Stoughton Historical Society Newsletter  

January - February - March 2005


                                                                                  1895-2005 OUR 110th YEAR

Since the start of our 2004-2005 season the volunteers at our Lucius Clapp Building have been very active. They have logged in 1,980 hours of research, acquisitioning items, maintenance work, finding storage space.

We have had our downstairs lobby ceiling repainted and a new carpet installed thanks to the efforts of our Thursday night crew of Hank Herbowy, Jack Sidebottom, Herman Buschenfeldt, Brian Daley and Bob Drew. Special thanks also to James Zechello of James Zechello Professional Cleaning Co. for his help and technical advice. A job well done, guys.


Our thanks to Merelyn Walent for donating one of the pair of original light stanchions which stood on the front steps of the building. It had come into her possession when the lights were being discarded years ago. Through the efforts of Pat Byron of Pat Byron Electric Co. the light stanchion was repainted, rewired and brought to the Society where it is now illuminating a corner of the Ed Meserve Lobby. Thanks to all.


At our last meeting we had a visit from Senator Brian Joyce who presented the Society with a new State flag. He mentioned that he would welcome members of the Historical Society at the State House for a tour. Our Vice President, Jeanne DeVito, will try to arrange a trip if enough members are interested in. a weekday trip to Boston in the spring. Let us know soon if you are interested.


We have completed our 9th Veteran's Oral History tape hosted by David Lambert. Tune in Channel 9 on Mondays at 7 p.m. and Thursdays at 5 pm. to view the tapes and listen to some interesting stories. Thanks once again to Dale Queehan and Paul Duddy of Comcast for making these tapes possible. If you find a colored sticker on your newsletter we have not received your 2004-05 dues. Please contact

our Membership Chairman, Mary Kelleher at 781-344-9020, 2005-06 membership are due June 1, 2005 . Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year.


                                                                                                                            President - Joe DeVito


For the October meeting 50 people attended the fashion show of wedding gowns from the 1900's modeled by High School and College students and younger members of the Society.

At our November meeting in addition to Senator Joyce we had a talk by member David Lambert who has just completed a survey of pre-1900 graves in Stoughton as an assignment from his work as a genealogist at New England Historical Genealogical Society in Boston . David is always well received by our members.


The Island Grove Chorus, chapter of Sweet Adeline's International will entertain us with an acappella musical Program.


Judy Bernstein will Present DINNER AT THE WHITE HOUSE. There is always a huge group on hand for Judy's productions. This program is funded by the Stoughton Cultural Council.

From the Curator: Hank Herbowy

Well, the Holidays have passed and now we have to prepare for spring and summer displays as we have to select items of interest for the public who will be visiting our building. One of the items that is on display is an old 1930's Philco floor radio that many of you remember from your childhood days as this was our entertainment before television came along. Thanks to the Woodwards for this donation and thanks to Jack Sidebottom for the great job refinishing the radio to its original condition. I would like to thank all the Thursday night crew for devoting their time and help lost year. It is a pleasure to work with them as we had accomplished a lot. Without the volunteers we could not keep the society as active as it is. Also to Joe DeVito, our President and his family. A job well done for the year 2004. GOD BLESS AMERICA

From the Archives: Jack Sidebottom

  Being the new kid in the archival section of the Society I have found out that it can be a very interesting and rewarding section. It is a very active part of the Society with requests coming in from local businesses for old pictures or for other information that we have on the town. We also receive inquires from people who live here or use to live here, concerning relatives that had lived here years ago. Also, there is always new material being dropped off that has to be checked, catalogued and stored. This is a part of the Society that could use 1 or 2 more volunteers to assist for 2 or 3 hours weekly, semi weekly or whenever. A good chance to learn a lot about your town's history.


Clothing Preservation: Emily Guertin and Joan O'Hare

  Now that the current acquisitioning has slowed down, sewing projects are next. Both of us will be making garment bugs for the preservation of our wedding gowns that can be hung. Those that should not be win remain in our acid free boxes. Coverlets will be our next and they will cover the dressed forms on display when not being viewed by the public. We are continuously trying to improve our storage spaces. No easy task, additional space does not present itself easily. If there is anyone interested in joining our department please contact us through the Society and we would more then happy to talk with you. The hours would be on Tuesday morning from 10- noon every other week. Contributors: Joe and Jeanne DeVito, Jack Sidebottom, Hank Herbowy, Emily Guertin, Howie Hansen. Editor: Joan O'Hare



                                The Last of the Historical Society old West Stoughton Gang


1913 - 2004

 In April 2004 at the Society was preparing to celebrate the Centennial of the Lucius Clapp Memorial it lost two members of the “Old Gang” responsible far the Society transforming the former Stoughton Public Library into a Museum of Stoughton History, Evelyn D. Healy on April 3rd and Robert L. Benson on April 16. Bob Benson's profile will appear in the next issue of the Stoughton Historical Society Newsletter. Thanks to Nancy, Michael and John for their help in preparing this biography.

 Evelyn D. (Webster) Healy was born, in West Roxbury VT, January 13, 1913 on the Howe family farm as was her mother Dora. Thirteen was Evelyn's "Number", until the last days, noted her son John when thirteen cars formed a procession to Knollwood Memorial Park an April 10.

  Evelyn’s rural Vermont Yankee upbringing from her earliest school days throughout her whole life was “reflected in her values of selfless service for others, not big things, but the little things that matter most - her openness and honesty, which seems rare today; a pay-your-own way attitude regarding social services such as Medicare, always then for anyone in need, didn’t travel in the fast lane, in fact she never learned to drive nor wanted to ... was comfortable with where she was," wrote her son Dr. Michael Healy.

 Evelyn and her sisters walked three aides to the one‑room schoolhouse where grades one through eight were taught. Evelyn as an, older student acted as a teacher for the younger students. She boarded with a family in Waitsfield, on the other side of the mountain, while attending high school there. To pay her room, board and books, Evelyn worked for the family when she boarded and at the library.

 Evelyn continued to work with the family in Waitsfield until after their youngest child completed school, She moved to Hartford , Connecticut to work for one of the older boys of the same family she lived with in Vermont . Meanwhile, two of the West Stoughton gang, Ken Healy and Ken Bird migrated to Hartford to work for Pratt and Whitney during World Win II. Ken Healy's and Evelyn Webster's landladies were friends and invited Ken and Evelyn to an afternoon party. Ken proposed the first time they were together and each time they met. Then Ken stopped asking for three weeks before Evelyn accepted. They were married September 4, 1942 .

 Evelyn most have been a good choice in the eyes of the West Stoughton gang. The "Gang" of boyhood friends consisted of Ken Healy, Ted Graham, Fred Kelleher, John Stiles, Gus Winroth, Ken Bird and John Peterson. When the Healy's were blessed with their first son in 1944 he was named John Fredrick Healy for John Stiles, John Peterson, Fred Kelleher and Fred Graham. Fred Graham married Evelyn's sister Eva and the couple later occupied the second floor of the Healy house in Stoughton .

 Ken's mother Edith Britton Healy died in 1944 leaving the homestead on School Street vacant. About the time of John's first birthday in 1945, Ken wanted to come back to Stoughton . Evelyn insisted that before moving from Connecticut to Stoughton , the house would have to have indoor plumbing and the poison ivy around the yard be removed.

 Returning to the former home of Ken's grandfather, Henry W. Britton, Ken and Evelyn revived the old gardens growing beans, tomatoes, peas, onions and potatoes. The garden was across School Street . Ken sold put of that land to John Stiles where they built Stiles' Cape house. The garden was bountiful and Evelyn canned quarts of vegetables for the winter. Evelyn loved to cook and bake, "Little" John's friends Richard Terry and John Forger counted on Mrs. Healy to have cookies out when they finished playing in the Bungalow or building a boat on Britton's Pond. The other children, Nancy and Michael remember their mother for supplying cookies and brownies for Historical Society and Scout meetings.

 At the Historical Society, in addition to being the hostess or refreshment chairman, Evelyn served as Corresponding Secretary and Membership Secretary. Evelyn's skills as a librarian and interest in local history were at home in the Britton house. She spent many hours cataloging and making notes on the hundreds of artifacts Henry Britton collected. Henry Britton was a community leader, beekeeper, treasurer of the Stoughton Co-operative Bank, Secretary to one of his Masonic organizations and a collector of historical "things." He bought James Lehan's first Ford in 1904 and his home was the first in Stoughton to be connected to the Massachusetts Telephone Company in 1896.

 When the "Old Gang” came forward to join with the town's 250th and the United States Bicentennial celebration in the early 1970s, Evelyn and her sister were Pitching‑in with them as the Society converted the old library to a museum.

 Ken died in May 1983 while mowing the gross around the garden next to John Stiles' house. John being a widower, kept a promise with Ken to keep an eye on Evelyn as she had done for him. John and Evelyn shared meals at each other's home in their senior years and saw that each had medical attention. John died in 2000 leaving his estate to Evelyn Healy and the Historical Society. No longer able to care for herself, Evelyn sold the Healy-Britton house to a neighbor in 2001 and she moved to Cumming , Georgia to live near her son Michael and daughter Nancy.

                                                                                                       - Howard Hansen, January 2005

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