July 12, 2010
The family was never particularly well-off and often struggled financially. The boy's father was a storekeeper, later to manufacture pencils with the help of his son. His mother was a talker, always willing to speak her mind, even about political issues. Because of her anti-slavery views, for example, the family later housed fugitive slaves en route to Canada. Perhaps most importantly, Mr. and Mrs. Thoreau loved nature and tried to take time to walk together. A friend later noted that Thoreau's own love of nature was inherited from his parents.
The family moved around often but, as an adult, Thoreau noted his permanent connection to Concord, calling it "the most estimable place in the world."
The family left the home when young Thoreau was about a year old. In more recent history, the building was scheduled for demolition. In the 1990s, however, a community organization saved the property and now, as of 2010, the site of Thoreau's birth is now open to the public for the first time in history. Though its open hours are relatively limited, the journey is worth the effort (only two turns past the Orchard House and The Wayside). What makes this property unique is that Thoreau was the only Concord author (unlike Emerson, Hawthorne, and the two Alcotts) actually born in that town.
*Much of the information on Thoreau's birth and family comes from Milton Meltzer's Henry David Thoreau: A Biography.