Thursday, January 26, 2012
Maynard Name Change - Part 1
Maynard almost changed its name 31 years after it was founded. Impetus for the name change seemed to be three-fold: American Woolen Company, the new owner of the mill complex, wanted the name change; people were still angry that Amory Maynard, mill founder, had not left a significant gift to the town when he died in 1890; and his son, Lorenzo Maynard, was accused of mismanaging operations of the mill to the point that it fell into bankruptcy in 1898, costing many mill workers their jobs plus part of their savings, which they had entrusted to being kept for them by the Assabet Manufacturing Company in lieu of a bank. The following paragraphs are excerpts from an article titled “MAYNARD OR WHAT?” published in The Maynard News on March 28, 1902:
“The legislative hearing on the petition for a change in the name of the town was continued on Tuesday. The hearing began at the State house,
Boston, but after a two hours’ session the hearing was continued for one week, the on Towns deciding to pay a visit to Maynard. Commonwealth of Massachusetts Committee
“Mr. Murray, representing the petitioners for name change, called Julian Lowe, who stated that he had resided in Maynard about 29 years and had been in the wholesale and retail liquor business about 21 years. He signed the petition for a change of name, and in talking with others has found a decided sentiment existing in favor of the change. He had lost money by the failure of the Assabet Manufacturing Co., and at that time had heard considerable discussion relating to a change of name.
“Ashael H. Haynes next appeared for the petitioners. He stated that he had been in the clothing business in Maynard 25 years. He favored the change and believed that the sentiment on town was also that way. Ralph Whitehead believed the sentiment in favor of the change was 3 to 1.
“Mr. Murray then called upon James F. Sweeney, who as a life-long resident of Maynard, someone who had known Amory Maynard and knew him as an honest, businesslike man, was nevertheless strongly in favor of the change. Mr. Sweeney spoke of the influence exerted over the voters of the town when the Assabet mills were controlled by the Maynards, intimating that they dared not vote against the mill owners for fear the means of livelihood would be lost.
“Mr. Sweeney charged the Maynards with being opposed to the installation of the public water system and the building of the present
Nason street schoolhouse. He further stated that when the town was incorporated in 1871, the Maynard family and the Assabet Company owned nearly all the tenements in town. There were no sidewalks, street lights, and but poor educational advantages. He spoke of the lack of a Town Hall, and said that for many years the town had been obliged to pay a high rent for use of Riverside Hall, a building owned by the Maynard family.
“He stated that for ten years before its downfall, the Assabet mills had been tottering, and that a few months previous to the failure Lorenzo Maynard, realizing that the end was drawing nigh, signed over property to the amount of $250,000 to protect himself when the crash came. Mr. Sweeney closed with an appeal to the Committee to allow the citizens the privilege of exercising their right to vote on the matter.
“Thomas Hillis, in opening for the remonstrants, told of the founding of the original mill, and gave a brief history of Amory Maynard, its founder. He contrasted the size of the place when Amory Maynard first arrived in Assabet valley with the size of the town when Mr. Maynard retired in 1884.
“‘When Mr. Maynard first came here,’ said Mr. Hillis, ‘there were only 12 houses in the place; when he retired from business 1,200 hands were employed at the mills, and the mills had a surplus of $1,000,000 and paid six percent on its capital stock. When the town was incorporated it was given the name of Maynard by the voters, but the honor was not sought by Amory Maynard, and in yielding to the wishes of the townspeople he had made no promises of bequests or memorials in return for the use of his name.'"
“Mr. Hillis added ‘Because Lorenzo Maynard had failed was no reason why the name should be changed, and that he would show that prior to 1898 no one had ever thought of changing the name of the town.'"
“Mr. M.H. Garfield of the gunpowder mills and Mr. John W. Ogden, superintendent of the trolley, spoke against the petition, as did Mr. Frank H Harriman of Harriman Bros. Laundry. Mr. Harriman stated that his father had never heard Amory Maynard promising to give anything to the town, and further, that he did not believe in letting the people vote on the question.
“Other people well known in Maynard spoke against the petition, among them William B. Case, owner of the dry goods store, Rev. Edwin Smith, retired pastor of the Congregational Church, Abel G. Haynes, John Whitney and Artemas Whitney. In accord was Sidney B. Shattuck, who said that Maynard was good enough for him. He was decidedly against going back to the name Assabet, as it was an Indian name and he had no use for Indians.”