Author Archive

A Few Thanksgiving Tidbits

November 24, 2022

Culled from newspapers over the years…

Boston Globe, November 21, 1968
Boston Globe, November 30, 1956

Boston Post, November 29, 1907

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM DEDHAM TALES!

The more things change…

November 18, 2022

While I continue working on Part 3 of the Paul family story, enjoy this little diversion about Oakdale Square.

Oakdale Square doesn’t look all that different after 80 years, does it? The top photo is from a real estate postcard dated April 9, 1940. The bottom photo was taken November 11, 2022 after the 7-11 removed all traces of their presence here. When I was a kid, it was Danny’s Supermarket.

When the building was being constructed in 1925 (as 6 separate stores), the Dedham building inspector tried to halt construction due to neighbors’ complaints that the structure would create a “blind corner” for motorists. The builder, John Picone, of Newton, took his case to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts where it was heard by Associate Justice Harry K. Braley, who ruled in his favor.

Here’s an aerial view which was included on the Dedham Planning Board’s 1947 Master Plan for improvements in town. As you can see, Stop & Shop now occupies the vacant store. The original Oakdale School is seen at the lower right. It stood where the Veterans’ Park is today.

Paul Park Bonus Material!

November 14, 2022

Just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about the Paul Park neighborhood, check this out!

The wife of Ebenezer

was Marietta

His mother was Susan

and his grandmother was Martha

Who put the Paul in Paul Park? /Part 2

November 12, 2022

So, who DID put the Paul in Paul Park? The quick answer to that question is this man:

Ebenezer Paul bought the house on Cedar Street and surrounding acreage from the Fales estate and moved here with his wife Susan and children in 1867. He farmed the land, and over the years added to his substantial holdings by purchasing adjacent lots. At the time of his death in 1898, Paul’s land holdings extended from Oakdale to Endicott, the Manor and Greenlodge. Upon his death, son Ebenezer Talbot Paul took ownership and management of the property and began subdividing it for housing lots in the 1920s. Here is the 1925 plan for a development which includes the site of my childhood home on Tower Street:

Interestingly, the development was named Ashcroft Wood, but nobody I know ever called it that. Hemlock Street was never built, and Sycamore does not connect with Alden. Neither does Beech connect with Turner, probably due to the huge rock located in what was known as “Ogden’s Woods” back in the 60s.

Here is a plan for another development named “Farview.”.

Mt. Vernon Street was later named Kimball Road, although it is essentially the same street intersected by the railroad tracks. The Cedar Street house can be seen on the left, and although it looks as if old Ebenezer was surrounding himself with a multitude of neighbors on his once quiet farmland, most of the houses on these streets were built in the 50s, long after his death in 1930. As a result of these real estate deals, Paul died a wealthy man, with an estate valued at about $1.3 million in today’s dollars. His wife Marietta passed away in 1949 at age 92. They had no children.

In December, 1951, the Town of Dedham purchased just under 3 acres from the Paul estate for $2,625 (about $30,000 in today’s dollars) for recreational purposes.

Paul Park was dedicated on June 8, 1952 in a ceremony attended by several hundred people. Music was provided by the elementary school orchestra under the direction of Miss Rhona Swarz and the elementary school band under the direction of Robert Shreve. Musical selections included When Johnny Comes Marching Home, And the Band Played On, and The Star-Spangled Banner. Director of Recreation William Ryan described plans for further development of the park including a baseball diamond, bubbler, merry-go-round, swings, slides, fire places, sand-boxes, and picnic tables. Fifteen years later I would sit at one of those picnic tables and make a loop potholder for my mother. Thank you, Ebenezer.

STILL TO COME:

  • More Paul Family history
  • Shenanigans at 390 Cedar Street
  • The Mystery of the Missing Plaque

Who put the Paul in Paul Park? /Part 1

November 11, 2022

The impending demolition of this house on Cedar Street has inspired me to make a post to this blog after a very long time. Having grown up on Tower Street not too far from this residence at 390 Cedar, I remember it well from passing it by on countless trips to church, school, work, or Endicott Pharmacy. While it clearly is being readied for the wrecking ball with its windows gone and construction fence surrounding the property, the house never really looked much better than this in all the years I lived in the neighborhood. It was obviously much older than the surrounding mid-century ranches and colonials, and its Greek revival styling hints at a more respectable past. In a series of posts over the next few weeks, I will offer a glimpse into that past and reveal the stories of the families associated with the house.

390 Cedar St. on November 10, 2022

A little farther east from this spot, on the corner of Cedar and Tower Streets, lies Paul Park. During the summer in the 1960s, Paul Park was practically my second home. My brothers and sisters and I would make the short walk there with neighborhood friends to spend the day making pot holders and plaster of Paris animals, playing red rover, checkers, and mancala (which we called simply KAY-la for some reason), and holding Jimmy Fund White Elephant Sales under the supervision of the young park instructors of the Dedham Rec Department. I’m sure none of us knew that the park where we spent so much time and loved so well owed its name, in fact its very existence, to the family who once lived in that spooky, rundown old house at 390 Cedar Street.

Tales from a Dedham Graveyard 2- “Snatched from the tomb…”

October 16, 2016

shuttleworthThis is the monument to the Shuttleworth family. The elder Jeremiah ran a general store and operated the post office out of  his house on High Street, which was located where the Dedham Historical Society building now stands.

shuttleworth-house123   The Shuttleworth House, late 19th century.The house was later moved to Bryant Street and torn down in the 1970s.

Hannah Shuttleworth became the niece of Dr. Nathaniel Ames the 2nd  (son of the famed almanac publisher) when he married her father’s sister Metiliah.  When he died in 1822, Dr. Ames’ substantial estate went to the unmarried Hannah, his closest living relative.  Upon her death in 1886, Hannah bequeathed $10,000 to the Dedham Historical Society, for the purpose of building a headquarters. She also donated funds that allowed for the construction of the Dedham Public Library on Church Street, as well as $30,000 to the Town of Dedham to be used as aid to the poor.

Don Gleason Hill, town clerk and president of the Dedham Historical Society, understandably wanted to honor this generous benefactress and desired to have a portrait hung in the new society headquarters. However, no photograph of Miss Shuttleworth had been made in her lifetime. That didn’t stop Hill from executing a plan that, in his own words created a portrait that was “literally snatched from the grave.”

Hill describes the plan in an introduction to Dedham Records, published in 1888 on the occasion of the town’s 250th anniversary:

“The morning following her funeral, a cold blustering February day, Gariboldi, the statuary manufacturer, was summoned from Boston, and inside the receiving tomb a plaster cast of her face was taken, and from this alone, with the descriptions which a few friends who knew her best could furnish, Miss Annie R. Slafter, of Dedham, made the crayon portrait which now hangs in the place of honor  over the great mantel in our Historical Society room.”

040The portrait “snatched from the grave.”  Dedham Records, 1888.

The receiving tomb in which Miss Shuttleworth lay before burial was in fact, the Ames family tomb, featured in the previous post.

 

Tales from a Dedham Graveyard

October 2, 2016

It’s October, and in honor of my favorite holiday I will be featuring stories and pictures from Dedham’s graveyards. Here is a picture of the tomb of Dr.Nathaniel Ames in the Village Avenue burying ground:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ames Family Tomb (now covered)

Ames was a prominenent Dedham citizen and renowned almanac publisher who died in 1764. In the fall of 1775, during the siege of Boston, a young Colonial Army lieutenant named Jabez Fitch visited the grave on one of his many excursions into graveyards and tombs in the Boston area. The following diary entry describing Fitch’s visit should help get you in the Halloween mood:

About 12 O’clock…went into the burying yard, where we found Doctor Ames’ tomb open … We several of us went down into the tomb, opened the old doctor’s coffin and see his corpse. The under jaw was all fallen in, the other part of the bone of the head retained their proper shape, the teeth were whole in the upper jaw, but the whole back and rest of the body, as far as we could see, was covered with a black film or skin, which I suppose to be the winding sheet in which the corpse was buried, being blended with the moisture of the body.

I also observed one of the arms to have fallen off from the body and the bones laying by the side of the coffin. While I was thus in a sort conversing with the dead and viewing those melancholy curiosities, I could not help reflecting that nothing of the philosophy and astronomy which once adorned the mind of that person and made him appear great among his contemporaries, was now to be seen in this state of humiliation and contempt… After sufficiently gratifying our curiosity, we moved on…

New book on Millen Brothers Case

April 4, 2015

 

tommy gun 2

The Millen Brothers/Abraham Faber case is the second most frequently used search term that leads people to this blog (the Sacco and Vanzetti case being #1).

The Millen brothers Murton and Irving, along with pal Abraham Faber robbed the Needham Trust Company in February, 1934 in dramatic fashion, complete with sub-machine gun fire and a daring getaway through town with hostage bank employees standing on the getaway car’s running boards and hanging on for dear life. The gang murdered two Needham policemen, Francis Haddock and Forbes McLeod and escaped with $14,000 in cash.

A new book on this sad chapter in Norfolk County history was released last week, and it is the definitive work on a topic that continues to fascinate locals some 80 years on. Tommy Gun Winter, written by Nathan Gorenstein and published by ForeEdge is a must read.

Gorenstein, who is related to the Millen brothers (he is the great-grandson of William Millen, brother of the Millens’ father Joseph), has written a carefully researched and extremely readable account of the events leading to the robbery, the crime itself, the trial, and the aftermath. The central character in this drama is Murton Millen, who masterminded the short but destructive crime spree of the “gang” and was the actual shooter. Gorenstein explores the psychological and family troubles of Murton which had a profound effect on his life. The other players in the tragedy are fully revealed as well; Murton’s wife Norma, brother Irving, and friend Abe Faber each had troubles of their own, and Gorenstein expertly shows how these troubles drew them to the charismatic personality and destructive power of Murton Millen.

For a quick summary of the crime,  read my previous two-part post, “75 years ago- an execution in Charlestown.” For the ultimate and only guide you’ll need to understand the events of 80 years ago in these parts, read Tommy Gun Winter.

ALSO: Author Nathan Gorenstein will be speaking at the Dedham Historical Society on April 19th, and the Framingham Barnes and Noble on April 20th!

http://www.nathangorenstein.com/

It’s been a long time…

October 9, 2014

Too long since my last post. So here’s a short one that’s a little bit of a mystery in keeping with the season. This article appeared in the Globe October 30, 1926:

East dedham Halloween 1926007

This is not the East Dedham that we are all familiar with, but rather south east Dedham at the end of Greenlodge Street. Purgatory Swamp is situated in the Fowl Meadows, that great expanse of wetlands on either side of the Neponset River. You can see the meadows clearly from the Neponset River Parkway near the old Stop and Shop Warehouse in Hyde Park and from the highway as you exit 95 North to get on 128. The major part of Purgatory Swamp is in Westwood, off of Canton Street. I don’t know much about the old stone quarry, but there is a Quarry Rd. in this area off of Vincent Rd.

If you know any more about the quarry or about this Hallowe’en event from 88 years ago…let me know.  More posts to come! Thanks for your interest!

Dedham Tales- An Anniversary

February 16, 2013

Who is this man?  Where in Dedham is he sitting?  Why did he come here?  Answers coming soon…

Shiretown 3.13