Mansfield, MA Historical Society

Mansfield, MA Historical Society This is the official page of the Mansfield Historical Society of Mansfield, Massachusetts.
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The Mansfield Historical Society was founded in 1951 by a group of local citizens interested in preserving the history of Mansfield, Massachusetts. Renowned local historian Jennie Copeland bequeathed her home at 53 Rumford Avenue as a permanent headquarters for the historical society. Today we continue their work by maintaining and recording our local history.

Mission: "...preserving materials and information relative to the history of Mansfield." -- bylaws of The Mansfield Historical Society

“The Pure Force of Logic”: Calvin Coolidge Comes to TownCalvin Coolidge wasn’t much of a talker.  “Silent Cal” spoke as ...
02/17/2020

“The Pure Force of Logic”: Calvin Coolidge Comes to Town

Calvin Coolidge wasn’t much of a talker. “Silent Cal” spoke as little as possible. He had a direct and minimal style. Perhaps it made him more popular.

But Mansfieldians heard the future President speak no less than twice at local political events. The first was in 1915 when he was campaigning for Lieutenant Governor alongside Samuel McCall. He returned as Lieutenant Governor the following year in support of the national Republican ticket.

Coolidge spoke in Mansfield on October 19, 1915. A crowd gathered for a rally at 3pm on the North Common. Coolidge was introduced by William Mowry of the Republican town committee.

Coolidge began by stating McCall would arrive by train momentarily. He then assailed the administration of Democrat Woodrow Wilson, saying it was responsible for idle mills and unemployment nationwide. He also said that Democrats undermined the economy when they lowered tariffs on imported goods.

He claimed that these policies forced the state legislature to expend $125,000 in unemployment relief. “Realizing this, is it any wonder that men heretofore of all political faiths are this year urging a return to power of the Republican Party?”

“Republicans have been accused of putting the dollar above the man,” Coolidge continued. “The Democrats have put the dollar out of the man’s reach. What’s the use of compensation for workmen when he has no work?” McCall soon arrived and delivered a similar speech.

After a successful election Coolidge returned as Lieutenant Governor on August 16, 1916 for a meeting of a local organization dedicated to the candidacy of Charles Evans Hughes for President. At this meeting were Clarence Barnes of Mansfield, who would later be elected Attorney General of Massachusetts; State Senator Joseph Martin of North Attleboro, who would later become US Speaker of the House; and Coolidge, who would later be President of the United States.

The “smoke and talk rally” was held at Odd Fellows Hall in the Lovell Block (North Main and West streets). Senator Martin spoke first on the need for protective tariffs. Barnes then introduced Coolidge, calling him “a man from the Berkshires, Calvin Coolidge of Northampton, a man who rules by the pure force of logic.”

Coolidge said the welfare and vitality of the nation were at stake in the upcoming presidential election. “We welcome immigrants but we should see to it that American institutions are perpetuated and that American ideals prevail,” he said. He claimed Wilson only won in 1912 because the Republican Party was divided. He urged the return of government control to the Republicans and the establishment of a protective tariff.

Coolidge was elected Governor in 1918 when McCall didn’t seek reelection. In 1920 he was elected Vice President and became President upon Warren Harding’s sudden death in 1923. Coolidge was elected to his own term in 1924 and did not seek a second full term. He died in 1933 at the age of 61.

In 1935 Clarence Barnes spoke of his friendship with Calvin Coolidge. He recalled the speech at Odd Fellows Hall. “Cal spoke for five or ten minutes — that was a long speech for him.” Coolidge then stayed at Barnes’ home (79 Rumford Avenue) for the night.

Barnes also recalled visiting Coolidge at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC when he was Vice President. “I said ‘you are going to be president one of these days.’” Within a month President Harding died and Coolidge took the oath of office. “But Coolidge said to me when we talked of the presidency, ‘I’ll do my own job and let the future take care of itself.’”

Don’t forget to join us and the Mansfield Cultural Council as we present “Lost Mansfield!”Date:  Saturday, February 15, ...
02/12/2020

Don’t forget to join us and the Mansfield Cultural Council as we present “Lost Mansfield!”

Date: Saturday, February 15, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm
Location: Community Room, Mansfield Public Library, 255 Hope Street

You might have seen the 2020 calendar “Lost Mansfield” produced by the Cultural Council. It highlights 12 iconic Mansfield buildings that are no longer standing, superimposed over photos of their current location. Council member Marc Clamage will explain the process he used to produce the calendar’s graphics, and the historical society will offer perspective on each building’s past. Please join us to take a look at what happens when the past meets the present!

We were recently asked who was the youngest person elected to office here in Mansfield. We are not entirely sure. We put...
02/09/2020

We were recently asked who was the youngest person elected to office here in Mansfield. We are not entirely sure. We put our heads together the other day and the youngest person we could think of elected to the Board of Selectmen (as it was then known) was Joan Secher, who was 27 when she was elected in 1972. She served one three-year term. We also believe she was the first woman elected to the Board in Mansfield.

R. Scott Button was just 22 when he was elected to the School Committee in 1988. He also served one three-year term. To our knowledge he was the youngest elected to any office.

There is much research needed to answer this question definitively. But we would greatly appreciate your help. If you can think of someone possibly younger who was elected to office please let us know. If you’re unsure that’s ok, we might be able to verify it. And we would appreciate the lead, even if it doesn’t pan out! So please help us if you can, we would love to hear from you!

Its been a very busy year at the Historical Society...so busy we haven't had a program in a while!  So, its with great p...
02/05/2020

Its been a very busy year at the Historical Society...so busy we haven't had a program in a while! So, its with great pleasure we ask you to...

Please join us and the Mansfield Cultural Council as we present “Lost Mansfield!”

Date: Saturday, February 15, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm
Location: Community Room, Mansfield Public Library, 255 Hope Street

You might have seen the 2020 calendar “Lost Mansfield” produced by the Cultural Council. It highlights 12 iconic Mansfield buildings that are no longer standing, superimposed over photos of their current location. Council member Marc Clamage will explain the process he used to produce the calendar’s graphics, and the historical society will offer perspective on each building’s past. Please join us to take a look at what happens when the past meets the present!

“A Fine Appearance”: Buffalo Soldiers In Mansfield  ​After the Civil War six African-American Army units were formed by ...
02/03/2020

“A Fine Appearance”: Buffalo Soldiers In Mansfield

​After the Civil War six African-American Army units were formed by an act of Congress. They would serve admirably through World War II, but might have been best known for their role in the old West. It was here that the units would earn their nickname “Buffalo Soldiers.”

​Serving in a segregated military commanded by white officers, the Buffalo Soldiers earned a reputation for bravery and discipline. In the West they were often charged with escorting settlers, cattle, or railroad crews through hostile new lands. The Native Americans held these troops such high esteem they dubbed them “Buffalo Soldiers,” possibly because of the similar respect they afforded the buffaloes of the Great Plains.

​In 1909, after decades of service in the West, the 10th Cavalry of Buffalo Soldiers was transferred to Fort Ethan Allen in Vermont. For many in the unit it marked the first time they had been east of the Mississippi River.

Their arrival coincided with Army war games to be held in Bristol and Plymouth counties in Massachusetts. There were troop movements and mock skirmishes everywhere. One account told of how the townspeople of Middleboro were entertained by several lively bouts right in the streets. Freetown, New Bedford, Wareham and Taunton all figured prominently in the events. In total the exercises involved thousands of men, ships, and tons of equipment.

These war games brought the Buffalo Soldiers to Mansfield. Wednesday, August 11, 1909 was a typical warm summer day. Selectmen Daniel Richardson and W.J. Barker, along with Chief of Police Thomas Nelson, chocolate factory owner Walter Lowney, and an unnamed army major climbed into Richardson’s automobile. They proceeded to Central Street at the Foxborough town line. It was here they met a long column of mounted men, with wagons, spare horses and mules. It was the 10th US Cavalry — the Buffalo Soldiers had arrived in Mansfield.

The welcoming committee escorted the troops to their camping ground in a field on Lowney’s farm off Oakland Street (in the area now known as Francis Avenue). One report said, “the troops made a fine appearance as they rode through town astride well trained, fat, sleek horses.” The soldiers were dressed in service uniforms and were equipped with a magazine rifle, revolver, saber and scabbard, cartridge belt and field kit. They had camped in Milford the previous night and had been on the road since 5:30 that morning. They arrived in Mansfield at 2 pm.

By 3 pm Lowney Farm had a “decided military appearance with rows of shelter and commissary tents.” Lowney had made arrangements for the convenience of the troops. A line of fire hose was run from the factory to the camp to allow for running water. Large vats had been taken from the factory for watering the horses. Mr. Lowney entertained fifteen commissioned officers that night at his North Main Street hotel “The Tavern”.

A large number of townspeople visited the camps that afternoon and evening. They agreed the soldiers were “obliging, polite and gentlemanly”. At the conclusion of the war exercises eleven days later the Buffalo Soldiers returned to the camp. They were afforded the same privileges from Walter Lowney as they began their long return horseback ride to Fort Ethan Allen.

The 10th Cavalry remained in Vermont until 1913 when they returned to their new headquarters at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. When the Army was integrated in the early 1950’s these proud units were rightly relegated to history. But the men of these regiments proved their combat prowess, bravery and tenacity both on the battlefield and in peacetime.

01/25/2020

Thanks to our friends at Hills Antique Clocks in Holliston, our clock from the former Whiteville School is up and running again! It hung in the small one-room school house at the corner of Franklin and Winter Streets until it’s closure in 1938. The clock was saved by Charles E. Phillips, who was once a student at the school and later served it as a maintenance man. His grandson Clif Phillips donated it to the Society last year.

Fulton’s:  A Little Downtown Mill Pond Like most of Mansfield’s ponds, Fulton’s Pond was not created by nature.  It was ...
01/20/2020

Fulton’s: A Little Downtown Mill Pond

Like most of Mansfield’s ponds, Fulton’s Pond was not created by nature. It was formed when the Rumford River was dammed in the early 1830’s for the use of the Pratt and Bates cotton factory. Elkanah Bates bought the low lying and swampy land needed to create the pond.

Bates and his brother-in-law Solomon Pratt then built a cotton mill on the southeast corner of the pond, using the water as a source of power. They conducted business at that location until their deaths in the late 1840’s.

The mill burned down in 1850. The site was ultimately purchased by Robert MacMoran and his son-in-law Robert Fulton. They erected a factory that produced a variety of knives. These included boot, oyster, fish, cigar and bread knives. The knives were usually stamped “Moran & Fulton.” Some say this was to save on engraving costs! Others say it was because the stamp between “Mac” and “Moran” would often break, so the Mac was abandoned.

Robert Fulton was known as a talented and generous businessman. Historian Jennie Copeland wrote that Fulton was shipping as much as $20,000 worth of goods annually across the country. And during the economic panic of 1857, when money was suddenly unavailable, Fulton cleverly traded his knives for food and clothing for his workers. He promised to pay them when the panic subsided and remained true to his word.

Fulton passed away in 1865. Production continued successfully under his widow’s second husband Matthew George until approximately 1900. The location then became a “wet wash” laundry until the 1940’s. It operated under several names but was best known as the White Star laundry.

The pond has long attracted Mansfield’s skating enthusiasts. In the colder months they competed with Warren Wilson’s ice harvesting business. Wilson had multiple ice houses along the pond. And in warm weather one would occasionally see a sailboat on the pond!

The Town of Mansfield took possession of Fulton’s Pond in 1946. In later years it acquired the now-familiar public parking lot along Rumford Avenue and the space now known as Robinson Park. The latter was dedicated in 1995 in memory of Theodore (Ted) Robinson who was Superintendent of Parks & Commons for more than two decades.

Fulton’s Pond was dredged in the 1974. The earthen berm has been improved over the years, and the dam was rebuilt in 1998.

Then there is Rumford Avenue. Built circa 1850 it was originally known as Main Street. By the 1870’s it was called Water Street. It’s current name was adopted by a vote of the town meeting in March 1887.

There are many historic homes along Rumford Avenue. Among them is Castle Thunder. It’s address is 31 West Street and sits at the corner of Rumford Avenue. Castle Thunder was a boarding house for mill workers on Fulton’s Pond. The name derives from an incident in 1873 when its residents vacated the house after hearing strange noises in the night.

At 53 Rumford Avenue is the Copeland House, home of Mansfield’s greatest historian Jennie Copeland and now headquarters of the Mansfield Historical Society. At 69 Rumford Avenue is the Mears Mansion, built by Frederick Mears, a produce wholesaler.

The Dinsmore-Barnes House is at 79 Rumford. Built by Otis Dinsmore, it was owned for many years by the family of Clarence A. Barnes, Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And the home at 86 Rumford is believed to have once been rented by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, as a summer refuge.

There is quite a bit of history to be found on that little downtown mill pond!

Ok Facebook, here’s a question for you...what’s your favorite building in Mansfield that no longer exists...and why.  Pl...
01/13/2020

Ok Facebook, here’s a question for you...what’s your favorite building in Mansfield that no longer exists...and why. Please comment below! (And of course keep it positive please😀). And no, you are not limited to the choices pictured here! Let’s go...

Ice Harvesting in Mansfield There are many ways a farmer might attract customers when local produce is out of season.  A...
01/07/2020

Ice Harvesting in Mansfield

There are many ways a farmer might attract customers when local produce is out of season. An ice cream stand in the summer or a corn maze in the fall keeps them coming back. But in a bygone era farmers and fuel dealers had another revenue stream courtesy of Mother Nature: ice harvesting.

Ice harvesting was a common practice in colder climates from the 1800’s to well into the 20th century. Imagine the days before electric refrigeration. A household had to rely on the ice man to keep meat and dairy products fresh. A chunk of ice delivered regularly kept home ice boxes cool year-round.

Ponds froze over reliably a century ago. When they did teams of ice harvesters would venture out onto frozen lakes and ponds. With large saws they would systematically cut the ice into cakes. At first the cutting was done by hand, later by horse-drawn equipment.

The ice cakes would be moved by long poles through a channel to the ice house. In later year the ice cakes were brought into the ice house by a chain hoist. The ice was usually packed in sawdust which would prevent melting even in the summer. The harvesting process is far more detailed than described here. We would recommend addition reading and viewing on the internet!

The local ice man now had a supply of ice to peddle around town. He would cut the blocks into smaller chunks and load them onto his wagon. If a customer placed a sign in his window indicating the need for ice that day, the ice man delivered a fresh piece to the kitchen ice box. The chunk usually lasted a few days.

Mansfield had many ice dealers over the years. Newspaper accounts consistently relay stories of ice freezing to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. The Consolidated Ice Company of East Mansfield had a crew that was able to harvest 700 tons in one day in February 1913.

Another early ice dealer was Warren B. Wilson. A 1906 advertisement from Wilson and his partner F.A. Bushnell informed customers there would be a new price structure “on account of the shortage in the ice crop.” A 20 pound chunk of ice would now cost 10 cents.

While providing the latest in refrigeration and convenience, not everyone looked forward to the ice harvest. Consider this tidbit from The Mansfield News, February 1889: “between two and three hundred ladies and gentlemen were skating on Fulton’s Pond Saturday afternoon and evening. The young men played polo and displayed a good deal of skill in the game. The young people are dreading the ice-cutting which will interfere with their skating decidedly.”

A later ice dealer that long-time residents might still remember was Pop Kirley. Pop ran a fuel and ice business on Shawmut Avenue. He also harvested ice at Whiteville Pond in East Mansfield until the early 1940’s. He had an advanced operation, featuring a chain hoist to deliver the 200 pound ice cakes into the ice house. They were packed carefully in a layer of pine sawdust for insulation. A few of Pop Kirley’s ice houses in Whiteville were three stories high. A photo of his operation is seen here.

By the 1940’s the ice business was coming to an end. The long familiar sign in a customer’s window would soon disappear. The kitchen ice box was gradually replaced by a new electric refrigerator. And the annual ice harvest became a memory.

Address

53 Rumford Ave
Mansfield, MA
02048

Telephone

(508) 339-8793

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I would like to invite people to a new group, Historical Homes, Mansfield and the surrounding area. https://www.facebook.com/groups/2572684112859852/members/
This is the 1962-1963 Mansfield Hornets boys varsity basketball team photo in the Mansfield News from Thursday February 14th, 1963
This is an article in the Mansfield News from Thursday February 11th, 1960 and it is initial plans for a proposed shopping center with a supermarket and six stores on Route 106 in Mansfield between Art's Atlantic Station and Gloria Colombo hall on Chauncy Street was presented to the Mansfield Board of Selectmen
This is a pair of articles in the Mansfield News and Foxboro Reporter from Thursday February 12th, 1959 and it is 61 years ago tomorrow on Tuesday February 10th, 1959 that 800 people attended a hearing at Attleboro High School for the proposed Interstate 95 route from the Rhode Island/Massachusetts line all the way up to Route 128 in Canton and this was a map of the proposed Interstate 95 from Attleboro to Foxboro and in Mansfield, South Street and Grove Street were cut off by the new interstate 95 and none of Mansfield's officials were in attendance at that hearing while officials from Attleboro and North Attleboro protested that the road would create Dead ends at Local Streets by the proposed Interstate 95 and also it cut a path through a dairy farm owned by Jack Schultz
While searching memories 💗
Here are photos from the MHS database
I am writing an article and need a photo of Jennie Copeland and or her parents. Can someone post here ?
Does anyone have a photo of Jennie Copeland you could post here? I am writing an article on her.
Thanks Kevin for chatting today at the Fall Festival at Fulton Pond.
Greetings from the Jewelry City Steampunk Festival in Attleboro, MA. Our festival is a day-long celebration of the industrial history of our city with a little steampunk flair! This year we have partnered with Nancy Young's The Women At Work Museum and we are seeking woman to speak to our guests about the unique contribution to industrialization in our past, present, and speak on themes to inspire the leaders of tomorrow. Do you have a story to tell? We want to hear from you! Please contact us via Facebook, or email: [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you!
Dear Mansfield 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/ =============================================
https://www.facebook.com/events/2281565055389314/ Still tickets left but they are going fast! Spring Tea in the Ames Mansion Library! Enjoy tea and delicious dainties by Debbie of Dolce Cupcakes while listening to the beautiful music of the Starry Night Duo.