Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Nathan Holden Daybook
Born in 1812 in New Salem, Nathan Holden was the oldest son of Simon and Polly Holden and had eight siblings. He was raised in the Augustus Holden House (named after his grandfather) which was situated on Lover's Lane in North New Salem, mainly a lumbering community.
Nathan married Harriet Stowell in 1836 when he was 23 years old. They had five children at the time they moved into the house that Nathan built near his parents on Lover's Lane during 1846 and 1847. Martha Pamela was the first baby born in the new house and Edgar followed a little over one year later. In 1856, Nathan sold this house to Proctor Whitaker and moved his family to the main street in town.
Farming was a major industry in the western section of New Salem, around where Nathan and his family lived. Shoemaking and shoe repairing were also popular trades to some extent because there were many tanners in town. Nathan appears to have involved himself in both local industries. As a shoe repairman he did everything from lacing up a lady's skates to bottoming a fellow farmer's soles.
Shoemaking and shoe repairing in New England began as a household activity among eighteenth century farmers. Trained shoemakers, shoe repairmen, and artisans often bartered shoes for other goods and services to farm families. Because Nathan made, but mostly repaired, shoes to individual order, his market was limited to the local population and its needs.