Turner's Public Spirit, March 24, 1923
A look back in time to a century ago
By Bob Oliphant
Center. The name of Linwood Nesmith was unintentionally omitted last week in the honor roll of the William E. Frost school, grade seven.
The next meeting of the Tadmuck club will be held at the Unitarian church parlors at 2:30 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon, March 27. The program of the afternoon promises to be especially entertaining, and it is hoped that there will be a large attendance. The meeting is to be in charge of the library extension and literature committees.
The Missionary society of the Congregational church held a meeting at the home of Mrs. Harry Ingalls on Wednesday. Refreshments were served by the hostess at the close of the meeting.
First Parish church (Unitarian)—Sunday service at 4 p.m. Preacher, Rev. Frank B. Crandall, the minister. Subject, “The palm, the token of victory.”
All active members of the Congregational church are requested to be present at the Friday evening meeting this week for conference and prayer at eight o’clock. The pastor will preach at the Sunday morning and evening services. Other meetings as usual.
The Alonzo Sutherlands have recently installed a radio set.
Don’t forget the play. “The new minister,” to be given under the auspices of the Grange, by talent from North Chelmsford at the town hall on Saturday evening, March 24.
Three cases of drunkenness were before the district court in Ayer in one week, one each on Monday and Wednesday of last week and one on Monday of this week. On Monday of last week, Associate Justice Maloney placed the case against Bert Martin on file, and on Wednesday a fine of five dollars was imposed on the same offender. N. Wladeslow appeared before Associate Justice Hayes on Monday of this week and was fined ten dollars.
Mrs. John Burbeck observed her eighty-fifth birthday on Thursday, March 15, by a gathering of her immediate family. The time was pleasantly spent and during the afternoon a collation was served. Mrs. Burbeck wore the gown in which she was married sixty-one years ago. During the day many cards of felicitations were received and numerous beautiful floral tokens, candy and baskets of fruit. Among those present were William Burbeck, Mr. and Mrs. Eli Burbeck and family of Lowell, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Burbeck and the Misses Grace and Mary Burbeck of this town. Mrs. Burbeck’s many friends about town express their best wishes for many more such happy occasions.
Master Edward Sullivan is ill with the mumps
The motion pictures given by the Middlesex Bureau of Agriculture and Home Economics at the town hall on last Saturday evening were much enjoyed by the many who attended.
The schools of the town closed on Thursday and will reopen on Tuesday, April 3. The vacation this spring is certainly a much-needed one for both teachers and pupils after such a severe winter and attending school difficulties which are met at such times.
Crocuses were in bloom last Saturday in Mrs. John Burbeck’s yard, while a few feet away was a snow-bank three feet deep.
John M. Fletcher is on the sick list.
It is noticed that the owners of the horse-drawn vehicles are violating the law regarding lights on same; also, some of the autoists are using their spotlights in the lighted districts of the town.
Four hundred cows, assembled from the best Ayrshire herds of Canada and the United States, will park themselves in Mechanics’ hall, Boston May 21 to 26. George F. White, of this town, president of the New England Ayrshire association, is chairman of the show committee.
Academy Notes. The academy is now a 100% school, all the teachers having become members of the National Educational association and will receive a certificate to that effect in the near future.
Miss Katherine Ott, of the commercial department, will take a number of seniors and juniors to Boston to the business show on April 2.
Richard Wall, of Graniteville; Edward Hunt, of Forge Village, and Fisher Buckshorn, of the Center, have been authorized by Principal William Roudenbush to make a canvass of the town to secure money to be used for the benefit of the baseball team. New bats, balls, etc., are needed; also, a coach, and the money which they have on hand, raised by their efforts in selling candy, will not be enough to meet the expenses. This is the first time that the school has asked the pubic to assist them in this way and it is hoped that they will meet with a hearty response in the interests of this clean sport, which means so much to the boys.
Library Notes. Miss May E. Day has been in attendance at the annual institute for librarians held at Simmons college on March 20-23. During the sessions practical lessons in library technique were offered and matters of interest particularly to librarians of small town libraries were taken up. Miss Howard substituted for Miss Day during her absence.
A notable list of biographical books has recently been added to the library, among them being “Glimpses of authors,” Ticknor; “Memories of a hostess,” Howe; “From seven to seventy,” Simmons; “Letters of William James,” “Letters of H. H. Furness,” “Letters of Franklin K. Lane,” “Life and letters of Walter Page,” “All in a life-time,” Morganthau [sic]; “Under four administrations,” Strauss; “My memories of eighty years,” Depew.
About Town. Mrs. Nora Colburn reported seeing twelve robins on the lawn at her home on Monday. We thought that was the most interesting news, for usually people report seeing “the first robin,” but she had the good fortune to see a dozen. Later in the day our neighbor, Amos Polley, telephoned that he and John Dunn saw that morning about fifty robins that alighted in the trees around John Dunn’s house on the edge of West Chelmsford.
Too much snow and too little food has a way of taming wild life. Our dear New England black crows are sun-dusting in the door-yard and close to the house of W. R. Taylor on the Stony Brook road, and the less aged and naturalized wild life, but in some respects more beautiful, the pheasants, are daily seen in the same place, close to the house feeding, morning and night. At present the Old Oaken Bucket farm is feeding the crows and pheasants under an oak tree on the Stony Brook road, where the snow has blown off, which is the only spot that we have found where the snow has blown off.
Norman Whitten, on the Lowell road, is reported ill with the grippe.
We have seen several woodchucks out, and one woodchuck several times along the steep, high, dry bank of Tadmuck brook. This is a reliable sign of spring.
New York reports the partridges are feeding on the apple trees so abundantly that there will not be half a crop of apples. We have heard that prophet ever since the Prophet Noah landed with his ark right side up on dry land. I recall when a boy the lamentation went forth “The partridges are budding our apple trees badly,” and extermination was the aim, but the aim did not quite exterminate but has come so near that we find ourselves under “closed season” restrictions. With the destruction of the partridge and other birds have come eleventeen other pests that threaten to exterminate the trees. Go to the institute on next Wednesday and find out who is who in this shameful game of shooting up the birds.
Warren Otis Day, at the intersection of Cold Spring, Graniteville and Forge Village roads, and one of the most successful poultry men in this section, has been experimenting to determine what relation the color of the feathers has to egg production, and has been buying eggs to hatch from a poultry man who claims to have a breed that combines feathers and high egg production in one hen. “Show birds and high egg producers” they are tagged. So far here are the results of the show bird feathers as compared with any feather aid for laying eggs: For January the show birds laid 136 eggs, or 21.9 per bird; his own, go-grow-as-you-please-feathers laid 405 eggs, or 69.3 per bird. I am glad to report this because it confirms the experience at the Old Oaken Bucket farm.
The committee on legal affairs at the state house has reported leave to withdraw on the bill to repeal daylight saving. The report was unanimous and the action was unanimous. It was apparent when hearings were held on the measure that the farmers could expect no other report. What became of the arguments that the farmers are losing millions of dollars by daylight saving? Is it an argument so lacking in facts that no one wished to exhibit their ignorance? That there is some inconvenience to a class of farmer by daylight saving needs no proving, but is it enough to offset the benefits of all others? It is planned to have a referendum on daylight saving at the election in 1924. Daylight saving should win by more than two to one.
In the Saturday Boston Transcript is a picture of Miss Anna Hamlin, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Sumner Hamlin, of Washington, D.C., who entertain a great deal. Mr. Hamlin was formerly a trustee of our academy and is a connection of the Hamlin family so well known here.
In the Sunday Herald was a picture of Miss [Eleanor Faye] Fillebrown, whose engagement to [Robert] Bruce Wetmore was recently announced.
Robert Elliott, who, with three other men, has been on a two-months’ Mediterranean cruise, returned last Saturday.
On Thursday, March 15, Mrs. John Burbeck [nee Adeline Tower] observed her eighty-fifth birthday. Friends and relatives called during the day and flowers, cards and gifts were received. Mrs. Burbeck is the last of a large group of [nine] sisters [daughters of Eli and Mary (Fletcher) Tower] who were lovingly spoken of as the “Tower girls.” They made a name for themselves because of their gracious manner.
Saturday Chat in the Lowell Citizen had a very interesting article on bridges and special reference was made to the prize winning design for a bridge on the Daniel Webster highway over the Souhegan at Merrimack, made by Hon. H. E. Fletcher. The picture of the bridge was also shown and it was very attractive.
In the recent Bogdonoff trial, which took up so much space in the Lowell Courier-Citizen, Frederick A. Snow, of West Chelmsford, gave expert testimony as an accountant. We have heard that his testimony was so clear and so well given that the decision was made in favor of the Bogdonoff brothers.
Mrs. Josiah Blodgett [nee Louise Salome “Lomie” Blanchard] was another of our long-time residents here who celebrated her [83rd] birthday on March 17 in a happy manner.
The Tadmuck club will have the next meeting on Tuesday, March 27 at 2:30 at the Unitarian church. The literature and education committee have charge of the program. It is an open secret that they have planned something very entertaining. It will be an especially interesting afternoon.
There was a special town meeting on last week Friday evening. Only two articles were in the warrant, the first to reconsider the method of borrowing money to meet the expenses of the town in anticipation of taxes, the article in the annual town meeting warrant having been worded in an ambiguous way. The second article was to see if the town would consider saying what you mean and mean what you say in regard to the question of borrowing money. Reconsideration and consideration both got a unanimous vote. Of the 800 registered voters all were present except 792. Alfred W. Hartford was foreman.
A Tribute. The following tribute to Miss Alice L. Davis, who formerly lived here, but for twenty-six years taught in the high school in Somerville, was taken from a Somerville paper, and will prove of interest to all Westford friends of Miss Davis:
“In the passing from our midst of our loved friend and associate, Miss Alice L. Davis, we, the teachers of the Southern Junior High school, have met with an irreparable loss. Endowed with rare qualities of mind and character, she gave herself with unstinted devotion to her work during her many years of service. Quiet, dignified, and unselfish, she always saw another’s need before her own. One could not be associated with her without a realization of her calm strength, her superior judgment, and resourcefulness. As a teacher, she long will be remembered by the many pupils who came under her influence, not alone for her excellent teaching, but for her unvarying kindness, never-failing encouragement and sympathy. Blanche G. North.”
“Facts on Taxes.” I read with much interest in last week’s issue the article on “Facts about taxes.” I read it several times so as to be sure that I could recite the lesson that the figures teach. I have always labored under the impression that the tax levy of the town was about equally divided, one-half being paid by the manufacturers, and have always taken almost one-sixteenth of one percent stock in the farmers’ annual chorus on “We are paying more than our proportionate share of the taxes.” But when I learn from figures, not guess work, from “Facts about taxes” that the farmers are paying less than one-fifth of the taxes of the town, why I am willing to sell my stock in the annual chorus song for less than 100 percent below its value, which is “nothing.” It seems that we farmers are paying less than one-fifth of the taxes of the town and doing six-fifths of the shouting against building the Forge Village schoolhouse. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. I dislike to say so, but that is what it comes to. Of course, this is not calculated to make friends.
I am not out with friends or out after friends. I am out after truth and facts, and having found them I propose to stand by them, and if friends get out as the result of it they will do all the outing.
In conclusion and to conclude with, this thought has to be considered as bearing on “equalizing the burdens of taxation.” “The manufacturers of the town ought to stand a big rise in valuation,” say the farmers. Well, let us see what the manufacturers and some farmers tried to do within two years at a special town meeting. The article in substance, “To see if the town will instruct the assessors to make a new valuation of the town with authority to employ experts in the valuation of that class of property the value of which the assessors are not familiar with,” and every blessed beloved son who believes that the manufacturers are not half valued voted against any attempt to unload from the farmers onto the manufacturers, and as the result of that vote the farmers by their own vote are compelled to be burdened with paying less than one-fifth of the taxes of the town. Either vote for the principle involved in the above article or stop shouting “the manufacturers are not half valued.”
As a bearing on the question of half-valued manufacturers, one of the assessors several years ago employed an expert to go through the manufacturers of the town in an attempt [at] raising a rise in on them, but his raised rise wasn’t sufficient to pay for the strain on his shoe strings in showing up the manufacturers.
The town needs a rise of $1,000,000 in its valuation, if not more. At present we are valued at a little over $3,000,000, and the state values us at $5,000,000, and we are paying state taxes on that basis. If the town taxes were based on that valuation our rate would drop and taxes would be no higher. Think it over, Mr. Assessors.
Farmers’ Institute. We are glad to report part of the program for the farmers’ institute to be held in the town hall on Wednesday, March 28 at ten o’clock. There will be the following subjects for consideration: “Forest planting and preservation” and “The wild life of our woods and streams.” Speakers will be present from the national department of agriculture and from the Massachusetts division of conservation. From this it seems that Westford is to be favored with speakers of national and state experience. Let us give them an audience that measures up to the speakers and their subjects and show that Westford is interested and appreciative. Other towns have had wonderfully well attended meetings. Let us show ourselves in the progressive class. Women are cordially invited. A cordial invitation goes this time as it always has in the past to all the towns around.
Dinner will be served at noon by the Ladies’ Aid of the Congregational church. The after-dinner speaking will be varied by vocal selections by Miss Hazel Tuthill, of Lowell. Miss Tuthill is the daughter of Rev. William B. Tuthill, of Lowell, and is a singer of great promise.
In the afternoon there will be an address by Edward F. Dickinson, of Billerica, the institute chairman, who will speak on things seen, heard and thought in a recent Washington, D.C., vacation. Mr. Dickinson is a splendid farmer and is fresh from the active scenes of the farmers’ bloc legislation. Perhaps he can tell us eastern farmers how we can get bloc-ed up instead of blocked out so much.
Transportation from the Brookside electric cars to the institute. It is hoped that the nearby towns will be well represented. We think the going in autos should be very safe by that time [i.e., all the snow and ice should be melted by then].
Early Planting. Gilbert F. Wright writes from Chelmsford of Alfalfa Gem farm: “In November I planted some potatoes, taking them from a lot badly diseased with rot and blight. On March 15 I dug through about three feet of snow and ice and took out a few for examination, finding them in fine condition. I tried to see if remaining in the ground through the winter would not eliminate the blight and I really think I have succeeded in this and it now looks as if this was the solution for seed potatoes. I found almost no frost in the ground and expect to dig the first crop about June 20. I have been experimenting with a winter snow bean and planted some Saturday (St. Patrick’s day). They are said to stand a temperature of eight degrees below zero and live through the winter and come out very early in the spring.”
With this precocious earliness it is a question whether it isn’t too late to do any planting this year, but let us get a double-quick move onto us for 1924. Some folks thought that they were so previously early in planting potatoes on St. Patrick’s day that they have kept it advertised in the papers ever since, but this is so comparatively far behind that it knocks St. Patrick’s day date into what the boxing fraternity would call a K. O. haymaker.
Mr. Wright, as a native of this town, is planning to attend the farmers’ institute next Wednesday, and he may give us some haymaker knockout information.
Clipping. The following is taken from the Boston Herald of Sunday, March 18:
The selectmen of Westford not long ago, voted to have the town policed on a contract basis. They caused it to be known that they would receive bids for the job of chief of police and that the lowest bidder, other considerations being satisfactory, would get the post for the coming year.
The term of Henry E. Whiting, who was the head of the municipal force, expired on March 1, and the selectmen thought it would be a fine opportunity to put the new system into effect. His salary and allowances were $1300 a year. If someone put in a lower bid than that—why, then the board considered the taxpayers would be in luck.
It was a novel idea, and one worthy of consideration, but it did not work out exactly as was anticipated. For a while bids came in at a lively rate. Not only did several local men signify their willingness to fill Mr. Whiting’s shoes, but applicants from as far away as Boston sent in bids. Former members of the Boston police force were included in the list.
One of the requirements was that the successful bidder should furnish his own touring car, for patrol and other purposes, and this stipulation floored a number of the aspirants. Other conditions were insisted on as to references, experience and the like, which acted as deterrents to enthusiasm, and the result was that all the bidders but two withdrew their offers.
One of the two was the present chief. The other was a Westford man. The amounts bid were identically the same and the upshot was that the board renominated Chief Whiting. He will receive $1300 a years as heretofore. $1000 for his services and $300 for the maintenance of his car.
Westford is a large and straggling community situated about half way between Lowell and Ayer. Nothing much ever happens there in the criminal line, but it has more than 100 miles of road which must be patrolled, and in the summer there are many camps on the various lakes and ponds within the limits of the municipality which have to be supervised.
“Well, I see your bid was accepted,” remarked a Sunday Herald reporter to the chief at his home in Westford Center a mile and a half from the railroad recently.
The chief smiled. “Oh, that was only a matter of form,” he replied. “It didn’t worry me any. I expected to be appointed.”
“Do you have much to do?”
“There are 108 miles of highway in this town and they have to be covered” was the answer.
“Do you patrol them all yourself, every day?” asked the reporter, with a trace of awe. One hundred and eight miles a day is some beat, even for a policeman with a flivver.
“Oh, no. I have several specials,” replied the chief. “But I have enough to do. There is a large foreign element here which must be looked after. These roads make great places [paper town, line missing]. We have to keep on the lookout. Then in summer, all sets of people come to the camps on the lakes. We have to let the people know we are here.”
Frank Furbush, chairman of the board of selectmen, told the Sunday Herald reporter that one of the reasons that had caused the board to take the action it had was that there were people in town whose tongues seemed to hang on a very lose hinge, who were very fond of remarking: “Why don’t you let So-and-so fill the place? Why don’t you try some of the men who have lived here all their lives?”
“It was to give these kickers a choice to show what they really could do that we decided to offer the police job to the lowest bidder. We sort of called their bluff.”
And Mr. Furbush smiled.
Looks as though everybody was happy.
Chief Whiting is a veteran of the world war, served on the Mexican border and overseas, and after being discharged was located in Western New York state coming to Westford in 1921. He is thirty-nine years old, is married and has two children.
“Old Harvard Days.” I read with exceptional interest and several times “Old Harvard days” on the front page of last week’s issue. If it erred at all it was in being too short, and any time anyone wishes to write on “Ye olden days” from any town they can have my space “About Town,” which the editor has generously allowed me beyond the length limits of edification. Only three of the individuals mentioned in “Old Harvard days” did I know (possibly more)—Rev. John R. Willard was born in New York city and studied theology with Rev. Washington Gilbert, of Harvard, and was minister of the Unitarian church in Westford for several years [1848-1850]. There are some people in town who recall his ministry. Besides being minister he was a lawyer. He had a decided personality that required but little borrowing of ready-made thinking. Mrs. Goddard I never knew, but her husband I had a slight acquaintance with. He was a genial man and had the courage of his thoughts and gave his audience the benefit of his courage. Rev. Daniel Frances Goddard’s vision was never clouded by the needless dust of the past.
I would like to add a little to the reminiscences of Rev. John B. Willard, which slipped from memory in passing years. He was ordained in Westford on May 24, 1848, and the ordination sermon was by Rev. Washington Gilbert, of Harvard. He resigned in 1850 and was recalled as minister in 1851.
Rev. George S. Dodge I knew as a frequent exchange minister at the Union Congregational church when I was in my first childhood. As I recall him now, after nearly seventy years of passing time, he preached the gospel of love in a personal manner to be loved. Of the frequent exchanges of those early days, as I recall it now from the reserves and preserves of memory, the personality and preaching of Mr. Dodge made the most genial and lasting impression. Right here I recall that physically he was a broad and heavily built man, but on this I may have slipped, for it has been an icy winter and I have slipped many times with feet and memory. And now that we are slipping and writing about it, I would like to slip in something more from a more recent memory in regard to Mr. Dodge.
From memory I read that Rev. Minot J. Savage, the well-known Unitarian minister, married a daughter of Mr. Dodge [Ella A.], which if this is thus, would make Rev. Maxwell Savage of the Unitarian church, Worcester, his grandson.
As long as I have got memory on the go on “Old Harvard days,” I would like to suggest the name of Deacon George E. Burtt, for many years a resident of Westford, who, in company with George F. Wright, moved to Harvard many years ago and engaged in manufacturing horse-power machines. I believe the shop is still standing close by the center of the town as you approach the town from some of the many Oak hill roads, of which there are so many that someone suggests, I think it was Mr. West, that you simply don’t know where you are at.
Graniteville. The members of the Lend-a-hand class of the Methodist church held a minstrel show in the church vestry on Wednesday evening that was well attended. All did finely in their respective parts and the show was voted a great success.
Both masses in St. Catherine’s church on last Sunday morning were celebrated by the pastor, Rev. A. S. Malone. At the Lenten services on Wednesday evening the sermon was preached by Rev. Fr. Kelly, of Jamaica Plain. Services were also held on Friday evening.
The Abbot Worsted Soccer club defeated the Fore River club of Quincy at the Commonwealth Armory in Boston on last Saturday evening before a large crowd of soccer fans. The score was 5 to 4. If the weather improves it is expected that the Abbots will play an out-of-doors game in the near future.
Mrs. Cora McEnaney is ill at her home on Fourth street.
Mrs. Henry N. Fletcher is visiting friends in Springfield for a few days.
The members of the Methodist church choir held a rehearsal at the home of Mr. and Mrs. C. M. Sawyer on Thursday evening.
At the Methodist church this Friday evening, at seven o’clock, Dr. Charles E. Spaulding, of Worcester, will preach a sermon, to be followed by the fourth quarterly conference.
The Young People’s Social club will hold the usual recreation hour in the vestry of the Methodist church on Saturday evening at 7:30.
The sewing class met at Abbot hall in Forge Village on Tuesday evening with a large number in attendance.
Death. Mrs. Mary C. Charlton [nee Mary Clark], wife of Arthur J. Charlton, died at her home on Fourth street on last week Thursday after a long illness. Besides her husband she leaves five sons, William, Arthur, Frank, Raymond and Henry; two daughters, Mrs. Lester McLennan [nee Helen R. Charlton] and Miss Agnes Charlton, and several relatives in Philadelphia. The funeral took place from St. Catherine’s church here on last Saturday morning at nine o’clock, when a solemn high funeral mass was celebrated by the pastor, Rev. A. S. Malone, assisted by Rev. J. Emile Dupont, as deacon, and Rev. J. J. Linehan, as sub-deacon, both of North Chelmsford. The regular choir was in attendance. Miss Mary F. Hanley was at the organ. Miss Hanley sang “Pie Jesu” at the offertory. The services were largely attended, many being present from out of town.
There was a large display of beautiful floral tributes. The bearers were the sons of the deceased, William, Arthur, Frank, Raymond and Henry Charlton, and Lester McLenna, a son-in-law. Burial took place in St. Catherine’s cemetery, Graniteville, where the committal service was read by Rev. A. S. Malone.
District Court. On Tuesday morning Samuel Bastine of Shirley was before the court for drunkenness in that town. He was found guilty and his case was placed on file. John Tyne of Ayer in court on a similar charge was found guilty and his case was placed on file. Wadyslaw Naliwasky of Westford also in court for drunkenness was found guilty and his case was placed on file.