A letter from the WHS President
At the Westford Historical Society we’re all about the past, present, and future. Our affinity for the past is obvious; interpreting history is at the core of our mission. The present day is essential since it’s with each day that we increase our understanding of Westford’s place in the world through the research of our staff, volunteers, and visitors. And we are clearly invested in the future as we preserve our town’s artifacts and stories for future generations. This year we continued our timeless tradition of service to our community.
A few of this past year’s highlights include:
New Director – Linda Greene completed her first year as the Museum Director, bringing her significant talents to the position. Coordinating our team of volunteers while leading all of our initiatives is a great deal of work, and she has handled it all with enthusiasm and grace.
Development – A special thanks to our Director of Development, Deb Banerjee. With her broad museum experience and talents, she continues to fill many valuable and essential roles in our organization.
Programs – We resumed our popular February history discussion group, this time focusing on historical immigration in Westford through the stories of those who came looking for a better life. We heard the fascinating stories behind the “Wild Women” of Westford, and looked at slavery in our early history.
Exhibits – Our Graniteville exhibit was refreshed with new content, new signs around the museum add context, and visitors are now welcomed with images and a timeline that highlight the history of our 1794 Westford Academy building.
Annual Third Grade Tours – All of Westford’s third graders once again learned to appreciate their town’s unique place in the world through our lively and interactive program.
We started our new season with a celebration of the 225th Anniversary of Westford Academy. And coming this year, in recognition of the centennial anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment of the Constitution, a number of events, including this year’s book discussion, will focus on Women’s Right to Vote. We’ll also look at Historic textiles in the WHS collection, and Hall and McLaughlin’s Short History of Westford.
In closing, I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks our Board of Directors, our many volunteers, contributors, and sponsors. It’s your time, breadth of experience, and financial contributions that make the Historical Society and Museum a unique and essential part of our community!
Dan Lacroix, President
New Exhibit: Class of 1970
In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Class of 1970, Rich McLaughlin and his WA classmates put together a fabulous collection of their class memorabilia. Stop by the museum on Sunday afternoon (2-4pm) and see for yourself! Many thanks to the classmates who helped
Front L-R Carol (Cook) Peters, Wanda (Valcourt) Edwards,
Rear L-R Joan (Van Beaver) Kelly, Nancy Lima Dundas, Richard McLaughlin, Andy Bergamini
Nancy (Dundas)Lima with her 1970 Cheerleading sweater.
Time to Renew Your Membership!
It’s time to renew your membership to the Westford Historical Society! Click here: renew online with a credit card or pay by check. If paying by check, please follow the instructions on the website to mail in your payment.
Consider a $100 Westford Historical Society membership and you will receive a NARM membership. The North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM) Association is a network of 1,122 art museums and galleries, historical museums and societies, botanical gardens, children’s museums, zoos and more. When you sign up with your favorite participating NARM institution you can receive reciprocal membership benefits across the United States, Canada, Bermuda, El Salvador and Mexico. How it works!
Your Westford Historical Society membership also includes, reduced ticket rates on fundraiser, monthly newsletters and the knowledge that you are helping to preserve the history of Westford as overseers of the Westford Museum are just a few of the benefits you receive as a member.
Wednesday, November 13 at 7:00 pm at the Westford Museum
A Short History of Westford: Westford Town historians, Geoff Hall and Rich McLaughlin, will bring their knowledge and research of the Town of Westford to the Westford Museum for an extraordinary presentation with a special slide show.They will share the highlights of Westford’s history from the earliest known inhabitants of the town to the present day population growth. Suggested donation of $5/person, $10/family.
Sunday, November 17 at 2:30 pm at the Westford Museum
David Brody Author Talk and Book signing: Treasure Templari : “The Ghent Altarpiece painting is the most stolen piece of artwork in world history. During World War II, the Nazis pilfered it, believing that the painting’s Knights Templar symbology and iconography were encrypted clues leading to the Holy Grail and other lost Templar treasures. In his ninth book exploring Templar themes, entitled Treasure Templari, author David S. Brody examines the Templar symbolism with an eye toward deciphering the clues encrypted in the painting. Are the symbols related to the Westford Knight legend and Scottish explorers visiting Westford in the late 1300s? And do the answers help lead us to the lost Templar treasure?”
Local Author and Historian, David Brody, will be speaking at the Westford Museum and introducing his 9th book in his Templar in America Series Treasure Templari: Templars, Nazis and the Holy Grail (Templars in America Book 9). Following the discussion Dave will autograph copies of his book(s). Copies of his books are available to purchase at the Museum and online. Members receive a discount. Not a member? Join now! Suggested donation of $5/person, $10/family.
Annual Meeting ~ Pop Up Museum
The Annual Meeting was a great time. Community members shared their “Older Than Me” items including a pewter plate, Nabnasset Theater poster, and a piece of the Berlin Wall among others. Thank you to everyone who came and shared their items!
Trick or Treating!
The Museum participated in the town’s preschooler trick-or-treating. It was a fun if rainy morning with crafts, Ghost tootsie pops made by the WA Museum Club, and pictures with the Westford Knight. Thank you to everyone who worked hard to help make the event a success and to those who came!
Olivia, dressed as Queen Elsa, posed for a picture with the Westford Knight.
Westford Notable of the Month~ Bob Oliphant
By Leila Ward, Westford Academy Capstone Intern
Today, Robert “Bob” Oliphant is a local historian of Westford, but he was not always on that path. He is originally from Oberlin, Ohio, and went to college to study metallurgy and materials science. It was while in college that he discovered his passion for genealogy, the study of tracing lineages. Eight years after graduating from college, he moved to Westford, where he and his wife, Bonnie, raised their three sons. Since then, Oliphant has been on the Westford Historical Commission for five years, was on the board of the Westford Museum and Historical Society, and serves on the town’s Parkerville Schoolhouse Committee and the Records and Archives Management Committee. He has published a history book on Westford, The Westford Gazetteer. He also does research and writes articles for the Westford Historical Society, and has written the “Museum Musings” column in the Westford Eagle, the local weekly newspaper, since 2008. He is dedicated to studying Westford history and serving the town in doing so.
Docent Academy ~Who are those men in the portraits that hang in our museum?
By Jim VanBever
D. Orion V. Wells (1880-1918) was a Harvard Medical School graduate, who started working in Westford with the already established Dr. Sleeper. Wells married his nurse assistant, and bought Sleeper’s house [29 Main St.] when Sleeper died. Wells must have done well financially since, in the 1915 Town Valuation the only Westfordites listed as having more than one car were he and Julian Cameron. Wells joined the US Army Medical Corps, but died in October, 1918 influenza epidemic before leaving the country.
Dr. Benjamin Osgood (1781-1863) practiced in Westford from 1812 until his death, and his life spans nearly one quarter of Westford Town history. He was born during the American Revolution and died during the Civil War. He had 11 children, 3 of them died before reaching the age of 8. He was an old school doctor, rode the rounds to visit his clients and rolled his own pills. In his day, doctors were not licensed.
Sherman D. Fletcher (1810-1886) He helped run the Wright and Fletcher store. Was town Treasurer from 1853 until his death, and was a long-time member of the Westford Academy Board of Trustees [although he had not attended WA]. From 1848 until his death he was Treasurer of the First Parish United Church.
Interested in becoming a docent? Email the museum today!