By Book and By Foot


by Fred Lynch in Wayland, Massachusetts


My immigrant ancestors are what this series of drawings is all about. I track them down by book and by foot—traveling back in time and over to towns and neighborhoods that I’ve never visited before. I walk the streets with my sketchbook. For me, sketching is a form of research. With my drawings, I try to illustrate the discoveries I’ve made and the stories I’ve found.
John Parmenter was another ancestor among the group of original founders of Sudbury, Massachusetts. (My past has a lot of them.) Where this handsome old house stands, in what is now the town of Wayland, John lived in 1640 with his wife, Bridget Daveye. The Parmenters were both 51 years old when they came to America from Essex, England. Their two grown children came as well, settling nearby. John was a 10th great-grandfather of mine and his daughter Mary was a 9th great-grandmother.
John Parmenter was active in town affairs and served as the second deacon of Sudbury. In 1645, he opened a tavern which lasted for generations as Parmenter’s Ordinary or Parmenter’s Tavern. This was once a busy corner, but now the once-prominent house is hard to see or even find. My view was from a bit of swamp that I slithered into. On the facade of the house is a small historic marker stating that this is the Jonathan Parmenter House of 1775—surely a grandson of John’s who updated the property. That wasn’t the last upgrade, however—the house is now assessed at 1.2 million dollars.

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