The Amesbury public library has a copy of the book, for anyone interested in reading, not only about the descendants of a famous Amesbury family which settled here over 300 years ago, but the many things which happened during this period, in which they took part. The book starts with Steven Flanders as the first generation Flanders here in America and carries the genealogy down to the present (10th) generation of Flanders people, several of which are Amesburyites.
Century old houses, heritage of America, have interesting back grounds because they were a part of those who formed our great country, the United States of America. In Amesbury we have several such houses, some of which are showplaces while others are still being used as homes. However, those being lived in today have had changes made. Many have kept some of the original characteristics, so one still feels the atmosphere of centuries ago. One such house is the old salt box.” three houses below the famous Rocky Hill meeting house, on Elm street. It is now the property of George Pike. It was built by Steven Flanders a-round 1650.
Steven, the Ancestor
It is known that there are representatives of the Flanders family in this area. The descendants included Willard L. Flanders, 114 Elm street, who has delved into family records and learned about Steven; were descended from Steven and his other successors. Edith (Flanders) Dunbar, in a family history, writes: “The records show that Steven Flanders’ name first appears on the tax list in Salisbury (now Amesbury) in 1650, when he was made Townsman. “A Townsman was obliged to own land in his town, and we learn from the records that Steven was given an acre and a half for a house lot when the above office was conferred upon him. “He was rated for three shillings, nine pence, and there were but few on the list of 61 who received a lower rating. It is evident that he possessed no rateable property aside from the acre and a half which had been given him. In view of the fact that only persons of wealth were desired in the town, we may wonder why he was made a Townsman and received a gift of land.
“The only explanation is, I believe, that given me by one who is an authority on the history and customs of the early settlements. He was considered, for reasons which we are at liberty to supply, a man of worth and value to the community; therefore the inducements of land and town offices were given him, in order that he might become a permanent resident. “Steven Flanders was m a d e Townsman on condition that ‘he constantly keep the town herd of cows’. ‘Many of us today ‘are ignorant of the nature of the office of Townsman. While the ‘selectman’ of today is a lineal descendant of the ‘Townsman’; the powers and duties of the latter were broader.”
It is believed Steven Flanders came to this country during the 1630s or early 40s. There is no accurate record of when lie arrived here. But it is known he was shipwrecked somewhere along the East Coast between Maine and Massachusetts. Because of the shipwreck, he lost his papers; therefore no accurate date of where and when he landed in this country is known. The first mention of Steven is 1646 in York, Me., where he was married, and where his first son, also named Steven, was born. He came to Amesbury about 1650 and became a “planter,” what is today known as a farmer.
He settled on the acre and a half of land, and built the house that now stands on Elm street. He hewed his own logs and made his home. A large chimney, since removed, served the downstairs. Seven children were born to the couple three sons to carry on the name of Flanders. The sons were named Steven, Philip and John.
Today there are Amesbury descendants of each of the sons. They are ninth generation Flanders. Willard Flanders is a descendant of John; Carl L. Flanders, a Spanish war veteran, is a descendant of Philip; and Benjamin and Paul Flanders are descendants of Steven. Steven became a planter like his father. Philip and John were Indian scouts and later became joint executors of their father’s estate. They received a major portion of it.
John. Flanders was a corporal and took part In King Philip’s war. The homestead was built In what was then Salisbury and later became a part of Amesbury. Steven Flanders died in 1684. During his lifetime he acquired a vast amount of property. This he left in his will to members of the family. The homestead remained in the family until recent years.
Thomas Flanders was the last to own the house - from 1852 until recent years. Many of the Flanders’ descendants migrated throughout tile New England states and then in other parts of the country. Some of them founded towns.
Enoch was “Squaboo”
Enoch C. Flanders, was the famous town crier in Newburyport, and had the distinction at that time to be the only one in the United States. It is known that the Flanders people were exiled from Northern France, now Belgium, in the 1400s, in the Province of Flanders during the French Revolution. During World War 1, the name Flanders’ Field became well known. They fled from the castle of counts of Flanders, at Ghent in Belgium.
Has Coat of Arms
Willard Flanders, today has a painting of the coat of arms of the Flanders family, which he executed himself. On the coat of arms is the name DeFlandres. There are two lions one on either side of the shield with three stars and one lion in the center of the shield. The shield is topped by a helmet and crown, with a spread eagle on top of it. The shield is surrounded by scroll.
The meaning of the coat of arms is interesting. The shield -- the black chevron, accompanied ‘by three black stars -- was the arms or the count of Thierry. The escutcheon is the arms of the counts of Flanders; the superposition of the escutcheon bearing the arms of the count of Flanders, denotes a alliance between the count of Flanders and the Thierry family. The helmet is of steel, barred with gold, inclining to a profile. This denotes the helmet of nobility. The full faced helmet of gold was used only for kings and princes of the blood royal. The Coronet, is a ducal coronet, or crest coronet, chased and jeweled, and, in the representment, showing three strawberry leaves and supporting the crest. The crest is an eagle with wings spread. The supporters are two lions, rampant. “Rampant” signifies that only one eye, and one ear can be seen, with the head in profile, and that the beast stands upright.
The origin of the supporters is ascribed to the practice at the tournaments. Only those of noble descent or warlike renown were permitted to participate in these chivalrous pastimes. Each contestant to prove his title to these qualifications, exhibited his armorial shield upon the barriers and pavilions within the lists. Pages and esquires attended to watch their masters’ escutcheons, and it is stated that the armor bearers, who were thus employed, enveloped themselves in the skills of lions or bears, and that this gave rise to the custom of using supporters.
Native of Warner
Willard Flanders, born 1897 in Warner, N.H., is married to the former Ruth Sheafe They have one son Everett, who was born here, and two granddaughters. Willard L. Flanders is; a well known Amesbury resident. He greets many Amesburyites and neighbors as clerk in the W. E. Fuller clothing store on Main street. His interests and hobbies are diversified. A music lover, he has played in area bands and is soloist at St. Paul’s Episcopal church, Newburyport. He sang in the old Amesbury Choral society and has headed the ‘Port group, as president. He formerly sang in the choir of the Main Street Congregational church in this town. During one period he was bookIng agent for an entertainment bureau, and traveled widely.
He is an authority on covered bridges and has painted many of them, for he works with oils and watercolors ~ and with a camera, too. He has had success in all fields. Willard Flanders painted a picture of the old Flanders house, which accompanies this story.