XXII - Number 3

April -- 1992

PROGRAM, April 20 at 7:30 PM:- Lt. Paul J.Roach, Jr., Stoughton Fire Department, will speak about the past history of the Department, the variety of services now performed and review with us fire prevention and safety in the home and workplace. Fire Department memorabilia from our archives will be on display, including early pictures of men and equipment. Remember April 20 at 7:30 PM.

Message from the House Mouse (there is one, you know):-

The gorgeous creatures in the Clapp Room (you know the redhead Agnes and her friends) are once again draped in secrecy.  The "Brides of Yesteryear" are history (pardon the pun) having been numbered, catalogued and carefully stored away.  I've peeked out under the baseboard heat and have seen Elsie, Emily and Alice choosing the best the Society has for the May 18th opening of a new exhibit.  Ooops!  They almost saw me!  Loooks to me like this is going to be the best of the best; you know ball gowns, a full swallow-tailed coat, top hat, gloves, and gold-headed cane.  They's going too far!  I wonder if they'll have a reception; food, you know.  A fellow has to look out for himself.  Singed  H.M.  Her * Mark

IF A TOWN refuses or neglects to raise money for the support of schools as required, it shall forfeit a sum equal to twice the highest sum ever before voted for support of the- schools therein." So read a law in Massachusetts in the 1850s, and it is obvious that the penalty spelled out was severe enough to bring action. Stoughton-s annual meeting in 1858 appropriated eight hundred dollars for the establishment of a school "of a high grade." The school was to be kept for six months in the center and four months at East Stoughton. For three years that vote was rescinded by opponents. Finally, in the spring of 1865, with the Civil War nearly over and patriotism at a peak, an appropriation of fifteen hundred dollars was made for the support of two schools of a high grade; nine hundred dollars for a school at the center and six hundred dollars for one at East Stoughton. One more attempt to rescind the vote failed; thus the Stoughton High School was fully established.

TROLLEYS, or STREET CARS (and, sometimes, interurbans) ... In the year that our public library was built (1903-04), street cars ran from Boston to Our Town. The trip took slightly less than two hours and cost twenty cents yes 20$ ! At that time, and for some years after, one could travel just about anywhere by trolley car, railroad train or steamboat. The fare from Stoughton to New York City by the Bay State Line and the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad was $2.30. Incidentally, when one arrived in new York one could stay in any one of a number of good hotels for $1.50 and up: the Waldorf-Astoria was yours for only $3.00 .

MORE FIRSTS ... Gas came into use in Our Town in 1889, the same year that electric lights and power arrived. Street railway service to Brockton was inaugurated in 1895; to Canton, Blue Hill and Boston in 1899; and the interurban route to Randolph was opened at the same time. In 1892, the town purchased the water works which had been operated by a group of private citizens. The first post office was established in 1822 near Swan's Tavern, a brisk hike, indeed, from its present site. 

ONLY TWO CHIEFS served the Police Department during the first fifty years of its establishment, Richard Vanston and Peter McGarvey. When this century began, tne force consisted of two regulars, Chief Vanston and James Pye, who was also keeper of the lockup and Chief of the Fire Department. (Chief Vanston had preceded Mr Pye as chief of the Fire Department, serving eleven years.) Footnote: By the police force had increased to nine regulars.

IN 1911, Our Town's police department numbered a chief and one officer on the permanent force and eight special police. Our firefighting force was one chief, four permanent men at three stations (Central, West and North) and numerous volunteers. In that year, Stoughton boasted three post offices and four railroad depots. We have not yet determined the locations of the post offices, but we can locate the depots for you: Stoughton Central at Wyman Street, South Stoughton on Park Street, West Stoughton at Central Street, North Stoughton at Page St.

IN 1972, Frank Reynolds wrote, "On September 29 Bertha and I signed papers to place our remaining property (half of the original farm of our childhood) under the Conservation Commission restrictions as the rest already had been. We continue to live here. May the park reservation [Capen-Reynolds Reservation] we leave be wisely maintained and enjoyed forever."

THE FIRST manufactory in Our Town was a straw hat shop at the West Shares in 1812. Do you know where the West Shares were located? The answer may be found in Our Society's history of Stoughton, "Beyond the Blew Hills."

LUCIUS CLAPP taught at the Dry Pond (Smith) School and practiced surveying while cultivating flowers and fruits on the family farm. At the age of twenty-three he was elected to the school committee.

CANNON WERE cast in Stoughton for the Revolutionary War by Paul Revere and Richard Gridley. The ore came from Lake Massapoag in Sharon and Fowl Meadow in Canton.

FIVE YEARS after the end of World War II Stoughton still had air raid signals, sounded periodically. The whistle meant BLACK OUT; but there was no ALL CLEAR signal. If you could hear the warning, it meant NO LIGHTS. Chairman of the Commission of Public Safety was Edvard Sheehan; Chief Air Raid Warden was Manson Glover.

IN 1865, Stoughton High School first assembled with twenty-four students. The course of study included beyond the more customary subjects geometry, trigonometry, navigation, surveying, moral and intellectual philosophy. Three years later the school graduated only three students. One of these was the first clerk of the Stoughton Historical Society, Amelia Clifton.

IN OLD Town Reports we read of so-and-so being appointed (sometimes elected) to the post of fence viewer and we wonder just what he did. In several New England communities the fence viewer still exists. His job? To settle disputes that often arose when people used to erect their own fences and walls (stone fences, of course) In such cases he was a respected surveyor and judge. He carried with him a "perch pole," or rod, sixteen and one-half feet long, as a measure.

FARMERS used to stick their outgoing letters in a crack in a gate post where the passing mailman could pick it up without walking all the way up to the house. It is this post at the front gate that led to the use of the sane word in postman, post office and posting the mail.

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