, was a pine grove where many Sunday School picnics were held there, where a large swing was an attraction for the young people.
Relatives who lived in the upper village held many family gatherings there which have never been forgotten. Mrs. Olcott Brown was Miss Nancy Denison and some of her relatives still live in the village.
Old Indian Burying Ground
There is much of the unusual connected with the old place, as it was an old Indian burying ground. On the farm is a valuable sand and gravel pit, and many loads have been used in road making during many years. After the big fire of 1894, the whole village was practically rebuilt from this sand, the product being used for plastering, sidewalks etc. Some 30 years ago, the property was sold to Mrs. Ella Jewett Cole.
One day while digging sand, Indian relics were found and on further digging a skull came to light and more bones. The following day, Horace H. Cole made a thorough investigation, and with George L. Noyes, the well-known artist, they unearthed more than a dozen Indian skeletons, buried in a row, all in separate graves. A strip of birch bark was laid under the body and another strip over it, making a sort of casket. It was noticeable that everybody was placed on its side facing the east. A shell necklace was found in one grave which was without doubt the first piece of jewelry in Norway, Mr. Noyes has this relic. On the top of each grave, they found charcoal and ashes showing that fires were kept burning at night time, to keep away the wild animals that were abundant in those days. No marks were found to tell to what tribe these early people belonged.
The original Indian camping grounds were on a knoll on the river bank some 80 rods from the burying ground. From time to time, Indian relics and a few bones had been unearthed there. In 1920, Mr. Cole unearthed another curiosity on the farm, in the shape of a charcoal pit. While digging for a foundation under the barn, he found this large pit, 16 feet across. Hard wood had evidently been used in making the charcoal and many charred pieces were nearly as hard as rocks by the years passed underground. Several years previous, a large pit was unearthed, 24 feet across and several rods from this latter one. These were of unknown age, as the buildings on the place are more than a century old.
Many changes have been made to the buildings and grounds. A large west wing was removed and a sun parlor added. Several house lots have been sold from the large field but they are some distance from the house and in no way interfere with the original beauty of the place. The present owners bought the property in July, 1926. Cement walks have made an addition to the grounds and in the summer time, flower gardens add to the attractiveness of the place. Further improvements have been made to the house both inside and out. Mr. Gould understands gardening and he has a fine large vegetable garden as well as the extensive flower beds.
From the Advertiser-Democrat, October 18, 1935
Harking Back Forty-One Years - 1894
A Few Bits of Local Items
Here is an item of interest to Norway scientists,
George L. Noyes and others have unearthed several skeletons in Brown’s Grove, near Steep Falls, which are supposed to be the remains of Indians buried there over 100 years ago. The skeletons were fund some 18 inches below the surfaces of the ground in sandy soil. Some of the bones were covered with wide strips of birch bark. Two skulls were unearthed, supposed to be those of a male and female, and were in a remarkable state of preservation. Excavations are still going on, and some remarkable specimens may yet be found. No implements have yet been discovered. Capt. Jonathan Whitehouse, one of the oldest of Norway’s inhabitants, remembers of some skeletons being dug up here many years ago, which at that time were said to be Indians, and the place has been called the Indian burying ground ever since. (1894)
Until within three years ago the spot, now on the Edminster farm, was easily found and some prospecting for other bones had been carried on. So much sand has been carted away from that locality that landmarks have been destroyed and the Indian burying ground is no more. (1935)