Excerpt from “Of Farms and Family” by the Trustees of Reservations:
Randolph Morgan Appleton, also know as “Budd,” was the second son of Daniel Fuller Appleton. Born on Staten Island in 1862, he grew up summering at the Old House and graduated from Harvard in 1884. In 1888, he married Helen K. Mixter of Boston and had three daughters: Madeleine, Julia and Sybil. In 1889, Budd and Helen bought the Waldingfield Road property that had once been the Samuel Appleton homestead. They enlarged their estate by incorporating the existing early house into a large new house, and called it “Waldingfield” after the English town of Little Waldingfield from which the Appletons descended. That house was destroyed by fire in 1916. The present house (not shown) was later built by his daughter, Julia, and her husband, Charles Bird.
Early history of the property
Thomas Franklin Waters wrote that The great Samuel Appleton Farm was granted on December 20, 1638, “containing four hundred and sixty acres more or less meadow and upland as it lyeth bounded by the River commonly called the ]Mile brook on the Northeast and by the great River on the Northwest on the West…to enjoy all the sayd Landes to him his heirs and assigns forever.” Major Samuel Appleton died in 1696, leaving his farm to his four sons, Samuel, John, Isaac and Oliver.
The homestead farm of Major Samuel fell to his eldest son, Col. Samuel, who had an active part in the campaign in Nova Scotia and elsewhere, and at his death, to his son, Samuel, the fourth of the name in successive generations. He died in London of smallpox in 1728. His estate proved to be insolvent and the farm was sold to Captain Isaac Smith, who had an active part in the French and Indian War. His son Samuel succeeded in the ownership and while in his hands, the farm was sold by piece meal to many owners.
The remainder of the Samuel Appleton farm with the old Samuel Appleton mansion was sold bv Samuel Smith to Samuel Obear in 1818, who sold to Hamilton Brown in 1821. It remained in his possession and that of his son, Albert S. Brown, until 1889, when it was purchased by Mrs. Helen K., wife of Randolph M. Appleton, son of Mr. D. F. Appleton.
The old house was removed from its original location under the great elms and made a part of the new mansion which was built nearby. The name Waldingfield was given to the new estate, as Little Waldingfield in Suffolk was the ancestral home of the Appletons, from which Samuel migrated to the new land. The house, including the ancestral Samuel Appleton house, was destroyed by fire Dec. 13, 1915.”
Julia Bird Reservation
The 59 acre Julia Bird Reservation adjacent to the Waldingfield estate is part of Essex County Greenbelt, and features a network of protected open space and trails along the Ipswich River. Two parking spots are provided on Waldingfield Road near the railroad overpass. The grounds were contributed to the Essex County Greenbelt by Julia Appleton Bird (1894-1982), the daughter of Randolph Morgan Appleton and Helen K. Mixte, and wife of Charles Appleton Bird, owners of the Waldingfield estate.
Sources and further reading:
- Waters, Thomas: Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony Vol. II
- A Genealogy of the Ipswich Descendants of Samuel Appleton
- Memorial of Samuel Appleton
- Of Farm and Family: Generations of Appleton Family Portraits (TTOR)
- Recollections of a New England Boyhood 1886-1908 By Arthur Russell Lord
- Founding Farms, Portraits of Five Massachusetts Family Farms
- Form A, nomination papers to add Appleton Farms to the National Register of Historic Places
- Historic Ipswich: Appleton Farms
- Publications of the Ipswich Historical Society