Curator’s Quarters

Harvard Historical Society Blogs


Two Harvard traditions combined, a drawing by Jan Streeter Fowke and a wonderful Harvard barn. This barn shows how the clever farmers adapted to the hills of New England. This barn is not on the barn tour, but come see how others managed their barn building. The ๐Ÿ‚๐Ÿ‚BARN TO BARN TOUR๐Ÿ‚๐Ÿ‚ is September 28th. Details at www.harvardhistory.org. ๐Ÿ˜„ –get your tickets now. Questions? email curator@harvardhistory.org. Tickets can also be picked up or purchased Sat. Sept 21 10 AM-12 Noon at HHS, 215 Still River Rd, Still River, Ma.,
or Monday Sept. 23 6-8 PM at HHS Still River Rd, Still River, Ma.
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August 7, 2019 – Harvard Clubs – Harvard Women’s Club

August 07, 2019 – A Bygone Era – 1960’s Harvard

August 02, 2019 – Harvard Places – Harvard General Store

When the General Store was “Harvard’s shopping center” according to the ad, and sold appliances, gasoline, garden tools, toys, clothing, window glass, and more. (1957 ad)

July 07, 2019 – Harvard Events – The Circus

The Mills Bros. Circus performed in Harvard on July 23, 1966 on the field across the street from the old Goat Farm on Lancaster County Rd. The Mills Bros. Circus was owed by brothers Jake, Jack and Harry Mills who all had a background in the circus industry. The brothers purchased the Richard Bros. Circus and on April 20, 1940 the Mill Bros. Circus opened in Tallulah, La., the show ran continuously until 1966. The show was a mid-sized truck show and toured the Eastern and Mid West United States. The circus developed a wonderful reputation with the public and it’s employees alike.

The circus carried a large, clean and appealing cookhouse on the show. The Mills took a great deal of pride in their cookhouse and visiting showpeople were always invited to have a meal.

During the first half of the the 20 century there were many smaller “grift shows” on the road, which gave the industry a bad name and cause many patrons to be sceptical of all circuses. The Mills brothers pioneered using local sponsors (civic and fraternal organizations), to sell tickets and promote the show before it’s arrival. The sponsoring organization received a percentage of the ticket sales, and many became dependant on the circus as an annual fund raiser. Buying tickets from local people and organizations reassured the public and bolstered the credibility of the circus’ name. The use of sponsors was very successful and soon most circuses adopted this system.

In 1966 the circus was sold to Sid Kellner who started the James Bros. Circus. Jack Mills Died July 20, 1974.

Info from http://www.circusesandsideshows.com/circuses/millsbroscircus.html

July 07, 2019 – Harvard Events – The Suffrage Debate

The first efforts  to empower women to hold town office and vote in town elections  centered on the school and library committees in Harvard and in Massachusetts in general. Despite votes against  ‘municipal suffrage”,
the influence of women in town affairs continued to increase  during the closing years of the nineteenth century.  A few women held town offices before 1883, despite the fact that a proposal to give women the right to hold office had been dismissed at an earlier town meeting.  In 1895 another proposal for granting women the right to vote in municipal elections in addition to holding office was voted down.  Despite these defeats women continued to serve on the library and school committees and had a role in settling a dispute over the location of the new (Bellevue) cemetery.
Full voting privileges for women were only granted with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1920.
Information from Directions of a Town, by Robert C. Anderson. Posters from the archives at the HHS.

June 27, 2019 – Harvard Miscellaneous – Eagle Scout project

Check this out! A wonderful Eagle Scout project by Westborough scout Olivier Whelan about the various musical instruments in Massachusetts historical societies including Harvard’s. http://instrumentaleagle.org/harvard-historical-society/

– June 18, 2019 – Events – Turner Family Journals – Thursday, June 20, 2019 7:00 PM – 215 Still River Rd, Still River Ma

June 15, 2019 – Harvard Schools – Bromfield Cheerleader Uniform

We recently received a wonderful donation including, a cheerleader’s uniform, from the family of the late Susan (Burdick) (Nogler) Podzycky. Here’s a picture from the 1960 yearbook, also in the donation. Sue is standing third from left in back. The yearbook says “these girls participated in practicing three times a week in order to perfect their cheers.”

May 18, 2019 – Events – Relocating History – Preserving The Great Elms Barn – Thursday, May 23 – 215 Still River Rd, Still River, Ma

From the archives
The House and Barn at Great Elms offered for sale
17 room main house, 137 acres, barn with 16 stalls, 2 guest cottages, and 2 garages,
unfortunately no date on this clipping. Please join us at the Harvard Historical Society, Thursday, May 23, 2019 at 7:00 PM for a presentation from barn owner Will Stevenson, who will discuss the journey to disassemble, move and rebuild The Great Elms Barn in its new location. The Harvard Historical Society is proud to present Relocation History – The Preserving the Great Elms Barn as part of Freedom’s Way’s Hidden Treasures.

May 14, 2019 – Harvard Places – Eastview Conservation Land

Fewer trees and more pasture. And on the other side of the stone wall, the Hildreth pasture in 1915 was home to some of Harvard’s many cows.

May 9, 2019 – Harvard Events – 100th Anniversary of Congregational Church in 1921

This photo was taken to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Congregational Church in 1921. Thanks to avid Facebook followers we have identified a few people. Small boy 4th seated in front row 4th from left is Henry Bulger, Anna (Bulger) Poutry is small girl seated 6th from left. Margarite Bulger is short woman standing in front of far left column. Possibly Dr. Royal seated front row 2nd from right. Do you recognize anyone? Email us at curator@harvardhistory.org.

May 6, 2019 – Harvard Events – Town Clean-up – Sept 28, 1972

May 01, 2019 – Harvard Places – 239 Stow Rd


This is a 1951 photo of 239 Stow Rd. The paper it’s pasted on says “in 1901 it had no front porch.” In 1901 the house was owned by Charles & Fannie Ripley. From 1947-1985, it was owned by Albert W. Rantoul.

April 23, 2019 – Harvard Miscellaneous –
Ross & McClaughlin Incubator


Ross and McLaughlin, a Harvard company, made incubators for poultry farmers to use for hatching eggs. McLaughlin had several other small businesses on Mill Road, including a saw mill.

April 23, 2019 – Harvard Places – Shaker North Family – Chickens


Harvard was home to many small (by today’s standards) poultry farms. This one was on Shaker Rd near the Ayer border and Rte 2A, at the old North Family Shaker House. It may have been after the Shakers left the North Family. The chickens may have been raised for eggs or meat. The North Family house is still there, but the barn is gone.

April 12, 2019 – People of Harvard – Arthur Bigelow – Bigelow’s Market


We recently got this picture of the Bigelow’s Market truck. The market was started in back of the Harvard Inn Building, 11 Fairbank St, by Albert Bigelow in the early 1900’s. In 1927 Arthur Bigelow joined his parents in the business. He soon bought a truck to replace the horse drawn delivery wagon, and took orders by phone, a real time saver, though they still worked 10-12 hours a day, 6 days a week.

April 1, 2019 – Harvard Places – The Bromfield School

An early photo of Bromfield looking from Pond Rd

A newspaper clipping about the opening of Old Bromfield in 1878. “Pupils will be fitted for the best colleges, and a specialty will be made of preparing young ladies for entrance to them.” The note at bottom of article mentioning that the brick was furnished by J.C. Richmond indicates that the brick was made in Still River, Ma. The article is probably from The Turner Public Spirit, but title and date headings were clipped.

March 14, 2019 – People of Harvard – Ezra Newton


This wonderful photo was recently donated to the HHS. The writing above the photo says “oldest and youngest Shaker.” According to Mike Volmar’s book, the oldest is Ezra Newton, (age 101) and seated next to him are Marshie Bullard and Ann Walker. The others are not identified. The picture was taken in 1895, when only the Church family was still open.

A little bit more about Ezra Newton on his 100th birthday –his picture was in our last posting. This is from the Fitchburg Sentinel, February 1895.

March 7, 2019 – Street Names of Harvard – Babbitt Lane


Sarah “Tabitha” Babbitt (December 9, 1779 โ€“ December 10, 1853) 
Sister (Sarah) Tabitha Babbitt is the most famous of the Babbitt family in Harvard.  Her father Seth donated his land to the Shakers when his  daughter Tabitha and her sister persuaded their father to “cast their lot with the Shaker community. (His former land became the Poor Farm)  Tabitha is credited with inventing the circular saw, false teeth,  a process for making nails by cutting them, and a new device to improve a spinning wheel. – March 7, 2019 –

March 7, 2019 – People of Harvard – Bromfield Classes of 1921-1924


When Eleanor Perry entered Bromfield as a Freshman in 1924, “the large room upstairs was the home room for all students. The boys sat on one side and the girls on the other. There was a sort of library and reference area in the center. The Principal’s desk was in front and also two rows of benches. Pupils had to be properly dressed. The boys were required to wear ties and either jackets or sweaters.” (From a talk given by Eleanor Perry at the Historical Society in either 1989 or 1990) – March 7, 2019 –

March 7, 2019 – Street Names of Harvard – Simon Atherton Lane

Simon Atherton
Simon Atherton was admitted, along with his sister Sylvia, into the Harvard Shakers at the age of 5.  He became one of the trusted leaders of the Harvard Shakers. Known as a wise and efficient manager, he was credited with building up the seed business. He served as trustee for 47 years.  Atherton borrowed the saying, โ€œA good name is better than richesโ€ and used it as his motto for the herb industry.

The Shaker day journals are filled with the entries “Simon goes to Boston.”  The quintessential Shaker businessman, he spent two days a week at the state capitol looking after the Shaker’s business interests.  He lodged at Boston’s Quincy house for many years and was regarded as a regular boarder.

By 1835 the herb industry in Harvard was a major business.
   To support the herb industry, the Harvard Shakers constructed  the Herb Drying House in 1848 and the Herb Barn in 1849. Efficient production, drying, and marketing of high-quality herbs resulted in worldwide sales of over 18 tons in 1855. -March 7, 2019 –

Information from “The Shaker Holy Land” by Ed Horgan, and “Shaker Lands, Shaker Hands” by S. M. Miller