Stoughton Historical Society Newsletter 



President's Message 

Many things have happened at the Society since our last newsletter. The Harvest Supper was a great success financially, but we could have used more people to eat all that food. Thank you's to our Treasurer, Joan Bryant, and two of her daughters, Debbie and Danielle for ordering and putting out the food for us. We also saw a slideshow of a number of past events involving the Historical Society and some images from natural and historic treasures in Stoughton. 

We wish to express our gratitude for the many donations we received in tribute to our late member, Herman E. Bushenfeldt (1922-2006). We have used the gifts to purchase a new storage unit to house our historical scrapbooks, which has a plaque with Herman's name on it. 

We also thank those who contributed to celebrate Past President Joe Devito's 80th birthday and will use those contributions for an industrial strength dehumidifier to help preserve our many documents and artifacts. 

On Friday, October 27th, The Society and artist Sarah Feragen co-sponsored an unveiling of her mural on the history of the Stoughton Rubber/ Corcoran Shoe Company Building at 2 Canton Street. The Army & Navy Store supplied samples of Corcoran's boots as they are sold today and there were exhibits of scrapbooks newly acquired by the Historical society on the local State Theater in the 1930's, John Stiles' photographs of the East Boston (now Logan) Airport in the 1920's and the planes which flew in that era. Also displayed were copies of selected pages of the recently acquired day-book (1798-1825) of Stoughton Revolutionary War Veteran blacksmith, and coffin-maker, James Capen

On Sunday, October 29th, the Society sponsored a tour of the Hurley-McNamara Barn just south of 1460 West Street and then took a short walk into the nearby fields to identify stone walls, marking one lot boundary, shown in the 1726 maps. Jack Hurley and Edward McNamara gave brief presentations and answered questions on the barn's history and use. I have put together a couple booklets: Farms in the Dry Pond Area, and another "Strolling Around the Dry Pond District in My Boyhood Days" written by Ernest Gilbert, sometime around the turn of the Century. I have included some newspaper articles on Erastus Smith, Ernest's father-in-law. an essay written by John Flynn on the McNamara family's celebration of Charles McNamara's Silver Wedding Anniversary, presided over by Cardinal Cushing and attended by Governor Volpe. The booklets are on sale at the Society for $1.00 to members and $3.00 for non-members. 

At our meeting on November, 5th, the Stoughton Historical Society showed three recently restored movies of past town events, the dedication of the Freeman Street Fire Station in 1926, the parade celebrating the Town's 200th birthday in the same year, and the short video clip featuring the Town of Stoughton which was shown on Channel 7 back in the 1960's. We thank Joan Bryant and Denise Peterson for getting these movies which were on 16mm film onto a CD so that we all could enjoy them. On Friday November 10, at 10 A.M., the Historical Society was visited by seventy five 6th grade students and teachers from the O'Donnell Middle School. As part of a Veteran's Day program, the students asked questions of a panel consisting of four veterans of WWII, three from the Korean Conflict, two from the war in Vietnam, and four from the Iraq war. While half of the students were asking questions of the veterans, the other half were learning about the four Civil War diaries of Edward Waldo, which the Society owns. Several weeks ago, a collection of letters written by Mr. Waldo back to Stoughton sold on Ebay for $4250! The students and the veterans then attended a luncheon prepared by parents and teachers at the nearby VFW Hall. This is the fourth year we have run this program which was started by David Guglia, a teacher at the middle school and Joe DeVito, past president of the society. The students were complimented on their behavior and the quality of their questions. On Thursday nights, we have appreciated the help of several students from the History Club at Stoughton High School. These students Ally Di Censo, Jeremy Blumenthal, and Jeff Fish have been entering information from our file cards into the Past Perfect program on our computer. When this process is completed, it will be much easier to search our files for any particular document, person, or topic. They also got our video-tape to DVD converter up and running and have made a copy on DVD of the fashion show the Society put on in 1998.

On November 29, I showed three classes of third-graders at the Hansen School some of the artifacts from our collection, including a piece of water piping from the Capen Tavern, which was found on our site many years ago and the metal assembly piece from a kerosene/oil lantern, which Hank retrieved from our site when the landscapers were putting in the trees for Joe's birthday. There were also clay pipes and skeleton keys which had been retrieved from 1144 West Street, the Simon Stearns house site by Phyllis Batchelder and a large metal rim to a wagon wheel, which I had found in New Hampshire many years ago. 

The James Capen day book which the society just purchased lists many instances of his making or repairing wagon wheels. Here are a few consecutive entries from early October, 1811: B & A Capen to mending forward wheel .50 Mr. Richmond to giting in corn .50 Stage to mending wheel .75 B & A Capen to mending cart wheels .75 When I mentioned that we needed local arrowheads for our collection, one of the teachers, Mary Wright, went back to her classroom and brought some arrowheads which her own children had dug up on West Street and promptly donated two of them to our collection. That was far more recompense than I had expected. We will be doing more work with local 3rd graders during the course of the year, possibly including a field trip or two if the Cultural Council Grant comes through William Drake of Avon, Ohio, emailed us a few months ago, asking if we could tell him anything about the Drakes, who lived in Stoughton and Sharon in the Nineteenth Century. I sent him some information on the Drakes of Sharon, who had accounts in the Samuel Hodges' Tavern-Store accounts. Many of the Drake women were selling straw braid and bonnets to Hodges; in fact I had used the Drake women in my talk in Sharon. After William Drake received the materials I sent him, he sent copies of letters exchanged between the Drakes in Sharon and Stoughton and the Drakes who moved to Ohio, his ancestors, including Asa Drake. I have just begun to read the letters, hoping that they will reveal more things about life in our area 1821-1859, the period covered by the letters. 

On Thursday, December 7, six students from the Stoughton High School History Club and their advisor Don Higgins came in the early afternoon to visit the Society. They got a tour from Joe DeVito and a brief presentation from me. We had a good discussion of the Waldo journal and other issues relating to the Civil War and Stoughton's industrial past . In the evening, we were visited by more than twenty Cub Scouts, leaders and parents. Joe gave these students a tour and entertained them with stories of his mother threatening to discipline him with a rolling pin and about a time when he accidentally broke a large class ball on the Belcher estate. I showed them some maps, our newly acquired arrowheads, and the large metal wheel rim, an example of the kind of work that our early blacksmiths, including John Capen did for their customers. They were one of, if not the best Cub Scout audiences we have had a chance to talk to. 

On Sunday, December 10, Joe Mokrisky drove the fire truck and Joe DeVito rode beside him in the Holiday Parade. Jeanne Devito, Evelyn Callanan, Brian Daley, and Joan Bryant were present to welcome our eight visitors. Joan prepared snacks and Jeanne made coffee for the occasion. Mark Snyder appeared with a video recorder and asked for a tour of the building. I gave an impromptu presentation, which was completely off the cuff and not as precise and inclusive as I would have liked, but he did get half an hour of video which will be appearing soon on his show. As your new President, I feel that we are doing some things reasonably well, but that I also am a day late and a dollar short on other aspects of my responsibilities. I want to work on getting our notices in the Enterprise, Patriot-Ledger, and Globe South more prominently and consistently and get the Newsletter out in a more timely fashion. We have met with many schoolchildren for presentations, but I would like to have done more with our members.                                                                                                

                                                                                                                                 Dwight MacKerron

Coming Events On Sunday, February 18th at 2:00 pm, the Historical Society and the Stoughton Public Library will co-sponsor a lecture and slideshow from Michael Tougias: A Narrated Slide Presentation by Award-winning Author Michael Tougias

A Fight for Survival in the Blizzard of 1978

Based on the Boston Globe Bestseller Ten Hours Until Dawn: A True Story of Heroism and Tragedy aboard the Can Do

During the height of the Blizzard of 1978 the pilot boat Can Do, with five men onboard, set out from Gloucester to assist a lost Coast Guard boat and an oil tanker that was in a Mayday situation. Ten Hours Until Dawn tells the story of what happened on that awful night when the seas were producing monstrous waves of 40 feet and the wind was screaming at 100 miles per hour.

Using slides of the boats, the men involved, and photos of the storm, Tougias will take the viewer through this incredible night where many lives hung in the balance. With the aid of maps Tougias lets the audience see the progression and location of these boats off the Massachusetts coast, and explains what happened and why.

This is one of the few ocean tragedies where we know exactly what happened due to the existence of audio recordings which were taped the night of the storm and feature both the voices of men of the Coast Guard and the Can Do. The tapes span a ten hour period during the men's fight for survival. Tougias will play a portion of the tape at the presentation.

Ten Hours Until Dawn was recently awarded the coveted American Library Association "Editors Choice Selection", which referred to the book as "the best of the best." Tougias is the author of 17 books. More about the book and the author can be found on the web at

Archivist's Report We have had a display honoring Herman E. Buschenfeldt in the lobby for the past several months, including a model boat which Herman made and donated to the Society. Jack, Brian, and Joe found files and pictures of Stoughton Rubber Company and the Corcoran Shoe Companies to display at the mural dedication. Other research has involved finding the year when Stoughton High School's colors became became orange and black. Our research so far indicates that the year was 1926, which was also the year that the Stoughton-Canton football rivalry began. The new storage cabinet in memory of Herman E. Buschenfeldt has arrived, Jeanne DeVito has purchased the plaque for it, and we are transferring some of our rare books collection to the new cabinet, making room in other cabinets for photo albums, scrapbooks, and postcards. In moving the cabinets and card catalogue we have made some interesting discoveries. We found John Stiles typed explanations for the locations of books and artifacts under his system, which makes it much easier to find the objects that are still catalogued with his numbers and letters. Also found was a previously uncatalogued scrapbook, given to the Stoughton Historical Society in 1925 by "Interested Citizens." This scrapbook contains many original pictures of Stoughton's old businesses including the "White" Mill on Mill St., the Consider Southworth Mill off Central Street, and a number of other Stoughton factories and businesses. We have found information on trolley cars and the Civil War diaries of Alfred Edward Waldo. Joe has been sorting a number of deeds in the Hodges collection which relate to the many transfers of the land on which the current Stoughton Norfolk County Court House stands. and Brian has been continuing his research on the many airplane and airport pictures taken by John Stiles, especially the ones that have not yet been put into scrapbooks. We have purchased a lamp magnifier and a label-making machine. 

Jack Sidebottom - Curator's Report We have catalogued approximately forty new items, including six bottles from Belcher & Hodges, a Gillette razor from a U.S. Service set, banners from the 200th Anniversary including a yellow Capen banner, a Stoughton Trust Company money-bag, and a Town Spa ashtray. Joan Bryant has completed copying all our listings on a laptop and has printed out a forty-page inventory of our more than 1400 items. Hank, Denise Peterson and Joan are now in the process of taking a complete inventory. Hank Herbowy Membership Dues now run from January to December. The cost is $15 for an individual $25.00 for a family. If you are paying for the remainder of the 2006 dues and all of the 2007 dues you owe $22.50 for an individual or $37.50 for a family. Thank you's to Mary Kelliher for keeping track of the dues and for mailing out this Newsletter with the able assistance of her daughter, Mary Theresa O'Connor.

Merry Christmas! Happy Chanukah! Give a Holiday Present from the Stoughton Historical Society. Come visit before Christmas and see the Christmas Tree which Candy Cerri has decorated for us and purchase some of our historical maps of the 12 or 25 Divisions, firetruck t-shirts, or gift memberships for the people on your shopping list. We will keep the tree up until January 11, in case you can't get in before Christmas.

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