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Rhoads Family Footprints in Norwood History

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Lewis S. Rhoads (1812-1889)

Harriet Fisher Rhoads (1811-1888)

Olive Dean Lewis Rhoads (1815-1849)

Willard F. Rhoads (1838-1863)

Lewis Saben Rhoads was born on August 4, 1812 in Sharon, Massachusetts. He was one of eight children born to Nathaniel and Fanny Rhoads. (The name was spelled both as Rhoads and Rhodes.)

As a young man, he came to South Dedham (later Norwood) and, according to his obituary, spent his life here except for two years he spent farming in Boxford. On March 15, 1833, he married Harriet Fisher whose parents were from Worcester. They had four children: George, Lyman, Willard, and Marianna.

Top image is South Dedham in 1853 near Railroad Ave. and Washington St. Lower image is that intersection in 2023.

Lewis Rhoads was engaged in several business interests. At one time, he was a manufacturer of furniture, with the firm of Lincoln & Webb, located at the corner of Railroad Avenue. The 1850 and 1860 census identify him as a cabinet maker. He later erected a building at the corner of Railroad Avenue and Washington Streets, where he conducted a dry goods and grocery business. In the 1870 US Census, he is listed as trader.

Willard F. Rhoads, the third child of Lewis and Harriet, was born May 10, 1838. When the

Civil War broke out, he joined Company B of the 1st Michigan Cavalry Regiment. The regiment saw conflict in many battles throughout the war including the Battle of Gettysburg. Willard Rhoads was promoted to the rank of Quartermaster Sergeant on June 20, 1863. He was killed in action at Centerville, Virginia, November 6, 1863. According to cemetery records, his body was returned to South Dedham. His name appears on the family gravestone and nearby stands his official Civil War regimental marker.

Application for regimental gravestone marker ca. 1900

Lewis S. Rhoads was a devout Christian, and was Deacon of the Congregational Church. Harriet Fisher Rhoads died on September 19, 1888. Only fourteen months later, Lewis Rhoads passed away on November 7, 1889 from a kidney disease which had afflicted him for several years. He was survived by two brothers, two sons, and a daughter.

Also interred in this plot in Old Parish Cemetery is Olive Dean Lewis Rhoads, the wife of Nathaniel Addison Rhoads who was the brother of Lewis S. Rhoads. Olive died on January 20, 1849 of tuberculosis. Nathaniel, who was a cabinet maker like his brother, remarried and moved away from South Dedham.

Willard Rhoads regimental marker decorated for Memorial Day (rear right)

The handsome monument which commemorates the Lewis S. Rhoads family was constructed by the Quincy stone manufacturer Thomas & Miller. According to the Quincy Historical Society, Thomas & Miller was founded by W.H. Thomas and John L. Miller in 1886, and the stockyard was located at 82 Liberty Street in Quincy. They were best known for their work designing monuments and cemetery headstones, as well as for working with both granite and marble. The work of Thomas & Miller could be seen throughout the United States and Canada, and the firm even exported its work internationally. In 1899 the firm was reported to have shipped headstones to Greece, the Hawaiian Islands, and the former Siam. As of 1899, Thomas & Miller was one of the largest granite works firms in New England. Soon after this, the firm relocated to 47 Liberty Street. At some point between 1904 and 1908, Thomas & Miller split and the business became J.L. Miller and Co. J.L. Miller and Co. remained at 47 Liberty Street until the firm ceased operations around 1943.


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