Happy April greetings! True to her nature, April arrived Friday morning with a torrential downpour, followed by teasing glimpses of sun. Perhaps April provided her own April Fool’s Day?
Please join me in congratulating OAHS Girls Basketball Coach Elaine (Laney) Clement-Holbrook and our 2021-22 OAHS Girls Basketball Team who won the Division 2 State Championship March 19 with a victory over previously unbeaten Norwood! The girls finished the season with a record of 22-3. Extra special congratulations to Laney as she heads into retirement after a 46-year career. She retires as a three-time State Champion (2006, 2010, and 2022), 44 years out of 46 with postseason appearances, 19 Hockomock League championships, and 4 sectional titles. She is also the winningest Girl’s Basketball coach in Massachusetts history with a career record of 733-244, 100 wins more than the previous record. Thank you Laney, and go Tigers!
This week I will begin a series I call Easton Then and Now. I will use photos from our collections along with modern images taken from the same location that together remind us of how much has changed (or maybe in some cases, hardly changed at all.)
What better place to start than dear old Bay Road? Originally a Native American migratory route between summer and winter encampments, the trail became a stagecoach road in the early Colonial years of Easton’s history. Taverns, farms, stonewalls, and milestones dotted the rural landscape as the road through Easton ran from Stoughton in the north to Norton in the south. Bay Road itself still follows its original path through Easton with very little deviation from its original footprint.
Our photo today was taken in 1895 by an unknown photographer. It looks south from about the area of the current 469 Bay Road. The road looked this way a hundred years earlier or better! You can get a feel for how rural the area was during that time. The house on the left was the farm of the George Williams family. The house was built in 1884 on the site of a much older home that burned in 1882. Bay Road is a dirt road, and you can easily see the marks left by horse drawn wagons and carts. Stonewalls line both sides of the road, and the land is pretty well cleared by generations of farmers whose work also created those stone walls. On the right in the distance is the Josiah Keith House and barn. The house, built in 1717, is the oldest house standing in Easton. The barn, which predated the house by a year or two, burned August 4, 1902 after being struck by lightning. In this one photo you have a great look at the oldest house in Easton on the oldest road in Easton.
The photo I took earlier this week from approximately the same spot as the old photo still imbues the rural feel of the area even with some development. There are more homes along the road, giving the old Williams house some neighbors. That house is visible between the trees at the left and keeps its traditional white color as it had in earlier days. The stonewalls are still evident though they have been broken up to allow for driveways. Pavement covers the road and signs warn of the curve ahead. Note that the Keith house is no longer visible in this photo as more than 125 years of growth have taken over the sides of the street and the old farmlands have slowly returned to their wooded heritage. Bay Road is a pretty busy place at times, and morning and afternoon commuters use it frequently since it connects a little further south with Route 495. Still, in a quiet few minutes, one can imagine the squeaking wheels of the stage and the neighing of horses as they draw near the Keith house, one of several taverns or inns on the road, for rest and refreshment.
Have a great week, stay well, and enjoy spring,
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Anne Wooster Drury