HISTORY OF THE MARSTONS MILLS HISTORICAL SOCIETY
From historian Jim Gould
The origins of the Society lie in the mystery of the curious ridges that cross the landscape in straight lines, often connected by granite pillars. Marstons Mills residents Wilbur Cushing and Robert McClusky explored the woods, bogs and fields, trying to map them and connect them to colonial land grants as recorded by the early proprietors. While unsuccessful it led to the founding of the Marstons Mills Historical Society January 30, 1983 at the home of Arnold and Irene Hadfield, who owned the oldest house in the village: the Ebenezer Goodspeed house on River Road. They were joined by four founding members, including Cushing and McClusky. The latter was elected president, with Irene Hadfield as secretary. The first plans were to collect old photos, urging one’s grandparents to contribute.
There was such enthusiasm that the Society met every week at the president’s home in the Capt. Josiah Hamblin house. Early recruits were Vivian Cushing, Adele and Loring Jones, Jr., Sue Davenport Johnson and Barbara Hill. In May 1983 they started meeting monthly at the library. That December, the Society first contributed to the recording of historic houses on the National Register of Historic Places, led by Hazel Meyer.
The first major project was to restore the Hearse House, which the town had proposed moving to Sandy Neck. McClusky organized a ham and bean supper at Liberty Hall on November 10, 1984, which raised $692. He and Cushing put a concrete foundation under it, and Barbara Hill’s son Michael repaired and painted the frame under guidance of the state Historical Commission. On December 4, 1984, Barbara Hill became President, with McClusky as Vice President, Adele Jones continuing as Secretary and Vivian Cushing as Treasurer. On July 1,1983 Sue Davenport applied to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners for a grant to do a history of the village. In 1985, the Library obtained a $4500 grant, to which it added $2500 and the Council on Arts & Humanities added $1000. Barbara Hill directed the Living History Project, interviewing old-timers for memories. She began with 79 year-old Edwin “Teddy” Pierce. A rotating display of historical objects was placed in a case in the library.
The initial asset of the Society was its collection of historic photos. The original idea of placing pictures in newspapers evolved into publishing a booklet, and finally into printing a historical calendar in 1986, at a cost of $938 for 600 copies. This was done for a second year, 1987. On April 22 of that year, the Society became a corporation under state law, with tax-exempt status.
Bronze plaques with name and date of construction were placed on the four principal public buildings in the village in 1987, financed by a gift of Joan Knowlton in honor of her husband William Knowlton. The president’s sketch of the buildings was reproduced on notepaper and letterheads sold to raise funds.
In 1998, the Society supported the preservation of the historic Burgess House, and in 2001, the historic buildings and sites in the Newtown area were recorded for the National Register by James W. Gould. The society continued to meet annually at the Capt. Joseph Crocker house on Race Lane, the home of Bunny Zenowich.
Kevin Galvin, the new owner of the William Marston house on the Mill Pond, was elected President on October 18, 2005. He succeeded Barbara Hill who had served for 21 years. Galvin began digitizing the photos in the archives, set up a website, revised the bylaws, revived the oral history project, worked to preserve the Isaac Crocker homestead, obtained the gift of papers of Crocker Snow and began the first herring count.
In 2009 the Historic Sites Committee (Holly Hobart and Jim Gould) completed the inventory of every house in the village built before 1945.
Galvin’s tragic death in January 2012 led to loss of some of the society’s digitized records, though the physical archives and photos were recovered. He was succeeded as President by Robert Frazee, a former member of the Barnstable Historical Commission, who has a degree in historic preservation from Roger Williams University.
Today the Marstons Mills Historical Society carries on its mission of recording the history of the village and preserving its historic sites. It invites all to join the growing membership in pursuing this work.