Miss Sanderson’s Class at Village Hall

Originally published in the Spring 1985 Framingham Historical & Natural History Society Newsletter by Steve Herring

Village Hall daguerreotype

This is the earliest known photograph showing Framingham’s Village Hall. This photo shows Miss Lucy Sanderson and her class posing in front of the columns at one end of Village Hall about 1855.

The original of this photo is a daguerreotype, the early photographic method where a negative image on glass is mounted in a case where, when viewed from the proper angle, a positive image can be seen. This is an unusual daguerreotype for its size and subject. It is an outdoor view, rather than the usual studio portrait, and twice the size of most daguerreotypes.

In 1855 the Village Hall was serving many town functions. In addition to the offices of town government, it housed the library, the Centre district school, and its basement was home for the Fire Department’s handtub. The building was 20 years old then. In 2016 we observed its 182nd anniversary.

Miss Sanderson taught in Framingham district schools from 1850 to 1858, and at the Centre District (#1) from 1852 to 1856. She was the adopted daughter of George Bullard (1798-1868) who was Town Treasurer at the time. In 1858 Miss Sanderson married William O. Cogswell of New Salem, N.H. For reasons unknown to us, she died a year later at the age of 26.

The children are not identified. Except for the odd style of their clothes and some extremely close haircuts, they could be children of today. There are probably many residents of Framingham today who great and great-great grandparents are in this picture.

Mr. Danforth’s Farms Becomes the Town of Framingham

From Temple, History of Framingham, 1640-1880. Framingham, 1887 (adapted, Oct. 1958)

“My father says we’re going to be made a real town.” Henry Rice was watching the water pour over the falls of the Sudbury River where the wheel of the grist mill was busily turning.town seal, dark

Peter Bent tossed a small branch into the water and the two boys watched it sweep over the edge of the falls in the rushing current. It was the year 1693. “Yes,” he said, “I heard my father talking about it, too. He says a letter has been written to the governor. The court is meeting in Boston now and they hope the letter will be read.”

The two boys had been given the special treat of going with the men to John Stone’s mill while a new supply of flour was ground. Inside the mill, the men were talking about the same thing while the miller poured sacks of grain into the opening between the heavy grinding stones.

“We’ll never become a town this time,” said Mr. Bent. “Why not?” asked the miller.

“I hear Mr. Danforth does not approve of the plan. You know how important he is. If he says he doesn’t like it, the court will not give us permission to be a town this time. We’ll have to try again.” Mr. Bent spoke as if he would not give up.

Sure enough, the Governor, Sir William Phips, and the General Court did not approve the plan. But as Mr. Bent suggested, they did try again. In fact, in the next few years these people kept many men and horses busy delivering letters back and forth from Boston to the people who wanted to become a town.

In the year 1700, Peter Bent and Henry Rice met again at the grist mill. Now instead of coming with their fathers they were grown up and could bring the family grain by themselves.

“Well done!” said Peter.

“We finally convinced the governor!” exclaimed Henry.

They were talking about the letter that had won the farms at Framingham the right to be an incorporated town.

“I think the part about our not having a church of their own made them decide,” Peter said.

“It has been very hard to attend church in other communities. Sometimes when the weather is bad we cannot go at all, it is so far,” Henry added.06_01_005329

“We need a Meetinghouse badly and now we will be able to collect money and build one. Being a town gives us the right to do this.” The miller joined the two young men and added his thoughts on becoming a town.

“Being an incorporated town will give us the right to do many other things,” reminded Peter. “We will be able to get together and make rules that everyone will have to follow. We can have a school for our children, too.”

The two men, Peter Bent and Henry Rice, picked up their sacks of flour, said goodbye to the miller and set off for their homes. They were all very pleased that the court had finally ordered the farms or Plantation of Framingham to be a Township and enjoy all the privileges of a town. That very summer they had their first town meeting and began to take care of the business of a real town.


I Remember Framingham… South Framingham in the 1870s

By William L. Washburn — From an article in the Framingham News, May 12, 1933

Map of South Framingham 1875

I was twelve years old when my father moved from Worcester to South Framingham. This was in 1874.

We first occupied the Twitchell residence on Waverly Street. To me it was a fascinating place. Mr. Twitchell’s brother in the far west has sent him a number of animals, so in the back yard was wat might be called a small menagerie. In cages were two foxes, prairie dogs, a badger, and grazing at a rope’s end a young buffalo. A peacock had the run of the yard. The buffalo nearly got me once when I ventured too near it.

In the stable nearby Mr. Twitchell kept his race horses. “George H. Patchen” was one of them, a fine horse and fast. Mr. Woodward, who lived near, was the trainer.

In a little shop in the yard a young man named Sennott worked as a wheelwright. Opposite, on a side street, was a blacksmith shop and next to that the Volunteer Fire Company’s Hall, where was kept the hand engine. Fires in the village were rare. Once, at a midnight fire under the roof of Waverly Block, I was allowed to assist at the engine along with a dozen others, working the levers up and down. Water was drawn from a hogshead kept full from the railroad’s standpipe.

Framingham Centre was more aristocratic, with its bank, library, fine residences and shady streets. The south village, being the crossing point of two railroads, had a number of industries and, to my mind, a boy could have more fun there. Many citizens from both places had business in Boston, going in on the morning trains and returning at night to the quiet of their homes. An old-time stage coach ran between the two places.

centre common postcard

The railroad station was always a busy place. Engines and tenders were beautifully decorated in gold and colors and bore names of prominent officials of the road. Pride was take in making the brass work shine like gold. Many a boy made a hobby of collecting names of engines just as boys collect postage stamps now. I had a secret ambition to ride on an engine and courted the favor of an engineer until the day I was allowed to ride as far as Farm Pond and back, sitting on the fireman’s seat and ringing the bell all the way.

In the station itself was a lunch counter presided over by Gus White and Jeff Hawkes. One of the things that served to put South Framingham on the map was the extra-large doughnuts sold there. They were made across the street at the hotel and almost made a whole meal for 5 cents. The station agent for several years was a tall red-whiskered Scot named Fox. He had a prejudice against allowing us boys to sell pond lilies to passengers and it took all our ingenuity to circumvent him. After getting up at five o’clock in the morning and making a raid to Nobscot Pond we had no desire to have the fruits of our enterprise left in our hands.

Older citizens will no doubt remember Jerry Casey, the flagmen at the crossing. He was a good natured Irishman who took his work seriously, as well he might, and reckless boys who tried to beat the approaching trains were scolded in choice brogue. All but two of the passenger trains stopped at the station. The exceptions were the crack expresses to and from Albany; magnificent trains with parlor cars and smart porters. They went through in a whirl of dust with Jerry on the job to see that nobody was hurt. I shall never forget the day in 1875 when the crepe-decorated funeral train taking the remains of Vice President Henry Wilson passed through en route to Natick.


There were no Italians or French Canadians living in town. At least I never knew of any. Railroad track hands were mostly Irish and received a dollar a day in wages.

The largest store in town was owned by Willard Howe who was also postmaster, located in Nobscot Block. It was a typical country store stocked with groceries, boots, shoes, dry goods, and hardware. In the front was the post office and after each mail there was the usual gossiping crowd.

Next to Mr. Howe’s, in the same block, was Dr. Rice’s drug store. Here was a branch of the public library. Selections of books came down from the Centre twice a week. Isaac Lombard was the other druggist, next to Waverly Block. He had a fine circulating library and boys feasted on those splendid books written by Elijah Kellogg, J.T. Trowbridge, Horatio Alger, Harry Castleman, and W.H. Thomas. For the girls were the works of Mary J. Holmes, Mrs. Southworth, E.P. Roe, and others.

Opposite Nobscot Block was Nelson Oaks’ grocery which occupied an extension of the South Framingham hotel building. Fred Oaks, his brother, was clerk; a tall, be-whiskered man who was a favorite with the customers.

Ginery [Simeon] Twitchell, besides keeping the hotel had many other interests. He had a farm out on the Holliston Road, a livery stable, and was one of the leading men of the village. Dan J. Conney had charge of the livery in the rear of the hotel, but later built his own stable across the tracks on Waverly Street. Dan was a clever Irishman and a general favorite. I owe my first horseback ride to him. I galloped back and forth on a country road for an hour and then proudly rode by my home only to be ordered by a frightened mother to take the horse right back to the stable!

Leading men of the village had club rooms in Nobscot Block where they met to play pool, whist or euchre. Poker was more of a southern game, and bridge unheard of. During the holidays they would have turkey raffles.

The Middlesex South Cattle Show always drew a big crowd. There was horse racing and exhibits of all kinds.

Starting with straw hats, the village industries grew from year to year. The Barbers had a fine straw shop as did he Richardson family. Girls from as far north as Maine would flock to town during the manufacturing season and earn good money. Mr. Eames, in Union Block, made wagons. Upstairs were the Gazette office and the J.C. Clark Printing Co. I hung around the Gazette office until Editor Vincent allowed me to learn “the case” and Foreman Davis, who was my Sunday school teacher, let me run the job press.

There was a picnic grove [Harmony Grove] that edged on Farm Pond that attracted excursions from other points. Mr. Stearns had the boating privilege, and I spent a good deal of time there rowing and sailing.farm pond

I wonder if the old swimming hole is still there, down the bank behind the round house? Those were the happy days when we raced each other swimming across the pong with a boat following us to pick up the exhausted. In all I spent four happy years in the village.


Genealogy of the Framingham Church

Genealogy of the Framingham Church

Originally published in the Winter 1983 Framingham Historical & Natural History Society Newsletter by Steve Herring

This chart is presented as an overview of the development of the Framingham Church from the erection of the First Meeting House in 1698 to the two 20th century buildings now standing at the north end of the Centre common.

Hopefully, this chart will help explain why two churches of different denominations claim to be the original church, established in 1701, as seen on their sign boards.

No pictures or drawings exist to tell us what the first and second meeting houses looked like. But we know that certain styles existed and were followed throughout New England in colonial times. Therefore, using what narrative description of these two buildings which we have, the chart shows conjectural renderings. The drawing of the first meeting house is based on the West Springfield meeting house built only four years after the Framingham meeting house.

We know that the second meeting house had three stories, a popular style after 1710. The chart shows the Bridgewater meeting house, built four years before the second Framingham meeting house.

With the exception of the first meeting house, all the buildings were or are located in the general area to the north and east of the Centre Common. The first meeting house was located in the Old Burying Ground cemetery on Main Street, about one-half mile to the southeast.

In 1830 the church was split into two groups over a doctrinal disagreement. This was a time of religious pluralism, concurrent with the official separation of church and state, and the exercise of religious freedom as guaranteed by the Constitution. In Framingham, the Baptists and Methodists had already established their own churches by this time. The split of the original church into “Unitarian” and “Trinitarian” groups was being repeated in many New England towns.

The Unitarians retained the church edifice while the Trinitarians retained the minister, Rev. David Kellogg, and moved across the street. The Unitarians have become a Unitarian-Universalist denomination, calling their church, THE FIRST PARISH IN FRAMINGHAM. The Trinitarians became a Congregational denomination, and more recently the United Church of Christ. They called their church the Hollis Evangelical Society, changed in 1899 to THE PLYMOUTH CHURCH.

A Framingham Poet Comes to Light

Originally published in the Fall 1982 Framingham Historical & Natural History Society Newsletter

Edna Dean Proctor was born in Henniker, New Hampshire on September 18, 1829. After schooling she became a Edna-Dean-Proctor-1teacher and it was in Brooklyn that her writing career began in the mid-1850s. Her first book of poems was published in 1865 and the last collection of her works published during her lifetime was in 1916.

In 1885 Miss Proctor moved to Framingham and lived with her sister, Mrs. C. W. Coolidge. For the Framingham Bicentennial celebration in 1900 she wrote the following poem.


Fair to the Red Man, was Framingham

When deer were plenty, and salmon swam

By Merrimack west to Sudbury River

And the books that wind where the tall reeds quiver –


Up from the sea to the lakes that lie

Pleasant and cool the pine woods by;

When the bowery streams were the beaver’s right,

And the blue was the eagle’s sunward flight,

And only the wind, or the wolf, or the loon,

Broke the slice at night or noon.

Ah well! Not hunter, nor chief, nor maid,

Is left by the falls or the forest glade;

Their weirs, their cornfields, their paths, their graves,Edna Dean Proctor at 94

Are gone from the meadows the river laves,

Yet Waushakum, Cochituate, Nobscot Hill,

Speak of their old Dominion still!


A resolute, reverent race were they

Who up from the coast-line made their way

To the Woods and meads of Cochituate –

Strong of purpose and stern as fate.

For present good and for future bliss –

An eye to both worlds – they wrought in this,

Building the meeting-house, bridging the ford,

Fighting the Indians and fearing the Lord.

And bitter the deeps they sometimes crossed;

‘Imprimis – a wife and nine children lost,

Murdered and captured, the record ran

Of Thomas Eames when the town began,

And fair Mount Wayte, with its Christian fame,

Heard the war-whoop and saw the flame.


Yet the hamlets here the wilderness

Were a refuge to those in storm and stress.

Rough was the road to Salem then,

But hunted women and helpless men

Fled through the forest’s darksome door

From the witchcraft horror that swayed the shore,

And Salem End was a nook of peace

Where from courts and prisons they found release.

Edna Dean Proctor

Good Parson Swift, on the sunny swell

Where stood his meeting-house, slumbers well;

Yet they say, at midnight who ventures there

May hear his voice, in appeal or prayer,

Ring out as it did when the dead and he

Were parish and preacher, anciently,

And a psalm float by; – but the sounds they hear

Are the sighs of the wind in a dreaming ear,

For pastor and flock on the sunny swell

Where stood the first meeting-house slumber well.


And now two hundred years have fled;

But the men of Framingham, living and dead

Have been true to country and state and town

Winning, in war and peace, renown;

And her sons in Manila and Cuba, still

Are brave as the soldiers of Bunker Hill;

And her daughters as loyal, through weal and woe,

As the wives and mothers long ago.


Fairer and nobler is Framingham

Than in far-off days when the salmon swam

Up from the sea to the lakes that lie

Pleasant and cool the pine-woods by;

For the toil of two centuries makes, at their close,

The wilderness bloom and rejoice as the rose;

With the fortunate ‘South’ to a city growing,

And traffic and life through its highways flowing;

With the ‘Centre’ charming in lawns and leas,

For homes and river and stately trees;

With busy, beautiful Saxonville,

Queen of the falls, the lake, the mill –


A region of loveliness’ thrift and cheer

Is the town in its bright two hundredth year!

And while Cochituate mirrors the sky

And over Waushakum the west wind sign –

While her churches rise and her hearth-fires glow,

In strength and honor may Framingham grow,

And forever, the Bay State’s diadem,

With virtue, and valor, and beauty, gem!

Preparing for a Fall Fashion Exhibit

By Kathryn Khanwalkar, FHC Costume Collection Manager

May 26, 2016

Katie Khanwalker

Kathryn Khanwalkar, Textile Collection Manager

The FHC has amassed a large costume/textile collection over the years and I’ve been working on an exhaustive audit of these pieces to determine their provenance and condition.  As I review each object (over 600 so far…) I ask what it reveals to us about the people who owned it or made it. How many hands did it pass through on its journey to our collection and what function did it fulfill?  What was the significance that deemed it worthy of heirloom status and eventually a place in our collection? Investigating each piece in this way reveals details about the collection as a whole and about the people who made Framingham their home.

Shattered Silk… 

As we assess the condition of each object, we consider its potential for exhibition. Is the object ready to meet the day-to-day physical challenges of an exhibition such as gravity, vibrations from foot traffic, and exposure to light?  Have the agents of deterioration managed to obscure the original appearance of the object? For example, textiles made from luxurious silk, which were weighted in the manufacturing process with metallic salts, often succumb to an interesting type of decay known as “shattering”. These salts, which give the fabric its luster and heft, are the same agents that lead to its decay. The dehydrating action of the salt causes the garment to stiffen and become brittle and the sharp edges of the crystalline structures sever the fragile fibers. Eventually, larger angular fractures are formed which present an appearance similar to broken glass.


Example of shattered silk — not from FHC Collection

Preserving and caring for objects requires space and special resources. The climate should be monitored and sustained for optimal temperature and humidity.  Storage solutions should mitigate the effects of gravity and light exposure and handling should be kept to a minimum.  With all of these considerations, storage solutions end up being as varied as the objects themselves. Some of the recent upgrades to our collection storage include; the purchase of a new 7-foot rack to accommodate our teagown collection and 50 padded hangers that were produced in one afternoon by our wonderful volunteers in an old fashioned sewing bee! Additionally, local Framingham upholsterer and seamstress, Barbara Gatlin, has been working with us to create twill tape waist supports which will reinforce the waistbands and redistribute the weight of our heavier gowns.

Proper care for a collection is indeed an intensive undertaking that requires many resources and a lot of collaboration. A collection cannot amass beyond the museum’s ability to care for each artifact. Sometimes an object has limited exhibit potential and its place in the collection is no longer justified. Deaccessioning such objects allows us to allocate our time, space and resources to those objects that are most significant to the history of Framingham  enabling us to tell Framingham’s story in the most meaningful and accurate manner. Occasionally, we come across an object that has an exceptional story to tell, but it’s condition prevents us from being able to put it to work. In such instances, conservation treatment, although an expensive endeavor, is a justified necessity!