The Haunted Beach – and the Pirate’s Buried Treasure

(Learned Pond Beach at the intersection of Brigham Road and Shawmut Terrace)

 learned pondMany New England towns claim to have treasure hidden in secret places by the famed pirate Captain William Kidd.  Framingham not only makes the same claim, but also boasts a legend and a poem written by a local writer of romantic novels and flowery verse.  In 1897, Main Street resident Clara Augusta Trask published the Legend of Learned’s Pond, detailing the sinking of a chest of gold by the notorious Kidd. According to the legend, if you want to recover the treasure, all you have to do is come back here late at night with two other people, form a triangle with your bodies, then, in perfect silence, after moving in a straight line towards the chest as it rises from the water, lay an iron key on it.   But, the task is only for the strong of heart, for

Captain Kidd, who sailed and sailed, and spied three ships from Spain

Is watching still his treasures hid on land and on the main,

And if you break the magic spell laid on this chest of gold

The pirate’s ghost will drag you down in Learned’s waters cold.

Framingham does lay claim to one pirate, Joseph Bradish, who was born near Sudbury in 1672.  At age 26, Bradish found himself a Pirate captain of the ship Adventure after the crew mutinied off the island of Borneo. Bradish sailed the ship back to New England where its valuables were sold and the ship was scuttled.  The law finally caught up with Bradish and he was thrown in jail in Boston in April, 1699.  In true pirate fashion he escaped with the help of his cousin, who was the jailer, his cousin’s beautiful maid, and his one-eyed companion Tee Witherly.  The trio was caught near Saco, Maine and returned to Boston.  There Bradish’s cellmate was the legendary Captain Kidd, which may explain how the Learned’s Pond legend  came about.  Bothe men were brought to London to meet their fate, death by hanging.

The tale of Edgell Grove Cemetery, Grove Street, Framingham

Edgell Grove Cem

Entrance to Edgell Grove Cemetery c. 1905

The cemetery was built on land once owned by Colonel Moses Edgell, who gave thousands of dollars for the construction of the cemetery’s memorial chapel. It was laid out as a “garden cemetery,” modeled after Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge.  Garden cemeteries were lavishly landscaped and designed to provide a peaceful resting place for the dead, as well as a contemplative setting for mourners.  The story of one such mourner appeared in the Framingham Gazette in December of 1891 under the headline:

A sad, uncommon story is that of the death of Elbert Hemenway and Elven, his brother.

Elbert, the younger brother had passed away at the age of 73.  Several days later, brother Elven, his wife by his side, was driving the family carriage to the Hemenway plot in Edgell Grove for the burial.  Without warning, he gasped, dropped the reigns, and fell back in his seat, dead.  The first person to respond to Mrs. Hemenway’s anguished cries was Mr. Thomas, the undertaker, who was waiting at the grave for the arrival of the mourners.  Elven was loaded onto the same wagon that had just brought his brother to his own grave, and transported to the undertaker’s. There are those who say that the unfortunate Mr. Hemenway can still be seen on these roads, desperately driving his ghostly carriage in an attempt to make it to his beloved brother’s funeral.

Curator Job Description

Founded in 1888, the Framingham History Center is a dynamic organization with significant community participation in its programming, collecting and preservation efforts.  Its mission is to preserve and share Framingham’s history in order to encourage connection to community.  The organization oversees a campus of three historic buildings on the town’s Centre Common which contain permanent and revolving exhibitions as well as a banquet facility.  These buildings and the vast collection of historical objects, material culture, and archives dating back to the 1600s that are housed within, drive monthly programs and preservation efforts.

The Framingham History Center is seeking a part-time (20hrs/week) Curator.  The Curator will take the lead in completing a collections management plan that currently includes an extensive survey of over 18,000 museum-quality items. This plan will present new guidelines for acquiring, caring for and disposing of objects. The Curator will have overall responsibility for managing the FHC’s collections including all aspects of collections care, processing, interpretation, cataloguing and research.  They will be a part of a team that creates annual revolving exhibits as well as updates to the permanent exhibit currently located on three floors of a former Academy building. The Curator will work with the Executive Director on grant submissions to support these exhibitions.  In addition to overseeing an active Collections Committee, the Curator will manage interns, collections volunteers, and contribute regularly to the FHC’s e-news, and biannual newsletter.

Requirements:  Masters degree and at least one year of applicable experience.  Knowledge of principles and practices of collections management; Past Perfect experience as well as excellent research, writing, interpersonal, and organizational skills required. Send cover letter, resume, brief writing sample [limit 5 pages], and three professional references to:  Annie Murphy,

Welcome to Dennison Manufacturing Co. – Book Review


Martha Davidson
Framingham History Center Librarian


For over a century the Dennison Manufacturing Company was the chief supplier of paper specialties in the United States and the world and for ninety years its manufacturing headquarters were in Framingham, Massachusetts.  As the leading employer in the region Dennison was important to thousands of families, and the enlightened labor practices of its president, Henry S. Dennison, his U.S. government appointments and numerous lectures and books, made him a nationally recognized industrial figure.

In the vividly illustrated book Welcome to Dennison, its History, Products, Programs, and People, authors Patricia Lavin and Laura Stagliola tell the Dennison story, from its beginnings in Maine when shoemaker Aaron Dennison first made cardboard jewelry boxes, to the death of his great grandson Henry S. in 1952.  It is a story of remarkable growth and ingenuity.  Andrew’s son Eliphalet Whorf Dennison had an eye for the unmet needs of businesses for good quality tags and labels and he was able to employ engineers to design machines to manufacture complicated shapes and structures.  Engineering expertise and inventiveness characterized the business until 1990 when it merged with Avery International Corp. and ceased to exist as an independent entity.

The book captures in full color the variety of products available to businesses and families, from merchandise tags and mailing labels to gift wrap, paper dolls and crepe paper costumes and flowers.  It also recounts the personnel policies that made Dennison famous – the first private unemployment fund in the United States, a system for rewarding employee suggestions, a credit union, and amenities such as an in-plant library, medical and dental clinics, and separate club houses for male and female employees.  The monthly Round Robin kept all members of the Dennison “family” informed of developments in the business.

The book was made possible because of the extensive Dennison archive that was moved to California with the Avery Dennison Corporation but returned to Framingham in 2013.  Much of the collection is housed at the Framingham History Center and much of it is still to be explored.  The authors hope that this book will inspire researchers to dig deeper into the archives and further develop the story of Dennison and its people from the 1840s through the many accomplishments of the later twentieth century.

Welcome to Dennison Manufacturing Co. – Book Review

Dennison-book-cover-frontPatricia Lavin’s and Laura Stagliola’s recently published book, “Welcome to the Dennison Manufacturing Company, Its History, Products, Programs and People” is a real treasure.  Richly illustrated, it tells the story of one of America’s great corporations, built in the true spirit of American exceptionalism – a company that flourished for almost one hundred and fifty years through ups and downs in the economy, and decades of technological growth, innovation, and change.

About the same time I began to read the book, I received a letter from a family member.  It was October and on the back of the envelope were three small decorative seals in orange and black, emblematic of Halloween, a pumpkin, a black cat and a bat!  Such products were first introduced in the early 1900’s by none other than Dennison. For me it was a poignant reminder of how deeply the Dennison legacy is embedded in American culture.  From the opening page, the reader is met with delightful color illustrations, gathered from the archival materials at the Framingham History Center.  The story of the Dennison family through several generations, from the founding father, Aaron to Henry S., who was a trusted advisor to President Roosevelt during the great depression, is a truly American story.

The combination of Ms. Lavin’s easy to read, narrative style of writing, coupled with Ms. Stagliola’s well chosen illustrations, provide the reader with a clear picture of the evolution of this iconic American corporation.  A good read all around!


Frederic A. Wallace
Framingham Town Historian

Mrs. Gordon’s Soft Gingerbread

Let’s travel back to Framingham Centre Common in 1835. With 10 days til Christmas, what yummy smells would be wafting from Mrs. Gordon’s boarding house on Central Street? The distinctive smell of gingerbread being made.

soft gingerbreadFrom the handwritten recipe book of Mrs. Gordon (General George H. Gordon’s mother):

Soft Gingerbread [ p. 1]

Six teacups of flour 3 of molasses 1 of cream 1 of butter
a spoonful of pea lash* and ginger to suit the taste

*probably pearl ash, a kind of fixed alkaline salt, prepared in various parts of Europe, and also in America, by melting and extracting the salts from the ashes of burnt vegetables.

Framingham Holiday Gift Ideas

Dennison, Pushing, Gordon

Holiday gifting can be tough, but we can get you started. In the past year, the Framingham History Center has published two new books and added several new items to our Museum Shop. From books to beer glasses to pins for your favorite Suffragette, there is a gift for everyone with a Framingham connection.

Stop in the Edgell Memorial Library at 3 Oak Street Monday through Friday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm to pick up your gifts now through December 23rd or visit our online Museum Shop.

“WELCOME to Dennison Manufacturing Co.”  $30.00

The Dennison Mfg. Company comes to life with over 250 illustrations and a very approachable evolution of the company’s five founding products – boxes, tags, labels, crepe paper and sealing wax. Published by the Framingham History Center, 2015, 122pp.

“Pushing for Cushing in War and Peace”  $15.95

Framingham’s Town Historian, Fred Wallace, presents his latest work, Pushing for Cushing In War and Peace. A History of Cushing Hospital: 1943-1991, Framingham, Massachusetts. Published by Damianos Publishing, 2015, 87pp.

“A Most Rash but Magnificent Charge: The Story of General George H. Gordon and his Brigade at the Battle of Antietam”  $15.00

 Fred Wallace contributes a sequel to his first work on General George H. Gordon that uncovers a critical piece of the General’s Civil War story. Published by Damianos Publishing, 2014, 68pp.