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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 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.


  1. Wonderful, enlightening, commentary on the founding and use of the "Old Ladies Home". It stands as part of our culture of caring for the elderly!

    1. Thank you for reading the post and your comment. So many little parts of Taunton history that teach us lessons for today....