Stoughton Historical Society Newsletter  


                                                   VOLUME XXXVI  NO. 19                                                  

At our meeting March 18,  “The Great War in Stoughton and France,” we will be giving presentations on various aspects of Stoughton 1900-1920, including a fashion show of some dresses put together by Emily Guertin, Joan O’Hare, and Ruth McDonald, recollections written by Kenneth Bird, and items related to World War I, the flu epidemic, and the schools and industries of the period.  Come and see rediscovered photographs of young men training for their duty in WWI on Billy White’s field, near the corner of Plain and Morton Streets and hear excerpts from a diary written by WWI vet, Michael Sullivan, who writes of trench warfare and being gassed during a German artillery barrage.  We have brought out many artifacts and photographs relating to the period and they will be on display at the Society until the middle of April, when we will begin to change exhibits for the subsequent Civil War exhibit.

Presidents Report

On Jan 11th we gave a presentation on the history of our town and related artifacts to a group of fifteen cub scouts, parents, and siblings.  On Jan. 18th,  Joe, Brian, Jack,  Dwight, and Joan cleaned, vacuumed, swept,  mopped and treated the wood floors.

Jean DeVito reminds us that we plan on holding a yard sale again in June.  Please start saving household items, but NO skiis, stuffed furniture, or electronic equipment.  Things that have sold well in the past are jewelry,  baby clothes, lamps, small tables and chairs,  toys, recent books and small rugs.  We will accept items starting April 1.

   We are also planning to set up a trip to visit the American Textile Museum in Lowell ,  or the Samuel Slater Mill in Pawtucket , sometime after Memorial Day.  Please let us know if you would be interested in either trip, which would probably cost 25-50 dollars for the bus, museum tickets, and lunch.  Also indicate whether a weekday, a Saturday, or a Sunday would work best for you.

   On January 12th, I visited the Canton Historical Society and was impressed with how many documents from our early history are owned by their Society.  I would like to set up a future visit, when Jim Roache can make a presentation to our Society of many of their fascinating papers, including three LARGE scrapbooks filled with hundreds of documents from the 1700’s, glued into the book by E V Huntoon, author of The History of Canton.  As many of you know, Stoughton and Canton were one town until 1797.  I also got to hold in my hand a piece of cloth, woven from yarn spun by the Beaumont Cotton Factory of Canton circa 1804, the first such cotton operation in the state of Massachusetts .

   During the late afternoon of January 30th, I met with three third grade teachers; Catherine Mahoney – South School , Toni Jo Guardabasico – West School , and Linda Noble – Dawe School to share some information with them on the history of Stoughton ,  which they will use in their Local History unit.  We were joined for much of the meeting by Debrah Spinelli, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, who had arranged to pay the teachers for two hours with me and two hours follow-up in a few weeks to write the curriculum outlines.  I brought them a thirteen-page document, which I had put together from David Lambert’s website  and some of my research.  I also gave the teachers Maps of the Twelve and Twenty Five Divisions for each third grade classroom in their school, which will be paid for by the grant we received from the Stoughton Cultural Council, paying us up to $900 for expenses incurred in this project.  We had a very productive session together, which was helped by a  curriculum document, which I found at the last minute from the Chemung School, in which  the wonderful work of Helen Hansen was evident back in 1967-8, a three week “Focus on OUR TOWN, which featured many programs, including the play on E.A. Jones, which Helen directed and we performed for you all a year or more ago.  A copy of that week of activities is included in this newsletter.  I sent the teachers a follow-up document, which included background information on the Map of the Twenty-Five Divisions and three biographical sketches of Stoughton Revolutionary War veterans,  Asa Waters, Lemuel Smith, and Ezra Tilden.   Our historian,  Howard Hansen kindly put together a sketch of Ezra Tilden, drawing upon many days of research and travel he has done, following the marches described in Tilden’s journal.

    The students from the high school history club, who come on Thursday nights and work putting the information in our card catalogues into the computer,  have also been converting hostoric video tapes from the Library to DVD.  The tapes include the Parade for the 250th in 1976,  and many other events in that year  including a hypnotist at  the Library,.

 On February 15,  more than twenty five seventh grade students, parents and teachers from Solomon Schecter visited the Society to learn more about their home, Swan’s Tavern and other aspects of the history of Stoughton . 

 Welcome to new members Joe Kessler of Mountain St. in Sharon, Philbrook Mason of Middleboro, and Laura Pearlstein of Stoughton,  Please encourage anyone you think might be interested to join our society and make sure your 2007 dues have been paid; 15.00 for individual, 25.00 for a family

 On Sunday, Feb 18, approximately sixty people were entranced by Michael Tougias’ slide and audio-tape presentation of the incidents surrounding the loss of the pilot boat Can Do, after it went out with a crew of five to rescue a drifting coast guard boat during the Blizzard of 1978.  We thank the Stoughton Public Library and Pat Basler for co-sponsoring this event.

    We also thank the Library for sending us a newly rebound copy of “The Stoughton Sampler,” which is full of nuggets on Stoughton ’s history.  Anita  Lehto, the References/Adult Services Librarian has given us disbound pages of nine books, including “History of the Twelfth Massachusetts Volunteer (Twelfth Webster Regiment)” by Benjamin Cook, which should be helpful in researching background material for our rededication of the flag from the Twelfth Massachusetts.

We have five copies of The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca available for 10.00.   This book is the current selection for “Stoughton Reads Together”and a schedule of many related events is also available in our lobby.  

    Bridgewater State student and graduate of Stoughton High School Katie Sawyer is doing a report on local history for a college class and is planning to use the journal of Erastus Smith during four months in 1857.  These journals have been transcribed and she is able to study them as an attachment to an email message.

    On March 11 at 2:00 pm ,  I will be giving a presentation at the Easton Historical Society on the Hodges Tavern on Bay Road in 1811-1812.  The daybooks from the Hodges Collection reveal many aspects of the lives of a number of Stoughton , Sharon , and Easton families, including what they sold to and bought from, Captain Samuel J Hodges at his tavern-store.  A Grant from the Easton Cultural Council is contributing toward this presentation.

 At our April 15 meeting, we will have the Nominating Committee’s recommendations of Officers for the next year and will have a slide/lecture presentation on “The Historic Quincy Milton Quarries”-The Indian Quarries to the First Commercial Railroad in the USA, and the Granite Industry”presented by David Hodgson from the Blue Hill Adventure and Quarry Museum.  Mr Hodgson has an extensive background in environmental-outdoor education,  the Olympic Winter Games, and Outward Bound schools around the world.

    On May 6, we will have a special rededication of the Civil War flag of the 12th Massachusetts Regiment, which was given to the town by Veterans in 1904??  The flag was displayed at the Town Hall for many years, until it eventually found its way into the attic, from which it was recently retrieved by Hank Herbowy, who convinced the Town to give it to us.  Our ceremonies will include Civil War re-enactors and an honor guard from the VFW.

 Archivists Report -  Recent acquisitions:  a Charles Vermoskie painting, “Flowers” from Alice Petruzzo,now on display in the lobby, Stoughton High School Yearbooks for 1943 and 1944,  photo album of Stoughton Post Offices, 1800-1967, and two boxes of antique books donated by Stankiewicz family.  We have also researched the history of Chemung Hill for a high school student,  the old schoolhouse behind the Methodist Church for the people who now use it for the food pantry, information on Dr Charles Walsh for Charlie Wade,  and located documents for the 1900-1920, - WWI and upcoming Civil War exhibits, – Jack Sidebottom

 Curator’s Report  Recent acquisitions:  A fire chief’s helmet from the Everett , MA Fire Department, donated by the Chestner family. We recently purchased on ebay a used pair of Corcoran’s jump boots, complete with their “ Stoughton , Ma” label.  Hank, Joan Bryant, and Denise Peterson have been continuing the inventory and re-marking and relocating many items.  We have also located a number of items for the current Stoughton 1900-1920 – WWI exhibit. 

 Clothing Curators Emily Guertin, Ruth McDonald and Joan O Hare have attired four manikins in 1900-1920 clothing and they will describe the clothing for us at our presentation on March 18.   

    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.  Our printing costs at CopyInks has gone up from .06 per two-sided page to .10.  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


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