|Stow, MA, 1856 = before north part of Marlborough became|
Hudson and before Maynard created from parts of Stow and
Sudbury. Boon's Pond not yet enlarged and Gleasondale was
known as Rock Bottom. Click on images to enlarge.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Last week's column left off with
having gained land from Sudbury
and given up land to Harvard and Shirley. After the Shirley subtraction, Stow was contained within
seemingly sensible boundaries (no more Stow Leg), but would subsequently lose
land and people to Boxborough, Hudson and Maynard.
Boxborough was created as a District in 1783, officially becoming a Town in 1835. Its creation took parts of
Harvard and Littleton.
Stow amiably gave up hundreds of acres, but
Boxborough's situation with Littleton
was contentious. The compromise was that individual landowners within the
District of Boxborough could consider themselves residents of Littleton and pay taxes accordingly. Over
subsequent decades most of these landowners or their descendents finally agreed
to become Boxborough-ites, but two farm-owning families were still holdouts
until 1890. Finally, a piece of the border between the towns was shifted south, making
them legally part of Littleton.
Earlier, in 1868, there had been an attempt to expand Boxborough by acquiring West Acton. This failed.
Stow tried to annex a
small but crucial part of Sudbury.
The was a boundary dating back to
1683. William Knight and Amory Maynard starting buying water rights and land on
both sides of the river circa 1843 with intent to build a dam, canal and woolen
mill. The dam site was entirely in Assabet River Stow; the
mill site and what later became Maynard's Main Street entirely in Sudbury.
A petition by Knight to shift the boundary southwards, so that all of their
property would be in Stow, was joined by the
town of Stow, ostensibly to straighten the
borderline and strengthen one of Stow's
school districts. (Ha!) Sudbury
opposed the action. Stow
lost. More on this next week
Back in 1702
had tried for a much larger land acquisition. In the aftermath of King Philip's
war, the Indian town of Nashobah,
some sixteen square miles, had been vacated. Individuals were moving in, and
towns such as Groton
were shifting borders. Stow
reasoned that the land was adjacent to its northern border, and would be a gain
toward raising taxes to support a Minister. Stow lost. Nashobah was later incorporated as
another border brouhaha, there was a thwarted early attempt to chop off a
southern portion of Stow via a petition to
create a new town from land in Sudbury, Framingham, Marlborough and
Stow in 1739.
This was opposed by parent towns in 1740. Nothing came of it.
From a collection of stories about
history, collected by Lewis Halprin, there was one final minor boundary
adjustment with Hudson in 1979: putting a dividing line down the center of the three upper
basins of . Prior to that there had been a
straight line border which had caused a dozen or so houses on the north side of
the lake, surrounded by Stow, to be legally part of Hudson and a similar number
of houses on the south side, reachable only via Hudson, legally part of Stow. Lake Boon
The creation of Maynard on April 19, 1871 took 1,300 acres from
Stow, but of greater impact, nearly half
its population, in what was informally had been called .
There were some exploratory town-founding rumblings in 1870, followed by a
petition to the Assabet Village , filed
January 26, 1871. Supportive petitions with additional signers were submitted
in January and February. All told, nearly 160 signatures gathered. Key points
of the complaint were that the fast-growing population clustered around the
woolen mill on the Commonwealth
of Massachusetts Assabet River was miles away from the town centers of Sudbury and Stow,
and were not getting adequate school and street improvement spending despite
taxes being paid to the parent towns.
There was opposition to the petition. Stow residents countered with three remonstrances, stating that such a division would remove “…the only portion that has increased in its population and in its valuation for the past ten years.” A total of 136 men signed three counter-proposals.
Stow lost. In
received $6,500 plus interest ($1,470) spread out over seven years. The only
solace was that an initial, non-official proposal for a 'Greater Maynard' would
have taken close to an additional 600 acres from the southeast edge of Stow, all the way down to
White Pond. What was left to Stow
after Maynard decamped was an area of 18.1 square miles (11,584 acres) with a population
of about 1,000. With the exception of the Gleasondale mills, Stow remained primarily a farm town (poultry
and apples) for a long time, not reaching a population of greater than 2,000
until the 1950s.
Much of the work on this topic, including the "
map, rests on research that Francis W. Warren, a Stow historian, conducted in
1979 for a lecture "Boundaries of Stow," some since revisited and retold by Stow historian and author, Lewis
Halprin. Concluded in Part Three.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
In the decades after the creation of
Stow in 1683, certain boundaries, fluid, were
settled, and neighboring towns gave up or took land. There are statements in
historical documents that Stow
at its largest was more than twice its current area of 18.1 square miles. The
saga begins with Stow attempting a land grab of
the vacated Indian town of Nashobah (now Littleton) in 1702. This would have added 16 square miles. The petition was rejected. Next was Stow gaining
about 250 acres from Sudbury
in 1730. When Stow was created, Sudbury
still retained a bit of land north of the Assabet
River, bordering what would become Acton in 1735. As the
settlers there had no easy means to get to church or town meetings in Sudbury, they petitioned to joint Stow. The area included 200 acres that
initially belonged to the Browne family. It roughly matched land now site of
Maynard golf course, Christmas Motors, and Maynard's northeastern woodlands.
|Frances W. Warren's 1978 map of the original size of Stow. MA|
Click on maps to enlarge. (Courtesy Stow Historical Society)
After this, it was all subtraction, subtraction, subtraction. Pompositticut Plantation, renamed
on May 16, 1683, had been created to fill the space between the older towns and
territories of Concord,
Sudbury, Groton, Lancaster and Marlborough.
"Pompositticut" was an Indian name said to mean “land of many hills. ” Summer Hill, Maynard, was
on old maps as Pompositticut Hill.
included a narrow strip of land called the Stow Leg which extended miles west,
to beyond the . This came about when Nashua
and Groton were
created in the 1650s. A corridor of land had been left between the two for the
Native Americans of Nashobah to travel west to hunting regions. The concept was
not unique - The south side of Lancaster
once included land referred to as the Shrewsbury Leg.
Towns changing size was not uncommon.
established 1639, grew in 1640 and 1649, then subsequently gave up land to Framingham, Stow,
Wayland and Maynard. Lancaster was as large as
112 square miles, then birthed Harvard, Bolton, Berlin, Clinton, Boylston,
West Boylston, Sterling and Leominster.
|Map of Harvard, MA, showing the strip across|
the middle that had come from Stow, described as
200 rods (0.625 miles) wide. Town of Shirley,
was created later from southwest part of Groton.
Courtesy Harvard Historical Society
The creation of Harvard in June 1732 was vigorously opposed by residents of
Stow, but in the end Stow lost 2,650 acres of the Stow Leg, west as far as the
Nashua River. This created an oddity. Stow Leg extended farther west than what
was deeded to Harvard, so that after the creation of Harvard, Stow included an isolated chunk of land on
the far side of Harvard, roughly 1.25 miles in length east to west and two
hundred rods (0.625 miles) wide north to south. Problem solved 33 years later
when the town of Shirley,
created in 1753, formally took over this 450 acre remnant in 1765.
The annexation of
land by Shirley resulted in a legal action that reached the Massachusetts
Supreme Court in 1810. In those days, towns were responsible for the care of
resident paupers, most commonly widowed women and orphaned children, but also
men with physical or mental ailments, who were unable to care for themselves.
These unfortunates could be supported in place, in their residences, taken in
as town-paying borders in someone else's home, or relocated to a town's poor farm.
Work was often required in return for support.
Much of the work on this topic, including the "
Thursday, February 2, 2017
|Gnawed tree near Ice House Landing, Maynard|
(2006 photo) Click on any photo to enlarge.
A beaver family has created a lodge on the north side of the mill pond about 80 yards east of the Sudbury Street bridge, and are destroying trees on Mill & Main property, trees bordering St. Bridget property and also on neighboring private property. Tree damage by other beaver families is evident up and down the
between the Ben Smith and
Powdermill dams. Beavers will walk more than 150 feet from water's edge to take
down trees for food and building material. Heavy gauge wire fencing four feet
tall is recommended to protect individual trees. Assabet River
Due to fur trapping, beavers were gone from colonial
Massachusetts by 1750, and
did not start to repopulate the state until 1930s. When colonial farmers relocated
to new areas to start a new village they anticipated finding large, tree-free
expanses near streams. These farm-ready spaces had once been beaver ponds. Resident
beavers would have moved away after all the surrounding trees have been cut
down and eaten. Or else had been trapped for pelts. Unmaintained dams
deteriorated and washed out, draining the ponds and leaving fertile meadows.
While recovery has not been as explosive as for whitetail deer, which now exceed their pre-European population, estimates are that
Massachusetts is home to
at least 100,000 beavers. The Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge is home to
a dozen or more active colonies – all contributors to the wetlands habitat
essential to many other species.
Many towns’ Department of Public Works have to deal with beaver management every year. Maynard's DPW has on several occasions brought in licensed trappers to remove beavers from wetlands near the town’s well fields. Homeowners can apply to a town’s Board of Health for an Emergency Permit to trap and kill beavers affecting private property. State law does not allow for relocation, or for that matter, destroying a dam or lodge without a permit.
When beavers are able to find a place to live without disruption, spring brings a litter of about four kits which will remain close to the parent pair for two years, helping out with chores such as dam and lodge maintenance, plus late-fall food storage in the form of underwater piles of branches. This way, food remains accessible under the winter ice. The adult male of the mated pair will create scent mounds marking the family’s territory. This territoriality results in families being no closer than half a mile from each other. If a beaver pond is seen with two lodges it just means the one family in residence upgraded.
|Beaver skull purchased from licensed trapper.|
Note orange tint to enamel. Click to enlarge.
Our resident adult beavers have no predators. Before the Europeans got here they were hunted by Native Americans, wolves, cougars and black bears. Nowadays, their lifespan in the wild can exceed 20 years, with adults typically weighing 45-65 pounds but known to top 100 pounds. Every spring, the two-year olds, evicted from their parents’ lodges, go a wandering. Summer sightings and new areas of tree damage are probably by these adolescents. Lodges are not always surrounded by water. If the water level is relatively stable the beaver will forego constructing a dam, and instead build a lodge next to shore, referred to as a bank lodge.
The four front wood-gnawing teeth, continually growing, are radically different from the chewing teeth. The enamel of the outer surface incorporates an iron-containing pigment which makes that surface harder and also orange in color. Because the rest of the tooth is a softer dentin material, the teeth resharpen with use.
|Beaver skull showing space between|
gnawing teeth and chewing teeth
|Beaver damage to large trees.|
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
|February 8, 2017: New bridge being lifted (and lowered) into place.|
The bridged is fenced at both ends until the approaches are completed.
February 8th saw the replacement footbridge in Maynard lowered into place by a crane. Next steps are installing lighting and construction of the approaches.
Other sets of construction photos posted in November, October and December. The overall schedule calls for the complete 3.4 miles from near Acton train station to Maynard:Stow border to be completed by fall 2017, with landscaping (tree planting, etc.) wrapped up in early 2018.
Click on any photo to enlarge:
|January 27: The frame of the replacement footbridge over the Assabet River|
was assembled in the parking lot behind Gruber Bros Furniture.
|Pilings being installed just south of the SAAB dealership (upper left), on|
Route 27, in Acton, will support a boardwalk crossing 100 yards of wetlands.
|The trestle bridge over Fort Pond Brook, Acton, has been removed, and|
preparations are underway to install a new bridge. Timing: Summer 2017.
|Januay 27, 2017: Absence of snow and above freezing temperatures|
made for fast work as scores of ARRT-related signs installed in Maynard.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
A reader's email reached the Beacon-Villager with a suggestion to write about the old days of home delivery: "Back in the 30's and 40's when few people had cars it was necessary for a litany of service people to come regularly to your home. From my recall..."
A few observations here that differentiate home delivery of decades ago with now. First, men worked and women were at home. People might have had cars, but more and more had phones. Delivery could be on a schedule (milk, eggs, mail) or ordered (ice, coal, heating oil, groceries). Ice delivery by J.L. Comeau continued into the 1960s. Hans Eriksen started milk processing and delivery in 1902. The family stayed in the milk business until 1965 before deciding to focus only on its ice cream business. This April, Erikson's Ice Cream will open for its 80th year.
In addition to delivery, there were goods and services that are now only faint history. The knife and scissors sharpener came around. Kids delivering newspapers. Doctors making house calls. Farmers selling vegetables from a horse-drawn wagon or an open-backed truck, calling out "I got STRAW-berries, I got PEACHES." (Now we go to a farmers' market.) The ragman would come around to buy old clothes. The life insurance man knocked on doors to sell policies, but also came around monthly to collect money owed on the policy. Many houses had a cast-iron lidded, concrete-lined pit by the back door, for kitchen organic waste. Inside was a large metal bucket. Every so often a collector for a local pig farm would come by to take away the pigswill. The lid of ours reads "F.B. JONES.
|Cast iron lid for kitchen organic waste - to be collected by pig farmer|
If you had horses or cows you would know to arrange for the knacker to haul away any animal that sickened and died. The carcasses went to
Taylor's mink farm, on Concord Street.
Now that we are well into the 21st century, delivery has taken on entirely new methods. The issue is still what is referred to as the "last mile problem." Planes, ships, trains and trucks can move items in bulk, but businesses and people want delivery to their door. This last leg of the supply process can be up to 28 percent of the total cost of moving goods from manufacturing site to customer. General purpose delivery is handled by the Post Office, FedEx, UPS, DHL. In cities, bicycle couriers do the small stuff. Amazon is growing its own delivery system (trucks, maybe drones?!?). Walmart will deliver prescription drugs ordered via their pharmacy. Car dealers will deliver a new car. Medical marijuana can be delivered, too (including in
Security has become an important issue now that valuable items are being left by front doors. Especially around the December holidays, deliveries are being stolen by 'porch pirates.' Some delivery services are experimenting with electronically coded lockers at convenient locations. The customer orders. The item is delivered. The customer gets a text with the location and a one-time-use code to open the locker. This works well for people in apartments, or who want a delivery convenient to where they work.
Home delivery of food is an explosively growing niche, with plenty of innovative ideas. Restaurants have their own delivery people, or you can go through a centralized service such as GrubHub. GH allows you to look at a menu on your smart phone, text your order, and pay, so no more phone call frustrations or fumbling for cash for the delivery person. Other types of food delivery can be groceries, food prepared for specific meals, or Meals-On-Wheels for the elderly and infirm. One company is experimenting with PiePal. The idea is you push a big round button installed on a wall, hold your phone up to it for your credit or debit number, and it orders pizza. Perfect for college dormitories.