Curator’s Quarters

Harvard Historical Society Blogs

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 – 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, “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