GREAT NEWS for The Millbury Historical Society!
The Millbury Historical Society has won a
Partnership Grant through the Blackstone
River Valley National Heritage Corridor!
The BRVNHC offered grants this spring to
area nonprofits to help provide equipment
and services for remote activity during
these socially distant times when it's
difficult to run programs and impossible to
open things like our museum.
This grant will allow the Millbury Historical
Society to provide video content later this
summer, possible remote programs in the
fall via Zoom, and expand the footprint of
celebrating Millbury's history beyond the
walls of Asa Waters Mansion and the
Grass Hill School. Stay tuned for more
If you would like to learn more or get
involved, please contact Jeff Raymond at
The Millbury Historical Society sincerely
thanks the Blackstone River Valley
National Heritage Corridor for providing
the funds necessary to get this endeavor
off the ground.
The Millbury High School Class of 1958 recently
held their 60th Year Reunion from September 28-30
with two events held in Millbury: a "Drop In" at A &
D Restaurant and a talk and visit to the Museum of
the Millbury Historical Society in the Asa Waters
In addition, there was a buffet lunch at J.
Anthony's Grille in Oxford and a breakfast brunch
at the Post Office Pub in Grafton. A great time was
had by all!
Six classmates traveled from out-of-state:
Vermont, Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina,
and Oklahoma. One of them even drove
cross-country from Seattle, Washington to attend!
The class has met every five years since 1963, and
some local members continue to meet monthly at
Scales Restaurant in Millbury.
FIRST ROW: Louise (Lebel) Green; Harriet (Hamilton) Ducharme; Susan (Stewart) Daley; Ann (Bradshaw) Taylor; Carol (Scott) Ilic; Linda (Milliken) Masterman; Betty McGee; Judith (Matthews) Modig; Cecile (Salois) Hicks; Patricia (Claxton) Gonyea.
SECOND ROW: Ronald Army; Jean (Grenier) Stone; Doris (Jackson) Wilczynski; Carolyn (Ellis) Moore; Janet (Wahlstrom) Whittier; Carolyn (Quail) Bianchi; Margaret (Faron) Boldrighinl; William Hayes.
THIRD ROW: Marc Arsenault; Claude Goodreau; Leo Gravel; Wayne Modig; William Erickson; Conrad Goodreau; Leonard Lawson; Paul Gauthier.
A Tale of Two Gavels
On January 29, 1971, the Millbury Town Hall was
destroyed by fire.
Warren Baldwin, Chartering President of the Millbury
Historical Society, and his father, former Selectman
and Town Moderator Fred Baldwin, received
permission from Fire Chief Kenneth Army to enter the
Knowing that the Town Hall was a total loss, the pair
was determined to save a part of the building for
posterity. Fire hoses were still running as they used a
chainsaw to cut out a section of the beautiful
mahogany handrail of the staircase on the right side of
Later, Fred Baldwin took the railing to his home in
Sutton where he handcrafted two identical gavels in
At the next Annual Town Meeting following the fire,
Warren Baldwin, on behalf of his father, presented the
Town Moderator Paul Dempsey with one of the
historically-significant gavels to be used to conduct
Millbury’s future Town Meetings.
The other gavel, Warren Baldwin, now a resident of
Myrtle Beach, SC, has just recently donated to the
Millbury Historical Society for safe-keeping and
The Taft Letter
The Millbury Historical Society recently received a
valuable donation from the granddaughters of Rev. Robert
Dunbar, pastor of the Millbury Federated Church during
the years 1909-1915. That was during the time when
President William Howard Taft attended church services
there with his aunt, Delia Torrey.
The sisters, Pam Roberts and Kathy Larkin, brought the
letter to Millbury. It had been found in their attic in Maine.
Thanks to historical super-sleuth Jerilyn Stead, Board
member of the Millbury Historical Society, the two sisters
visited their grandfather's church, The Millbury Federated.
Back when President Taft attended the church with his
aunt Delia Torrey, it was called the Millbury Second
Inside the entrance to the church the sisters saw a photo
of President Taft leaving the church. As they looked
closely, they noticed that their grandfather was standing
behind the president in the photo!
The donation of this letter, written to Rev. Dunbar from
President Taft, is a wonderful addition to the Millbury
Historical Society’s Taft collection. Rev. Dunbar had
written "words of encouragement" to President Taft as
this was a time in America's history when former President
Theodore Roosevelt decided to criticize President Taft's
Rev. Dunbar obviously knew how difficult it was for
President Taft to accept the fact that his former friend had
turned against him.
After Roosevelt returned from Europe and Africa,
President Taft invited him to the White House. Roosevelt
"declined Taft's invitation" and began giving speeches
outlining "his" own idea of the new role that the
government should play in dealing with social issues. His
progressivism led him to run against Taft in the 1912
Presidential Election. Both men were defeated as the vote
was split, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the election.
Pam Roberts (left) and her sister Kathy Larkin hold their grandfather's letter from President Taft. Behind them is Millbury Historical Society Board Member
President Taft and Aunt Delia on their
way to the Second Congregational
Church of Millbury (now Federated).
Rev. Robert Dunbar, Pastor of The
Second Congregational Church of
Millbury (now Federated).
President Taft leaving the church. Rev. Dunbar is in the background.
Amasa Wood: A Forgotten Pillar of Millbury is Found!
In Millbury’s early days, streams and rivers produced
the water power that turned it into a flourishing
manufacturing town. Two well-known pillars of the town,
Asa Waters II used the Blackstone River to run his
Armory, and General Caleb Burbank produced paper
using the water of Singletary Stream. They both built
mansions which we can view today.
We are also able to see what these forefathers looked
like as there are copies of portraits of Asa Waters II and
his wife Susan Holman Waters hanging in the Waters’
Mansion, and the original portraits of General Caleb
Burbank and his wife Hannah Smith Burbank are
hanging in the Museum of The Millbury Historical
Society. These portraits were painted by John Blunt, a
traveling artist from Portsmouth N.H.
Another pillar of our town harnessed the water of
Ramshorne Brook. His name was Captain Amasa Wood.
He came to Millbury in 1808, bought land from
Johnathan Waters in West Millbury and opened up a
shoe shop. Initially he transported his shoes in leather
bags on horseback to sell in Providence and Boston.
Amasa would carry money for other businesses and
stop and sit by the old log fires in many taverns along
the way. When he returned home, all the neighbors and
friends would gather to hear news from along the route.
Amasa Wood was a captain in the militia during his early
life and held many positions of honor. He was a Millbury
selectman for many years and a member of the
He liberally gave to his church, and his spirit of
generosity was instilled in his children.
There is a memorial window given in memory of his son
John Wood in the Millbury First Congregational Church,
and his son William left a Trust Fund to the church in his
will in 1895.
Amasa Wood’s business expanded rapidly and he built a
mansion with a shoe manufacturing business behind it.
He later expanded and manufactured shoes in
Connecticut, Georgia, and California. He undoubtedly
supplied shoes and boots to both the Union and
Confederate Soldiers during the Civil War.
By 1873 “A. Wood and Sons” employed seventy-threepeople from Millbury and the surrounding towns in hisWest Millbury business. Shoes bearing the name “A.Woods & Son” were looked upon as “the best of the best”.
Captain Wood’s mansion has disappeared although we do
have a photo of it. Asa Waters II and Caleb Burbank were
wealthy enough to have their portraits painted by John
Blunt so we’ve always know what they looked like.
Throughout Millbury’s history we had never seen a John
Blunt portrait of Captain Amasa Wood and his wife Sarah
Foristall Wood-until last fall!
Millbury Historical Society Board Member Jerilyn Stead
found a 1980 magazine on the mantle in the Millbury
Historical Society and inside it had portraits of the Waters,
the Burbanks, and the Woods! Captain Wood also had
portraits painted of four of his children!
The magazine was published by the Folk Art Museum in
New York City.
Jeri contacted them and requested photos of the portraits
as the Wood family was so prominent in Millbury’s past,
but was told the portraits were in a private collection.
The curator at the museum said she would tell the
collector of our inquiry concerning the portraits and they
would contact us if interested.
Jeri Stead soon received an e-mail which began with “Hi,
Sue and Dexter Pond, who live in Grafton, have collected
many of the John Blunt portraits. Their collection
included prominent people who lived in Millbury and
Sutton during the 1800’s. Out of all of America, the Ponds
lived right in Grafton!
The Ponds invited Jeri to come to Grafton to view the
portraits and Edd Cote, our Millbury photographer, was
also invited to come and take photos of their treasures.
The Ponds even took the portraits outside so that Edd
would have perfect lighting!
The Millbury Historical Society certainly appreciates the
generosity of the Pond Family which has allowed us to
bring to life the long-forgotten shoe manufacturer of West
(L to R): Driver Sharon Anderson, Dexter Pond, Sue Pond,
Historical Sleuth Jeri Stead All pictured with the Amasa Wood
Bob Rochon, owner of Creative SignWorks here in
Millbury, recently found a polished nickel cigarette
case in a barn in Sutton.
Inside the case there was a photo of a cute little boy
and his dog.
On the back of the picture there was the inscription:
“My Dear Little Boy-
William H. McLean.
Gone but not forgotten
Bob Rochon presented it to the Millbury Historical
Society with hopes that they could solve the mystery
of the deceased little boy.
Immediately, Millbury Historical Society board
member and old-fashioned sleuth Jerilyn Stead
associated the name McLean with her friend Beverly
Beverly McLean Cambridge was the author of a book
called "The Bramanville Girls."
In 2011, The Millbury Historical Society had invited
Beverly to present a book signing at the Asa Waters'
Mansion. (Click here for more on Beverly’s book.)
Jeri Stead contacted Beverly to see if the inscription
on the photo meant anything to her.
She said, “Jeri, I’m going to cry! That is my half-
brother whom I have never seen!”
Beverly’s dad, James McLean, had two families. He
and his first wife Elizabeth had Baden (born 1900) and
William, the mystery boy, (born 1912).
Sadly, William succumbed to meningitis when he was
seven (4-21-19). William is buried in Central Cemetery
with the same inscription on his grave as is on the
Tragically, Elizabeth Brown McLean died a mere
eighteen months after her son (11-13-20) of heart
disease. She was only forty-two.
James’ second wife Edith then bore him Raymond
(1922) and Beverly (1924). Thus it was that Beverly
had never seen her half-brother nor the photo in the
cigarette case. However, she remembered going to
Central Cemetery as a child on Memorial Day and
watching her dad cry at the boy’s gravesite.
Jerilyn had the photo enlarged and recently presented
it to Beverly at her lovely assisted living facility in
Beverly, MA. She has now since passed away
From now on, Beverly will treasure the opportunity to
view her little brother daily.
See how it paid for Bob Rochon to put his faith in The
Millbury Historical Society!
Bob Rochon, owner of Creative Signworks here in Millbury. Bob's
discovery made this "reunion" possible!
Ninety-two-year old (at the time) Beverly
half-sister of the stricken
Seven-year old William McLean's Gravesite in
Millbury's Central Cemetery
Ninety-two Year Old Beverly McLean Sees Half-Brother for the First Time!
Millbury Explorers Conquer Mount Ararat!
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
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.
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.
Map of Mount Ararat on Old Common
Here is an overhang where youngsters
could imagine hostile Indians in days of
yore making their refuge:
Millbury Historical Society president
Frank Gagliardi provided this photo
of John Rich’s mill from long ago.
Note the craftsmanship of this
Guide Alan Marble directs
attention to the kinds of
over-growth that now hamper
the views from Mount Ararat.
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
A Melancholy Accident
From the Worcester Spy, May 29, 1822
Courtesy of Alan Marble
Sutton Town Cemetery (Behind Town Hall): The site
of the communal grave of the four girls. The
inscription reads as follows:
In Memory of the Following Persons
Mary H. Marble AET (in the year of her age) 23
Hannah C. Marble AET 22
Daughters of Mr. Andrew and Sarah Marble
Adeline M. Lumbard AET 17
Daughter of Mr. Nathan and Delight Lumbard
Nancy Tenney AET 14
Daughter of Maj. and Betsey Tenney
Who were drowned May 29, 1822
PS. XXXIX Behold Thou hast made my days as an
handbreath and mine age as nothing before Thee
Drowned, in Singletary pond (so called) in Sutton, on the 29th inst., Miss Nancy Tenney, aged 14
years, daughter of Daniel Tenney, Esq- Miss Adeline Lumbard, aged 17 years, daughter of Mr.
Nathan Lumbard- and Misses Hannah G. and Mary H. Marble, the one aged 22 years, the other
24, daughters of the Widow Sally Marble, all of Sutton.
The circumstances attending this distressing event are these-
About 4 o’clock, P.M. 14 young people repaired from Major Tenney’s to the pond with a view to
cross it, in two boats, to the opposite shore, and from thence to an island in the West part of the
pond. This they accomplished with safety. Having returned from the island to the shore where
they first landed, they went on board, about an hour before sunset: eight into one boat, and six
into the other, in order to re-cross the pond. When they had passed rather more than half-way
across, it was discovered that by the exertion made in rowing the boat, which carried eight
persons, it rocked so as to admit a small quantity of water through some holes near the top of it.
At this, they became alarmed, and whilst one of them, who was exceedingly terrified,
attempted to change her position, the boat upset, and they were all, in a moment, plunged into
the water, where it was about 20 feet deep. Being unable to swim, they all went down, it is
supposed, to the bottom; and when they came up the second time, four of them, namely three
young gentlemen and one young lady, were so nigh the boat as to be able to reach it; two of
them were on one side of the boat which was bottom upwards and the other two were on the
other side of it. In this situation they reached across the boat and supported each other by the
hand until the other boat went to the shore, landed those within it, and returned to their relief.
The other four young Ladies, whose early exit we deplore, were involved in a watery grave-
One of them was found floating on the surface of the water, where the boat upset, and with all
possible dispatch, conveyed to the shore, and another of them was found under the boat; when
it was turned over after it was dragged to the shore. All possible means were used to
resuscitate them but in vain. The vital spark had fled, and their eyes were closed in death.
The alarm was given, and in a short time, hundreds of people were collected around the pond in
search of the other two. They continued their exertions through the night, but in vain; but
during the next day they found one of them, and during the next night, the other. On Friday,
their remains were carried to the Meeting House when an appropriate and pathetic prayer was
made by the Rev. Mr. Holman of Douglas and a solemn and impressive discourse delivered by
the Rev. Mr. Mills of Sutton.
Their remains were then conveyed to the graveyard, and all deposited in one grave-And to
conclude this solemn and affecting scene, Rev. Mr. Holman made a prayer, and Rev. Mr. Mills
addressed the people while standing around the grave.
No event has ever occurred in this vicinity, which has been so extensively felt, and which has
caused so much weeping and lamentation. Four blooming youth who were sprightly and active,
amiable and virtuous, and universally beloved and respected, at an unexpected moment were
ushered into eternity!
The distressing event above narrated is a solemn memento to all the living, that they too must
die, and that there may be but a step between them and death.
Just about everyone in Millbury is familiar with the mural in our post office. It was painted in 1940 by Joe Lasker, and he returned to refurbish it in 1998. Joe recently passed away, and here is his obituary recently published in the NY Times:
Joe Lasker was the last living member of the 48 prominent realists - including Edward Hopper, John Sloan and Raphael Soyer--who wrote for Reality, the mid-Fifties polemical journal that argued against non-representational art.
He died December 3, 2015 at age 96 of congestive heart failure in Norwalk, CT.
"I feel that much of American art of the last 60 years has something missing, namely narrative," Lasker said in an interview. "Without narrative there would be little left of the art of the Old Masters, of 20th-century expressionism and surrealism. There would be no Guernica by Picasso."
Joseph Leon Lasker was born in New York in 1919 to Romanian immigrants. In high school, he entered the painting competition of the Treasury Department's Fine Art Section and won commissions for still-extant murals in the Calumet, MI, and Millbury, MA, post offices.
At night, he studied at, and graduated from, Cooper Union art school. In WWII he served in the 1147th Engineer Combat Group.
Joe Lasker's Subject Matter for Our Post Office
If Indians sometimes faded into the past, at other times they were violently overcome. An Indian-related subject that proved popular with audiences and unpopular with the Section of Fine Arts was conflict. The Section repeatedly expressed reservations about depicting Indian-White conflicts and stated that the Department of the Interior objected to these and other representations of “general unfriendly relations”. Edward Rowan was even more direct in a letter to artist Louis Bouche, stating categorically that “massacres are out” and claiming that the Section had no interest “in taking part in continuing or abetting any racial prejudices” (Melosh 1991, 41).
For his mural “An Incident in King Philip’s War, 1670 in Millbury, Massachusetts” (Fig. 7), artist Joe Lasker
preemptively assured Rowan that he had no plans for a “bloody, unsightly picture” but that he intended to treat his chosen subject “in a decorative muralesque manner” (1940).
He first submitted mural designs for the Social Security Building and St. Louis post office mural competitions, but only received honorable mentions. On the strength of these submissions, he was offered the commission for the mural in the Millbury, Massachusetts post office for the amount of $800
In order to come up with appropriate subject matter for the mural, Lasker conducted research in the New York Public Library and chose a scene from the 1675-6 King Philip’s War in Massachusetts because it was dramatic and offered numerous pictorial possibilities. As expressed in a letter to scholars Marlene Park and Gerald Markowitz, he “just couldn’t get excited about onion farming for Millbury”
King Philip was the English name for Metacomet, the son of Massasoit and brother of Wamsutta, who became Grand Sachem of the Wampanoag after Wamsutta’s death in 1662. Originally, the Wampanoag and the English Colonists coexisted in uneasy peace. However, increasing colonial expansion led to escalating tensions. In 1675 the situation boiled over upon the murder of the Christianized or “Praying” Indian John Sassamon, a translator and advisor to Metacomet.
After he reportedly informed Plymouth Colony officials that Metacomet was arranging Indian attacks on colonial settlements, he was allegedly murdered by three Wampanoag. The three were arrested and hanged. In retaliation, a band of Pokanoket attacked several homesteads in Plymouth Colony on June 20, 1675. The war spread quickly and eventually the Nipmuc, Podunc, Narragansett and Nashaway were all involved, fighting the New England Confederation and their allies, the Mohegan and Pequot.
By the spring of 1676, after many victories on both sides, the conflict became a war of attrition. Metacomet was shot and killed in August, 1676, leading to the surrender of the Indian forces. He was beheaded, and his head was displayed on spike in Plymouth for over 20 years
For his mural design, Joe Lasker chose a particular incident that happened in the vicinity of Millbury.
In 1675, at the start of King Phillip’s (the Indian Sachem) war against the early settlers, a band of mounted
English Colonists under the command of Captains Hutchins and Wheeler, were ambushed and attacked by about two hundred Nipmuc Indians, the aboriginal inhabitants of what is now Worcester County and surrounding vicinity. As a result, eight of the white soldiers were killed. This clash took place in the neighborhood of where Millbury now stands.
Lasker refers Rowan to the historical volumes he referenced for this material, including one containing thepersonal report of the Captains Hutchins and Wheeler. Rowan expressed his approval and his relief that Lasker intended to portray the scene tastefully, and urged him to consult local authorities on Indian attire (1940).
In his response, Lasker notes that the Millbury Postmaster had not been able to offer any advice or refer him to anyone in town qualified to provide input on the mural and its subjects, costumes and other details. However, he assures Rowan that the mural “will be accurate in its technical aspects, more so than the color sketch” (1941).
While his commitment to textual research for historical accuracy is commendable, Joe Lasker never actually visited Millbury until he installed the mural in 1941. Instead, he painted it on canvas in his Manhattan studio, rolled it up and shipped it to Millbury. He then made his first visit to the town and installed the mural in one day with the assistance of the post office janitor. Additionally, no explanation is given for the mural’s titular reference to an incident in 1670 when the war did not start until 1675, a fact clearly known by the artist and referenced in his December 1940 letter to Edward Rowan.
The resulting mural shows five Indians in battle with three colonists, and a fourth is implied by a riderless horse. Lasker used vivid colors of yellow in clothing, blue in a colonist’s flowing cape, and red in saddle blankets, Indians’ roach hairpieces, and what appears to be blood on the ground under a fallen Indian. The colors are striking and the energy of the mural is frenetic, with horses and people moving in all directions. In fact, Lasker consulted the New York libraries and researched as many examples as he could find of battles on horseback by artists including Leonardo, Rubens, Delacroix, and the Napoleonic painters (Park and Markowitz He discovered that all these paintings had a “formula” to their composition, and he used that same formula to compose the Millbury mural. An added signature on the mural notes that it was restored, at least partially, in 1991.
Mr. Granish Comes to Millbury!
Driving Alone! At the Age of
In January of 2013, The Millbury Historical Society
received a generous donation of military artifacts from
Mr. Harold Granish of Dunwoody, GA.
These obviously very old items belonged to his
deceased wife's family whose ancestors hailed from
A military expert proclaimed the artifacts (a shako, a
saber, an epaulette, a belt and its buckle/shield) to be
one collection from the Millbury Light Infantry and said
they were in remarkably good shape for items almost
two-hundred years old.
The Millbury Historical Society heartily thanked Mr.
Granish, eighty-nine, for his donation and invited him to
stop in to Millbury if he should ever be up this way.
Well, recently, Mr. Granish, now ninety, did just that! He
drove up alone in his brand new Buick Lacrosse to
Syracuse, NY for his sister’s funeral and thought that
“while he was in the area,” he would make a side trip to
He visited the Museum of the Millbury Historical Society
and was delighted to see the display of his military
artifacts! You can do the same by stopping into the
P.S. Mr. Granish also owns a 2008 red Mazda Miata
convertible, but that stayed in Georgia!