Veterans Day

Armistice Day, 1918

Ninety years ago this week, at 11:00 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month, the War to End All Wars, the Great War, now called the First World War, ended.  The following year, President Wilson proclaimed Armistice Day, and by 1921, Congress declared the federal holiday.

Kingston celebrated news of the armistice with “the ringing of bells and the blowing of whistles” according to the Old Colony Memorial on the following Friday, November 15, 1918. Businesses and schools closed and patriotic speeches and songs filled the air. The next day, an impromptu victory parade “traversed the principal streets of town…followed by a mass meeting on the Town Green.” Here are two views of the parade.

Riders in the Victory Parade, October 18, 1919
Riders in the Victory Parade, October 18, 1919
Women marchers in the victory parade, October 18, 1919
Women marchers in the victory parade, October 18, 1919

A more formal recognition of the war’s end took place in 1919. In March, Town Meeting appropriated $500 to celebrate. An appointed “Welcome Home Committee,” visited all returning servicemen and nurses, presenting each with a bronze token of appreciation for service to town and country. In October, a special “Welcome Home Day” was held with a parade, band concert, decorations, speeches and a turkey supper at the Town House.

Ninety years later, Veterans Day honors all who served. Thank a veteran when you have the chance.

Go vote!

With the presidential election upon us, we look back some decades to another. Here is the 1864 National Republican Ticket.

National Republican Ticket, 1864
National Republican Ticket, 1864

Running for re-election against General George B. McClellan, a War Democrat known as “Little Mac,” on a platform that included the defeat of the Confederacy and a constitutional amendment to end slavery, Lincoln received 55% of the popular vote and 212 electoral college votes of the possible 233.  For background and details on the 1864 election, go here or here.

Below the national candidates, we see John Albion Andrews, called the “Great War-Governor,” also running for a second term.  Unlike Lincoln, Andrews did not win.  To learn more about this notable Massachusetts governor, go here.

The Kingston connection lies at the very bottom: Cephas Washburn, Jr. of Kingston running for Representative of District No. 5.  Did he win?  Well, in 1864, election results were slow to get out to the public, so stay tuned for the results, which we’ll post after the elections.

Update: There is no record that Cephas Washburn Jr. won his election.

Source: Vertical Files Collection: “Washburn Family.”

Happy 100th Birthday to St. Joseph’s

October 19 marks the 100th anniversary of St. Joseph’s Parish in Kingston.

St. Josephs Church, circa 1906
St. Joseph's Church, circa 1906

This postcard shows the Church’s first building at 261 Main St. Mailed from Middleboro and postmarked 9/21/1906, the card was sent to Miss Nellie McGinn who lived in Brighton, MA.  Built in 1882, the building was originally a mission chapel of St. Peter’s church in Plymouth, At that time, St. Peter’s served Catholics in Carver, Plympton, Duxbury, Hanson, and Marshfield in addition to Kingston and Plymouth.  The earliest Catholic Masses in Kingston were celebrated sometime in the 1850’s for one of the first Irish families who were tenants living in the historic Bradford House on Landing Road. The mission to St. Peter’s was created in 1873.

Today, this building houses St. Mark of Ephesus Orthodox Church.

The name St. Joseph’s was adopted later, perhaps when the independent parish was established in 1908.  The present-day St. Joseph’s was built further up Main Street at 272, and was dedicated on December 1, 1935.  This 2008 shot shows Our Lady’s Hall, the new parish center dedicated on May 13, 2006.

St. Josephs Church, Parish Center and Rectory, 2008
St. Joseph's Church, Parish Center and Rectory, 2008

The Railroad Bridge over Howland’s Lane

The Railroad Bridge over Howland’s Lane

Mr. Isaac Hedges, shown in this snapshot and identified on the back by Emily Drew, was one of the incorporators and later one of the directors of the Old Colony Railroad, as reported in the Nov. 7, 1919 issue of the Old Colony Memorial.  This particular photograph is undated, but it was likely taken in the 1870’s, or perhaps even earlier.

Isaac Hedge at the Howlands Lane railroad bridge, no date.
Isaac Hedge at the Howland’s Lane railroad bridge, no date.

The first run on the Boston-Plymouth line was Nov. 10, 1845; there would be two runs that day. By 1849, there were 15 locomotives, 4 baggage cars, 158 freight cars and 4 snowplows busy along the South Shore. The line has been running since, with only a few years of disuse.

We don’t know when the Howland’s Lane bridge over the tracks was built, but in 1998, the Patriot-Ledger reported it standing for at least 60 years.  In 1999, it was to be rebuilt — made higher to accomodate the double-decker passenger cars on the current commuter service — but area residents thought this would make the neighborhood unmanageable and the project was not done.  In 2008, however, the wooden planks that will be repaired.

Here’s another early but still undated view of an unpaved Howland’s Lane, looking towards Main Street. The buildings at right are no longer standing; the house at left is 59 Main Street.

Howlands Lane, Rocky Nook, no date.
Howland’s Lane, Rocky Nook, no date.

South Shore Football Champions of 1933

Football Champions

This group portrait shows some of the 1933 South Shore Champion Football Team of Kingston High School on the football field at the Bailey Playground (note the goal post in the background). Twenty-eight  boys, out of a total student body of 131 in Grades 9-12, went out for football that year. The new principal Mr. Gotschall supervised the football team (and the boys basketball team) in addition to his administrative duties.  Under the principal’s leadership, this small, inexperienced team won five games, lost two and tied one to capture the championship.  And as icing on the cake, the football games cleared a profit of $70.33; along with money from magazine sales and gifts, the school’s athletic and lunchroom bills were paid in full.

Members of the 1933 Kingston High School Football team
Members of the 1933 Kingston High School Football team

Front row (kneeling): Bob Bailey, Raoul Corrazari, George Candini, Clyde Mills, Eddie Cadwell, Stephen Reed, Bob Davis.  Second row: Malcolm “Mac” Peterson, Alfred Bruneau,  Harold “Slim” Alberghini,  Chester “Chet” Morrison, Amelio Ruffini, Russell “Prout” Prouty.

Note the equipment that would never meet today’s safety standards.

Happy Helen Foster Day!

Happy Helen Foster Day!
Helen Foster outside 6 Park Street, Boston, circa 1935

September 24 marks the birthday of one of Kingston’s notables, Helen Foster.  Born in 1900, she studied art extensively and eventually became the first female commercial artist in Boston. She lent her talents to her hometown, designing the town seal and town quilt, collaborating on the town flag, and serving on the Council on Aging.  For more on Helen’s life, click here for the biography written for the Kingston Arts Festival “Past Masters” exhibit, which featured  Helen’s work.

One of the LHR’s long-term, part-time assistant amateur archivists, who knows Helen only through indexing the extensive diaries Helen kept throughout her life, had this to say:

She was very deep, an exceptional woman.  Her description of the world she saw is an explosion of detail and color.  I can see from just her words the fields of her childhood, every flower, tree and rock. When she writes about the spontaneous parade she saw at the end of World War I, the soldiers march off the pages and the flags fly high. I am always moved by her words. What an amazing, talented artist.

This kind of connection — getting to know someone you never had the chance to meet in real life — is one of the special things about a local history collection as rich as ours.

Back to school

Back to school

The first day of school in 1909 found some Kingston children attending the newest school in town, the Maple Avenue School. It was a two room building, planned so that another room could be added if necessary, and it was the most modern and hygienic schoolhouse to be had. Students entered through a porch which afforded protection in stormy weather, and studied in two well-lighted and ventilated classrooms. A teacher’s room and coat room were also included. The classrooms were arranged so that one teacher could oversee both as well as the entrances to the two playrooms in the basement. The latter were light and airy, with a toilet approved for schoolhouse use. Except for the blackboard ledges, there were no projecting surfaces to catch and hold dust and germs; there were no thresholds to stumble over. The coat- and hat-racks were carefully arranged so each individual garment touched neither the wall nor its neighbors.

Maple Avenue School, 2002
Maple Avenue School, 2002

Land for the school had been purchased for $500 from Albert E. Holmes, partitioned from the rear of his lot on Main Street. The school was built by George B. Holmes, who five years later built the Cobb School in Rocky Nook. Construction costs totaled $8,618, somewhat more than expected but the town was for the most part pleased with the new facility. On opening day, four grades were taught by two teachers, Annie Fales and Stella Baker. There was no gymnasium, no lunch room, and storage space was hard to find, but few complained and all made do. Music instruction and speech therapy classes were held in a storage room, hot food deliveries supplemented lunches brought from home, and students were bussed to the larger Elementary School for special events.

The Maple Avenue School served the children of Kingston for many years. Over its history, as many as 132 students attended in a single year, split into four grades in the two classrooms. The school was closed several times only to be reopened to relieve overcrowding in the Elementary School or the High School. In 1974, the Maple Avenue School closed for good, replaced by the new Kingston Elementary School. The building served as overflow office space for the old Town House, housing many town departments until the completion of the new Town House in 2003.

Maple Avenue School, class portrait, circa 1914

These children are posed on the steps of the Maple Avenue School around 1914 or so. Although we don’t have an date for the photo, they appear to be fifth or sixth graders, and the second boy from the left in the front row is Russell Loring, who graduated from Kingston High School, Class of 1920. The Town Report for 1914 notes that 47 pupils attended the Center School, as Maple Avenue was known, that year; our photo shows 42. Any information about the children or their teacher might more accurately date the photo, so if you can identify someone, let us know in the comments.

In 1914, schools in Kingston included the High School; three Center schools (later differentiated as Maple Avenue, Faunce and Patuxet) for grades 1-8; the Stoney Brook School for grades 1-3; the Silver Lake School for grades 1-7 and three Rocky Nook Schools for grades 1-7, including the new Cobb School in Rocky Nook which housed grades 4-7. In 1914, Kingston was just starting to move toward centralized schools rather than the more traditional neighborhood schools, although it was still common for different grades to share a classroom and a single teacher, as our photo seems to show.

The students are all dressed up for their class portrait with knickers and ties for the boys and long stockings and big hair bows for the girls. Styles have certainly changed, but school still starts in September.

Sources: Town of Kingston Annual Reports; Vertical Files collection.

More on Old Home Week Massachusetts Legislature of 1902 passed an act to establish Old Home Week beginning on the last Sunday in July.  Events could be financed by an appropriation made by Town Meeting, and in 1903, Kingston voted $100 towards the celebration.  A committee was chosen and the week’s activities planned.  Guests were invited and local papers — the Old Colony Memorial and the Free Press — advertised the events.  In response, letters came in from 11 states and delegates from 200 different towns attended.

There was a children’s parade on Monday, with cake and ice cream following, then a May Pole dance for the more than 400 children in attendance (Kingston’s population totalled around 1900). On Tuesday, several Odd Fellows Lodges enjoyed a ball game with a banquet following.  Wednesday was set aside for general exercises at the Town House, which was decorated with portraits of notable from earlier generations.  Dinner was served to about 500 people and speeches followed.  Thursday featured a clambake at Rocky Nook with games and competitions for entertainment.  The celebration closed on Friday with an Old Home Week Dance featuring George H. Clarke’s band.  The week’s festivities cost $147.84, and the efforts of many made it a smashing success.

Source: Town of Kingston Annual Report, 1902; Vertical Files Collection

August 28, 1908 and 2008

August 28, 1908 and 2008

Two photos and a program — dated exactly one hundred years ago today — inaugurate the Pique of the Week, a blog by  the Local History Room volunteers and staff.  As we begin to put our Kingston photographs online, we will post things that stand out, answer a question, or like today’s picks, just catch our fancy.  So what happened 100 year ago today? Old Home Day!

These late summer celebrations began in New Hampshire in 1899; other New England states and some Canadian towns quickly adopted the practice, which flourished into the early 1920’s. While the events might include parades, pageants and picnics, as well as sports, dances, bonfires and clambakes, a sense of nostalgia, shared history, and local pride always took center place.

Both photographs are actually postcards printed by D.T. Burrell in 1908, almost immediately after the events.  The first shows Dr. Arthur Holmes ferrying at least 16 people to Delano’s Wharf, partially visible at left.  On the other side, “Mama” wrote to Mrs. Lesler Ward in Dorchester, Mass. on Sept 11, 1908, “This is Dr. Holmes boat, you can see him standing up in it.”

In the second, we see Delano’s Wharf fromthe shore, with people gathered for the festivities, maybe watching the boat races or waiting for the traditional clambake to start.  A sailboat pulls up to the Wharf and dories scoot around the Bay.

In Kingston, the 1908 celebration featured a parade that began with a bicycle brigade (cycling was still a new sport in 1908).  It boasted 22 floats including a yacht under full sail contributed by the Kingston Yacht Club. The parade ended at the Town Green with refreshments for the children on the floats and a band concert. Later in the week, there were water sports, a yacht regatta, a clambake and a dance on Friday.  Kingston’s Old Home Day celebrations continued through the 1930s and included a revival in 1996.

Sources: Vertical Files collection;The Encyclopedia of Local History, Carol Kammen and Norma Prendergast, Editors (AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek, CA: 2000).