Mansfield, MA Historical Society

Mansfield, MA Historical Society This is the official page of the Mansfield Historical Society of Mansfield, Massachusetts. 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.

Operating as usual

09/06/2021

The Fisher-Richardson House will be open for two more Sundays until closing for the winter. Visit the house on either day and get a free copy of town historian Harry Chase's book "This Old Town Revisited".
The house is located at 354 Willow Street and open from 10 AM to 2 PM

Have you been around Mansfield long enough to remember this?While cleaning out the garage behind the Copeland House we f...
08/24/2021

Have you been around Mansfield long enough to remember this?

While cleaning out the garage behind the Copeland House we found this gem. Great Waves was a proposed water park that was to be built next to what was then called the Great Woods Center for the Performing Arts (now the Xfinity Center). The water park ran into considerable opposition. As we remember it, one of biggest concerns was water consumption. Some opponents argued that our town wells couldn’t handle it. Eventually the idea was abandoned. We put our heads together and we think this proposal was probably put forward around 1995…but we really aren’t sure without further research. Does anyone out there have a clearer memory?

Have you been around Mansfield long enough to remember this?

While cleaning out the garage behind the Copeland House we found this gem. Great Waves was a proposed water park that was to be built next to what was then called the Great Woods Center for the Performing Arts (now the Xfinity Center). The water park ran into considerable opposition. As we remember it, one of biggest concerns was water consumption. Some opponents argued that our town wells couldn’t handle it. Eventually the idea was abandoned. We put our heads together and we think this proposal was probably put forward around 1995…but we really aren’t sure without further research. Does anyone out there have a clearer memory?

Due to the pending hurricane we will NOT be opening the Fisher-Richardson House this Sunday. Please plan on visiting the...
08/20/2021

Due to the pending hurricane we will NOT be opening the Fisher-Richardson House this Sunday. Please plan on visiting the next Sunday. Only three more times to visit before we close for the winter!

Due to the pending hurricane we will NOT be opening the Fisher-Richardson House this Sunday. Please plan on visiting the next Sunday. Only three more times to visit before we close for the winter!

The improvements just keep coming at the Copeland House!  Our concrete walkway was original to the house, and after 112 ...
08/02/2021

The improvements just keep coming at the Copeland House! Our concrete walkway was original to the house, and after 112 years, it was showing its age. It was badly cracked and dangerous. But DeGirolamo & Sons replaced it last week with a perfect replica…at a very reasonable price 😀! We can’t thank them enough. The old place is shaping up!

HELP!  Do you remember these?You might recall last week when we asked your opinion on what these objects were.  Now that...
07/29/2021

HELP! Do you remember these?

You might recall last week when we asked your opinion on what these objects were. Now that we know, we are looking to date them and wondering if anyone recalls using them during gym class in Mansfield.

First, some background. Some 40 years ago MHS athletic director Gerry Kelley asked P.E. teacher and legendary field hockey coach Leda Levine to organize the equipment closet at Mansfield High. Inside Leda found these “Indian clubs” and thoughtfully saved three of them. Last week she donated them to the Mansfield Historical Society.

Indian clubs originated on the subcontinent of India centuries ago. They are used as a form of weight training. As seen on the label these weigh 3/4 of a pound and were made in the USA. However we have no idea when they might have been used at MHS. So if you have any recollection of them, or if you recall when or how they might have been used, we would love to hear your story. Feel free to comment below or email us at [email protected]. Thanks!

Kick-the-Bar:  The Great Mansfield Pastime  Locals can recall something from their youth that seemed distinctly Mansfiel...
07/19/2021

Kick-the-Bar: The Great Mansfield Pastime

Locals can recall something from their youth that seemed distinctly Mansfield. It might be the smell of chocolate in the air or the sound of the 8 o’clock whistle from the central fire station. But Mansfield kids from the Great Depression through the 1950’s played a game that was unique to Mansfield and dear to their hearts: Kick-the-Bar.

By the early 1930’s the nation was in the grip of the Great Depression. A baseball or football was too expensive for the average family. So children in Mansfield learned to have fun with whatever they could find.

Kick-the-Bar started with an old bicycle tire cut into sections about eight inches long. A section was cut at an angle so it would stand on its own. This section was known as a ‘bar’. The bar was placed on home plate. A player would kick the bar into the field of play with a straight-on style reminiscent of an NFL kicker of old.

The field was laid out similar to a baseball diamond. The distance between bases was much shorter, usually about 40 feet. There was a line (sometimes imaginary) between first and third base called the “scuff” line. If the kick did not go past the scuff line, the kicker was out. If it did, he or she would run the bases.

There were usually fewer fielders than a baseball game as the field was much smaller. Also unlike baseball, the bar was always thrown back to the catcher. When the catcher possessed the bar and had his foot on home plate, the runners had to be on a base or they would be out. And if there was no umpire, the catcher determined who was safe and who was out. This led to countless arguments and was no doubt part of the fun.

The first mention of Kick-the-Bar in local newspapers came in May 1933, when it was reported that the East Mansfield team gave a “severe beating” to the West Mansfield team during a game at the former Central School on Villa Street. East won by a score of 23-10. Later that month it was reported that Kick-the-Bar was “fully as popular with the youngsters in this village as is baseball just now.”

During World War II the Mansfield News reported nightly games throughout the summer. Even with the arrival of postwar peace and prosperity Kick-the-Bar lived on. The game remained so popular that in the late 1940’s Central School principal Harold Qualters organized a league for the boys and another for the girls. “The league competition keeps the youngsters out of much of their former recess pranks which developed nothing worthwhile,” the newspaper reported.

The game was not played in any neighboring communities. But children in Mansfield played Kick-the-Bar all over town. No one remembered exactly who invented it, including noted Mansfield historian Harry Chase, who recalled playing his first game sometime around 1934. Harry remembered meeting a man from Boston who claimed he played a similar game there in his youth. Is it possible some city kids cut up a tire and kicked around? Of course. But it was still Mansfield’s game.

Kick-the-Bar seems to have faded sometime in the late 1950’s. In 1963 a group of men revived the old game. “I guess the idea started in my barber shop,” said Frank Pascucci, who was among the league organizers. A total of 36 men (all required to be 28 years of age or older) made up six teams sponsored by Carbonetti’s Market, Fred’s Repair station, the Regent Café, Art’s Atlantic gas station, Colby Contractors and Cataloni Electric.

The adult league held together for a few seasons. But by the late 1960’s it seemed Kick-the-Bar was gone forever, a permanent part of Mansfield lore. That is until 1999, when Frank Pascucci was among a group of Kick-the-Bar veterans who organized a game for Mansfield seventh-graders at Memorial Park. The following April a game for sixth graders was held at Harold L. Qualters Middle School. Physical education instructor Pat Piccolomini said, “It’s a bit of history, and they all seem to be having fun.”

Note: “Thank you!” to Joe Galanti, who recently donated the “bar” pictured here to the Mansfield Historical Society!

Historical Society member Rick Cooper keeps dropping off gems to add to our collection. Thanks Rick!  Here are two coin ...
07/06/2021

Historical Society member Rick Cooper keeps dropping off gems to add to our collection. Thanks Rick! Here are two coin purses from the former Co-operative Bank (now Bluestone Bank). Our best guess is that they are from the 1970’s…if you think otherwise please let us know why! And if you have a few ‘gems’ of your own from Mansfield’s past that you’d like to donate we promise to give them a good home in our collection at the Copeland House!

Historical Society member Rick Cooper keeps dropping off gems to add to our collection. Thanks Rick! Here are two coin purses from the former Co-operative Bank (now Bluestone Bank). Our best guess is that they are from the 1970’s…if you think otherwise please let us know why! And if you have a few ‘gems’ of your own from Mansfield’s past that you’d like to donate we promise to give them a good home in our collection at the Copeland House!

An Old-Time Fourth of JulyAt sunrise on July 4, 1891, the weather looked menacing.   Town leaders had planned one of the...
07/03/2021

An Old-Time Fourth of July

At sunrise on July 4, 1891, the weather looked menacing. Town leaders had planned one of the biggest Independence Day celebrations in local history. Mansfield wanted to showcase its growing industrial base with a full day of activities. Bad weather would jeopardize the plans.

But by 7 a.m. the sky had cleared and a cool breeze began to blow. Visitors from nearby towns began to arrive at the train station, meeting friends and relatives for a Mansfield-style Fourth of July.

Festivities began at 9 a.m. with the “grand trades procession,” a parade of horse-drawn floats. Alson Cobb served as Chief Marshal. A leading citizen, Cobb was a veteran of the Civil War who went on to serve as a deputy sheriff of Bristol County and Mansfield’s fire chief.

The procession began and ended at the South Common. Along the way it followed a winding route of just under four miles through downtown Mansfield. Most floats were sponsored by local businesses displaying their trade or goods. Other participants included the Mansfield Brass Band, the fire department, mounted police, Civil War veterans, and the town fathers “in a hack” (or horse-drawn carriage).

About 40 local businesses took part, some with multiple teams of horses. The floats were elaborate. Rogerson’s store featured a full parlor on its float, complete with furniture for sale at the store. Bailey and Sons bakery entered a giant flour barrel. On top was a 20-foot alligator made entirely of bread. Local farmer Mark Janes won a novelty prize for his float, “a pair of oxen who pulled a small forest of upright fir trees and a lot of farming instruments.”

The afternoon was for sporting events. The excitement began with a tub race at Fulton’s Pond. First place (and its prize of $3) was won by Arthur Wills with second going to John Jackson. The other two entries, Patsey Flavin and Arthur Berry, decided to have fun with the contest. They went for “amusing the crowd and succeeded admirably”.

A “Rhode Island clam bake” followed and was enjoyed by hundreds of people. Then it was off to the South Common for more races. By this time an estimated 5,000 people lined the sidewalks. Officials had difficulty clearing the roadway. The 100-yard dash was won by Will Cook with a time of 13 seconds. Cook also won the wheelbarrow race.

A close one-mile bicycle race was won by W.N. Frazer with a time of 5 minutes and 16 seconds. W.H. Lyons finished two seconds behind, and F.A. Adams came in two seconds after Lyons. Next was a “slow bicycle race,” a 220-yard dash and a three-legged race. The potato sack race was won by the entertaining Patsey Flavin (of tub race fame).

After the races there was a “general stampede” to the Branch Street grounds for baseball. A local nine took on a team from Somerville, who had recently been touted by the Boston Globe as “one of the strongest amateur teams in the state.” Even more ominous for the home team, Mansfield had yet to play a competitive game that season.

The crowd was treated to a thrilling game, won by Mansfield 7-5 on the strength of a four-run ninth inning. Mansfield’s Dan Harrigan threw out a runner from deep in the outfield to save the day. At the game’s conclusion Mansfield pitcher Lish Hibberts was carried off the field by his joyous teammates. Somerville manager P.G. Sterne won the respect of the Mansfield crowd with his gentlemanly manner.

Local factory owner Doliver Spaulding offered free lemonade to the crowd. Little drunkenness was reported that day, with only one pedestrian showing any such signs. Three Somerville fans were intoxicated but by all accounts they were well behaved.

By 8 p.m. another large crowd had convened at the Branch Street grounds for a fireworks display. The festivities began with a musical program by the Mansfield Brass Band, which included the Star-Spangled Banner, a waltz, a polka, a gavotte, and a march. The fireworks display was described as “elaborate, diversified, and most pleasing.” The day was considered a great triumph for Mansfield.

Pictured: Mark Janes and his yoke of oxen, July 4, 1891; Alson Cobb

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign…we got two more mounted today.  Basement progress continues.  Here are signs from two prom...
06/30/2021

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign…we got two more mounted today. Basement progress continues. Here are signs from two prominent former Mansfield businesses: Torrance Furniture and Currivan Insurance.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign…we got two more mounted today. Basement progress continues. Here are signs from two prominent former Mansfield businesses: Torrance Furniture and Currivan Insurance.

A year ago today, our basement was a dark, dingy, dusty mess. It was filled with “good stuff” but there was no organizat...
06/29/2021

A year ago today, our basement was a dark, dingy, dusty mess. It was filled with “good stuff” but there was no organization. It was lit by one lonely lightbulb in the center of the room. So we decided to use the Covid shutdown to make a change.

We moved everything into storage. Then began a long process of painting, upgrading the lights, adding rails to the stairway, cleaning and organizing. We have finally reached a point where we can begin to move items back in. It will still take a few months to complete the process, but we took an exciting and fun step forward yesterday.

We have a few oversized signs from bygone businesses of Mansfield. Now we can finally display them properly. Some are now in place. Some of you might recall the East Mansfield post office. Others might be surprised that East Mansfield once had its own post office and ZIP Code. But it did, and we have the sign to prove it! We also hung a sign from the former Mansfield Co-operative Bank (now Bluestone) and an old favorite, Miguel’s shoe repair which once stood at the corner of North Main and Pleasant Streets.

We hope these signs bring back happy memories for long time residents, and offer a look into the past for more recent arrivals. We will continue to update you on our progress in the coming months.

NEW! Now you can purchase Mansfield Historical Society maps, mementos, and books on line. Books include Everyday But Sun...
06/25/2021

NEW! Now you can purchase Mansfield Historical Society maps, mementos, and books on line. Books include Everyday But Sunday, Images of America – Mansfield, and This Old Town. Maps of Mansfield from 1831 through 1888, and mementos such as magnets and postcards.
Visit www.mhsma.org and click on SHOP.
You can also join the society on-line.

NEW! Now you can purchase Mansfield Historical Society maps, mementos, and books on line. Books include Everyday But Sunday, Images of America – Mansfield, and This Old Town. Maps of Mansfield from 1831 through 1888, and mementos such as magnets and postcards.
Visit www.mhsma.org and click on SHOP.
You can also join the society on-line.

The Fisher-Richardson House had a successful opening on Sunday. We had 18 visitors. The farthest came all the way from……...
06/16/2021

The Fisher-Richardson House had a successful opening on Sunday. We had 18 visitors. The farthest came all the way from……. Attleboro! Also, 11 visitors joined the “Passport to History”. One visitor was already a member.

Thank you to the docents. Pictured are Annette Shaw, Lou Andrews, Will Snyder, and Nicole Wright. Lorrie Renker is not pictured here.

The Fisher-Richardson House had a successful opening on Sunday. We had 18 visitors. The farthest came all the way from……. Attleboro! Also, 11 visitors joined the “Passport to History”. One visitor was already a member.

Thank you to the docents. Pictured are Annette Shaw, Lou Andrews, Will Snyder, and Nicole Wright. Lorrie Renker is not pictured here.

The Mansfield Historical Society joined the Passport to History. The Passport is your key to unlocking tons of fun and e...
06/02/2021
Passport to History

The Mansfield Historical Society joined the Passport to History. The Passport is your key to unlocking tons of fun and exciting activities for free at sixteen museums and historic sites located within Bristol, Plymouth, and Barnstable counties, all summer long. It is easy to use; just show your Passport to History when you enter the Fisher-Richardson House, get it stamped, and enjoy all that the house has to offer!.
Here is a link with details: https://www.oldcolonyhistorymuseum.org/.../passport-to.../
The Fisher-Richardson House, on Willow Street, will be opened Sundays from June 13th through September 12th, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, closed July 4th.

Passport to History 2021 Passport to History is a joint effort of local museums to share and explore the diverse history of southeastern Massachusetts. Stop by any participating site to get your passport, which serves as admission for one free visit, and start exploring the unique and inspiring hist...

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53 Rumford Ave
Mansfield, MA
02048

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(508) 339-8793

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We had a successful season at the Fisher-Richardson House. Thank you to the 142 visitors. Visitors came from as far away as Atlanta, GA; Port Charlotte, FL; and Richmond, VA. A special thank you to the volunteer docents Beth Donovan, Susan Feely, Ellen Hume, Liisa Niemi, Lorrie Renker, Pam Rieth, Will Rieth, Stella Scire, Annette Shaw, Will Snyder, and Nicole E. Wright. The house will be open again in June of 2022. Can’t wait? You can see a 3D virtual tour from the Mansfield Historical Society’s website: mhsma.org/Virtual-Tour/virtual-tour.html. Want to see the house in real 3D buy the Google Cardboard VR Viewer. It’s only $6.00.
What is this used for? There's a pedal on the bottom. When you press the pedal the metal wedge on top moves to the rear of the device. (From the historical society's objects)
The Fisher-Richardson House will be open for two more Sundays until closing for the winter. Visit the house on either day and get a free copy of town historian Harry Chase's book "This Old Town Revisited". The house is located at 354 Willow Street and open from 10 AM to 2 PM
This is what the Mansfield High School football schedule looked like in the Attleboro Sun from Thursday September 4th, 1930
Do to the pending hurricane we will NOT be opening the Fisher-Richardson House this Sunday. Please plan on visiting the next Sunday. Only three more times to visit before we close for the winter
Historical plaque has gone missing within the last month! Does anyone know the whereabouts of the Ephraim Leonard Plaque? It dates back to 1889 when Taunton hosted their Quarter Millennial Celebration (250th anniversary) and many plaques were created to be displayed in all the towns that were once part of Taunton. It had been located at the current location on Mill Street near the Campground since the 1950’s. It would be greatly appreciated if the plaque could be dropped off on the porch of the Mansfield Historical Society at 53 Rumford Avenue, anonymously. Or if anyone has any knowledge of what happened to the plaque, please contact the Mansfield Police Department at 508-261-7300. THANKS! image.png
Our docents (Beth Donovan pictured) are waiting for your visit. Take the time to visit the Fisher-Richardson House on Willow Street today. It's open until 2 PM. Don't like - visit!
I took this in 1981 (so the writing on the back says). Lots of changes.
Location of oldest headstone in Mansfield? I understand there is/are older one(s) than Sarah Pratt (1693-1734) in Old Town.
Father Kelly of St. Mary's Church in Mansfield Ma. This is a professionally made video staring Father James Kelly. He died in 2002 after crashing into a mountain near Dillingham, Alaska. It was probably filmed in the late 1980's. Many of his friends will find this an excellent 10 minute video.
Father Kelly Flying around the Saint Paul Mission in Alaska. Most of you will remember Father Kelly - Enjoy the video. ;)
Hello everyone, I'm a young man writing to you from Italy in search of information about a relative who emigrated to the USA at the beginning of the last century. Through the digitized archives of Ellis Island, I was able to find some extra information. All I know is that his name is Gaetano Della Chiara, born in Pesaro, Italy in 1885. He arrived in the USA for the first time alone and unmarried in Boston on June 26, 1911 with final destination Mansfield. Massachusetts to visit a friend "Valerio Badioli" (even if the name is often misspelled: Vallerio Badieli, Valerio Padeoli). The second time he arrived in the USA on June 13, 1913 landing at Ellis Island, this time accompanied by his wife "Vittoria Scatolini" and also this time with final destination Mansfield, Massachusetts always at his friend "Valerio Badioli", who is probably cousin of his wife Vittoria. I also found out that Valerio Badioli was born in Piano, Italy in 1870 and arrived in New York on July 18, 1906 with final destination Boston even if I assume he then moved to Mansfield. I would like to find out more about these relatives so far in time to know if they had children and if their descendants still live in Mansfield. Unfortunately nobody in Italy had any news about Gaetano or Vittoria after their departure. Thank you for everything you can do to help me in this overseas research. Yours sincerely, Leonardo Fraternali Grilli.