Wednesday, March 28, 2018

William Maynard (1833-1906)

Past columns have portrayed Lorenzo - the ambitious oldest son of Amory and Mary Maynard, and also featured the diary of Harlan – the youngest son, who died as a teenager. What of William, the middle son? William was born in Marlborough, MA, sixth generation born in America. The family relocated to Assabet Village when he was 12. His great-grandfather had served briefly in the Continental Army, in 1775, qualifying William and descendants as Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution (organizations created 1889 and 1890, respectively). 

William married Mary Adams, literally the girl next door, in 1853. They had seven children and were married for 53 years before William died. Mary outlived him by 14 years. The two of them, three of their children and one grandchild are buried in a family plot in Hope Cemetery, Worcester.

Mary (Adams) Maynard (age unknown)
Maynard Historical Society
The seven children: Mary Susan, Amory (oft referred to as Amory II, which was confusing given that he was Amory’s grandson, not son), Jeanette, Lessie, Harlan, Grace and George (twins, born when their mother was 42). Jeanette, Grace and George are the three who are buried at the family plot in Worcester, along with Jenette’s son.

William Maynard (age unknown)
Maynard Historical Society
William did not follow in his father’s footsteps as closely as Lorenzo. Throughout much of the 1860s, family letters to and from William find him living in Boston and working for at least some of that time for the Fitchburg Railroad. A letter from Charles L. Heywood, Superintendent, stated that his salary for 1868 would be $1500. This when a laborer's average daily wage was $2. Back in Assabet Village (not Town of Maynard until 1871), Amory built a house and Lorenzo did the same next door. The buildings still exist as 145 and 147 Main Street. In 1873 Amory built a mansion on the hill south of the mill, ditto Lorenzo, soon after. By then, William was back in Maynard, married and with seven children, living in a house owned by his parents.   

An important part of William’s life – a mystery on the face of it – is that in either in 1884 or 1885, age ~52, he and most of his family moved across the country from Maynard to Pasadena, California. At the time his oldest two children were married and stayed in Maynard, but the younger five went. Why Pasadena?!? One historical account mentions that William’s poor health forced his to resign in 1883 from his position as Assistant Supervisor, under his brother and father at the woolen mill. A good guess is William had tuberculosis. In that pre-antibiotics era, people with tuberculosis (“consumption”), were advised to move to places that had warm, dry climates. Pasadena back then a fast-growing town (1880 population 391; 1890 population 4,882) as it became nationally renowned for sanatoriums for sufferers from tuberculosis and lesser respiratory ailments. By the time William decided to travel west it was possible to make the 9-10 day transcontinental trip entirely by railroad.

William Maynard (age unknown)
Maynard Historical Society
Within a couple of years William was healthy enough to leave Pasadena, first for Los Angeles (a phone directory lists his profession as “capitalist”), and then returning eastward, but to Worcester. There is a sense that he was supported by his father. That status soon changed. Amory Maynard died in 1890 without leaving a will. The estate most likely ended up being divided equally between Lorenzo and William. There is no record of the valuation of Amory’s estate, but upon William’ death in 1906 his will, filed for probate, describes a valuation of about $220,000. In inflation-adjusted dollars, a touch under $6,000,000. Interestingly, his will names his wife and six of their seven children as heirs, excluding Amory, his oldest son.  

William and Mary have living descendants. Daughter Lessie Louise married Paul Beagary Morgan, of Worcester, in 1893 and they had five children. Son Harlan married Florence Smith in 1899 and they had six children. The generations alive today are the great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren of Lessie or Harlan. On occasion, a Maynard family descendant visits the town to have a family member’s cremation remains interred in the family crypt at Glenwood Cemetery. 


December 1906: “The will of William Maynard, late of Worcester, Mass, filed for probate disposes of an estate of several hundred thousand dollars. To his wife are given the furnishings in the Elm Street homestead and $50,000 to be her own absolute property.  To the executors is given $150,000 in trust to pay the income during Mrs. Maynard’s life during her life and at her death to pay the principal in equal shares to six of his children. After this bequest, the residue goes to the children of the testator, Mary S. Peters, Jeanette Van Etten, Lessie L. Morgan, Harlan J. Maynard, Grace E. Maynard and George E. Maynard, to share alike.” Excludes oldest son, Amory Maynard. Assuming a total net worth of approximately $220,000 in 1906 dollars, inflation adjusted to ~ $5.7 million in 2018 dollars.

March 1925: William H.K. Maynard, son of Lorenzo Maynard, and therefore nephew of William Maynard, died January 4, 1925, age 73 years. He had no close family, having no children, and his wife and four sisters having pre-deceased him. HK's estate was valued at between $700,000 and $1,000,000 ($10-14 million in 2018 dollars). HK's will left half to his sister-in-law and half to 23 charities. His cousins (William's children and grandchildren), who would have inherited in the absence of a will, sued to have the will overturned, arguing that HK was not of sound mind, and had been unduly influenced by his wife (who had died in 1919). The judge hearing the petition declined to allow the case to go to a jury trial. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Amory Maynard Ancestors

In addition to Amory Maynard, for whom the Town of Maynard was named for, in 1871, there were many other descendants of the John Maynard (1598-1672) who brought his son John Maynard (1630-1711) to the Massachusetts Bay Colony circa 1638.

0. John MAYNARD (1575-1603) born England, died England
Married Elizabeth Ashton (1579-1603)
John MAYNARD (1598-1672)  if years are correct, five years old when parents died

1. John MAYNARD (1598-1672) born England, died Sudbury         
Married Elizabeth _______ (1602-1633) m. 1627
Married Mary (Rice) Axtell (1619-1680) ~1646. Her first husband Thomas Axtell
John MAYNARD (1630-1711)
    CHILDREN BY MARY (who also had three children from her first marriage)
Zachariah MAYNARD (1647-1723) m. (1) Hannah m. (2) Hannah
Elizabeth MAYNARD (1649-1676) m. Joseph Graves
Lydia MAYNARD (1651?-1717) m. Joseph Moore  poss Lydia was born 1644 to Mary
Mary MAYNARD (1656-1677) m. Daniel Hudson

2. John MAYNARD (1630-1711) born England, died Marlborough
Married Mary Gates (1636-1678) in 1658 in Sudbury
Married Sarah Blandford/Keyes (1643-1724) in 1679 in Sudbury. Her first husband Elias Keyes
Mary MAYNARD (1659-1689) m. Isaac Woods 1683
John MAYNARD (1661-1731) m. Lydia Ward
Hannah MAYNARD (1662-1729) m. Jonathan Davenport – descendants include President Bush
Elizabeth MAYNARD (1664-1733) m. Nathan Brigham
Simon MAYNARD (1666-1748)
Zachariah MAYNARD (1668-1672)
David MAYNARD (1669-1757)
Zachariah MAYNARD (1672-1738)
Sarah MAYNARD (1680-1757) m. Joseph Johnson
Lydia MAYNARD (1682-????) m. Thomas Haggate
Joseph MAYNARD (1685-1721) m. Elizabeth Price

3. Simon MAYNARD (1666-1747) born Marlborough, died Marlborough
Married Hannah Newton
Hannah MAYNARD (1694-????) m. Joseph CROSBY
Sgt. Simon MAYNARD (1695-1786) m. Sarah CHURCH
Elizabeth MAYNARD (1698-1766) m. Robert HORN
Tabitha MAYNARD (1700-1724)
Elisha MAYNARD (1703-1760) m. Huldah BANNISTER
Eunice MAYNARD (1705-1730) m. Nathaniel FALKNER
Ephraim MAYNARD (1707-1797) m. (1) Sarah LIVERMORE; m. (2) Mary BALCUM
Benjamin MAYNARD (1709-1711)
Zerviah MAYNARD, (1710-????)
Catherine MAYNARD (1714-1729)

4. Ephraim MAYNARD (1707-1797) born Marlborough.
Married (1) Sarah LIVERMORE, (2) Mary BALCUM
Tabitha MAYNARD (1738-1742)
Ephraim MAYNARD (1740-1742)
Sarah MAYNARD (1743-????)
Ephraim MAYNARD (1745-1826) m. Eunice JEWEL
Simon MAYNARD (1748-1818) m. Silence PRIEST
Joseph MAYNARD (1750-1785) m. Lovina BARNES
Benjamin MAYNARD (1753-1801) m. Silence WILLIS
Eunice MAYNARD, baptized. 13 Mar 1756 presumed died shortly after
Eunice MAYNARD (1757-1835) m. Abel WILLIS

5. Simon MAYNARD (1748-1818) born Marlborough
Married Silence PRIEST
Simon appears to have served in the colonial army April 19, 1775 to May 4, 1775, which qualifies his descendants as Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution. His unit may have been active on April 19, 1775 (the Lexington/Concord battle).
Isaac MAYNARD (1779-????) m. Lydia HOWE
Hannah MAYNARD (1782-????) m. (1) Peace PETERS; m. (2) Stephen HOWE Jr.
John Priest MAYNARD (1791-1818) m. Betsey WEEKS

6. Isaac MAYNARD (1779-1820)
Married Lydia HOWE 1803
Amory MAYNARD (1804-1890) m. Mary PRIEST
Lydia MAYNARD (1805-????) m. Joel Wilkins in 1822

7. Amory MAYNARD (1804-1890) born Marlborough, died Maynard
Married Mary PRIEST (1805-1886)
      Lorenzo MAYNARD (1829-1904)
      William MAYNARD (1833-1906)
      Harlan MAYNARD (1843-1861)

Amory Maynard
Mary (Priest) Maynard
Amory was 16 when his father died. He took over operation of the family mill, and in time went into the construction business. He built a woolen mill in Framingham for William Knight. After the two men sold their water rights to the city of Boston, they formed a partnership and started a mill in Assabet Village, in 1846. The village became Town of Maynard April 19, 1871. Amory died 1890; at that time his oldest son, Lorenzo, was Agent of the mill (equivalent to today's Chief Operating Officer). The mill became bankrupt in 1898, purchased by American Woolen Company, and restarted 1899.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Winter 2017-18: Average/Not Average

Note: This was sent in before the 3/12-14 storm. Revised in italics to March 18th data. Will revise again after the 3/21-22 storm. 

How normal/abnormal was the winter of 2017-2018?

This winter’s precipitation had been in the normal range - until March. Unlike regions of the country that have wet and dry seasons, eastern Massachusetts averages approximately four inches of precipitation every month of the year. As of March 4, i.e., between the first and second nor’easters, precipitation had been one inch over average for the last 30 days and two inches above the average for the last 12 months. [As of March 18, 2.3" higher than average for last 30 days and 3.7" higher for 12 months.] Of course, the Assabet River fluctuates greatly in depth between winter and summer, but that is because in the green months, plants are taking up huge quantities of water and releasing that into the air, whereas in winter most it either sinks into the earth to replenish our town’s water supply or else runs off to the river. The Assabet has been well above average since New Year’s Day.   

Creek near Assabet River, 1/1/18
Photo taken from footbridge
Same creek, 48 hours later
Click on photos to enlarge
Temperatures were all over the place. From December 26 to the morning of January 11 the temperature never got above freezing, and several nights got to -10F. Even the fast-running parts of the Assabet River were nearly frozen over. Then, two days of temperatures in the 60s combined with steady rain almost completely obliterated the snow cover. February temperatures were mostly in the normal range of below freezing at night, warming to above freezing by day, but on February 20 and 21, spiked to record setting highs above 70F. Whatever snow and ice cover that remained was again wiped out. Tough year on local ski slope businesses. The first nor’easter of March came in like a lion, the second one (March 7-8) was more of a snow leopard. The wet snow of the latter broke branches on trees that had survived the high winds of the former. And ANOTHER wet snow storm March 12-14! And 10F the morning of March 18!!.

Theoretically, there will be some benefits from those ultra-cold January nights. Adult deer ticks can survive a moderately cold winter, to plague us in early spring. But if the deep cold killed them all off, then woods walkers have little to fear until the over wintering eggs hatch and tick nymphs become active, in May. Likewise, the cold may have killed a majority of the wooly adelgids that plague hemlock trees, providing a year’s respite (but no permanent salvation from eventual tree death). For hemlock tree owners the only options are insecticide spraying – or a chain saw.    

Chart shows average monthly precipitation, in inches, using Boston data
(raindrops and snowflakes). The swooping line is river volume. Figure
created by Felice Katz for book: MAYNARD: History and Life Outdoors. 
Total snowfall had been a tad above average. Winters put about 45 inches of snow on Boston and 65 inches of snow on Worcester. It’s a fare guess that Stow and Maynard are in between. Counting the March 7-8 storm Boston’s winter total was 41 inches. [The March 12-14 storm brought the Boston winter total to 57.2 inches]. The last two big years for Boston were 2010-11 with 81 inches and 2014-15 with a record-setting 110 inches of snow. Between the two, 2011-12 was a low snow year, at 9.3 inches.

The long-term trend is that winters have been getting shorter, but snowier. Of the ten snowiest winters since record-keeping began in 1890, six have been in the last twenty-five years. The reason is that eastern Massachusetts has been getting wetter (up 10 percent) faster than warmer (up one degree F). But at some point in the future that upward snow trend will collapse, because once nor’easters are above freezing temperatures those storms will be heavy rain events rather than snow events. Portland, Maine has already experienced a crossover. Weather records dating back to 1870 show a bit warmer, much wetter, less snow.

March 8, 2018 "Nice hat"
Of course, winter is not over until it’s over. April 1, 1997 was the infamous April Fool’s nor’easter that put two feet of snow on Boston and nearly three feet on Worcester. Two days earlier had been sunny and in the 60’s, so people were unprepared for the idea of a pending storm. The storm started as rain, but as evening fell the air temperature dropped a couple of degrees more than expected and snow was suddenly coming down at 2-3 inches per hour. Across mid-Atlantic and New England states, more than one million people lost power. Twenty years earlier there was a snowstorm on May 9, 1977. Not as widespread as 1997 (Boston got less than an inch), but suburbs west and northwest of Route 128 got more than a foot of wet snow. Because trees had already leafed out, the damage was tremendous. 

Observe that we are looking at pretty much twenty year intervals. So maybe these March storms were pre-ordained.    

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Boston Post Cane (award winner)

Gatehouse Media, the parent company of The Beacon-Villager and many neighboring newspapers, had submitted two of my columns to the New England Newspaper and Press Association annual convention for consideration for an award in the category Serious Columnists (sub-category weekly newspapers). I received third prize. This is a reprint of one of the columns.   

The Boston Post was a popular and influential newspaper some 100+ years ago.  In 1909, Edwin Grozier, the publisher, decided to promote the newspaper by donating ebony, gold-capped canes to the Boards of Selectmen of 700 towns in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.  Engraved on the top of the gold head of each cane were the words "Presented by The Boston Post to the OLDEST CITIZEN of __________ [name of town and state]..."

The idea was that the towns would award these BOSTON POST CANES to the oldest male citizen for the remainder of his life, to be returned to the town upon his death, to be awarded to the next oldest, and so on.

Town of Maynard, Boston Post Cane
Courtesy Maynard Historical Society
(click on photo to enlarge)
The canes were made by J.F. Fradley and Co., a New York City silversmith and cane maker. Joseph F. Fradley (1843-1914) began a silversmith business in 1866. His business had an excellent reputation. J.F. Fradley items appear for sale in fine arts and crafts auctions. The business was managed by his son, George F. Fradley, at the time the canes were made. Although many of the newspaper articles about recipients of Boston Post Canes describe the cane heads as 14 karat gold, some of the internet photos show wear to reveal non-gold metal underneath, confirming that the cane heads were gold-plated rather than all gold. This makes sense. Gold, rather than gold plated, would have made the canes prohibitively expensive, even back in 1909.  

Women achieved the right to vote in 1920, but it took ten more years before The Boston Post approved a changing of the rules to allow women to be awardees.  

The Boston Post went out of business in 1956, but the Boston Post Cane tradition continues in many towns. As years went by some of the canes were misplaced, stolen, sold, lost or destroyed. Some went missing for years, decades even, only to surface again. In time, most towns decided to keep the original cane in a town office or at the local historical society, and either discontinue the practice entirely or else award a plaque to the oldest resident in lieu of the cane. 

Maynard's Boston Post Cane is on permanent display at the town building. It had gone missing around 1928, not recovered until 1981. In 1999 the Maynard Historical Society decided to revive the tradition of honoring Maynard’s oldest citizen by presenting him or her with a plaque from the Maynard Board of Selectmen. The most recent five: Elizabeth Dodd, Dorothy Barlow, Arlene Cook, Mildred F. Duggan, and currently Ben Sofka. Ben, a life-long Maynard resident, received his plaque in February 2017, shortly after he reached the age of 100 years.

Ben Sofka died March 10, 2018. He was 101. The search is on for the next recipient of Maynard's Boston Post Cane.

Stow's Boston Post Cane is kept in the Town Vault in the Town Hall building, along with other historically important artifacts. Recipients are presented with a Boston Post Cane lapel pin. The cane had gone missing 1951 to 1971. Actually, it was in the Vault all the time, but misplaced. Since 1971 there have been 12 recipients. The most recent was Dr. Donald Freeman Brown - awarded the cane when he reached 99 years. He passed away in 2014, age 105. After his death the cane passed to Alma (Colson) Boyton. She died in 2016, age 103. The honor and lapel pin have not yet been awarded to a newest oldest resident.

Boston Post Cane, side view
The Boston Post Cane Information Center [], maintained by the Maynard Historical Society has become a clearinghouse for all things BPC. The starting point was a 1985 article written by Maynard historian Ralph Sheridan. After his death in 1996, David Griffin took up the traces, and still gathers news of canes lost, found and awarded.

A few facts plucked from the website: As of last count, 517 towns continue or have resumed honoring their oldest citizens. Most have the original canes gifted them in 1909, but some are using brass-capped mahogany replicas purchased from the Town of Peterborough, NH. Some towns stipulate that to qualify, a person must be a current resident and living in the town the past 10 or 15 years. Watertown's cane went missing in 1910, and did not return until 99 years later. At the time Mary Josephine Ray of Westmorland, NH, passed away, age 114.8, she was not only the oldest ever holder of a Boston Post Cane, but also the oldest person in the United States.

Stow's and Maynard's neighbors do and do not continue the Boston Post Cane tradition. Hudson, Harvard and Sudbury awards plaques to their most senior citizens. Acton is considering restarting the same practice. Bolton and Boxborough apparently do not participate, either because these towns had too small a population to get a cane back in 1909, or because the original canes went astray. Starting in 1962, Concord decided to change to an annual Honored Citizen Celebration. The awardee is steward of the Boston Post Cane for a year and leads the Patriots' Day Parade.