Greetings everyone! Today is a beautiful day here at the Museum. Leaves are finally getting their fall colors, the days have been warm and the nights cool. But colder weather is on the horizon, and as soon as we get a real cold snap, those colorful leaves that grace our trees will be on the ground!
Thank you all for supporting us with the Shaw's Give Back Where It Counts program, where we receive $1 for each of these reusable bags purchased in October. To date, twenty-two bags have been purchased (I'll be getting mine this weekend) so half way through the month we are doing good! If you are in the market for a new shopping bag, please consider purchasing one of these special bags to support us!
Two Easton institutions are celebrating landmark anniversaries this month. The Immaculate Conception Church on Main Street is celebrating its 150th anniversary, and Easton Baptist Church at the corner of Bay Road and Rockland Street is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Congratulations to both organizations who have been faithfully serving the Easton area in so many ways for so many years!
Our historical nugget today comes from Joe Evans, Archivist and Museum Collections Manager, Henry W. Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry, Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of California. While going through the collections housed there, he came across a rare document from Easton! Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Evans, that document is now in our collection.
The War of 1812 (June 1812-February 1815) was an unpopular war, and the years leading up to it were a difficult time for our young nation. War between France and Britain caused economic issues for American traders as both France and Britain attempted to block the United States from trading with either of the other countries involved. Lawmakers sometimes took bold stances to support America. One of these men was Elbridge Gerry (1744-1814) who had an interesting career in both business and politics (much more successful in politics!). A native of Marblehead, Massachusetts, Gerry rose to prominence following the French and Indian War. He served at the Constitutional Convention, signed the Declaration of Independence, but refused to sign the Constitution until it had the Bill of Rights added to it. Gerry served in politics at various levels, including Governor of Massachusetts, being elected in 1810, and again the following year. However, after some creative redistricting gave him and his party a favorable advantage, and charges of taking money from a lobbyist surfaced, he lost a hard fought battle for re-election in 1812. Using his national connections, he lobbied President James Madison for a position as a Boston customs collector. Madison, however, needed a vice-president, and after joining the ticket, Gerry found himself elected as the 5th Vice-President of the United States. Unfortunately, he took sick in Washington, D.C. and died in office in 1814. Today he is best known for "gerrymandering," the process used to alter districts for one's own or one's party's political advantage. A good biography of him can be found at
Our document, a scan of which is attached, is an official document that attests to Easton's votes for Governor and Lt. Governor during Gerry's ill-fated 1812 re-election bid. This paper would be filed with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to certify the election results of Easton voters. It records 150 votes for Gerry, and 69 votes for his opponent Caleb Strong. The Lt. Governor votes from Easton were 151 votes for William King, and 69 votes for William Phillips. The Selectmen of Easton, Calvin Brett, Daniel Macomber, and Josiah Copeland signed the paper, and Town Clerk Howard Lothrop attested it to be true.
Until next week, stay well,
Hello from Easton! Today the sun is out in full force, and a warm day is welcomed. Colors are appearing rapidly around town as leaves turn their beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow!
This week I ask you to join me in congratulating the Easton Lions Club as they celebrate 90 years of service to Easton. From their beginning in 1931, the Lions have sponsored many public health initiatives, from school dentist visits and treatments, to today's vision programs, and so many other great things. Their annual events such as the Holiday Festival and their fishing derby, just to name a few, are special. Their relationship with the Easton Grange has been such a benefit for both groups. If you have not been to the thrift store, check it out!
Today I have attached the last of the 1968 Gym Jam photos. I hope to get a few names from these pictures, and I thank those who have sent some along. One of the events on the program was Boys Tumbling, and the two photos here must be from that event. Can you imagine how much practice it must have taken to do these? I don't think I would want to be the young man on the bottom of the pile, and I know I would never be able to "fly" over the twelve boys doing headstands! Such athleticism is something to truly be admired.
The second attachment is five of our boys striking their best pose. Again, names are needed.
We are missing photos of the girls events at this Gym Jam, and if any are out there, please consider sending them along to add to the collection. We are able to copy any photos you might not want to part with.
Wishing you all a terrific week,
Shaws Supermarket in Easton has chosen the Easton Historical Society and Museum to be the recipient of its "Give Back Where It Counts" reusable bag program! For the month of October, we will receive a donation of $1 for each bag sold. These bags are on a special rack near the Courtesy Booth, and only sales of these "I Give Back" bags will benefit the Museum. You can do two great things by purchasing one of these high quality reusable bags: you help the environment, and you help your Museum. If you live out of the Easton area, the tag attached to the bag can be used to direct proceeds from your purchase to us. I hope you will take time to check it out.
All the best, and stay well,
Hello from the Museum! It was cool enough here yesterday to run the furnace, a sure sign of things to come. Even so, I hope we can all enjoy some terrific weather before the next bout of rain settles in.
Reminiscences Volume 12 is now available at the Museum and in our on-line store! This most recent edition features 113 pages of historical pieces on such diverse topics as the Toll House Restaurant, a trip to the remains of Flyaway Pond, memories from the late Lee Williams about the Easton Jaycees, The Easton Nursing Association by Hazel Varella, a few ghost stories along the Bay Road, and many other writings. Thanks to a very generous donation from Mrs. Carol Misiewicz in memory of her late husband Dr. Robert Misiewicz to offset the cost of printing, we are able to offer the book for $10.
The Easton Community Calendar is also available at the Museum and other fine establishments around town. Free for the taking, and made possible by the North Easton Savings Bank, the calendar follows the school year and is full of information on Easton organizations, elected and appointed officials, Easton school sports, and other groups. Dates for meetings are included on the calendar pages as well as school events, vacations, early release days, etc.
Today I am attaching two more photos from the 1968 Gym Jam. These photos are among materials donated in memory of the late Tim Carlson. The events captured on film are the Boys Pyramid, and a tribute to the 1968 Olympics. The pyramid looks like a feat of engineering as much as it was a feat of athleticism. More than twenty-five young men, along with some apparatus and well placed wood supports, enable the pyramid to be created. Balance, combined with strength and stamina, allow this remarkable form to take shape. One small mis-step, and disaster results. Note that there are very few mats to cushion one's landing should misfortune strike!
In the following photo, below the familiar Olympic banner, the boys are painted in gold and pose to represent a number of Olympic events. How many different events do you see here? In those days, both summer and winter Olympics were held in the same calendar year, so sports from both Olympics were being represented.
Next week I will share two more photos from the Gym Jam. As always, names are needed if you recognize any of these fine athletes!
Stay safe and well,
Hello all! Yesterday we opened the Museum for the OAHS Class of 1970 who are in town celebrating their 50th Reunion. Jonathan Coe and the Reunion Committee planned a number of events including a bus tour of Easton, lunch at the Museum, a dinner last night at the Easton Country Club, and a brunch today. It was really great catching up with friends and meeting many other people. (The reunion was planned for last year, but due to Covid, it was postponed for a year).
The Museum lost two people who were such important supporters over the years. Past President Ed White was Society president when we received the Old Colony Railroad Station from the Ames family in 1969. He was very involved supporting the Society in our early years, running fundraisers such as our popular antique car meets, working with other volunteers rehabbing the old railroad station, and helping to develop our early collection of Easton history. Just a few days ago we lost Lee Williams who was a steady supporter of the Museum for so many years. Lee was always ready to share a story about his experiences growing up as a "Furnace Village Rat" near the Five Corners, and was a regular contributor to "Reminiscences." He donated to the Museum every year, and thanks to his generosity our "Chowder and Chatter" dinner and talk became an annual event. Lee paid for that dinner since its inception (the idea was originally proposed by the late Dr. Robert Misiewicz, and Lee took the lead on making sure it would happen each year.) Our ladies powder room is named for his late mother Margaret Adams Williams. Both Ed and Lee were great examples of supporting the community they lived in, leaving it better than they found it, and raising up a new generation of leaders.
Today I have included two more photos from the 1968 Gym Jam, and I hope to get more names! Both photos are of what I believe to be the "Triple Balance" routine, where three of the boys positioned themselves in a particular form to demonstrate balance and strength. The boy on top must have been higher than the basketball hoop! Note also the two boys sitting on the basketball hoop supports, getting an eagle eye view of the event - who might they be?
Until next week,
Stay well, Frank
Hello, and a happy fall to all! The first fall colors are emerging from some of the trees here, with just a hint of red and yellow peeking cautiously through the many green leaves around here. It won't be long before we see fall in all its brilliance!
A few weeks ago Judith (Carlson) Zickl donated a collection of very interesting Oliver Ames items saved by the Carlson family. Among them are photos of the 1968 Gym Jam! Held on April 5 and 6 that year, the program was a continuation of the Gym Jams that were held in the 1950's, 1960's and into the early 1970's. This particular event, under the careful guidance of Miss Suzanne Rivard and Miss Gloria Ferrandino (girls instructors) and Mr. Eero Helin and Mr. Edward Forbush (boys instructors) included eighteen events, all carefully executed after long hours of preparation. Attached is a copy of the program, and a photo of one of the popular events: the bamboo dance. Featuring sets of bamboo poles opening and closing while students danced between them, this exercise required athleticism and expert timing. In the next few weeks I'll feature a different photo or two. I hope they bring fond memories to mind, and I also hope you can help name any of the people in the photos. At least one photo was taken by Jeff Nystrom, and I suspect all of them may have been taken by him. I look forward to putting names to faces. I would also like to hear from Jeff if anyone knows his whereabouts.
Until next week, stay healthy,
Greetings from Easton! A chill in the air this morning announces the imminent arrival of fall. I hope you all enjoy a nice Labor Day weekend and the warm days and cool nights.
Work continues at the Museum! Director Jonathan Coe has been busy setting up a new display for our sales items. We will be refreshing the entire Museum over the next few weeks as we eagerly anticipate reopening later in the fall. A photo provided by Jonathan of the new sale display is attached.
Today's image is a small nod to a time when stopping for gas meant watering your horse! A postcard in our collection features a nice image of a watering station. Located at the intersection of Central Street and Washington Street, this pump provided a refreshing drink for both animals and passersby. The pump itself is non-descript, simply a pitcher pump in an iron pipe. The trough is hollowed out from a piece of solid stone. The two buildings in the background are of local interest. On the right is a rooming house owned by the Morse family, whose former thread mill still stands at 7 Central Street. Workers could board there, and the building dates to the 1860's when the thread mill was in full force. The building to the left was a storage building connected with the thread mill, and dates to a similar time. The postcard photo was taken by Webster W. Bolton, a South Easton photographer who lived on Howard Street. He published postcards for clients under the name "The Bolton Popular Post Card" and several of those cards survive. This particular card was published around 1910.
Stay well, enjoy the nice weather, and until next time,
Happy Saturday morning! A cool and calm day in Easton is much welcomed after a long, hot, humid week. Our thoughts today are with our members and friends affected by Hurricane Henri last week, and with those preparing for Hurricane Ida to make landfall in Louisiana sometime Sunday.
This week, my dear friend Lee Williams dropped in with a wonderful surprise. A few years ago he purchased, at a fundraising auction, an original photograph of the second Frederick Lothrop Ames in a Renault automobile. He is sitting at the wheel of the car, and the photo was taken at his home, Stone House Hill House, better known today as Stonehill College (his former home is Donahue Hall). The photo is a wonderful photo of Mr. Ames, known as Lothrop, but with all due respect to the Ames family, it is the car that steals the show.
The story begins with William K. Vanderbilt of the wealthy Vanderbilt family. As a young boy in the 1880’s, he visited France with a family friend, and rode in a three-wheeled French steam powered car. He was most amazed at the speed at which they were able to travel (Vanderbilt himself would break the land speed record - twice!). That love of speed led him into taking an active interest in auto racing, and when a Renault car won the first ever French Grand Prix style event in 1905, he contacted the company about building race cars so he could introduce the sport to the American market. In 1907 Renault delivered eleven custom built race cars at a total cost of $150,000. Vanderbilt had agreed to take all eleven cars and found owners for ten of them, keeping one car for himself. There was one difference in each car - the seating was customized to the size and needs of the prospective owners. Soon Vanderbilt began a race in Newport, Rhode Island, which later moved to Long Island and became the Vanderbilt Cup race. For many years it was the premier auto race in America.
One look at the photo quickly shows this was not a “normal” car for its time. Some thought of reducing drag is evident in the car’s aerodynamic design. Powered for a four-cylinder 7.5 liter engine that could develop up to 65 horsepower, and coupled with a four speed progressive transmission, the car had plenty of get-up-and-go, winning a number of early races. Semi-elliptical leaf springs and mechanical hub brakes rounded out the basic needs. The car was equipped with special removable wheel frames that helped to speed up pit stops. Another innovation was the mounting of the massive radiator near the center of the car, which improved its handling. I am not sure whether or not Lothrop owned this car at one time or if a friend visited with it. It is a rare photo of an important early race car. Of the eleven original cars built, only four are known to survive in America, and in 2020 one example was sold at auction for $3.3 million dollars. Check out this link https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/25719/lot/159/ for more information!
Stay safe, stay well, and until next week,
Hello all! What a difference a week makes. I am battening down the hatches at the Museum as we prepare for Henri. It may be the worst storm in thirty years, so we have been watching it carefully, moving things away from windows, etc. to protect our collections. Living in the wooded area near Borderland State Park, I fully expect to lose power for a while (we usually do) so I will be filling my thermos with hot water tonight before bed so I can have that ever important morning coffee tomorrow! I hope that the Museum , as well as all of you, come through the storm safely.
This morning I have just a quick little item to share with you. It is a bill of lading for the Old Colony Railroad dated August 3, 1888. The document is for the shipment of 14 dozen shovels from the Oliver Ames & Sons Corporation to Dunham, Carrigan, and Hayden Company, San Francisco, California. We know a lot about the sender, but the recipient was a well-known merchandiser of hardware, housewares, etc. to the mining industry. Founded about the time of the California Gold Rush in 1849, the company had a full line catalog - the Sears of the west coast. Their building was about a city block long! Besides being a major supplier of mining equipment, which is probably the destination of these Ames shovels, they also played a major role in the rebuilding of San Francisco following the 1906 earthquake and fire.
The bill head itself is a great item. The engravings of the steam train and the steam ship highlight the various means of sending freight all over the country. A read through the shipping notes is worthwhile too.
Hoping you all weather the storm,
Happy Saturday to my fellow lovers of all things historic! It has been very hot this week, with temps approaching 100 degrees and accompanied by summer’s ever-present humidity. Ice water and a cold salad for lunch never tasted more refreshing than it has this week.
While going through the recently donated papers of the Lawson family, I came across this photo and tribute to a man, Charles Lawson, who came from his native Sweden and worked hard to become successful in his adopted country of the United States. The photo is a formal portrait of Charles Lawson and his wife Christina (Johanson). He was born June 29, 1845 in Sotterby, Socken, Nabara, Sweden. She was born in Horreb, Socken, Nabara, Sweden on September 15, 1845. The couple married in Sweden on June 29, 1877, and eight years later came to North Easton, where Mr. Lawson took a job as a gardener at the estate of Cyrus Lothrop. You may know it better as the Parker Estate, or its historic name, Unity Close. Lawson spent the next forty-eight years working for Lothrop and Mr. and Mrs. Parker, retiring at the age of 86. Following his retirement, he continued to stay active walking daily to North Easton Center and enjoying automobile rides. When he turned 97 he was the oldest man in Easton. He died the following year, 1944 at age 98. His wife died eight years prior. The couple had nine children, some of whom you might know – H. I. Ingman of Salem, N.H.; Mrs. Ida Jacobson, Charles H. Lawson, Mrs. John Stromvall, Mrs. John Hanson, Mrs. Albin Anderson, Miss Esther Anderson, and Harry Lawson, all of Easton; and Ernest W. Lawson of Brockton. With such a long life came the pleasure of seventeen grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. The photo was taken in the greenhouse or conservatory on the rear of the Unity Close property.
The writeup titled “An American From Sweden” is from an unnamed source, but may have been from a newspaper in Lynn, MA. where one of his sons, Ernest, was a publisher and general manager. The tribute speaks briefly about what he did, but makes more of a point about the character of the man. As an immigrant from Sweden, he worked hard to contribute to his new country, bringing with him “industry, integrity, health and strength and skill as a gardener.” He clearly did not want to be a burden to anyone. He appreciated the opportunities granted to him, and tried to make sure he could give more than he received. As the column notes in its closing, Charles Lawson passed onto his children the above-mentioned qualities, with son Ernest “carrying out the lifelong teachings of a father who was a gardener for 86 years and a good American to the day of his death.”
Charles Lawson is one story out of the many stories of those who came from Sweden to Easton to seek out a new life. He achieved the “American Dream” and worked hard for it. He made sure he passed that dream along to his children with an appreciation for what they had and what it took to get it. He was indeed a “good American.”
Until next week (and a week closer to fall!),