Turner's Public Spirit,
A look back in time to a century ago
By Bob Oliphant
Center. Mrs. Peter Clement is ill with pneumonia at the home of her daughter in Lowell.
The many friends of Russell Furbush extend congratulations upon his recent marriage [to Kathlyn Cecelia Ward on Jan. 4, 1923].
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Blodgett entertained a number of their friends at their home in the north part of the town on Monday evening. Two sleighs, one from Graniteville and one from the Center, conveyed the guests to and from the party. Dancing, music and cards were enjoyed and during the evening refreshments were served. All report a very enjoyable time.
Motor transportation being out of the question just now, the school children are enjoying sleigh-rides to and from school.
The firemen held a turkey supper with all the fixings at the firehouse on Monday evening, which proved a very successful affair. Mrs. J. E. Knight prepared the excellent menu.
Warren Wright, who was obliged to have an arm amputated owing to injuries sustained while operating a circular saw, has returned to his home in South Chelmsford from the Lowell hospital and is doing as well as can be expected, although he has to make frequent visits to the hospital to have the injured member dressed. His many Westford friends will be pleased to learn that he is gaining each day.
Alfred W. Tuttle, R.F.D. mail carrier, who has been ill with pleurisy, is able to be back on his mail route again. Bertram Sutherland, who substituted for Mr. Tuttle, is still assisting on the route.
Skiing and snowshoeing are being enjoyed by many of the young people about town.
A roll call of members was held at the meeting of the Grange on last Thursday evening. Each member was supposed to respond in some way to their name, or pay a fine of five cents.
According to the club calendar the Tadmuck club will hold their regular meeting on next Tuesday afternoon, when a dollar day will be observed. The reception committee will be in charge of the club tea, Mrs. Julian Cameron, chairman, assisted by Mrs. William E. Wright, Mrs. Frederick Meyer and Mrs. W. R. Taylor.
Past Master Willard White of Ayer Grange, who installed the officers of Westford Grange, will install the officers of West Chelmsford Grange at Abbot’s hall, Brookside, next Thursday evening.
The Missionary society of the Congregational church met with Mrs. John Felch on Wednesday afternoon.
No services were held at the Unitarian church on last Sunday, but it is expected that the regular services will be held on Sunday.
The motor plow has done good work about town breaking the roads. Perley Wright is doing this work.
The J. C. Abbot and Cameron families took a large sleigh ride party to Forge Village on last Saturday evening to attend the motion pictures at Abbot’s hall.
The boys’ basketball team at the academy will go to Lowell this Friday evening to play the Lowell Vocational school team.
About Town. Our efficient game warden, Joseph Wall, has made an effort to attend to his duties in a humane way. He has urged people to feed the birds and he has gone to people interested in birds and given them grain to put out. If people would clear a place in the snow, put down some coal ashes and then put grain or hayseed down, the birds would come and eat it. Pieces of suet hung on trees also please them. We notice that the state game warden of New Hampshire has sent out special messages to feed the birds or they will die of starvation. We presume our Massachusetts game warden has issued similar statements. We have heard that Mrs. Joseph Blodgett and her household in the north part of the town have been putting out food for the birds and they report seeing as many as fifty birds enjoying it. We are glad to hear about this.
Word was received in town on last week Friday of the death of Thomas Greig at his home in Danvers. The funeral was held on Sunday afternoon. Mr. Greig was a brother of the late John Greig. Both were born in Dunfermline, Scotland, the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie. Mr. Greig was the last of his family. His wife died some time ago and four children have passed on. He is survived by a granddaughter and a grandson, of Danvers, and his nephew, David Greig, and niece, Mrs. Frank Drew. Mr. Greig had often visited here and only last fall made a visit at the Greig homestead. At that time he was ninety-one. In April of this year Mr. Greig would have reached the advanced age of ninety-two.
The carriers of the school children have had to face the unusual predicament of resorting to wood sleds and horses in order to transport the children. Some of the time it has been a lark to the children to have a sleighride. The drivers have done their best to keep up the morale of the school in trying times. Chelmsford had only a half-session on Monday and no further school that week. Westford lost only two days by the storm, which we think was quite remarkable considering the distance some of the children had to be carried. Tuesday and Wednesday were the only days that school did not keep last week. We think the teachers and scholars deserve credit for getting through the snow. Some of the children have quite a distance to walk before they get the school conveyance.
A party of about thirty-five of the employees of the Shaw Hosiery went on a sleighride last Saturday evening to “Alabama” farm, (The Alabama Farm at what is now 145 Littleton Road was a popular place to eat in the 1920s.) Westford. Supper, games and dancing were in order. The farm is on the state road, near Burnham’s Corner, and about a quarter mile east of Minot’s Corner.
Edward Clement is loading apples at Westford depot for Boston market. Such is the efficient clearing of the snow on the state road from Littleton by way of Nagog lake that there are only about three feet of snow on it on a level, and it is not proposed to make it less. There is a wide-spread feeling that as motor trucks have come to stay the snow must not come to stay.
I have been informed that there has been no ice cut in town yet and that the prospect for a nice ice famine is better than for a nice ice crop. But we haven’t got there yet and the winter has not got through yet, nor the season to demand nice ice got here yet. But for all this hopeful view the ice is not nice; it seems to be in independent layers with more or less air spaces, and to make bad condition no better, the present three feet of snow is acting as a honeycomb agent on the surface ice by its great depth and still greater heat. Scientists tell us that there is heat in a cake of ice, but we prefer when we have cold feet to warm them in the old-fashioned oven of the cooking stove, and the scientists and the other fellows can have our cake of ice.
And now comes to the rescue of the weather prophets the Indian who says “IF the cornhusks are extra thick and heavy the winter is going to be colder than the summer; if the husks are extra thin, barely covering the kernels, the summer will be warmer than the winter, and if the husks are just average, not thick or thin, you can depend on the winter being cold and the summer warm.” For reliable infallibility the Indian beats the skunks, the rest of us, the old Farmer’s Almanac and our dearly beloved Uncle Sam’s national weather bureau of flag signal distresses.
I was glad to learn through the columns of this paper last week, as well as from other sources, that Joe Wall our genial and efficient game warden, is still earning his unprecedented high salary of fifty dollars feeding the birds and offering to furnish grain to others. Would it be out of the way, Joseph, if you should wallow through the snow with a half ton of grain to feed the birds at the Old Oaken Bucket farm? If no birds were here we could feed it to the poultry. We are in no hurry about our answer, but we are in a dreadful hurry up for the grain.
On Tuesday the only “outfit” that passed the Old Oaken Bucket place was the two-horse sled with Arthur O’Brien and Harry Patterson taking some material from the Brookside mill to the one in Forge Village—a trip up and the return trip consisted the only passing on this road.
Motor traffic has stopped and sleds have been resorted to. Merry sleigh bells are once more coming into their own.
We understand that milk trucks are coming up to Arthur Burnham’s every day for milk from Lowell, and so the road has been cleared up to that point. The road from there to Westford Center is now being cleared well so that trucks with apples can go through to Boston by way of Lowell. The last time Perley Wright’s truck went to Boston was on Monday, January 8, the day the storm started, and it was six o’clock in the evening before Mr. Cornell, who drove it, reached Boston, so fierce did the storm rage after he started.
Efficient work has been done in the Stony Brook section of the town by men who have been assigned to certain roads—Arthur O’Brien, Ellis Cram, John Greig and their helpers. John Greig drove four beautiful black horses from the Greig homestead with plows attached to a big sled. A crew of men assisted in shoveling out some of the monster drifts.
In the death last week in Lowell of Dennis A. Murphy, we recall that his grandfather, Michael Murphy, was a resident of this town for many years, living on the farm on Tyngsboro road at the intersection with Forest road, about a mile northeast of Flushing [Pond]. The grandson served seven years in the house of representatives and six year as commissioner in the city government of Lowell. He was a most companionable and genial man and honest in his dealings with the state and city government of Lowell and his fellow men.
The weather does not seem to back up the goose bone of the skunk as reliable in forecasting the weather. We recall our own forecasting last autumn in substance that there would be hardly any rain or snow this winter because of so much rain during the summer. We had not heard then of the skunk’s infallibility for we have two skunks keeping house in the birch orchard that surrounds the henhouse and we could have whistled for them to come out and give us their weather forecast, but perhaps it was wiser not to whistle them out as they might give us a shower bath instead of a forecast.
There are twin calves at the old Capt. Peletiah Fletcher place on the Lowell road.
Many persons have asked, “Why corn pops?” A well known professor answers this simple question in a very simple way: “It is an explosion due to the expansion under pressure of moisture contained in the starch grains. Until this takes place this force is contained by the colloidal matrix in which the starch grains are imbedded. As a result of popping there is a hydrolysis of much of the starch, a loss of moisture and the obliteration of all cellular structures in the endosperm.”
Luther Burbank is trying to produce a seedless watermelon, but the Boston Globe believes he should exercise his great talent in developing a squirtless grapefruit or a boneless shad.
The cucumber, watermelon and cabbage crops in 1921 were valued at $15,000,000 each. The vine crops in 1922 did not quite touch that high financial zone, we suspect, from reports from Southern California, where cantaloupes were so plenty [sic, plentiful] and cheap that the farmers left 8,000,000 to rot on the ground, hoping that this would decrease the supply and raise the price of the balance of the cost of production. How would eighty-five cents do for half a cantaloupe, which a man writes that he paid in a New York restaurant when 8,000,000 were rotting on the ground for lack of cost of raising?
Between four and five million Christmas trees are used every year to hang our presents on. Can someone quick at figuring add up or divide up or subtract up how much these trees would be worth when grown into lumber to cheapen the cost of building material, or don’t we care to cheapen the cost of building or anything else? Are we one of that class that Emerson refers to “They talk in one direction?” Either let looks squint in the same direction or stop chattering about conservation.
Sherman J. Lowell, of New York, master of the National Grange, says, “This country is rapidly nearing the point when famine threatens because of the reduction in the agricultural population.” He said history shows that when a nation’s agriculturists drop to twenty-five percent a famine is certain. The ratio is now thirty percent with a constant drift to the cities. He denounced the ship subsidy measure and the demands of labor for shorter hours and higher wages as proposals that bode ill for the farmers. What a smart lot of hayseeds we are when thirty percent can raise more food than it pays to harvest, when in some foreign countries twenty-five percent cannot raise enough to prevent a famine. Hurrah for the American hayseed!
At the motion pictures last week Thursday evening in Abbot’s hall, Brookside, there was an appreciative audience to see D. W. Griffith’s “Orphans of the storm.”
Edward Riney of the West Chelmsford department of clearing the roads of snow for automobile travel has been doing some work on the side for Westford, running from the town line on the Lowell road to Forge Village and from Westford depot to Westford Center. Last Saturday forenoon he tried the same route and got as far as Tower’s brook on the Lowell road and was obliged to back a turn-around-go-home. The road near the John H. Decatur place was so many feet below the snow it would have taken a steam shovel to clear it of snow.
Dislike for human society and affection for animals has led Mrs. Sidman McHie, of New York city, to make a will in which she will give all of her considerable fortune to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for a hospital for animals. It will be the largest of its kind in the world, set in wide grounds somewhere in the suburbs of New York. Over the door will be carved the words that explain her purpose in making this unusual gift: “The more I saw of people the more I thought of dogs.”
(Mrs. Sidman “Sid” McHie, nee Isabel Agnes Mulhall, was an eccentric woman with a life that would make an unbelievable movie. She was quite wealthy and her 1923 will “instantly brought Isabel to the attention of the national press and nearly all interpreted her generous donation in just one way: Isabel McHie was a first-class kook.” Her hospital for animals was never built. You can read a summary of her life at https://uselessinformation.org/a-fortune-to-the-dogs-podcast-150/.)
First Parish church (Unitarian) Sunday service at 4 p.m. Preacher, Rev. Frank B. Crandall, the minister. Subject, “The Unitarian campaign by and with young people.”
(This quote is a reference to Psalms 8:6-8: “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.” KJV)
Owing to the difficulties of traveling for both audience and cast the play, “The Cassilis engagement,” which was to be given Thursday evening, January 25, at the town hall, under the auspices of the Westford Women’s Alliance, has been postponed and will be given at a later date.
Rights of Wild Animals. The following is a continuation of [the] “Wild animal bill of rights” proclamation by Dr. Harnady, director of the New York zoological park: “The following planks constitute a good platform on which to base our relations with the wild animal world and by which to regulate our duty to the creatures that have no means of defense against the persecutions of cruel man. In view of the nearness of the approach of the higher animals to the human level no just and human man can deny that those wild animals have certain rights which man is in honor bound to respect. The fact that God gave man ‘domination over the beasts of the field’ does not imply a denial of animal rights any more than the supremacy of a human government conveys the right to oppress and maltreat its citizens. Under certain circumstances it is justifiable for man to kill a limited number of the so-called game animals on the same basis of justification that domestic animals and fowls may be killed for food. While the trapping of fur-bearing animals is a necessary evil that evil must be minimized by reducing the suffering of trapped animals to the [greatest] possible point and by preventing wasteful trapping
“The killing of harmless mammals or birds solely for sport and without utilizing them killed is murder and no good and human man will permit himself to engage in any such rights of wild creatures. Shooting at sea-going creatures from moving vessels without any possibility of securing them, killed or wounded, is cruel, reprehensible and criminal, and everywhere should be forbidden by ship captains and also by law under penalties.”
Death. Mrs. Katherine F. (Connors) Slattery died at her home in Lowell on last week Thursday evening after a few days’ illness. She was the wife of Charles D. Slattery, the well-known manager of the Talbot Clothing Co. of Lowell, and daughter of Matthias [sic, Michael?] and Elizabeth (Horan) Connors. Her mother was well known to old Stony Brook scholars as Miss Elizabeth Hogan, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Hogan, born in Westford on Pigeon hill, Stony Brook road. She will be remembered as one of the apt scholars at the Stony Brook school and for several years taught school in Parkerville [1867-68] and elsewhere in town. Mrs. Slattery spent her entire life in Lowell, where she was universally beloved. Her church and home were appealing factors in her life and she was most happy when surrounded by her family. Besides her husband she is survived by four brothers, Rev. William A. Connors, of St. Paul’s church, Dorchester; Matthias F., Thomas J. and Francis A. Connors, and two daughters, Frances L. and Alice; and a son, Charles, two sisters, Mrs. James S. McNabb and Miss Sadie A. Connors; two nephews, Walter S. and John H. Connors.
The funeral took place on Monday from her home at ten o’clock and from the Immaculate Conception church at 10:30. The services were largely attended by relatives and friends of the family, including many individuals prominent in state and municipal affairs and in the business activities of the city. Among relatives who attended from this town were Miss Rose and Henry O’Brien, [and] Mrs. Joseph Wall [nee Maria Jane Agnew] of Graniteville. During the funeral the Talbot clothing store was closed as a mark of respect, and the employees of the store headed by Charles B. Talbot, of Boston, treasurer, and Sumner Talbot, president, attended in a body. The bearers were John and Fred O’Connor, James J. Finnerty, Terrence Leonard, John A. McKenna, Thomas J. Corbett, Augustus F. Slattery and John H. McNabb. The body was borne to St. Bridget’s chapel in St. Patrick’s cemetery, where the committal prayers were read by Rev. Fr. Tighe, assisted by Rev. Fr. Connor.
A Sunday school has been opened in Abbot’s hall, Brookside, for the children of the Brookside and West Chelmsford areas who attend St. John’s church in North Chelmsford.
The lot of [paper tear, missing word] at Westford Corner on which Marshall’s hall stood before burning, about a year ago, has been sold to Joseph E. Langstaff, of Lowell.
News from a Westford Man. We have received a New Year’s copy of the San Diego (California) Union from our former old-time neighbor Harper Bailey. He gives an interesting and encouraging account of the growing prosperity of that city. They are instituting hydro electric power to the amount of 100 horsepower and to cost $6,000,000, and $6,000,000 for [missing word] and irrigation. But the greatest push to prosperity came with the building of the San Diego & Arizona railroad, which makes a direct trans-continental line from San Diego to the east. The road is 148 miles long, 44 miles of which are in Old Mexico and running through Southern Arizona. Its highest elevation is 3637 feet above sea level, and in the Imperial Valley drops to forty-seven feet below sea level. This road passes the scenic wonderland of Southern California. The road was twelve years in building, or a little over twelve miles a year. Our own [4.75-mile long] Hoosac tunnel in Massachusetts [built from 1851 to 1875 for $21,000,000] is almost invisible compared to the tunneling of the mountains in building this road.
We recall at this time that George Harrison, a native and former resident of this town, resides in San Diego and has attained distinction for his temperate habits, his business successes, his well-defined individuality as an asset in the general welfare of the city, and his magnificent residence. In our hundred or more questions in a recent letter to Mr. Bailey we have asked him to give us a line on Mr. Harrison.
Graniteville. A whist party in aid of St. Catherine’s church building fund was held in Abbot hall on Tuesday evening with a large attendance. These whist parties are held every week and they appear to be growing in popular favor.
The Ladies’ Aid society held a very successful sale and entertainment in the M.E. church vestry on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. There were many tables laden with fancy and useful articles, also, home cooking. All were liberally patronized. The entertainment on Wednesday evening was by local talent, assisted by Master Stanley Snow, reader, of West Chelmsford. The entertainment on Thursday evening consisted of vocal solos by Rev. E. E. Jackman of West Chelmsford; readings, Miss Helen Casey, of Lowell; songs and jokes by the Sunflower Chorus, also of Lowell. The entertainment and sale were a great success and the members of the Ladies’ Aid are deeply grateful to all those who helped to make it a successful and interesting affair.
The usual snowstorm came on Sunday, which gives the town teams more chance to dig out. The workmen have not yet completed freeing some of the roads of the heavy drifts, all though they have been kept busy all the time. It is some winter!
Wedding. A very pretty wedding took place on last Sunday afternoon at four o’clock in St. Catherine’s church when F. Russell Furbush, son of Selectman and Mrs. F. L. Furbush, was united in marriage to Miss Kathlyn C. Ward, daughter of Mrs. Mary Ward, of Forge Village.
The groom is well known as a young business man of this village, being owner of the Furbush Garage on Broadway street [near River St.]. The bride holds a responsible position on the office staff of the Abbot Worsted Co. and is a past master of Ayer Grange.
The bride was attended by her sister, Mrs. Letitia O’Clair, as matron of honor. The best man was John L. Flynn, of Forge Village. The ceremony was performed by the pastor, Rev. A. S. Malone.
The bride was becomingly gowned in a costume of blue taffeta silk with hat to match and carried a bouquet of bridal roses. The matron of honor also wore a costume of blue silk, with hat of the same prevailing shade and carried a bouquet of American Beauty roses.
The bride’s gift to the matron of honor was a platinum pin. The groom’s gift to the best man was gold cuff links.
Immediately after the ceremony the bridal party left for the bride’s home on Union street, Forge Village, where a wedding dinner was served which was attended by the members of the family and a few intimate friends.
In the early evening Mr. and Mrs. Furbush left for a wedding trip that will be spent in the south and upon their return will reside in Forge Village. Mr. and Mrs. Furbush were the recipients of many beautiful wedding gifts of gold, silver and cut glass; also several checks, and start in on their new life with the best wishes of a large circle of friends.
West. Miss Persis Ormsby, of Westford academy, spent the weekend with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Ormsby.