Countryside “Inaka” circa 1750

40 Lovers Lane
Manassah Sawyer, Jr. House
Known as “Counrtyside”

Manassah Sawyer, Sr. was born in Harvard, MA. in 1768. Son of Manassah Sawyer (1729-1808) and Lydia Fairbanks Sawyer (1731-1805). He is described as “naturally studious, given to reading, and took a lively interest in public questions. He was one of the ten founders of the Harvard Social Library in 1808”. His farm was on Bare Hill at 86 Massachusetts Ave, some fifty acres, and he owned various other lots. He was prosperous and for his time had a large property. Of large physique, quiet and self possessed in manner, he commanded the respect of all his townsmen. He was a member of the Harvard Church. He was married on April 22, 1789 to Mercy Mead in Bolton, Ma. Mercy Mead was born at Harvard on February 15, 1769 and died 1849. She was the daughter of Samuel and Hannah (Willard) Mead. Manassah Sr. had 3 siblings, Rhoda Sawyer Priest (1764-1848), Manassah Sawyer (1768-1856), Luther Sawyer (1802-1884). In 1790 he bought of Cyrus Fairbank the 52 acre farm at 86 Massachusetts Ave. Manassah Sr. died at Harvard on May 28th 1856 at the age of 87.

Manassah Sr. and Mercy Mead had 6 children, the last 5 children were born at 86 Massachusetts Avenue Harvard, MA. Upon the uncovering of this history an article on naming practices of early Colonial times  helped to shed some light on the repetitive occurrence of Menassah and Mercy.

  1. Johnathan born 26-July-1789 married Adeline Hildreth ~ owned land at 40 Lovers Lane
  2. Manassah, Jr. born 28-July-1791 died 05-Oct-1826 ~ owned land at 40 Lovers Lane
  3. Rebecca born 14-Nov-1793 died 16-Sept-1798
  4. Nathaniel born 10-Dec-1795 died 24-March-1818
  5. Mercy Sawyer (Frost) born 26-Dec-1798 died 14-Sept-1876 married Thomas Sprague Frost 19-Oct-1822 ~ lived at 40 Lovers lane
    (Ann M. Frost daughter of Mercy and Thomas died 13-Sept-1908).
  6. Josiah born 09-Dec-1802, married (1) 1827 Agatha Garner, born about 1802. She died a year after marriage. Josiah married (2) May 1829, Mary D. Sanger, born about 1805. Josiah died 2-March-1884.

Family burial: Harvard Center Cemetery. 

In 1821 Manassah Sawyer, Jr. bought 5 parcels of land on Lovers Lane. There is no mention of any buildings on the land on record until 1826 but there are several references that this house is older than the deeds indicate. There is a reference to a cellar hole in early deeds and there is thought that Manassah Sawyer Jr. may have built his house on this old hole foundation which is said to have a rock in the cellar with a date of 1750 on it.

In 1826 Manassah Jr. died without a will.

In 1828 Manassah Sawyer Sr. deeded the property to his son Jonathan Sawyer.

Jonathan Sawyer and Nathaniel Stacy bought the Jonathan Wetherbee mills in 1829. In 1831 they built a large mill which they used to make paper and lead pencils. The business had to be sold to creditors in 1839 and Jonathan Sawyer lost some of his property on Lovers Lane and Under Pin Hill.

In 1844, Manassah Sr. deeded his daughter, Mercy ‘Sawyer’ Frost, wife of Thomas Frost, 1/3 acre of land with the buildings. The remaining 10 1/2 acres and the lot across the street came to her upon his death in 1856. 

From the 1866 Inventory of the town we know there were 2 houses on the property. 

Mercy Frost
Dwelling house, barn, house, 2 acre house lot, 8 1/2 acre Sawyer land, Snake Hill woodland 4 acres, Sawyer spout and wood land 4 acres.

In 1882
Maria A. Frost 
1 cow 1 heifer
Dwelling house, barn, dwelling house, 10 1/2 home farm.

From Men and Women of Harvard by Savage

Thomas Frost lived in the house now owned by Oren Fairbank on Lover’s Lane. (40 Lovers Lane). He tended his little farm well and for many years was sexton at the old Unitarian Church that burned down. Maria, the daughter of Mr. Frost, always lived at home and when a young girl learned the tailoress business, as that was the custom in those days to buy the cloth and have someone make your suit of clothes. For many years she sang in the choir and was always interested in church work. For several years she boarded the school teacher at the center. 

After the death of Ann Frost the estate was sold to Gordon McCleery. He sold 10 acres to Arthur West. Mr. West sold the house and 1.1 acres to Dorethea Fairbank.

Arthur West kept the remaining land. He built a house at 38 Lovers Lane. This parcel had the second house on it which he moved to 36 Lovers Lane. 

From the Historical Society:

36 Lovers Lane  Moved from the site on which the house of Lillian West now stands (38 Lovers Lane), by Arthur T. West, who greatly enlarged it with wood from Shaker Village. The house was built by Arthur West and there is a large Antique barn on the property. 40 Lovers Lane (Cottage) was remodeled from the barn-garage structure into a studio apartment with bath, kitchen and dressing room. 

The Entire property is knows as “Countryside”.

* Historical Content and following two photos courtesy of  The Harvard Historical Society.



This dirt road in front of 40 Lovers Lane still leads up to the town Center.