Happy Saturday morning to all! The weather here in Easton has been excellent all week. Lots of sun and warmth means the real beginning of yard work. I have been enjoying the bright yellow daffodils that are in full bloom around town. April showers are soon to follow though, so it looks like indoor spring cleaning will be the order of business this week.
Many of our students are returning back to school full time. Graduation is in the near future, and with that thought in mind, let’s take a look at a rare example of an early Easton graduation.
We have in our collection a small booklet from 1882 titled Easton High School – Program of Graduating Exercises. You have noticed by now that this does not have “Oliver Ames High School” as the school name. In 1869 the Ames family built a multi-story wood high school building for the Town of Easton. The building was Italianate in design and included a clock tower (it was from that tower that many of the photos in our new book Easton In Stereo were taken.) This dominant structure stood on the site now occupied by the 1895 Oliver Ames High School on Lincoln Street opposite the Rockery. When Governor Oliver Ames offered to build the 1895 school, the old Easton High School building was moved to the southwest corner of the schoolhouse lot, and continued to be used as a primary school until it was torn down around 1930 to make room for the classroom wing and gym added on to the high school.
Inside the booklet is the order of exercises for graduation, which took place on Friday, June 30, 1882, at 7:30 p.m. The event probably took place inside the school building which must have included a small auditorium. The class motto was “Onward and Upward.” The program features ten orations, essays, or recitations by graduating seniors, interspersed with five musical performances. The topics of the talks given by students include “As is Life, so is its End”; “Finding our Place in Life”; “Make Life Worth Living”; “Labor and its Reward”; “The Right Use if Things”; and “Short views we take nor see the lengths behind.” The Class Prophecies were read by Jennie E. Shepardson, and the Valedictory titled “True Manhood” was presented by Thomas H. McCarthy. Both male and female students are featured speakers. The evening wrapped up with the presentation of diplomas by Rev. William L. Chaffin representing the School Committee.
Although it is nearly impossible to find a complete list of graduates (whose ages ranged from 17-20), this booklet at least contains the names of those who took part in the graduating ceremony. Of particular interest to us at the Museum is graduate Heman Howard, who some fifty years later would research and write about old houses in Easton. We have a copy of his research on these early houses, some of which are no longer extant. Other familiar names include members of the Buck, Selee, Rankin, Finley, Berry, Toothaker, Wade, Young, and Dickerman families. Unfortunately, the names of those who provided the music are not noted.
I am off to get my first Covid vaccine on Monday, one jab closer to some sense of normalcy. I hope you all stay well, and until next week,
Greetings from a very cold Easton! This morning, the temps were in the 20’s when I headed out to begin my day. Were there an Easter sunrise service this year we would all be bundled up and sipping hot coffee!
On occasion I receive telephone calIs or emails from people who confuse us with other Easton’s around the United States. Last week I received an email from another Easton! Andrew Glovas, Director of Operations, Northampton County Historical & Genealogical Society in Easton, PA., sent me a note regarding a donation they received from someone in Pennsylvania that detailed the building of a school house. He was sure that this document belonged to Easton, Massachusetts, and following a brief email exchange for further information, arranged to have it sent to us. When I received the materials I was very excited to see two handwritten construction contracts for building schools in Easton. Even more important, these schools were built prior to the Civil War, a period that we do not have many documents from. Today I have attached a scan of a contract to build a school house in District Number 9, which is the former school building at Easton Center (not to be confused with the current Center School Elementary School still in use). The old school still stands at 350 Depot Street. You know it now as The History Room, and it was for many years The Music Machine with Anne DiSanto. This contract lists the terms and conditions and basic information about the school building, as well as the signees. If you look up this address on Google Maps you can easily see the old school house. At one time the school received an addition, so the building you see today is about twice the size as the original building. A transcript of the document is given here. You can check out our sister museum in Pennsylvania by visiting their website at Sigalmuseum.org. We extend our sincere thanks to Andrew Glovas and the Northampton County Historical & Genealogical Society for making sure these precious documents made it safely home.
Between Hathaway Leonard of Norton of the first part, and Charles H. Reed, Daniel A. Clark, & Henry Dailey all of Easton (of the second part) a committee authorized by School District No. 9 of Easton to contract with said Leonard of the first part, to build a School house for School District No. 9 in said Easton twenty-seven by thirty-eight feet on the ground otherwise in accordance with the plans and specifications bearing even date with this contract.
The said Hathaway Leonard of the first part agrees for the sum of seven hundred thirty-nine dollars to build a School house in District No. 9 in Easton Bristol County State of Massachusetts, 27 ft. by 38 ft. the dimensions in other respects to be according to the plans and specifications bearing even date with this Contract.
The said School house to be finished and ready to be occupied on or before the first day of August eighteen hundred fifty-nine.
Dated at Easton this thirty first day of January 1859.
Signed sealed and delivered in ) Ch. H. Reed
Presence of ) Daniel A. Clark
Minot E. Phillips ) Henry Dailey
) Hathaway Leonard
Hello! What a terrific day here in Easton! Between rain yesterday and rain forecast for tomorrow, we have a sunny day. Today, the Easton Baptist Church is having a Covid-style Easter Egg Hunt, and next Saturday, Covenant Congregational Church is sponsoring an Easter Scavenger Hunt! It is so good to see some community activities after such a long time of not much at all going on.