Harvard Historical Society

Harvard Historical Society We are a private, non-profit organization that is not related to the town's Harvard Historical Commission. Our members and generous contributors support our operations and capital spending.
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We hope you will become a member and join us in discovering Harvard’s rich history and how that history has shaped the present-day town we love. The Society is located in the Still River Meetinghouse, now a museum of Harvard’s past, where our collections are displayed, including furniture, tools, paintings, and other objects. Periodic exhibits depict the town’s history and its people. • Concerts feature musicians performing in the meetinghouse, known to be acoustically superb. • Art exhibits allow local painters and crafters to share their creativity with the community. • Discovery Open Houses showcase the extensive collection of the Society. The archives are a treasure trove of information about Harvard. Maps, photos, books, documents, town reports, personal narratives are all windows to a past that influences Harvard today

Operating as usual

Thaddeus Pollard built  this house in Still River shortly after the Revolution.  The house and tree became famous as the...
09/28/2020

Thaddeus Pollard built this house in Still River shortly after the Revolution. The house and tree became famous as the site of a violent attack on a Shaker Elder. The tree remains and is one of the largest sycamores in the area.

My ElmsBy Minnie FarnsworthMy elms! They're gone! I saw them go. I was alone. I watched them as I've watched my loved on...
09/21/2020

My Elms
By Minnie Farnsworth
My elms! They're gone! I saw them go. I was alone. I watched them as I've watched my loved ones go -knowing, I could only stand by and wait. I knew they would do their best. I knew they would remember the old home they had guarded so long. The Elm nearest the road curved. It fell slowly unto its mate. The mate stood straight and firm against its weight. It bent slightly then straightened.
I knew the huge oaken frame and timbers well. I hoped only a portion of the house would be crushed. I knew that if the wind veered ever so slightly and threw the terrific weight of those mighty Elms athwart the house it would crumble like an eggshell.
The mind works with absolute clearness and clocklike precision when only a split second lies between it and eternity. I saw the greensward of the Elm near the house rise slowly ; the patch of brown earth where the roots reluctantly gave to the wild fury of the lashing elements gradually widened. It was the end! I heard no crash above the terrible roar that held sway. My magnificent Elm nearest the house just eased self with its monstrous load slowly to the ground very, very close to the house as though it had said, “I'll try not to hurt you. We've been friends so long.“ It stretched its long arms almost to the barn from which we had looked upon it countless times.
They were never beautiful, my Elms! but they were mates, they were rugged, they had character; they pointed straight to the Sky. We came up loving these Elms. As soon as our little heads could reach the window sill we were shown all about them. There was a soft green fluff of spring ; there were always the families of grey squirrels running around and up and down their trunks ; there were the flocks of blackbirds that poised lightly for a moment among the topmost branches with their joyous lilt of spring ; there was the tap tap tap tap tap of the woodpecker ; there was the full leafy foliage and shade of summer. Then came the approach of autumn. Always there was a Golden day when every leaf was yellow. It was an indescribable day . All nature was hushed ! In the twinkling of an eye a rain would come and every bit of the gold dropped to the ground.
We were taught to follow the growth of a limb straight along as far as we could see. I often think of that lesson and what it did to us. We were told the meaning of the gray lichen and the Moss. Then came the snows. We were taught to watch on which side the snow fell and what it meant. We are shown how it added to the beauty of the gray bark. Then we learned the meaning of The crystal days with their wonderful glistening sheen.
Oh, the lessons of beauty that those Elms held for us ! They've lasted all these years. They are gone. Those who taught us to love them Are gone. But no ! They all live in the Gallery of my memory. My elms with the gift of nature. They went natures way, bowing to its relentless will. No one ordered them needlessly destroyed. No memory of petty spite and puerile taunts have touched them. As I have looked on the still faces of my loved ones and sensed in indescribable something of which I had no ken, so I gaze on the prostrate lengths of my Elms - stately and dignified even in their prostration - and since the same Indescribable awe.
They lived long lives. Perhaps they were as old as the house they have guarded . I cannot tell. They were landmarks to the generations. I love them. Hail and farewell , my Elms !
Mini E. Farnsworth
Still River, September 25, 1920

Picture of 184 Still River Rd as it looks in the 21st century.

Photos from Harvard Historical Society's post
09/21/2020

Photos from Harvard Historical Society's post

Here's a little game for you Harvard folks. Who is this? Anyone living in Harvard in the latter half of the 20th century...
09/04/2020

Here's a little game for you Harvard folks. Who is this? Anyone living in Harvard in the latter half of the 20th century will be familar with her. 😉

08/27/2020

Just a little historical fact.... 100 years ago in Harvard
On August 27, 1920, the day after the 19th Amendment was implemented. 20 women, led by Emma & Celia Bagster, rushed to the Town Hall to register. At the time, this gave Harvard a total of 93 women registered to vote. At 10 PM, October 27, 1920, when voter registration for the 1920 Presidential Election closed, Josephine Sawyer became the 231st women to proudly sign her name to the Harvard's polling list.

08/26/2020
Restoration of the 1870 George Stevens Organ

The restoration is complete! Watch now as Jonathon Ross speaks about the restoration process and Ryan Bartoseiwicz gives us a sample of what the 150 year old George Stevens Organ can do. Bravo to all the members and donors who made this possible!

https://vimeo.com/451680419

Presented by the Harvard Historical Society

Hey folks! I need your dog pictures. Fun dogs, boring dogs, people with dogs, kids with dogs. Any picture of any dog... ...
08/25/2020

Hey folks! I need your dog pictures. Fun dogs, boring dogs, people with dogs, kids with dogs. Any picture of any dog... I would prefer it if it the pup lived in Harvard, but I won't be too picky. It is for project I am curently working on. Make your dog famous! Just send picture with dog name to [email protected].🐕
The pup below is Rex. He posed for this picture sometime around 1910. Unfortunately, we are not sure who his human was.

Work on the Organ is almost complete, and our beautiful historic organ is nearly ready to fill the Meetinghouse with bea...
08/18/2020

Work on the Organ is almost complete, and our beautiful historic organ is nearly ready to fill the Meetinghouse with beautiful sound! Andover Organ has been working steadily on tuning and the final tasks. Thank you to all our donors and members who have supported us. If you'd still like to support this restoration project, you can go to our website and make a donation.
We hope our Gala celebration can take place as soon as possible.

From around 1997, the Green Machine, who is on the crew?
08/11/2020

From around 1997, the Green Machine, who is on the crew?

The year is 1997, but what is the event?  Swimming lessons?  Camp?  Anyone see themselves or friends in this picture?
08/11/2020

The year is 1997, but what is the event? Swimming lessons? Camp? Anyone see themselves or friends in this picture?

08/04/2020

Breaking news ... Breaking news ... August 3, 1855
Fire in Harvard.- on Friday afternoon about 5:00 o'clock, the Mansion House of Henry Pearson, Esq., in Harvard, in this County, was discovered to be on fire, and so difficult was it to obtain assistance at that time, the residents of the neighborhood being generally in the fields, that the house, with larger portion of its furniture and contents , were wholly consumed.
The mansion Was one of the oldest and most costly structures in the town, and it was situated in the rear of the Congregational Church, in Harvard center.- it was directed for a Parsonage, in the old English style, by Esquire Bromfield, grand father of the present owner, who immigrated from England about the middle of the last century. Travelers passing through Harvard have been attracted by its stately avenues of Elm and Poplar,and its imposing dimensions, as well as the general English style of its appointments.

(From the Worcester spy, August 5th)

Margaret Bromfield (Pearson) Blanchard Letter
This letter was written by Margaret Blanchard to her cousin Ann Tracy and describes the destruction by fire of the Bromfield mansion. Henry Bromfield Pearson was living in the Bromfield mansion when it caught fire in 1855. He was the brother of Margaret Bromfield (Pearson) Blanchard and an attorney. Mrs Pearson mentioned in the letter is Mary Elizabeth (McFarland) the wife of Henry Pearson.
Henry Pearson died in 1867 and his wife Mary in 1887. Both are buried in the Harvard Center Cemetery. They had been living, after the fire, in Boston..

August 5, 1855
My dearly beloved friend,
It has been in my heart to write you the past 10 days, but the lassitude of wetherall seemed at variance with my wishes, and did not summon energy to take the pen, and now the circumstances, only, impel me, that friends so near and interested may not learn the sad intelligence first, from common report, with no facts in the case and the assurance that all [______} attended the fatal issue. Perhaps you already know that the venerable mansion of our ancestors is no longer an object of affectionate interest- that stately edifice of more than a century, within whose walls clustered so many tenderest associations and hallowed memories, has fallen as pray to devouring flames.
While writing the words, the truth is not yet realized. About 4:30 the 3rd inst. in the afternoon, the smoke was first discovered, as showing from the barn, the wind being NW drove the flames directly to the house - not a Ray of hope remained of saving the house, and the persons assembled, endevoured to clear the rooms as best they could, in such consternation, and in view of the roaring enemy- men and women and children worked hard to rescue some valuables, but the most important room was not entered, and all of my brothers books, elegant prints, valuable [______] Desk and precious articles, are among the ruins. The silver too, all gone among which they [_____] Some family plate- the smoke was so stifling as to detur entering the dining room in which they were... It was astonishly rapid- not two hours affected the complete demolition. You will rejoice with us, that it was not at midnight, in all human probability the three men And girl must have perished, as its fury was unbounded and the hay created such dense smoke, that suffocation would have stupefied them. The Noble trees, nearest the northwest part of the house are ruined- and others generally injured. I have not yet felt able to visit the wreck , of what has been loved, certainly 64 years and had become as a faithful friend.
The first alarm and sight of the smoke, impelled me to hasten, pail in hand, to the dear spot- … But no- the lane was alive with the inhabitants from the village and even those miles off displayed an interest that was grateful to witness. Through their activity, the piano, “that dear old bass Viola” , Henry’s flute and other instruments were saved… … With the loss of Henry’s study is the greatest trial... His endurance of this, is philosophical and after all his arrangements, plans and anticipations in view of father's approbations and to promote the brightest interest of the rising generation, it requires great fortitude to receive such a check, with uncomplaining submission. May we all recognize a father's wisdom in our disappointments! Mrs P. Displayed great presence of mind and coolness of actions- remaining within to select the most valuable articles, as long as possible to escape the flames- most of her wardrobe was saved and much of Henry's- which is a relief at this moment. They were both able to attend church, and bear up remarkably... I can no more at present- let me hear how you are soon. I am thankful to believe you are a little stronger and long to see the effects. Most {_____} your loving friend.

Cross country runners have started to appear on the roads of Harvard this summer.  Here's the team for 1975 from the Har...
07/27/2020

Cross country runners have started to appear on the roads of Harvard this summer. Here's the team for 1975 from the Harvard Post. So many great things in the HHS archives. Help us preserve Harvard's history.

The Beach Bums notecards!  The artist, Ellie Buford, captured this priceless setting on Bare Hill pond.  A long line of ...
07/27/2020

The Beach Bums notecards! The artist, Ellie Buford, captured this priceless setting on Bare Hill pond. A long line of moms gathered to enjoy the beach, the sunset, and the swimming kids and spouses.
Cards are available, a pack of six, for $12 at the HHS or by mail, (plus postage) You know someone would love to get these cards and remember those sunny days!

Sheep Island in a hand colored postcard.    In the 1880's a group of young Harvard men bought Sheep Island for  summer v...
07/20/2020

Sheep Island in a hand colored postcard. In the 1880's a group of young Harvard men bought Sheep Island for summer vacations for their families. Together they built five small cottages--sledding the lumber across the ice during the winter. It's probably cool even during a summer heat wave.

Beach bums early 70's--no social distancing needed.
07/20/2020

Beach bums early 70's--no social distancing needed.

Here's the weed harvester on the Pond, collecting water chestnuts and other weeds.  Amazing amounts of vegetation!  Many...
07/14/2020

Here's the weed harvester on the Pond, collecting water chestnuts and other weeds. Amazing amounts of vegetation! Many people will remember pulling the weeds in canoes, boats, and kayaks where the big harvester couldn't navigate.

The Town Beach in 1983.  This picture was in the Harvard Post.
07/14/2020

The Town Beach in 1983. This picture was in the Harvard Post.

Some Girl Scouts and Brownies from the way back machine.  Be sure to share with friends who may remember.
06/29/2020

Some Girl Scouts and Brownies from the way back machine. Be sure to share with friends who may remember.

The General Store had a grand reopening in 1968. (A sixties "before picture" is in an earlier post.) This was when the c...
06/23/2020

The General Store had a grand reopening in 1968. (A sixties "before picture" is in an earlier post.) This was when the current "porch" was added, judging from the pictures. The phone booth remains but the gas pumps are gone. Hard to tell if it was the same color as it is now.

The General Store had a grand reopening in 1968, with door prizes.  Here's the news article published after the reopenin...
06/23/2020

The General Store had a grand reopening in 1968, with door prizes. Here's the news article published after the reopening, with the winners.

Always something to find in the archives!  Here's a picture of the General Store.  Can you help us put a date on this? N...
06/09/2020

Always something to find in the archives! Here's a picture of the General Store. Can you help us put a date on this? Note the payphone booth and the signs.

We recently obtained a picture of this house on Ayer Rd.  It was very close to the town line with Ayer, right next to th...
06/08/2020

We recently obtained a picture of this house on Ayer Rd. It was very close to the town line with Ayer, right next to the Mr. Mike/Citgo gas station (now closed) It was torn down fairly recently, we are not sure how many years ago.

Nelson Newell lived in Still River.  His mother, Sarah Atherton Newell, ran the Post Office and store in Still River. (s...
06/01/2020

Nelson Newell lived in Still River. His mother, Sarah Atherton Newell, ran the Post Office and store in Still River. (see the previous post for a picture of the store.) Nelson was a stamp dealer and musician. This envelope was recently for sale on ebay--which is how we learned about Nelson.

This drawing of the Shaker Stone Barn by Bayard Underwood would make a wonderful graduation gift.  We also have drawings...
05/26/2020

This drawing of the Shaker Stone Barn by Bayard Underwood would make a wonderful graduation gift. We also have drawings of the Bromfield School and the Square house in Shaker Village available. The prints are 17 x 22 inches on fine rag paper high quality photolithographs. All prints are $20 each, can be picked up in Harvard or can be shipped for the cost of mailing tube and postage.

To all those who have served our country, we remember you today.
05/25/2020

To all those who have served our country, we remember you today.

Some Harvard Boy Scouts in the 1930's.  We hope someone will recognize one or more of them!
05/19/2020

Some Harvard Boy Scouts in the 1930's. We hope someone will recognize one or more of them!

This is probably the first Boy Scout meeting in Harvard, October 1914.  Atwood E Dickson was the secretary.  Dr Royal ga...
05/18/2020

This is probably the first Boy Scout meeting in Harvard, October 1914. Atwood E Dickson was the secretary. Dr Royal gave a lecture on First Aid to the Injured, and continued at the next meeting with a lecture on bandaging.

The first Harvard Boy Scout troop seems to have been formed in 1914 with Mr. Calkin as the troop leader.  We have a note...
05/18/2020

The first Harvard Boy Scout troop seems to have been formed in 1914 with Mr. Calkin as the troop leader. We have a notebook with minutes from the 1914 meetings. The earliest troop charter we have in the collection is from 1929.

Address

PO Box 542 - 215 Still River Rd
Harvard, MA
01451

General information

The Curator's Quarters is open most Monday and Tuesday afternoons from 1-5. If you are interested in finding out more about the Society or have research questions, see the addresses below.

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Comments

My Grandfather's Drivers License
Hi, I found this in my Mom's papers. I hope you find it of interest.
Here's a little Harvard history for bird and bird-song lovers... a little old school "tongue in cheek".
I remember visiting this cemetery as a kid and someone pointing out that some deaths were grouped in years due to an epidemic at the time. This came up due to recent events. Do you have any further info? Quick googling didn't turn up anything specific. http://www.harvardshakers.com/shaker-burial-ground.html
Hello I have a print of a Harvard map from 1870 that I would like to donate. Any interest? It has the names of the landowners on it. If interested let me know where and when I can drop it off. Thanks, Sue
Merry Christmas, Harvard Historical Society! I'll retake these on another day, not winter, when there is more color!
My Harvard Memories still have a place at the top my tree along with the bulbs I would with my mom, May she Rest In Peace. I also miss the small hometown caroling on Withington Lane. It was more like a second trick or treat. I miss the tree lighting. An chance you could post significant events like the tree lighting and the fourth online. And I ask again..........does anyone yet know where the time capsule is? Thank you for all you do. Just a side note........for the Fourth all of us who have lived in Harvard should put together a float this year. I will represent the Harvard Garrison.
Haven't got tickets to the Barn To Barn tour yet? Get them today!!!! You can purchase them at the Harvard Historical Society in Still River today 1-5 pm or 6-8pm. Can't get there? Purchase online at www.harvardhistory.org!
Dear Harvard Historical Society, My name is Stephen Howe. I am an associate professor of historical linguistics in Japan but was born in England. I am researching special words for “no” and “yes” in Massachusetts. Colonists from the East of England, where I grew up, may have brought "dow" and "jess" to New England in the seventeenth century. Four hundred years later, these special words still survive. Gerald E. Lewis gives an example of "daow" in How to Talk Yankee: Did you get your deer yet? Daow, I can’t even see one. And an informant from New Hampshire gives an example of "jearse" or "jess," stating that “I totally just thought this was a weird NH thing”: Hey, have you seen where the muffin tins went? Hmmmm, jearse, in the oven I think. In the East of England, we still use "dow" and "jearse" today. However, these words for “no” and “yes” are not recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary or the Survey of English Dialects. Nor were they recorded by the Linguistic Atlas of New England; but the Dictionary of American Regional English cites daow, daowd, dow, doh or day-oh in Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island as well as New York State. There is also daow in New Hampshire. For “jearse" or "jess,” informants in my survey cited jass in Upstate New York and possibly Vermont, jearse in New Hampshire, and jyes or djess in Maine and Massachusetts. I am writing a book on "jess" and "dow" and wonder whether it might be possible to ask your members whether they know either of these words? I would be most grateful for any information you may have. I have more information about my research plus a survey that readers can complete online at http://yesandno.info/ Yours sincerely, Stephen Howe ============================================= Dr Stephen HOWE Associate Professor Department of English and Graduate School Fukuoka University Japan Website: http://yesandno.info/ =============================================
I've never noticed this stone marker before, right next to the side steps of the General Store. "C"is for ??
Hey there, since FB makes it virtually impossible for users to search their own sites, are there any plans to further split photos up into folders, for example 'class pictures', 'town events', etc.? And would the Harvard Post be amenable to scanning the paper's old photos in (if they haven't been doing already)? Thanks, R. Pittelli formerly of Elm Street.
Can anyone recommend a good book about the town's history? I am also looking for a book about the Shaker community. I would appreciate any suggestions.