Stoughton Historical Society Newsletter Online

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Upcoming Events

November 20 2:00 P. M. Love Letters: The Intimate Correspondence of John and Abigail Adams presented by living history performers Patricia Bridgeman and Thomas Gacy, who received rave reviews from several of our

members who saw this program in Avon. The Jeffersons and the Washingtons burned all their personal letters, but 230 years later, the Adams' letters remain a priceless treasure of our country's history. Enjoy these iconic personalities as they reveal their teasing humor, their pleasure in children and farm, their deepest hopes for the future, and their undying love and respect for each other. Following the presentation, the performers will converse with the audience, in character.

December 11 - Holiday Parade and Open House at the Historical Society -Noon - 3 P.M. Stop by the Society before or after the parade and pick up some of our publications or maps for Holiday presents. A complete list of our documents and instructions for how to purchase by mail can be found at the end the newsletter President's Report

As the days get shorter and we are back on standard time, it is now dark by 5:00 pm; let's review some of our activities back during the time when the days were longer. We are currently in the process of reviewing our by-laws in order to determine both if our current practice conforms to their proscriptions and/or if they need updating. We will bring any recommended changes to the membership at a future meeting.

In September we held our Harvest Dinner at the Wales French room at the Library. We had over forty people in attendance and many fine items to raffle off, which generated almost $200 and put us well into the black for the evening. The Jack Sidebottom Award for Exceptional Service to the Historical Society was presented to Norman Theriault, Joan O'Hare, Evelyn Callanan, and Jeanne DeVito. Norma Sidebottom assisted in the presentation of the Awards. Thank you's to Evelyn Callanan, Denise Peterson, Joanne Callanan, and Maureen Gibbons for their work on the raffle and Joan Bryant for setting up the catering, doing considerable cooking, getting the award plaques engraved, and purchasing the flowers.. Her daughter Danielle Bryant and daughter-in-law Janice Bryant assisted in setting out the food..

On September 18, we dedicated our Early Stoughton History Time-Line panels, which were made possible by a Grant from the Stoughton Cultural Council. Selectmen Cynthia Walsh, John Anderson, and John Stagnone were in attendance. David Lambert spoke on our Native-American local families including the Bancrofts and Crowds. Town Moderator Howard Hansen traced the history of Town Meetings in Massachusetts from the first one in the country in Dorchester in 1633 to many others, including the 1774 meeting at Doty's Tavern, the separations of Canton in 1794 and Avon in 1888. We will add his fine historical commentary to our files. Town Manager Frank Crimmins recounted the financing of our Town Hall, the cost overruns in its construction, which then, as now, were a staple of government projects, and the multiple uses of Town Hall in its first fifty years. We supplied pictures of the Great Hall decorated for various celebrations and Town Offices in the building at that time, including the Police Station and the Library. State Senator Brian Joyce entertained us with a variety of stories, including an historical question: Who were the only three men to serve in the Massachusetts Senate, who also became President of the United States?

On October 16, Sandee LeMasters of Chatham, Ohio gave us a Power Point presentation introducing her book; The Drake Letters from Stoughton to Strongsville, which we published with the assistance of a Grant from the Stoughton Cultural Council. We were fortunate that Boston Globe South ran a front-cover story on Sandee, the book, and our program, and we had a number of newcomers in attendance. One woman claimed to have first seen the article in the paper in Plymouth just after 1:00 P. M. and still made it to most of the meeting! We sold more than ten copies of the book and acquired two new members.

Sandee Lemasters did an incredible amount of work to put this book together and deserves our thanks and gratitude for adding this fascinating collection of letters, stories and commentary to our recorded history. I have delivered copies to the high school and middle school and will soon have one at the Library.

In preparation for the program, I finally got around to checking the records of James Capen, the Revolutionary War Veteran, long-time blacksmith in town, whose day book we purchased several years ago. I was thrilled to find an entry for Sept 11, 1821: "Asa Drake mending 3 wheels 3.00" Here are some relevant lines from Sandee's book:

"In Stoughton, Asa's father (Nathan 2), who wrote many of the letters in this collection, built a wagon, gave his son a team of oxen and helped him outfit the wagon with supplies he would need to build a home and start a farm in the wilderness.

Twenty-two-year-old Asa then headed back to Pompey, where he married 21-year-old Charlotte on October 3, 1821. We might assume that Charlotte's family and friends also added a few household necessities onto the wagon. Certainly the occasion of the wedding was joyous with Asa's New York relatives, as well as Charlotte's family and neighbors, celebrating with them. The newlyweds set off for their adventure, hoping to be settled on their farm land in the southeastern section of the township of Strongsville before winter set in. A short description of their trip is included in the first letter."

Nathan wrote to Asa in late November: "We wish you to write how you got along on your journey, how your oxen bore the journey and how the old wheels held out, what you lost and how you found your neighbors and co. But, above all, how your partner likes the Ohio."

Asa replied to his father from Strongsville on Dec 9: "You wished me to write how the oxen bore the journey. They traveled very well and proved to be a tough, hardy yoke of cattle. The wheels answered the purpose very well. One spoke worked in the hub which appeared to be some rotten, but answered to get here with. I had the fortune not to lose any thing or to leave anything, but I found sixpence and a whip I sold for two shillings besides some old iron. This from your affectionate but unworthy son, Asa Drake"

Finding such correspondences in our primary source documents is one of life's pleasures, as was sharing Blanchard's Tavern (our first visit) with the LeMasters and Howard Hansen, and

revisiting the Nathan2 Drake grave at the small cemetery on Central St.

On November 1, I gave a presentation to the combined seventh and eighth grade local history classes at the O'Donnell Middle School. The classes, which are taught by Caitlin Murphy and Christine Spears, present the students with one term of local history, and then a new group of students comes in for each term. They are using the issue of the OSMS's Chorister, which was devoted to Stoughton's history as their textbook and with some assistance from us will be developing more materials each term the course is taught.

On November 5 we had an indoor yard sale, which yielded almost $500, many interested visitors, and one new member. Many thanks to Denise Peterson and Joanne Callanan for a lot of work over the preceding weeks. Helping out at the event itself were Denise, Joanne, Brian Daley, Joe and Jeanne DeVito, Evelyn Callanan, Richard and Ruth Fitzpatrick, Joan Bryant, Janet Clough, and Bridget Horan.

At the invitation of Traditional Activity Director Pauline Robello, on November 8, Joe DeVito, Brian Daley, and I gave a one-hour presentation on local history at the Arbors assisted living community on Central Street. The audience of around thirty people appreciated Joe's Rocky Marciano story, Brian's charcoal-powered foot-warmer, and hopefully, at least a few of the images I showed them via PowerPoint, some of which took place on the Nathan Drake farm and Gay Cotton Manufacturing Company, less than a half mile from the Arbors. They also shared some of their own stories of Stoughton history including tales of Glen Echo, Indian Lane, and the JW Woods Elastic Web Company.

On August 28, George Brooks, emeritus professor of History at Indiana University, stopped at the Society and dropped off a box containing his research files on Samuel W Hodges Jr., about whom we had communicated several times in past years. Brooks came to know Hodges in studying his years as US Consul in Cape Verde as part of his larger study of the commercial and cultural links between Western Africa and Cape Verde, especially as they related to slave and legitimate trades. I look forward to studying the documents relating to Hodges, which Professor Brooks culled from various sources including the American Antiquarian Society and Peabody Essex Museum collections of Hodges papers. Our sincere thanks to Professor Brooks for this thoughtful, and we hope, fruitful, donation. For more on Samuel Hodges Jr.'s extensive Taunton-Easton-Stoughton connections, see past newsletters.

Recently, I have assisted in some research addressing the title difficulties of a few lots of the Glen Echo property, which the Town Meeting voted to purchase from Joanna Gibson. In the process, I have found many fascinating documents and acquired a better sense of the history involved, some of which I will share here. In the title documents collected by the Trust for Public Land, one finds a copy of the 1867 deed from Daniel W. Crowd in which he sold 19 acres more or less to Elisha C. Monk and Henry M. Capen for $247. Daniel W. had inherited the land from his father, Daniel, who had died in 1863. In 1880, Elisha Monk bought the other half from the insolvent estate of Henry Capen for $87.50. Four or five other lots were also purchased from Clapp, Capen, Bartlett, and others, some of which comprise "Monk's Meadow," which is predominantly a wetland between Glen Echo and Page Street.

In 1898 Elisha C. Monk died, (not long after giving a speech at the Historical Society) leaving all his estate including Glen Echo to his wife, Charlotte in Philadelphia, his two

daughters Eunice Mantle and Bertha Marston and his son George Monk. Charlotte promptly gave up all of her share. In 1900, electric poles were installed; in 1905 the railroad got the rights to build a line down Glen Echo Blvd. In 1909, the owners began selling 25 x125 ft strips on the eastern shore of York Pond/Glen Echo to buyers who were given the right to build a cottage, as long as they did not build a hotel or sell alcoholic beverages or build closer than 30 ft to the lake. Eventually, at least ten such lots were sold, running from the pond out to "Wigwam Path in the Indian Reservation" or later, "Sebago Path in Sebago Park." Several people bought double lots, giving themselves fifty feet of shoreline. These lots explain the presence of cottages on the eastern shore, which are visible in some of the old pictures. A man named John Hess eventually bought multiple lots, apparently for investment purposes. Other buyers included Farnhams, three Crosses, a Davis, and a Lawson.

Bertha Marston died in 1910, leaving her share to her husband Isaac V Marston, who was also a collector of taxes in Stoughton. In 1912, Marston sold his share to George Monk at which time, George, his wife Alice, and Eunice Mantle took out a mortgage on the property for $4000 with the Stoughton Trust Company.

Private cottages had been built on some of the lots by 1914, the last year for which we have real estate evaluations at the Historical Society. Non-resident listings include: Lottie B. Cross of Boston, Dwelling, Lot 34 Pecunit St. so called Land, West Side Wigwam Path $1000, Laura M. and Elizabeth A. Cross of Boston Lot 13, Wigwam Path $125, tax 2.80

Samuel A. Davis Jr of Worcester, Lot 4 Glen Echo Rd., $50 (Not sure where this is; others own lots and dwelling on Glen Echo Rd. and even more on Glen Echo Boulevard.) John H Hess, Boston, Dwelling $550, Lot 4 Wigwam Path $125 Tax 15.12 Orin E Williams and Frank O. Wood, Dwelling $700, Parts of lots 8&9, Wigwam Path.

In 1917 Monk-Mantle sell to Robert Lawson and William McNulty of Boston lot 800 "on a plan of Sebago Park," which has a right of way to Glen Echo Shore via "Sebago Path." No plans of Sebago Park have been discovered as of this writing

In 1934, the Monk-Mantle loan was in default and Lincoln Gibson purchased the land by taking out a $4528 mortgage with Stoughton Trust Company. His wife Eugenia and daughter Joanna (the current owner) purchased adjoining lots and over time, the Gibsons bought back almost all the smaller lots of the twenty-five foot strips, sold to the previously mentioned buyers. In 1937 Gibson "apprehending that a right of way or other easement maybe be acquired by custom or use in or over my land," "posts" the land, paying deputy sheriff, Edward B. Capen of Canton $24 in expenses to officially post the notice of Gibson's ownership of the land on four lots.

A housing development called "Montvale Park" had been set out in 1912 with scores of house lots on both sides of Glen Echo Blvd., closer to Pleasant St. In 1938, Lincoln Gibson bought eighty five of these lots from the Holbrooks and eight more in 1939. Many other purchases and sales of land too numerous to mention at this time, have taken place involving the "Montvale Park" lots and parcels on Grove Road.

In 1943, Lincoln Gibson bought lots 8&9, which had been subdivided into two parcels roughly 50 feet square, each with a building on them from Sigfrid and Manuel Davis, and Genevieve Lane. Lane had apparently sold the waterfront half of her share to the Davises, who had built a cottage, while Lane already had a cottage on her half, probably the one ownd by Williams and Wood in the 1914 tax listings. Gibson buys out the

Davises in April and Lane in July of 1943.

In 1947 Eugenia Gibson buys lots 2,3, 4, 6, and 7 "with the buildings thereon" from George Little, who had apparently purchased the lots from John Hess.

Lincoln Gibson died in 1950 and the land passed to Eugenia and Joanna. Water mains were laid down Glen Echo Blvd in 1961, and many different lot owners were assessed a share of the expenses with the Gibson, Edward F Murphy, and Lois Magoon paying the highest assessments for their parcels. Others assessed include, Frank and Bertha Reynolds, Kenneth and Valerie Hill, Henry and Yvonne Kenswill, Mary O'Keefe, Joaquin and Francis Camara, Paul and Catherine Lowell, George and Virginia Hall, George McCallister, Genevieve Lane, Phillip and Agnes Ryan, Cecil and Grace Reynolds, Peter and Ruth Lief, Rita Johnson, Mildred Ragosta, Walter and Norma Lainey, Mary Murray, Thomas Powers, Francis and Dorothy Fenton, John Gear, James and Arlyne Smith, and Mary Harry.

In 1973 the Town voted to make Glen Echo Blvd a public way, having reduced the length of the street by 100 feet from the previous year's proposal and sewer lines began to be installed. Eugenia Gibson died in 1992, leaving all the land to Joanna Gibson.

Obviously, a lot more information needs to be gathered to flesh out this bare-bones time line. We know that various local businessmen ran the Inn during different periods and at least one garage-machine shop operated on the premises. We would love to hear your Glen Echo stories and hope that some of the names and events mentioned above will trigger more memories. Howard Hansen recalled a man named Reed, who told Howard's father that he had a lot at Glen Echo, which he was going to give up to the Town.

The Selectmen have until the end of November to accept or decline the current purchase and sales agreement, and the issue of whether or not to use eminent domain, which the buyer is willing to accept and which would help resolve the title issues is being discussed. Check with your selectmen and your local news sources for the resolution of this matter.

Correction: the last Newsletter should have identified Middle School History teacher Joseph Bridgeforth as the man who brought his classes to the Historical Society.

Archivist's Report - I located materials on the history of Town Hall to give to the Town Manager for his research in preparing his presentation to the Society. I took several photos of various Drakes from the large framed Selectmen's portraits and also found the "Rattlesnake Story" written by Nathan Drake Jr in 1840 and forwarded the materials to Sandee LeMasters to use in The Drake Letters From Stoughton to Strongsville. We assisted the Carr's, the new owners of the Clapp-Libby house in finding out information about the history of their property. We researched the Jordan family for one of their descendants, Sandra Tennyson and the Zadoc Briggs family for one of their descendants. Acquisitions: Two framed copies of drawings done for the Town's 275th Anniversary from Thomas Garrigan; an 1883 Stoughton Street Directory from Nancy J. Lane of Indian Head, S. C; Stoughton - Town Cookbook, 200th Anniversary Program, and a number of Town Reports from Mary Malcolm; Beyond New England Thresholds, by Samuel Chamberlain (permanent loan from John P. Souza:) Grace A. Capen's photo album on the class of 1929 from Howard Hansen; Burt and Pratt family genealogies along with old photographs of various Pratts from Virginia Burt; The Civil War enlistment and

discharge papers of George A. Lackey from Denise Peterson. Subsequently, we did some research which revealed that Lackey was from Northborough, but his service was credited to Easton. He lost a leg at Spotsylvania Courthouse, the same battle, which cost our own Edwin Waldo, his arm, and then his life. Denise does not know how her family acquired his papers. Photo of Class of 1919 with ID's on back (when the HS was at the Kimball School,) and an accompanying list of graduates including Ruth Atherton, Edith Leathers, and Ernestine Legge, and a 1926 Semaphore; from Virginia Staples Stetson via Amy Fowler; A box of photographs from Stoughton High School from the collection of year book advisor Sumner Tapper from Stephen Tapper.- Richard Fitzpatrick Curator's Report - Assisted in research on various properties. Acquisitions: a Skee-boggan (a one person-sled donated by Judith and Carl Dahlgren- Brian Daley Clothing Curator's Report - Mrs. Diane Bowman has donated a carton of vintage linens, which we are in the process of sorting. They then will be labeled and added to our collection. Some of these pieces were created by her mother, Mrs. Alice Curtis Smith. Many of the pieces have hand-embroidered work; tatting; lace; or cut work. They are a very welcome to our linens collection. - Janet Clough

Welcome to New members: Jane and Jack McClellan, Bill and Bridget Horan, Nancy Statkus Vogt, Joe and Laurie Langer, Peter Ventresco, Teresa and Steve Tapper, Virginia Burt, Helen Pernock, Jim Pernock and family and new Life members Rad Williams and Kathy Murphy Sylvester.

A thank you to Joe and Jeanne DeVito's daughter, Carol Green, for a donation in honor of her father's 85th birthday.


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

  •  A Few Farms of Dry Pond
  • Billy White's Field
  • A Walk Through the Dry Pond Neighborhood of my Youth by Ernest Gilbert
  • Pleasant Pines Farm- Frank Reynolds entries on his work at the Capen-Reynolds Farm in the early 1900's.
  • Illustrated Commentary from past Community Calendars.
  • Stoughton's First Factory, The White Mill
  • The Bird St. Conservation Area

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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