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Sometimes a map leads you to a chest, and at other times…

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

A large metal-framed chest in the Mather Homestead attic contains an assortment of architectural plans, mortgages and deeds, builders’ and suppliers’ invoices—and three maps.

Two of the maps are identical and all three show Darien in 1867. On the maps the Mather Homestead is noted as “Misses Mather.” Across the way, the property is “O.B. Mather.”

After Deacon Joseph Mather’s death, the house went to his unmarried daughters, Rana and Phebe, the Misses Mather. They were joined their by a twice-widowed third sister, Betsey. Deacon Mather’s son, Joseph, lived across the way until his death in 1864. The O.B. may refer to his widow, Happy Osborn Wakeman Mather.

(Note: the maps are not without error. The southern end of Long Neck Point is shown as belonging to H. Otnistead; the 1867 owner was actually a Harrison Olmsted.)

Of note, in the maps is the Fitch Old Soldiers Home which was opened in 1864. (After its closing in 1940, the property then became the Allen-O’Neill complex, which most recently became The Heights.)

Among other items of interest is a 1936 estimate from Knobel Brothers for an addition to the Homestead. (Note the phone number …simply “58.”) And a New Canaan decorator’s bill to Bertha McPherson for 8 rolls of wallpaper at $0.70 each! See below.

Perhaps the true treasure in this chest is the opportunity its contents afford us to reconfirm and enrich our growing knowledge of the Mather Homestead.

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