Saturday, March 23, 2024

How Maynard Became Maynard - April 6th lecture

"Hidden History of 
Maynard" (2014)
Local historian David Mark will present a talk on this topic at the Maynard Public Library on Saturday, April 6th, at 1:00-2:15 PM. After the talk he will be selling signed copies of his second history book, "Hidden History of Maynard" (2014) for $20 and ONLY IN MAYNARD mugs for $10.  

Maynard author and historian David Mark will speak about the 1871 proposal to create a new town and how the boundaries were set. Prior to Maynard becoming Maynard, land south of the Assabet River was part of Sudbury, north of the river, part of Stow. Growth of the woolen mill and other factories powered by the river resulted in a population explosion near the river and far from the churches and schools of the farmland towns. Petitions were submitted for (and against) creation of a new town. Compromises were made on size. The new town made compensation payments. Given that Amory Maynard owned much of the land and employed most of the people, the town naming vote was “unanimous.”

A reprint of a Beacon-Villager column from 2016: 

The inaugural celebrations marking the founding of Maynard, April 19, 1871, are described in great detail in the 1921 book "A Brief History of Maynard." Drawing on newspaper accounts of the time, the first town meeting, on April 27th, just eight days after the Commonwealth had granted the petition to create the town, met for the purpose of electing key officials, and then ended early, to turn to the celebrations.

The parade included the Eagle Cornet Band, IOGT (International Order of Good Templars), mill representatives, the Amateur Brass Band, St. Bridget Temperance and Benevolent Society, students, and town officials. A Revolutionary War cannon was borrowed from Concord. The Treasurer's Report recorded $13.50 spent on gunpowder.*   

David Griffin and Paul Boothroyd, members
of the Maynard Historical Society, holding the
original of the never-submitted petition.
A note here on the 'founders' of Maynard. Histories of the town list as founder the 71 men who signed a petition dated January 26, 1871. There is more history behind this history. Months earlier there had been a petition with 68 signees to create a town, name not yet selected, to encompass small parts of Acton and Concord in addition to larger portions of Sudbury and Stow. This was never submitted to the state legislature. The second petition gave up annexing the gunpowder mill land from the first two towns.

Subsequent to this official petition there were three additional supporting petitions with 76 more names. All tallied, minus a few who signed more than once. the count came to 211 men who favored the creation of a new town. (Women not achieving a right to vote until 1920.)

Stow and Sudbury were against the idea, as the proposed new town would take roughly 50 percent of their populations. Stow residents circulated three petitions which garnered about 140 signatures. Sudbury held a vote at Town Meeting, 183 against and 88 for. In disregard of this opposition (and perhaps influenced by some undocumented lobbying), the request to form a new town was granted. 

Amory Maynard was not among the signees although he was perhaps the largest landowner and also part owner and manager of the woolen mill. His sons Lorenzo and William signed, and Lorenzo became the town's first Treasurer and Tax Collector. An account of the day, in the Hudson newspaper, had this comment on how the town came to be named: "Mr. Maynard is the chief founder of the community now incorporated in his name. He is a taking man withal, and his personal christening of the new town is a popular acknowledgement of his agency in its birth and breeding."

Milestone anniversaries have been celebrated in various ways. There is no mention in the Town's Annual Report of 1896 about any events to mark the 25th anniversary. Nationally, there was a recession going on, and the mill would go bankrupt in 1898, so perhaps everyone was distracted.

The two major peaks in births represent the influx of young
adult immigrants to work at the expanding mill complex and
the post-WWII baby boom. Present population ~ 11,000.
The 50th anniversary was a huge event. According to the program, church observances on Sunday, April 17th, school observances on Monday, and on Tuesday morning a 50-gun salute and a parade of an estimated 1,000 people down Main, Nason and Summer Streets. Speeches by Governor Cox and Senator Gibbs followed. Local veterans of the Civil War (!), Spanish-American War and the Great War participated. Afternoon activities included Glee Club and choir singing, a band concert and ball game - Maynard versus Concord - at Crowe Park.

Likewise, the 100th anniversary was a huge event. Huge. Celebration was pushed to June, perhaps in hope of better weather? Ten days of celebrations included picnics, concerts and performances, capped by a parade and fireworks on July 4th.  

The book cover states
that the book was a
product of the Committee
but it was actually 
100% David Mark (me)
The 125th anniversary celebration, in 1996, appears to have been a subdued affair. The Maynard Historical Committee published a collection of essays on town history.

In 2016, Maynard celebrated its 145th anniversary as First Annual Founders' Day via various events to be held April 16 and 17, throughout the town. Much of the organizing was accomplished by Maynard High School student Haley Fritz as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project, in collaboration with the Board of Selectmen, Maynard Business Alliance, and Maynard Historical Commission. Alas, Founders' Day did not become an annual celebration.

The year 2021, in honor of Maynard's 150th anniversary, saw many events organized by a Sesquicentennial Steering Committee, including a parade attended by several descendants of Amory and Mary Maynard, a monthly lecture series and a book "MAYNARD MASSACHUSETTS: A Brief History". 


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