A New Home for a Grieving Widow

    The 1840s had been a difficult time for Anna Hastings.  Though she was happily married and lived
    with her husband and children at 7 Maple Street, she had been saddened by the loss of her fifteen
    year old niece Mary Hayward, her father Caleb Allen, her brother-in-law Congressman William
    Soden Hastings, and her nineteen year old nephew Caleb Hayward, all within three years.  She
    received comfort from her family and friends, but it was the death of her husband, Attorney Charles
    C. P. Hastings, at age forty-four in 1848, that left her devastated.  She was a twenty-eight year old
    widow with four children, nine years old and younger.  Her Maple Street home, a family wedding gift
    just ten years earlier, became a daily reminder of unrelenting sorrow.  She decided she could no
    longer live there without her husband.

    Anna concluded that it would be best for her emotional well-being if she could move to a new
    place.  Dr. John Metcalf, the multi-talented town physician who had delivered her children, was an
    amateur architect.  As a favor to his family friend, he designed a new house at six Hastings Street,
    across the street from his own house.  She moved to her new location in 1849, and it became her
    family residence for the next thirty-four years.  Her sister and her husband, Minerva and James
    Cunnabell, moved to 7 Maple Street to fill the vacancy, though Anna retained ownership.

    Anna's move to a new home reflected a transition within the village center as well as a transition
    within the Hastings family.  By 1849, there had been several changes that impacted the village's
    economy, population, and culture.  Blackstone had separated from Mendon and became an
    independent town.  The tax dollars generated from the factories along the Blackstone River no
    longer went to Mendon's treasury.  The farmer-friendly Blackstone Canal closed and was replaced
    by the aloof Providence and Worcester Railroad.  Additionally, many of the 1820s prominent Ivy
    League professionals who had lived in the village under the leadership of Seth Hastings were
    deceased.  The titles of attorney (7), congressman (2), ambassador, bank president, state senator,
    and superior court justice had been replaced with boot maker, wood crafter, and farmer.  The
    splendor of the golden age was over for the village center as well as for the Hastings family by the
    late 1840s.

    Anna's new home offered a renewed hope for the future.  She raised her children there and had the
    support of neighborhood family and friends.  At the time of her death on August 20, 1883, at age
    sixty-three, she was the last of the spouses of the children of Seth and Chloe Hastings.  She died
    as the matriarch of a great family.

    Six Hastings Street is currently the well-kept home of Paul Crosby and Sharon Dawes.

    Richard Grady                                                                                                 
    Mendon, MA          

                                          
The Hastings family          The Hayward family          Mendon Menu                       
Hastings house - 6 Hastings Street