An Historical Chronology
The Benjamin Nye Homestead
Farm and Mills, and the
Nye Family of America
Compiled by John Nye Cullity
In 2012, the Nye
Family of America Association, Inc. celebrated the 50th anniversary
of its ownership of the 1678 Benjamin Nye Homestead, which in 1958 was
threatened with demolition. Due to
the activism of Rosanna Cullity and other concerned Nye descendants, the house
was saved through an act of the Massachusetts Legislature. The newly-revived and incorporated Nye
Association received a deed to the property on May 28, 1962.
is a chronology of the essential history of the Homestead, the Association, and
the preservation story.
Nye, the Thomas Tupper family and others arrive at
(north of Boston) in Massachusetts Bay Colony from England,
the ship Abigail.
1637 Benjamin Nye travels with
about fifty families to Cape Cod, to begin
first English settlement there – the town of Sandwich.
1640 On October 16th, Benjamin
Nye and Katherine Tupper marry.
Benjamin is allotted nine acres at Spring Hill, where he builds his first
house. He and Katherine raise
eight children. In years to come,
Benjamin acquires salt marsh and upland in East Sandwich near “the
little river”, a spring-fed stream flowing into Scorton Creek.
1665 The town has some trouble
negotiating with miller Thomas Dexter, Jr.
toll, the miller’s payment in grain.
An appeal is made for
to set up another grist mill, with promise of a land grant.
1669 Benjamin Nye’s water-powered
grist mill, the second in town, is up
in East Sandwich. He receives 12
acres near the mill.
1676 Benjamin is granted
permission to build a fulling mill (for processing
home-spun woolen cloth). The record indicates “Spring Hill
but the mill
was actually built next to the grist mill in East Sandwich.
1678 Benjamin builds his second
house, a saltbox (lean-to) style, next to the
and fulling mill. At some point a
barn is built 150’ west of
the house. His Spring Hill house
and farm are given to his son John.
1806 By this time a wool carding
machine is operating in the fulling mill.
1816 Deacon Silvanus Nye rebuilds
the house from a saltbox into a full
(raising the roof) with an ell on the west end.
1840 The carding mill is
discontinued. The building is
moved and added to
side of the house as a kitchen ell and woodshed.
1867 Shortly after the death of
Deacon Samuel Nye the 198 year old grist
taken down by his son Joseph.
1879 Augustus Holway, who married
Helen Nye in 1863, acquired part
of the house from her brother, Joseph F. H. Nye. Helen’s
mother Sarah, widow of Deacon Samuel Nye, his aged aunts Desire
and Rebecca Nye, and Samuel’s unmarried daughter Lydia, also live
in the house.
1880 Charles H. Nye (1821-1907) of
Hyannis, Division Superintendent of
the Old Colony Railroad, speaks with other Nyes about the possibility
of forming a family association.
Some genealogical work is begun.
1887 East Sandwich Grange #139, a
local branch of a national farm family
is formed with Samuel
H. Nye as the first master.
1889 Grange members form the East Sandwich
Mill and Hall Association,
legally hold property and sell shares.
On land provided by Samuel
H. Nye, the Grange Hall is constructed,
and a grist mill (built by
Oliver Jones in 1855) is moved from the Bumps River in Centerville
and set up on the site of the old mill.
It operates as a cooperative grist
mill until 1897, when it is sold to John Armstrong, who operates a
small electroplating and jewelry factory there till about 1905. He
and John Carleton begin a trout hatchery on the property.
1903 The Nye Family of America
Association is formed and holds a large
Sandwich, with elderly Charles H. Nye in attendance.
William L. Nye of Sandwich is the first president. Reunions are held
and the proceedings are published each year until 1910. Dates of
subsequent reunions are uncertain, except for 1916 and 1928.
1904 Ella Frances Holway, (wife of
Jerome, son of Augustus and Helen),
writes an interesting essay, “The Nye Homes of Sandwich” for the
Reunion Proceedings. This contains
a description of the Benjamin Nye Homestead,
estimating the date of construction as 1685.
1907 The Nye Family of America
publishes A Genealogy of the Nye
compiled by George Hyatt Nye and Frank E. Best.
1908 The Nye Family of America
sets up a memorial boulder and plaque
1911 Helen Nye Holway moves from
the Homestead to Sandwich Village,
live with her son Jerome. Ray Nye
businessman from Fremont, Nebraska somehow learns about the house,
purchases it and 37 acres “to save it from the inglorious fate of passing out
of the Nye lineage.”
1912 The Commonwealth of
Massachusetts purchases the mill and 4 ½
of trout hatchery from Armstrong and Carleton. The
on Fish and Wildlife begins to re-build and enlarge the
operation for re-stocking purposes.
1912 Ray Nye repairs the back roof
of the Homestead, and takes much of
the furniture to his home in Fremont, Nebraska, where it is later destroyed in
He begins leasing the
Homestead and 37 acres to
the Mass. Fish and Game
Commissioners, to provide living quarters
for the hatchery superintendent.
From about 1918 to 1948 the
Homestead was occupied by Alfred Fish, Sr., his wife Ruth, and their
The portion of the 37 acre
farm south of the railroad is utilized for trout hatchery purposes,
north of the tracks becomes a game farm, primarily for pheasant and quail
1923 A law is passed allowing the
Commonwealth to accept gifts of land.
1924 (July 15) Ray Nye deeds the
Nye house and 37 acres of land to the
“for the purpose of protecting any species of useful
wild birds, quadrupeds or fish, and for aiding the propagation thereof
under the Acts of 1923 of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, chapter 301”.
1925 A pamphlet by Bernard
Peterson, “The Nye House at Sandwich”, is
by the Register Press, Yarmouthport, part of a series. The
places a bronze plaque in front of the Homestead,
the house as “Home of the Nye Family”, and the
1936 95 year old Helen Nye Holway
is the subject of an article in the
Bedford Standard Times. She
relates interesting details about
Nye farm and homestead.
1928 The west end ell is
removed. The north ell, once the
is removed and replaced with a new kitchen ell. Various repairs
alterations are made to the interior of the house.
1948 Game warden Joseph La Farr
and his family occupy the house
1958 It becomes known that the
vacant Homestead may be torn down or
removed. Rosanna Cullity, whose ancestors lived
in the Homestead,
concerned, and begins to contact other local Nye
descendants. Margerie Leonard, who
knows State Senator
C. Stone, is very helpful.
1959 The long-dormant Nye Family
Association is re-energized, with
Nye, Sr. of Harwich as president.
At this time there is a
surge of interest in historic preservation. Historic houses in Plymouth,
and in Sandwich, the preservation of the Wing Fort House (1942),
Hoxie House (1957), Dexter Grist Mill (1960), provide inspiration.
Stone’s help, the Commonwealth agrees to give the
with a small piece of land to the Nye Family Association,
the house is operated as a museum.
In May, about thirty
members meet and vote to petition the Commonwealth to
the Homestead to the Association.
Senator Stone works to
1960 The Massachusetts legislature
approves an act to give the Homestead
the Nye Family of America Association, signed by Governor Furcolo May
1961 The Nye Family of America
Association works to build membership,
incorporates on October 26th , enabling it to receive the property.
1962 A deed to the Association is
signed on May 28th.
1963 Work on the Homestead begins
in earnest, with substantial help from
Nye, who owns a lumber yard and has connections with
contractors. The “new” Nye Family of America Assn.
holds its first
on August 2,3, &4th , on the 6oth anniversary of the first Nye
reunion. 150 attend, from 18 states.
196_ The Association reprints the
1965 Volume II, compiled by R.
Glen Nye and L. Bert Nye, is published.
1966 First issue of the Nye Family
1972 The Homestead is opened to
the public on June 14th, with live-in
who use the kitchen and some upstairs rooms as an apartment.
1982 Live-in docents are
discontinued, allowing the entire house to be
utilized for museum purposes.
During the 1980s, substantial
restoration and exhibit work is carried out in the east upstairs
Marine Room, and the keeping room (18th century kitchen).
1987 A Sandwich Album is
published during the 350th anniversary year of
of Sandwich, compiled by Rosanna Cullity and her
son John Nye Cullity, the proceeds to benefit maintenance and
restoration of the Homestead.
1990 The East Sandwich State Fish
Hatchery ceases operation; the park-like
grounds begin to revert to natural vegetation.
1991 The Association acquires the
1889 Grange Hall, and East Sandwich
folds. The hall is operated as a
2002 The Association signs a 5
year renewable management agreement
with the Division of Fish and Wildlife, allowing the Association to perform
maintenance of the surrounding landscape, which is becoming overgrown, and
Association is also allowed to clean out the collapsing mill and prop up
2005 In order for the Association
to obtain more land, and the millsite, a
process is begun with the Division of Fish & Wildlife.
membership appeals, an appropriate parcel of nearby open
land is purchased. Survey and
appraisal work is carried out.
2009 After 4 years of work
including another act of the Massachusetts Legislature,
a land swap is carried out with the Commonwealth. The Nye Assn.
1.64 acres, including the mill building. A careful restoration of the east parlor is completed,
based on its appearance in 1816.
2012 Celebration of 50 years of
Homestead ownership, 40 years open as a
museum. Through dendrochronology, the date of
construction of the
Homestead is determined: 1678.
Work begins to restore
the landscape surrounding the Homestead, Hall, and mill.
Benjamin Nye Homestead Owners
Benjamin Nye (lived approximately 1620-1706)
Jonathan Nye (1649-1744)
Joseph Nye (1675-1750)
Deacon Silvanus Nye (1744-1820)
Deacon Samuel Nye (1789-1867)
Samuel H. Nye (1837-1907) and Joseph F.H. Nye (1848-
Augustus (1840-1898) and Helen Nye Holway (1841-1936)
Ray Nye of Fremont, Nebraska (1861-1925)
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Division of Fisheries and Game
The Nye Family of America Association, Inc.