Saturday, April 15, 2023

Marble Farm Historic Site dedication

 On May 2, 2023, a 4:30 PM, Maynard's newest park will be dedicated. The event is planned to coincide with peak daffodil blooming, as thousands of daffodils were planted there, starting fall of 2018. The site is on the Assabet River Rail Trail, across Route 27 from Christmas Motors.

                           Below, parts taken from a 2019 newspaper column about the site

As for this site’s history, start with a witch trial. In 1692, Joseph Marble, resident of Andover, Massachusetts, posted bond for his two nieces, accused of witchcraft. Abigail Faulkner, their mother, had already been convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to be hanged. Her execution was deferred because she was pregnant. By the spring of 1693 the witch hunt frenzy was over. Abigail was pardoned, her daughters never brought to trial.

Maynard Historic Society photo of the house 
with barns in the background
Locally, records show Joseph Marble buying 140 acres of land in Sudbury in 1704. Exactly what land he bought and from whom has not been confirmed, but a good guess is from William Brown and at the northeast edge of what is now Maynard. Joseph is recorded as attending Sudbury town meetings. Joseph’s son John and his neighbors petitioned to switch their land to Stow in 1730. In 1871 the same land was included in the creation of Maynard, carved out of parts of Stow and Sudbury. Thus, over the years the homestead was located in three towns.

The family line at the homestead was as follows: Joseph Marble, then his son John, John’s son John, and that John’s son, John. (Whew!) John-the-last is buried in Glendale cemetery with his wife Lois. Their daughter Sarah Marble married Daniel Whitney and they inherited the house. Their daughter Mary Whitney married Joel Parmenter. Mary and Joel lived in Sudbury until Daniel Whitney died in 1871, then back to the homestead, making it the Parmenter house until Joel died in 1919. Mary’s and Joel’s son Harry owned only half of the house and none of the farm at the time the house burned to the ground in 1924. The house was never rebuilt and the barns (spared by the fire) are long gone. The land is owned by the town of Maynard.

A few highlights: The original immigrants John and Judith Marble, John and Elinor Whitney and John and Briget Parmenter, all arrived in New England in the 1630’s as part of the Puritan Great Migration. Joseph’s “witch” sister-in-law gave birth to Ammi Ruhamah Faulkner in 1693. His name was derived from Hebrew and translates as “my people have been saved” – apt for a child whose pregnancy saved his mother’s life! Around 1740 Ammi moved to South Acton and bought the mill. His home is now the historic Faulkner Homestead. His first cousin John Marble was already in residence at the Marble homestead, a mile down the road. Whitneys were early inhabitants of Stow; Parmenters early inhabitants of Sudbury.

Maynard Boy Scout Troop #130 at site
The site consists of a 28’ x 32’ house foundation and surrounding stone walls. In April 2009 Maynard’s Boy Scout Troop #130 cleared the site and installed a post and chain fence around part of the foundation. The east border is a walled ditch running parallel to the Assabet River Rail Trail. A historic plaque marks the site. The house burned on April 2, 1924. The nearest fire hydrant was too far away to be of any use.

Marble Farm was the topic of a presentation to the Maynard Historical Society in 2009. In attendance were two descendants of Joseph Marble! Charles Marble was a descendent of John, one of Joseph’s sons. Sally Wadman, maiden name Chandler descended from one of Joseph’s other sons – Edmund – who had married Mary Jewell in August 1711.Their daughter Dorothy married Moses Chandler in 1742, and through their son, Samuel Chandler, reached down through eight more generations to Sally. Chandler is another New England name dating its arrival to the early 1600’s, in this case to a William Chandler who arrived around 1637. Thus, through Sally’s genealogical research she was able to connect with her Marble, Jewell and Chandler ancestors who all arrived within 20 years of the Mayflower.

After the Scout effort the site reverted to wilderness, overgrown with Oriental bittersweet, sumac, blackberry and Japanese knotweed. Dead trees fell or were threatening. Starting in 2018, volunteers cleared a portion between the foundation and the rail trail this summer past and planted grass. In October of that year, more than 1,000 daffodils were planted. This was the first step toward converting Maynard’s portion of the Assabet River Rail Trail into a “Trail of Flowers.” The project continued in 2019 with more daffodils. A web site,, was launched.

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Initial drawing submitted to CPC in 2020
In 2020, Maynard's Community Preservation Committee funded a feasibility study for a landscape architect company go create a park creation design. The result was a design for a 2/3 acre park with a safety fence around the foundation, removal of brush piles, dead trees, brick entranceway and a well house, and addition of paths, and amenities such as benches, bike rack, entrance bridge and signage. In 2021, the CPC funded and the citizen vote approved a $100,000 budget. This went out for bid, no bids accepted, design elements removed, out for bid again, and a bid accepted summer of 2022. Project reduced to fence, removal of brush piles, dead trees, well house and deteriorating brick causeway, but no replacement bridge, stone dust paths or bike rack. 

Dedication event, May 2, 2023
A ground-breaking event took place in October 2022. Construction was completed in early 2023. A dedication event took place on May 2, 2023 (to coincide with peak daffodil blooming). The park, officially MARBLE FARM HISTORIC SITE, joins MapleBrook Park, Tobin Park and Ice House Landing as a series of parks adjacent to the Assabet River Rail Trail. The volunteer organization Trail of Flowers continues to augment the parks and other parts of the Rail Trail with flowering bulbs, perennials plants and flowering shrubs and trees, many chosen to be pollinator- and bird-friendly. The lettering on the sign was incised at the Assabet Valley Regional Technical/Vocational High School.



Thursday, April 6, 2023

Some Robins do not Migrate

Maynard, MA no longer has a newspaper. This is a re-posting of an old column.

Robins don’t leave anymore. American robins are omnivores, consuming fruit, berries, earthworms, and insects. They used to leave – their Latinate name Turdus migratorius says exactly that – and then come back in the spring. The “Turdus” part refers to being of the thrush family.  Emily Dickinson’s poem “I dreaded that first robin so” started with robins and went on to list other Spring-signs she dreaded such as daffodils and bees. And actually, they still do leave, mostly, but enough stay to make robin sightings year-round not particularly newsworthy. The reasons for seeing robins year-round is probably a combination of in part global warming and part a better winter food supply. A good resource for shifting bird territories is The Great Backyard Bird Count ( 

Robin in a winterberry bush
Robins that leave New England spend the winter months in the southern states along the Gulf of Mexico or in central Mexico. Coming back, the male show up first. They travel 50 to 200 miles a day, staying behind the northward advancing line of temperatures above 37° degrees. That temperature is when earthworms will start appearing on the surface and also when the ground softens enough for female robins to collect mud with their beaks for nest building.

Spring sightings here in New England will be a combination of flocks stopping off temporarily but heading further north, and those that have stopped here, declared territories (the males) and started nest building (the females). If you hear a robin singing it is a local male declaring his territory.

In passing, “robin egg blue” as a color is defined as a shade of cyan (greenish-blue color) approximating the shade of the eggs laid by the American robin. Tiffany Blue is a trademarked name and trademark-protected version of robin egg blue uniquely associated with Tiffany & Co., a New York City based jewelry company. The company began using the color in 1845, not many years after its founding in 1837.

The robins that don’t leave, more males than females, gather in flocks of 20-50, sometimes co-mingling with wintering flocks of starlings. These are not the plump and gentle birds of summer with the hop-hop-hop-stop method of working a lawn for worms and grubs. In winter, robins are noisy and combative, working their way though berry bushes with the remembered aggressiveness of Bostonians at a Filene’s bargain basement sale.

Robins like winterberry berries (as do Cedar waxwings), but will eat just about any type of berry or fruit. One reason they may find New England more winter-friendly now compared to years ago is the prevalence of two invasive plant species: Oriental bittersweet and multiflora rose. Both the tree-topping vines and the arching ground brambles are lush with red berries by late-November. Many bird species will eat the multiflora rose berries, but the bittersweet crop is left for robins and waxwings

And why the name “robin?” When the English colonists started arriving in the 1630’s they named the local bird “robin” because its appearance reminded them of the European Robin. The species are not related. The European bird is smaller and has a red/orange face and bib, but a whitish belly. It is the national bird of the United Kingdom. When the English got to Australia the local red-breasted birds also became named robins. These “Flame robins” look a bit like our birds, only brighter. Unlike our species, the females lack the red breast color.

“Little Robin Redbreast” is an English language nursery rhyme. It goes, “Little Robin Redbreast, Sat upon a rail; Niddle noble went his head, Widdle waggle went his tail.” Earlier versions, dating to the 1700s, revealed a more coarse humor, to wit: “Little Robin Red breast, Sitting on a pole, Nidde, Noddle, went his head, And poop went his hole.”

There was an Atlantic Ocean crossing important to American robins. The common earthworms we see robins tugging from the earth and feeding to their chicks came over with the colonists. Although there were many species of worms native to the Americas, these immigrants are more adept at managing the colder climate of the northeast. Back across the ocean, earthworms are being threatened by another invasive species: the New Zealand flatworm. In parts of Scotland and Ireland native earthworms are now scarce – and the fertility of the soil is declining. Here in the US, earthworms are threatened by another invasive species: "jumping worms." from Asia. These (actually three species) live in the leaf litter on the surface, consume dead organic materials, and leave behind nutrient-poor worm poop. Unlike earthworms, they do not burrow, and thus do not contribute to soil aeration and water absorption. Robins will eat jumping worms.

Sunday, April 2, 2023


Trail of Flowers (TOF) exists to plant flowering plants, shrubs and trees along the Assabet River Rail Trail (ARRT). As of 2022, plantings have been in Acton, Maynard and Marlborough. Plan is to add Hudson in 2023. Stow is not yet part of paved ARRT

Plant identification signs added fall of 2022
SUMMARY: Trail of Flowers was started in 2018 by David Mark. As of 12/31/22, total income from grants, donations and sale of ONLY IN MAYNARD coffee mugs has been $9,216 and total expenses $8,088, leaving an end-of-year balance of $1,296 (per ARRT accounting rather than simple subtraction) in an account maintained by ARRT. Mug sales income made up $1,811 of the total. Through volunteer efforts, more than 7,000 daffodil bulbs plus hundreds of other plants have been planted in three towns.

 Contact information:

David A. Mark

10 Maple Street

Maynard, MA 01754 


Grants and donations to TOF and expense invoices are forwarded to Assabet River Rail Trail Inc. (, a Massachusetts-based, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed for the purpose of promoting the creation of a multi-use recreational rail trail that when completed will pass through the communities of Marlborough, Hudson, Stow, Maynard and Acton. As of 2022, there exists a paved section 3.4 miles in length in Acton and Maynard, and a paved 5.6 mile section in Hudson and Marlborough. As of January 2023 there is no paving or connection in/through Stow because some of the original right-of-way is private property, and because bridges are missing from two crossings of the Assabet River.

ARRT maintains a bank account for TOF and accepts grants, donations and profits from sale of ONLY IN MAYNARD mugs. ARRT reimburses TOF expenses. No one is paid for TOF work. Car mileage for TOF purposes is not submitted as an expense.

Plantings in almost all locations are sited more than six feet from the edges of trail pavement, so as to not interfere with towns’ mowing of borders. The towns’ Department of Public Works are not expected to provide maintenance. Shrubs and trees are sited so that at full-size, will be away from the pavement, and not interfere with any sight-lines at street crossings. See for photos. 

2022 Annual Report

What mature Beauty Bushes will look like
Summary: The fifth year of operations saw purchase of 1200 daffodil and 100 tulip bulbs, all planted in Maynard, split between the Marble Farm Historic Site and east side of Rail Trail north of Summer Street. Maynard volunteers participated.

In Acton, near the Sylvia Street access, plantings were two more Royal Purple Smoke Trees and two more Winterberry bushes. In Marlborough, near the trail end, planting of six Beauty Bushes.

Donations & Mug Sale Income: $1,099.00

Expenses: $1,845.95

End of year balance: $1,296 (per ARRT accounting)

As in previous years, sale of ONLY IN MAYNARD mugs generates income. Through 2022, 576 mugs purchased for a total of $2,109.82 and 535 sold. Direct sales are at $10/mug. Sales at various stores in Maynard are at $10/mug with stores keeping $3/mug, leaving $7/mug to recoup cost and generate income for TOF. Through 2022, mug income = $1,811. Mug costs have increased, so starting in 2023, price will by $15, with stores keeping $5.

Other actions:

*Website updated to capture 2022 activities.

*Grass mowed and leaves raked at Marble Farm site by TOF and ARRT volunteers.

October 2022 groundbreaking event
Marble Farm Park: Maynard’s Cultural Preservation Committee (CPC), the Select Board and the voters at a May 2021 Town Meeting approved a budget of $101,707 submitted by CBA Landscape Architects LLC, Cambridge, MA, to convert the town-owned Marble Farm site across Route 27 from Christmas Motors to an official town park/historic site. A bid was accepted fall of 2022 and work completed: removal of dead trees, brush piles, a deteriorating brick entranceway and a pump house, plus construction of a metal fence around the historic house foundation and in 2023, installation of a bench and a sign. Trail of Flowers volunteers will continue to be responsible for the flower beds and maintenance (primarily lawn mowing and leaf raking).   

Plans for 2023

Plans are to start a membership organization with annual membership fee, periodic email blasts  of events and what’s blooming, and development of a volunteer cadre for spring, summer and fall planting and maintenance. There will be a first annual zero kilometer run/walk event. Also an intention to seek corporate donations in Maynard, plus requests to towns’ garden clubs and Cultural Councils, and ARRT.

Plans are to coordinate with City of Hudson government/DPW and Hudson Garden Club ( to start planting in Hudson, and to continue to expand plantings in Acton, Maynard and Marlborough.