Hiking with a Dose of History: Chelmsford’s Thanksgiving Forest

With spring finally here, if you are looking for family-friendly (and dog-friendly) hiking trails in the Merrimack Valley, don't overlook Chelmsford's Thanksgiving Forest, sometimes also known as the Thanksgiving Ground Forest.

Forgotten Stories behind the Artifacts of the Lowell Historical Society

Check out this badge.  I came across it in the Lowell Historical Society's vast archive, located in the city's Boott Mills complex.  As the society's newly-appointed Curator of Art and Artifacts, I got to spend some time with the badge, recently, and other items that came with it. The badge, it turns out, comes from…Read more Forgotten Stories behind the Artifacts of the Lowell Historical Society

The Daniel Gage Ice Company of Lowell, Massachusetts

In the Lowell of our parents and grandparents, a yellow horse-drawn wagon coming down a city street in high summer meant an approaching escape from the summer heat.  City children knew each ice man driving the yellow wagons, and often relished jumping aboard for a piece of ice and a ride down the road, or…Read more The Daniel Gage Ice Company of Lowell, Massachusetts

Sometimes, Family Tree Breakthroughs Arrive in your Inbox

Imagine receiving a stack of photographs from a second cousin you've never met, who received them from a fourth cousin who lives on a Portuguese island off the coast of Africa.  And that these photographs show never-before seen, everyday images from your great-grandparents' life that they sent home to Portugal some fifty to sixty years…Read more Sometimes, Family Tree Breakthroughs Arrive in your Inbox

The Valentine’s Day Storm of 1940.

The Valentine's Day Storm of 1940 crossed Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts within just a few days in February 1940.  Locals said it was the biggest storm to hit the region since the New England Hurricane of 1938, some 15 months before.  The first flurries started on the morning of Valentine's Day, before progressing into…Read more The Valentine’s Day Storm of 1940.

Lost Stories and Found Mysteries: Old Group Photographs

If you've spent any time researching ancestors, or the history of your town, or even history in general, you've likely come across old group photographs.  A workplace outing from long ago, an annual gathering of some institution or society, or maybe a family gathering.  If you've stared into the faces of those who gathered for…Read more Lost Stories and Found Mysteries: Old Group Photographs

Billerica, 1904: The Peddler’s Sons and Their Buried Treasure

In May 1904, ten yards beyond a barbed wire fence in the East Billerica woods, James Marnell stumbled over a small mound of dirt, uncovering an ornate silver serving tray.  “Sanborn’s treasure!” Marnell, a railroad worker, excitedly deduced.  Townspeople knew Sanborn’s treasure to contain silverware, jewelry, and furs stolen the year before from Billerica’s plush…Read more Billerica, 1904: The Peddler’s Sons and Their Buried Treasure

Climate Change: Is Massachusetts getting warmer and wetter?

Is Massachusetts getting warmer?  Wetter?  There has been a lot of talk about global warming, climate change, its causes and its implications for our future.  But, how has climate change affected Massachusetts? To really identify climate change, one needs a consistent set of data, taken reliably, continuously, and consistently at the same location over a…Read more Climate Change: Is Massachusetts getting warmer and wetter?

Bedford’s Fawn Lake – and its Sweetwater Hotel

If you were to travel Bedford's North Road in, say, 1908, you would see, as you progress into the town's northern reaches, a road named Sweetwater Avenue.  Sweetwater Avenue led to Dr. William Richardson Hayden's Sweetwater Hotel, built in 1897 near Fawn Lake, itself well-known for its 'restorative properties' that were said to cure many…Read more Bedford’s Fawn Lake – and its Sweetwater Hotel

Lowell High’s Entrance Exam in 1865 – Difficult Questions and High Expectations

High school entrance exams during the Civil War era were hard, really.  For arithmetic, 14-year-olds in Lowell, Massachusetts were asked to calculate the diameter of a cannon ball weighing 250 pounds, if the diameter of a 128-pound ball was 8 inches.  In grammar, they were asked for the plurals of Mr. Smith, Miss Smith, and…Read more Lowell High’s Entrance Exam in 1865 – Difficult Questions and High Expectations