Maynard, MA, USA: Beacon-Villager newspaper column on local history, observations on nature and recreational activities, plus an occasional health-related article. Columns from 2009-11 collected into book "MAYNARD: History and Life Outdoors." - David A. Mark
A few weeks back this column delved into the origins of Maynard’s
town seal, showing the clock tower and motto: "Progressus cum stabilitate."
What was missing was a description of the old town seal, which had served the
town from 1889 to 1975.
Anyone entering Maynard on Routes 62 or 117 will pass a white
sign with the words ENTERING MAYNARD framing a blue circle. Inside the circle
is an image of a standing Native American on a shield; above the shield is a
crest of an arm holding a sword. The figure holds a bow in one hand and an
arrow pointing toward the ground in the other.
This begs the question – why, oh why, in 1889, did the town
of Maynard vote
for a Native American for a symbol? The answer – it did not The same icon is on the other side of the
sign, the one reading ENTERING STOW (or SUDBURY,
or ACTON). What
all these signs bear is actually the Coat of Arms of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Colony's first seal
The charter to establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony,
granted by King Charles I in 1629 authorized a seal that featured a semi-naked
Indian holding a bow and arrow, with a speech balloon containing the words
"Come over and help us" streaming from his mouth. (We all know how
that worked out.)
This seal was discontinued circa 1692 when the Massachusetts
Bay Colony charter was annulled and the territory reorganized as the Province of Massachusetts Bay, without its own coat
of arms or seal. So matters stood until the American Revolutionary War
Current Massachusetts State Seal
The British abandoned Massachusetts
years before the war ended. While war still raged uncertain to the south, the
former Massachusetts Colony approved a State Constitution in 1780 and decided
it wanted its own seal. Nathan Cushing provided the revised design. His idea -
go back to the original, lose the slogan, keep the Indian. After approval by Governor
John Hancock, Paul Revere was commissioned to engrave the seal; his original bill
for the work is on file at the Massachusetts State Archives.
The downward pointing arrow signifies peaceful intent; the
sword, the ongoing war. The Latin motto translates to "By the sword we
seek peace, but peace only under liberty." Thus, the image as a whole is intended
as a reminder that liberty was achieved through the American Revolution.
Maynard Town Seal 1899-1975
Wait, wait – what about Maynard’s old seal? In a word – uninspired. The original image
was one circle inside another. The outer border read TOWN OF MAYNARDMASSACHUSETTS.
The inner circle held INCORPORATED 1871. Imprints can be seen on the covers of
old Town of Maynard Annual Reports,
in the Library's history collection.
It's just as well that the Maynard Town Seal now features
the town's emblematic image. Starting in 2009 the State of Massachusetts decreed that most street signs
change from the old standard of four inch tall lettering to versions with six
inch letters, with the option of including a pictograph such as a town seal to
the left of the lettering.
In Maynard, the transition to larger signs is still a work
in progress, but the majority have been updated. The smaller size still meets
state regulations if located on two-lane streets with speed limits of no more
than 25 mph.
To the east, Concord's
Seal features the Minuteman statue and the motto "Quam firma res
concordia" loosely translated as "What a strong thing is
harmony." To the north, Acton's
Seal features an image of the Civil War monument, no motto. To the west, Stow's Seal features the
Randall Library, no motto. And to the south, Sudbury's
Seal features the WadsworthMonument (honoring Samuel
Wadsworth and others who died in battle in King Philip's War, 1876), and again,
no town motto. Only in Concord
and Maynard does it help to have a bit of Latin.