Harvard Historical Society Blogs
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.
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
– 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
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
May 6, 2019 – Harvard Events – Town Clean-up – Sept 28, 1972
May 01, 2019 – Harvard Places – 239 Stow Rd
April 23, 2019 – Harvard Miscellaneous –
Ross & McClaughlin Incubator
April 23, 2019 – Harvard Places – Shaker North Family – Chickens
April 12, 2019 – People of Harvard – Arthur Bigelow – Bigelow’s Market
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
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 – 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 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, “A good name is better than riches” 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