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Mary Thrasher’s School Diary was originally published by the Rehoboth Historical Commission.

© 2007, Catherine Potter

Reprinted here with permission  

Mary Thrasher's School Diary - Page 1

Mary Thrasher Diary - Page 1  2  3

 

Mary’s Diary

In the year 1875, a 13-year-old Rehoboth girl took up her pencil and began a record of her daily life. In a small book, 2 1/2” by 3 1/2”, brown and faded, we can see what a part of her life was like. The girl, Mary E. Thrasher, was a student in a one room schoolhouse, Perry School. The diary covers the dates of December 29, 1875 to February 4 1876. This booklet contains Mary’s diary, copied exactly as she wrote it.

Who was Mary Thrasher?

Mary was born in 1862 to parents George H. Thrasher and his second wife, Eliza Lincoln Thrasher. Mary had three sisters; Carrie, Luella, and Estella. She grew up in the family homestead.

We know that Mary left Rehoboth and moved to Rutland, Massachusetts. In 1910, she was a matron in the Rutland Sanatorium. This was the first tuberculosis hospital in the country , started in 1878. After this we have not found any records about her life. If she ever married or moved out of state, we have been unable to discover it. We are indebted to her for the record she left of the life and times of a Rehoboth scholar.

Teaching in a one-room Schoolhouse

Mary attended the Perry School, District #4. It was located near the corner of Tremont Street and Agricultural Avenue. It had probably been constructed in the 1830s and was an old building by this time. Mary’s teacher was Cleora Perry. Cleora graduated from the Bridgewater Normal School in 1875 at the age of 18. This was probably her first teaching position.

Mary and Cleora were cousins through their common ancestor, Jasiel Perry, born in 1688. Mary was from his son David’s line. Cleora was from his son Jasiel’s line. Cleora was born in Rehoboth on September 21, 1857, the daughter of Ira and Emily (Reed) Perry. Her younger brother, Arthur, was one of her students. The name of her future husband, Walter Bliss, is also mentioned in Mary’s diary. Cleora went on to teach at the Harris and Stevens Schools and also in Attleboro until 1883. On April 19, 1883 she married Walter Bliss. They had three children: Richard, Mildred and Warren.

Discovering the Diary

The diary was found by Ralph and Cathy Potter in 1981 when they dismantled the old Perry-Thrasher homestead. The diary was tucked in a dusty, dirty box of old papers. The box was put aside while work on dismantling the house continued. As time permitted, they went through the old box. Along with the diary, the box contained old business receipts, and books from the Irons Church, which had stood across the street on Park Street. But who put the diary in that box of papers and books so many years ago, and why did they feel it was important enough to save? We will never know. But we’re thankful that they did, and that he Potters found this tiny book, which gives us an ever-so-brief glimpse into the everyday life of a Rehoboth girl in 1875.

Perry-Thrasher Homestead

The homestead had been in Mary’s family since it was purchased by David Perry from Obediah Betty in the year 1741. David was the great-grandson of Anthony Perry, one of the early settlers of Rehoboth. Anthony was a very active member of the town and a Representative to the General Court. He had six children. His son, Samuel, married Mary Millard and they had seven children. Samuel and Mary’s son, Jasiel, born a 6, 1682, married Rebekah Peck Willmarth. They had eight children. Their third child, David, born August 16, 1719 purchased the homestead in 1741; He was Mary’s great-grandfather. David married Margaret Dwyer and they had nine children born in the family homestead. Their third child, David, born January 27, 1748, married Sarah Short. David was a Revolutionary War veteran in Captain Bliss’ company with Colonel Timothy Walker’s 22nd Regiment. In 1796 the homestead was turned over to their son David. Their daughter, Rhonda, born May 19, 1796, married Simmons Thrasher. The homestead was conveyed to them in 1825. The farm was large by that time, stretching North into Attleboro and East to Smith Street. Mary’s father, George, son of Rhonda and Simmons Thrasher, was born at the homestead in 1826. George was a Civil War veteran having served as a Sergeant in the 58th Massachusetts volunteers.

The Perry-Thrasher homestead was sold out of the family’s hands after almost 200 years with the death of Edith Perry. After it was sold it became a Real Estate office for some time and then sold again to be used as a private home. By the time the Potters purchased the house, it had been condemned. The Potters moved it to Reservoir Avenue where it was restored and rebuilt. Many items found during the process have shed light on the Perry and Thrasher families during the 200-plus years that they lived in the old homestead. When the homestead was rebuilt it became a homestead for the Potter family. With its many old doors, windows and fireplaces, this wonderful house enfolds its inhabitants with a warm, comfortable feeling. Cathy and Ralph and their four children have enjoyed this as their home for many years.   

 

continued on page 2

Mary Thrasher Diary - Page 1  2  3


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