The Early Eaton family

By Barbara F. Dyer | Mar 08, 2018
The Eaton House

Camden — Joseph Eaton Sr. was born in Bristol, Maine in 1743, and was one of Camden's first settlers. He received quite a parcel of land and his home was on the property at the end of what is now Sea Street. It was located where Morse-Wayfarer Shipyard is today, on the easterly side of Camden's inner harbor. The land was part of the Twenty Associates, as early as 1794. Later, during the War of 1812, a fort was built there for the protection of Camden from the British, but never had to be used. At that time they built another fort above where the present Camden Yacht Club is, for the same reason.

In Bristol, Maine, Joseph married Jane McGlathery on Nov. 7, 1768. She was the daughter of Captain William McGlathery, the first documented shipbuilder in Camden. He also sold land for General Knox and was somewhat of a “wheeler-dealer.” That may have been how Joseph acquired some of the first land that was sold. Jane was also born in Bristol, in 1746.

Joseph Sr. was Camden's first postmaster in 1794, and the post office was in his home on Eaton Point. When within a half mile of the office, the postmaster used to give the patrons warning of his approach by sounding a post horn. Joseph Sr. was also the first customs officer of this town and was said to be of excellent character and ability. After Camden was incorporated in 1771, at the town meeting he was named treasurer, highway surveyor, and hogreeve. He was a founder of the meeting house that was required by Massachusetts when Camden became incorporated. He was considered a charter member of the First Congregational Church in Camden.

Jane and Joseph Sr. had two sons, Joseph Jr. and William, and at least three daughters, Jane, who married Benjamin Cushing (Camden's first businessman,) Mary, who married Bela Jacobs and Nancy, who married Asa Hosmer.

The two sons had purchased from him a large tract of land adjoining the “Twenty Associates” line. Joseph Sr. died July 30, 1828, at the age of 85 years. Jane died Aug. 13, 1834, and both are buried at Mountain View Cemetery.

William Eaton, the son of Joseph Sr., was born in Bristol on Feb. 7, 1775, and married Lucy White on Nov. 15,1797 at North Haven. She was the daughter of Major George White of the Massachusetts militia and a captain in the Continental Army. He also served as quartermaster during the War of 1812. His first wife Lucy Thorne was the mother of Lucy, as that family had settled then on North Haven.

William owned the Eaton Farm and built a family residence on the corner of what are now Sea and High Streets . It was later owned by his grandson, William. At least three generations of Eatons had lived on the Eaton Farm. For many years in the 1930s and years after, it was owned by the Boardman family, who summered there and wintered in Vero Beach, Florida. In addition to being a farmer, William owned a saw and grist mill business in town and entertained the traveling public in his house. He was very popular and known as “Uncle Billy.” It seems they had ten children, although only two lived to an old age.

They were: Mary, who married Joseph Stetson, a well-known boat builder in town; George White Eaton, who died aboard "The William” while at sea off the Carolina's. along with brother Edward Eaton; Captain William Eaton Jr. lost at sea with brother Horatio; Joseph Huse Eaton; Edward B. Eaton who lived only three months; Benjamin Franklin Eaton who died at 25 years of age and Lucy Jane Eaton.

William, their father, died in 1844, and his wife Lucy died on April 30, 1867 at the age of 93 years. Both are buried at Camden's Mountain View Cemetery.

William's brother, Joseph Eaton Jr. was also born in Bristol, Maine in 1773, and was the elder son of Joseph and Jane (McGlathery) Eaton. He became a sea captain and married Deborah Waterman in 1802. They had one son, Captain Nathaniel Eaton, and daughters: Louisa (married Charles Pendleton), Elizabeth (married Dr. Simonton), Deborah (married Mr. Burill, but moved away), Julie Ann who lived only three days, and Anne Marie, who lived only three years.

Joseph Eaton Jr. built a home on what is now High Street, known as the Eldrige-Knight place. He died on Feb. 6, 1846.

Joseph Huse Eaton was the son of William and Lucy White Eaton, who named him for a local doctor, Dr. Joseph Huse. He was born on March 13, 1807 in Camden and married Harriet Hosmer in 1836, daughter of Nathaniel Hosmer and Nancy Fay. They had five children: Harriet Eugenia, William Eaton, Ann Marie and Emily Augusta. Joseph Huse Eaton first became a sea captain, but in about 1850 became a farmer. He made quite a bit of money. He died on March 26, 1890 and his wife died in 1892.

In Camden, you can tell the Eatons owned a very large tract of land. The Eaton Farm went from the corner of Sea and High Streets all the way down Sea Street to Eaton Point (now shipyard property). The street above running parallel to Sea Street is Eaton Avenue, that goes to the ocean. The next street from High Street to the water is Harbor Road. Halfway down on the right, in the 1930s was a large empty Eaton Field. There are houses there today. On High Street, now on the Register of Historic Places, some of the houses on land sold by them are 30 Eldridge-Knight place, 44, built by Alden Bass, and adjacent lots including the brick cape, 43. Many of the houses were built for prominent residents, who were related by marriage or friendship to the Eatons.

The early Eaton families did have a big impact on our town of Camden, and we do know that nineteen of that family are buried at Mountain View Cemetery.


Barbara F. Dyer has lived all her life, so far, in Camden and is the official town historian.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Mar 08, 2018 15:31

Thanks Barbara! I love history and especially the Camden - Hope area.

Sunshine here in AZ and 72 degrees feels good to me and not all the snow and such I see here on line. I will gladly stay put.

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