LIFE OF FRANK MONK
As Remembered by Charles H. McNamara
Born in North Easton, January 18, 1859, died in Boston, June 22, 1934, married Cora Middleton of Sharon in North Easton, March 19, 1888.
Frank Monk was a character never to be matched in my memory. He was a man of many ambitions, hard working, honest, and exceptionally generous. He was a man who only wanted the best whether he was on the giving or receiving end of the bargain. Frank was quick tempered and very outspoken using English seldom heard at Harvard but well understood by people whether rural or urban background.
While his first love was agriculture, his life included working as a conductor for the New Haven railroad, owner of an ice business and later owner of a livery stable and funeral service. While running the livery stable, he bought his first Cadillac sedan in which his wife, Cora Middleton, met her death. Oddly enough Frank never possessed a driver's license. He hired Fred Morey to drive his car and Fred also met his death with Cora at the railroad crossing on Plain St.
Soon after the railroad accident, Frank returned full time to the farm and milk route. It was during this time that he bought a herd of pure bred Holstein cows from Josh Whitcomb in Littleton, Mass. Frank called my father and asked if he could take Charlie Hurley (my cousin, 9 years old) to go after the cows. Not realizing how far it was (50 miles) my father readily agreed. Charlie and Frank went after the cows the next day. With Frank ahead with the horse and buggy and small calves, Charlie walked in back driving the cows. Although Charlie's feet were sore and swollen for a long time Charlie was amply repaid with presents annually rather than receiving money.
Frank McNamara (my father) although a dear friend was also a rival farmer and when it came to buying and selling the friendship was forgotten. They spent a life time rivaling each other to see which one would reach Stoughton Square first in the morning with the milk wagon. Both of the delivery vehicles were immaculately fitted and did receive many awards at parades, fairs, etc.
Many stories are remembered of Frank Monk which exemplify the character. One day when the snow formed a ball in the horse's shoe, Dick Vanston, the Chief and only police officer, reminded Frank that he should knock the snow from the horse's hoof. Frank, while muttering to himself, hurried home, and called for a hammer from the hired man. After searching for some time, the man returned saying he couldn't find a hammer. Frank, as quick as the horse could travel, returned to the center of town demanding of the storekeeper a dozen claw hammers. lie-turning to the farm, Frank entered the barn and threw a hammer to every point of the compass saying "now, by God, the next time I want a hammer I hope you will be able to find one."
This section of the town is known as Dry Pond. At a centennial celebration one night. Dr. Ewing, the master of ceremonies, explained how this section of the town got its name. "You see," said the M.C., "Frank Monk and Frank McNamara have been putting so damn much water in the milk over the years that the pond just had to go dry." He further explained at the time Dry Pond Section was bounded by Eddie Harris' barbershop to the north and to the south was bounded by the Lighthouse (corner of Morton and Plain St.)
It is interesting to look back to the lives of these two fanners. I like to remember that neither suffered hardly a sick day in their entire life span. However, although my father died a few years ahead of Frank Monk, the two men died in the same hospital, on the same floor with the same ailment at the age of 75.
At my father's funeral, Frank Monk sent a floral arrangement never to be duplicated, I believe, in my life time. The floral arrangement was a facsimile of a Holstein cow made entirely of black and white carnations. This is but an example of the way Frank Monk showed his appreciation for his friend and neighbor who was such a good friendly, business rival.
Frank Monk passed away in 1934 leaving the farm in its entirety which had been put together and carefully worked all the years of his life.
In 1935 I bought the farm of my father where I was born. This gave birth to what has been known over the recent years as the McNamara Farms. The McNamara's who represented four generations never missed a delivery of milk to the town of Stoughton for over a century. It had its beginning on School Street and Grandpa McNamara pastured the cows on the common (pasture) where the present Town Hall nowduring the 1950's, the Town of Stoughton took various pieces of both farms for a water supply. Public health rules and regulations would not allow the waste material from an active cow barn to seep m the direction of this water supply, thus the McNamara farms came to an end with an auction selling all on May 13, 1934.
And so time marches on. Where the cattle once enjoyed grazing between the hills and streams, the Lindskog's have built their home on the McNamara-Monk farm site. The home, we hope, will serve their children and children's children that they may enjoy the beauty of these hills and streams where once the horses and cattle roamed.
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