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THE STORY OF

Mary Elizabeth Sawyer

and her little lamb

This Page is dedicated and inspired by my daughter:
Mary Elizabeth Sawyer: born Dec. 6, 1986

Mary had a little lamb

As written By John Roulstone,

Author of the first twelve lines and  as it was given to Mary E. Sawyer
Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was as white as snow,
And every were that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day;
That was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play;
To see the lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned it out;
but still it lingered near;
And waited patiently about;
Till Mary did appear.


                                           

                        And so starts the famous poem of Mary and her little lamb, a children's poem that has touch us all at one point or another in our lives.
                                   Well if your a Sawyer the poem is deeper and more in depth because the poem is about one of our decedents Mary Elizabeth Sawyer ( married name - Mary E. Tyler ) born March 22, 1806 and died on Dec 11, 1889, she is buried in the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Boston. A 4th generation American Sawyer. Her farther was Thomas, the son of Ezra Sawyer, and her mother was Elizabeth Houghton.
               
 The story goes that one day in March of 1815 in Sterling, Mass. The lamb was born and it was forsaken by its mother, and was almost dead. (Mary was about 9) Mary asked her farther if she could take it into the house, at first he said no but Mary convinced him to allow her to take the lamb in. She nursed the lamb thru the night and by morning the lamb could stand and its health had improved rapidly. The lamb became a pet and would follow her every were. She would wash and care for the lamb as a mother would care for a child. The lamb was a ewe and lived approximately 4 years, she became the mother of 3 lambs, a single lamb and 2 twins.

                                     One day on her way to school the lamb followed Mary, she did not know this at first, when she did notice her brother Nat suggested that they take the lamb to school. Being a child she thought it was a good idea. When they reached the school yard the teacher had not arrived yet so Mary took the lamb to her seat and put it under her seat and covered it up with a blanket, the lamb laid down and was very quite. Later on when Mary was called to the front of class to recite something the lamb followed her. The teacher (Miss Polly Kimball) laughed and so did all the children, she then took the lamb out side until lunch time when she took the lamb home.

                     That day a young man was visiting the school by the name of John Roulstone (John was born in 1805 and died on Feb. 20, 1822 in Boston at the age of 17), a nephew of the Reverend Lemuel Capen a minister in Sterling from 1815 - 1819. The man was so inspired by the incident that the next day he rode up on horse back to the school house and handed Mary a piece of paper with the poems for 12 lines written on it.

Mary had a little lamb

By Sara Josepha Hale, Author of the last twelve lines.

Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was as white as snow,
And every were that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.

He followed her to school one day;
That was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play;
To see the lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned it out;
but still he lingered near;
And waited patiently about;
Till Mary did appear.

And then he ran to her, and laid
His head upon her arm,
As if he said "I'm not afraid,
You'll keep me from all harm."

'What makes the lamb love Mary so?"
The eager children cry;
"O, Mary loves the lamb, you know,"
The teacher did reply.

"And you each gentle animal
To you, for life may bind,
And make it follow at your call,
If you are always kind."

The Family Feud

(or the other side of the story)

                   As with anything there is two sides to every story, and yes I am a Sawyer and I truely believe the story above . But it would only be fair to show the other side of the story.

         Sara Josepha Hale, of Newport, NH, was editor of Godey's Lady's Book from 1837 - 1877, and the author of 20 books and hundreds of poems. In her day she was a very distinguished writer and was easily the best know women in the country. She is also credited with successfully advocating that Thanksgiving be a national holiday and it was due to Miss Hale's forceful activity that the Bunker Hill Monument Fund was completed. She was  also the organizer of the Seaman's Aid Society.

                       "Mary had a little lamb" was published in 1830 in her name in a book called "Poems for Our Children". The poem was then republished to music in The Juvenile Lure of 1831 with no author given.

         

My opinion

                                 And so for what it is worth there are both sides of the story, in brief and what I think may mean nothing to history. It is written that both lady's were the honest type and it is not fair for me to judge one side or the other. In fact I have read news paper articles that say there may be a  British version of the poem called Lucy and her lamb. But as a Sawyer I truely believe there was a Mary and there was a lamb and so that is were the poem is based.

              So what is the point of all this and why add this to my web page? Well as a young child at the age of 6 I visited the old school house which is now next to the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Mass. It was moved there from Sterling between 1926 and 1927 by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford (yes the car maker). I was so inspired by it and the history around it that I named my daughter after Mary. And she is very proud of her name and her name sake. The thought that maybe one of our ancestors may have been the inspiration behind such a world famous poem just makes both of us proud.

                                 My daughter has a copy of the book "The Story of  Mary's Little Lamb" as told by Mary, her Neighbors and friends. The book is Published by Longfellow's's Wayside Inn of Sudbury Mass. It is also were I got some of the facts on this page. You may contact the Inn for copies, it is by far more detailed then what I have here. Or if you ever make a visit to Massachusetts I highly recommend you go to Sudbury and see the school house or to Sterling were the town has a statue of a lamb in the center of town and is part of the Montachusett Heritage Trail. I plan on making this trip this summer and hope to scan pitchers for this site.

                                              One more note  I received an article that there is a nonprofit organization (Historic Massachusetts) dedicated to preserving the states historical and cultural heritage that has put Mary's home in Sterling on its Top Ten Most Endangered Historic Resources list. And that there is an organization called the Mary's Little Lamb Association Inc. which is a group of volunteers involved in restoring the home. I have no more info then this on these groups but as I get it I will add it, Maybe we can help save this home.

                                     This is a picture taken by the Boston Globe of a statue in Sterling, Mass. The plaque is of the first 4 lines of the poem and the name of John Roulstone the author. I hope some day to go there and get a better picture.

Links to the other pages
|Sawyer Home Page||Sawyer Home Page 2||Sawyer Home Page 3||The Mary Sawyer Story|

|The Awards Page||Genealogy Links & Search Engine|

This page is always still under construction and will be updated as I can find the time.