John DEXTER was born in Killingly, CT, in 1833. In 1856 in CT he married Mary Anna CLARK who had been born in Westport, MA, in 1836. They assumedly lived in Killingly, CT, where John's parents, Marvin and Mary (ALLEN) DEXTER owned a large farm. John's only sibling was a sister, Abby DEXTER, who became Mrs. Martin CROSBY in nearby Brooklyn, CT.
John and "Molly" DEXTER had three daughters born to them. One died as a toddler, and one died as a teen-ager. Their daughter, Clara DEXTER, was born in 1857, and grew up to marry Abner YOUNG, and they continued to live in Killingly, CT. They only had one son, Earl YOUNG.
At some point around 1890, John and "Molly" DEXTER moved out of the DEXTER Farm in Killingly, CT, and moved to Boston, settling in Melrose, MA. Around the same time they moved here, they adopted a baby girl who was given the name, Daisy WATROUS, at birth. This was in March 1892, and they renamed her to Mary Anna Clark DEXTER. The little girl was sometimes known as "May" or "Mamie."
Because John and "Molly" DEXTER were in their mid-50's when they adopted the baby girl, there was something like a 30-year age difference between the little adopted daughter and the DEXTER's biological daughter, Clara. And, Abner and Clara's son, Earl YOUNG, was something like 7 years older than his adoptive-aunt.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Molly DEXTER died in the spring of 1899. It is my understanding that in those years fathers were not allowed to raise their own daughters. So, John took his adoptive daughter to the Boston Female Orphans Asylum in Downtown Boston. He then sold his house in Melrose and moved to a boarding-house in Boston. Young Mary "May" DEXTER was 10 years old when she was re-orphaned.
Probably when she was a teen-ager, she moved to "The Temporary Home for Women and Children" in Downtown Boston. In the meantime, when she was probably around 15, her adoptive father, John DEXTER, went to the Tewksbury State Hospital. This was in the spring of 1904, and he died there in the spring of 1905.
His record showed that he had had three visitors during his year-long stay there: His sister, Mrs. Abby CROSBY from CT, a male friend from the boarding house in Boston, and a "daughter," "Marnie," which my guess should say, "Mamie." My assumption is this is his adoptive-daughter - my grandmother, who was at the time living in Norwood, MA. I believe, once she moved to "The Temporary Home," she was sent to live in different homes in the area to be a servant.
I noted that his biological daughter, Mrs. Clara YOUNG, did not visit him at all. And, something else curious was the fact that, when Mrs. Molly DEXTER died in 1899, her body was brought back to Killingly, CT, to be buried. Yet, six years later, when John DEXTER died, his body was buried on the grounds of the Tewksbury State Hospital.
Because of the Message Boards, I got in contact with a descendant of Mrs. Molly DEXTER's step-siblings. Molly's mother, Rhoda (Manchester), of Westport, MA, had married twice. Her first marriage to Epaphroditus LAVARE brought 3 children, and he "died at sea." She then married James CLARK, also in Westport, MA, and their only child was Mary CLARK. Rhoda (Manchester), (Lavare) Clark died several years before Mary, or "Mamie" was born, so they never met.
When my "distant
cousin" in CT and I finally remembered to compare family photographs, her
grandmother and my grandmother bore a strong family resemblance. So, it is the
belief of both of us that my grandmother (the little girl who was adopted)
was somehow blood-related to Mrs. DEXTER.
"Molly" Dexter as a young girl
When my grandmother, then Mary Anna "May" Clark DEXTER became "of
age," probably when she was around 20, her best friend from "The
Temporary Home" decided to go live with her father in Medford.
Mr. SMITH liked his daughter, Hattie's best friend so much, that he invited
"May" DEXTER to come live in his apartment also.
Living a few doors down from Mr. SMITH was a KERR family.
George KERR lived in the home with his widowed mother and a much younger sister. George took an immediate liking to "May" but it took him quite a long time to convince her that she should marry him. But, on Christmas Eve, 1911, they walked from their respective homes in Medford to a Minister's home in Malden, and asked him to marry them.
"May" and baby William
About a year later, their son, William KERR, was born. They would have nine children born to them, but three died as babies. Their six children who lived produced many grandchildren for .. Grampy and Grammy KERR. And, they lived a long married life .. just missing their 50th anniversary when Grampy KERR died in 1960 from complications of Asthma. Grammy KERR died of a heart attack in 1967.
One FYI is that a great-grandson of John DEXTER spent a lot of time and energy
researching and then writing up a YOUNG family-history document. The two
families had lived in Killingly, CT, for a great, many years.
My "distant cousin" was able to get a copy of that document for me,
and it is a very good, extensive report on his line of YOUNG families.
But, there is only a very brief mention of Mrs. Clara YOUNG's parents,
John and Mary (CLARK) DEXTER, even though they were the author's
great-grandparents. And, there is NO mention of Clara's much younger
adoptive sister, Mary Anna Clark DEXTER.
The Kerr's 1930's
John DEXTER seemed to have several, different jobs as an adult. He was probably originally a farmer in Killingly, CT. But, once in Boston, he was known to have been a real-estate salesman, a Clerk in a local Courthouse, and a bill collector, etc.
(Because no birth certificate for his adoptive-daughter has ever been found, two things might have happened. Either he found the birth certificate in the Courthouse and made it "disappear" or the baby was born "at home" and no birth certificate was ever filed. I would very much like to find a "Family BIBLE" with some notation - any notation .. of what happened in the "summer of 1888" that resulted in the birth of my grandmother in February
1889. She was reportedly "a foundling" on the streets of Boston, but my "hunch" is that was only one of many stories told to her as a young child which turned out not to be true.)
The Kerr's 1950
Data written and submitted by Betty, great-granddaughter of John Dexter, granddaughter of May "Mamie" (Dexter) Kerr
Go to to Photo Gallery of Tewksbury State Hospital
Go to Records Index of Tewksbury State Hospital