I’ve wanted to write about these sisters since I first looked into their lives, as these women seemed to have had a very close relationship. The bonds they shared extended beyond their childhood years in ways not common in our times. One of them far outlived the others. Sadly, she also suffered the sudden and tragic loss of her two children and her husband of over 40 years.
Sarah, Louisa and Luthera Tidd were the daughters of William & Luthera (Bond) Tidd. They were the younger sisters of my maternal 3rd great-grandfather, Squires Tidd and granddaughters of Jonathan Tidd, Jr., veteran of the American Revolution.
The girls were born in Woburn, MA: Sarah in March 1832, Louisa in July 1834 and Luthera in November 1836. The girls had five older brothers: William, Charles, Henry, Squires and Horace. Being so close in age, one can picture the girls as playmates and close confidantes throughout their youth.
The 1850 U.S. Census shows the teenage girls at home with their parents and brother, Horace. The value of the home, $5000, shows that William Tidd provided a very comfortable life for his family. The hash-marks in the column to the right indicates that the girls were all in school.
The first of the girls to marry was Sarah. Two days before Christmas of 1852, Sarah was wed to George Henry Morrill.
Like the Tidds, the Morrill family traced their roots back to The Great Migration, with the first Morrill arriving in Massachusetts Colony in 1632. Sarah’s marriage to George not only changed the course of her life, but that of her sisters as well.
George was the heir to his father’s ink manufacturing business in Andover, MA. When they first married, George and Sarah lived with the Morrill family in Andover. Eventually, George relocated his growing family to Dedham, MA.
Following her marriage, it seems Sarah was in a constant state of pregnancy. Within 6 years, she gave birth to five children:
- Emma Louisa, b. 1853 (m. Edmund S. Shattuck in 1877)
- George Henry, b. 1855 (m. Mary Elizabeth Gilbert in 1878)
- Frank Tidd, b. 1857 (m. Annie Rosa French in 1878)
- Alice Hannah, b. 1859 (m. Lewis H. Plimpton* in 1886)
- Grace L., b. 1862 (m. Howard E. Plimpton* in 1889)
* Lewis and Howard Plimpton were brothers, the sons of Calvin G. Plimpton & Priscilla Lewis of Walpole, MA.
Howard Plimpton was a publisher.
Lewis H. Plimpton was a doctor.
The 1860 Census reveals that Sarah brought her younger sister, Luthera, to live with the family at the Dedham home — presumably to assist with the houseful of young children. A few years later, tragedy occurred.
On March 20, 1864, Sarah passed away just days before her 32nd birthday. The cause of death was listed as metritis. Most likely, her death was a complication of being yet again pregnant.
Ten months later, on Jan. 15, 1865, George H. Morrill married Sarah’s younger sister, Louisa.
That summer, the Massachusetts State Census listed George and Louisa at the Dedham home with the five children and a live-in domestic.
The family remained in Dedham for the next several years and, unlike her sister Sarah, Louisa didn’t not immediately add to the number of children in the home. The 1870 Census shows that, again, younger sister Luthera had been brought to live with the family.
Over the years, George grew the company into the “largest printed ink works in the world,” making him a very wealthy man indeed. By 1872, the family had relocated to the town of Norwood in Norfolk County, MA, where George had built a stately mansion for his family. It was there that Louisa gave birth to her daughter, Sarah Bond Morrill, touchingly named after the beloved sister who had died eight years before.
Two and a half years later, a son was born to George and Louisa: Sheldon Collins Morrill. Tragically, in June 1877, little Sheldon died at age two. The cause of death is listed as “congestion of the brain,” which in late 19th Century medicine was mostly what we now know as meningitis. (1)
By the time of the 1880 Census, the older Morrill children had married and started families of their own. George’s father had died. The family consolidated around George Morrill’s estate, maintaining homes very nearby. Thus, Emma and her husband Edmund Shattuck are found nearby. Living in the Shattuck home were their two daughters and three servants. Living with George and Louisa are their daughters, Luthera Tidd and a servant. Sadly, Luthera was noted as being an invalid (tumor).
When George Morrill’s oldest son, Samuel, came of age at 18, he changed his name to George Henry Morrill, Jr. Thus, we find him living next-door to his father, with his wife and son. Also living nearby was George Sr.’s elderly mother, Hannah.
The Morrill family of Norwood enjoyed their affluence and a newspaper article of the time describes a magnificent party hosted by George H. Morrill Jr., while another article provides an interview with George H. Morrill Sr. which recounts the building of the company.
But there were troubles and sad times, too. Luthera died in the spring of 1882. In May 1883, a fire broke out at the Morrill’s store in Boston. And, most tragic of all, George and Louisa suffered the sudden and untimely death of their daughter, Sarah. At age 22, Sarah died of typhoid while on vacation in Florida.
To honor their beloved daughter, George and Louisa had a beautiful public library built and dedicated in her name to the town of Norwood. On the event of its opening, the Boston Herald published an article describing the event. (Morrill Memorial Library) Portraits of George H. Morrill and his daughter, Sarah Bond Morrill, hang in the library.
George H. Morrill traveled often for business purposes to many places in the United States and elsewhere. It was while on a trip to Jamaica in 1909 that he died of enteritis (inflammation of the intestine, most often caused by eating or drinking things that are contaminated with bacteria or viruses). Numerous death notices and obituaries, both long and short (below) announced his passing.
George H. Morrill left behind a fortune worth $2,000,000 when he died, an amount valued at over $50.5 million dollars in 2016. (Wow!!)
When George died, Louisa was 75 years old. By that time, she had lost her parents, all of her siblings and her two children. She continued on for another three years before passing away in February 1912 while vacationing in Los Angeles, CA. Bequests made in her will caught the attention of the local papers.
The Morrill family is interred at Highland Cemetery in Norfolk, where a large stone memorial is inscribed with their names.
Because the Morrill family and their descendants were notable society figures, I’ve found a great deal of additional information about them.
But the person who captures my attention in this family history is Louisa. I imagine she was a very strong, caring and generous woman. She stepped in to raise her sister’s children when they had lost their mother. She took in her invalid sister and, no doubt, saw to her nursing. She outlived everyone and kept going. Finally, she rewarded a dutiful servant, Charles W. Gibson, and sought to raise up Gibson and his family through a gift valued over $120,000 in 2016 dollars.