|Special Annual Meeting
of the Millbury Historical Society
Postcards of Millbury’s Past
Who remembers the old bowling alley or the
original St. Brigid's Church?
Millbury Historical Society Board Member
will present a narration of his fascinating
collection of Millbury historical postcards.
Join us for fun, enlightenment, and nostalgia!
Thursday June 12, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Asa Waters’ Mansion
All are invited. Refreshments to follow.
For those who say you can never go home again, an intrepid band of Millbury-ites has proven you wrong.
For many years, a group from the Millbury Historical Society has discussed visiting a playground of their youth:
Mount Ararat, which is located adjacent to the Old Common. No one can explain the moniker “Mount Ararat.”
Certainly it harkens back to the biblical mount. However Millbury's Mount is not even mentioned in the Millbury Town
History of 1915.
The memories of the climbers were of a perch from which horizons were far-reaching and views were unobstructed.
Indeed, forty or fifty years ago, entire adjacent towns and topography could be viewed from the top of Mount Ararat.
Finally an excursion was planned for November 30, 2013. It was felt that the foliage would be completely gone, and
that the ticks and snakes would be dormant thus ensuring success. The group entered the woods from West Main
Street at noon and ascended on the “paper” access of Old Common Road.
They were guided by local sportsman, bird enthusiast, and outdoorsman Alan Marble. Alan has lived all his life at Old
Common and can mount the Mount in his sleep!
The explorers ascended the bluff of 735’ for perhaps forty-five minutes whilst Alan identified various points of
interest and focal points.
Alan has studied the elevations of Millbury and notes that Mount Ararat is the fourth highest in town.
First highest is WSW of Ramshorn Pond with two high points considered as one from 789-808 feet high.
Second highest is on Davis Road overlooking Ramshorn Pond at the home (appropriately) of Paul Giorgio, Mount
Everest mountain climber. This comes in at 768 feet.
Behind and above Rogers Farm & Garden on West Main Street is the third highest elevation in Millbury at 760 feet.
This hill may be accessed from the walking trails at Butler Farm.
At 2:00 the party moved to explore the area around John Rich’s Mill off Carleton Road.
Back in the 19th century, the mill had first manufactured shingles and then shoddy, an inferior quality yarn or fabric
made from the shredded fiber of waste woolen cloth or clippings. Sometimes this material was used in mattresses.
Once again, Alan Marble led the charge explaining the workings of the dam that provided the mill’s power. For this
and all his erudite efforts, The Millbury Historical Society wishes to extend a heartfelt thanks!
The redoubtable explorers called it a day at 3:00 PM.
Gateway to the Blackstone Valley
|The Millbury Historical Society
Preserving Millbury's Past for its Future
"As a bridge from the past to the future, the Millbury
Historical Society is committed to preserve, protect,
present and promote the history of Millbury."
|P.O. Box 367
Millbury's Favorite "Son", William Howard Taft, and the First
A President Inaugurates a Remarkable Tradition
Millbury Historical Society,
"User-Friendly" for those
The Millbury Historical Society is pleased to
announce its all-out effort to accommodate
those with physical disabilities and unable to
access its Museum.
Vignettes of the Museum's contents have been
filmed with more in the offing.
These entertaining, informative films will be
available at all Museum openings on the
society's laptop on the first floor of the Asa
Feel free to call ahead with any special requests:
It was the start of another baseball season. Players practiced in the warm spring
weather. A new ballpark was constructed in Chicago more modern than the last and
the third in a string of new stadiums. Fans wondered if Ty Cobb would win the triple
crown again. And soon every fan would know Jack Norworth’s “Take Me Out to the
Ball Game,” the game’s unofficial anthem. By 1910, despite baseball’s title as the
“national pastime,” the lure of the diamond seemed on the decline, especially in
Washington, D.C. where the Senators often finished in last place. To lure fans back
into his ballpark and renew enthusiasm for the game, Washington’s owner Clark
Griffith turned to the most influential man in America. Griffith reasoned that if the
President of the United States not only endorsed the game by his presence in the
stands, but took time away from the pressing needs of the nation to throw out the
ceremonial first pitch, then certainly the average Joe had time to take in nine
innings this summer.
Convincing the man in the Oval Office to take a break from the affairs of state had
proven futile with recent administrations. When President Grover Cleveland was
invited to a game, he replied, “What do you imagine the American people would
think of me if I wasted my time going to the ball game?” President William McKinley
was asked to throw out the first pitch at the opener between Washington and
Brooklyn. The Presidential box was erected. Members of Congress filled the stands.
McKinley never showed. And although a gold season pass was issued to Teddy
Roosevelt during his presidency by the National Association of Professional Base
Ball Leagues, he never even considered using it.
As owner of the Washington Senators, Clark Griffith had the opportunity to socialize
with the upper echelons of Capital society including members of Congress, the
Supreme Court, and the current administration. In President William Howard Taft he
found a genuine sports fan and willing, if unaware, participant in an ingenious
public relations move. By convincing Taft to throw out the ceremonial first pitch of
the season, Griffith hoped to permanently fix the presidential seal of approval on
baseball as the national pastime once and for all, as well as, establish a tradition
that spotlighted the Senators as the home team of the most powerful man in the
President Taft genuinely loved baseball. Although often caught playing golf, Taft
understood that the national game took place on a diamond, not a fairway. He and
Vice-President James Sherman had enjoyed the April 19, 1909 game between the
Red Sox and the Nationals. Taft and Sherman each kept score while relishing the
excitement of the game. This marked the first time since 1892 that a Chief Executive
had attended a baseball game in the Capital. Although Taft and Sherman arrived
late, they stayed for the whole game. By 1910, Taft needed any respite from his
beleaguered presidency even if only for nine innings.
Griffith invited Taft to the April 14th season opener of the Washington Senators. A
perfect spring day filled the skies and a record 12,226 fans filled the ballpark. New
manager Jimmy McAleer pulled the Senator’s starting pitcher, Walter Johnson,
aside and asked him to catch the President’s ceremonial pitch, but the shy future
Hall of Famer refused. Instead, McAleer designated catcher Gabby Street for the
The President and Mrs. Taft along with the presidential party including Vice-
President Sherman and Secretary of the Senate Charles Bennett arrived at the
ballpark on schedule. Taft had just come from giving a speech to a large
contingency of Suffragists at their annual convention; and after being booed by
them, was no doubt thankful to be at the ballpark among friends. At the given time,
Street took his place opposite and some distance from President Taft. Mrs. Taft held
the baseball while the President removed his new gloves. The crowd (and Clark
Griffith) waited in eager anticipation.
Finally, the moment that would live on in baseball legend and lore had arrived. With
all eyes on him, the 300-pound right-hander turned slightly and threw the ball to
Walter Johnson. Although the throw certainly lacked style or grace, Johnson
managed to catch it, thus saving the President any embarrassment. The crowd
roared. It was no accident or errant pitch that sent the ball to Johnson. A
Presidential aide overheard the earlier conversation between McAleer and
Johnson and informed the President. Taft refused to let the shy pitcher back out of
history. A grateful Johnson would never make that mistake again.
The Presidential party stayed for the whole game even after a line drive foul ball, off
the bat of A’s Frank “Home Run” Baker, shot into the Presidential Box and bounced
off the Secretary of State's head. Silence filled the park. Secretary Bennett waved to
the crowd and the game continued. Johnson struck out nine batters and had a no-
hitter going into the seventh inning when Senator’s right fielder Doc Gessler
running back for an easy fly ball collided with a young fan. The ball fell for a ground-
rule double. In the end, the Senators won 3 to 0, and Johnson was satisfied with a
The next day, President Taft’s season opener first pitch dominated the sports pages
across the country. One newspaper account stated, “He did it with his good, trusty
right arm, and the virgin sphere scudded across the diamond, true as a die to the
pitcher’s box, where Walter Johnson gathered it in.” The Associated Press
reported that “Mr. Taft was as interested as all the rest. He knows baseball
thoroughly and is up on all the finer points of the game.” Americans adored their
President for enjoying the true pleasures of life: a bag of peanuts and a ball game.
Griffith's public relations move was a success. Players and baseball fans
considered Taft one of their own; and the Washington Senators held the interest of
the nation and the Oval Office.
That opening day presidential pitch had a profound influence on the men who held
the spotlight that afternoon: Walter Johnson and William Howard Taft. The following
day at the White House, Taft received the baseball he had thrown in the ceremony
with a humble request from Johnson for his autograph. Taft must have chuckled at
the thought of himself signing a baseball like a ballplayer, and the little boy inside of
him, who played with youthful passion was certainly delighted. He wrote across the
meat of the ball, “To Walter Johnson with hope that he may continue to be as
formidable as in yesterday’s game. William H. Taft.” Thus was the first baseball in
what would someday become Johnson’s large collection of ceremonial first pitch
baseballs autographed by U.S. Presidents.
After the season opener Taft became baseball’s most enthusiastic fan and
advocate. In a speech a month later, Taft declared, “I like it [baseball] for two
reasons – first, because I enjoy it myself and second, because if by the presence of
the temporary chief magistrate such a healthy amusement can be encouraged, I
want to encourage it.” And Taft did. He attended another baseball game a few days
after the opener and shared a five cent bag of peanuts with the Vice-President
while they watched the Boston Americans beat their beloved Senators.
Despite the chilling afternoon, Taft threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the
Washington season opener in 1911. And he stayed for the game. The President had
plans to do the same in 1912 but the Titanic disaster a few days earlier made it
impossible. Determined to keep his presidential tradition going, Griffith
rescheduled the ceremony for a June home game. Not to be outdone, Congress
adjourned early that day and many of them watched President Taft toss the ball to
Walter Johnson in front of a packed house in Washington.
By continuing the opening day tradition through Taft’s presidency, even in the wake
of disaster, Clark Griffith forever bonded baseball and the American Presidency.
The national pastime was now not only sanctioned by the Chief of State, he became
its biggest fan among the millions of average Americans who filled ball parks every
season across the country. While the opening day ritual became engraved on the
list of presidential duties, back in 1910, Taft did more than establish a custom, he
set the standard. Taft added peanut eating, score keeping, and appropriate robust
cheering to the list of duties, thus compelling his successors to become ordinary
fans if only for nine innings.
President Taft made baseball history that day and his act of ceremony and
gamesmanship gave him a place in Baseball's most revered inner sanctum. In the
Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York, next to a collage of photographs honoring
past U.S. Presidents throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, there is an inscription
which includes the lines, “In 1910 William Howard Taft was induced to attend the
season opener of the Washington Senators and make the honorary first pitch. Thus
was launched a remarkable tradition...” Nearby under glass lays a faded baseball
signed by a president to a shy ballplayer.
Society Board Member
Jerilyn Stead recently
met in Washington,
D.C. with her hero,
Millbury's Favorite Son
and President, William
Be sure to view Jeri's
exhibit on Taft in the
foyer of Millbury's
|Taft's Historical First
Pitch baseball with its
inscription to a shy
pitcher, Walter Johnson.
star pitcher, Walter
participant to history!
|Millbury Explorers Conquer Mount Ararat!
|The brave hikers: (l. to r.) Karin Nelson, Oliver Nelson, 13,
Amanda Nelson, Walter Nelson, 15, Frank Gagliardi, Debbie
Pousland, Jane Jung, and Anabelle Nelson (with ducky hat),
10, front center.
|Here’s Mount Ararat from below.
One can see all the trees that
have grown in over the years and
that now hamper the vista.
|Alan Marble (back) explains the
terrain to Millbury Historical Society
president Frank Gagliardi. Debbie
Pousland (right) takes a photo.
|Here is an overhang where youngsters
could imagine hostile Indians in days of
yore making their refuge:
|Note the craftsmanship of this
|Millbury Historical Society president
Frank Gagliardi provided this photo
of John Rich’s mill from long ago.
NCSI (Naval Criminal Investigative Service)
Millbury's Buck Brothers Makes the Big Time!
Courtesy of sharp-eyed Millbury Historical Society
member Keith Dobie
In a recent re-run (Episode 7) of NSCI, Gibbs rescued
Ziva from terrorists.
She appears in his workshop where he is constantly
building a boat.
In gratitude, Ziva presents him with a handsome gift.
Gibbs recognizes it immediately as a Buck Brothers
mortising chisel and is impressed and appreciative.
|Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) presents Gibbs (Mark
Harmon) with a quality Buck Brothers chisel.
|(l. to r) Karin Nelson, Alan Marble, Jane
Jung, Frank Gagliardi, Amanda Nelson,
Anabelle Nelson, Oliver Nelson, Debbie
|Anabelle, you cutie, you can come on ALL our hikes!
|Guide Alan Marble directs attention to the kinds of over-growth that now hamper the views from Mount Ararat.
Meat AND Seafood
Join the Millbury Lions Club and the
Millbury Historical Society as they team
up for a Meat & Seafood Raffle.
Saturday March 15, 2014
from 2-5 PM.
St. Charles Hotel, 126 West Main Street, Millbury.
We appreciate your support to benefit these two
great local organizations!
Recently, Cheryl Piasta, the hard-working secretary of The
Millbury Historical Society, lost her dear husband Ted.
Ted was a respected member of the Millbury community as well
as a devoted father and spouse. It is a terrible loss.
The Society gratefully acknowledges the following who have
made donations in Ted's memory:
The Francis Gaudere Family Richard Contois
Jim and Janet Howard Mary Joan Boire
Jeri and Ron Stead Rick & Janet Williams