On Sunday November 12, visitors to the EHS&M heard from six speakers. Ken and Diane Sterling, members of the SAR and the DAR, respectively, spoke of their own long family histories in this country from the time of the Revolutionary War. David Ames Jr. spoke about his relative Second Lt Oliver Ames, Jr. who was killed in combat in France in WWI and his own father David Ames, Sr, who proudly served in WWII, decoding the tapes that detailed losses at Pearl Harbor and accompanying the ranking admiral on duty in delivering the news to the White House.
Easton resident John Amorim shared his experience in Vietnam after he enlisted in 1963, the constant need to be on the lookout for booby traps, and his sadness on hearing of the death of fellow Easton resident and OA grad Pfc Edward Smith. Frederick Allen Coe Jr.’s military duties included combat force protection and electronic security systems operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Since September 11, 2001 he has been deployed on three military operations, including OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM and OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM.
Left to right: First Vice President David Ames Jr., John Amorim, Elizabeth Riley, Frederick Coe, Jr.
Elizabeth M. Riley, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret), served in the US Army from 1984 to 2013; her specialty was logistics, plans, operations and training. Her career included assignments in the Army National Guard, Army Reserves, and active duty.
Listeners were impressed with the selfless service given by these individuals and the gift of those who solemnly pass their story on. At this time we especially remember those who did not return. I find myself sympathizing with the words of Emily Dickinson,
It feels a shame to be Alive--
When Men so brave—are dead--
Anne Wooster Drury
UPCOMING EVENT: Please join us!
I found it! The Dailey Homestead on Stonehill College property. I mentioned Dailey in an earlier newsletter about Stonehill; Dailey was an early settler in Easton. “John Dailey (Daley/Dayly) ‘pitched’12 acres (1708-9) on Stone-House Plain.” He was here before 1708 and originally a native of the north of Ireland. (Chaffin) He was a hogreeve, or hog constable. After reading, or re-reading, about the find, and subsequent research and excavation beginning in 1996, I wanted to see the site for myself. Of course, I did it the hard way- I did not go directly to the College archives. I had tips from three different people, and off and on, over the past several months, I have wandered the vicinity looking for the site. It was not easy to find. There is a path, though a rather faint one off a more well-traveled path, and the site is marked- once you manage to find it. Artifacts are stored in the Stonehill College Archives.
Sign posted near Dailey homesite on Stonehill College property.
Found at the site were a bronze coin with a likeness of George II, a musket ball, pieces of window glass, china imported from England and China, and part of a tobacco pipe. Artifacts are stored in the Stonehill College Archives.
Remains of a well at Dailey site near house foundation.
Photo of Dailey house foundation.
The woods were quiet and calm the day I found the site, the sun shining through the leaves of the surrounding trees, the occasional brown leaf silently drifting down to the ground. It was a good moment to reflect on the past and try to imagine what life was like for John Dailey and his family. It was worth the hours spent searching.
The photos are mine, but some information is from the Stonehill Alumni Magazine, Fall 1999.
Anne Wooster Drury
A reminder that today, Sunday, October 22, the monthly Open House at the Easton Historical Society takes us back to the decades when many of us reading this newsletter grew up- the 1950’s, the 1960’s, and the 1970’s. Each of these decades provided very different experiences for those who came of age at the time. Perhaps the fifties were more innocent, I don't know (?), while the sixties were politically and culturally turbulent, and it was in the seventies that the Beatles disbanded and disco was born. As we’ve grown older, perhaps we’ve become more aware of, and grateful for, our hometown and the spaces we played and studied in. As we grew into our later teenage years and beyond, some of us stayed, some of us left for good, and some of us left, but later returned to raise our own families. The following is a remembrance by my sister Rosemary (Wooster) Duphily on those ‘in between’ years when we were "finding our way in the world". In her remembrance she focuses on the local 'music scene' in the 1970's.
Local Entertainment in the 1970s
Coming of age in the 1970s had its benefits and challenges. In the mid-to-late 70s, most of us were continuing our education at college or working our first full-time job, with the added responsibilities of managing studies, adjusting to work schedules, and living at home, on our own, or in dorm rooms during the week. But when the weekend rolled around, we wanted to have some fun! I can remember traveling to Club California in Quincy, Shenanigans in Canton, and a variety of fairly local clubs featuring music, dancing, and drinking (the drinking age was 18)! During this time, right here in Easton, was the well known Olde Forge Tavern on Rte. 138. During my college years, I enjoyed the entertainment at the Olde Forge with my friends listening to “Red Eye”, “J.D., Billy & Ken”, "Midnight Traveller”, and the “Beaver Brown Band”. I looked forward to Friday and Saturday nights when we would drink pitchers of beer, socialize, make new friends, and dance to our favorite songs. I even worked as a cocktail waitress at the Olde Forge, experiencing the best of both worlds - making money while serving drinks to friends and listening to great music. The Olde Forge Tavern provided us with a local and comfortable entertainment venue, while we were still finding our way in the world.
The John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band were from Rhode Island and began their career in 1972. They played in Easton at The Forge in the 1970's. Image 1980's.
If you are local, we hope to see you tomorrow at the train station, 12:30-4:30.
Anne Wooster Drury
It’s that time of year again when spooky things are seen around town. And they’re all looking forward to the Open House on Sunday October 22nd when we will revisit Easton in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s!
Below is a scene from the Town Pool, 1962. Do you remember riding your bike there on a hot summer day? Taking swimming lessons early in the morning when it was still too cold? Jumping off the dock? Taking the test for the ‘green’ tag? Then you’ll want to stop by the Railroad Station to see our exhibits.
Town Pool 1962. Easton Patriot newspaper.
Did your family ever pick up pizza from the Crossroads Café? Maybe on a Friday or Saturday night? A special treat.
Photos, Easton Patriot, 1962.
Did you go to Oliver Ames High School? Football games at Frothingham Park? You could hear the cheering and the band playing blocks away. Remember Val “Muzy” Muscato? (On the left in the above photo.) Or basketball or baseball games? Maybe you played a sport for OA. Not until 1973 was the first Girls’ Track Club formed. The club officially became a team in 1974. Things were different then.
If you remember sock hops, poodle skirts, mini-skirts, drive- in theaters, Walks for Hunger, James Taylor, candy cigarettes or wax lips, please join us! Twelve-thirty to four-thirty.
Now the first of December was covered with snow
and so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston
Though the Berkshires seemed dreamlike on account of that frosting
with ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go
There's a song that they sing when they take to the highway
a song that they sing when they take to the sea
a song that they sing of their home in the sky, maybe you can believe it if it helps you to sleep
but singing works just fine for me
So, goodnight you moon light ladies, rock-a-bye sweet baby James
Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose, won't you let me go down in my dreams?
And rock-a-bye sweet baby James
Anne Wooster Drury
A reminder- Sunday October 22 there will be an Open House celebrating the '50's, '60's and '70's. If you have any artifacts from those decades we could display, please contact the museum, or me, at the email below. Thank you! Hope to see you there. Also, a correction on the last biweekly. Wheaton Farm is larger in area than the part of Borderland that lies within Easton!
A Peek Back in Time, Easton Town Reports 1870-1 & 1873-4
On a dreary, rainy, Monday I took a look back in time by browsing through some old Easton Town Reports. I was drawn to Death Records and Almshouse Records. What I found made me grateful for the basic, and not so basic, medical advances and social services that we enjoy today. Causes of death were quite different in the late nineteenth century and an inordinate number of people died young. Many of us have had the experience of walking through an old cemetery and seeing this painful truth carved in granite. Among the older people, some causes of death sound familiar, not so much, others. Familiar causes of death were: pneumonia, heart disease, kidney disease. Less 'modern' causes were typhoid fever, consumption, and cholera morbus.
Photo from a page of the 1870 Town Report, Deaths.
In 1870 Easton resident Caleb Swan died at the age of 75. The record says “erysipelas”. Erysipelas is a skin infection caused by streptococcus bacteria. It is also called St. Anthony’s Fire and today is usually treated with antibiotics.
Also in 1870, Sarah T. McDavitt, 2 months and 4 days old, died of inanition. Inanition is defined as “exhaustion due to lack of nourishment”. She was one of two that year.
A fifteen-year-old boy died from cephalitis, an obsolete term for encephalitis. Hydrothorax, paralysis brain, and Par. Insanity (1873) were other diagnoses. A 1-year-old died from a burn. Of 41 deaths, 9 were due to 'Old Age', for 3 very young children, no cause at all was given. People, especially young people, died from dysentery and cholera, diseases that today primarily affect countries in the developing world.*
*A 6 month old, 7 month old, and a 48 year old in 1870.
In the year ending in 1874 there were 79 deaths; 43 of those deaths were of people under the age of forty. More than half. In contrast, in 2000, there were 163 deaths in Easton, none were under the age of 20. Between the ages of 20 and 40 there were several deaths; the causes were not listed.
In 1873 young people under age 10 died of- dropsy of bowels (1), congestion of lungs (1), cholera (7) smallpox (2), inflammation of bowels (1), convulsions (1), disease of the brain (1), inanition (3), croup (1), teething (1), meningitis (3), scarlet fever (1).
The purpose of the Almshouse was to take care of the poor. The town bought land and a farm in 1838 to use as a poor farm and an almshouse. It was located in the general vicinity of the Center School. A new, improved almshouse was built in 1874. According to Ed Hands in his book Easton's Neighborhoods, prior to 1838 the poor were cruelly auctioned off to the lowest bidder. Often they were old or mentally disabled.
A ticket to admit the bearer for one night only, 1871.
Appearing in the Town Report from Almshouse in 1893:
Expenses outweighed income as an unusually large number of tramps, 289, were lodged and fed that year. The number of paupers was 1/5 higher than previous year. Outside of the Almshouse itself, aid was given to 57 additional people for a total of $2,157.79.
A portion of the Almshouse report in the Town Report 1873. There were equal numbers of men and women. Two 'inmates' died that year.
Although our current institutions created to manage the sick and poor are far from perfect, they are an improvement.over past practices. The forecast for tomorrow is 74 degrees and sunny.
Anne Wooster Drury
A few announcements: The station will be closed Wednesday, September 13 and Friday, September 15. Also, don't forget the Open House scheduled for Sunday, September 17- the dedication of the Lee Williams Family Colonial Shed and a cookout for our members and donors- in appreciation. Twelve-thirty to four- thirty. New memberships will be available at the door. Also, the Society is planning an Open House for Sunday, October 22, that will focus on "Growing Up in Easton in the '50's, '60's and '70's". We are looking for 'artifacts' from those decades. If you have items we can display please notify the Society at firstname.lastname@example.org or email me at email@example.com. Thank you in advance!
To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
These lyrics, written in 1959 by Pete Seeger, came to mind as I finished my recent walk at Wheaton Farm. As soon as late August, early September, the natural world is already, in quiet, barely discernible ways, signaling a turn of season. Whether it’s the color of berries, the turn of a leaf, or an abundance of mushrooms, little hints are everywhere
Most of the land that makes up Wheaton Farm Management Area was once agricultural land. It is named for Daniel Wheaton (1767-1841) whose house still stands at 519 Bay Road and was the first major purchase of Easton’s Conservation Commission. Many Easton citizens worked very hard to save Wheaton Farm from development and in May of 1967 the first acquisition of land was officially dedicated.
During the mid-sixties Conservation Commission members fought to procure Wheaton Farm and to preserve it as a green space. Serving on the commission (1965, 1966, 1967) were Alice B. McCarthy, Raymond Taylor, John Freitas, Elizabeth Ames, Charles Willis, and Clifford Grant. Other individuals instrumental in acquiring Wheaton Farm include Evelyn C. White, Virginia Reusch, and John E. Grant. Today, the land area comprising the Wheaton Farm Management Area is greater than Borderland State Park.
At the start of the trails off Bay Road is a pollinator garden. Shortly after I began walking, this butterfly (below) greeted me and hung around long enough for me to take its picture. Trash bags are conveniently located a bit further along for dog walkers. There are several different trails of varying length.
My butterfly friend.
Also located at Wheaton Farm, since 2019, is the Ed Hands Community Garden, which makes garden plots available to community members. The plots here are crammed full of produce and flowers at the end of August. In this especially rainy summer, many vegetables are ripening late. On other parts of the property Langwater Farms has grown produce since 2014. Hikers and walkers (many with dogs) enjoy the property; the Bay Circuit Trail passes through, and hunting is allowed in season. Daniel Wheaton’s old farm serves new purposes. I’m sure the current residents of Easton appreciate their fellow citizens’ foresight and their commitment to land conservation that began decades ago.
Ed Hands Community Garden.
Tomatoes rot in the compost pile
Nearby, a rusted watering can,
Broken chair and a red wheelbarrow
Reminisce about the harvest
Anne Wooster Drury
Easton has a little known, but highly respected, author in its past. He once resided at 261 Purchase Street at a farm known as Glen Easton and later as Maplewood Farm. In 2016 Barnes & Noble issued a special reprint of James Rankin’s “Artificial and Natural Duck Culture”. The original was printed in 1906 and sold for 50 cents.
Reprint of James Rankin’s book, 2016.
“……this classic text introduces us to the basics of raising ducks, be it for pleasure, exhibition, egg production or meat purposes. Included are details on the major duck breeds, as well as how to raise and breed them for eggs or meat. Included are sections on housing, feeding, incubation of duck eggs, brooding and care of ducklings and more. Of particular focus is the management of ducks specifically for meat purposes, including how to dress them.” Barnes & Noble 2016
Original book, 1906, 50 cents.
James Rankin was born in Glasgow Scotland in 1830 and died in Easton in 1914. He was known as ‘The Father of the Pekin Duck Industry in America’ and his expertise was well-recognized. After buying the run-down Deacon Reed farm in 1874, Rankin began improving the property. In a letter to Chaffin, Rankin said that he “had bought the place for its possibilities.” By about 1876 he was well-known as an inventor and manufacturer of an innovative incubator for duck eggs, which he eventually patented. Every day a wagonload of Rankin’s ducks would be shipped via the Easton Center railroad to locations all over the United States. Rankin’s Monarch incubator worked equally well on chickens, geese, and turkeys; his hatch rate was never less than 90%. By 1891 he was hatching 4,000 to 5,000 chicks, which he sold as broilers and by 1906 he was raising 25,000 to 30,000 ducks per year.
Original house, Maplewood Farm, now Easton Country Club, old pic.
In 1908 Rankin sold his farm to Ezra Pratt. In 1914 Frederick Lothrop Ames II bought the farm and housed his prize-winning Clydesdales there. In 1923 Frederick’s widow sold the farm to Producer’s Dairy of Brockton. In 1945/1951(?) the farm was sold to Samuel Joseph and Mary C. Lombardi of Rhode Island. Initially managed as a dairy farm, in 1961 they began construction of a nine-hole golf course, today known as the Easton Country Club. Today Easton Country Club is a beautifully maintained eighteen-hole golf course. Today, Rankin’s advice is still sought out by members of the poultry community. The book’s content is available as an eBook at no cost through Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.org.
261 Purchase Street. Rankin house. Built in 1880.
Anne Wooster Drury
Easton Historical Commission
Easton Historical Society
History of Easton, Chaffin, 1886
Easton Country Club website
A recent open house (July 16) at the Museum showcased agricultural implements manufactured by the Ames Plow Company. The Ames Plow Company was a later incarnation of the Ruggles, Norse & Mason Company, established prior to 1835 in Shrewsbury, Mass. Over time the company grew and took over a space at Quincy Hall in Boston. In 1861 the existing partners were succeeded by Oliver Ames & Sons. Items advertised in their catalogue included carts, wagons, trucks, wheelbarrows, contractors’ supplies, and ice tools. In 1866, a branch was incorporated at 53 Beekman Street in New York City. In 1874, a large new factory was built in Worcester, Mass. The firm was related to the Ames Shovel Company, also known as Ames Tool Company.
One of the implements displayed at the EHS&M is a corn sheller. It removes the grain from dry ears of corn; the kernels fall into a bucket underneath the device. The corn can be fed to livestock or used for other purposes. It was very popular in New England.
Corn shellers come in different sizes.
Found in a barn on Lincoln Street in North Easton, the Lawn Hand Cart shown below was restored at Southeastern Regional School and has been returned to its original appearance. It was manufactured in two sizes and came with flaring sides and wide tires.
A Fan-Mill produced by the Ames Plow Company. Three models were The Boston Fan-Mill, The Improved Worcester Fan-Mill, and The Grant Fan-Mill. The Company also made fan-mills to sort coffee.
A Fan-Mill cleans grains and small seeds. It is an early farm machine, separating the grain from the chaff and straw with a breeze. The fan is hand-cranked and blows grain and chaff across vibrating screens.
According to Chaffin, in 1865 there were 91 farms in Easton. Grown were: Indian corn, wheat, rye, barley, buckwheat, oats, potatoes, English mowing hay, English hay, wet meadow hay, turnips, other vegetables, apple trees, and more. Livestock included: sheep, horses, oxen, steer, milch cows, heifers, goats. Take-aways- It wasn’t all that long ago that farming in Easton was common and much more labor intensive. These farming machines (Ames Plow Company) were all used by farmers in Easton to get their work done. And although the Ames family was known for manufacturing shovels, they were also involved in various other related enterprises.
All photos by Jon Coe.
Anne Wooster Drury
This is a cemetery, yes, but an unusual one; this is a photo of a bull cemetery located on the Holy Cross grounds near Stonehill College. This graveyard for Frederick Lothrop Ames Jr.’s prized bulls was located somewhere near the barn, which has since been converted, but the tombstones disappeared, and no one knows where they went. According to Reverend Anthony V. Szakaly, C.S.C., when work was being done on an irrigation system some years ago, a large bull bone “popped up”. Today it is displayed in the College archives.
Photograph of Bull Cemetery. Courtesy of Stonehill College Archives. Six of the best bulls were buried here. Langwater Guernsey’s were genetically superior and from the 1920's until the 1960's the Langwater cow was considered the perfect cow.
Stonehill College was founded in 1948 by the Congregation of the Holy Cross. It is located on what was once the estate of Frederick Lothrop Ames Jr. Today Holy Cross priests and brothers live on the part of the Stonehouse Hill estate where Frederick Ames housed his prized Guernsey cows. Fr. Tony gave me a tour of the lovely grounds here, where past and present meet. Frederick Ames’s cow barn is now living accommodation for the priests and brothers. He took me up to the attic where the charred beams from a fire in the late 1920’s can still be seen. Fortunately, the barn was mostly spared.
Above, renovated cow barn, now housing for priests and brothers.
Charring in the attic from a fire in the ‘20’s.
A view of the old farm silo that now houses a chapel. The silo is on the left and obscured by trees.
A better view of the silo.
Today, the building that originally housed the old Ames Airport Office and Farm Office serves as a residence for priests. According to Fr. Tony, their closet is the old walk-in safe. As for the Retreat House itself, “The Holy Cross Retreat House is made up of the old cow stalls and the bull pen with later additions made of surplus World War II army barracks. The chapel of the retreat house was once the old hayloft for the cows.” (Fr.Tony)
The Holy Cross Retreat House from the outside. It was once a barn for cows and bulls.
Inside the Holy Cross Retreat house it is possible to imagine the old cow stalls. The footprint is the same. The stalls have been converted into rooms for those on retreat.
A view of the chapel in the hayloft.
There is much more to be said about the history of the Ames farm and the repurposing of the estate, but space is limited. At one time, this particular piece of land was home to a thriving farm known for its Guernsey cattle and Clydesdale horses (Clock Farm). Also- it was the site of an early airfield. I know that somewhere in the ground- though not exactly sure where- strong Guernsey bones still linger, reminders of times past, lush green fields, and fresh raw milk.
Thank you to Reverend Anthony V. Szakaly, C.S.C.
Anne Wooster Drury
Update and A Look Back at Summer Days
A quick update on the last newsletter. This is a great photo showing the wooden screen and librarian’s desk as they originally looked. They provided a barrier to the stacks and only the librarian could retrieve books. Borrowers would approach the desk and ask for what they wanted. Notice the drapes on either side.
This week, a reminiscence by Tom Wooster about summer days in Easton, 1970’s-‘80’s. Enjoy!
"Growing up in Easton in the 70’s and 80’s was a great time to be a kid as we had much more freedom than kids nowadays. Planning our day wasn’t done by parents, but by meeting my friends on summer mornings at the bench by Day Street at Frothingham Park. We would meet most summer days and figure out what sports or adventures we wanted to do on that particular day. Most days involved playing baseball or basketball or going to someone’s house to listen to
records and eat whatever snacks were in the house. Sometimes we would go on bike rides around town and my favorite was going to Borderland. We would go through the Town Forest and cross Bay Road and down the dirt road to Borderland and ride the trails there and then usually head to the Corner Store to get soda and candy. Some of my favorite candy bars were the Marathon Bar, Rally Bar, and the Waleeco Bar (which was actually produced by the FB Washburn Candy company in Brockton and they are known today for making Ribbon Candy). If I remember correctly candy bars were around $.15 and cans of Coke or Pepsi $.20 and still could get some penny candy as well. Sometimes we would ride to the fire station and get Simpson Spring soda from a machine where they parked the fire trucks. I don’t remember how much they cost, but I’m thinking it was more than Coke or Pepsi or we would have gone there more often
Frothingham Park, bench near Day Street gate, today.
We would go home for lunch and then get our chores/jobs done in the afternoon. My jobs were picking up any trash on the ground at the park which took about an hour each day for which I was paid $.25 a day, if I remember correctly. I also had jobs mowing lawns once a week and for that I was paid $5.00 by the homeowner and that price never changed over the years. While I was always eager to run to the store to buy junk food my parents made sure I deposited most of it in the bank. I had my account at Easton Co-operative Bank, which then was located at the corner of Center and Main Street, and ironically is my current employer just at a different location.
After dinner on most nights I would play croquet or hide and seek with my siblings until either the mosquitoes drove us inside or our parents called us in for the night. As I look back I realize how good I had it growing up in Easton as I had a great group of friends to hang around with and a very loving family with six siblings. We had much more freedom in those days, but we also were responsible and were where we were supposed to be when we were supposed to be there.
I hope you enjoyed my short summary of what I remember most about how I spent my summers during my childhood in Easton. Of course growing up with a beautiful park across the street and having six siblings also allowed us to do many things together and for that I will always be grateful to my parents who raised us to enjoy life, but also to be responsible for our own actions."
...playing games in the park
til way after dark….back
through the crooked bar again,
where only children fit.
Anne Wooster Drury
Anne Wooster Drury