VOLUME XXXVIII  NO. 1                       JULY-AUG-SEPT--2008

Upcoming Events

September 22 – Harvest Dinner 6 P. M. Wales French Room, Stoughton Public Library  Please send in reservation form at the end of the Newsletter.  New members are especially encouraged to attend, so that we can get to know each other.

September 24 – 7 P. M. Official Public Viewing of the recently purchased Doty Tavern Sign at Friends of Prowse Farm , 5 Blue Hill River Road,  Canton 781 828 FARM www.prowsefarm.org  A special invitation has been extended to the members of our Society.

October 18 Holiday Yard sale 9 A.M.-2 P.M.   Drop off your donations at the Society.  No electronics, please.

October 19 --2 P. M.  David Lambert gives a presentation on the history of the Ponkapoag Indians in the newly renovated E. A. Jones Meeting Room at the Society.

October 25 10:00 A. M.  An archeologically and historically oriented tour of the site of  “the White Mill” on Mill St . 

November 10—Veteran’s Day Program at the  Society

President’s Report

We held another successful yard sale on June 14.  Denise Peterson put in many hours of work beforehand, sorting and preparing the items for sale.  On the day of the event,  our conscientious workers included Denise Peterson, Paul and Adeline Carter,  Donna Hodges, Maureen Gibbons,  Joe and Jeanne DeVito, Ann Klim,  John Boulanger, Brian Daley  Joan, Jacob, and Danielle Bryant, Evelyn Callanan, Millie Foss,  Mary Kelleher, Jack and Norma Sidebottom, Hank Herbowy, Dave Lambert, and Dwight Mac Kerron  Gerry Mc Donald and Bill Day helped truck the left-overs to St Vincent’s.  Ruth McDonald baked a coffee cake for us and Dunkin Donuts (via Jeanne DeVito) provided coffee and donuts.  Thanks also to Joan Bryant’s daughters’ donations of carloads of leftovers from their Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Yard Sale and to the Members of the Stoughton Neighborhood Coalition for the leftovers from their yard sale.   We made $1215 selling items and signed up four new members, yielding another $92.


On June 9, we held our annual dinner at the Stoneforge Grille in Easton and elected our new slate of Officers: :   President – Dwight Mac Kerron: Vice-President – David Lambert;  Treasurer – Joan Bryant;  Secretary  - Evelyn  Callinan;  Archivist Jack Sidebottom; Curator- Brian Daley;  Historian – Howard Hansen.  Joe DeVito is now on the Board of Directors.  Thank you’s to our Nominating Committee of Joan O’Hare, Mary Kelleher, and Candi Cerri.      We need volunteers for the Nominating Committee for next year, when the current President will reach the end of the three-year term-limit in the Society’s By-laws.

   Early in June, a group of the Membership Committee consisting of  Joe & Jeanne DeVito, Mary Kelleher, Candi Cerri, and Joan O’Hare spent a morning at the Society studying  our current membership and mailing lists. Their corrections to the lists should be a great help in future mailings.  Fortunately, we are gaining members faster than we are losing them, but with many members living as far away as California and Florida ,  and more local members moving, updating our lists is a constant challenge.  For those of you who can receive our Newletter via email, ( approximately fifty people do at this time) we would appreciate it if you would tell us your email by contacting stoughtonhistoricalsociety@verizon.net and so informing us.


Congratulations to David Lambert, who has announced the upcoming publication: Vital Records of Stoughton, Mass., to 1850  (2008) - $45.00.  Pre-publication orders must be received by 15 August 2008 .  (You may not get this newsletter until after that date, but you can still try.  The print run for this book will be limited to a few over the received pre-orders, so order one for you and your town or historical society library now! Delivery of this volume will be by 1 October and likely before.  Check David’s website stoughtonhistory.com for details on ordering.


 The plastering is completed and the painting is progressing nicely  on the walls and ceilings of the Lucius Clapp Memorial.  Blackout shades will be installed on all the windows in the Jones room.  It is gratifying to be rid of the peeling walls and stained ceilings and it will be a great relief not to have to bring in a long ladder to tack construction paper to our upper windows in order to get  a darkened room for screened presentations at our meetings.


Stoughton High School student volunteer, Jeffrey Fish, who has worked many Thursday nights at the Society over the last two years, entering information from our card catalogues into the Past Perfect computer program was the recipient of this year’s John Flynn Award.  Jeff wrote an article on the Stoughton Historical Society for the high school newspaper and has continued to work this summer.  He will be attending Suffolk University .  Congratulations, Jeff, and thank you for your work with and for us.


 We have been working on pictures and commentary on the Gay-Hodges “White Mill”  for the next Stoughton Community Calendar which will contain some of the new information we have learned about this historic factory.  On October 25, we will give a tour of the site off Mill Street in October to commemorate Archeology month.  The work on the calendar happened to coincide with the visit of two Southworth descendants, Lin Southworth of North Carolina and Beverly Johnston of Marshfield .  Their presence led me to go back to our Southworth files and look for more information on the Southworths and their connections to the Gay-Hodges factory.  The following are a few resulting snippets:


--Captain Jedediah Southworth was a prominent Stoughton patriot during the American Revolution.  He served on the town’s Committee of Correspondence and will figure prominently in our exhibits and presentations in the coming year. Two of his sons, Jedediah and Consider are contemporaries of  Lemuel Gay, Samuel Hodges Jr and Leonard Hodges and their names all appear in each other’s business records.


--One of Jedediah Southworth’s daughters, Lucy Hewett, b. 1804 married a Loring Puffer of Dorcester and they were the parents of Loring Puffer, a founding member of the Stoughton Historical Society who contributed many invaluable documents and artifacts.  Our oldest original document, a hand-written copy of fines paid by Members of Plymouth Bay Colony in the mid-1600’s is a gift from Loring Puffer.


--Consider Southworth’s ledger reveals that a Steven Blake was paying his debits with hats.  The Blake hat factory, despite its prominence on the quilt for the 250th, as Stoughton ’s first industry, has been difficult for us to track down.  Blake paid Southworth in hats at least six times between 1808 and 1812.


--Samuel Wales, father of Marion  (Polly) Wales, who married Samuel Hodges Jr. in 1821 and bore him four children on the Cape Verde Islands, paid a 2.00 debit to Col. Southworth in 1811 with his (unnamed) daughter’s schooling of Southworth’s children.   Polly, who would return to Stoughton and spend most of her life teaching school here after the death of three of her children and her husband in Cape Verde, would have been fifteen or sixteen years old at the time. 


-Jedediah (son of the Captain) Southworth’s)  small account book (May 1815-Nov 1817) contains several entries in which he rents his horse and wagon to women who were workers and boarders at the Gay Cotton Manufacturing Company: Mary and Fanny Fuller and Abigail Presbrey.  We also know from the books of the Company that Jedediah hauled heavy loads of cotton (most likely in bales) from Boston to Stoughton , and hundreds of pounds of the spun yarn from Stoughton back to Boston before the business failed in 1818.


-In 1818, Leonard Hodges stepped in after his brother departed for Cape Verde and ran (we believe) a combination jewelry and small scale weaving business, probably at the site of the White Mill.  His very limited records between 1818 and 1823 show that he was paying his bills with small amounts of satinett, until mid-1823, when he began to produce satinett by the thousands of yards.  In August of 1823, Consider Southworth charged Leonard  .33 “for sewing water loom belts,”  1.75 “for flowing my meadow,” and  2.50 “to your cow in my corn, five nights.”  These charges indicate that Leonard Hodges had begun to run a water-powered loom, after years of employing hand weavers to produce satinett.  The cow indicates that his mother Lucinda had joined him and would be running his boarding house.  In December, Leonard charges Lucinda 6.00, “to pasturing your cow, cash paid Isaac Gay.”


The Upcoming Year: Stoughton in the 1700’s    Beginning this fall and continuing through next summer, the Stoughton Historical Society will be focusing on Stoughton in the 1700's.  We have only a few physical artifacts from the period, (although we do own a wonderful display of  Continental Money, presented to us in 1909 by Loring Puffer) but we do have a treasure of original primary source town and precinct records and will have access to the Doty Tavern sign, recently purchased by the Friends of Prowse Farm.   There are many possible connections to the Suffolk Resolves, Declaration of Independence, the recent John Adams series on HBO,  and Stoughton 's participation in the Revolutionary War; including Deborah Sampson and her Stoughton connections.  We have  a list of the men in Precinct 1 who participated in various brief campaigns and what they were paid for their service, and the Revolutionary War service diaries of Vets Ezra Tilden and Capt. Asa Waters.  We will begin with a focus on Native Americans, the Ponkapoag Indians and their Plantation , set aside for them in the 1600's.  We also have town record books showing the Incorporation of the Town(s),  the town policy toward the indigent, the bounties on unwanted animals such as wildcats and blackbirds, the separate listing of free blacks and slaves at the very end of many of the tax records, and the setting out of many of our roads and streets.  This is just a starter list, but meant to get the ball rolling and to spur us to think of how to create catchy, but informative exhibits from old documents.   We would like to coordinate a number of our activities with the schools at all possible levels.  We will apply for a Cultural Council Grant to support some program related to this topic; we can sponsor contests for projects such as the very successful Lucius Clapp projects in 2003.  We also will cooperate with drama groups in the schools or community who could do re-enactments, skits, or full-length plays on any of the topics.  We encourage our members to make suggestions for programs and displays and take part in the creation of same.


Robert Spurr-Early Stoughton -The Ponkapoag Indians:  Sometimes requests from people for information on their ancestors lead us in fruitful directions.  We received a letter from Richard E Spurr of Alexandria , Virginia , asking if he could buy a Map of the Twelve Divisions, which shows his ancestor  Robert Spurr owning Lot No. 3 of 63 acres at the very top of the triangle, which made up the Dorcester South Precinct.  He also asked for whatever other information we could find on the Spurr family.  We found that Robert Spurr is mentioned by both Chaffin and Huntoon.  Chaffin quotes a long statement made by Spurr and two other men, Col. Sam. Thaxter and John Quincy, who were physically assaulted by Ephraim Fobes & Edw. & Daniel Howard as they were attempting to re-establish the ancient boundary between Mass Bay and Plymouth Bay Colonies.  This line was also the boundary between the Dorchester South Purchase and the Taunton North Purchase, currently the boundaries between Stoughton/Sharon to the north and Easton to the south.  Apparently the Fobes and Howards were Eastoners, who decided that the Dorchester men “had no business there” and were not swayed by the Dorchester men’s claims that they were acting on the orders of the General Court.  The Eastoners won the day as the Dorchester men retreated to avoid “Violence & Bloodshed,” but “the General

Court took a different view of the matter and ordered that they be arrested and shut up in Boston jail.  Several weeks confinement therein induced them to offer a humble petition for their release.  This was granted upon condition that they pay damages, and give security for better behavior in the future; which they did” (William Chaffin,  History of Easton, p26-7).

    Four years after the incident described above, Capt. Robert Spurr along with others  was appointed by Dorchester “to take care of the land, which in common with other lands, was granted in ye year 1637 to ye Town of Dorchester and in ye year of 1720, confirmed by ye General Court.” (Benjamin Huntoon, History of Canton , p 55.  In 1719 Spurr was one of three men appointed by Dorchester “to see that the articles with the Indians at the Ponkapoag Plantation were kept, and in no way encroached upon.” (Huntoon.  p58).  For a variety of reasons, however, the encroachment of the English continued.  “In 1756 Robert Spurr was guardian of the Indians and was very much embarrassed to determine the boundaries between the lands of the English and the Indians.  It was asserted that the Indians had no plat; and if ever they ever had any, that no traces of the field notes even could be found.  Spurr, therefore desires the General Court to order  the English persons abutting the Indian land to produce their deeds, and pay their proportion in the charges of surveying the Indian lands adjoining them.  The request was granted and he was empowered to employ a surveyor and chainman upon oath to settle the boundaries between the Indians and the English,--each party to pay their proportion of the expense, the English to produce their deeds.  The plan was finished in 1760, by which it appeared that there was still in possession of the Indians land amounting to seven hundred and ten and three-quarters acres.  The English abutters were Robert Capen, Recompense Wadsworth,  Jonathan Capen, Deacon Wales, Ignatius Jordan, Elijah Jordan, James Smith, Nehemiah Liscom, Paul Wentworth, Samuel Tucker, Josiah Sumner, John and Moses Wentworth, Edward Bailey, John Whitley.”  (Huntoon, p 13).  Bear in mind that the original Grant to the Indians was said to be 6,000 acres.

   Robert Spurr would appear to be a man, who attempted to do the right thing, but the loss of land by the Indians was drastic and it continued.  Were Spurr and others not nearly vigilant enough or was the phenomenon by which land moved from Indian to English ownership, inevitable?  Being able to focus  on a few “known” individuals like Robert Spurr  should enhance the study of the Indian land question and I am sure that we will hear more on this matter from David Lambert on October 19.  Our Historical Society’s first act in 1895 was to erect the stone marker designating the Southeast corner of the original Ponkapoag Indian Plantation.  The acquiring, surveying, and mapping the land and the “purchases” of the land from the Indians will obviously be an important early focus of  Stoughton in the 1700’s.”  Can anyone come up with a better title?


Archivists ReportWe have done research on several houses in Stoughton , including 122 Seaver St. and found information on the one-armed veteran of the French and Indian War David Thompson Jr. We located  information on the Dry Pond Cemetery   and gathered many of our Southworth materials for two descendants who visited.  We located four original pictures from the 1976 Calendar to make copies  for a professional photographer and found two pictures of the Capen School for copies. A group of us  removed the eyebrows from the windows in the Jones room and moved organs (we couldn’t budge the big one; it is screwed to the floor) to prepare for the plastering and painting. Millie Foss is taking on the work of our un-catalogued documents from the 1700’s in the rare books cabinets.   An glassine envelope with many documents from the Tolman family dating back to 1726 is one recent “rediscovery.”  Joe DeVito continues to separate pictures of local organizations and businesses and put them into scrapbooks he is creating.    Items received: Pictures and documents relating to local Boy Scout Troops  from John Fernandes; Photos, documents, and a medal,  from WWI from the Maraglia Family;. pictures of Glen Echo from John Carabatsos; a picture labeled  “Hodges house, West Stoughton, (burned),” from Lin Southworth; Photos and newspaper articles from the St Germaine family via Loreen (St Germaine) Hardiman; (One of the newspapers was the 1941 80th Anniversary Edition of the Stoughton News-Sentinel.  Since we have a few other copies of this wonderful edition, we decided to put the “St Germain Edition” in three large clear mellinex sleeves and place them in the reading room.  The lead article “Interesting Facts from Stoughton ’s History” runs to thousands of words and provides a good overview of the History of our Town through 1941.  There are also fascinating small articles on the business in town in 1941, incuding DeVito’s Liquor Store, Lehan Ford, Webster’s Candy,  the George E Belcher Co. and many more.  The next time you vist the Society, be sure to come and take a look -  Jack Sidebottom


Curator’s Report   We are in the process of making the transition from Hank Herbowy to Brian Daley.  Items received: WWI vintage medals, binoculars, and camera from the Maraglia family, flags of local Boy Scout troops from John Fernandes, and a small glass bottle with the words Otis Clapp & Son Inc from the Callela family.


Clothing Curators Emily Guertin, Ruth McDonald and Joan O’ Hare have been dealt a setback.   Emily has been hospitalized  and is now recovering at the Copley Healthcare Partnership at 380 Sumner St , Stoughton , MA   02072 .  Her presence is sorely missed in the clothing department and we could use someone, even if they can give just a few hours a month.  Sewing and clothing preservation skills are not required, but an ability to help organize our collection would be helpful.

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        New  Members:  Teryl Randall, Larry Slater,  John and Barbara Anzivino, David and Helen Sears, Richard and Ruth Fitzpatrick, Gordon Hayner, Richard C. Gerrish,  Carlos and Kathleen Vargas, Carol Neville,  and John Carabatsos.  Mr and Mrs Louis Poillucci became life members.  Welcome to all these new members and to all others who have joined in the past year.  We would like to get to know you better and urge you to attend the Harvest Dinner.




The  Harvest Dinner will be held at the Stoughton Public Library in the Wales-French Room  on Monday, September 22, at 6pm .  The cost will be $15.00 per person for the buffet dinner.  Please fill out the form below and return it with your check, made out to the Stoughton Historical Society, P.O. Box 542 , Stoughton , MA 02072 .


Name: _____________________________________   # attending: _________________