For those who say you can never go home again, an intrepid band of Millbury-ites has proven you wrong.
For many years, a group from the Millbury Historical Society has discussed visiting a playground of their youth: Mount Ararat,
which is located adjacent to the Old Common. No one can explain the moniker “Mount Ararat.” Certainly it harkens back to the
biblical mount. However Millbury's Mount is not even mentioned in the Millbury Town History of 1915.
The memories of the climbers were of a perch from which horizons were far-reaching and views were unobstructed. Indeed,
forty or fifty years ago, entire adjacent towns and topography could be viewed from the top of Mount Ararat.
Finally an excursion was planned for November 30, 2013. It was felt that the foliage would be completely gone, and that the ticks
and snakes would be dormant thus ensuring success. The group entered the woods from West Main Street at noon and
ascended on the “paper” access of Old Common Road.
They were guided by local sportsman, bird enthusiast, and outdoorsman Alan Marble. Alan has lived all his life at Old Common
and can mount the Mount in his sleep!
The explorers ascended the bluff of 735’ for perhaps forty-five minutes whilst Alan identified various points of interest and focal
Alan has studied the elevations of Millbury and notes that Mount Ararat is the fourth highest in town.
First highest is WSW of Ramshorn Pond with two high points considered as one from 789-808 feet high.
Second highest is on Davis Road overlooking Ramshorn Pond at the home (appropriately) of Paul Giorgio, Mount Everest
mountain climber. This comes in at 768 feet.
Behind and above Rogers Farm & Garden on West Main Street is the third highest elevation in Millbury at 760 feet. This hill may
be accessed from the walking trails at Butler Farm.
At 2:00 the party moved to explore the area around John Rich’s Mill off Carleton Road.
Back in the 19th century, the mill had first manufactured shingles and then shoddy, an inferior quality yarn or fabric made from
the shredded fiber of waste woolen cloth or clippings. Sometimes this material was used in mattresses.
Once again, Alan Marble led the charge explaining the workings of the dam that provided the mill’s power. For this and all his
erudite efforts, The Millbury Historical Society wishes to extend a heartfelt thanks!
The redoubtable explorers called it a day at 3:00 PM.
|The Millbury Historical Society
|P.O... Box 367
The History of Millbury's Fire Department
Please stop into the Town Hall Foyer and see photos and artifacts concerning the history of Millbury's
NCSI (Naval Criminal Investigative Service)
Millbury's Buck Brothers Makes the Big Time!
Courtesy of sharp-eyed Millbury Historical Society
member Keith Dobie
In a recent re-run (Episode 7) of NSCI, Gibbs
rescued Ziva from terrorists.
She appears in his workshop where he is constantly
building a boat.
In gratitude, Ziva presents him with a handsome gift.
Gibbs recognizes it immediately as a Buck Brothers
mortising chisel and is impressed and appreciative.
|Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) presents Gibbs
(Mark Harmon) with a quality Buck Brothers
|Millbury Explorers Conquer Mount Ararat!
|The brave hikers: (l. to r.) Karin Nelson, Oliver Nelson, 13,
Amanda Nelson, Walter Nelson, 15, Frank Gagliardi, Debbie
Pousland, Jane Jung, and Anabelle Nelson (with ducky hat),
10, front center.
|Here’s Mount Ararat from below.
One can see all the trees that
have grown in over the years and
that now hamper the vista.
|Alan Marble (back) explains the
terrain to Millbury Historical Society
president Frank Gagliardi. Debbie
Pousland (right) takes a photo.
|Here is an overhang where youngsters
could imagine hostile Indians in days of
yore making their refuge:
|Note the craftsmanship of this
|Millbury Historical Society president
Frank Gagliardi provided this photo
of John Rich’s mill from long ago.
|Guide Alan Marble directs
attention to the kinds of
over-growth that now hamper
the views from Mount Ararat.
Drowned, in Singletary pond (so called) in Sutton, on the 29th inst., Miss Nancy Tenney, aged 14
years, daughter of Daniel Tenney, Esq- Miss Adeline Lumbard, aged 17 years, daughter of Mr.
Nathan Lumbard- and Misses Hannah G. and Mary H. Marble, the one aged 22 years, the other
24, daughters of the Widow Sally Marble, all of Sutton.
The circumstances attending this distressing event are these-
About 4 o’clock, P.M. 14 young people repaired from Major Tenney’s to the pond with a view to
cross it, in two boats, to the opposite shore, and from thence to an island in the West part of the
pond. This they accomplished with safety. Having returned from the island to the shore where
they first landed, they went on board, about an hour before sunset: eight into one boat, and six
into the other, in order to re-cross the pond. When they had passed rather more than half-way
across, it was discovered that by the exertion made in rowing the boat, which carried eight
persons, it rocked so as to admit a small quantity of water through some holes near the top of it.
At this, they became alarmed, and whilst one of them, who was exceedingly terrified,
attempted to change her position, the boat upset, and they were all, in a moment, plunged into
the water, where it was about 20 feet deep. Being unable to swim, they all went down, it is
supposed, to the bottom; and when they came up the second time, four of them, namely three
young gentlemen and one young lady, were so nigh the boat as to be able to reach it; two of
them were on one side of the boat which was bottom upwards and the other two were on the
other side of it. In this situation they reached across the boat and supported each other by the
hand until the other boat went to the shore, landed those within it, and returned to their relief.
The other four young Ladies, whose early exit we deplore, were involved in a watery grave-
One of them was found floating on the surface of the water, where the boat upset, and with all
possible dispatch, conveyed to the shore, and another of them was found under the boat; when
it was turned over after it was dragged to the shore. All possible means were used to
resuscitate them but in vain. The vital spark had fled, and their eyes were closed in death.
The alarm was given, and in a short time, hundreds of people were collected around the pond in
search of the other two. They continued their exertions through the night, but in vain; but
during the next day they found one of them, and during the next night, the other. On Friday,
their remains were carried to the Meeting House when an appropriate and pathetic prayer was
made by the Rev. Mr. Holman of Douglas and a solemn and impressive discourse delivered by
the Rev. Mr. Mills of Sutton.
Their remains were then conveyed to the graveyard, and all deposited in one grave-And to
conclude this solemn and affecting scene, Rev. Mr. Holman made a prayer, and Rev. Mr. Mills
addressed the people while standing around the grave.
No event has ever occurred in this vicinity, which has been so extensively felt, and which has
caused so much weeping and lamentation. Four blooming youth who were sprightly and active,
amiable and virtuous, and universally beloved and respected, at an unexpected moment were
ushered into eternity!
The distressing event above narrated is a solemn memento to all the living, that they too must
die, and that there may be but a step between them and death.
|A Melancholy Accident
From the Worcester Spy, May 29, 1822
Courtesy of Alan Marble
|Sutton Town Cemetery (Behind Town Hall): The site
of the communal grave of the four girls. The
inscription reads as follows:
In Memory of the Following Persons
Mary H. Marble AET (in the year of her age) 23
Hannah C. Marble AET 22
Daughters of Mr. Andrew and Sarah Marble
Adeline M. Lumbard AET 17
Daughter of Mr. Nathan and Delight Lumbard
Nancy Tenney AET 14
Daughter of Maj. and Betsey Tenney
Who were drowned May 29, 1822
PS. XXXIX Behold Thou hast made my days as an
handbreath and mine age as nothing before Thee
In January of 2013, The Millbury Historical Society
received a generous donation of military artifacts from
Mr. Harold Granish of Dunwoody, GA.
These obviously very old items belonged to his
deceased wife's family whose ancestors hailed from
A military expert proclaimed the artifacts (a shako, a
saber, an epaulette, a belt and its buckle/shield) to be
one collection from the Millbury Light Infantry and said
they were in remarkably good shape for items almost
two-hundred years old.
The Millbury Historical Society heartily thanked Mr.
Granish, eighty-nine, for his donation and invited him to
stop in to Millbury if he should ever be up this way.
Well, recently, Mr. Granish, now ninety, did just that! He
drove up alone in his brand new Buick Lacrosse to
Syracuse, NY for his sister’s funeral and thought that
“while he was in the area,” he would make a side trip to
He visited the Museum of the Millbury Historical Society
and was delighted to see the display of his military
artifacts! You can do the same by stopping into the
P.S. Mr. Granish also owns a 2008 red Mazda Miata
convertible, but that stayed in Georgia!
|Harold Granish Admires His Military Display
|Mr.. Granish Comes to Millbury!
Driving Alone! At the Age of
|The Taft Letter
The Millbury Historical Society recently received a
valuable donation from the granddaughters of Rev. Robert
Dunbar, pastor of the Millbury Federated Church during
the years 1909-1915. That was during the time when
President William Howard Taft attended church services
there with his aunt, Delia Torrey.
The sisters, Pam Roberts and Kathy Larkin, brought the
letter to Millbury. It had been found in their attic in Maine.
Thanks to historical super-sleuth Jerilyn Stead, Board
member of the Millbury Historical Society, the two sisters
visited their grandfather's church, The Millbury Federated.
Back when President Taft attended the church with his
aunt Delia Torrey, it was called the Millbury Second
Inside the entrance to the church the sisters saw a photo
of President Taft leaving the church. As they looked
closely, they noticed that their grandfather was standing
behind the president in the photo!
The donation of this letter, written to Rev. Dunbar from
President Taft, is a wonderful addition to the Millbury
Historical Society’s Taft collection. Rev. Dunbar had
written "words of encouragement" to President Taft as
this was a time in America's history when former President
Theodore Roosevelt decided to criticize President Taft's
Rev. Dunbar obviously knew how difficult it was for
President Taft to accept the fact that his former friend had
turned against him.
After Roosevelt returned from Europe and Africa,
President Taft invited him to the White House. Roosevelt
"declined Taft's invitation" and began giving speeches
outlining "his" own idea of the new role that the
government should play in dealing with social issues. His
progressivism led him to run against Taft in the 1912
Presidential Election. Both men were defeated as the vote
was split, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the election.
|Rev. Robert Dunbar, Pastor of The
Second Congregational Church of
Millbury (now Federated).
Pam Roberts (left) and her sister Kathy Larkin hold
their grandfather's letter from President Taft. Behind
them is Millbury Historical Society Board Member
|President Taft and Aunt Delia on their
way to the Second Congregational
Church of Millbury (now Federated).
Just about everyone in Millbury is familiar with the mural in our post office. It was painted in 1940 by Joe Lasker,
and he returned to refurbish it in 1998. Joe recently passed away, and here is his obituary recently published in
the NY Times:
Joe Lasker was the last living member of the 48 prominent realists - including Edward Hopper, John Sloan and
Raphael Soyer--who wrote for Reality, the mid-Fifties polemical journal that argued against non-representational
art. He died December 3, 2015 at age 96 of congestive heart failure in Norwalk, CT.
"I feel that much of American art of the last 60 years has something missing, namely narrative," Lasker said in
an interview. "Without narrative there would be little left of the art of the Old Masters, of 20th-century
expressionism and surrealism. There would be no Guernica by Picasso."
The New York Times art critic Howard DeVree wrote of Lasker, "There is a psychological warmth and
penetration in the work...especially stimulating canvasses...marvelously effective...a tour de force."
His oil paintings and other depictions of cityscapes, landscapes, portraits, fantasies, interiors and still lifes hang
in the permanent collections of the Whitney, Smithsonian, Hirshhorn, Philadelphia, Tel Aviv and other museums.
He illustrated and/or wrote children's books, including American Library Association Notable Books Merry Ever
After (1976) and The Boy Who Loved Music (1979) for Viking Press.
His prizes include Prix de Rome and Guggenheim Fellowships and awards from the American Academy of Arts
and Letters, and the National Academy of Design, where he was National Academician and secretary.
He is represented by Toronto's Liss Gallery (and formerly, for 60 years, New York's Kraushaar Galleries).
Joseph Leon Lasker was born in New York in 1919 to Romanian immigrants. In high school, he entered the
painting competition of the Treasury Department's Fine Art Section and won commissions for still-extant murals
in the Calumet, MI, and Millbury, MA, post offices.
At night, he studied at, and graduated from, Cooper Union art school. In WWII he served in the 1147th Engineer
He is survived by Mildred (Jaspen), his wife of 67 years; children David, Laura and Evan, grandchildren Ryan
Looney and Rebecca Looney-Tulin, and great-grandchildren Ty and Jake Looney. A celebration of his life will be
held in Norwalk on Saturday, January 2.
Joe Lasker's Subject Matter for Our Post Office
If Indians sometimes faded into the past, at other times they were violently overcome. An Indian-related subject
that proved popular with audiences and unpopular with the Section of Fine Arts was conflict. The Section
repeatedly expressed reservations about depicting Indian-White conflicts and stated that the Department of the
Interior objected to these and other representations of “general unfriendly relations”. Edward Rowan was even
more direct in a letter to artist Louis Bouche, stating categorically that “massacres are out” and claiming that
the Section had no interest “in taking part in continuing or abetting any racial prejudices” (Melosh 1991, 41).
Administrators objected to conflict scenes in murals as part of a broad anti-war policy, and the Section
suggested that “warfare, even historical warfare between Indians and whites, was undesirable as a subject in
view of the armed conflict in Europe.” (Park and Markowitz 1984, 37)
Despite these objections, artists and communities argued for them in several cases, feeling that the episodes
were important and exciting pieces of local history. In fact, Barbara Melosh argues that the erasure of violent
conflicts resulted in a revisionist history of the frontier and contributed purposefully to a government-intended
image of a domesticated frontier, a common motif in Section art (1991, 42).
For his mural “An Incident in King Philip’s War, 1670 in Millbury, Massachusetts” (Fig. 7), artist Joe Lasker
preemptively assured Rowan that he had no plans for a “bloody, unsightly picture” but that he intended to treat
his chosen subject “in a decorative muralesque manner” (1940).
Joe Lasker, born in Brooklyn in 1919, attended Cooper Union Art School and graduated in 1939. He was drafted
into the Army in 1942 and served just over three years. After his military service he returned to painting,
supported by the G.I. Bill and painting prizes such as the Edwin Austin Abbey Mural Painting Scholarship (Park
and Markowitz n.d.).
He first submitted mural designs for the Social Security Building and St. Louis post office mural competitions,
but only received honorable mentions. On the strength of these submissions, he was offered the commission
for the mural in the Millbury, Massachusetts post office for the amount of $800 (Section of Fine Arts 1942, 23).
I n order to come up with appropriate subject matter for the mural, Lasker conducted research in the New
York Public Library and chose a scene from the 1675-6 King Philip’s War in Massachusetts because it was
dramatic and offered numerous pictorial possibilities. As expressed in a letter to scholars Marlene Park and
Gerald Markowitz, he “just couldn’t get excited about onion farming for Millbury” (Lasker 1979).
King Philip was the English name for Metacomet, the son of Massasoit and brother of Wamsutta, who became
Grand Sachem of the Wampanoag after Wamsutta’s death in 1662. Originally, the Wampanoag and the English
Colonists coexisted in uneasy peace. However, increasing colonial expansion led to escalating tensions. In 1675
the situation boiled over upon the murder of the Christianized or “Praying” Indian John Sassamon, a translator
and advisor to Metacomet.
After he reportedly informed Plymouth Colony officials that Metacomet was arranging Indian attacks on colonial
settlements, he was allegedly murdered by three Wampanoag. The three were arrested and hanged. In
retaliation, a band of Pokanoket attacked several homesteads in Plymouth Colony on June 20, 1675. The war
spread quickly and eventually the Nipmuc, Podunc, Narragansett and Nashaway were all involved, fighting the
New England Confederation and their allies, the Mohegan and Pequot.
By the spring of 1676, after many victories on both sides, the conflict became a war of attrition. Metacomet was
shot and killed in August, 1676, leading to the surrender of the Indian forces. He was beheaded, and his head
was displayed on spike in Plymouth for over 20 years (Ranlet 1988).
For his mural design, Joe Lasker chose a particular incident that happened in the vicinity of Millbury: 12
In 1675, at the start of King Phillip’s (the Indian Sachem) war against the early settlers, a band of mounted
English Colonists under the command of Captains Hutchins and Wheeler, were ambushed and attacked by about
two hundred Nipmuc Indians, the aboriginal inhabitants of what is now Worcester County and surrounding
vicinity. As a result, eight of the white soldiers were killed. This clash took place in the neighborhood of where
Millbury now stands.” (Lasker 1940)
Lasker refers Rowan to the historical volumes he referenced for this material, including one containing the
personal report of the Captains Hutchins and Wheeler. Rowan expressed his approval and his relief that Lasker
intended to portray the scene tastefully, and urged him to consult local authorities on Indian attire (1940).
In his response, Lasker notes that the Millbury Postmaster had not been able to offer any advice or refer him to
anyone in town qualified to provide input on the mural and its subjects, costumes and other details. However, he
assures Rowan that the mural “will be accurate in its technical aspects, more so than the color sketch” (1941).
While his commitment to textual research for historical accuracy is commendable, Joe Lasker never actually
visited Millbury until he installed the mural in 1941. Instead, he painted it on canvas in his Manhattan studio,
rolled it up and shipped it to Millbury. He then made his first visit to the town and installed the mural in one day
with the assistance of the post office janitor. Additionally, no explanation is given for the mural’s titular
reference to an incident in 1670 when the war did not start until 1675, a fact clearly known by the artist and
referenced in his December 1940 letter to Edward Rowan.
The resulting mural shows five Indians in battle with three colonists, and a fourth is implied by a riderless horse.
Lasker used vivid colors of yellow in clothing, blue in a colonist’s flowing cape, and red in saddle blankets,
Indians’ roach hairpieces, and what appears to be blood on the ground under a fallen Indian. The colors are
striking and the energy of the mural is frenetic, with horses and people moving in all directions.
In fact, Lasker consulted the New York libraries and researched as many examples as he could find of battles on
horseback by artists including Leonardo, Rubens, Delacroix, and the Napoleonic painters (Park and Markowitz n.
d.). He discovered that all these paintings had a “formula” to their composition, and he used that same formula
to compose the Millbury mural. An added signature on the mural notes that it was restored, at least partially, in