Merrimack New Hampshire’s Notorious Inn & Owner: Deancroft and Robert W. Dean

Photograph of the “notorious” Deancroft Boarding House on the Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack NH. Date unknown. Since torn down. Colorized by the blog editor.

Deancroft, Merrimack New Hampshire’s reported “most notorious” place is one I’ve been wanting to write about for years. As you read this story, and notice its complexity, you will understand why it took some time to research, so bear with me.

The building is long gone, so don’t look for it. The story of Deancroft is almost as convoluted as the chronicle of the man, Robert W. Dean, who gave the place its temporary name.  Only a very few Merrimack NH residents remember this place.  I doubt that anyone (before this) knew about the scandalous past of Merrimack’s Robert W. Dean.

—Before It Was Deancroft—
Credits to Anita Creager whose research provided some geographical details on what existed in this location earlier than Deancroft–in the area of 105 Daniel Webster Highway, near but on the opposite side of the road from Manchester Street.

This estate was originally a larger piece of land, and some of this was in various parcels , which were combined and broken up again.  Originally on this site was a home was built by William and Hannah Ayers after 1790. and later rebuilt according to John Bowers’ diary in 1850 [John Bowers diary can be found at the Merrimack Historical Society]. This refers to William & Hannah (Foster) Eayrs. They are also shown on the 1787 Tax List of District 4, Merrimack, Hillsborough Co., NH, and were the parents of Hannah (Eayrs) Barron, Poetess.

This same land became the site of the old Lund Tavern before 1793 that was run by Lieut. Charity Lund who was also a one-time selectman of the town, before being bought by Jesse Woodward.  The 1892 map shows Edward Wentworth there (who was the youngest son of Jacob Warren & Louisa (Yaulding) Wentworth of Alstead NH). Edward Wentworth died 10 March 1911 in Merrimack NH.

Photograph of Robert W. Dean, manager of Deancroft in Merrimack NH. Boston newspaper, colorized by the blog editor.

–Robert W. Dean and “Deancroft”—
It was now that this property with buildings called the “old Wentworth place” was purchased by Robert Dean along with some business partners. The first news article concerning it was published in a 1917 newspaper.

By 1921 he had renamed the estate Deancroft, and it would soon be called “the most notorious house between Boston and Concord” (reportedly given this moniker in a newspaper article of 1929).  The personal story of Robert W. Dean himself, disgraced and charged as a polygamist, reputed wife beater and con-man, continues later in this story.

About 1920 Robert W. Dean began submitting promotional stories to local newspapers.  He had previously built up a reputation as a “hotel and restaurant industry” writer and expert.   Publishers welcomed his extravagant stories.  But after reviewing many newspaper articles of Deancroft ‘improvements’ over the next several years, it is obvious that few if any of the goals to build and upgrade Deancroft were actually realized. Robert W. Dean was quite skilled at including notable people and companies in his details to increase his credibility and recognition.

The following article perfectly sums up the gist of future Robert Dean stories–small details such as the architect and partners involved changing each time a new story was published. The New York Hotel Record, Volumes 19-20; Hotel Record Company, 1920; page 15 stated: “Mr. Dean says: “An atmosphere of refinement will be cultivated by strict attention to those little niceties that go to make up a complete whole and which are most pleasing to the ‘dining out’ public who patronize high class entertainment restaurants.” He says: “Maintain a proper environment and give the public the ‘real goods’ at a fair price and they will fill your chairs and your standing room also; witness Lorbor’s on Broadway, opposite the Metropolitan Opera: the patrons not only stand inside while waiting for tables, but also stand on the sidewalk waiting for an opportunity to get inside the door and pay $2 for a chair. Adolph Lorbor was a poor, little East Side Jew 15 years ago, but he had a ‘plunger’ idea of doing things. Last year he refused $125,000 cash for his restaurant and lease. Quality of food and entertainment, gilt edge service, attention to details, refinement and unfailing courtesy, are some of the leaves we will take out of Mr. Lorbor’s book. Our experience and training of over 20 years in the leading hotels and clubs of Boston and New York will carry us through the rest of it, we confidently believe, while conducting our place on a large and generous scale.” “Deancroft” will have no rival in New England. There will be no similar place or nothing to equal it in fact, outside of New York, with the single exception possibly of the Pickwick Inn at Greenwich, Conn., near the New York State line. Deancroft has an ideal location and is situated on the the greatest automobile artery in the country–bar none. It has 75 acres of splendid farm land with 180 rods frontage on the Webster Highway and lies three miles north of the city of Nashua on the main highway to Manchester and Concord. Many hundreds of automobiles pass there daily from all over the country, while scores of cars run over this route every hour form the nearby cities of Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, Worcester, Fitchburg and Nashua, passing Deancroft of the way to Manchester, Concord, Laconia and the big lakes of central New Hampshire.  Contracts for advertising Deancroft Inn and Gardens will be made with newspapers in the above cities. Bill-boards from Boston to Nashua and from Worcester to Nashua, also from Concord, N.H. will be contracted for. Those who Mr. Dean has invited into the company with him are K.M. Berger, owner of the Hotel Normandie, New York City, and Philip Scaman.”

A year later a second article was published. New York Hotel Record, Vol 19, No. 13, New York, April 5, 1921 with the headline: Work on Deancroft Inn Will Start Soon. “Plans for a big, high-class, open-air, dining place, with refined vaudeville, alternating with dancing are to be realized after a delay of three years, due to the exorbitant prices of material and labor. These now having come down slightly, the owners of the “Old Wentworth Place,” now known as Deancroft,” three miles north of Nashua, on the Webster highway to Manchester, have decided to go ahead, arrange the layout, and get construction started as soon as possible, and open the “Inn” to the public early in June. The blue-prints and drawings are made and practically all arrangements have been completed. Three water color paintings of “Deancroft,” as it will appear when renovations are completed, are on exhibition in the window of the Main Street store. They are the pencil and brush work of Ira Charin, a well known New York architect and artist. They are very clever and excite unusual interest, as they show an ideal country dining place. The interior view of the main dining piazza, which will be on the side looking over the Merrimack river and down the valley, if very beautiful. This represents a Roman garden and will be enclosed in glass in the fall and steam heated on cool evenings. It will have a stage at one end with a dancing floor for patrons directly in front of it, 20 x 30 feet. The entire length of this main dining piazza will be 90 feet while the width will be 40 feet. It will be arranged to seat over 300.  Robert Dean, the promoter, who has a splendid reputation in New York hotel circles, as a caterer and organizer and who will operate “Deancroft,” has arrange for nearly all his entertainers, having interviewed quite a number of the stellar lights who have been shining the past season in the leading New York hotels and restaurants, and whose photos are exhibited with the water color paintings as well as a large photo of the kitchen and dining room crew, who have also been engaged. Judging from the variety of the talented entertainer’s listed, it appears that the “Deancroft” show excel in this departure. A woman’s orchestra of six pieces will furnish melodious music on stringed instruments. These will consist of piano, harp, base viol, cello and two violins. No jazz music or dancers that are tabooed will be tolerated.”

By July of 1922, work had not been completed.  A newspaper article stated: “The big 12 foot kitchen range which was installed in the Tremont House a few years before it closed its doors, and a large steam table for keeping cooked foods hot, have been purchased by the Deancroft Inn company, and were moved Saturday up to the Deancroft on the Daniel Webster Highway, where they are stored until the inn is ready to open, which the strikes have held back. One of the company stated that the range is in good condition and was one of the very best built for heavy hotel work. It has three ovens, three fires, and a double top section for keeping large numbers of dishes hot. Frank E. Gobb, the contractor and builder is making estimates and drawings for the Deancroft. It will be ready and laid out before the company for their approval by Wednesday. According to report Marcus M. Hall, the hotel promoted of 6 Beacon Street Boston was the man who rounded up the group of men of very large means who have agreed to finance the entire plans of Robert Dean who will be president of the company.”

—–Deancroft’s Notorious Reputation–Schemes and Raids—–
It appears that Robert Dean continued to own the property until 1935 but not before the place gained a bad reputation. On 27 June of 1926, Robert W. Dean and his wife contacted the police, stating that Charles Ponzi (then wanted by both Massachusetts and the Federal Government, had stopped at the Deancroft Inn.

Photograph of Charles Ponzi, Bain News Service c1915-20 from negative glass plate. George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress.

The story in the Boston Herald continues as follows…REPORT FROM MERRIMACK. Word came from Merrimack, N.H., that Ponzi and his wife were at the Deancroft Inn, there over the holiday of May 30 last. That came as a surprise to the authorities because it was generally believed that Ponzi had not left the south. Robert Dean, proprietor of that inn, was emphatic in his assertions that Mr. and Mrs. Ponzi were his guests over this period. He said he and hiw wife were personally acquainted with them and that they could not be mistaken. Mr. Dean said that when the Ponzies left his inn they were headed for Canada. They were in a smart motor car having a Connecticut registration and, on leaving Ponzi bade Mr. and Mrs. Dean “good-bye and good luck” Concerning Ponzi, Dean said that there “was something about his manner that was pathetic. Keen disappointment was to be seen in his bearing, reminding me of a man who meant the very best toward his fellow-men and who had been thwarted in his plans to render them service.” So insistent were the Deans that the Ponzis were at their inn over that period that Inspector Mitchell took steps to look into the matter. He obtained a number of pictures of different persons, including one of Ponzi. Going to Merrimack and calling on Dean, he chatted for a while concerning Ponzi and then spreading the several pictures out in front of him asked him to pick out Ponzi’s picture. Dean did so. That fact caused much consternation because it apparently gave the authorities a setback on their theories. They thought he was in the South, while, from Dean’s remarks, Ponzi was probably in Canada, or, having gone there had left for Europe. Ponzi was convicted and served sentence in Montreal and there was an understanding that his presence in Canada was not desirable so his sojourn there would not have been long.”

1933 newspaper headline

Deancroft’s ‘bad reputation must have lingered among law enforcement, for just a few years later, the Inn was raided.  The Nashua Telegraph newspaper of October 23, 1933 reported: ARMED POSSE SURROUNDS HOUSE IN MERRIMACK. Cambridge, Mass. police, assisted by a squad of Nashua officers, headed by Chief Irving F. Goodwin and several Merrimack officers headed by Chief Frank R. Flanders visited the old Deancroft Inn on the Daniel Webster Highway in Merrimack Sunday afternoon following a tip that Charles Hoffman or some of his gang, wanted in connection with the killing of Adolph Sommers, aged chemist, in a payroll robbery, were hiding at the place.
The officers surrounded the place, cut off all avenues of escape and armed with riot guns, shot guns, tear gas bombs, and revolvers, advanced on the big rumbling structure. Officers failed to find Hoffman or any of his gang or an indications that they had been at the place and returned to Nashua empty handed. It is understood that the District Attorney received a tip that some of the Hoffman mob were at the Merrimack farm so Capt. John J. Canney and Sergeant Edward P. Maher were sent to Nashua to secure assistance in raiding the place.The detail of officers left the Nashua police station shortly after 3 o’clock and from appearances the men were after big game as all were heavily armed. In the squad in addition to the Cambridge officers were Chief Goodwin, Chief Inspect Ralph A. Stearns, Inspector Fabian Mayo, Officers Raymond Cross and Charles Delorey while from Merrimack there was Chief Frank R. Flanders, Officers Leon Center and William S. Abbott. This heavily armed detail maintained a watch outside the big structure while another group conducted a thorough search through the house and barn. According to police there were only two couples at the place and they were not questioned.  Clue from Lowell. The believe that Hoffman might be in hiding in Merrimack was strengthened by a report from Lowell police that a man answering Hoffman’s description had been given a ride by a motorist. The man according to the report from Lowell, was wearing smoked glasses and was heading northward. The Lowell business man said when they reached a side road the man asked to be let out and shortly afterward he saw him get in another car that was waiting near the road.”

[Editor’s note on the Adolph Sommer murder: The murder of Adolph Sommers happened on 20 Oct 1933. Two reported criminals were arrested. Charles Hoffman had been arrested and detained, but he jumped bail. In 1944 the Boston Globe notes that this was an unsolved murder. Dr. Adolph Sommers at that time was an 82 year old German-born professor and inventor. A former professor at the University of California, Dr. Sommers invented the art-gum eraser and a product called Viscol, used for waterproofing. He equipped a plant on 1st Street Cambridge for the manufacture of the product and was shot dead, near the plant while returning from a bank with a $1,033 payroll. His will was contested by his wife, Emma Roxanna Sommers, his attorney David P. Israel and a niece and nephew of Hamberg, Germany, Hugo Stolzenberg and Felicitas Felton. The case of  Mrs. Sommers vs. Atty. Israel went to the Supreme Court where he lost his case. In the murder case, one man went to trial, charged with murder, but he was acquitted.]

—–After “Deancroft” Called “The Ranch”—–

In November of 1935, the newspaper reported a Mortgagee’s Sale by Robert Dean of Nashua to Frank and Anna G. Hamlin.  Frank Hamlin was born in Nashua 13 Sep 1899 a son of Frank and Anna G. (Fitts) Hamlin. He was educated in local schools, served in US Navy. He appears to have served at least briefly in the military during WWI. During WWII he served in the Merchant Marine Service. A professional boxer for several years (in the 1920s) he fought throughout New England. Made his home in Titon for the last 15 years before his death in April of 1967.  He was survived by a sister Marion G. Lecius of Nashua, NH.

The hotel’s reputation did not appear to get better during this ownership. (Editor’s note: My special thanks to Rick Price who shared this newspaper clipping with me).  On 15 November 1932, Special in The Leader newspaper Manchester NH.  HEADLINE: SIX TAKEN IN RAID AT MERRIMACK DENY GUILT. NASHUA, “Nov 15–Charges varying from keeping a disorderly house to drunkenness were lodged today in the local municipal court against half a dozen young men and women arrested last night in the sweeping raid on the Deancroft inn, better known as “The Ranch” in Merrimack on the Daniel Webster Highway. Nashua Merrimack country, state and federal officers participated in the roundup, which followed the complaint of a Lowell, Mass. couple that they had been robbed while at the inn. This morning Louis Hamlin, 32, said to be a proprietor of the inn, was charged with keeping liquor for sale and keeping a disorderly house. When he pleaded not guilty the case was continued to Wednesday and he was ordered to furnish $300 bail. Others charged included Paul Diggins 34, 110-1/2 Walnut Street, Nashua, who pleaded not guilty to drunkenness; Margaret Bennett and Rita Angela, South Main Street, Concord who pleaded not guilty to a charge of keeping a disorderly house and were held in $100 each; Harold Healy, Winter Street Nashua who pleaded not guilty to drunkenness and Lambie Deliane, Nashua, who was not brought before court today but was arrested on a warrant charging him with keeping a disorderly house and held in $100 for hearing Wednesday. All the other cases were continued a suspended three months’ sentence. His father appeared in court with two black eyes which the son was alleged to have inflicted yesterday. The Lowell couple, who accosted State Motor Vehicle Inspector Boyd Mercer on the highway near the inn last night and told him they had been robbed, appeared as witnesses, and were ordered to return Wednesday. The shoes of which the Lowell man, Louis Charpentier, 31, said he was robbed were found, police said, at the Deancroft by Inspector Ralph Stearns. The diamond ring allegedly robbed from his companion, Annette Kerrigan, 26, could not be found and those arrested denied knowledge of it. Last night’s raid culminated what police said was a long series of complaints. Inspector Mercer brought the Lowell couple to Nashua where, after questioning, the Gate City authorities rounded up the raiding party and went to the inn. Besides Inspector Stearns the raiding part included Deputy Sheriff Norman E. Howe of Hollis, Chief of Police Frank Flanders of Merrimack, Federal Agent Glenn Hudson of Nashua and Officers Leon Center and William F. Abbott of Merrimack.” [Editor’s note: ‘keeping a disorderly house’ is a common-law offense that was originally intended to prosecute those who maintained houses that perpetuated “crimes against common decency” such as prostitution, illegal gambling, and serving alcohol.  Remember the Prohibition Era, lasted from Jan. 17, 1920, until December 1933.]

In June of 1942  the Nashua Telegraph reported: “Victor Lapierre of 15 Norton St, proprietor of Vic’s market, is a patient at Memorial hospital with a fractured heel suffered in a fall from the hay loft at Deancroft Inn in Merrimack. According to reports Mr. Lapierre who recently purchased Deancroft was in the hayloft storing some things away when in some manner he backed over the edge and fell to the main floor landing on his heel. ” In 1950 owned by Albert J. & Anette LaPierre [Merrimack Annual Report for year ending Dec 31, 1950]

In 1969 the Deancroft Inn building was demolished per town records when the Daniel Webster Highway was moved (and straightened). The Nashua Telegraph newspaper of 25 Jan 1969 page 16 reported that “Manchester Merchants Savings Bank received approval of its application for a branch office in Merrimack from the Board of Trust Co Inc. of the State of NH and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.  The new office. . . will be located just south of the Anheuser-Busch plant on Route 3, in the property formerly known as the Deancroft Inn.

—–Other Incidents and Accidents At or Near Deancroft—–
One has to wonder, was it the sharp curve in the road, or that passersby might crane their necks to see the goings-on at Deancroft.  About once a decade, something strange occurred.

3 July 1925 Boston Globe p7. Merrimac, N.H. July 3 — Two cows at the head of the Guernsey herd owned by Congressman Edward H. Wason, at Kaolin farm here, were killed when struck by a Boston & Maine Southern Division locomotive here last night. The herd reached the tracks through a broken-down fence on the Deancroft estate, next to Mr. Wason’s pasture.

Nashua Telegraph, Feb 19, 1968, p. 4 THE TELEGRAPH REMEMBERS. THIRTY YEARS AGO [1938] Three persons miraculously escaped death and received only bruises when they were involved at a head on collision near the Deancroft Inn on the Daniel Webster Highway, in Merrimack. The driver of one of the cards was arrested — for driving on the left side of the road.

The Landmark newspaper, White River Junction VT; 2 May 1946. NashuaRoland Chantal, 20 former U.S. Marine, who was wounded at Pelelin and also at Okinawa, was fatally injured at Merrimack near the Deancroft inn on the Daniel Webster Highway. Chantal was thrown from the car after it hit a boulder, then bounced off into a telephone pole beside the road, officials reported. Brought to Memorial hospital in the police ambulance, he succumbed to injuries shortly after give o’clock Tuesday morning. According to Chief Edmund O’Leary of Merrimack, Chantal was driving toward Nashua when near the sharp curve in the road he apparently lost control. The auto shot across the road, hit a boulder, then the pole. Armand Miller, an occupant of the car and said by Chief O’Leary to be the owner, escaped with minor cuts and following treatment at the hospital was discharged. Chantal is survived by his mother, two brothers, four sisters, and uncles, nieces and nephews.

It did not take long for his life events to be questionable right from the start.  Robert William Dean was born Feb 16, 1874 in Beaver Bank, Halifax, Nova Scotia, the son of William A. and Jane (Lorman) Dean and came to the United States with his parents at an early age.  OR he was born the same date but in 1877 if you go by a 1946 affidavit of registration of birth by Robert’s maternal uncle, Robert E. Lorman.

In March of 1902 while he was still in his 20’s, he was charged with polygamy and larceny.  He had married three women–in Lowell MA, Portland ME and Fitchburg MA [details below].  He reportedly had beaten two of the wives, one of his mother-in-laws, and fathered two daughters (from different wives). For his crimes, the court sentenced Dean to serve three years in the House of Correction.

Only a few years after his release from the House of Correction, he had ‘reinvented’ himself, and was now stating he was born in England, and was working in the hotel industry–as chef, then manager in various places including Woonsocket RI and New York City.  Reportedly he was at one time manager of the Friar’s Club in NYC.  By 1917 he had married yet again (a fourth time).  His last wife died in 1951, and Robert W. Dean died in 1964 at Boston City Hospital, aged 90.

Even in death, Robert W. Dean did not stop promoting himself.  Obituary – The Lowell Sun, Wed 20 July 1964. “ROBERT W. DEAN, 90, formerly of 74 Corey Road Brighton, died yesterday at the Boston City Hospital. He was born Feb 16, 1874 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the son of William A. & Jane (Lorman) Dean and came to this country at an early age. For many years, prior to his retirement, he was associated with the hotel business in Boston and New York City. Mr. Dean was a cousin of the late Dr. Laura B. Deane who died July 26, 1964. He was the last surviving member of his family.”  [Editor’s note: Dr. Laura B. Deane was a well-known dentist, a Tufts graduate class of 1917 and a prominent woman in Lowell MA society circles.  It is POSSIBLE that Robert and Laura were related.  Laura’s grandfather came from Nova Scotia as Robert and his Dean family did, but going back several generations I did not find a specific connection, so at best they were distant cousins.]

—-Robert W. Dean Polygamist Court Stories—-
There were several sensational reports and articles in the Massachusetts newspapers, from March to May 1902 about Robert W. Dean’s marriages, physical attacks on his wives and members of their family.  Perhaps the most detailed story follows:

Lowell Sun March 12 1902, p7,  LOWELL WOMAN Says Her Husband Had Married another Woman by Associated Press to The Sun. “FITCHBURG, March 12–Robert M. Dean 25 years of age, dapper looking and well groomed in clothes of latest fashion, stood before Judge T.F. Gallagher in police court yesterday when his name was called and denied that he was guilty of polygamy, with which he was charged in the warrant read by Clerk Hayes.The government asked for a continuance and the case was put over till Tuesday next. Bail was fixed at $1000. There are two other warrants waiting to be served. Both are from Lowell, where they were issued some three years ago. Dean was arrested in his rooms in The Freeman block at a late hour Monday night. He was found with his wife, who was formerly Maud Bartholomew, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William C. Bartholomew, 89 Green Street.  The arrest followed a visit to Lowell by Patrolman Damon, where he had an interview with the alleged first wife of Dean. The patrolman secured the warrants that were issued three years ago, charging him with assaulting Mrs. Dean and her mother. The story of his treatment of his Fitchburg wife to whom he is alleged to have married in September 1900, and who is not yet 20 years of age, was learned from her mother by Chief Tinsley and it was this information that led to arrest. The girl, herself substantiates her mother, and yet, Monday night when the officers were taking him, the girl-wife wept bitterly, clung to him and kissed him, and begged the officers not to take him away from her. After making an investigation, the chief endeavored to get the girl to swear out a warrant against her husband. This she positively refused to do. An effort was also made to get her to submit to an examination, and Dr. A.O. Hitchcock was sent to her for that purpose, but she refused to do that.
Dean has been living here only a few months. He came here from Townsend and has been employed by the Boston & Maine railroad Company. It was not long before neighbors heard cries issuing from the apartment the couple rented in the Freeman block, cries of a woman pleading for mercy. Complaint was made to the police, and Chief Tinsley had the place watched and instructed his officers to break in upon the least provocation. But after watching several nights nothing unusual happened. It was then that news that Dean had another wife reached here, resulting in Patrolman Damon’s visit to Lowell yesterday. He there saw the woman who claims to have been married to Dean in Lowell, Oct 9, 1898 and was never divorced. She was Catherine L. Kearney before marriage. The Lowell warrants charge Dean with a murderous assault on his alleged wife’s mother, Mrs. Delia Roach in March 1899, and assaulting the other woman three days previously. The Lowell woman claiming to be Mrs .Dean No. 1 told the officer that she was forced to leave her husband and go to her mother’s. He followed her, and when the parent interfered he caught up an ax and started to attack her. The younger woman and her father succeeded in disarming him, whereupon he seized a knife and started after them. The wife ran into the street calling for help and several men ran to the house. Dean made his escape and that was the last she ever saw of him. She has one child, born after Dean took flight, so he has never seen the little one. The alleged Lowell wife told the officer that once Dean beat her with a strap, fastened to the end of a stick, until she fainted from loss of blood, and that she was ill at the time. Becoming alarmed at her condition he summoned a doctor but forbade her to make know the cause of her condition. She told her mother and he was arrested at her instigation. Then followed the attempted assault on her mother. She admitted to the officer that she had lived for three years in mortal fear of his return.”

In the Fitchburg Sentinel (Fitchburg MA) of 20 May 1902, page 1, the outcome of Robert W. Dean’s case was explained.  SUPERIOR CRIMINAL COURT. Dean Gets Three Years for Polygamy. “Jury trials in the superior criminal court, May term, began Monday, at Worcester, Judge Jabez Fox presiding. The trial calendar comprises the largest number of cases for many years. Serving as jurors are Henry Godbeer and Henry A. Greenwood of this city, and Elwin L. Edson of Leominster. Robert W. Dean of Fitchburg pleaded guilty to a charge of polygamy. It was alleged he has three wives. Thomas Walsh appeared for Dean, and said he is 25 years old and is a native of Lowell. He married his first wife at Lowell, according to counsel. He married the second at Portland, Maine, and the third at Fitchburg. Mr. Walsh asked that Dean be sent to the Concord reformatory. The mother of Dean, Eliza J. Dean, of Townsend, took the stand in his behalf and said her son began to work at the age of 12. He never drank, smoked or gambled. Never knew of her son being in trouble before. The defendant then testified in his own behalf. He said he lived in Fitchburg at the time he was arrested. He told of his first marriage at Lowell and said after living with his wife there for five months they separated and witness then went to Portland, Maine. He lived with the second woman, whom he married at Portland, four weeks. He married the third wife in 1900, at Fitchburg. Witnesses said he had already served three months in jail. Dist. Atty Hoar said that Dean beat his first wife in Lowell so she had to appeal to the Lowell police. Mr. Hoar told how Dean beat his third wife, whom he married at Fitchburg. This wife appeared to the Fitchburg police. Chief of Police Tinsley of Fitchburg said two of the wives of Dean told witnesses that Dean beat them so they fainted. One of the wives was beaten so, witness said, that she was confined to her bed for a week.  Court sentence Dean to serve three years in the house of correction.

—–Brief Genealogy of Robert William Dean & Descendants—–

Thomas Dean b abt 1810 in Ireland; d -; m. Elisa —-. She was born about 1814 in Ireland.  They were living in Nova Scotia, Canada by 1852 when their son, John was born.
1871 Census of Canada > Nova Scotia > Halifax East > Windsor Road
Thomas Dean 61
Elisa Dean 57
John Dean 19
Susan Dean 17
+William Dean 16
Edward Dean 14
Richard Dean 12
John Dean 8
Thomas Candle 61
Charlotte Candle 60
Children of Thomas & Eliza (?) Dean:
1. poss. James Dean b 1834 NS Canada
2. John Dean, born 8 March 1850 Halifax, NS Canada; m.
3. Susan Dean, b 1854 NS Canada
4. +William Dean, b. 1854 Beaver Bank, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
5. Edward Francis Dean, b. May 1857 Nova Scotia Canada; d. 20 Oct 1910 Lowell MA.  He married Annie Mary Barry. Children: Daniel Francis, Katherine Elizabeth (m. Larkin); Edward Thomas, Henry J.
6. Richard Dean, b 1859 NS Canada
7. John Dean, b 1863 NS Canada

——Next Generation—–

William Dean was born 1854 at Beaver Bank, Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada, son of Thomas & Eliza Dean. William Dean was a baker. He married 6 April 1876 in Halifax NS Canada to Eliza Jane Lorman, daughter of John Henry & Mary Ann (Gaston) Lorman. She was born about 1853 in Nova Scotia and died in 1928 in Jaffrey NH.  She is buried in Hillside Cemetery, Townsend MA.  She married 2nd) 13 June 1917 in East Jaffrey NH to Chester O. Hale, son of Oliver & Harriet (Demary) Hale.
1881 Census of Canada > Nova Scotia > Halifax City
William Dean 28
Eliza J. Dean 28
Robert W. Dean 4
Joseph E. Dean 3
Lilian M. Dean 9/12
Children of William & Eliza Jane (Lorman) Dean:
1. +Robert W. Dean, b 25 Feb 1877, Beaver Bank, Halifax NS Canada
2. Joseph E. Dean, b abt 1878 NS Canada
3. Lilian M. Dean, b abt 1880 NS Canada
4. Eliza Jane “Jennie” Dean, b. 9 Aug 1885 Lowell MA, and died in 1929 at Townsend MA.  She married 19 June 1904 in Arlington MA to Joseph F.Gonyeau. Joseph legally changed his name to Joseph E. Spaulding in 1905. She m2d) 14 Feb 1921 in Worcester MA to Lewis Warren Kimball. After she died, Lewis m2) Minne E. (Crosby) Todd, who was divorced from Fred Henry Farnum Todd, 16 June 1931 Rindge NH

——Next Generation—–

Robert William Dean**, son of William & Eliza Jane (Lorman) Dean was born 25 Feb 1877 Beaver Bank, Halifax, NS, Canada.  It is stated that he immigrated with his parents to the United States “at an early age.”  In 1881 as you can see by the census above, aged 4, he was still living in Nova Scotia.  In a later census, both Robert and his mother state they immigrated in 1881.   In 1900 Robert is a machinist, living with his sister at 59 Boutelle St. in Fitchburg, Worcester Co. MA, single. Robert W. Dean married at least four times (at least twice using an alias).  In 1902 he was prosecuted in Massachusetts court for marrying three women as a polygamist (the women did not know about each other until the court case).
Robert W. Dean married 1st) 9 Oct 1898 in Lowell MA to Catherine L. Kearney daughter of Bernard “Bryan” & Brigitta “Delia (McNamara) Kearney.  She was born born 13 Jan 1881 in Lowell MA. At the time of this marriage he was living at 16 Branch Street, Lowell, aged 21, occupation bone cutter while she worked as a weaver. For this marriage he provided his own and his parent’s correct names.  They had a daughter (see below). In a later census, Catherine L. (Kearney) Dean is listed in the census as a widow (when Robert was still alive).
Robert W. Dean, using the alias of Maurice C. Redmond married 2d) 11 Jan 1900 in Portland Maine to Florence J. Redmond. His stated occupation was landscape gardener. She was the daughter of Silas H.  & Ida E. (Bragg) Redmond, and granddaughter of Peter & Nancy Redmond /and/ Silas & Sophronia Bragg.  Robert [as Maurice Redmond] gave his parents as — Redmond & Eliza Lorman of Chelsea MA and that he had been born in Chelsea. Newspapers of the polygamy case stated that “Dean went from Lowell to Portland in 1899, leaving his 1st wife there. He made a girl’s acquaintance in the spring and married her against the advice of her parents but with their grudging consent. Then he tried to “strike” his father-in-law for $2000 with which to go into business but was refused. Money sent Dean on representation of illness was illy used. Finally the Portland wife and her child accepted desertion as facing them and are waiting the lapse of time to get freedom. This wife and her father will also appear before the Grand jury. Dean is also charged with larceny [Boston Herald 26 March 1902,. page 12].  They had a daughter, Mona E. Redmond as shown below.
Robert W. Dean, using the alias of Maurice William Dean married 3d) 25 Sep 1900 in Leominster MA to Maud Evelyn Bartholomew, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William C. Bartholomew, 89 Green Street. She was living with him in Fitchburg Massachusetts before his prosecution for polygamy. They did not have children.
Robert W. Dean married 4th) by 1918 to Marie Fitzpatrick of New York.  She was born about 1888. I have not been able to determine where and specifically when they married, but by 1918 at the time of his WWI Registration, they were a married couple living at Woonsocket, Rhode Island where he was managing a hotel and she was working as a house keeper.  In 1920 they were both living in New York City, he managing a hotel and she working as a housekeeper.  They remained together until her death.   Between 1917-1935 Robert W. Dean had an interest in the Deancroft Inn of Merrimack New Hampshire.   In 1928 his mother and sister apparently lost track of his whereabouts, and with his mother in ill health, a notice was placed in the newspaper looking for him (see ad below).  In 1944 Robert W. Dean was living at 31 Harvey Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada with his wife Maria.  He applied for a travel visa in the United States in that year, crossing from Canada to Vanceboro Maine, stating he intend to remain in the US for up to six months, to visit his cousin, Dr. Laura Dean, Exchange building, Lowell MA. [Editor’s note: my notation earlier that the dentist Dr. Laura Deane may have been a distant cousin, unproven]. In this application he stated he had lived in the United States from 1900 to 1929 in New York, New Hampshire, Georgia, Boston, and New York. His occupation was inspector (but didn’t state of what).   By 1951 they had returned to live in the United States as the obituary of Robert’s wife Marie appears there when she died 15 October 1951. Robert W. Dean’s obituary appeared in The Lowell Sun, Wed 20 July 1964.  ROBERT W. DEAN, 90, formerly of 74 Corey Road Brighton, died yesterday at the Boston City Hospital. He was born Feb 16, 1874 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the son of William A. & Jane (Lorman) Dean and came to this country at an early age. For many years, prior to his retirement, he was associated with the hotel business in Boston and New York City. Mr. Dean was a cousin of the late Dr. Laura B. Deane who died July 26, 1964. He was the last surviving member of his family.
1912, Robert Dean, whose articles in hotel papers and magazine section of the Sunday papers are ready with interest all over the United States…. [7 May 1912 Hot Spring AK]
1920 US Census > NY > NY > 36th Street > 134
Dean Robert Head M W 42 married, immigr 1881, Eng Eng Eng hotel manager
Dean, Marie Fitzpatric wife F W 32 married US US US housekeeper hotel [she b abt 1888]
Rooney William Lodged M W 26 single US US US student, hospital
In 1922 Lowell Directory
DEANE< Catherine L. widow Robert W. h 979 Middlesex
The Boston Globe, 28 March 1928, page 12. ROBERT DEAN SOUGHT, MOTHER CRITICALLY ILL . Inquiry for Robert Dean whose mother is dying at her home in Townsend. Mrs. Charles Hale, mother of Dean, was twice married. Dean, Townsend relatives believe, may be employed in or near Boston as chef. He is about 45 years old and has been employed as a chef in various sections of the country, and in recent years in Summer he managed a Summer hotel in Merrimac, N.H. His mother is Mrs. Charles Hale.”
Child of Robert W. & Catherine L. (Kearney) Dean:
1. Catherine Florence Deane, b abt 1898 Lowell MA, died 21 June 1966 at Choate Memorial Hospital in Woburn MA.  She married 29 Sep 1918 in Lowell MA to John Joseph Rynne, son of John P. & Sarah (Drealy) Rynne. He was a chauffeur at the time of their marriage, they are both aged 19. She is of 401 Westford St. Lowell, he of 88 London Street Lowell.  At the time of her death the family lived at 180 Dotham Street, Winchester MA, and her obituary noted she was the mother of Phyllis Rynne, and John Francis Rynne [b.  22 Jan 1920 Lowell MA, died 10 June 2001 Lakeland, Polk FL. He served during WW2 in US Navy, enlisted 25 Apr 1944, released 22 Jan 1946. Their daughter Paula E. Rynne of Brighton MA m. Richard F. Steeves son of Mrs. Alice Fitzpatrick of Brighton MA.] both of Winchester MA. Catherine F. (Deane) Rynne’s funeral High Mass St. Peter’s Church, Lowell, burial St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Lowell.
Child of Robert W. & Florence J. (Redmond) Deane:
2. Mona E. Redmond was born 8 June 1900 in Deering Maine.  In 1910 US Census living with and listed as granddaughter of Silas Redmond. Her birth record states she is the daughter of Maurice W. Redmond (Robert’s alias) & Florence I. Redmond. His occupation was machinist. Mona E. Redmond married Donald H. Lovejoy. They had a child, Rae Lovejoy-Bradley-Owins.  [Rae Lovejoy married 16 March 1946 in Maine to Murray G. Bradley. She m2d) John B. Owins (1920-1980).Rae (Lovejoy) Owins died 30 Nov 2003 in Portland Maine buried Evergreen Cemetery, Portland Maine.]


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One Response to Merrimack New Hampshire’s Notorious Inn & Owner: Deancroft and Robert W. Dean

  1. Elizabeth H Blood says:

    I remember visiting a class mate at this house in the late 50’s or early 60’s. At the time I was told there was once a tunnel to a house across D.W. Hwy. that was once used as part of the underground railway.

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