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!),
Greetings! Summer weather made a spectacular return late this week and it looks like August might provide the best weather of the season. The sun is certainly bringing out the visitors and walkers and finally fostering some outdoor activities.
One of the special sights of any summer would be a glimpse into Mrs. Frothngham's Rose Garden at her Elm Street home "Wayside." This garden attracted both national and international attention for its wide variety of specialty roses and architectural layout and elements. Secreted away to the northwest of her home, which is now the Easton Town Offices, the Rose Garden was a place of finely manicured beauty. America's best rose experts, landscape architects, and gardeners created and maintained one of Easton's true "hidden gems."
The photo album we received last week included a real surprise - four photos of three great friends posing in Mrs. Frothingham's Rose Garden! These pictures were probably taken around Class Day for the Oliver Ames High School Class of 1929. The young graduates, fresh faced and finely dressed, are Evelyn (Ev) Lawson, Enis (Enie) Larson, and Irene Mahan. They strike a balance of both formal and fun poses as they commemorate their day together. It must have been quite an honor to have their pictures taken at the Rose Garden! Evelyn would later marry Andrew Costello, and it is her daughter Nancy (Costello) Spindler who donated the album kept by her mother. Enis would marry Harland Almquist, and their daughter Priscilla Almquist-Olsen spent time at the Museum this week to help identify people in the album. I do not know too much about Irene Mahan and I hope someone reading this might provide more information on her. Ev Lawson's father Charles was a gardener at Unity Close, and provided the connection for the girls to make an appearance at the Rose Garden.
Until next week, stay well, and enjoy the summer!
Frank T. Meninno
Curator, Easton Historical Society and Museum
Hello all, and a happy Saturday to you! What a glorious day we have today in Easton, with the sun shining, warm but not hot, and cool nights for good sleeping. It seems unusually cool for the end of July. When I worked at Brockton Tool Company, Central Street, South Easton in the 1970's and 1980's, the company practiced the time honored tradition of shutting the factory down for two weeks each summer, a standard practice among factories for many years. Those two weeks were usually the last two weeks in July, which typically were the hottest of the summer. It was a good two weeks to be out of the old factory which was not air conditioned!
We had a great visit this week with Nancy Spindler and her brother Tom Costello, formerly of North Easton. They brought in a number of items from their late mother, Evelyn (Lawson) Costello who once lived on Pond Street, and whose father Charles Lawson came from Sweden and for many years was the gardener for Mr. and Mrs. Winthrop Ames at Queset, the stately home behind the Ames Free Library. Among the many family papers and photos is a photo album, and from this, I will be sharing a few snapshots as we are able to identify the people and places in the photos. Most of these date between the late 1920's and the early 1930's, and chronicle an early Swedish family in North Easton.
The first photo is one of a fire engine and fireman from the former North Easton Village Fire Station on Sullivan Avenue. The engine is parked on Main Street at Langwater Pond, and is demonstrating the power of its new pumper with an impressive stream of water issued from a hose connected to the truck. A small group of firemen and onlookers gather to watch. The photo is taken from the west side of the pond looking south towards Sheep Pasture. The Main Street dam is readily visible in the photo.
The second photo is taken along Main Street around 1929-30. Two cars are parked near O'Connor's News Store which is the building at the right in the photo and currently houses the Farmer's Daughter restaurant. Next to that on the left is a sign for drugs, perhaps Harlow's Pharmacy, and to the left of that is the building that formerly was Galvin's Barber Shop. Note the trolley tracks in the right foreground, still in use at this time, just before the trolley was replaced by busses.
I'll share more photos in the coming weeks as we learn more about the Lawson family.
Happy Saturday! A weather man recently said that Massachusetts has only had two days in July without some type of measurable precipitation. It sure has been a wet month, and we had a pretty good rain storm late yesterday afternoon (and some hail as well!). But today is warm and sunny, so I will not complain.
We extend our thanks to Dale Julius and the East Bridgewater Historical Commission for presenting us with an extraordinary gift this week! A marriage certificate, dated 1875 and presented by the Methodist Episcopal Church in North Easton to newlyweds George and Lucy (Randall) De Witt, is now a treasured addition to our collections. Mina Corpuz, reporter for the Enterprise newspaper, did a story about how this was discovered behind a Civil War era poster that had been framed many years ago. You can find the story at the Enterprise website www.enterprisenews.com or on our Facebook page. Check it out!
One of our summer internship projects is working with Oliver Ames High School senior Lauren Gilgan. She is putting together some history of the rooms at Wayside, our Town Hall, when it was the home of Mary Ames Frothingham. She has done a terrific job researching the use of the rooms at Wayside over the years, and will be developing appropriate signage to enhance the history of the home. We are excited to see the finished project!
Construction photos from the early days are very rare. We have a number of them documenting one special building. Wayside, built in 1912 for Mrs. Frothingham and designed by her friend and architect Guy Lowell, is a magnificent Georgian Revival home. It took a lot of work to build it though, and preparing the land was one of the first steps. Mrs. Frothingham, when she was still Mary Shreve Ames, began acquiring the parcels of land that would become her estate as early as 1905. Most of the land was purchased during 1909 and 1910. At that time, there were several farm houses on the site as well as other farm buildings. Our photo today, probably taken in 1910-1911, gives us a look at the property being cleared. The picture is taken on Elm Street, looking westerly. A fine stone wall is being constructed along Elm Street, which is a dirt road at this time, giving a rural feel to the scene. The men on the right are probably the builders of the wall. A ditch has been dug for the wall to provide a proper footing. The two small sheds in the photo housed workers (there were a number of small sheds built to house the work crews while site work and construction was being done, a common practice in those days) and in the center of the photo you can see one of the old farmhouses being dismantled. Other houses that once stood on the site were moved further east on Elm Street and used for housing some of Mrs. Frothingham's staff. Springhill, the home of William H. Ames overlooks the work as if awaiting the arrival of its new neighbor. The house at the extreme left of the photo, located very near the entrance to Wayside, was later removed.
I hope you enjoy this photo, and some good weather. Until next week, stay well,
Hello everyone! I hope you are weathering this hot summer well. More rain is in the forecast today around here. We have an abundance of rain while part of the nation suffers through an historic drought. I hope they get the relief they need very soon.
Today I wanted to share a few "cool" thoughts during a hot summer, and where better to turn than Monte's Ice House? Once located at 260 Elm Street, the two large ice warehouses stood for many years near the shore of Monte's Pond. The Marshall family originally began harvesting ice there in the mid-1800's. Fred J. Monte (1894-1983) was hired by a man named Bigelow who ran the ice house in the early 1900's. In 1927, Fred became the owner, and continued harvesting ice until 1967. Monte's was the last commercial ice house in operation in New England when it closed. At first, his customers would be residents and small stores who needed fresh ice to keep perishables from spoiling. Later clients included commercial fishing operators, who needed ice for the fishing boats that went to sea each morning. A truck full of ice would be loaded in North Easton, and it would leave a trail of water behind it all the way to Fall River, New Bedford, or any other fishing port where it was needed. Clearly one had to have a good sense of how much ice would be lost due to melting along the trip to make sure that when the truck arrived, there would be enough ice for the fishing fleet!
In a normal year, Monte would harvest between 12,000 - 14,000 tons of ice! We must have had much colder winters then, because the usable, clear ice (after the bottom and top had been shaved clean) would be 12-14" thick. Several harvests were done during the winter to fill the ice houses. Keeping ice all year was important, and the ice houses were constructed with double walls, filled with sawdust or hay, to act as an insulator. Each layer of ice was also covered in the same way. That simple method worked very well, and once laid in, the ice would last until the following winter's harvest began. When I was young, Austin Phillips, who lived on South Street near Highland Street, called me over one day in August. Behind his barn, in a corner where he had been cutting wood, was a large pile of sawdust. What impressed me was not the size of the pile, but what it concealed: snow and ice from the past winter, which had been protected all summer by a thick covering of sawdust!
The three photos attached give you an idea of what the ice harvest looked like. In one, Fred J. Monte, in his usual plaid wool coat and hat, is working a hand-held ice saw to cut ice from the pond. The other man is unidentified. Another photo shows large rectangles of ice cut from the ice field. These would continue to be cut down in size until they were the proper size for storing in the ice house. The third photo shows one of the two ice houses at the site. Notice the conveyor system used to move the ice into the ice house. The entire scaffolding on the side of the building could be raised and lowered as needed to load or unload the ice. The whole system was powered by a gasoline engine located in the top of the ice house. This was quite an undertaking! Workers included a small year-round staff, but during harvest time, people were hired from all around. Members of the Oliver Ames football team often found work there, and following World War II, many veterans could find employment there during the winter.
Enjoy the "cool" thoughts during this hot spell, and until next week, stay well!
Greetings! Easton withstood tropical storm Elsa, suffering some heavy downpours and some local flooding, but little to no wind at all. With all the rain we've had over the past two weeks, the ponds are full and the streams are running quick! It is hard to believe that record-setting heat was only a short while ago.
I was scanning some photos for another project when I came across this one, which I hope you find interesting. The days of traveling by steam engine may be romanticized at times, but there was a practical side to running a steam engine. One needs a steady supply of coal from the coal car, attached just behind the engine, to provide the means to heat water for steam. One also needs a good water supply to make steam. Letting the boiler run dry could be catastrophic. Unfortunately, tanker cars were not in use in those early days, so steam engines had to refill their boilers when the train stopped at a station. This was true in North Easton, and today's photo clearly shows the old water tank that once stood along Mechanic Street. This photo, taken in the late 1920's, looks north along Mechanic Street towards Oliver Street. The water tank is the focus of the photo. The wood tank was supported by a massive concrete column in the center. There is some type of support around the outside of the bottom of the tank, which appears to be made from steel beams. A ladder to the roof must have allowed for inspections and repairs. Immediately behind the tank is the Old Colony Railroad Station (at the time of this photo it was the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad), and if you look closely, there are a few cars parked in the lot. At the end of the road are 26-28 and 30-32 Oliver Street, twin duplexes that still stand. The old stone retaining wall is easily seen along the left side of the road. The man walking on the sidewalk is unidentified. The tank was probably taken down by the 1940's.
This water tank, which was filled with water from the North Easton Village District water supply on Lincoln Street (now the Town Pool) was the second one on our site. The original railroad water tank stood in what would now be the center of our parking lot, close to the tracks where a water pipe could feed the boilers when needed. I do not know where the original water supply would have come from for that first tank. Perhaps a steam pump at the Ames Shovel Shop location pumped water from the Queset River that flowed nearby. Once the water district was established in 1873, water could be obtained from the above-named source.
That's enough about water for now! Stay well, and until next week,