Stoughton Historical Society Newsletter Online
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VOLUME XL NO.4 APR-MAY-JUNE 2011
May 21 - 9:00 A.M.-2:00 P.M. Yard Sale at Lucius Clapp Memorial at 6 Park St.
Please drop off items at the Society on Tuesdays 10-3 or on Thursday evenings,
6-8. Jeanne says that good costume jewelry would be very helpful. Denise says no
electronics or stuffed toys. We will also be selling sunflower and many other
plants, maps, publications, and t-shirts. Help from strong backs at 7:00 A. M.
would be much appreciated.
May 23 – 6:00 P. M. – Annual Meeting and dinner at Foley’s Back Street Grill. If
you plan to attend, please fill out the form on the last page of this
newsletter. Look for an email and ad in the Stoughton Pennysaver finalizing next
year’s slate of officers. Thank you’s to Mary Kelleher, Hank Herbowy and Millie
Foss for serving on the Nominating Committee.
In February, we had a full house present to see Hank Herbowy Presents, featuring
pictures he had diligently taken of activities in Stoughton over the last two
decades. We bought a new and much improved computer projector for the event,
which should enhance our enjoyment of many future programs. Hank’s pictures
permitted many of us to see the inside of the armory (which is now owned by the
Town) for the first time. In March, we enjoyed Wayne Legge’s display and
exposition on the items he has found on his land in West Bridgewater and Roger
Hall’s slide presentation on Stoughton’s Music Man, E. A. Jones, for whom our
meeting room was named. One fascinating part of Wayne’s presentation was the
fact that he found a number of arrowheads in soil that had been ploughed in to
fill an old cellar hole many years ago. He also found an arrowhead in the roots
of a tree, which apparently had come from a stone formation hundreds of miles
away in New York State, via inter-tribal trade. Roger Hall has found interesting
things as well, including a large wrapped, but unmarked packet in the basement
of the Historical Society in 1980. It contained all of EA Jones music in his
original handwriting. Roger said that it was like finding a treasure and he was
inspired to get a number of Jones’s pieces performed over the years. You can
read more at
After many visions and revisions, we have finally gotten the Time Line of Early
Stoughton History panels installed in the Jones room, one on each side of the
projection screen. These attractive, illustrated panels contain dates of
important events in Stoughton’s history through 1895. We are now working on
supplementary maps and other materials to accompany them. We will not have the
official dedication until September, but the panels will be available for your
viewing any time you visit the Society.
Our sincere condolences to our Secretary, Evelyn (DeVito) Callanan, whose
beloved husband of 58 years, James Edward Callanan passed away on February 26.
Jim’s contributions to the Town have been well documented in his obituaries and
the wonderful tribute paid to him by the Stoughton Fire Department as his
funeral procession passed Faxon Park. Jim was the Founder of Stoughton’s
Christmas Parade and honored as its Grand Marshall in 2008. Our thank you’s also
to Chris Peduto who made a contribution to the Society in Jim’s name.
The Stoughton Community Preservation Committee has voted to approve the spending
of $9000 of Community Preservation Funds for the repair of the back steps, brick
retaining wall, and railings at the Lucius Clapp Memorial. Final approval for
this repair and the renewal of the lease of our building from the Town will come
at the upcoming Town Meeting.
The Stoughton Historical Commission has added approximately fifteen sites, including the 1896 marker, to the historical layer of the Town’s GIS map. These comprehensive GIS maps will be unveiled at a Community Preservation Committee Open House at Town Hall in June.
Our work on the historical layer of this map and a related field trip has
revealed a fascinating connection between the Stoughton Historical Society, the
Glen Echo Property, and the Ponkapoag Indian Plantation, which was created by
the Great and General Court in 1659. The Town’s GIS map, at
http://gis.stoughton-ma.gov/GISPropertyViewer/Map.aspx clearly shows the lot
lines of the southeast corner of the Ponkapoag Plantation, which is marked by an
inscribed granite marker placed there as one of the first acts of the Stoughton
Historical Society in 1896. The marker was paid for by Elisha Monk, who had just
purchased the land from the last Native-American owners, members of the Crowd
family of whom the Canton Historical Society has a prominent exhibit currently
on display. Monk was about to begin his development of the Glen Echo property,
which included the change of name from York Pond, as it appears on the 1794 map
to Glen Echo. We also recently located an Elisha Monk scrapbook in our
possession, which contains a number of historical articles, some of which were
written by him and delivered to the Stoughton Historical Society as a lecture. A
picture of his/our Ponkapoag Plantation Southeast corner marker, is the final
image on our new time-line panels.
The current GIS lot lines, which emanate WNW and NNE from the marker, clearly
define the old corner of that 6,000 (or less) acres of land, most of which is in
the current Canton. But the Stoughton lines reveal that the projected Glen Echo
purchase would include much of the small triangle of Stoughton land within the
boundaries of the old Ponkapoag Plantation! I noticed the presence of these
distinctive corner lot lines after I paid a recent visit to the location of
“our” granite marker. Alas, it is in an isolated area, outside the land which
may be purchased, but its presence should gain more prominence, if interest in
the rich history of Ponkapoag Plantation is revived. Huntoon has two chapters
with many interesting stories and characters involved in this early “Praying
Indian” settlement. John Sassamon, a Native-American born at Ponkapoag (which is
spelled at least six different ways in various documents), was educated at
Harvard and served as a minister in several communities before becoming a
translator for King Phillip. Sassamon has always struck me as a fascinating
figure, a man caught between two cultures, trying to make his way in both. It
was his alleged murder by three of King Phillip’s men, apparently because they
suspected Sassamon had leaked Phillip’s war plans to the English, which served
as the flash point for the bloody war, which followed. An Indian, who allegedly
saw the murder confided what he had seen to William Ahauton, a
Native-American/Stoughton patriarch, very important in the history of Ponkapoag
Plantation. Ahauton passed the information along to the English, who
subsequently arrested, tried, and hanged the three Indians. Just a few days
after his men were hanged, Phillip attacked and burned Swansea. Within two
years, one of every eleven adult, white males in New England had become a
casualty. The death toll for Indians was considerably higher and many women and
children were also killed on both sides. Because of the fear both of what
hostiles might do to the “Praying Indians” at Ponkapoag Plantation and/or the
fear that these Indians might abscond to Phillip, the Indians were moved,
suffering serious hardships in the process, first to Long Island in Boston
Harbor and then to a fort at Brush Hill in Quincy.
I believe that we should begin to gather all the available information on Ponkapoag Plantation (of which we will hear more, later in this Newsletter) from as many sources as we can find, and create a greatly expanded file at our society, witha possible subsequent publication on this fascinating piece of our history. We also should be able to project the original boundaries of the Ponkapoag Plantation, as shown on the Map of the Twelve Divisions onto a modern topo map, much as I have done with the original boundaries of the Dorchester South Precinct, or New Grant. The rough boundaries appear to be as follows: a line running NNE from the south east (York Pond/Glen Echo) corner previously described, up toward the Randolph-Canton line for a mile and a half, then turning back to the west-northwest for a mile, then northerly to the east end of Ponkapoag Pond, then West across Rt 138 to the area just north of the Blue Hill Country Club, thence south to the vicinity of the Canton Viaduct (Howard Hansen says that there is a corner marker about a quarter mile NW of the Viaduct), and then east back over to the Glen Echo corner. The Canton Historical Society has a document produced by Ellis Ames and others, which describes the projection of these boundary lines onto an 1855 map of Canton, but does not include the map; it does, however, include distances from known locations and compass readings of all the lines, which should make more precise identification possible. If anyone is interested in helping with our Ponkapoag Plantation research, please contact us.
In preparation for our joint meeting with the Foxborough, Canton, and Sharon Historical Societies on April 3, we combined our spliced modern topo quadrangles (a map which needs a better name) outlining the original Old Stoughton, with Sharon Town records, found at their library which recorded perambulations of their boundaries in order to determine Stoughtonham’s western boundaries in 1769, before Foxboro took sizeable pieces of both Stoughtonham, Wrentham, and Walpole to form its own Town in 1778. The old border between these towns, which followed existing roads for much of its length, ran right through the center of the current Foxborough. It is the only town of the four, whose current center is on a former border between towns. That fact explains why Jack Authelet has found in his extensive research that some families who lived close to each other in the center of the current Foxborough, were listed, pre-incorporation as residents of different towns.
We thank the Foxborough Historical Commission and Society led by Bob Hicks for being such gracious hosts, and Jack Authelet for his enlightening presentation on the History of Foxborough. We learned that at incorporation in 1778, a number of the residents of East Foxborough, including the prominent Boyden family asked for and were given permission to remain in Stoughtonham, creating a rather irregular eastern boundary. However, within just over half a century, all of them “returned” to Foxborough. Jack also supplied us with a CD and many accompanying documents, which will greatly enhance our knowledge of this section of Old Stoughton. After the presentation, we enjoyed our tour through their elegant Memorial Hall and its many fine displays. It is definitely worth a visit; Wednesdays 7-9 PM and the 2nd Saturday of the month; 9 AM – Noon.
This meeting reminded us that Wrentham also occupied a significant portion of Old Stoughton and having been settled from the older Dedham grant, (learning the location of Dedham Rock, a few hundred yards north of the Bass Pro Shop was another useful piece of knowledge acquired here) it was incorporated in 1673, more than fifty years before Stoughton. That was the good news; the bad news was that the Indians burned them out two years later during King Phillip’s War. Fifty years later, they had regrouped and a large tract of the Dorchester South Precinct was ceded to Wrentham in 1724, excluding the large Dorchester South Precinct School Farm tract. Currently, that land, which has its own fascinating history, is split between the towns of Wrentham and Foxborough. Greg Stahl of the Wrentham Historical Commission has graciously agreed to put together a packet of materials on their history, which he is sending along to us.
Another positive result from our collaboration was Jack Authelet’s referring us to a History of the Town of Dorchester, Massachusetts, written by in 1859, a volume we managed to purchase on Amazon, which now has the capability of printing new books from old plates on demand. This 650 page work contains many fascinating tidbits including a copy of a Dorchester petition in 1664, foreshadowing the grievances which led to the American Revolution a century later. It states emphatically the Town of Dorchester’s concerns about the possibility of excess taxation and other abuses they fear, following the end of the reign of Cromwell in England and the re-establishment of the monarchy. There are approximately one hundred signees of this petition and many of them are names which appear as Dorchester Proprietors on the Maps of the Twelve and Twenty-Five Divisions. Included are three names from the Bird family. In 1746, one Benjamin Bird is rebuked by the Dorchester Congregation for issues involving both behavior and doctrine. Bird and his son Samuel had formally challenged Pastor Danforth…and lost. “An Old Map of Stoughton in 1775,” created by Newton Talbot, lists a Benjamin Bird building a house on (what will become) Morton St in 1749. Our research has revealed that this is a son of the Dorchester Benjamin Bird. Ironically, (or do such things just run in families?) this Benjamin Bird had a son, Lemuel Bird, who settled at the farm site now within the Bird St Conservation Area. Lemuel, who believed in “universal salvation” was a major player in the splitting of the Congregational and Unitarian / Universalist Churches fifty years after the Revolutionary War.
The Dorchester History also has many entries on the interactions with the Native-Americans including the following for the year 1708: “Wm Noahaton, Samuel Mamantaug and Amos Noahaton, Indians of Punkapaug, in behalf of their tribe, thanked the town for its care of them and their interests, in settling the boundaries between them and their white neighbors; and understanding that the town was offended because they had leased their land to the English, promised to lease no more and give up all their right in that parcel of land about the Punkapaug Meeting-house (which according to our new time line had been built the previous year, although there was no regular minister until 1717) containing about three acres, for a burying place and training field.” Originally, the Indian line would seem to have been well north of that Meeting House, but apparently, the many leases given out by the Indians had made the earlier “Indian Line” somewhat irrelevant.
Huntoon’s Chapter III, “First Settlers,” (available online at www.stoughtonhistory.com ) lists a number of settlers who had illegally received leases from the Indian:
“The ease with which the early settlers had acquired a foothold on the Indian land was the cause of ill-feeling among outsiders. In 1712, six years after the first settlers had seen, to their dismay, the sheriff ride among them with his summonses to court, it was said to be notoriously apparent that several persons and families of her Majesty's English subjects had entered upon and possessed themselves of' "the land , called Puncapaug," which for many years had been appropriated as an Indian village, and reserved by law for that purpose; and that "these persons are building fences and improving the land." We are not aware that any action was taken to restore the Indians to their just rights; but "the Honorable, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to the Indians in New England and parts adjacent in America," intimated that if the matter were taken in hand and pushed, they would bear a portion of the expense.
The town of Dorchester became alarmed, and appointed Robert Spurr, Thomas
Tileston, and Samuel Paul, in 1719, to see that the articles with the Indians
were kept, and in no way encroached upon.
In 1723 the matter became so weighty-that the council desired a committee to examine and report upon it. In June Samuel Sewall made a report, and the council appointed a committee to repair to Ponkapoag and inquire into the nature and condition of the lands, which the Indians had leased to the English. They were also instructed to make a report on the quantity and quality of the lands possessed by each person, and under what regulations and conditions it would be proper to confirm the leases, regard being had to the Indians' original right, and the improvements made by the English settlers. This committee went to Ponkapoag, and on Dec. 27, 1723, made the following report to the council: —
"1. That the tract of Land at Puncapaug Called by the name of the Indian Land,
Altho said to be Six thousand Acres, Amounts to no more than five Thousand five
hundred Acres, there being an Ancient Grant of five hundred Acres to one Fenno,
which must be Subducted out of it. (One also notes that on the Map of the 12D,
there is a large tract of land set off to “Captain Clapp” which removes hundreds
of acres from the Indian land just below Ponkapoag Pond. DM)
"2. There may be About fifteen hundred Acres of Unimproved rough land Which is Unoccupied by the English & not Leased by the Indians.
"3. The other four thousand Acres, more or less, is What is or has been Leased by the Indians to the English & now under their Improvements. A schedule of the names of the Tenants, of the quantity of their Lands, the purchase money they gave for it, together with the Annual Rent or quit Rent, is hereunto Annexed. Upon the Whole, that which the Committee have agreed on as proper in their opinion to represent & report to this Honb'le Court is as follows : 1. That the said leases be all of them made or Reduced to Ninety Nine Years from this time, & for that Term of Years be confirmed to the Tenants by this Court. 2. That the Quit Rent or Annuity, to be paid by the English to the Indians for their Lands, be one penny Per Acre per Annum, & this to be collected by & paid Unto Some proper Person or persons, Who shall be Appointed by the Court as Trustees for the Indians, - The money from Time to Time to be carefully applied for the use of the Indians.(Note that this one is not accepted)
"4. The English Tenants, their Heirs or Assigns, at the Expiration of the said Term of Ninety Nine Years, to be allowed the Renewing their Respective Leases for Ninety Nine Years Longer, upon the payment of three pence per Acre as a fine for the Use of the Indians. Unless they should turn their Leases into Freeholds by taking Absolute Deeds of the Indians. Which they Shall be Allowed to do at any Time or Times hereafter upon paying to the Trustee or Trustees to the Indians Twenty Years Rent of such Land as they Hold & Enjoy by Vertue of Such Leases, which Twenty Years Purchase Money shall also be Let out for the Annual Profits & Advantage of the Indians by their Trustees.
"5. That the Indians be confirmed in their Privilege of fishing, fowling, and Hunting, So they Do no Damage to the English, & also of Such Apple Trees or Orcharding (particularly Some Orcharding Claimed by Charles Redman in his Lease) as they have Expressly Saved or excepted In their Leases.
"The Committee have also Anexed a memorial in Behalf of the English Tenants Which they have Received Since their being at Puncapaug.
"Question, — Whether the meadows, Orchards, & Old Fields & Clear Lands Hired of the Indians Should not pay a Greater Quit Rent than one penny per Acre.
"In Council Read & Ordered, that the first, second, & fourth Article of this Report be Accepted, And that Nath'l Hubbard & John Quincy, Esqrs., be Trustees for the Indians of Puncapaug : Sent Down for Concurrence."
In 1735 the following names appear in addition to those previously mentioned as having given bonds for the land they occupied, for the benefit of the Indians, — Philip Goodwin, Benjamin Jordan, John Kenney, Preserved Lyon, Benjamin Smith, John Smith, William Spear, Samuel Savels, Captain [George] Talbot, George Wadsworth.(listed on our map as being the first resident in the current Stoughton living near York Pond. DM) A few years later appear John Atherton, Nathaniel Stearns, Thomas Shepard, Ezekiel Fisher, and Paul Wentworth.”
We hope to learn much more about the Ponkapoag Plantation, including details of how individual Indians acquired individual title to what originally appeared to have been a communal grant, thereby providing another step in the process which eventually led to the Crowd family’s selling the York Pond-Glen Echo land to Elisha Monk in 1895. Subsequent owners have been George Mantle (Elisha’s son-in-law), George Monk, (Elisha’s son) and three generations of the Gibson family.
Archivist’s Report – We did considerable work finding out information on the Hawes family for Johannah Hawes Currier of Barre, VT. Her father James Henry Hawes graduated from Stoughton High School in 1923, and although we do not have that yearbook, we had two previous ones for which he had served as Sport Editor, writing an article on Ruthie Parent Fitzpatrick’s father, who was a star athlete at the time. Eventually we were able to locate James’ parents’ gravestones at the Immaculate Conception Cemetery, which the Curriers were able to photograph when they visited Stoughton in March. Acquisitions: A genealogy of the Capen Family of Northern Vermont, written and donated by William Powers. St. Mary’s School Diploma for Rosalie L. Robichaud dated 1910, Hon. Mention for exams taken 1909-1910, 1914 Stoughton HS Diploma all found by Michael Donovan in the wall of a house he was remodeling in Hull and donated by him to us. 1955 Stoughton High School Yearbook from Arlene Sinowitz, whose deceased husband Jack was an Industrial Arts teacher in Stoughton in the 1950’s. Farms in Massachusetts, a paperback book donated by Pat Basler from the Stoughton Public Library. Stoughton photos, including the burned shoddy mill, Panther Rubber, and Shawmut Mill; also Brookfield Engineering Annual Reports of 1986-8 and employee handbook, documents pertaining to the two nine-year terms of Dr. Joseph Golden as Medical examiner; 1936 and 1943 from John Carle. - Richard Fitzpatrick
Curator’s Report – We have received the following donations: From Joe and Jeanne DeVito; 1967 Nail file and comb case celebrating the 50th Anniversary of J. DeVito and Co., 2 fountain pens circa 1940’s, 1 1976 Stoughton 250th Anniversary coin and a related set of spoons, WWII ration stamp book. From Rick and Linda Woodward; two containers of friction tape in Vintage (date unknown) Plymouth Rubber Company cardboard containers. From Ruth Parent Fitzpatrick; 1 wooden masher, 1 wooden pestle, and 3 wooden jigsaw puzzles. From Joseph Macaluso; large model of the Titanic and life preserver, Ben Malcolm’s WWII medals, - Brian Daley
Clothing Curator’s Report -
As we have had few additional acquisitions in the past 2 months, I have spent my
time at the Society building getting acquainted with the materials I am to
oversee. I have reviewed the records and locations of all of the head ware and
have done some relocating of these items so that they are now all stored in the
same area. I have also done the same thing with the foot ware that the Society
owns. In doing this I have found that most of the storage boxes need to be
revisited and the items check for possible storage damage. Most of the woolen
items have mold spots on them and the ones I have found have been thoroughly
vacuumed and returned to storage with fresh acid free papers. I will continue
this process and any help that members can give would be greatly appreciated. -
A thank you to Brian Daley for filling our urns out front with pansies.
Welcome to New members: Marcia Drago, Janice Esdale-Lindwell, Wally Gibbs, Pam Dykeman, and Joanne Callanan; new Life members: Brian Daley, Dwight Mac Kerron - Joan Bryant, Julie and Michael Widrow and a new advertiser-members Foley’s Backstreet Grill, Stoughton Bakery – Ann Azul.
Consider giving a gift of Stoughton History:
Historical Maps of the 12 (1695) and 25 (1726) Divisions - each map $15 (non-member) / $10 (member) (a ten page booklet of commentary, free, when you buy both of these beautiful colored maps.)
October Stories by James Barber - $13.00
The Drake Letters from Stoughton to Strongsville by Sandee LeMasters - $20 (non-member) /M15
"Exult O Americans and Rejoice": The Revolutionary War Diaries of Ezra Tilden - $15.00 (non-member) / $ 10.00 (member)
A Stoughton Sampler: 1895-1995. $15.00 (non-member) / $10.00 (members)
The Civil War Diary of Stoughton Private Alfred Waldo - $20.00 (non-members) / $15.00 (members)
Images of Stoughton or Postcard Images of Stoughton both by David Allen Lambert. $22.00 (non-members) / $20 (members)
Booklets: Price for each copy: $ 3.00 (non-members) / $2.00 members
Updated color-coded trail/topo maps of the Bird St. Conservation Area - $2.00
Large topo map of Bird St Conservation Area, showing stone walls and lot lines - $10.00
If you wish to order by mail, add $5.00 to your total purchase. For the large maps, add $8.
Address all requests to: The Stoughton Historical Society, Box 542, Stoughton, MA 02072
Please pay your dues for 2011, and 2010 if you have not already done so.
Those who have not paid for 2009, will not be receiving this Newsletter nor the email with it attached. Mail dues to Stoughton Historical Society, Box 542, Stoughton, MA 02072
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