Dr. Cora Angier Sowa
FITZWILLIAM, NEW HAMPSHIRE, ANCESTRAL HOME OF THE ANGIER FAMILY
Photos by Cora Angier Sowa and John F. Sowa
Photo of the eighteenth-century Fitzwilliam Inn, perhaps the most notable structure in Fitzwilliam, taken by my husband, John Sowa, in 2006.
The Angier Family in Fitzwilliam
The Angier family, from whom my father Robert Mitchell Angier was descended, has lived in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire since the late eighteenth century. Prior to that, the Angiers lived in Massachusetts, first in Medford (where they arrived from England in the mid- to late- seventeenth century — Joseph Angier is recorded as living there in 1684), then in Framingham. An ancestor, Silas Angier, fought in the American Revolution. My grandfather, the civil engineer and bridge-builder Walter Eugene Angier, was born in Fitzwilliam, and after receiving a degree as Civil Engineer from Dartmouth and starting his career, did most of his work (far-flung as it turned out to be) operating out of Chicago. An entire page on this Web site is devoted to documenting his career. Click here to see it.
In Fitzwilliam in the nineteenth century, the Angiers were prominent in the granite quarrying business, the most important industry in Fitzwilliam until the adoption of cement as a building material put an end to its importance. The first quarries were opened in 1845, and when the Cheshire Railroad opened a line through Fitzwilliam in 1848, spurs were built to all the quarries. A few years ago, the remains of the quarries and the old railroad tracks could still be found. The old railroad line is now a hiking trail.
The landscape of the area is dominated by rocky Mount Monadnock (the second-most climbed mountain in the world, after Mount Fuji, and the last time we were there, we saw a lot of Japanese climbers!) Coincidence or not, Walter eventually had offices in Chicago's Monadnock Building!
The graves of Walter and his wife Mary Powell Angier, who was born in Luling Texas, are in the cemetery in Fitzwilliam, where many past members of the Angier family are also buried. The grave of Silas Angier is among these. There is an Angier Road in Fitzwilliam.
The pictures below of Fitzwilliam, the cemetery, and Mount Monadnock were taken by me and my husband, John Sowa, on a trip with family and friends in the fall of 2006.
Genealogy of the Angier family
For a comprehensive genealogy of the Angier family, going back to Joseph Angier in the seventeenth century, and of the Huff and Powell families (the ancestors of Mary Powell Angier), click here.
For humorous but affectionate description of Fitzwilliam, its inn, its mountain, its cemetery, and its culture, see "In the Heart of Granite Country" in Preservation Magazine, November/December, 2004, written by another descendant, my niece Natalie Angier.
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- The Village Green
- The Cemetery
- Climbing Mount Monadnock
- Landscape around Fitzwilliam
THE VILLAGE GREEN
The rebus riddle on the wall of the Fitzwilliam Inn (a modern panel replacing a more primitively painted inscription, which many thought more charming, that used to be there). To read it, keep in mind that in the nineteenth century, a capital "B" was called a "great B" and a period was called a "full stop," then plug in the appropriate "colon," "hyphen," and "asterisk" to read:
If the grate be empty put coal on
If the grate be full stop putting coal on
Don't put coal on over a high fender
You'd be an ass to risk it
Silas Angier was born in Framingham, Massachusetts and came to Fitzwilliam with his family in 1779, after first residing in Temple, NH, and established a farm there. According to The History of Fitzwilliam (1888), "Mr. Angier owned Lot 8, Range 7, and Lot 6, Range 9. He built his house by setting posts in the ground and covering the same with slabs brought through the woods by marked trees with great difficulty from Allen's mill in Royalton. Mr. Angier cut the large maples and birches upon his land, burned the brush, and put in his corn and potatoes with a hoe without ploughing." In the Revolution, he and his brother John served at Ticonderoga and Saratoga. Read their war record by clicking here
CLIMBING MOUNT MONADNOCK
LANDSCAPE AROUND FITZWILLIAM
All photos and other material on this site, unless otherwise identified, are copyrighted by Cora Angier Sowa.
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