A Brief History of the Town of Stoughton, Massachusetts



                                                                              John E. Flynn


                                                             Including a review of the years 1954-76.

                                                                                  Published by 

                                                                   Stoughton Historical Society    

                                      [permission granted to www.StoughtonHistory.com to post on this website]


[p. iii]


                                                        FORMER STOUGHTON HISTORIAN & AUTHOR

                                                                                   JOHN E. FLYNN


John E. Flynn was born in Stoughton, Massachusetts 13 October 1880; died 6 January 1964. He was the son of Patrick and Mary Flynn, who were married in Stoughton in 1878.

"Although he never completed public high school, having taken employment as a Postal Worker in Boston to help his family his historical knowledge of the Town of Stoughton is still unmatched.  He concerned himself with his hometown, having little opportunity to travel  Mr. Flynn served as a Town Meeting Representative, member and chairman of the Library Trustees from 1932-1946, a member of the Stoughton Musical Society, President of the Stoughton Historical Society from 1948 to 1954 as well as being the Town Historian.  His writing began after his retirement in 1954.  Within ten years he wrote histories of the Town, of the Catholic Church in Stoughton, of the Stoughton Public Schools and of the local newspaper which he had been compiling when he died on January 6, 1964."

[p. iv]


                                                                     PREFACE TO 1976 EDITION

This brief history of the Town of Stoughton has been published by the Stoughton Historical Society in practicing its motto “Preserving

the worthwhile past.” The title Beyond the Blew-Hills has been taken from old charts which used the colloquial spelling in referring to the

“New Grant” boundary. The “New Grant” extended southerly from Dorchester and included the Town of Stoughton .


The first section of this booklet is a reprint of the original lecture presented by Mr. Flynn in the 1950's. The second section includes a

twenty‑two year update of the local history obtained through researching local newspapers. The last section contains the original chronology

prepared by the author and added to the first edition.


The Stoughton Historical Society is grateful to the family of the late John E. Flynn for their co-operation in the publishing of this book.


The Historical Society is also indebted to the following who helped prepare this history for the Quarter Millenial Anniversary of

the incorporation of the Town of Stoughton : Mrs. Elsie Bernasconi, Mr. Howard Hansen, Miss Kathryn Jardin, Miss Norma Sullivan,

Mrs. Angeline McEachern, Mrs. Fuchsia Young and Mr. John Stiles, Curator for the Historical Society for his assistance in obtaining



                                                                                                                        Edward N. Meserve



December 22, 1976



[p. v]



                                                             PREFACE TO 1956 EDITION


This document was presented initially as a brief talk to a group of visiting students, who were participating in the Student Exchange

Day program at Stoughton High School . The author, John E. Flynn, was invited at that time to share his wealth of knowledge

about Stoughton and its environs - the result of years of painstaking research and study -- with those who desired to know more about

our community as they viewed first-hand the functions of its educational, social and political institutions.


It has become apparent from our recent follow-up studies that the vast majority of Stoughton High School graduates continue to

live and work in Stoughton and surrounding communities following graduation from high school. Thus, a knowledge of the historical,

social and political heritage of our community would appear to be as imperative for our youth as an understanding of the larger world

around us. We are grateful, therefore, to Mr. Flynn for allowing us to reproduce his manuscript, along with his chronology of historically significant events in the life of Stoughton dating back to 1606, for use in high school classes.


                                                                  Aaron Fink


                                                                Stoughton High School , 1953‑59


January, 1956



[p. vi]


                          ILLUSTRATIONS and PHOTOGRAPHS



Title Page      Map of " New Grant Lands " based on two maps drawn in 1895 from originals dated 1730.


Page 3               Marker at southwest corner of Ponkapoag Reservation located off Deady Avenue.  Photograph made about 1907 by George Gerard.


Page 5             Governor Stoughton.


Page 6             Doty Tavern at foot of Great Blue Hill. Photo by Baldwin Coolidge, courtesy of E.K.R. Revere.


Page 8             Swan's Tavern and Wallace Capen Place. View from railroad bridge on Turnpike Street looking northerly.

                        George Gerard photo, circa 1908.


Page 9              Railroad depot, view from steps of first Public Library.   Photo taken early 1900's.


Page 10            Stoughton Square between 1911‑1915, looking northerly from Park and Washington Streets.


Page 11           Bay Road Marker at Highland Street and Bay Road.


Page 21           Scene of 1926 Pageant looking towards site of present high school.


Page 22           Scene of 1976 Country Fair on same grounds as 1926 Pageant looking from high school.



                                  All photographs from Stoughton Historical Society files.






[p. vii]





John E. Flynn ....................................................................................................... III


Preface to 1976 Edition ....................................................................................... IV


Preface to 1956 Edition ....................................................................................... V


List of Illustrations and Photographs .............................................................. VI


A Study in Local History .................................................................................... 1


The Years Beyond .............................................................................................. 13


Chronology of Stoughton History ................................................................... 24


Bibliography......................................................................................................... 43






[p. viii]



                                    From map of “25 Divisions”



[p. 1]


                                                                                        Stoughton , Massachusetts -

                                                                        A Study in

                                                                        Local History

 T IS the business of history to make people understand how things came to be, what were the causes which influenced each

phase of change from the beginning of recorded events almost to the present moment. Even in this, our day, things are being done

which shall be looked upon objectively at a later date and evaluated according to their effects on the lives of people and on the things

that implement their living.


Our institutions, our laws, the instruments of handicraft, our method of thought, our religion, our architecture, our political

organization all derive from the dynamic upheaval of European society that followed the discovery of America.


Our particular concern in this talk lies in the area that stems from the Bay Colony and the Plimoth plantation and specifically,

of course, as they relate to the history of our own town of Stoughton.


Hilarie Belloc has this to say regarding the study of history: "Not to understand the philosophy of history is to remain always a

child," though he warns further: "Modern custom demands that even the latest things should be recorded but common sense requires that

they should be only recorded, lest, in a few years the emotions attached to them and still more our judgment upon them should be

falsified in the event."


The philosophy of history is the lesson that is drawn from the logic of events. However, it is relative as man himself is relative. It

would be an error to assume that events repeat themselves exactly because the influencing forces are never identical. Uncle Dudley in

the Globe has said on the subject: "Why read history?" that - "It seeks through generalization to deduce what has been admirably

described as an imaginative guess as to the meaning of those lessons in human conduct which do recur age after age as men respond to

faith or greed, to ambition or passion, to suffering or hope, to destruc-


[p. 2]


tive fears or creative will. In the task of searching out and reflecting upon these lessons, the understanding of man's role as a spiritual,

social, sentient human being is vastly aided. That is why the study of history is one of the greatest of the humanities." Edmund Burke once

said: “He alone deserves to be remembered who treasures up and preserves the memory of his fathers.”


While not completely agreeing with that dictum in its restrictive sense it does proclaim that we should cherish the fine things that

they accomplished and avoid their more serious errors.


So we now turn to our subject of Stoughton 's history to see if anything worthwhile has been recorded in the years that have gone

since the footsteps of the Pilgrims first echoed through the forest pathways of these Old Colony hills and dales where the moccasined

Indian had lived undisturbed for centuries until he met head-on with this segment of European civilization.


This could be a subject of vast interest but we can only consider the last sad phase of the existence of the Ponkapoags as a tribal unit.


The Indians did not long survive the bounty of the town of Dorchester and the Colonial Legislature that assigned them the 6000

acres of the Ponkapoag Plantation.


Epidemic disease had decimated their tribe before the white men came and encroachment by English squatters on their desirable land

further destroyed their morale. Here is a reference to the last of the tribe taken from an address by Edward Everett 99 years ago on

July 4, 1855 at Dorchester : “Thinned by a pestilential disease before the arrival of the English, overshadowed by the numbers, the physical

power and the intellectual superiority of the newcomer all spelled terrible and inevitable doom. Not even that mighty element of life,

the Christian Bible, to which the civilized nations of the earth owe so much of their vitality, availed to prolong the red man's existence.

They diminished with each generation till in my boyhood I remember hearing of one poor solitary Indian who it was said, occupied a

lonely wigwam on Stoughton Pond and who used to come down once or twice a year to the seaside, caught a few fish at the Lower Mills,

strolled off into the woods and With plaintive wailings cut away the bushes from an ancient mound which, as he thought, covered the

ashes of his fathers, and then went back a silent, broken melancholy man - the last of a perished tribe.”




[p. 3]




Not for long did the Indian tribes impede the progress of the white man in juxtaposition of time and place. In 1606 the Plymouth

Company was formed in Plymouth, Devonshire , England “for planting, ruling and governing of New England in America .” The

charter of 1620 was granted to this new corporation, bestowing upon it all the land between t e 40th and 48t degrees, North latitude.


Of the land patents. granted by this Council for New England perhaps the most important was that given to the Bay Colony as a

trading company with a royal charter granted 1629.


When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth they found Indian Chief Chicataubut in full possession of all the country. In 1621 he signed

a treaty with the English there. In 1630 he consented to the occupancy of Dorchester in the Bay Colony by other English settlers. His successor, Kitchimakin, conveyed, October 8, 1666 all the land beyond Neponset Hill unto the utmost extent to the English. Previously the General Court by order, November 20, 1637 had fixed the southern limit of the town of the Old Colony line.


In 1691 the Bay Colony received a new charter by which it was constituted a Royal Province and its jurisdiction extended over what

is today the states of Massachusetts and Maine. The Pilgrim settlement at Plymouth , after three futile attempts to obtain a royal charter was included in the Massachusetts Bay Province thus reconstructed. This was the background of living in this area as the town form of government emerged from the cocoon of royal grants at the beginning of the 18th century.


[p. 4]


The ancient town of Dorchester extended only to the top of the Great Blue Hills. The added territory granted in 1637 and con-

firmed in 1720 by the General Court was all the undivided and unalloted land from the Blue Hills to the Plymouth line. In 1707

this was known as the "New Grant" and was proportioned in 12 Divisions to 480 members of the association known as the Dorchester

Proprietors. It consisted of all the lands now comprising the towns of Stoughton, Canton, Sharon, Avon and Foxboro, about ½ of

Dedham and parts of Walpole, Norton, Wrentham, and North Bridgewater now Brockton .


The original title to New England soil, as in other parts of the continent, was in the English Crown which claimed it on the

right of discovery and possession. The king had unlimited power in its disposition. He claimed the right to establish local government

and conferred power of legislation on grantees. Only two of these grants, as stated before, impinge on the territory of our town, so

we will confine remarks on proprietary grants to them. These proprietors were the land speculators or capitalists of their day, having

initiative and desire for gain, and perhaps were greedy. But they performed a necessary groundwork, breaking through the wilderness

and maintaining a focal point where freemen in numbers could finally take over and establish orderly government on a democratic



This is a rather neglected phase of life in the study of our colonial history. It was a necessary step, maybe, from absolute power through

the feudal state to our New England Town Meeting, recognized as a pattern of fair and just regulation of society throughout the world.


The inhabitants of the New Grant increased very much in population and material prosperity after 1700 so that by 1726 the wilderness

was conquered and safe, civilized and independent, or more properly an interdependent society had been established.


No longer was a proprietorship necessary nor tolerable as it smacked of Old World caste.




[p. 5]



                                                                                                    [Lt. Gov. William Stoughton]  


Consequently on December 22, 1726 on petition to the General Court of Capt. Isaac Royal, Silas Crane, George Talbot, Capt. John

Shepard and Ensign William Billings this area known as the South Precinct of Dorchester was set apart and incorporated as the Town

of Stoughton. The first town meeting was held January 2, 1727. The name derives from the cultured Governor William Stoughton, a minister by

profession, graduate of Harvard and Oxford Universities . He was chosen in 1686 to be the first Chief Justice of the  Colonial Courts and as such presided at the notorious Salem witchcraft trials. He erected and donated to Harvard University the building then known as Stoughton College and in his will left 1000 pounds to his Alma Mater.


The incorporation of the "New Grant" or South Precinct as a town was the culmination of various efforts starting with the petition

 to the General Court soon after June 23, 1708 , which was passed by the House of Representatives but not approved by the Council. Just

before this period of incorporation the 6000 acres of the Ponkapoag Plantation which had been set aside by the General Court for the

exclusive use of the Indians at the insistence of John Eliot, Missionary, was now embraced in the township. The incorporating statute required 

that a learned minister of good conversation should be required in the twelve-month. So Joseph Morse, A. M. Harvard, became the

first minister of the town. His successor was the famous Rev. Samuel Dunbar who made the flaming speech at Doty's Tavern that helped

turn the tide for the Suffolk Resolves, and his successor, temporarily, was Aaron Bancroft, father of George Bancroft, the historian. He

was afterward the first President of the American Unitarian Association.


The town p[r]oudly boasts that it is the birthplace of American liberty basing this on the fact that on August 16, 1774 at the Doty

Tavern in Old Stoughton was held the first formal meeting or County Congress where delegates reduced to writing the principles of

American Independence.  


[p. 6]





This document was carried on horseback by Paul Revere after a final meeting at Vose's Tavern in Milton and electrified a discordant

Congress at Philadelphia with the boldest statement ever made on the continent.


Cannon was cast for the Revolutionary War in Stoughton by Paul Revere and Richard Gridley. The ore was obtained from Lake

Massapoag and in the vicinity of the Fowl Meadows.


   There were 148 minute-men who responded from here for the Battle of Lexington and before the end of the war in 1782 Stoughton

men took part to the number of 596.


The chief powder mill for the first three years of the war was located in this town.


The two outstanding men of the period in this area were undoubtedly General Richard Gridley and Roger Sherman. Paul Revere

came to live in Canton Dale soon after the town was separated from Stoughton .


General Gridley was the first engineer of the United States Army and was in charge of operation at the siege of Louisburg , the

Heights of Abraham, and the Battle of Bunker Hil. He constructed the defences at Dorchester Heights that resulted in the evacuation

of Boston on March 17, 1776 . He died at Stoughton Manor on June 21, 1796. Well-known to him were Pitt, the Prime Minister of

England ; Lord Geoffrey Amherst; and Cook, the navigator. He claimed as friends George Washington, Dr. Joseph Warren, John

Hancock, and the Marquis de Lafayette.



[p. 7]


Roger Sherman was two years old when he was brought to Stoughton in 1723.


His brother, Rev. Nathaniel Sherman was born here in 1726. Roger became a noted mathematician and astronomer. He was

Treasurer of Yale College with an M.A. degree there, Judge of Connecticut Superior Court, Member of the State Senate, an organizer 

of the Continental Congress, elected a member of the same; he was on the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence,

the others being John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Robert Livingston.


He was the only man in the country's history to sign all three primary documents of our country's establishment; namely, the

Declaration of Independence , the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights. *


Admiral John Downes was born here in 1784. He commanded the Pacific fleet, served on U. S. S. Essex, Constitution, and Wasp.

He fought the Barbary pirates under Decatur. We should here consider the several sub-divisions of the town

into separate townships. Slicing on all sides but the Old Colony line had been going on from the earliest days but the big cuts in area

came when Stoughtonham was created in 1765 as a precinct which included all of the present town of Sharon and most of Foxboro.


The latter then separated as a town in 1778 and the remainder of Stoughtonham became Sharon in 1783. On February 23, 1797 the northerly part of the town of Stoughton was incorporated under the name of Canton. About 90 years later, in 1888, the town of Avon was established from the district long known as East Stoughton , and in between the dates of 1726 and 1924 there were all told 22 divisions made in the original grant from Dorchester .


The transition from a strictly self sufficient community of farming and home handicrafts began to crystallize early in the 19th





*Editor's note: In attempting to verify this statement, it was found in a biographical sketch of Roger Sherman prepared by the Department of the Interior, Sherman is

credited with signing four famous documents; Articles of Association, Declaration of Independence , Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.


[p. 8]


So we note some "firsts" of primary importance. The Taunton and South Boston Turnpike Corporation was created by legislative act of June 24, 1806 to run from Taunton Green to the junction of Blue Hill Turnpike. The Stoughton Turnpike Corporation incorporated by legislative act the day before on June 23, 1806 was located from Old Bay Road in Canton to a point on the Taunton and South Boston Turnpike in the town of Easton, a road not actually in existence then. Today it is a well-known spot where route 138 meets Turnpike Street in Eastondale.

In industry the first manufactory was a straw shop at the "West Shares" in 1812, the present Brockton Heights. The first shoe factory was started by Littlefield Brothers in East Stoughton 1815.

The town was largely a self-contained farming community until the railroad came in 1845 on March 18. Manufacturing blossomed in the Boot and Shoe trade thereafter until the Civil War and the town became a leading center in that industry in the Old Colony. Much of the business was with the South and was carried on in the true Southern hospitality code of the times. First one met his customer in a social way and entertained him. As there were few suitable taverns or hotels of note hereabout the manufacturer opened his home to his prospective buyer. Examples of the type of homes used specifically for this purpose are the George Monk and Henry Fitzpatrick homes on Pleasant Street and the Chicataubut Club which has just been demolished. They were built by the Elisha Monk, the John Hill, and the James Atherton families.


[p. 9]


The Capen House was the principal hotel and The Tisdale House and Drake's Hotel accommodated boarders and travelers from the nearby railroad station.

Public services were introduced successively as the needs of the town required them.

The first religious organization dates back to 1743 though religion dominated the lives of the settlers from the beginning. The coming of the various denominations will be noted further. (See Chronology).

The first public school was established in Old Stoughton territory with an appropriation of $100 for a school in 1719. The first schoolhouse was erected in 1735 - nine years after the town was incorporated. The first school building in the confines of modern Stoughton was built on the present site of the public library in 1768.

The first post office was established in 1818 at the Wallace Capen place near Swan's Tavern.

Gas came into use in 1889 and in the same year power and light was supplied by electricity. Street railway service to Brockton was inaugurated on August 24, 1895; to Canton, Blue Hills, and Boston on November 4, 1899; and the road to Randolph was opened simultaneously in a great race for priority. In March, 1892, the town purchased and extended the water works which previously had been operated privately by a group of citizens.

[p. 10]


In October, 1896, Stoughton telephone service was officially opened with 53 subscribers on the first list.

Banking facilities came to town with the establishment of the Stoughton Co-operative Bank in 1886, Stoughton Trust Company in 1910, and the Randolph Savings Bank branch in 1949.

To omit mention of the cataclysmic Civil War in the history of any community which was decimated by it would be an unforgivable affront.

The story of Civil War times should be a subject complete in itself. Mr. George Pratt collected much valuable information regarding the men of Stoughton in that conflict. It's a long story which cannot be dwelt on here. In passing let us be reminded that 540 men served in the Army and Navy of the North. The bulk of our troops served in the Old 9th Massachusetts Regiment and were commanded in Co. K. by Maj. George W. Dutton. He was later Commandant of Capitol Prison when Wirz, keeper of the infamous Andersonville Prison was executed and he commanded the secret mission that took the Lincoln conspirators to imprisonment on the Dry Tortugas. Co. I. 12 Mass. Volunteers of this town served under Colonel Fletcher Webster, son of the great statesman, Daniel Webster.

[p. 11]


There is much more to be told of the growth of Stoughton between the Civil War and the first World War as the tide of immigration had its effect on the citizenship of the town, but we must hurry on. The venture into the politics of Europe sent 362 boys from Stoughton in 1917 and as they are the fathers of this generation you are probably quite familiar with that phase of our history.

The second World War in which 1100 were enrolled is childhood memory to you and should it keep on with its unresolved problems it could be an experience which, we pray God, will be avoided.

Leaving the topic of lethal combat let us be reminded of the arts of civilized living in which our town had worthy representatives. Many of them have gone out of the classrooms of Stoughton High School to make their way to places of respect and usefulness in the days to come. Before we close I cannot let the Old Bay Road pass without calling attention to the romance and hardships which were associated with its history as one of the oldest transport roads in the United States. Over this Narragansett trail moved the Indians for a thousand years, the founders of Taunton and Providence passed here, and more than 400 minute-men trekked to Lexington and Concord and other battles of the Revolution.

Charming Howard, Civil Engineer, the historian of the Sons of the American Revolution, has told this story to the Stoughton Historical Society.

Now an observation: History is a most intriguing subject. To support the thesis that its study is one of humanity's rewards let us remember how big business and great industries, engrossed not with profits only, came to be.

[p. 12]


So we find the Iron and Steel Institute spending more than a million dollars to rehabilitate the "First Iron Works" in America at Saugus which will be dedicated in September and the owner of a great optical company at Southbridge donating a fortune to establish the village of "Old Sturbridge".

The Plimoth Plantation will be a great historical magnet when completed and there are many others who carry on a great work of love for the things of our ancestors,

And now to end this rather birds-eye prospect of our local scene may we discern that it can be a matter of compelling interest if engaged with sympathy and understanding. The lessons learned will bolster our wills to cherish and maintain with all earnestness the instruments of just government and worthy living.

Again let me quote Uncle Dudley: "It is the tale of the thing done, even more than its causes and effects, which trains the political judgment by widening the range of sympathy and deepening the approval of conscience, that stimulates, by example, youth to aspire and age to endure, that enables us by the light of what men once had been to see the things we are and dimly descry the form of what we should be".

History is a record of what man does to man. Some of that has been too awful to contemplate but the other side of the picture discovers that the love of God and neighbor has been abundantly fruitful.

This presentation of local history is fairly representative, but far from all-inclusive of persons and events. It is hoped that it may stimulate further interest in the study of life here that has eventuated in the present form of society in Stoughton.

[p. 13]


The Years Beyond

History does not end with the closing of a book, for as long as the sun rises the world will continue to change and history will be made. Sometimes we do not see history when it occurs but merely as events of passing interest. But news today whether it be of local or worldly interest becomes history tomorrow. The years beyond 1954 continue from where Mr. Flynn closed his study in local history. Here we reflect upon the events that appeared in the local press and were experienced by the townspeople.

During the past years population and growth of the town have been significant. The Town's population has nearly doubled with 13,792 inhabitants in 1955 to more than 27,000 in 1975. This considerable growth has brought about many changes in the landmarks and the government of the community. At one period the Board of Selectmen found it necessary to refuse building permits primarily as a result of a water shortage. One session of town meeting in 1975 acted upon some twenty-three articles, of an eighty-eight article warrant, dealing with zoning reforms. The year 1964 saw the division of the town into six voting precincts and the eventual use of voting machines. By 1976 steps were being taken to further divide the town into more precincts primarily as a result of growth in the West Stoughton area.

Municipal services have had to be expanded to accommodate this growth. In 1959 the police station was removed from the lower Town Hall to a small brick building on Rose Street. Ten years later the fire station was renovated and expanded to house a new hook and ladder truck and additional ambulances. Also in 1969 a new library was opened at the corner of Park and Walnut Streets. Water and sewerage services were also expanded in the early 1970's. Two new water standpipes were erected, one off Pleasant and Central Streets and another off Morton Street. Some of this additional service has been routed to a promised industrial complex in North Stoughton.

[p. 14]


As the once small town of Stoughton outgrew its municipal services, so did it outgrow its governmental structure. A new charter was adopted in 1972 to operate the now multi-million dollar business. Among the changes in the town government were the creation of a seven-member Board of Selectmen and a more sophisticated form of representative town meeting. In 1974 the Board of Selectmen was the first in the Commonwealth to have two women members and in 1975 it had the youngest elected member of any board of selectmen in the state.

Stoughton's growth not only came about with the post-war flight to the suburbs, but also with the welcoming of many Portuguese families. This large influx of Portuguese made it necessary for the Stoughton Chronicle in 1974 to inaugurate a weekly section in that language. Likewise many forms of local advertising were also written in the Portuguese language. The public library had also established a branch in one of the local Portuguese clubs to provide literary services to these people.

Medical and elderly services were also expanded with the opening of two hospitals, a clinic, and elderly housing. The privilege of having the Goddard and New England Sinai Hospitals built in Stoughton, considering the size of the community, has brought prestige to the Town and has been a major asset toward the growth and recognition of the town.

First the Goddard Hospital opened in the Town in 1959, primarily because of land availability and the potential expansion to come. The hospital originally provided fifty-six beds and now has 236.

In January of 1976, the New England Sinai Hospital opened its doors for the care of chronic disease patients and persons requiring rehabilitation. This hospital had found the country setting of Stoughton and the proximity to Boston and the various teaching hospitals, to be an ideal location.

Gradually the town saw the reduction in the number of family doctors, or as they are more formally known as general practitioners, with the opening of the Park Medical Center in addition to the clinic at the Goddard Hospital. However, the hometown physician has not been forgotten. In 1954 the triangular park at the intersection of Park, Walnut Streets and Walnut Avenue was dedicated to Doctors D. W. Faxon and Ebenezer R. Faxon.

[p. 15]


Elderly housing has been provided by the townspeople with the introduction of LaCivita Court named for Mrs. Frances LaCivita. A second elderly housing complex being completed at the time this book has gone to press has been named for Mrs. Rosalia Forte who had been active with elderly services within the town. This housing is being constructed through the conversion of the former Belcher Last factory.

There have been many other changes in the various landmarks throughout the town. The Swan block in the square, that had once housed the District Court, was destroyed by fire in 1969. Fortunately, the county saw fit to have the court moved to its own building at the corner of Pearl and Central Streets a few years earlier. The old familiar Swan Tavern saw the beginning of its restoration in 1959 as it first became an eating place and then an office building. The "old" public library building became the Lucius Clapp Memorial in honor of its donor. A youth center occupied the building for two years prior to the exclusive use by the Historical Society.

The 1960's saw the end of Washington Street on the northerly side of the square as a tree-lined highway. A number of stores and shopping centers grew in place of the trees. By the end of that decade the Winroth Antique and Woodworking shops were razed to make room for a "super" gas station. It wasn't long before this became known as the little "white way" and "gasoline alley."

Other landmarks that served as reminders of a more industrious town vanished from the scenery. Pye's Blacksmith shop at the corner of Washington and Walnut Streets when destroyed by fire paved the way for expanded telephone facilities. Two factories that had long been idle crumbled to ashes in 1974. The Porter Street Shawmut Mill, the former Stretton Mill, was completely destroyed within thirty minutes in a late April morning fire. The Nasher-Harris Knitting Mill on Cushing Street succumbed in the same manner.

Some landmarks were changed for the better. The Post Office moved to a very modern building on the site of the old Dentch (Lehan) Automobile agency in 1976. Behind the new Post Office we still see the impressive railroad depot reminding residents of the town that it is one of the few towns still to retain rail service to Boston. Efforts have been continuing to have the structure restored. In 1974 the depot was


[p. 16]


entered into the National Register of Historic Places and will be protected from immediate demolition. The station was originally built for the Boston and Providence Railroad using granite from Gilbert's quarry off West Street. Its prominent clock tower distinguishes it from all other depots in the area.

The growth of a community can be well reflected in the expansion of its religious institutions. No sooner had Mr. Flynn completed his writing, the town, it seemed, went out of its way to follow the mandate of its original charter to provide for religion as well as to denounce the "God is Dead" advocates.

One hundred years after the establishment of the first Catholic Church in the town, two more Catholic Churches were erected to serve the many new residents who had moved from the city of Boston. Our Lady of the Rosary Church in South Stoughton opened its doors in 1958 and the St. James Chapel in North Stoughton became a separate parish from the Immaculate Conception Church about the same time. The St. James Church moved from what was Sullivan's barn at Page and Turnpike Streets to a new modern edifice across the street.

Ecumenical history was made in 1959 when the First Congregational Church prepared to move to its new Pierce Street house from the former Dr. Swan's residence on Pearl Street. On that day three different religious bodies were represented in a literal swap of houses of worship. The former Congregational Church became the Ahavath Torah Synagogue and the former synagogue became the Knights of Columbus Hall. The Porter Street K of C Hall later was razed and became the Club Luiz deCamoes when the Knights of Columbus moved to the Chicatawbut Hall on Seaver Street. The Ahavath Torah Congregation has again moved to a new temple on Central Street.

Other religious institutions in the town also followed parallel changes in the early seventies. The Faith Baptist Church, after first meeting in the old Fellowship House at the F.C. Phillips factory, built itself a basement church on Stoughton Street in 1961, a building that took nine more years to complete. Only a week before the Baptist Church was completed, the Immaculate Conception Church began to follow the same route by also building a basemeht church on the site of the original wooden frame building at School and Canton Streets.

[p. 17]


The Trinity Episcopal Church has since moved to a new home on Sumner Street and reopened the doors of its former home on. Freeman Street to the Christadelphians.

In addition to the Christadelphians, two other religious bodies established themselves in Stoughton. The Christ the King Lutheran Church erected its home among the rhododendrons on the Southworth property on Central Street. And the Kingdom Hall, Stoughton Congregation, Jehovah's Witnesses settled in a small home on York Street opposite the New England Sinai Hospital.

Not all these changes came about by choice and growth. The early summer of 1966 saw the destruction of the familiar white church in the square. The Universalist Church began immediately to rebuild upon the ashes of that fire and in April of 1970 dedicated its new brick structure. With all these changes that have come about in the community's religious institutions, only the First United Methodist Church remains virtually the same as when Mr. Flynn wrote of the town.

Although Mr. Flynn mentioned little of Stoughton's educational system in his study in local history he did compile a separate history of the local school system. If he had seen the changes that have come about since that time, he would marvel at what the town offers for education today. Looking back through some of Mr. Flynn's writings, reading of local newspapers and interviewing many natives, we have been able to piece together many highlights about Stoughton's schools.

[p. 18]


The early 1950's began with the modernization of the school facilities and the closing of many older plants that had outlived their usefulness. The post-war baby boom created the need for immediate construction of elementary schools and the expansion of the upper grade facilities. The first school to be erected in this era was the West Elementary School on Central Street which opened in 1951 and was added to three years later and again in 1962. This school absorbed the students from the Adams School in West Stoughton and from the Drake School outside the Square. The Drake School which looked towards the center of the town from the triangle at Monk and Washington Streets was erected in the late 1800's. Some of the old-timers in town can remember when eighth grade classes were held across the street in the Orpheum Theater around 1915. The Adams School had been built about 1880 with two classrooms. Both these buildings were razed in 1955.

What is now the Central School District consisting of the Clapp, Kimball and Jones Schools has also made several changes. The Clapp School, once an all-grade school, now serves for the first grades only. The Kimball School which was the first school specifically built as a high school, currently serves the Special Education programs.

The Jones School, named for Edwin A. Jones who had been a prominent musician, selectman and school committee member during the late 1800's, was more than doubled in size as the result of new construction in 1954. A few years prior to this expansion, junior high classes had been removed to the high school, where they remained until 1960. The Jones school now provides elementary classes.

Other new neighborhood classroom facilities came along through a score of years. The South School at Cedar and Ash Streets opened in 1958 and was enlarged in 1966. The Chemung Hill School opposite the water works in West Stoughton opened in 1962 and within four years required additional rooms. To better serve the families in the North Stoughton area, the North Elementary School was located off Pine Street. This school when occupied in 1970 was designed to accommodate handicapped and special needs students. The North school replaced the seventy-nine-year-old Capen School at Turnpike and Page Streets which had been torn down in 1970. A-year later the Gibbons School began holding classes in a Morton Street facility that is an exact copy of the North Elementary School.

[p. 19]


With the naming of the Gibbons School in honor of Superintendent of Schools Joseph H. Gibbons in 1971, the town returned to a tradition first begun in 1870. This tradition ceased after the Jones School was dedicated, hence all the other new schools bear only the name of their location.

Other neighborhood schools that were to close during these past twenty years include the Atherton School on Central Street which served the East Stoughton neighborhood since 1895. This building has been converted to a factory. The Atherton School had been the typical two-room schoolhouse such as we still see on Seaver Street, the Park School, which has served as the American Legion Hall and later as a church organization meeting place.

The brick Tolman School on Park Street ceased to be a part of Stoughton's School system in 1970 and later became the Nursing School for the Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School. Earlier records of the town make reference to another Tolman School which had been across the street in a wooden building that was destroyed by fire. The Tolman School is expected to once again serve the town as a pre-school center.

During the same time period that the elementary schools were being opened across town, the high school saw three different expansions. The original building "dedicated to citizenship" in 1923 has been dwarfed by the present structure. The first addition came in 1952 and was continued in a like manner in 1955. In 1965, after some reluctance by the townspeople, the school again was added to. This time it included a large auditorium that has become the official meeting place for town government functions and civic groups. The school has been highly recognized by educators throughout the state and received ten-year accreditation in 1969.

The year 1960 saw the return of the seventh and eighth grade classes to a separate junior High School located on Cushing Street behind the high school complex. Seven years later this school was also enlarged. The early 1970's saw much controversy over the matter of having another junior high school. One of the factors that had given impetus to the controversy was the closing of the St. Mary's School by the Catholic Church in 1972. Rising costs and other factors contributed

[p. 20]


to the closing of St. Mary's which had served parishioners since 1883. Fortunately, its students were able to be absorbed into the St. John's School in Canton and the public school systems with little problems.

Many of Stoughton's citizens have achieved some measure of fame during the past two decades and a few deserve special mention. Going back to Mr. Flynn's time, we find that George W. Hill was elected to the General Court in 1954 with only two votes cast for him, In 1961 John Donahue became the new police chief replacing Peter McGarvey who had served the town for thirty-seven years. In honor of Mr. McGarvey a small park opposite Swan Tavern was so named.

Another public official, Fire Chief Frederick Pye, was also honored for his service to the Town with the naming of the park at Canton and Central Streets. Mr. Pye retired in 1962 after completing fifty years with the fire department.

Today, the town now has a Commissioner of Public Safety, Mr. William Gross, who supervises the police department.

The town's fame that came about in 1952 with the Brink's robbery concluded in 1962 with the payment of the only reward money to a local used auto parts dealer, John Gonsalves, who had found clues to the case in a local dump.

Women have figured prominently in the community, whether as a result of the "Women's Lib'' movement or not remains to be seen. The first woman to be elected to the Board of Selectmen in the Town of Stoughton was Mrs. Joan Nardozzi in 1973 filling the vacancy created by the death of her husband John Nardozzi.

In June of 1976, more than 500 townspeople jammed a reception at Savini's in North Easton in honor of retiring Town Clerk Margaret E. Fitzpatrick. Miss Fitzpatrick served the town for thirty-three years, most of which had been as full-time town clerk and auditor. A tree has been planted on the Town Hall grounds in her honor.

Some other notable residents that had been honored during these past years include industrialists John W. Wood and Fred C. Phillips. Mr. Wood who had founded the elastic webbing factory in the Town, had provided the town with land for the school athletic field as well as

[p. 21]


with other philanthropic endeavors. Mr. Phillips, whose invention of the screw-type golf shoe spikes brought the town of Stoughton fame in the sports world, was presented a new Cadillac by his employees at a testimonial in 1961.

Mr. Raymond McEvoy who had served on the school committee and as Town Moderator during a thirty-seven year period was honored by the townspeople in 1965. A plaque on the podium of the high school auditorium appropriately reminds us of his dedication.

Late in 1975, the town was saddened by the passing of Dr. Appelton C. Woodward who had served on the school committee, board of selectmen, planning board and other town boards as well as serving as school physician. He was one of the few general practitioners to be available in the town in the 1970's, having been a successor to the practice of Dr. W. 0. Faxon.

Few towns the size of Stoughton have ever escaped adverse publicity. In 1975 the Norfolk County District Attorney began conducting investigations into the activities within the police department and some other town officials. Presently, there has been no conclusion brought about by this investigation.

[p. 22]


The year 1976, of course, was very special to the Town as it had the chance to have dual celebrations for the two-hundredth anniversary of the nation and the two-hundred and fiftieth of the Town. A number of special celebration events were held throughout the year and were well advertised on a sign covering the windows of the second story of the State Theater block. The first event was the Bicentennial Breakfast with the rector of the Old North Church as the featured speaker. This was followed by a special Music Festival at the High School. In the spring the Chamber of Commerce along with the 250th Committee sponsored a "Miss Stoughton" Contest. An elegant costumed and formal ball was held in April at a famous Randolph function hall. Then on the brightest spring Sunday of the year, in late May, more than fifty thousand persons came to see the anniversary parade which was more than four miles long and took two and one-half hours to pass the reviewing stand. In June a three-day Country Fair brought thousands to the high school grounds, the same site as the 1926 pageant. On the Fourth of July, three special citizens were recognized at the Sunday-in-the-Park Picnic. An award was presented to Alice Magee as Grandmother Stoughton, Miss Bertha C. Reynolds was named Miss Senior Citizen and Nancy Ivaldi was named Mother Stoughton. The final festivities of 1976, a birthday party, are being prepared as this book goes to press.

[p. 23]


These have been a very profoundly changing two decades of which only a little has been discussed here. But it does give us some insight to those other events and changes that we can recall from our own memories. Perhaps these items are not very dramatic and as revolutionary as the events that took place two hundred years ago, but it does give us a chance to become aware of the events which may eventually transform the everyday existence of our local community and provide some understanding as to why we study history.



A child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started.

He is going to sit where you are sitting.

When you are gone, attend to those things which you think are important.

You may adopt all the policies you please, but, how they are carried 

       out depends on him.

He will assume control of your cities, state, and nations.

He is going to move in and take over your Churches, Schools, 

     Universities and Corporations.

All your books are going to be judged, praised or condemned by him.

The fate of humanity is in his hands.

                                                                        Abraham Lincoln

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