Thursday, September 30, 2010

"A Place to Review the Progress of Cranberries and Cranberry People", 1954

"Dumping Fruit into Seperator at L. B. Barker's, Bournedale, Mass. 1938", photograph, 1938
Middleborough Public Library Cranberry Collection

On April 22, 1954, Walter E. Piper Marketing Specialist of the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture spoke on WEEI radio Boston on the topic of the Middleborough Public Library cranberry collection. Piper had earlier given these same remarks to the annual meeting of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association. Piper claimed that he held two special interests in cranberries outside his day to day work. One was Edaville Railroad in Carver, the other was the Middleborough cranberry collection.

In this frame of mind I recently dropped in at the Middleboro Public Library to visit the Cranberry Room, as I do on almost every occasion when I get down, that way. This is a small room on the lower floor of the Library, which has been set apart for the use of the industry in preserving its records and mementos. It is in line with many such similar endeavors in various branches of industry and agriculture. The aim is very admirable. Certainly it may be of untold value to cranberry growers of a century hence to have easy access to such records. It has been said that history is philosophy taught by examples. In any industry or business, much can be learned from the experiences of predecessors—much that can be of immense importance and value in preventing a repetition of earlier mistakes, and in capitalizing on earlier accomplishment and successors.

Pioneers Of The Industry

That Cranberry Room is indeed a place for the quiet reflection which I have just mentioned. It carries the atmosphere of the pioneers of the industry. Some of their pictures hang on the walls. There, for example, is A. D. Makepeace, a name to conjure with in cranberry lore and tradition. An attached card states that he was the first large grower in a "combination whose crop in 1887 totaled 16,000 barrels." Another picture is that of Cyrus Cahoon, typical rugged Cape Codder, looking for all the world like a character out of a Joe Lincoln book. It was he who is associated with the discovery of the Early Black variety in 1847. Other
photographs and other views tell graphically of those pioneer days, such as the one marking the location of one of the bogs where Eli Howes brought to light the Howes berry in 1843.

Such were the men in their respective times who laid the foundation of the cranberry industry. The spirit with which they surmounted their difficulties is typical of Cranberry-land. This same spirit still prevails among cranberry people, and will be a factor in bringing about new and further achievements in cranberry culture and marketing.

First Organization

In reference to today's meetings, it is well here to record the beginnings of organized activities of growers in the original Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association which are so carefully recorded there in the Library Room. Written in a bold hand in the first record book is a notice of the original call to discuss organization—February 15, 1866. It reads as follows:

Cranberry Growers' Convention

All persons interested in the cultivation of cranberries are invited to meet at the Exchange Hall in Harwich on Thursday the 15th day of February first at 1 o'clock to consider the best method of cultivation, and such other matters relating to the subject as may come before the meeting. It is signed by Zebina H. Small, Obed Brooks, Cyrus Cahoon and Nathaniel Robbins.

Those were all men who were prominent in the then infant industry. Zebina Small, an odd Christian name to be sure, is spoken of frequently in the old histories in connection with cranberries and with public affairs. The meeting adjourned on that date to March 1, when the constitution of the Cape Cod Cranberry Association was adopted with 67 signers.

In Our Time

Thinking of the organization as we know it in our time, I thumbed through the records, and as I frequently do, I looked for reports of meetings over ten-year periods, such as 10, 20, 30 or 40 years ago. The record for the meeting of 1914, for example, lists the president as John C. Makepeace of Wareham. Vice-presidents were Seth Finney of Carver and Dr. F. F. Marsh of Wareham. Treasurer was Z. H. Jenkins of West Barnstable, and Lemuel C. Hall of Wareham served as secretary, as he did for many years.

In later reports, nearer my time, more familiar names came into view, and I was impressed to an increasing extent with these records of these many fine people who put all they had in time, effort and energy in helping bring the cranberry business up to its present prominent position in New England and American agriculture.

Looking Ahead

This Room in the Library is acquiring a great deal of worthwhile material. It started back more than a decade ago. I noted, for instance, at the 1944 meeting an item of $25 was voted for the Library Committee. The Association has encouraged its development, and the Library has shown a continuing interest.

The atmosphere of the Room is certainly wholly detached from the uncertainties and the tension of the present time. To me it emphasizes the fact that there is a branch of our agriculture which has its high place in the economy of the Commonwealth. It seems to carry a message to present-day cranberry people that they can well take pride in what has been achieved so far, and that they can go forward from here to new destinies.

A New Chapter

The Cranberry Room in the Middleboro Library is, as I have said, a place for quiet reflection and contemplation, with ample opportunity to review the progress of cranberries and cranberry people. And today as the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association gets together at its annual spring meeting in the Town Hall at Wareham, it will be writing a new chapter in the continuing records of the organization — a chapter which will be recorded for those years ahead, maybe for some interested group in 2054 who will search into the recordings of the past for guidance in their day and age.

Cranberries, May, 1954, “Cranberry Room”, p. 20; June, 1957, “Walter E. Piper, Mass. Marketing Specialist, Does Much for Cranberries”, p. 12

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Middleborough Cranberry Collection Established, 1939

Magnolia Brand cranberry barrel
label, early 1900s
Colorful cranberry labels such as this
are highly collectable today.  As early
as the 1940s, however, cranberry
labels were being solicited for inclusion
in the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers'
Association collection housed at the
Middleborough Public Library.
Source: Middleborough Public Library
Cranberry Collection
One of the most historically important collections of the Middleborough Public Library is its Cranberry Collection, once termed “the outstanding cranberry literature collection anywhere”. Yet while the collection has been long archived at the library, it was established not by the town but rather through the agency of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association beginning in the late 1930s.

The driving force behind the establishment of the library was Russell Makepeace of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association and Dr. Henry J. Franklin, Director of the University of Massachusetts Cranberry Experiment Station at East Wareham.  Looking to place cranberry cultivation on a more scientific footing, the two men agreed that the foundation of a library, available as a resource to growers, would help advance this goal. The development of agricultural libraries at this time was not a unique phenomenon. In the 1930s, the United States Department of Agriculture under the leadership of Henry A. Wallace was likewise expanding its holdings to create what would become one of the largest agricultural libraries in the world, the National Agricultural Library. Though Makepeace and Franklin’s objective was naturally much smaller, their goal of establishing a library for the cranberry industry was no less visionary.

Accordingly, the two men persuaded the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association which had been organized in 1886 for the “promotion of cranberry culture” and which had been instrumental in the founding of the East Wareham Experiment Station to establish a library committee to investigate the matter with Makepeace at its head. “It is hoped to obtain a library of documents and old records of the cranberry industry in Massachusetts. [Makepeace] said an agreement had been made with the Middleboro Public Library to store any records or books which could be obtained.” With the promise of a home, at its meeting in May, 1938, the Association voted to form a permanent library committee.

The approach to the trustees of the Middleborough Public Library was later reported to have been warmly received, and in part this may have been due to the influence of Mertie E. Witbeck, the librarian at the time. The library agreed to set aside space the collection, making available a room on the lower floor. Though it has been stated that Middleborough was selected due to its central location, the presence of the New England Cranberry Sales Company in Middleborough may also have been a likely factor in the Association's decision to house the collection in town.

A year later in 1939 Makepeace announced the library as an accomplished fact with the library to “consist of all publications, letters, records, etc., pertaining to the cranberry industry which it is possible to obtain.”

Already a great amount of material has been placed there. These, he said, included the magazine “Cranberries,” a set of reports of the annual meetings of the American Cranberry Growers’ Association, this being obtained through the courtesy of Frank D. Underwood of Harwich, the book “Cranberry Culture,” by Eastwood, furnished by Mrs. Drake of Harwich, a number of papers, letters, state and government bulletins, relating to the industry.

He urged any member who knew of any old diaries of cranberry growers of the past, bog records or other material which might easily be considered as being of no value and might be thrown away, to have them placed in the library so that eventually there will be a complete reference room with cranberry material kept for the information of visitors and for reference upon every possible phase of the industry.

He gave Dr. Henry J. Franklin of the State Cranberry Experiment Station great credit for assembling much of the material already gathered.

The Growers’ Association was supported in this work by Clarence J. F. Hall (1898-1967), editor and publisher of Cranberries magazine who was a vocal advocate of the project and who editorialized in the May, 1939, edition of that magazine about the benefits that could be derived from such a library. “This should be of help to the cranberry industry, not only of Massachusetts but to the growers in the other cranberry states. For, here will be filed away in time all information about all the ramifications of our cranberry culture, which can possibly be obtained.”

The Middleborough collection in fact may have stimulated others in cranberry growing districts throughout the nation to consider establishing similar libraries as well. Bandon, Oregon, a noted center of cranberry cultivation which today styles itself as the “Cranberry Capital of Oregon” was reported as contemplating the establishment of a cranberry collection in the 1940s.  “Mrs. Ethel Kranick, always alert to West Coast cranberry interests, hopes to start a ‘Cranberry Library’ at the Bandon city library. Her first contribution was a subscription for the library to CRANBERRIES”.

Throughout its first decades, Makepeace continued to be the motive power behind the Middleborough cranberry library. In 1941, he provided the Growers’ Association with a listing of the library’s holdings which were being continually supplemented, and suggested in 1943 that this listing be updated and published every five years. In 1944 “a number of reports and three volumes of ancient date” were added to the collection, largely through the effort of Dr. Franklin. The Association provided a small budget to the library committee of $25 during these years which was typically spent on maintenance and binding.  Accession of items including early records of the Association, photographs, cranberry labels, technical papers, journals and other documents to the collection were largely made at no cost, these items being generously donated.

Dr. Henry J. Franklin, photograph,
Franklin served as the first
Director of the University of
Massachusetts Cranberry
Experiment Station at East Wareham,
Massachusetts, being named to the
position in 1910.  As a research
scientist, Franklin sought to
strengthen the scientific
foundation of cranberry
cultivation and believed that an
extensive library of cranberry
literature could help further this
goal.  Through his efforts, a large
portion of the materials ultimately
included in the Middleborogh
Public Library's Cranberry
Collection were first gathered.  The
collection was named in his honor in

In 1946, the library was named the “Henry J. Franklin Cranberry Library” in honor of the man who had done so much to assemble the materials which constituted the bulk of the collection. The Growers’ Association appropriated $550 to outfit the room in Middleborough Public Library where the collection was housed for the purchase of files, shelves, tables, chairs and for the completion of a card index to the collection.

Despite this expenditure for library furniture, the collection remained housed in rather rustic conditions.   “…The book cases and filing cabinets now are quarter barrel cranberry boxes, stacked atop of each other, to hold the valuable data. There are some metal filing cabinets, and when available it is planned to have metal stacks for the room, instead of cranberry boxes, but they sure do seem in keeping with the business to have them so used.” (Today, the collection is maintained in archivally-stable boxes in secure cases).

At the time the library was named for Franklin, “it was pointed out this is the outstanding cranberry literature collection anywhere, and it might be desirable later on that a bibliography be prepared for other libraries in the country, including the Department of Agriculture library at Washington.”  Much of the work, subsequent to Franklin, was carried out by Dr. Frederick B. Chandler of the East Wareham Experimental Station. Chandler solicited members to make donations of items to the collection, including cranberry labels, an item which prompted Cranberries to report in that “barrel labels have now become so rare as to be collected and deposited in the Middleboro Public Library.”

A review of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association in 1950 indicated the foundation of the library as among its most noteworthy achievements. At this time it was recognized as “undoubtedly the greatest collection of ‘Cranberryiana’ in the world”.  Yet despite the wealth of materials archived in the collection and the pride which the Growers’ Association clearly had in the collection, it was underused by growers, so much so that Cranberries urged “visits – frequent ones – to that ‘cranberry room.’ This is a project of Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association which is given too little attention. There is much of interest there to every grower.” To reinforce its case, the magazine reprinted remarks made by Walter A. Piper of the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture before the spring meeting of the Growers’ Association and on WEEI radio Boston supporting the library.

The Middleborough cranberry collection remained a tangible reminder of the Association’s presence and was regularly cited by officers of the organization throughout the period as an example of the group’s success. Outgoing president Arthur M. Handy of Cataumet pointed with pride to the work of the library in August, 1957.

Today, the cranberry collection remains an important resource to researchers. With photographs, barrel and box labels, early records of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association and other materials, the Middleborough Public Library Cranberry Collection likely remains the largest collection of historic cranberry-related materials in existence.

A small portion of the Middleborough Public Library’s Cranberry Collection may be viewed on-line.

“Middleboro Library Has Novel Cranberry Room”, undated newspaper clipping

Cranberries, May, 1938, “Cape Growers’ Association has Annual Meeting”, p. 8; May, 1939, “Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association Holds It’s [sic] Spring Meeting at Wareham”, p. 6, and “Cranberry Library”, p. 9; September, 1943, “56th Annual Meeting of Cape Growers Association”, p. 12; September, 1944, “Mass. Crop Can Be Called ‘Poorest Ever.’ Considering Present Acreage Possibility”, 7; March, 1945, “Cranberry Scoops and Screenings”, p. 20; September, 1946, “Program of Cape Growers’ Association Exceptionally Interesting”, p. 6; December, 1946, “Some Random Thoughts”, p. 18; May, 1950, “Mass. Cranberry Station and Field Notes”, p. 3; September, 1951, “Marketing, main Topic of Annual Meeting, Cape Association ..”, p. 10; May, 1954, “Fifty Years Ago, and Now”, p. 15, and “Cranberry Room”, p. 20; August, 1957, “Massachusetts Growers Warned State is Slipping in National Production”, p. 13

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Views of Middleborough Town Hall, 1870s

Among the earliest extant visual images of Middleborough Town Hall are these two stereographic cards dating from the mid-1870s.  The views depict Middleborough Town Hall a short time after its completion and dedication in 1874.

Middleborough Town Hall, stereographic cards, mid-late 1870s

Friday, September 24, 2010

Middleborough High School Dedication, 1927

After years of heated discussion, Middleborough in 1927 finally witnessed the opening of a new modern high school on North Main Street to replace the original high school structure built in the mid-1880s. To celebrate the new school (subsequently named Middleborough Memorial High School to honor the town's First World War servicemen), appropriate ceremonies were held including the formal dedication on September 16, 1927. Following construction of the present high school on East Grove Street in 1971, the Memorial High School building was utilized as the town's junior high school. Recently renovated, the former M. M. H. S.  presently houses the town's early childhood education center.

Middleborough Memorial High School, dedication program, September 16, 1927

Thursday, September 23, 2010

John L. Sullivan Visits Middleborough, 1915

Though boxer John L. Sullivan (1858-1918) had last been considered world heavyweight champion in 1892, he still retained celebrity status in November, 1915, when he was invited to speak in Middleborough by the Unitarian Church Men's Club. 

     John L. Sullivan, photograph, late 19th
Described as the first celebrity athlete, John Lawrence Sullivan had been born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1858 to Irish immigrants Michael and Cathleen Sullivan.  Growing to local prominence as the "Boston Strongboy", Sullivan later toured nationally, winning over 450 fights in his career and garnering a national reputation as a bare-knuckled boxer.  Sullivan parlayed his athletic prowess into a million dollar fortune and he developed a devoted following in both the sporting and the Irish-American communities. 
Following his defeat on September 7, 1892, at the hands of James ("Gentleman Jim") Corbett, Sullivan retired to a farm on Hancock Street in Abington, Massachusetts, though he subsequently took part in a number of exhibition matches after that date.  He later worked at a variety of occupations including stage actor, sports reporter and public speaker.

It is in this last role that Sullivan was invited to Middleborough.  A committee of the Unitarian Church Men's Club visited Sullivan at his Abington home where the extended an invitation - readily accepted by Sullivan - to speak in Middleborough.

John L. Sullivan, photograph, early 20th
The Sullivan who appeared at
Middleborough in 1915 was barely
recognizable for those who knew him solely
from his earlier career, though the
handlebar moustache remained a giveaway. 
A lifetime of overindulgence had greatly
altered Sullivan's appearance.
The Men's Club meetings consisted of supper and talks on various topics.  Open to men of all denominations, the meetings were remarkable for though they were sponsored by the church "there was a social atmosphere at the gatherings, minus evangelical activity."  With such a noted figure as Sullivan on the schedule, the November meeting was not surprisingly one of the club's most popular.

The Sullivan who appeared in Middleborough, however, was not the Sullivan recalled by most, his corpulent figure a product of a lifetime of overindulgence in food, alcohol and tobacco. James H. Creedon later recalled Sullivan at the meeting chain smoking cigars.  "He had a wonderful breathing system, as his lung power when smoking a cigar caused the fire to slide up the wrapper of the cigar with great speed. A cigar was burned in a short while, under his expert puffing." In order to keep pace with Sullivan's habit, Walter L. Beals "supplied [Sullivan] with a fresh smoke as he burned them, one after another."

Interestingly, Sullivan seems to have spoken to the gathering about nearly everything except boxing. At the time, tensions were mounting between America and Pancho Villa in Mexico, and both that subject as well as developments in the European war were addressed by Sullivan. "He also had a word to say about the liquor question, which at that time was pretty much a discussed issue, and he felt he was a competent speaker on the subject, having played on both sides." The correspondent at the November meeting remarked that he former boxer "was definitely 'on the wagon,' during the era of his Middleboro visit."  Sullivan, in fact, by that time had become a noted spokesperson for temperance, speaking before many church groups on the topic. 

Sullivan died two and a half years later in February, 1918.

Brockton Enterprise, "Recall Visit of 'John L.", February 9, 1949

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Middleborough Cider

The great abundance of apples which was produced locally in the 19th and early 20th centuries was not only sold as fresh fruit, but a larger proportion was processed for cider and cider vinegar. Among local cider mills was the Cushman mill at Rock Village. Constructed in 1857 on the west side of Miller Street just south of Cushman Street, the mill was Middleborough’s last remaining cider mill, operating until 1944.

The mill was owned by three generations of Cushmans: Isaac Smith Cushman (b. 1816), son Charles Franklin Cushman (1850-1930) and grandson Harlas Lester Cushman (1875-1955). Both Isaac S. and Charles F. Cushman were originally occupied as foundrymen, though later in life each became increasingly engaged in farming.

The cider mill constructed by Isaac S. Cushman was a natural adjunct to farming at Rock, and the principal product of the early mill appears to have been cider vinegar, produced by allowing the apple cider to ferment.

Jennie Phillips of South Middleborough recorded the cider-making process as originally practiced at the Cushman mill:

The method of making cider then was primitive. Heavy oak rolls, turned by a horse moving in a circle, tread-mill fashion, crushed the apples. This ground-up pumice was then placed in a frame on a platform press and lined generously with rye straw applied in layers over the pumice. The process was repeated, until the press was full.

A header with two wooden screws attached was placed on top of the contents. Two wooden levers, each threaded through a screw eye, were turned by hand power to extract the juice, which ran into a trough below. The liquid, escaping by an outlet to a tank, was then dipped up into barrels or containers to be taken home for use or for market.

It was a laborious task to swing the levers in the crushing process and strong arms were needed by two men who did the work.

While the mill as operated by Isaac Cushman was necessarily a small-scale operation given the primitive process by which cider was produced, under Charles F. Cushman the mill received greater attention and its operations were expanded and modernized. In November, 1907, Cushman refitted the upper story as a cranberry screening room where his berries could be processed. A gasoline engine was installed to power not only the screening machinery, but the cider press as well, thereby boosting the output of cider. While Charles had been previously listed in census and other records as a “farmer”, in 1910 he informed the census taker that he was a “bottler – cider mill”, an indication that the mill had assumed an increased importance as part of Cushman’s farm operation.

Despite the addition of the gas-powered engine in 1907, the process of making vinegar and cider at the Rock mill in the early 1900s remained essentially the same as that practiced 40 years earlier, though the layers of straw which were used were replaced by heavy sheets of canvas. Because the cider mill maintained its 19th century procedures, its output “was necessarily limited, and the chance for Mr. Cushman to keep up with his vinegar orders was slight. In fact he didn’t dare to take orders for the vinegar, as they came faster than he and the horse could make it. Besides the horse was getting old, and couldn’t go around the pace with the speed of former days.”

Consequently, fundamental a change was made in 1911 when Cushman and his son Harlas mechanized the mill. Hydraulic presses powered by electricity were installed and “by the new method it was possible to crush 20 bushels of apples at a time and turn out 80 gallons of cider. On peak days, 1,000 gallons could be produced, or a barrel every 12 to 15 minutes. At one time, in an effort to gauge how quickly cider could be produced, Charles Cushman rushed work and pressed 36 barrels full in half a day, a staggering amount.

The production of cider in the newly mechanized mill began with the receipt of cider apples in the mill yard. These were dumped into a conveyor which lifted them to the second floor where they were pulped by “a 2,300 revolution-a-minute chopper.” The apple pumice was then sent to the ground floor where it was packed in canvas sheets and became known as “cheeses”. “When enough cheese sections, from eight to ten, have been prepared, which takes only about five minutes, they are placed under the power press, operated by a hydraulic ram, and the pulp is squeezed dry enough almost to burn, while they are cutting up and preparing another portion to take its place.” The juice was collected and pumped into a 150 gallon storage container from which it was drawn off into barrels “to be soured and allowed to vinegar off.” By these new means, Cushman could produce over 1,000 barrels of vinegar each season.

The modernization of the mill was reported in the Middleboro Gazette which declared the new press “a wonder of its kind”, but the early operation of the hydraulic press was not without incident. On November 8, a short time following installation of the new machinery an accident occurred, though fortunately no one was injured.

The mill is operated by power, and the crushed apples are confined in heavy cloths to be squeezed. When the pressure was applied the edge of one of these cloths gave away, and the contents shot out, but fortunately no one was struck. It landed in a heavy mass on the opposite wall. Ernest Morgan was working close by but he was just out of the range of the charge.

To supply the mill, Cushman advertised heavily in the local newspapers for apples each fall, frequently paying suppliers in cash. What fruit could not be secured from local growers increasingly came from orchards much further distant. “Carloads of apples were shipped from Maine or New Hampshire to the mill and at times there would be two or three thousand bushels of this out-of-State fruit in the yard during peak business.”

Additionally, the Cushmans had earlier established their own orchard to meet a portion of the mill’s demand. In 1909, Harlas Cushman is recorded as setting out an apple and peach orchard of some 1,300 trees, the apples ultimately being processed for vinegar.

During the 1910s and 1920s, the mill remained a large producer of cider vinegar. In 1911, Charles Cushman purchased two railroad carloads of wooden barrels needed for the process, an amount which reflects the scope of his business. Cushman proposed selling his vinegar “in high class grocery stores”, and this probably prompted him to adopt clear glass containers for distribution, the Cushman mill being the first local mill to introduce such containers. Deliveries were made to locations throughout southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. “Cushman Farm cider became a well-known product within a wide radius.”

Private orders were also processed by the mill for farmers wishing to have their own apples pressed. “When appointments are made those who arrive with apples enough to make a barrel of cider, unload them, and about 20 minutes later they can have the juice from their own apples drawn into a barrel in their team and then they are on their way home. Under the old scheme they had to wait several days for their cider.”

The cider-making process long remained a largely social occasion as “farmers came from miles around and lined up in the mill yard or on either side of [Miller] street to await their turn with patience for their barrel of cider. It was for the most part a jovial group, for each customer knew that hospitality awaited him at the mill, where no one left without sampling the purity of the product.”

The Cushman mill operated until 1944 when the decline in local apple production prompted its closure. New pests, previously unknown, began to take their toll on local orchards. In June 1913, Charles F. Cushman removed five bushels of caterpillars from his own trees, an indication of the growing menace these new pests represented. Subsequent spraying served only to damage the fruit and lower its value, and so was not a highly favored option. A shortage of labor in the early 1940s when available workers were diverted into war-related industries resulted in growers being unable to hire sufficient pickers to harvest the fruit. Additionally, a series of hurricanes in the late 1930s and early 1940s severely damaged local orchards, including Cushman’s where “young trees in the prime of beauty … toppled over.”

In 1944 operations at the Cushman cider mill ceased. The press and other machinery were later removed from the mill, and the “weather-stained” building was demolished in the mid-1950s.

"Cider" by
Paul Goyette, October 27, 2007, republished under a Creative Commons license.

Cushman Cider Mill, Miller Street, Middleborough, MA, newspaper half-tone, New Bedford Standard-Times, mid-1950s

This view of the Cushman cider mill depicts it after it had been neglected for over a decade. The detailed ventilator on the roof ridge, however, hints that the building in its prime was probably well kept with some pretense of architectural stylishness. Following the death of Harlas L. Cushman in 1955, the mill property was sold and the new owners levelled the building.

"Raw Cider" by Trevor Dykstra, republished under a Creative Commons license.

"Cider Apples" by zizzybaloobah, October 9, 2005, republished under a Creative Commons license.

"Conserve Your Cider Apples", advertisement, Middleboro Gazette, October 4, 1918, page 5.
Cushman paid what he advertised as high prices for the cider apples he needed to produce vinegar in the Rock mill, and paid in cash. For those growers not persuaded by these enticements, Cushman appealed to their patriotic instincts with the fact that American servicemen, then in the final months of World War I, "want Vinegar on their Beans".

"We Buy Cider Apples", advertisement, Middleboro Gazette, September 23, 1921, page 4.
Cushman's ads for apples continued to emphasize the high price paid, in this instance 50 cents a bushel.

"Wanted! First Class Cider Apples", advertisement, Middleboro Gazette, August 19, 1927, page 5.
To produce the quality cider vinegar which he wished to sell through higher end grocers, Cushman required quality apples as indicated by this advertisement from 1927.

"Fresh Apples I", photograph by
Ben Garney, October 17, 2009, republished under a Creative Commons license.

Cushman, Henry Wyles.
Historical and Biographical Genealogy of the Cushmans: The Descendants of Robert Cushman, the Puritan, from the Year 1617 to 1855. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1855.

Middleboro Gazette, “Rock”, November 15, 1907:2; ibid., May 21, 1909:5; “Modern Cider Making Plant”, November 3, 1911:5; “Rock”, November 10, 1911:3; ibid., June 6, 1913:4; “Recent Death”, May 2, 1930:1; ibid., May 26, 1955:7

Phillips, Jennie M. “New Owners to Wreck Rock Cider Mill Built in 1957”, New Bedford Standard-Times, undated clipping.

Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910. Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. Census Place: Middleboro, Plymouth, Massachusetts; Roll T624_612; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 1229; Image: 595.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lakeville Apples

In 1902, Lakeville apples were earning a world-wide reputation as noted in the pages of the Brockton Times which reported: "Sidney T. Nelson of Lakeville shipped several barrels of apples to Germany a couple of days ago. It is unusual for local agriculturalists to send their goods so far." Nelson (1845-1919) was a noted local authority on agriculture and among the first of Lakeville's commercial producers. Lakeville apples remained popular through the late 20th century with Ernest Maxim's orchards and those of Ralph Baker on Vaughan Street being the most noted.

"The Apple", photograph by
digicla, September 3, 2005, republished under a Creative Commons license

Brockton Times, "Middleboro", November 4, 1902

Monday, September 20, 2010

Green School History Updated

Recollecting Nemasket's sister site, Green School History, has been recently updated with a post written by Charles Austin Wood. Born in 1841, Wood attended school at the Green in Middleborough in the building which preceded the present Green School house, and his recollections provide an interesting insight into education in mid-19th century Middleborough. Visit Green School History to read more.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sylvanus H. Vaughan Livery Stable, 1868-97

Sylvanus H. Vaughan (1827-97) operated a livery, sale and boarding stable at Middleborough Center during the last quarter of the 19th century. Vaughan appears to have learned the livery trade from James Cole, Jr., a noted livery operator in Middleborough during the mid-1800s. Vaughan is recorded as a horse dealer in 1860 residing with the Cole family, and he was no doubt employed by Cole at that time. Vaughan a short time later became the owner of the Nemasket House hotel on North Main Street, purchasing it in 1864, and it is there that he probably began his own livery business, the rental and boarding of horses being an important part of the hotel operation.

Purchasing a large vacant lot of land on the northwest corner of Center and Forest Streets from George F. Hartwell in July, 1868, Vaughan immediately constructed a large stable building set back from the street, opening business that autumn. Vaughan’s was one of the more substantial livery operations in town at the time. Later, he constructed the house on the corner of Center and Forest Streets as a residence for himself.

In August 1882, Vaughan sold his homestead property to Nahum D. Wilbur, continuing to operate the livery stable in its original location until the mid-1880s when he relocated nearby to the east side of Everett Street just north of Center Street. The Vaughan livery stable appears to have remained in operation until Vaughan’s death in 1897.

S. H. Vaughan Boarding, Sale & Livery Stable, Middleborough, MA, billhead, 1881
This extant billhead with a written note in Sylvanus Vaughan's hand reveals the casual manner in which much local livery business was conducted in the late 19th century. The note reads: In regard to the Selling of your Hors or of my Bying Him there is a man here Talks of getting a Horse and if he is Big enough I think he may By Him and if [he] does not I will do the best I can for you will Board Him for 50 cents per day if he is in good condition as I have a [illegible]
at that Price
your well wisher
S. H. Vaughan

At the time Vaughan penned this note, his business was located near the corner of Center and Forest Streets.

S. H. Vaughn [sic] Livery, Sale & Boarding Stable advertisement, History and Directory of Middleboro, Mass., for 1889 (Needham, MA: A. E. Foss & Co., 1889), p. 85.
An unfortunate compositor spelled Vaughan's surname incorrectly, leaving out the second "a". The mistake was corrected in subsequent ads. Local residents, nonetheless, well knew Vaughan's establishment which was relocated to Everett Street in the mid-1880s. Proximity to the local railroad station on nearby Station Street no doubt helped promote Vaughan's business.