Author Archives: Nancy Therrien

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History Repeats the 1918 Pandemic

Dr. Frank H. Clapp & Staff, Grafton, MA 1918

As we look back at the 1918 Influenza it seems like we are reliving that historical pandemic in today’s world. It came without warning much as it did for today’s cities and rural areas, but in 1918 it also affected the military spread throughout the world. This story, written by society member Elizabeth Weeks was posted in the Grafton News as a remembrance of the 100th anniversary of that impact full event. The similarities are striking. http://graftonhistoricalsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/1918-flu-outbreak-pdf.pdf

Joseph Sampson

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Coronavirus stories wanted:

The Grafton Historical Society wants to hear from you about your experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. The Society is collecting stories of what it is like living through the pandemic and images of how life has changed. The Society plans to create an archive and needs contributions from Grafton residents.

What is your life like right now? What experiences are you having? What are you seeing that is different? Please send your stories, personal accounts, and photos to: graftonmahistory@gmail.com  If you have questions, please call or text 508-320-1173. The Society’s website is graftonhistoricalsociety.org.

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Rescheduling/Canceling: No date set! June 20th, Annual Antique & Arts Fair

Scenic pathway at Carson’s Picnic Grove, now the site of Grafton Flea Market
296 Upton Street, Route 140, Grafton, Massachusetts

Due to the pandemic outbreak of Covid-19 the society will try to move the date to fall. Check here by May 15th for future details. On Saturday, June 20th from 9 am – 3 pm the Grafton Historical Society will hold it’s 53rd Annual Antique & Arts Fair. This year, since we will be hosting the event at the Grafton Flea Market we will also have a presentation of Antique vehicles for viewing, along with many wonderful dealers, demonstrators, music, and an appraisal table. The $5.00 entrance fee goes to support the Grafton Historical Society, a nonprofit 501 c3 all volunteer organization. This fundraiser goes towards operational expenses and monthly programs. Call 508-839-0000 or email graftonmahistory@gmail for further information. This event is held rain or shine. In case of rain it will be held at the Millbury Street Elementary School, 105 Millbury St. Grafton, Massachusetts.

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Sorry – Canceled – Sunday, March 29th – 2 PM -“I Now Pronounce You – Lucy Stone”

Due to the spread of the Corona virus this event had to be canceled. We will notify everyone when it is rescheduled. LWV – Shrewsbury – Grafton along with the Grafton Historical Society – Brings You – “I Now Pronounce You – Lucy Stone” on Sunday, March 29th at 2 PM. The fiery performance by Judith Kalaora has received accolades from journalists, actors, and journalists alike and was featured on the WGBH Forum, a series of lectures and performances selected by WGBH to be streamed online. Now in honor of the 2020 centennial celebration for Women’s Suffrage, Lucy Stone travels to Grafton, MA, to the Great Hall at One Grafton Common, to tell he incredible story. The 60 minute presentation is suitable for any ages. Followed by a Q&A session. This event if free. For more information call 508-839-0000 or email questions to graftonmahistory@gmail.com. “This program is supported in part by a grant from the Grafton Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.” www.massculturalcouncil.org/.

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Tuesday, March 10th, 7:30 pm – Suffrage Balladeer


Suffrage Balladeer Performance at Historical Society


On Tuesday, March 10th the Grafton Historical Society will join with the Friends of Grafton Public Library to bring you a very interesting music program at 7:30pm at the Grafton Historical Society, 71 Main Street, South Grafton. Steve Adams, Suffrage Balladeer, will entertain the group with original songs created to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage. This 45 minute program is entitled, “A Fine Agitation: Scenes from the Struggle for Women’s Suffrage.”  The songs and engaging narrative will provide context for events and individuals such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, Ida B. Wells, along with Frederick Douglas, who fought for women’s right to vote. This free event is part of the Friends of the Grafton Public Library’s Community Read.  Light refreshments will be served.  There is parking and seating for 25 – 30 guests. Please register for Community Read events online at: http://www.eventkeeper.com/mars/xpages/G/GRAFTON/ekp.cfm or call the Library 508-839-4649. For more information: call 508-839-0000 or 508-839-4649 or email graftonmahistory@gmail.com or info@graftonlibrary.org
Join us and have some fun!
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Sorry – Canceled – Sunday, March 22, 2pm, Children’s Colonial Breakfast

Due to the spread of the Corona virus we had to cancel this event. At the appropriate time we will reschedule. Children ages 6 – 10 are invited to join the Grafton Historical Society at the Grafton Community Barn, 37 Wheeler Road, North Grafton, on Sunday, March 22nd at 10 am as we step back into the 18th century. Professor Laura Ziman will help you discover the many similarities and differences between daily life and routines of children today and children three hundred years ago. Participants will learn about preparing an authentic colonial breakfast of scone, biscuits, homemade strawberry jelly, and homemade butter. Come away with a sense of lives lived ling ago, how children’s lives have changed through time, and what may still be the same. Call 508-839-0000 or email graftonmahistory@gmail.com to reserve at spot for your child. Reservations at $5.00 per child should be made by March 15th.

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Sunday, January 5th, The Lincoln Assassination

The Grafton Historical Society and the Grafton Public Library invite you to join them at 2 pm on Sunday, January 5th at the Grafton Community Barn, 37 Wheeler Road, North Grafton, MA. Presenter Christopher Daley will use his power point presentation to share his research and travels investigating the conspirators who pulled off this tragic event.

Mr. Daley will focus on Lincoln’s mission to keep America united and how that was challenged, even to the point of death. He will detail the events that took the life of one of America’s greatest presidents, follow the trail of the perpetrators, and conclude with the trial itself.

Mr. Daley has been lecturing throughout New England for 25 years. He is currently teaching history at Silver Lake Regional School System in Kingston, MA. He holds a BA & MA from Bridgewater State University in Political Science. As the past President of the Pembroke Historical Society, the Chairman of the Pembroke Historical Society, a docent for the John Alden House Historical Site and Coordinator of Educational Outreach he has had the opportunity to author many articles as well as do consulting for the Travel Channel’s program “Timetraveling with Brian Unger”. 

This program is free of charge. Light refreshments will be served.

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Sunday, December 8th, Grafton Celebrate the Holidays

Stop by the museum at 71 Main Street, South Grafton from 2 – 4 pm. There are so many interesting artifacts and stories to accompany them. Check out our map collection from 1855 & 1887. The Grafton Center diorama will give you a sense of what life was like in the late 1800’s. Light refreshments will be served as well.

Traveling near Wheeler Road? Stop by the Grafton Community Barn from 12 – 4 pm to view our exhibit. Mrs. Claus will be handing out candy to the youngsters. Let the kids see if they can type a letter to Santa or use a rotary phone to make that special call. Many other artifacts will be on display. Bandstand ornaments and books will be on sale.

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Canceled. Will reschedule. The Battle of the Bulge – 75th Anniversary

Due to predictions for snow this event will be rescheduled. Christian W. de Marcken an American who grew up in Belgium will recall his memories about the greatest battle of World War II, The Battle of the Bulge. Mr. Marken’s wife, Jeanne will accompany him and share her personal journey traveling through dangerous territory. Join us at the Grafton Community Barn, 37 Wheeler Rd. North Grafton, at 2 pm. All military and their families are welcome to share stories from there service days as well. Mr. de Marcken will share some details of Grafton’s own Chuck Wenc’s service. This program is free and refreshments will be served.

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Chronology for William Lewis

William Lewis Chronology of Residence and Work

Born February 14, 1819, in Wardsboro, Vermont, son of William Lewis and Deborah (Smith) Lewis.  His father dies December 31, 1831, and his mother dies April 24, 1833.

March 11, 1836, Rindge, NH until Nov. 18, 1837; Begins keeping his journal.  He is 17 years old, and apprenticed to his uncle, Charles Mixer, learning tanning and currying; – he may have begun his training when he was 13. A journal entry April 20, 1837, notes he came to Rindge 5 years ago that day: April 20, 1832.

Nov. 22, 1837, Brattleboro, VT until April 18, 1838; Working for Mr. Goodhue tanning and currying

May 1, 1838, Milford, NH, until June 3, 1838 Working for Mr. French tanning and currying

June 6, 1838, Hillsboro, NH, until June 11, 1838; Tanning and currying

June 16, 1838, Brattleboro,VT, until September 20, 1838; working for Goodhue & Chapin tanning and currying

September 26, 1838, Northboro, MA until October 25, 1838; working for Mr. Davis tanning and currying

October 29, 1838, Dorchester, MA until November 2, 1838; working for Mr. Ball tanning and currying

November 8, 1838, Brattleboro, VT until Dec. 11, 1838; working for Goodhue & Chapin tanning and currying

December 12, 1838, West Brattleboro, VT until April 14, 1840; working for Mr. Beal tanning and currying until Dec. 11, 1839; then out of work , earning some income sawing wood.

April 14, 1840, Templeton, MA until November 29, 1840; Working for Mr. Swan @ $15/month tanning and currying

Dec. 2, 1840, Woodstock, CT until March 24, 1841; Working for Mr. Albert A. Payne tanning and currying

March 24, 1841, Leicester, MA until June 10, 1842; Working again for Mr. Payne tanning and currying. Out of work 12 weeks, Jan. 16 to April 11, 1842, after breaking his arm in a horse and wagon accident

June 13, 1842, Millbury, MA until February 24, 1843; Working for Francis H. Rice tanning and currying. At first is living in a boarding house; then July 18, 1842 goes to board with Mr. Pierce.

February 25, 1843, until September 6, 1843 out of work. Spends time in Leicester and Spencer, Millbury, Brattleboro

May 4, 1843,  goes to Wilmington, VT – is without work and recovering his health – tries to earn money by selling magazine subscriptions without success. Living on his uncle Jabez Smith’s farm in Wilmington – Helps with his uncle and his cousin Reuel Smith with farm work.

September 6, 1843, goes to Worcester, MA to work for Mr. Watson tanning and currying, but business is bad and work runs out September 12.

September 14, 1843, Hubbardston, MA working for Harvey Brown, tanning and currying

August 14, 1845, marries Abby Louisa Kemp in New England Village, [North Grafton] MA and they live in Hubbardston. William is still working at tanning and currying for Brown and for himself.  Abby earns money at sewing / mending, doing laundry, and sewing bed ticks

January 17, 1848, son Collins Winslow Lewis is born.

Gap in Journals Nov. 26, 1850 to Jan. 26, 1853.

September 9, 1850 U.S. Census finds him still in Hubbardston

April 1851 William gives up tanning and begins selling books and Yankee notions.

Sometime c. July 1851 wife Abby’s niece Abby Louisa Bigelow, age 7, comes to live with          them.

The Lewis family is living in Barre, MA by May 19, 1852 as documented in Book/Notions Sales accounts .

Journals resume January 26, 1853. The Lewis family is living in Barre, MA, renting from Mr. Atwood;  April 4, 1853 “moved into Br. Atwood’s new house”. He now works primarily at selling books and Yankee notions and at seating chairs. Abby is sewing ticks, braiding straw, making Shaker hoods. They earn income from “bating” peddlers and horses as well.             

Gap in Journals May 14, 1853 to May 18, 1855. Accounts/Receipts books provide information about his life during these years. Income continues as per 1853.

1855 Mass. Census shows the Lewis family living in the household of Moses Mandell, farmer, age 62. William is listed as “Pedler.” 

Journals resume May 19, 1855. Still renting from Mandell, selling books, seating chairs, and working at haying for Mr. Atwood and others. He is haying and planting potatoes on his rented farm, pig butchering November 1856. Abby is sewing bed ticks.

On his 38th birthday Feb. 14, 1857, William tries to buy a farm, but the deal falls through.

He continues renting the Mandell farm, buys his first cows and begins farming. He stops his book selling route, but continues seating chairs and boarding peddlers. Abby is still sewing bed ticks. He begins carrying milk October 1857. His “old horse” dies May 20, 1858.

1860 U.S. Census lists William’s family and the Mandell family still in same dwelling .

November 13, 1860 he buys a farm on West St. in Barre with 34 acres, and moves there April 1, 1861. William Lewis’s income is now his milk route and milk sales to the cheese factory, selling eggs, poultry, fruit and vegetables to neighbors and local stores. Abby is sewing bed ticks until 1867.   Income for “shakering” (bonnet making) is recorded in 1862-’63 – may include niece Abby’s work. 

In April 1871 C.H. Osgood builds William’s first greenhouse, and a second greenhouse in 1874. William adds sales of plants and flowers to his other farm income from 1871 to c. 1887.

In his later years (1880 – 1895) his income is primarily from sales of eggs and poultry.

Abby Lewis dies February 6, 1894.  William Lewis dies February 5, 1897

William’s Wedding as recorded in his Journal, August 13 – 16, 1845

Wednesday August 13 Fair and comfortable in the morning, but warm in the afternoon. Went to New England Village in the forenoon. I have been waiting with considerable feelings of anxiety for this day, and it has at last appeared and all things seem to work pleasantly with me thus far, but how the next day may pass off with me is yet unknown. 

Thursday August 14 1845   Well this eventful day of my life has dawned upon me, and so far as weather is concerned I am favored far above my fears. This will be one of the days that will be long remembered by me if life is continued, but I can only have the opportunity at present to state the facts in the case without comment.

          At nine o’clock this morning I was married by Rev. I.W. Sargeant of the Baptist church, to Miss Abby L. Kemp of New England Village and started immediately for Hubbardston – got home between five and six this afternoon.

Friday August 15 1845 Another warm and pleasant day. I have spent this day in doing just nothing at all and I cannot find any leisure time for any other business.

Saturday August 16 1845 Continues pleasant, but considerable cooler and very comfortable weather. I am obliged to put down one more day of lost time. Well the close of one more week has appeared, and I have the comfort of feeling that the scenes of this have passed off as pleasantly as I could have any reasonable hopes of.

          I am now a married man and I am placed under new obligations.

Abby Lewis Obituary Barre Gazette  Friday, February 9, 1894.

Mrs. Wm. Lewis died at her home, a half-mile west of the Common, Tuesday noon, of heart disease. She had prepared dinner and, with Mr. Lewis, sat down at the table; after pouring the tea, she helped herself to some bread and was eating when her head suddenly fell on her breast, and almost instantly she was dead. Deceased was a most estimable woman, a kind neighbor, and, in years past, an earnest and efficient worker in the M.E. Church. Especially in the Ladies’ Aid Society was her influence felt. She was a great lover of flowers. Her house abounded with choice plants in winter, and in summer her garden was one huge bouquet of loveliness. Mr. Lewis has the sympathy of the entire community in his irreparable loss.

William Lewis Obituary

Barre Gazette  Friday February 12, 1897, under Barre Items:

“Wm. Lewis, an old resident, died last Friday night, after a long, and, at times, painful illness.  In many ways Mr. Lewis was a unique member of our community; he was very methodical in his habits and work, and everything about his premises bore evidence of his peculiar traits of character.  Mr. Lewis was born in Wardsboro, Vt., in 1819.  His father, whose name also was William, was a native of Dedham, Mass., born in 1789.  Mr. Lewis lived for some years in Hubbardston, after he was married, and it was there his only son, Collins Winslow Lewis, was born in 1848.  After coming to Barre, Mr. Lewis engaged in the peddling of Yankee notions, which he carried about the neighboring towns in a covered wagon drawn by a large chestnut horse.  Taking fright one day, the horse ran and completely demolished the wagon and contents.  Mr. Lewis thereupon determined never to have anything more to do with the horse family, personally, and right well did he keep his resolve.  More than forty two years have elapsed since then, and no one has ever seen him driving a horse although he has carried on a farm of some thirty acres, or more, nearly all that time.  Occasionally he would hire some team help in the spring and at haying time, but as a rule the wheelbarrow and Lewis was all the team he would drive and he drove this steadily and regularly twice each day over a milk route of some five miles.  No matter how stormy, he never failed of being on time, and this business he faithfully followed for more than thirty years.  During the great blizzard of ’88 he nearly perished in the storm, as he would persist in going his regular round to his customers.  Early and late he strove to get a living and pay for his farm.  A few years after the last dollar of encumbrance had been removed he retired from the milk business and busied himself in attending to his poultry and growing small fruits, at which he was very successful.  Both he and his wife were fond of flowers, and their premises were always fragrant with their perfume.  His son, who was an eccentric character, left home over twenty years ago and no trace of him was ever learned by his parents, who long ago gave him up as dead.  Besides his farm, Mr. Lewis left some personal property.  In his will he made special provision for the perpetual care of his lot in Glen Valley and cutting in of his age on the stone which he erected some time previous to his death.  During his last sickness and in fact since the death of Mrs. Lewis, Mr. and Mrs. J.N. Patterson who were very intimate friends of the family, have looked after Mr. Lewis’ comfort and for several months past Mr. Patterson has been in constant attendance upon him.  E.B. Richardson, another life long and valued friend, has also been very kind in his efforts to make the old gentleman comfortable in his declining years.  It was his custom to keep a written account of his daily life and actions, and after his death his executor found a small trunk in which was nearly one hundred small pass books each closely written, and covering the every-day life of this singular man for nearly fifty years.  The funeral was held at the house Tuesday p.m., at 2 o’clock.”