Thanks so much for the great response to this blog!
A special thank you to those who have passed it on to others. We are heading quickly to amazing page visits to this blog! Welcome to folks from all over the country and other countries as well, including Lisbon!!

The "Village", as it was called, is located in the northwest corner of the city of Taunton, Massachusetts U.S.A. It covers about 1 square mile with the center being School Street. A large portion of the Village population was Portuguese when I was growing up.

This blog covers a lot of the history of the Village, much to do with my years as a child there: 1940 through the late 1950's. I do have many wonderful photos and information prior to that that and will share those as well. Always looking for MORE PHOTOS AND MORE STORIES TO TELL.

If you would like to send photos or share a memory of growing up in the Village
e-mail me at
feel free to comment on the posts. Directions are on the right side of the blog posts. Jump in, the water is fine and it is easy!!!

I will be posting photographs but not identifying individuals unless I have permission or they are a matter of public record. It you wish to give me permission, please let me know.

I am looking for any and all photos of the Village...

Please note: the way blogs work is that the latest post is first. It you would like to start from the beginning of the blog, check out the post labels on the right of the blog and go from there. Thanks.

Friday, May 30, 2014


Growing up in Taunton, and later as an adult living there for about five years, I often visited the cemetery in remembrance of lost loved ones.   When doing research on my family genealogy, the Taunton Catholic Cemetery office was most helpful with information.  All those times, in my peripheral sight, was the little Pauper's Cemetery between St. Joseph's and the Mayflower cemeteries.  A small, insignificant looking piece of land raising no questions in my mind.
 It certainly calls to me now.

The eye opener for me was learning of the work of photographer Karen Callan and her interest in this place.  One day her husband drove by the little cemetery and suggested she get her camera and check it out.  She might find it interesting, he said.  
That would prove to be an understatement…

"Anonymous Among Us: Images from a New England Potter's Field"
 is the title of Karen's opus.
(You can also find it online at the end of this post.)

Karen presented her photographs in exhibits at the Taunton Public Library and the Raynham Public Library in 2012.  A grant from the Taunton Cultural Council helped her to produce two large books,one of which she donated to each library.  Smaller issues are available for purchase at the Bristol County Historical Society. She has graciously shared her photographs and words.

I am so pleased that Karen agreed to a telephone interview and to sharing her work and insights. Consider this Karen's post and do look into her website or see her work at one of the libraries. I include her words and photographs alongside memories from my own family archives.
What of the "unremembered" in this cemetery…who were they, what happened to them?  This hit home because of my own family's stories of "lost ones".  For example, an 18 month old maternal Uncle lies in someone else's grave in St. Joseph's Cemetery.  If we had not looked, he would have gone unnoticed.  He lies in the grave of a navy military veteran. Fortunately for little Charles, he is remembered by his family since my mother
spoke of him and one small photograph of him survives.

photograph from my own files

There are countless stillborn infants and children buried in this cemetery, some of them from influenza as well as other diseases of the time. 

"silence is growing deeper
oblivion softly creeps 
over the graves of angels
the wind of silence sweeps."

                                                Excerpt from poem Silence by Martin Stein


All of these scarred markers have undergone countless and pitiless New England winters.  Karen notes that these markers, as their memories, are slowly fading away.

The Taunton Cemetery office labels the Pauper's cemetery as the "free ground". 
 It was in use from 1862 until 1962.

"…the final resting place for many of the region's less fortunate of all ages and backgrounds,city residents and immigrants, stillborn babies, 
young children and the elderly:domestics, 
laborers and transients as well as a large number from 
Taunton State Hospital."

"According to the cemetery department's…record books, 
the number of markers…is 1, 015, 
but. the number of deceased is actually higher. 
 Many plots hold multiple bodies, 
often young babies and children.
                                                                    Karen Callan

                                               Here are some of Karen's haunting photographs.

Karen followed the seasons in the cemetery.The result

are these stunning and stirring photographs.

I attach a story to this photograph below.  Arlene Gouveia's husband, John, worked at the
Taunton Cemetery.  He noticed that the metal markers were being stolen.
So, he filled coffee cans with cement and attached the markers. One of those showed
up in Karen's photography exhibit and here it is.  As we always say…small world.

There are extensive records for this cemetery, Karen tells us, and the
records tell a sad story. Her photographs tell the rest.

Now, I add a personal note regarding such cemeteries.  Our own maternal grandmother is buried in such a place at Tewksbury State Hospital in Massachusetts.  We sought her out and found her marker.  What we found lends even more poignancy to this post. We know that there is a movement here and abroad to restore and respect such silent and sad places of the lost and forgotten.  This is a photograph from the No Name Cemetery in the Tewksbury Hospital grounds where my grandmother lies.  It is estimated the there are around 10,000 people buried here. Many markers lie broken and
buried in leaves and underbrush.

Groups as Eagle Scouts have helped clean up these sites and now many of them are fenced and protected. The Tewksbury Cemetery project has attempted to
categorize and match relatives to such
grave sites.  Their web site is listed at the end of this post.

 A few years ago we had a graveside family reunion for my lost Grandmother with an uncle whom we miraculously found and had her grave blessed.  She is unknown no longer.

Below: No Name Cemetery
Tewksbury Hospital Grounds
A place of silent solitude.

Here is the Pine Cemetery at Tewksbury after Eagle Scout work at the  Hospital grounds 

I applaud the work of Karen Callan in bringing to our attention to such long forgotten places. There are stories here and sometimes they can be found, brought to light and remembrance.  It is our remembering that blesses them, that speaks their names.
My grandmother was one of those stories.  Her story, as are those who are identified
 only by numbers is a tragic one. 

It is said that the women patients at Taunton State Hospital sewed the burial gowns for those who are buried here.  We know that at Tewksbury my grandmother often worked in the sewing room.

Connections…. connections.

Sources for this Post
This is the online post for Karen Callan's photographs and accompanying article at the second site

The Tewksbury Hospital Cemetery Project.  It you
click on the Patient Biographies you will find a synopsis of my Grandmother's Story;
Isobel Motta.  If you do read it, please remember her in your prayers.

For any cemetery research I highly recommend the Taunton Cemetery Department and
also the Taunton Catholic Cemeteries.  There is invaluable information there for anyone researching their families.  Many times grave sites are unmarked and the information is available.
I will be writing a post regarding Taunton State Hospital in the future and including
the story of one of their infamous patients who is buried in the Taunton Pauper's Cemetery/
That is why I did not include it here.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


In the midst of trying to write something about our veteran Villagers and Tauntonians, and indeed all our American warriors who gave the supreme sacrifice that we may be free,
 a friend sent this video to us.

I decided that it will simply be my tribute  on 
this 2014 Memorial Weekend.

Those, too, who have fallen and live with their sacrifice and pain each day
are not forgotten either.  A few years ago we were at the National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.
As I watched our elder veterans walk slowly by, or in their wheelchairs, my
gratitude was overwhelming.

This nation can never take these men and women for granted.

I urge you, too, to watch for Charles Crowley's histories of our Taunton warriors
on I'm From Taunton Facebook.  He honors them in a beautiful way by sharing their inspirational stories with all of us.

God bless America.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Beginning this Memorial Day series of Posts, I decided to forego chronological order.  The story of the rocking chair so captured my imagination that I used writer's prerogative to start with it.  I shall return to the origins of Memorial Day in Taunton, and the Village, in the next post.
 I am still doing more research, as well.

There are three cemeteries along E. Brittania St. in Taunton: The Mayflower Cemetery (which also fronts along Broadway), St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery (which backs onto School Street ), and then in-between a small "Pauper's Cemetery" which we shall return to later.  In this post we will concentrate on the Mayflower, a public cemetery, and in this post, one particular monument.

 All cemeteries are of interest to historians and genealogists for they hold a
 trove of precious information.  Sometimes one finds something 
so fascinating that it deserves its own Post.

Thus it is with The Rocking Chair Monument. To those listed above with interest in cemeteries I shall now add paranormals.   This photo was taken by members of such an organization who were investigating reports of sightings of a small child sitting in this Empire style rocking chair. The recorder at the right of the photo must have been for listening….perhaps?

I was first alerted to this chair monument by a post by Stephen Kaska on I'm From Taunton Facebook page.  I had forgotten this monument and set to learn more with the Research Department at the Taunton Public Library and on the Internet.  It is a very unique story and one that gets told and retold over the decades as we shall see.

The Rocking Chair Monument
Mayflower Cemetery
Taunton, MA

What is the origin of this child's chair cast in stone?
 Why does it still appeal to children who, year after year, leave stuffed toys on and around the chair, as you can see so clearly here?

The chair is of white marble and marks the grave of Pearle French, a little girl who died of spinal meningitis in Boston, Sunday, March 26, 1882 - yes, 1882! 

 Note that the toys on the grave are all of recent vintage.
Local lore had it that there had been a fire and a child had died.  Not true.  
Penny Humphrey, a Taunton Gazette reporter investigated and reported on the story in the March 27. 1995 issue of that newspaper "Laying Some Local Lore to Rest." 
Legend had it that the child had misbehaved and been told to sit in the chair and not move….fire took care of the rest. The other story was that the child was ill and was rocked
 in the chair in her mother's arms.  Also, not true.  Pearl died in a Boston Hospital 
and was buried in this plot owned by her father.
There are no birth records for the child, only the death record. Old records that do exist show that the cost of the plot was $10.  There is no record of parents or an address.  Pearl's grave is over 100 years old and now you can see why it is beloved by paranormals and by children who over the years have all sat in that chair at one time or another. 

Later, Patricia Corey, office manager at Rex Monuments across E. Brittania St., researched other stones and found that Pearl's parents were  Edwin French who died in 1920, and Emma J. Leonard, who died in 1902.  Mr. French worked in Boston but had lived for some time in Taunton.

The grave is still marked by flowers. When the chair was smashed by vandals almost a decade ago, Mrs. Corey gathered all the pieces of marble for safe keeping. Mr. Rex, a master stone mason and owner of Rex Monuments, repaired the beloved stone with all the pieces she had rescued and gifted it back to the City of Taunton.

The rocking chair apparently was inspired by this poem which at the time of Pearl's death had been published in a magazine.  Some or all of the poem may have been engraved on the stone. 
The words her vacant chair apparently can still be seen if one looks hard enough.

Right next to the chair is another monument, a scroll.  This was in memory of little Pearl's cousin
Veva L. Johnson, born Oct. 28, 1880 and who died of a "spinal disease" on April 26, 1884, 
two years and one month to the day after Pearl's death.  That era was filled with the 
sadness of high child mortality which thankfully no longer besets our children today thanks to antibiotics and medical advances.  

Note: the lights in the background are of cars going by on Broadway, I simply blurred them
for simplicity to see the monuments better.

Now here is an odd thing: I kept saving this post as I went along, but toward the end, the last parts of it kept disappearing, over and over.  
The other bits and pieces I had saved did the same thing.

That has never happened before.  Hmmmm.

Well, here I go again for the fourth time to finish this post.
This is the photograph I kept losing…

Alright girls, game is over….

Pinterest vintage photo

Sources for this Post

Aaron Cushman, Research Librarian, Taunton Public Library  with this article:
" Laying Some Local Lore to Rest", Pamela Humphrey, staff writer for
The Taunton Daily Gazette: March 27, 1995

"More Scary Folklore in Greater Taunton".  Jane H. Hennedy, Director: Bristol County
Historical Society, Taunton Daily Gazette, Oct. 30, 2008.


Paranormal investigators.  Photographs of Rocking Chair Momument
and reports.

Pinterest on the Internet for the Victorian photograph of the girls.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


As you may have noticed, the I'm From Taunton Facebook Page is a frequent source of inspiration for this blogger.  Recently, a post appeared of an autograph book from the 1880's.  For me this was a message from the vintage days of Taunton when our grandparents
were bringing up our parents and building the Village.
The message echoed the beautiful, studied photographs by H. Boutin
in which clearly the photographer
and the photographed were giving their best.  
It is a message of Conscious Living.

     Pondering that graceful pace of living long ago takes us onto other paths. 
 It made me think about the care with which people wrote their signatures
 knowing they were a window into who they were.

                     Look at this beautiful signature from the 1800's which I found online!

Below is  a  fascinating online find.  On coming upon this, I thought…Taunton, England?
  No, this is from Massachusetts.  Anyone have any ideas?  The Duncan family 
ended up in Maine as far as I can tell.

                              Another incredibly artistic and lovely signature from Pinterest.

What about other aspects of that long gone gracious living? What we can take from these signatures?  For me, they are a sign of considerate and conscious effort. 
 The old adage of "if you are going to do anything, do it well"comes to mind.

Conscious living, as they tell us, happens when thoughtfulness occurs.  There is a revival of that thoughtfulness in what is being called "slow living".  People are seeking time out from speed obsessed technology and the isolation it often brings.  I would be the first to say that  I am a techie and would be hard pressed to be without my computer and iPad.  Because I live at a distance from family and old friends,
it keeps me connected.  Still, the real thing: a voice, a hug, eye contact
 is never going to be displaced.  
Neither will the experience of fine conversation.
Arlene Rose Gouveia sent me, as part of her written memoirs, an example of that other hallmark
of slow and conscious living: the art of conversation.  Her comparison to the
famous Algonguin Round Table in New York is very appropriate.
The Algonquin club was a luncheon gathering that brought
together many literary personages of the time.  Their goal?  

Stimulating and interesting conversation.  

                                         The Algonquin Round Table, New York City

Arlene tells us that something of that famous get together took place periodically in the dining room of St. Anthony's Church on School St.  The first pastor, the beloved Father Alexandro Loura, gathered together people whose purpose was to share that same stimulating 
and graceful conversation around an excellent table.

Although not as large nor filled with national and international literary celebrities such as Hemingway, those evenings would still have been impressive. The dinners at St. Anthony's  preceded the Alconquin Round Table by quite a few years.  Fr. Loura  came to St. Anthony's as Pastor in 1906.  The N. Y. group went from 1919 to 1929 and was known for its witty and sparkling  conversation.  In N.Y. the attendance would change from week to week.  At St. Anthony's some of the participants would have been Monsignor James Coyle, Jean Dupont, Lawyer, and Joseph Enos, Funeral Director.  Since we have written of some of those people in this blog, it is easier now to retrieve their photographs and start to imagine those dinners.

They would have been graceful, probably those attending would have thought of various themes of conversation.  Just knowing Sophia Dupont and her lovely voice and laugh helps to picture it.
 These photographs show some of the attendees in later years,
 but nevertheless, I am glad to offer them.  

           Dr.Joseph Murphy                          Father Loura               Maybelle Murphy
                                                                                                             and Sophia Dupont

Those were some of the guests at the dinners hosted by Father Loura.  The table had to be set just right, and there were five courses with interludes for deeper conversation.  This is not a photo below of that dining room but certainly must echo it.  The guest list  could change. 
 Sometimes, Fr Couto, assistant at St. Anthony's, 
Monsignor James Coyle for whom 
Coyle High School would later be named and perhaps others would participate.

(Father Loura was at St. Anthony's from 1906 to 1927 at which time, after
becoming exhausted in his work, he retired to his native Terceira, Azores. There must have been many dinners before 1927! He and Msr. Coyle had a deep friendship
which even included Fr. Loura taking Msr. Coyle to visit the Azores and Portuguese mainland.)

Writing this and the last posts let loose my imagination stretching it way back by following a thread of living now in the distant past.  Like many such nostalgic meanderings,
 it leads us to ponder the things that have been lost over the years.  What is now called mindful or slower living is one such treasure.  Living detached from the immediacy of short,
 often trivial technological messaging and abbreviated faceless communication.

We seek that which is fading: simplicity, the savoring of life, of moments sweet and precious, the dance of fingers and wrist in creating an art of writing, a conversation laced with friendship, 
family, respect and tolerance.

                             I wonder, how can we bring those values into our lives today…..?

Recently, a paper entitled :The Southampton Paper was presented to the American Psychological
Association, noted that nostalgic memories inspire positive feelings of joy, high self regard, belonging and meanfulness in life.  In two other studies it was found that past fond memories help us become more self-reliant and cope better in the present. 
 So ---reading this blog
         The article relating this can be found in the February issue of Natural Awakening below.


                                              For more about the Algonquin Round Table


                                             Unfortunately, I lost the site where I found the
    Taunton, Ma/Boston image of handwriting implements.
   Mea culpa, once in awhile they get away from me…

To view an excellent documentary on the history of the Algonquin Round Table (and thus its period in American history), Arlene Gouveia directs you to this You Tube video.

Also, she comments that the St. Anthony's "round table" was a group of interesting people who could talk on many subjects.  When the Algonquin Roundtable tried to have a reunion, it failed.
 People had passed on, and it was an end of an era.
This could be said of the St. Anthony group as well….an end to an era.

"One fact I am sure about.  Sophia Dupont had more class than Dorothy Parker"
                                                                 Arlene Gouveia

(I so agree, Arlene)