Stoughton Historical Society Newsletter  


VOLUME XXXVII  NO. 4                        APR-MAY-JUNE--2008


President’s Report

We are catching our collective breaths after a number of successful events in the last two months:

March 9-the lecture and slide-show on Mary Baker Eddy by Jane Carlson 

April 11-the Academic Hall-of-Fame presentation at Stoughton High School to four graduates, including North Stoughton Tuskeegee Airman James H. Fischer ‘42; also honored were Colonel Michael G Bedard ‘78, Director of Atmosphere and Space Directorate, in the USAF, Richard J Bowen, ’65, Founder of the Honey Dew Donut chain,  and Kenny Wormwald ’02, star of MTV’s “Dancelife.”

April 16-the lecture/slide show on New England stone walls by Robert Thorson at the Stoughton Public Library, which was attended by more than eighty people.

April 20-our Stoughton Outdoors open house and meeting in which we heard from and honored  Joanne Blomstrom,  Kathy Williams Murphy Sylvester, and Charles Starkowsky.  Roy Robinson was also honored in absentia and the Conservation Commission approved the designation of the Roy Robinson Loop Trail off Palisades Circle .  Chairman of the Selectman John Kowalcyzk read a proclamation from Rep. Brian Joyce honoring Charlie’s many years of service to the Town of Stoughton . 

April 24-a slide show of Stoughton nature scenes presented at the Great Hall,

April 26-we led a nature walk and had a table of Historical Society maps and booklets at the Town of Stoughton ’s Earth Day Events.

May 3- we had a table of Historical Society maps and booklets at the UU Church Green Fair

May 18 - we heard David Lambert present “A Penny Postcard’s View of Stoughton’s Past.”  Our attendance was a little down, but those of us present saw some wonderful scenes from Stoughton ’s past

The preparations which accompanied each of these events, while time-consuming, did help us learn more about the history of our town.   Many different pieces of information have passed our way from new members, visitors, and the program preparations .  Here are a few morsels which we have picked up since the last newsletter:

In preparation for the Mary Baker Eddy presentation we learned that Lucy Wentworth Holmes was a young girl living at the Wentworth house at 133 Central St. when Mrs. Eddy was a boarder, known to her as Mrs. Glover.  Lucy married a Holmes and was the mother of Doris Holmes, who eventually married her elementary school classmate Sydney Fay Blake, “one of the most brilliant lads ever to go through the Stoughton Schools.  Edith (Rose) Benjamin tells me that her mother was their elementary school teacher, when Doris announced that she had met the man that she was going to marry and marry they did.  Sydney became a renowned botanist at Harvard and Doris made her mark in entymology.  Sydney and Doris would return to Stoughton each summer, stay at the Holmes house at 212 Seaver Street, now owned by the Spector family, and he would observe and record the flora of his home town.  His small book, The Flora of Stoughton is on sale at the Historical Society for 5.00.  Sydney and Doris should be nominated as candidate to the Stoughton Academic Fall-of-Fame.

James Fischer, the Tuskeegee airman is a Native-American, who grew up in a community in North Stoughton, which included a number of other Native-Americans.  One of these days we will convince Howard Hansen to write an article on that community.  After the presentation, Mr Fischer told  a group of us how Stoughton High School Principal Howard Randall helped him to graduate with his class, after James had dropped out of school during his sophomore year to look for a job during the Depression.  Mr Randall offered to let James borrow his shotgun, if he would promise not to fall asleep in class and come during his study periods and sometimes after school to take extra courses that he had missed.  Eventually, Mr Randall GAVE James Fischer the shotgun as a gift and James graduated with his class, walking down the aisle at graduation with Joe DeVito’s sister, Mary.  He appreciated that she would walk with him, “when some wouldn’t.” Joe and Jeanne DeVito and Evelyn Callanan did a marvelous job of getting Mr Fischer to open up and share these stories.  Coincidentally, Howard Randall was also instrumental in giving that extra boost of prodding and support to push both Joe DeVito and Charles Starkowsky, former Town Engineer, and new member of our Society, to attend college.

During the second week in March, former long-time Town Engineer, Charlie Starkowsky appeared at the Society, looking for pictures of himself and others helping to build a new structure at the CW Welch Memorial Fish and Game.  It soon became clear that he was a font of information about the purchases of Town Conservation Land which expanded the Bird Street Conservation Area, one of Stoughton’s true treasures.  Within a couple weeks, Charlie became a member of the Historical Society.   The Town of Stoughton was planning an extensive Earth Week celebration,  and since I had gotten a grant to work on the history, maps, and signs for the Bird St Conservation Area, it seemed the right time to focus on “Stoughton Outdoors.”  Charlie talked for hours  about the individual pieces of land which had to be acquired to save the Bird St land from the developers and about his long-time friendship with Roy Robinson, whom I had been trying to contact.   Joanne Blomstrom’s role in getting the signatures on a petition to purchase the Bird St parcel soon came up, and we also learned that Kathy Williams Murphy Sylvester had organized Stoughton’s first Earth Day, embroidered the Bird St Square for the quilt for the 250th and written the History of the Conservation Commission and the land it acquired.   Jim Conlan, the Town’s Conservation officer, who worked for Charlie when he first came to Stoughton many years ago got Brian Joyce to write a letter of Commendation for Charlie, the Conservation Commission unanimously approved the naming of the new trail for Roy Robinson, and we (except Roy Robinson) were able to get together and celebrate all of the above at the open house and meeting on April 20.  When the day was over, we had four new members and were ready to continue the search for information about Stoughton outdoorsman Billy White and his field at the corner of Plain and Morton Streets.

It was not until doing a little research for the Green Fair Celebration at the Universalist Church, (co-organized by Joan O’Hare’s daughter Jane Mooney and Elisa Blanchard) in order to supplement the information that Joan O’Hare had already passed on to me, that I removed the tissue paper from an ancient history of the Third Parish.   Soon thereafter I learned that Lemuel Bird,  son of Benjamin, of Bird Street renown was also the man who was at the heart of the controversy when the great  Congregationalist Unitarian Universalist religious schism that rocked almost every  community in New England made its way to Stoughton in 1822.  Lemuel Bird had been accused of not attending services and had been heard espousing the tenets of “Universal Salvation.”  After attempts had been made and failed to get Lemuel back on the straight and narrow, he was excommunicated.  Soon thereafter,  Minister Ebenezer Gay, under pressure from the more liberal members of the Parish resigned, and the orthodox/Congregationalist members of the church (many of who were pillars of the community and the Church’s most active members left to form their own church.  This split happened over and over in Massachusetts and it was usually the most dedicated members of the church leaving, but since the Church was ”owned” by the (usually more liberal) Parish as a whole, all the materials from the pews to the communion silver to the hymn books stayed behind.  We have several copies of the dissertation written by Rev Richard Trudeau  for his Master’s Thesis at Harvard Divinity School, which discusses this church controversy in great detail and Howard Hansen has written a couple substantial emails on the topic, including the complicated  mathematics and shifting designations of First, Second, and Third Parishes in various parts of Old Stoughton.  If there is sufficient interest, we can compile  a booklet on the topic which we will be available at the Society for a nominal fee. 

Other activities at the Society; On Feb 21, we hosted an unannounced visit from twenty plus cub scouts, parents, and siblings.  On 2/26 we superimposed a template of current town map of Stoughton onto a Map of the 25 Divisions, and a week later onto the Map of the 12-D.  Downstairs, Hank,  Joe, Brian,  Jack, and Tony completely cleaned out and reorganized the boiler room;  Hank fashioned a new work bench, and it all looked terrific. Of course, now we are filling it with items for the yard sale and it has lost its pristine order.  Brian Daley and his sister, Carol, replaced our old urns at the front of the building with beautiful plant-filled new ones.

It has been a productive quarter for acquiring new members: Tony Alfano, Kevin O’Brien, Charles Starkowsky, Robert Donovan,  Mark Snyder, and the Kowalcyk, McGauley, Thompson, Reese, Rooney, Iacobucci, and Pinches families.   Robert Daniell and Carmen McNamara became  Life members.

We will be holding our yard sale on Saturday, June 14,  Please bring your household items to the Society but NO skis, stuffed furniture, or electronic equipment.  Items which have sold well in the past are jewelry, baking dishes,, lamps, small tables and chairs, toys, recent books, and small rugs.  We could use extra help for set-up at 7:00 that morning.

Our challenge is to replace Hank Herbowy as curator, who has stepped down after many years of faithful service;  Vice President Brian Daley  volunteered to accept the position, which entailed our finding a new Vice President, and David Lambert has graciously volunteered.  This process has delayed the recommendations of the Nominating Committee and the vote on same; both will take place at the Annuual Meeting and dinner on June 9th at the Stoneforge Grill. 

The nominated slate of Officers for the next year:   President – Dwight Mac Kerron: Vice-President – David Lambert;  Treasurer – Joan Bryant;  Secretary  - Evelyn  Callinan;  Archivist Jack Sidebottom; Curator- Brian Daley;  Historian – Howard Hansen.

Archivists Report

Evelyn Callinan and Millie Foss have continued updating our obituary card file.  We have gathered materials for the Green Space Program at the UU Church, searched for Jordan ancestors, assisted Mary Reese in getting information for the South school’s 50th Anniversary, and located various materials for the Stoughton Outdoors exhibit.  Tony Alfano is listing all our un-catalogued documents in the rare books cabinets and soon they WILL all be numbered and catalogued   Items received: two 1931 oil paintings, otherwise unidentified by Charles Vermoskie, from Laurie Wolfe; two railroad maps (1915) of Stoughton RR line from Stoughton Sq south toward North Easton, from Jim Little; 1898 Stoughton High School Catalogue from Louise Starkowsky, 1953 Stoughton Phone Directory purchased from ebay via Dave Lambert; a large collection of old post cards and photographs of Stoughton and papers pertaining to the WWI service of Venazio and Batiste Maraglia from Betty Maraglia. -  Jack Sidebottom

Curator’s Report   Items acquired:  a miniature pair of shoe lasts and the full WWII Navy uniform with medals of Clyde Holmes from the Holmes family; police handcuffs with key from the Maraglia family: a Kodak Instamatic 124 camera w/box from Tony and Jean Novello. – Hank Herbowy

Clothing Curators Emily Guertin, Ruth McDonald and Joan O’ Hare have placed on display the ski outfit recently donated by Janet Clough, which was made for her by her mother Signe A Ostergard of Worcester in the winter of 1947-48.  Also on display is a woman’s riding outfit of faux suede and lined with satin, which was made by Pat McGlaughlin and worn to the Bi-centennial Ball. A third display is a two-piece walking suit, comprised of a 3/4 length green velour jacket with camas backing and a green satin lining. and an A-line skirt,

If you have an email address, please send it to us at and let us know if it is permissible to send you the next newsletter via email. Even if you do not want your newsletter sent via email, it will be helpful to have your address for communications sent out between the period of the newsletters.  We thank the more than forty people who have given us their email address and receive this newletter via email.

                                      Calendar of Upcoming Events

June 9        Annual Dinner (send in reservation form)          6:00 pm

June 14      Yard Sale at the Society                                      8:00am-2:00pm

June  22 (tentative) Visit to Mary Baker Eddy House


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