ALICE ELIZABETH MARSH was born September 17, 1903 in South Lee, Berkshire County, MA, daughter of CHARLES HENRY MARSH and LOTTIE MARY GOODHIND (RICHARD). For most of her life, she was a 'professional' clubwoman, giving much of her time to local social and charity work. In keeping with that social station, she was also an amateur genealogist, an acceptable pass time for a genteel young woman...fortunately for all of us!

Sometime early in the 1980's, I was asked by my aunt DOROTHY GOODHIND to type up a draft of the Goodhind family history written by Alice.

I was happy enough to do this for her. Several copies were distributed to family members. Except for one or two changes Alice sent along over the next few years, I didn't give the matter much more thought. (Boy, do I kick myself now! What I wouldn't give to spend an afternoon with this woman today!)

Following Alice Marsh Sperl’s death in 1996, Dorothy Goodhind was contacted by one of Alice’s lawyers in the process of settling her estate. Alice and her husband, Warren, had had no children and Alice herself was an only child. There was a fair amount of money that was to be distributed amongst several charities and, in cases where there are no surviving heirs, even distant family members have to be notified in the event that any of them wished to challenge her will. (No one did.) In any case, amongst Alice’s papers were many items dealing with her long-standing fascination and research into the Marsh family genealogy. The lawyer felt it was unreasonable simply to dispose of all this work without making an attempt to pass it along to a relative, however distant. Aunt Dorothy did not feel that she would be the appropriate person to keep this material (not being a Marsh) but she had no other suggestions herself; after all, Alice and Warren had no children. Once received (along with several old photographs of Alice and her parents), Aunt Dorothy kept the material in a drawer.

When I finally began looking into the Goodhind family’s background in 1998, my aunt showed the material to me. I realized that this was the work of Alice’s lifetime. I have hoped to put that work together but I've devoted these years so far to the Goodhinds.  We should not forget, however, that without Alice's interest in tracing her mother Lottie Goodhind’s line back to her grandfather’s immigration, and then forward as far as possible, we would now have a very difficult time sorting out who the Goodhinds were, where they came from and whence they went, a pretty sad situation for our whole family.

I myself only met Alice a few times when I was a child and those remembrances are vague. It would be impossible for me to tell anyone about her or to deduce very much about her life. But Alice, ever thinking, covered that eventuality, too. In amongst the genealogical material was the following document, dictated at least by Alice, and then partially edited for a final re-writing that never came about. It is dated December 11, 1990 while she was in a retirement community in Cromwell, CT. (Alice passed away in 1996.) I am including it here to give you some idea of the person who took those many years to track all of us Goodhinds down, as well as tracking her own father’s line. The story tells us about other Goodhinds, contemporary to her life, and makes for interesting, if somewhat brief, reading. I have included her edits (and a couple of notes from me) as a part of the finished document. I hope she would have approved.

"The William Henry Marsh Saga"

"REUBEN MARSH, born in Douglas, MA arrived in Lee, MA from Sturbridge, MA during the Revolution. He served from both places. His name is on a monument in the center of town. His pension application record can be obtained from the National Archives, NA S13875. His wife’s is W27449. Four children by his wife are recorded in the Lee Vital Records or published in the first [Marsh] "History" (there have been three). Our ancestor, Amasa, was the youngest, born 4-24-1800. I mention that because his death certificate says he was born in Sandisfield, [Massachusetts] and that of daughter Sarah Ophelea, also says he was. Aunt Carrie was wrong!

I wonder if he did live at Sandisfield, near the Connecticut border, at some time. I found a letter to my dad, Charles Henry Marsh, from the Lee Town Clerk. Apparently dad had inquired about the births of his father’s family. Only the last two were recorded. The Town Clerk added, "Your father was born after his folks returned from Connecticut, wasn’t he?" Seems to me, I heard my mother say so. At least dad always told me that I was the fourth generation born in Lee, MA.

So we will assume that HENRY WILLIAM MARSH was born in South Lee, MA on October 8, 1828, Amasa’s second child. He wrote a beautiful letter to his fiancée on October 28, 1850 as his mother lay dying. I sent the original to Marsha Winfield in Texas [a year ago], when she seemed all fired up with enthusiasm. I have wished I could get it and some pictures back from her. From the census of 1850, William Henry was living with his employer. I understand they made gunpowder.

On April 17, 1852, he married MARY ELIZABETH MELIUS at Chatham Four Corners, NY. (Dutch Reformed Minister). She was born in Hudson, NY on October 19, 1833. Her parents were living in East Lee with her brother at the time. Melius’ family genealogy says that they came from Germany in 1710. I understand our Melius family is Dutch. A Claus Melius landed in Claverack (Hudson) in 1694 from Great Scherenee[, MN]. Both grandparents were called by their middle names and often sang at funerals.

William Henry and Mary Elizabeth had one son, born October 15, 1870 and named Charles Henry. He graduated from Lee High School in 1890. He told how he had to board a freight train at 6:00 a.m. to get there! I think he went to work after graduation at the nearby mill. My maternal grandfather had become Superintendent. It was a paper mill and Dad and Cara [?] Marsh worked in the loft, where wet paper was brought up [on square tables for drying in large bays stretched around the area] and long wooden poles were stretched where men worked. It was picked from tables by wooden T’s and deftly put on poles. There was a real trick to the process of drying and regulating steam. I had a picture of her grandfather at work in his ticking apron. It went to Marsha’s.

In the fall of 1911, the mill was shut down for repairs and shortly after William Henry caught pneumonia and died.

Charles Henry Marsh, of S. Lee married Lottie Mary Goodhind on August 7, 1901. She was born September 25, 1870 in Dalton, MA and had come to S. Lee with her sister, Rose Woodruff, about 1890 from the Holyoke area, when their father became Superintendent of the South Lee Mill. Charles had worked with his father and had taken charge when his father died on December 1, 1911. Rose was important in my life.

Henry and Lottie planned to be married in the New Episcopal Chapel, but Grandmother Marsh’s death on July 10, 1901, caused them to be married on August 7, 1901. They continued to live with William Henry. My mother had worked in the paper mill sorting and inspecting for flaws.

I [Alice Marsh Sperl] was born September 17, 1903 and was an only child, and attended a three room school which was less than a ten minute walk and had excellent teachers.

Both of my grandfathers died within a week. Grandfather Goodhind died at home suddenly. In 1912, we moved into his home, ten rooms plus a 6 room apartment to rent, with outbuildings and acreage. All was fine until the war. At that time Mom had a serious operation and Dad had an industrial accident.

An unguarded hole had been cut behind the elevator and as he stepped to push off a table of wet paper, he fell to the floor below. If he had been tall, he might have been killed but he cracked his ankle [so] he limped the rest of his life.

After the war business became bad and the mill closed. Dad finally found a job as an assistant to a gardener on an estate in Stockbridge, MA at $10.00 a week. Later he worked at the Lenox Railroad Station afternoons and evenings. He couldn’t get home at closing time. He slept on a bench until a down [dawn?] train came in the morning. Tough going! Finally in 1920 he found work in the Byron Weston Paper Company in Dalton, working as he had in Lee. He boarded during the week until a house was found for us by the company. They paid the rent without saying that it was subsidized. The "roof fell in" when a company house became vacant and we had to move. It couldn’t be heated by stoves and was unsatisfactory all around. Later when Dad was ill they charged no rent. My parents kept the So. Lee house, thinking it would be cheaper there if Dad could not work.

In 1929 we visited in Michigan for a month. Poor Lulu was the victim. We spent a few days at Ed’s, Beulah’s and Lottie’s. I remember meals at Lillie’s and Claire’s. Ira took us visiting and on sight seeing trips and we attended the Marsh Reunion.

In the fall of 1929, I became engaged. My mother had never been rugged but Dad’s only problem was some high blood pressure and at that time, little was done for it. Aunt Rose lived with them and worked in the mill. They could not have managed without her help. Mom suffered with arthritis, bone trouble and finally breast cancer in 1931 and 1932, which was operated on too late. Dad continued to work in the mill but had several slight strokes, one of which blinded him for several weeks, but he recovered and the company found him a different job. By 1944, Mom was bedridden and she asked to go to the hospital. He took her bed downstairs. On March 31, 1944 Aunt Rose found him in a heap beside the bed. He died April 4, a few doors from Mom. He was buried in Lee beside his parents. The hospital did nothing for Mom except insist that she try to walk! I finally asked my sister-in-law, a D.O. to enter her in Massachusetts Osteopathic Hospital, Boston. Diagnosis: sacroiliac cancer.

My aunts, my husband and I dismantled the home. Aunt Rose and I made adjustments in our Hyannis home. Mom was brought by ambulance from Boston three days before the horrible 1944 hurricane. We had no electricity for eight days as the wires had been torn from the house. At first we cared for her. Then I hired one nurse, then two. She died a horrible death exactly 51 weeks after Dad died, on March 28, 1945.

Now to my story. I spent four years at Bridgewater Normal School, graduating in 1926 with a degree of B.S. in Education. I had majored in French and minored in English. I had the opportunity to teach freshman and sophomore English at Arms Academy, Shelburne Falls, MA on the Mohawk Trail. It was easy to get home from there many weekends.

I had met WARREN SPERL on a blind date at the Copley Plaza Hotel, Boston in February, 1926. He had graduated from Northeastern University in 1922 and had worked since for the Roger Babsen organization, and Roger had sent him part time to the Institute. However, he had terminated the night before, and was due on Cape Cod to work for the infant Electric Company on Monday! He was there in finance for 39 years. He was also a veteran of WWI having enlisted at 18.

We had a wonderful life together. Though I was a clubwoman by day, we had a quiet home life. I was president of the Hyannis Women’s Club, organized and was regent of the DAR chapter for four years and treasurer and bookkeeper of several charitable organizations.

We enjoyed travel and made the most of it. We roamed the entire U.S. and even remote parts of Canada and we spent one whole summer in Europe.

Warren purchased a 35 mm camera in the 40’s. He took beautiful slides which we put together in 200s to tell a story, The idea was to entertain our friends but soon we found ourselves entertaining clubs and church groups - even hotels. I estimated that I gave the Veteran’s Hospital in Boston 7000 slides all labeled, in order, in cabinets. They told me that they were a professional work.

In 1969 it was apparent that something was wrong with Warren. He had what is now, not then, known as Alzheimer’s Disease. Throughout it all he was his wonderful self, no disagreeable scenes or frightening experiences that some have, and, I think he was quite happy. I kept him home except for the last 54 weeks. He died at Brewster Manor, Brewster, MA on January 24, 1980 and is buried in my Grandfather Goodhind’s plot in Lee, MA. Such a wonderful, kind and considerate person deserved a better fate!

Because I was so alone, I decided to go to a retirement community. Churches on the Cape had tried, but had not succeeded in starting one. Now there is one in West Yarmouth. I don’t like it here for many reasons, but I am, at least, safe."

Alice Marsh Sperl
Covenant Village
Cromwell, CT 06416
December 11, 1990
[Alice passed away on September 8, 1996 in Middletown, CT. She is buried aside her husband, Warren, in the Richard Goodhind family plot in Fairmount Cemetery, Lee, MA - TSG]

As an introduction to her family history/genealogy, Alice explained where some of her information originated:
"For years I have had scraps of family lore given me by my mother and Aunt Rose. When they died, I fell heir to their printed birth, marriage and death books, incomplete of course. Aunt Rose had also kept a scrapbook in later years, as well as loose items such as announcements and Christmas cards with family news.

A very valuable source came in the form of my mother's brain child: a message from every family of every branch for Aunt Eliza's 88th birthday [in 1927] (she was the last of the pioneers, widow of HENRY). Each family was asked to give address, branch, and date and place of birth of every member of the family. All answered but some did not fully comply. The letters were returned to my mother. Aunt Alice copied them before sending them on.

Hazel, widow of Alfred (descended from JOHN) furnished some figures in the late 60's and passed the word to Arthur's family. No reply. In 1982, I asked Sandra McCarthy (descended from RICHARD) for Canadian death dates. Dorothy Goodhind (descended from RICHARD) sent names of spouses in her family. The grand prize goes to Ruth Trask and her daughter (descended from HENRY) who provided their complete line to the spring of 1989. I have made no attempt to do any other update.

I follow no consistent pattern...the amount of the material determines the format!
I hope that half a loaf is better than none!"

Alice Marsh Sperl (RICHARD)
Covenant Village 3203
Cromwell, CT 06416
October 30, 1989

Editing note:   I have made some changes in the material put together by Alice for this website.   Some dates she provided were incorrect and have been adjusted according to records subsequently found.  In Alice's writing, she often inserted personal observations or family stories.  I wanted to maintain her work as close to the original as possible but I feel strongly that her first-hand comments warrant special attention. Therefore, I have separated these out where possible and marked them in italics " - AMS" for Alice Marsh Sperl.  Where the comments are my own, I have used the same convention with the ending notation " - TSG."  You can find out about other editing changes by selecting "Notes to the Reader" from the sidebar. - Tim Goodhind

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