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.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


 It is clear that a lot of folks enjoyed the last post's story of the Taunton Old Ladies' Home. It is gratifying to hear that it definitely rang a memory bell.  Also, it was a surprise to hear  from Peter Roache partner at Donellon, Orcutt, Patch and Stallard, Certified Public Accountants who now own and occupy 96 Broadway, the former Old Ladies' Home. The building has been lovingly restored with photos and stories of the Home on display in their Office.  Mr. Roache sent in a short history written by one of the Founders of the Home.  This allows me, along with another article from the Taunton Gazette from 1969, to add another post on the subject.

A great big thank you to everyone who has helped to add more history to this Taunton historical tale.

A History of the Taunton  Female Charitable Association
by S.R.B.

In this post I am paraphrasing the above history of the Association and its work adding some touches of my own.The Ladies' of the Association will kindly forgive me for doing some enlightening and connecting. The initials on the history are S.R.B. so it is assumed that Susanna Brewer wrote the paper although it is a dated very late for that.

Mrs. Brewer tells us there were 35 members and a printed Constitution for the Association. The officers were: Mrs. Susanna Brewer, First Directress, Mrs. Abby West,  Second Directress, Mrs. Sally Shepard, Treasurer, and Mrs. Harriet Leanard, Secretary.  The managers were Mrs. Sally Carver, Mrs. Eleanor Hodges, Mrs. Anna Ingell and Mrs. Mary Bush.

(One site elsewhere says that Mrs. Morton was First Directress, but we will not quibble. They were both early involved.)

The Taunton Female  Charitable Association had its beginning with tea table chats after the war of 1812.  The women organized in 1816 and dreamed of sponsoring a comfortable home for the elderly needy women of Taunton.  (a 1969 Taunton Daily Gazette article wrote that they were planning on caring for elderly Protestant women in the Home, but that did not come up in Ms. Brewer's writeup. Still, as there was rampant anti-Catholisism about for many years in the country, this would be no surprise.)

Early records of the Women's Association were lost but not the treasurer's information.  Susanna Brewer tells us that the gentleman from Savannah who donated $2,000 was Edward Padelford. (It is interesting to note that many streets in Taunton bear these names.)

In November of 1870 a house at 1871 Franklin St. in the City was bought for the sum of $4,000 from Philander Williams for the purpose of opening the Ladies' Home and in January 1871, it was opened with "appropriate exercises".  It served as the Home for 15 years.

Water came from a well in the front yard and a cistern was there as well.  In 1871, the Association  "voted to sell the outhouse as it was no longer used." The Matron received $5 a week and the servant, $3. There was no dearth of applicants for admission. "One was denied entrance until she promised to give up smoking."

There was a Board of seven gentlemen elected as advisors with one acting as auditor. There were annual fairs held at Wilbur's, The Armory or Music Halls. Sometimes these were run for 2 days and brought in a "goodly sum."

The Taunton Armory 
1907 postcard

The Admission fee to be admitted to the Home was $150 in 1887,  $200 in 1903, in 1907 $250, in 1910, $300, in 1924, $400, in 1958  $500 and in 1959, $800.

The gift of a lot by Mrs. Sarah King spurred on the desire for a new building and eventually enough was raised to construct the Home on 96 Broadway.  Meanwhile, a man "paid $6 for the privilege of pasturing his cow upon the lot."

The original contract for building the Home was $8.800, the contract is now at the Office at 96 Broadway. The $65 for the fence was extra. The contract is dated 1885 which is not in line with other historical accounts but no matter. Storytelling  certainly does not always purport historical accuracy.

Broadway as to probably looked in 1878
One can imagine a cow grazing here.
Not the Broadway as it looks today.
Source: Cardcow

In 1885, writes our historian, a contract was signed with Franklin D. Williams to build a fifteen room house with heating and grading by Walter Park, Architect,  for $10,000 on 96 Broadway.

When the building was done the "family" moved in.  Six of the city's well known physicians inspected the Home to insure its safety from a sanitary standpoint.  They were Drs. Presbrey, Hubbard, Murphy, Paige, Jones and Hayward, ( Two names stand out for me: Presbrey was the last name of the Director of Nurses at Taunton State Hospital in the 1960's and Murphy was the physician related to the first women surgeon, Dr. evelyn Murphy, in Taunton written about in the post cited below, you will find it a delightful read and includes information on the Murphy physician line, we assume it was the father-in-law of Dr. Evelyn Murphy alluded to in the history here):

During the war years an astonishing amount of canning was done from the vegetable garden at the Home.  When Susanna Brewer wrote her history in 1959 she said that a bequest had meant there was an elevator,  a television and that the Home was comfortable for all of its residents and staff. (paraphrased). To comply with state laws a fire alarm system was installed then as well. A reader tells us that growing up nearby she remembers that the Ladies often made fudge for the neighborhood children.

The photographs below are from a Taunton Daily Gazette article in April of 1969 when the Taunton Women's Association celebrated its 140th anniversary and the Home was still thriving.

A  Golden Tea was occasioned for this anniversary, the festivities
patterned set in 1829 by the first fundraises of the Association.

Recognize anyone?


                                                            Below is  Rachel Morse
who was feted on this occasion for her years as a
member of The Taunton Female Charitable Association
following in her mother's footsteps.
It was women like Rachel and her mother who made it all possible.
She was given an orchid for the occasion. Rachel Morse joined
the Association in 1909.


The article tells us that an exquisite red and white quilt done by the Home's very first residents was
exhibited. Each square was embroidered with a verse and the initials of the woman who composed them.  It was given to the Bristol County Historical Society. I would guess that it is still exhibited there and kept with great care.  If you go there, take a photo for me.. 
That would round up our history beautifully!

I am so pleased to be able to add more to our Old Ladies' Home story and that of the Taunton Female Charitable Association that founded and managed it. There are many,  many stories of the Village and the City of Taunton that just pop up here and there begging that to be remembered and told.  I almost never know what is coming next!


From the Research Dept. at the Taunton Public Library

Taunton Daily Gazette Article in April, 1969
Rachel Morse Feted at Anniversary Tea

Peter Roache CPA
Donellon, Orcutt, Patch and Stallard
Certified Public Accountants
96 Broadway, Taunton, MA

From their records, the last person
to leave the Home passed away in 1984.

      Visit the Old Colony  Historical Society on Church Green in Taunton 
for more information about the Ladies' Home.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Let's face it,  the times today are complicated for all of us,  especially so for our seniors.  Navigating the pitfalls of  Medicare/Medicaid and the like can be hazardous for anyone's health.  Grown children often live far from their parents and grandparents. The need for assisted living or nursing facilities can become a necessity, and a frustrating business for all concerned.

Not everyone today can live in a place like the School Street Village of yesteryear or on one of the Sardinian Islands in the Mediterranean remaining in the bosom of family and friends.

 As I mentioned in the last post, it was nearly unheard of for an elderly parent or grandparent not to live with family in the Village when I was a child in the 40's and 50's.  Like a cocoon or an oasis, the Village cared for its own.  Somehow, that family value endured for years. The times were conducive to that, they were softer, more family oriented and families were strong and intact.  Now, our American culture is sometimes almost unrecognizable.  The elders of our time are no longer a priority for inclusion.  This is a unavoidable fact of life for many reasons.

That transition took years and years to change as family, individuals and society morphed into one that was more egocentric, less concerned with honoring its elders and treasuring their gifts. Recently, Pope Francis said, ..."children are the future of a family, grandparents are its memory."

Looking back we see the factors early on.  In the late 1880's the great migration West took place in the U.S.A.  Families often left parents behind who could not cope with the arduous trip. The Civil War would mean that fathers and sons would disappear leaving a tremendous hole in family life.  Also, there was a movement into more urban areas which accomplished the same leaving behind.  To cope society did what it could. There was the rise of the poorhouse where mentally ill, and destitute were often thrown together in a terrible mix with those simply to poor to cope and with the elderly who were alone.  But, also, in the American way back then there came the advent of benevolent societies who tried to help in a more humane and genteel way the plight of left behind parents and grandparents and the single and widowed elderly.

A benevolant society did come forth in in that tradition with a group of determined women in Taunton. A sign of those years of yesterday was the gracious way that needy elderly ladies were helped by this group in the City and in many cities and towns throughout the country.  Back in those days, government intervention was not nearly as invasive as it is today.  Then, charitable groups often assisted those in need of services making that charity more personal, and most likely, more cost efficient.

In 1815, that group of concerned Taunton women became aware of the fate of the population of single elderly ladies in the City. Many of those elderly were alone and in those days had no old age  assistance programs.  The group of charitable women held teas and fairs managing to pay for rent and food for needy single women in their later years. Finally, in1829 they obtained a state charter and were called The Taunton Female Charitable Organization. It is still listed as a non-profit in Raynham MA with a corresponding post office box number.

       Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives in General Court
       assembled and the authority of the same as follows: The Taunton Female Charitable
       Association, in addition to the powers now vested in said corporation, is hereby
       authorized to establish and maintain in the City of Taunton a home for the relief of
       aged and indigent women; and said Association is hereby authorized to receive
       grants, devises and donations for the use and purposes herein specified, etc.

Donations were generous. Mr. Edward Padelford, of Savannah, Georgia, giving two thousand
dollars, the Ladies went to work to find a house suitable for their purpose.(Who was this gentlemen?).  In January, 1871, they opened their doors at 96 Broadway and during that month and the following ones, they received 8 members to the Home. Twelve Founding Ladies took turns supervising the Home.  Matrons and domestic help were obtained.

This is a lovely postcard of the Old Ladies' Home,  probably from the 20's or 30's by the look of the car.  I love this postcard, the sepia tones just exude genteel elegance and softness.

Applicants had to be born in the United States, be residents of Taunton for ten years preceding the application and be at least sixty years of age. They paid an entrance fee (often $100) which secured their care for the rest of their days.  A dozen ladies were able to live in the Home at any one time.  Eventually, throughout its existence 171 women were cared for there.  In the last two years that the Home existed there were only two ladies and the Home stayed open just for them fulfilling its mission to the end.

The yearly expenses of the Home amounted to $2,000 and were met by the Corporation. The first officers (elected yearly, a form of term limits, it seems) were:  Mrs. Erastus Maltby, Mrs. Samuel Southgate, Miss Mary L. Hartshorn, Mrs.E.U. Jones. There was a Board of 21 ladies 
as managers and six gentlemen as advisors who met monthly.

The Home on 96 Broadway was simply known as The Old Ladies' Home. Early on the Home was called the Home for Aged and Indigent Women..that was how it was listed in the City Listings.  I like Old Ladies Home much better, don't you?  This photo below is from a 1969 article in the Gazette when the Home was closed.   There was never a sign, there was no need, everyone knew what it was.

                   Elegant and lovely, one of those spearheading the Old Ladies' Home in Taunton

Charlotte Hodges Morton (wife of Marcus Morton, Judge and one time
  U.S. Vice Presidential Candidate).  Mrs. Morton was the first Directress
                     on the Taunton Ladies Home.  She was a busy woman, she had 12 children and had time for this as well as being involved with the Remonstrance Society in Boston
which wasanti-suffrogate (against the vote for women). She lived from 1801 - 1850.
Morton Hospital in Taunton is named for the Judge and the main
building was once their home.

The portrait is from the Frick Collection.

We can close our eyes and see in our imaginations that the rooms in the Home looked like those below. This photo was taken in an Old Ladies' Home in New York state during the 1880's.   The residents often had teas and enjoyed hosting visits with friends.
What an antidote for senior loneliness. I am intrigued by the fact that the
victorian manner of decor we see here has come back, as people look for warmth in their surroundings. I also know of a lovely widow Village lady in her 100th year
who now lives in Marian Manor in Taunton who, until recently, 
hosted teas each Friday with her friends. Only now it was ginger ale and cookies. 
But, the warmth and camaraderie still shines on.

                                                                      Flickr photo

The Home had all the hallmarks of "a home". I do not say all such homes were perfect but they were surely an improvement over "warehousing" (a term used today) of the elderly today. Here is another photo of the Home in N.Y. The Home in Taunton would have had warm touches such as the fresh flowers, thanks to the Women who organized and ran it.

                          Below is the bedroom of one of the residents in the Home quoted above.
                  The Home for Old Ladies' in Taunton closed its doors in 1969. A person who grew
up nearby in Taunton remembers long befor that the ladies peacefully
 rocking in the rockers on the front porch.


This is a photograph of ladies giving a fund raising tea circa 1930's for the Graham Old Ladies' Home in Brooklyn, N. Y., the closest home to the one in Taunton I could find.  The Home has been restored and refurbished and still could accept elderly ladies....for $800,000!

Over the years of its service, the Home never once had to place a resident into a Nursing Home,  Even if they had to engage a private nurse they kept the resident in her own surroundings at the 97 Broadway . The residents considered themselves a family. Nearly every day there was a visitor, a clergyman or a member of the Home's Managers who made sure no one went without attention.

Such a lesson to be found in this history, a lesson of local people caring for their own in the community.  A lesson dedication and hope.  Fortunate were those ladies of old, both those in the Home and those who served them.

It was delightful researching this post and once again reaching back to find a treasure that still teaches us today. The rise of bureaucratic rules for Homes for the Aged meant that the elderly were protected, but it also meant that such homes as we write about here could no longer exist.  Hence the loss of an opportunity for smaller homes much like anyone's homes where dignity and friendship abided. In the meantime. what a gift for those women who were able to live there.

" The (Women's) Charitable Organization has gone steadily forward with its good work- providing a comfortable and happy home for the homeless, providing themselves friends
to the friendless and take the best care of the sick, ministering in every way to the good of all in the home, and being a great blessing to the Community."

                                                           A HISTORY OF TAUNTON...SAMUEL HOPKINS EMERY

                                         96 Broadway today, renovated for a business.
                                           Are  there memories imbedded in those walls?

                                                         SOURCES FOR THIS POST:

           As always, thanks to Aaron Cushman, research librarian at the Taunton Public Library.
                   Taunton, MA. I loved that library as a child and treasure it still.

                Taunton Daily Gazette, Archives: Old Ladies' Home: Just a Piece of History:1969
                        Old Ladies' wouldn't Recognize the Place Now; Nov. 24, 1989.


Vintage Postcard of Old Ladies Home, Taunton, MA
also see Facebook Page:Taunton,Ma-Postcard History


The Ladies Repository:Vol. 35, Issues 3-6  Documents that a Mrs. King gave $5,000 to the Ladies' Home at an early date. 


                                                     Lists of Old Ladies' Homes in the U.S.

  History of Taunton, Massachusetts from It's Settlement Until the Present Time (1880's) by Samuel  Hopkins Emery. If you are doing any type of Taunton history, this is an excellent source. Samuel  Emery was a minister and provides an excellent history.  Now out of print, it is available free online.

The Social Welfare History Project from 1877 to 1893.

Taunton City Directory: 1899 pg. 392

Women Anti-Suffragegists in the 1915 Campaign.


The Graham Old Ladies' Home in Brooklyn, New York.