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.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


Recently, on the I'm From Taunton Facebook page, Charles Crowley posted this photograph
of strollers on the Taunton Green circa 1889. He kindly agreed to share it with us.

It really struck me.  The calm, dignified people out for a Sunday stroll. Strolling, mind you, not rushing, not glued to an iPad or cell phone.  Interacting with friends, or making new ones.
Sharing with family.  The advantage of looking way back in the history of Taunton is to try to latch on to old/new ways of living, ways that have been lost. Note that there were many trees on the Green once upon a time, probably those wonderful elms that were devastated and lost. The City proper was noted for its beautiful shade trees. The Green had been common ground since 1774.

                  Believe it or not, here is a video of the time, just to bring it home a little more.

In 1889, Tauntonians were probably still recovering from the Civil War which had ended in 1865. Amazingly, today 2014 there is one Civil War pensioner still receiving benefits for her father's service.  She is 84 years old.  But back in 1889, it was still fresh. You can see that there are few statues in the photograph, those were still in planning stages.

 My grandfathers and grandmothers were not yet in Taunton, the first arriving in the early 1900's. Our Church, St. Anthony's, would not come along until 1906. For sure, those Portuguese immigrants already here had found their own spaces in which to worship and began saving for their own Church.

It is hard to believe what a successful era the late 1880's and early 1890's were for Taunton. Yet, when we read of the luminaries that flourished then...well, it really sinks in.  When I was growing up in Taunton and walked by so many beautiful and grand houses or downtown when it was still flourishing, I always felt that hint that Taunton once had been so much more.  This photo intrigued me enough to absorb myself into my city's history and learn about that era. It was a fascinating trip even though I only accessed the tip of the iceberg.

Greatness, full employment, healing from the Civil War wounds, gracious living.  It is no wonder that our grandparents were lured here from their home countries.  When I was a child in the 40's and 50's, Reed and Barton was still operating, though not as in the 1880's.  Back then there were churches everywhere, it was still a time of faith-centeredness, the reverse of what it is today in this country.  I knew only one classmate whose parents were divorced.  Radio and T.V.  consisted of wholesome, family entertainment in the 50's and 60's..

Going way back into the 1880 era we see the roots of what Taunton is today and the traces of it that were what I was feeling in my childhood.

Much of what I am quoting below is from this website
  Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer 1890. 
The article is  well worth a full read. The photos I found elsewhere on the net.

"In 1885 there were 182 farms in the area.  In the 1890's there were seven cotton mills in the city which employed 2,000 persons, foundries, machine-shops and boiler works employed 1,000, stove works employed 300, zinc, brass and copper works and jewelry factories, upwards of 300, 600 in brittania and silver plated factories, 500 in tack, nail and bolt, cutlery around 50, and brick, tile and stove linings from 200 to 300.  Railroad coaches, earthenware, rattan and willow and other furniture, yarn, boots and shoes, horse trappings, pencils and crucibles and on and on. The total number of establishments in 1885 were 301.

                                            Jewelry Shop in downtown Taunton circa 1885

Field, Track and Nail Works (established in 1827) was the largest in the country. Mason Works occupies 6 acres and made cotton and woolen machinery, car wheels, engines and locomotives.  Here is one made for the Union Pacific in 1860 in Taunton. Do not know which company made it (that is for another future blog).  But, could have been Taunton Locomotive Mfg. Company.

Of course, there was  Reed and Barton's Brittania Works (the oldest and largest on the Continent), and the Taunton Paper Mfg. Co.

Here is a photo of a sterling silver scent box created by Reed and Barton in 1890.
Note the engraved letter A surrounded by a heart.

There were fisheries of alewives, herring and shad.  The commercial marine embraced 
36 schooners and one steamboat.

The population in 1885 was 23, 674, of whom 5, 232 were legal voters. 
There were four newspapers: The Daily Gazette, the weekly Household Gazette, the Bristol County Republican and the Taunton Courier. The city proper was noted for its beautiful shade trees abounding on all streets."

                                                       (photos from Pinterest and Internet)

"Mass media" consisted of newspapers back then.  Here is the type of item that interested folks, far from the bottom-feeding items we so often see today.  Far from the endless chatter on social media and talk shows never leaving our minds at peace.

That 1890 quote by the Taunton Courier story was carried in 34 New England papers and one in London, England.   Tame by our standards, wouldn't you say?

My city back in those days was beautiful   The echoes of that can be seen in the graceful historic homes in Taunton still standing, many of them on the Historic Registor of National Places.  Here are just a few of them with bits of their history. Many are lovingly cared for and grace our city streets.

Below is the J.C. Bartlett House built in 1889 at 12 Walnut ST.
Mr. Bartlett was a prosperous mining engineer.

The W.C.Beattie House built in 1882 at 229 W. Brittania St. 
He was a designer at Reed and Barton.

           Below: The Henry Morse House, 32 Cedar ST. 
 Henry Morse acquired his father's estate.

Finally,  here is the McInistry House at 115 High St.  Built in 1779 by William McInistry, a minister. In 1763 it was the site of a grisly murder in which one of the family daughters was murdered by a servant.  It is now the parsonage for St. Thomas Episcopal Church.
 Who knew this history?
I never did. 

The times were busy in that era, even nationally.  Here are some events that those Tauntonians lived through in the year 1889/

*Benjamin Harrison was inaugurated as 23rd President.

*President  Harrison opened Oklahoma for colonization.

*Montana was admitted as the 41st state of the Union.

*Washington admitted as the 42nd.

*The Coca -Cola Company, then known as the Pemberton Medicine Co.
is originally incorporated in Atlanta, Georgia.

Any one know when this sign was put up?

*The first National holiday was set for the centennial of Washington's Inaugeration.
We sure have come a long way since then on national holidays.  
If you wait a minute another comes along!

*The brassiere was invented....hmmm

*For the first time, George Easmen places Kodak camera on sale. 
This same year Thomas Edison showed his first motion picture.
Talkies would not come along for a good while.
In 1927 my maternal grandmother saw the first which starred Al Jolson. 
She also called called her radio a "talking box" (this from an interview she gave).

*Wall Street Journal began publishing,  all that time ago.

*Bayer aspirin was introduced in powder form in Germany 
changing headaches and fevers forever.

*The screw top was about changing the world!


*the first dishwasher was invented!   

Young men rowed their sweethearts on the Taunton River, probably by moonlight.
Have you looked at the I'm From Taunton Facebook page today?

It was not all roses, of course.  In his history of Taunton until 1893,  Samuel Emery Hopkins tells us that there was a smallpox hospital on the Raynham-Taunton line off the Boston turnpike. Such wonders and antibiotics were not yet on the scene.  Infant mortality would have been higher and the life span lower.  But, here we are looking at the quality of life as it was lived by so many.  There are always lessons to be learned from history....and keys to a 
gracious way of living is surely one of them.

                                                          Some of my sources.  
 Increasingly there are more Pinterest photos of Taunton, 
check them out or add your own. 

History of Taunton from Its Settlement to Present Time (that was 1893) 
by Samuel Emery Hopkins.

No comments:

Post a Comment