March 2020 Museum Musings

It’s March Madness! There are events and programs for everyone!

Harriet Tubman

 

Meet Harriett Tubman
Westford Celebrates Women’s Right to Vote event series.
Friday, March 6th at 7 pm
Westford Museum

Gwendolyn Quezaire-Presutti, who brought us Peggy, in our Unheard Voices program a year ago is back representing Harriet Tubman as part of Westford Celebrates Women’s Right to Vote event series. As a woman who had fought for her own freedom and the freedom of others, Harriett in her later life toured New York, Boston and Washington speaking in favor of women’s suffrage.

 

 

Photographs of Quincy W. Day, Westford Then and Now
Sunday, March 8th at 2:30 pm

Westford Museum

Presented by Marilyn Day, Join us for a fascinating slideshow of photographs by Quincy Day. His pictures were taken as early as 1899 and continued through 1920. This presentation will feature buildings from all over town that he photographed juxtaposed against a current view of the same place. Come see how many you can identify. Audience participation is welcome.

 

“I Now Pronounce You Lucy Stone”
Westford Celebrates Women’s Right to Vote event series.
Thursday, March 19th at 7:00 pm
Westford Museum

A performance by Judith Kalaora. The first woman from Massachusetts to earn a college degree, Lucy was an ardent supporter of human rights. Always fierce in her belief that women and men be equal was evident in both her political and personal endeavors. Her message inspired thousands to join the suffrage movement. Even Susan B. Anthony credits Lucy’s impassioned speeches for her involvement. Suitable for all ages.

 

 

Westford Minutemen/6th Middlesex Regiment Annual Open House
Sunday, March 22nd at 2:00 pm
Westford Museum

Visit and learn about our colonial period history, clothing and accouterments, and enjoy group activities. Members of the Minutemen will also be available to talk about this April’s Col. John Robinson Trail march from Westford to Concord. Weather and ground conditions permitting. There will also be practicing the manual of arms on the common. For more information go to www.westford1775.org.

 

Hall and McLaughlin: History of NORTH Westford
Monday, March 30th at 7:00 pm
Stoney Brook School, 9 Farmer Way, Westford

Westford Town historians, Geoff Hall and Rich McLaughlin will bring their knowledge and research of North Westford to an extraordinary presentation with a special slideshow. They will share highlights of North Westford’s history from the earliest known inhabitants of the town to the present-day population growth.

 

Notable Women of Westford ~ Rita Edwards Miller (12 July 1918 – 29 March 2003)

Rita was the daughter of two prominent Westford families and wife of Everett “Chub” Miller. For 44 years as an educator her life touched hundreds of Westford students. Her first teaching position was at the Frost schoolhouse (all 6 rooms) in 1939. She was later principal of the Frost and Cameron schools. It was said that Rita was a strict teacher but a warm person and that she created a strong sense of community. She believed that primary school years set a foundation for the rest of one’s education.

Below is an 1996 interview with Rita Miller and Marge Bundy (cousin of Everett E. Miller) conducted by Ellen Harde and Jane Hinckley. As you read the interview, you too will truly enjoy getting to know the people of Westford that made a memorable impression in Rita’s life and her wonderful sense of humor.

Rita Miller (RM) Nobody knows, but Marge, how interested I am in history, it’s my “thing.” The old hearse house was brought up there (58 Main St.) and Hilda Bosworth let them put it there because she didn’t want it destroyed. Of course, the people that lived there like the Andersons and the Gardners, they didn’t bother with it and finally Arnie[1] took it down.

Ellen Harde (EH). Did Arnie know it was the hearse house?

RM: I don’t imagine he did. It upsets me so – it’s just a piece of history. Long before my generation, my grandfather said they had a hearse and they parked it in there and when they needed it, out it came. It broke my heart and I hesitated to say anything except to Marge. She has slipped a cog.

Marge Bundy (MB): And it isn’t that long ago.

EH: I think there are an awful lot of people who do care and feel the way that you do. In terms of getting people like yourself, who do both know and love Westford’s history, to have it be shared so that other people do know it…
RM: When they said they were going to form committees, I’m not a volunteer, if somebody said, would you like to do it, I would say, I’m thrilled to death. Yes, I love it.

EH: I think if we got a group to have afternoons or evenings where people who have lived in Westford for a long time, could get together and talk about their memories, it would be useful.

MB: Before they had water do you know where they got it from? Cold Spring farm.
J. V. Fletcher is the one who owned the Fletcher/Cold Spring Farm, and they used to deliver the water to the town in glass bottles, like the plastic ones they have now, only glass. They delivered the drinking water to the town of Westford from the Fletcher Cold Spring Farm. Is there anything there now left of the building?

EH: I went with Robin Fullford down in that neck of the woods. I don’t know if the little spring house still exists or not. It’s actually on Betty Sweetman’s property or is it still part of the Fullford property?

MB: After my father[2] stopped working for Oscar Spalding, he lived down there at the Cold Spring Farm and there was a thing like a gazebo over it. He would go down and make sure that the spring was cleaned out. It was a very nice place down there. I suggested to somebody, you know how the vocational school built the gazebo down at the cemetery, I thought it might be a good project if they could build something over the spring. That spring must still be there. That is a part of history people don’t know about.

EH: Do you know if there are there any pictures anywhere of what the little spring house looked like?

MB: No I don’t.

RM: For a long time nobody talked about Cold Spring, they all talked about Mystery Spring. Mystery Spring was nothing compared to Cold Spring.

EH It’s fun to walk down there and find it. On the 1875 map I noticed recently it was called Mysterious Spring.

Rita: We used to walk down there, and picnic.

EH: Back to the gazebo, that’s an interesting idea; it could even be an Eagle Scout project.

RM: You asked me if William Edwards built anything else. He built the original little gazebo down at Fairview Cemetery that the kids damaged. He just did it. His brother is buried there. It’s kind of interesting, a distant cousin of mine, who wanted to go down there and find the stone. He saw it (the gazebo) and it was kind of in disrepair and he said, I’d love to re-do that. But I didn’t say anything and then I noticed it had been done.

EH: I’m delighted to report that the vandalism has stopped.

RM: You know what used to bug me down there – was kids riding bicycles in there with dogs and that annoyed me so. I’d go to my mother’s[3] grave; Chub[4] wasn’t dead then, and kids, the minute they’d see you, they’d come riding up and down by where you were…

MB: Playing leapfrog over the stones…

RM: I have given Jane reading material for the day.

EH: Well, I think we’ve lost her. What are you reading, Janie?

Jane Hinckley (JH): Oh, an 1885 diary – daily log of Leonard Wheeler.

RM: Leonard Wheeler – I liked him, he was very kind to me. I think I told you, he lived in the brick ender (66 Main St) That was the Wheeler home all the time I was growing up. His father, the Rev. Winthrop Wheeler, lived there first. Leonard was an older man then and a very “proper” gentleman. He’d tip his hat when he’d see me; I was about 12 or 14 years old at the time. “Good morning, lovely day,” or something. I knew enough to be polite back. I had to do a paper in high school and he was talking with my mother and he asked me about school. I said I had to write a paper and he asked me about what and I said I had to choose some subject and I didn’t know what to choose. It all worked out, and he said, would I like to come over some evening and he could help me… And I thought, uh. He was very distinguished with his white beard; a nice looking man. So I went over. His wife[5] got a glass of milk and some cookies for me and I felt very much put down because I was too big for that in my mind. But anyway, we talked and he made suggestions about what would be good to write on. And then he helped me and then I got it together and he read it over and suggested things. After that we got to be very good friends. They never had any children. I have his old diary he gave me. It’s a log really, a daily log.

JH: I’m reading a reference in here to a broken upper tibia. He must have been educated to know that terminology.

RM: He wanted to be a doctor, but his brother, Roy, went away and left the farm and Leonard, according to my mother, was going to be a physician, but his father became ill and, as boys did in those days, he came home to run the farm and never finished his education. But the diary is really very old.[6] I have no idea why I made notations in the margin.

MB: H. V. Hildreth lived in the corner house just below here (68/70 Main St.).

RM: Talk about eccentric country things – Harold Hildreth had a lot of trouble with his eyes and he was a nosy fellow. He had a car and he’d shove that car into top speed. You’d hear him up by the library, roaring. And this particular day, he saw something over by the hydrant over there and drove right into the hydrant going into Wheeler Lane. And there he was…sitting there in his car with the water going up all over him! And we called him “Gawk” – old Gawk Hildreth. Us kids called him “Gawk.”

MB: I thought that’s what his name was. I’d say, “Mr. Gawk”…

RM: The last ones that I knew that lived there were Leon and Edessa [Hildreth].

MB: Leon Hildreth was funny. Edessa lived in Ayer. Leon Hildreth could pinch- pennies. He used to take his father’s car to go up to visit Edessa. They had a gas tank at the Wright and Fletcher store and he’d stop there and put fifty cents of gas in his father’s car to go up to Ayer to visit Edessa. So when he married her he saved that much money, didn’t he?

RM: They raised chickens and Richard, his nephew, lived on Boston Road. And Richard worked for him. And Leon would be way down in the lower field and Richard would be up by the hens and you’d hear Richard yell, “Leeeeon” and then you’d hear Leon say, “whaaaat?” We all used to say everybody knows where Richard and Leon are. They’d holler!

MB: Well, Harold Hildreth’s wife died. They had two children, Mary and Richard. Mary was a baby when her mother died. Harold remarried Edith[7]. My grandmother had been up to visit. At that time she was living down on Whiteman Street in Lowell. I can remember, we were going back to Lowell on the train and when we got on at Westford depot someone said that Mrs. Hildreth had died – pneumonia, I think it was.

RM: What bothered me always was the fact that Edith was buried here and Ella was brought up from FL and she buried him in Florida and left him there. He was old Westford, she wasn’t. But she made sure she was brought up here when she died. That irks me.

MB: She was probably pinching pennies.

RM: Harold was no shakes, but I think he should have been buried in the family lot, not left in Florida.

JH: Reads from Leonard Wheeler’s diary about prices to go to school and expenses. 1885, Thursday, December 31, I am now a free man, twenty-one years today.

MB: [Roger Hildreth] They found his body up at Mount Katahdin. Some say he committed suicide, some say he got lost and perished. But my uncle[8], her father-in-law, (referring to Rita) went up with the undertaker to claim and identify who he was.

RM: He went with another fellow and they often wondered about the peculiar circumstance. At that point in time Roger had been having spells.

MB: He’d been having shock treatments at the hospital in Carlisle – shock treatments.

RM: In fact Grace, Roger’s wife, was a lovely person and she finally left him. He got it into his head that the enemy was coming to attack Westford Depot. She told me this herself, and he tied her to a chair, locked all the windows, pulled all the shades, when he would have these strange spells. And she had two children from a previous marriage, and she felt that she had to get out of the marriage. When he was ok, Roger was fine.

MB: But he used to go down to the Valley Head Hospital in Carlisle and have these shock treatments.

EH: What year did Roger die? Since he didn’t die in Westford, it’s not recorded here.

RM: You know, Chub’s uncle married a woman in Ayer, this has nothing to do with Westford at all. We wanted to find a birth certificate and couldn’t get that. We went to see if we could find a marriage certificate in Ayer, no record of that. She died right after they married and there’s no record of death. We were never able to find it. And what we thought was, how can a person be born, married, and died and not a record anywhere in the town?

MB: I don’t think they had been married even six weeks when she died.

RM: We went through old newspapers at the library; we went through old town reports. As far as the town clerk was concerned, she said she couldn’t find anything.

MB: What was her maiden name?

end of tape
(transcribed by M. Day, Apr. 1, 2003)

[1] Arnie Gardner
[2] Willard N. Millis
[3] Flora (Wright) Edwards
[4] Everett Ellsworth Miller
[5] Alice (Williams) Wheeler
[6] Rita gave The Westford Historical Society the diary in 2001 and transcriptions are available
[7] Edith M. Lawrence, b. Worcester, married 1 Nov 1913 Harold W. Hildreth.
[8] Frank E. Miller, “Buzzy”

Is there someone from your past, maybe a Westford person, who has made a difference in your life? Care to share your story? etc.With your permission we’ll include some of your stories in our next issue. Send your stories to Linda at director@museum.westford .org.

Docent Academy

The Rita E. Miller School was named after a local resident who devoted her life to educating children. Rita Hosmer (Edwards) Miller was born in Westford in 1918. She was a student at the William E. Frost School and later at Westford Academy. After graduating from high school, she attended Lowell State Teachers College and returned to Westford to teach. She remained part of the Westford Public Schools for forty-four years, serving as a teacher and later a principal of three schools. For over forty years Rita Miller was dedicated to children and to Westford.

Fundraisers to support the Westford Historical Society and Museum

Select from a marvelous collection of Gift Baskets or Paintings by local Artists

Raffle Tickets are $5 ea. Or Five tickets for $20
Drawing Date: Sunday, May 3rd at our Wild Women of Westford Sunday Afternoon Tea

Purchase Raffle tickets by Credit Card here or at Westford Museum

 

 

 

 

 

Taste of Nashoba ~Ticket Partner
Tuesday, March 24th at 5:30 pm
Lawrence Academy Stone Athletic Center, Groton MA

Purchase your ticket by cash or by check at the Westford Museum, 4 Boston Rd. MWF 9-1 or Sunday 2-4 or by Credit card here.

Wild Women of Westford Sunday Afternoon Tea
Sunday, May 3rd at 2pm
Westford Museum

Time for Tea!

Please join us as we celebrate the wild women of Westford at our afternoon tea. In addition to delicate tea sandwiches and desserts, we will be entertained by the stories of 4 notable Westford women and learn how they made a difference in history. Come find out which one of these special women was credited for linking X & Y chromosomes to sex determination!

Hats, fascinators and gloves strongly recommended.

 

 

 

Tickets must be purchased in advance

$45 non-member

$35 members, Westford Historical Society.

No tickets at the door. Suitable for ages 12 and over.

Menu

Fresh Blueberry Scones and Cranberry Orange Scones with Premium Jam
Lemon Tea Bread

Sweet Treats

Chocolate Drizzled Strawberries
Fudge Bites with Buttercream and Fruit
French Macaron
Assorted Mini Tarts & Cookies

Beverages:

Assorted Teas, Water & Punch

Allergy Note: Gluten, Eggs, Milk, Prepared in a Kitchen That Uses Nuts

Fresh Blueberry Scones and Cranberry Orange Scones with Premium Jam
Lemon Tea Bread

Sweet Treats

Chocolate Drizzled Strawberries
Fudge Bites with Buttercream and Fruit
French Macaron
Assorted Mini Tarts & Cookies

Beverages:

Assorted Teas, Water & Punch

Allergy Note: Gluten, Eggs, Milk, Prepared in a Kitchen That Uses Nuts