Stoughton Historical Society Newsletter



6 Park St.  Open Tues. 10am-3pm, Thurs 6-8pm, and the first Sunday afternoon of the month, 1-3pm,       781 344 5456                 stoughtonhistoricalsociety@


VOLUME XXXIX NO.3                                             Jan – Feb – Mar 2010


Upcoming Events


February –21   2:00 pm “Exult O Americans and Rejoice”  The Battle of Saratoga, the turning point of the American Revolution.  Dwight Mac Kerron will give a multi-media presentation on the Revolutionary War in New England and New York in the summer of 1777, during which the American cause hit one of its lowest points with the evacuation of Fort Ticonderoga in August; but which was followed by the glorious victory at Saratoga in the autumn.  Stoughton Private Ezra Tilden writes of this historic event, and charges his fellow soldier one shilling for a written account of “Burgoyne’s Losses.”

March 21 --  2:00 P. M.   Program with the Sharon and Canton Historical Societies at the Sharon Historical Society, 16 High St. We will explore our shared history, focusing on the period in the 1700’s when we were three precincts in the Town of Stoughton. The current Canton was the First Precinct, Sharon, the Second, and Stoughton, the Third Precinct.

April 18 -  2:00 P. M. Stoughton Historian and author David Lambert will lecture on George Belcher, the man and his industry.  Mr Belcher’s historic home recently suffered extensive damage in a fire, but the repair and rebuilding has begun. For more on David’s recent prominence in local and national media, see a later page.


President’s Report  - On November 10th, Joe DeVito, Hank Herbowy participated in the Veterans Day program at the O’Donnell Middle School, which was organized by Asst. Principal David Guglia.  Joe, along with other Stoughton veterans were interviewed by a student, who then presented them to the student body at a school-wide assembly. Hank did his usual fine job of recording the event in pictures.

    On November 15th former teacher and elementary school principal Helen Hansen and former teacher, principal, and school superintendent Anthony Sarno addressed the Society.  Helen recalled her days as a student at the Tolman School and Tony gave us an overview of his years in the Stoughton schools and asked that those interested contribute to his newly formed educational foundation 

     Beginning in November we have received a number of emails and pictures from Janet Yuse, whose father, Henry Holmes worked for JW Webb and the family lived at 27 Kenneth Court.  Janet, who now lives in   became a member of the Society and as continued to send along pictures of the house on Kenneth Court, a group of young people which includes old friend Keneth Bird as a young man.  Janet has also been in communication with Ken’s son, Doug, who lives in Aptos, California.



Jeanne Devito has calculated that our volunteer hours during the past year rose from  2726 1/2 hours in 2008 to 3216  1/2 hours in 2009  our 115th year as an Historical Society.  Many thanks to all our dedicated volunteers. Items given three wedding gowns: from the Rogers,  Mabel J. Maltsby and Susan Deardworth – the wedding dress of Hannah Parker Ward, who was born in 1819, and Ruth Fitzpatrick  old sheet music of…from…, Tolman receipt, a copy of class of 1935 50th Reunion booklet, which included the late Mary Daly


Our mailing list program all suffered in the transfer from old computer to new, but Mary Kelliher’s daughter,


On December 13, we had an Open House before and after the Holiday Parade.  Many people stopped by to purchase books, maps, or holiday items.  By the end of the day we had a new membership and taken in more than $250.


A Mrs Katz of Sharon requested that we do research on Sheehan, a local contractor who lived on Island Street and did the stone work for the base of the statue of the Virgin Mary at Immaculate Conception


Ruth Fitzpatrick, who has been mounting scores of John Stiles’s photographs in an acid-free scrapbook, is recovering from a recent double hip replacement.  We wish her a speedy recovery. Richard Fitzpatrick has placed adhesive, plastic weather-stripping between our front metal and glass doors, which had lost most of the insulating brushing material between them.  We still need to make a more permanent replacement to the worn brushing. Brian Daly as been doing most of our snow shoveling this winter, aided by one guest appearance of  Joe Devito’s son,   DeVito  Joe Devito as been placing maps and poster boards from past displays into our new map display holder in the Pierce Room


Brian Daly and I put together a display for library entrance titled, “Stoughton Fights; Stoughton Writes.” which included Civil War artifacts, the map of Ezra Tilden’s march to Ticonderoga, and copies of pages from both the Tilden and Waldo Diaries. We have printed 15 more copies of Stoughton Pvt Alfred Waldo’s Civil War Diary, “I did not know there were so many people in the world.   The exhibit remained through the months of December and January.  Many thanks to Library Director, Pat Basler gave us several heavy long tables, which were being replaced.  The tables should work well at our yard sales, if we have people strong enough to carry them out.  We also received discarded metal shelving from the library, which we has been placed in the downstairs hallway and partially filled with material from the clothing department.  The leatherbound copies of Massachusetts statutes, were removed from a closet and placed in the now dehumidified vault, making room for the clothing curators to store items displaced by the building of new shelves for our largest framed pictures.  The largest of these pictures, a four foot by 3 1/2 ft. oak-framed giant contains the pictures of 28 Stoughton worthies from the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries.  Tony Alfano has taken on the job of finding biographical material for each of the men listed from Colonel Jesse Pierce to Willard White.   We should have the picture on display by the time of our next meeting.


Congratulations to our Vice President Dave Lambert who has been much in the news recently because of his key role in his position at the New England Genealogical Society in putting together the genealogies which determined that President Obama and our new Senator-elect Scott Brown were tenth cousins, sharing a common ancestor in the 1600’s.  David has appeared on television a number of times, including the nationally seen Fox and Friends and has been quoted in the Boston Globe and many other newspapers across the country.  David is always bringing me fascinating material which he retrieves at his work or from his weekly contribution to the Stoughton Journal of the Town news from one hundred years ago. Recently he brought in articles on our first President Newton Talbot (mentioned in the last Newsletter) and a copy of The History of Sharon by


Back in November, we received a request from Perry Weed of to do research  on his ancestors. Nathaniel and Ebenezer Perry.  Fortunately, William Chaffin’s  History of Easton contained several pages on the contributions of the Perrys during both the French and Indian War and the Revolution.


  On January 26, we were visited by Bill Deane of the Massachusetts Aviation Historical Society, who had called earlier to check our collection of John Stiles airplane and airport photographs.  Needless to say, Bill found many things of interest among our many hundreds of Stiles photographs;  he took a number of digital pictures of our pictures and informed us that 2010 is the 100th anniversary of flight in Massachusetts.  On February 28, 1910, just over eight years after the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, Augustus M. Herring in the Marblehead-built Herring Burgess #1, the “Flying Fish,” took off from the ice on Chebaco Lake, Hamilton-Wenham, Mass.  It was the first heavier-than-air, controlled flight in New England.  This 100th Anniversary will be celebrated in a special exhibit-program the Harvard Boston Aero meet Centennial in Squantum on September 23-26.  We also hope to have Mr Deane, who gave us several copies of their society’s illustrated calendar for 2010, present a program to our Society some time soon.  When I told Bill a few details about another of Stoughton’s airmen, Forrest Bird, he was fascinated and will soon add him to the pantheon of “people, places, and planes.”   You can learn more at or contact them at


Coincidentally, on the same day of Mr Deane’s visit, we received an email from the Ashland Historical Society asking us if we could supply any information on Lt John Stiles, who had written letters during WWII to Ashland resident Esther Hussey.  Some of you will recall that John Stiles mother was a Hussey.




Archivist’s Report    Because Jack Sidebottom has encountered some serious health problems, Bob Viola as agree to serve as archivist for the rest of the year or until Jack is feeling better.   Jack has been showing Bob the ropes for the last few months and Bob has gotten down to work.  Here are some recent acquisitions:  Jack Sidebottom contributed  a history of the First Parish Universalist Church and a document from the “new” church’s Dedication in 1970, the booklet commemorating the 200th Anniversary of Stoughton in 1926, The Souvenir Program from Old Home Week, June 28 to July 5, 1908, and the 50th Anniversary Document of the Stoughton Cooperative Bank.   From Meredith (Benjamin) Hatch we received photos of the Hurricane of 1938, deeds to the property at 228 Seaver Street, and the 1915 handbook of the Mt Zion Royal Arch order of Masons.  Ruth Hansen returned her Secretary Notebook of the minutes of our meetings from November 1995 to October, 2005.  We purchased on eBay a copy of the booklet produced for the SHS Class of 1935’s 50th Reunion and a 1758-Receipt-of a payment by DUER via Timothy Tolman to Degget.  A man whose identity I forgot to ask for contributed three menus and a calendar from the Stoughton Diner, which was run by his family.  Joe and Jeanne Devito contributed a 1954 Calendar produced by te Wilfred Caron Dairy on Freeman St


    In Dsecember, Hank Herbowy brought in an extra monitor and keyboard to which we attached our old hard drive in order to retrieve the data from our Past Perfect Museum Program, which did not get migrated when the new computer was installed.  The data is now on the new computer and we plan to upgrade to Past Perfect 4.0, which will make possible the storage of images and multi-media presentations.  Over the last several years, David Lambert and I have taken hundreds of digital images of journal pages, historic photographs and other valuable documents.  In time, these will be added to our Past Perfect catalogue and/or made available online.


Clothing Curators Long-time clothing curators Emily Guertin and Ruth McDonald have recently announced their “retirements.”  Emily tells us that she began working at the Society when clothing was being stored here from the Capen-Reynolds Estate around 1978.  Ruth began her work, when her husband Bill became President of the Society in 1984.  Both have contributed greatly to our Society during the many ensuing years and we will miss them.  Janet Clough and Helen Sears now serve as our clothing curators and would appreciate new volunteers to assist them.  Joan O’Hare is still a member of the staff, but must curtail her time commitment.



Although Pvt. Ezra Tilden barely survived his “camp fever” at Ticonderoga, …the next summer on August 15, 1777 he enlisted in Col. Gill’s Regiment under the command of Capt. Aaron Smith “to reinforce the Northern Army In his previous summer, Tilden was nowhere near the major battle to the South in New York City, but in the summer of 1777, he was present for the turning point of the war. …On October 16, after Burgoyne surrendered (although steadfastly refusing to use the word surrender or even capitulation) his whole army of 6,000 “Regulars,”. an incredulous Ezra Tilden writes:

During the next 45 days, the literate Tilden, who is, of course, prepared with pens and paper, makes many shillings for writing out accounts of “Burgoyne’s losses,” a list of the towns through which their Regiment has  marched, or in a few cases, (and for more money)  a commentary on their whole campaign.

     (The appendix of “Exult O Americans & Rejoice contains a Tilden genealogy, brief essay by Howard Hansen on Tilden and his times, a sample page of commentary Howard has done, sample pages of the original journal and the Upham typed edition, a hand-written copy of Tilden’s pay records from Precinct 1 from 1775-1779, and his entry in Mass. Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War.



     “Exult O Americans & Rejoice! -  The Revolutionary War Diary of Ezra Tilden  can be purchased at the Society or by mail.  The cost to members is $10 (for one copy) and $15 for non-members and each extra copies for members.  If you would like to receive one by mail add $5 for postage and handling.  Also available: The Civil War Diary of Stoughton Private Alfred Waldo for the same prices listed above.  David Lambert’s two books: Images of America – Stoughton $20  Stoughton Postcard Images $20 for Members and $22  for Non-members are also available by mail for the added $5 for postage and handling.


Archivist’s-Curators’ Reports - We have purchased a new sign board with a weighted base, which we can use to announce upcoming events.  Special thanks to Richard Fitzpatrick, who has reinforced the sign with two threaded metal rods and a metal plate, which will make it better able to stand up to the weather in windy Stoughton Center.  Richard also put together two booklets identifying all the various American flags represented in the display given us by Janet Clough.  New member Ginger Hoffman had seen a picture she wanted, so Tony Alfano went to Town Hall to reproduce several copies of the artist’s representation of Stoughton in 1890, showing almost all the buildings between Central Street and Morton.   Of course, it does not show our building , because it was not built until 1903.  Thank you’s also to the Stoughton Public Library for giving us more shelving units, which our intrepid work crew of Jack Sidebottom, Tony Alfano, Richard Fitzpatrick, and Joe DeVito immediately assembled and placed underneath the new dehumidifying unit at the foot of the stairs in the basement.  We are in the process of moving some materials out to those shelves so that we may create more space to store our frames pictures, portraits, and documents.  We have delivered to the Library a number of WWI posters for their current exhibit.  We have installed one of the recently-purchased swing-out map/poster display units in the Pierce Room and begun to catalogue the bound copies of Town Annual Reports which we were given by the school Department, replacing our old and sometimes tattered individual copies.   Bob Viola and Tony Alfano are being tutored by Jack Sidebottom on the cataloguing of materials. 

Gifts: Persons Listed book for 1959 and Vol I of book on Town Seals  from Matthew

Hennikson of  Ormand Beach, FL.; The Town Reports from the School Department mentioned previously; a  science book, The Lives of Animals formerly used at the Capen School donated by Naomi Spack; Genealogies of the Puffer, Blake, and Hewins families and two histories of the Trinity Episcopal Church from David Lambert  


 Welcome to New members: Paula Grubenskas, Edward and Sandra Jardin, Peter & Ginger Hoffman, Everett Hadley, Barbara Clifford, Helen Egerton, David & Eliza Nutting, and Jack Crane.  New life members: Richard and Ruth Fitzpatrick.