Owners of Canal plant to allow dig at site of solar project


CREDIT: Cape Cod Times
By George Brennan
May 18. 2016


NRG Energy is planning to build a solar farm on the site of its current plant in Sandwich, in the area at the left side of the photo. NRG has agreed to allow an archeological dig in the area, where the Freeman family once had a farm. Steve Haines/Cape Cod Times

SANDWICH — The owners of NRG Energy Canal Generating Plant will allow an archaeological dig on land once owned by one of the town’s earliest settlers.

Bourne resident Jack MacDonald had appealed an April 13 decision by the Sandwich Old King’s Highway District Committee granting a permit for a 1.5 megawatt ground-mounted solar array on the property known as the Freeman Farm. The property is located just over the town line with Bourne, adjacent to fuel tanks on NRG property.

The agreement to allow the focused dig was reached Tuesday as MacDonald was set to argue his appeal before the Old King’s Highway Regional Historic District Commission.

The property is where Edmund Freeman Sr., one of the 10 men of Saugus who settled Sandwich in 1637, lived and farmed, though the site of his house is not clear from records in the town archives. A farmhouse that burned at the location in 1982 and where the dig will occur dates back to the late 1800s.

Freeman and his wife, Elizabeth, are buried in a tiny burial ground known as the Saddle & Pillion Cemetery. The site, which is preserved, is on a hill across Tupper Road from the NRG property, which can be seen through the trees.

NRG officials had given verbal assurances they would allow exploration at the site on the company’s property before last month’s vote, but MacDonald has now secured permission in writing.

“It’s a win, win, win, and throw in a couple more wins,” MacDonald said Tuesday morning.

James Wilson, an attorney for the regional commission, confirmed MacDonald had withdrawn his appeal.

“The commission is always pleased when the parties are able to settle a matter by mutual agreement,” Wilson said. “It benefits everyone involved instead of having it be controversial.”

NRG is “pleased” to be able to move forward with the project, David Gaier, a spokesman for the company, wrote in an email. At the April 13 meeting, NRG officials explained they were facing a tight window because some of the government-based incentives that make the solar project financially feasible are due to end.

“We’ve mutually agreed to several things that satisfy both parties, and allow NRG to move forward with a project that helps Massachusetts continue its leadership in renewable, clean energy,” Gaier wrote.

The company will seek permission from the Cape Cod Commission to do the survey, which is necessary because there is a conservation restriction on that portion of the land, he wrote. NRG will also make a good faith effort to name the project the “Edmund Freeman Solar Farm.”

The archaeological survey can’t be completed until after NRG receives its building permit for the solar project, according to the agreement.

With the help of Plimoth Plantation, MacDonald found David Landon, associate director of the Fiske Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Massachusetts Boston, who is interested in doing the dig.

“These remaining sites are few and far between based on the development that’s gone on around the Cape and Plymouth Bay,” Landon said. “The prospect of looking there is exciting.”

Freeman not only helped to settle the Cape’s oldest town, but served as assistant governor from 1640 to 1645 under Gov. William Bradford, a tie to Plymouth that likely piqued the Plantation’s interest.

“As the living history museum of 17th-century Colonial and native New England founded with a focus on archaeology, Plimoth Plantation always takes an interest in potentially significant sites of the 1600s,” museum spokeswoman Kate Sheehan said. “While we’re not directly involved in this project, we’re looking forward to learning about the team’s findings.”

The Sandwich Old King’s Highway board was not as receptive to MacDonald. At last month’s meeting, committee member William Collins called claims that potentially significant artifacts would be plowed under, “nonsense.”

MacDonald’s interest was cultivated during his childhood growing up just over the town line in Sagamore, where his family would talk about Sandwich’s rich history and, particularly, Freeman’s links to it. When he heard about NRG’s solar project, he worried some of that history might be lost.

“We don’t know for sure if it’s the site, but it’s certainly worth taking a look,” MacDonald said.

— Follow George Brennan on Twitter: @gpb227.

Posted in Archaeology, Articles, Current Events, History of Sandwich, News | Leave a comment

Historical Markers Part of Improvements Planned for Mill Creek Park.




(Click for Larger View)

Sandwich Okays Plan To Turn ‘Restroom Park’ Into Something More Memorable


A gift of flowers, benches and greenery popped up among the political brambles when a volunteer group offered to beautify a scruffy grove across from Sandwich Town Hall.

The news that volunteers wanted to spruce up the unadorned clearing, which is home to the village’s only public restrooms, was little heralded, coming one week before Town Meeting and the town election. The plan came before three of the five selectmen as well as the Old King’s Highway Historic District Committee recently. Both boards passed the plan unanimously.

When it is finished the park will provide a shady rest area for visitors. It will feature small brick patios, benches, flowering hedges, greenery, and bronze signs describing the histories of nearby landmarks, including town hall, First Church of Christ, the Dexter Grist Mill, and Mill Creek, which runs through the property. A bicycle rack is also planned for the park.

The volunteers are members of the Sandwich 375 Committee, which formed to organize last year’s big 375th birthday bash for the town. So successful were their fundraising efforts for the year-long celebration, they had money left over. With the help of several town staff and a cross-section of volunteers from other town advisory boards, the group came up with a design and a name—Mill Creek Park.

“Many visitors walk through Town Hall Square and look at our beautiful buildings but other than seeing them, there is no signage telling them what they are and their significance to our history,” said Cynthia M. Russell, spokesman for the 375 Committee, in her presentation. “Hence, we would like to install two cast bronze plaques, placed near each sitting area at an angle, that tell of the buildings. These signs can only be read from inside the park.”

The design and planning were the work of many people.

The 375 committee asked Colonial Brass of Taunton to make the cast bronze signs. The coating will develop a green patina as it ages, Ms. Russell said. Two members of the Sandwich Historical Commission wrote the text for the signs.

The benches will look like old-style wooden benches, but will actually be composite material suggested by town engineer Paul Tilton and town planner Blair Haney. David J. DeConto, assistant director of natural resources, also consulted on the project.

BJ’s Lawncare & Landscaping of Forestdale will put the signs and the landscaping in place with the help of volunteers from the Sandwich Chamber of Commerce. Mary Bowker, president of the Sandwich Garden Club, will supervise the planting work. Ms. Bowker, along with Donna and Jeff Kutil of Scenic Roots Garden Center, chose the low-maintenance plants.

“They have selected hydrangeas, summer sweet and winterberry plants for their disease and pest resistance, heat tolerance, and ready adaptation to different soil types as well as their beauty spring through fall when Mill Creek Park is most used by visitors and the community,” Ms. Russell wrote in her presentation.

Tree warden Justin O’Connor suggested that two Norway maples be removed and replaced with Stewartia and two flowering trees.

“Stewartia trees are slow-growing, all-season performers that show off fresh green leaves in the spring, white flowers resembling single camellias in summer, colorful foliage in the autumn, and exfoliating bark in the winter that creates a beautiful spectacle after leaves fall,” Ms. Russell said.

The town will install a watering system that will be needed for only the first few years. After the low-maintenance plants have been established, nature will take over and the watering system will no longer be needed, Ms. Russell said.

“The challenge of planting in the park is significant due to the present lack of water, deep shade, the condition of the soil and long-term maintenance,” Ms. Russell said. “But we believe with the choices of plants, short-term irrigation, enriched plant soil and removal of trees, these plants have an excellent opportunity to thrive and be enjoyed.”

The three selectmen (Susan R. James, Peter M. Beauchemin and Ralph A. Vitacco), who attended the meeting at which the plan was approved, thanked Ms. Russell, the town staff and all the volunteers for their efforts.

“This is a great example of the town and the businesses coming together to leave a lasting monument,” Mr. Vitacco said.

The committee chose Mill Creek Park as the name because it “acknowledges the heritage and beauty of the area by recognizing the historic grist mill and the natural creek upon which the park is located,” Ms. Russell said. “The beautification of this park speaks to our mission statement as it embraces the town’s rich culture, proud heritage and pristine beauty,” Ms. Russell said. “We cannot thank these people and businesses enough because due to their guidance, expertise and spirit of community, the Sandwich 375 Committee legacy gift to the town will truly be a delightful place year-round for residents and visitors to use and enjoy for many years. “

Here’s a brief history of the park area that was included in Ms. Russell’s presentation:

“Mill Creek Park celebrates the historical fact that the Dexter Grist mill was able to operate because the water from the dammed up pond flowed into this creek.

“The mill was built in 1640, giving farmers in this agricultural community the means to turn their corn crop into flour, which provided sustenance for the population for more than 200 years.

“From spring-fed Shawme Pond and down the herring run, Mill Creek also brought economic prosperity to Sandwich by powering many businesses such as the Tag Factory and the Shoe Factory.

“Today, it brings visitors to see it wind through rich marshland and flow under the famous Sandwich boardwalk to the Old Harbor where the Boston & Sandwich Glass Factory was built by Deming Jarves in 1825.

“The name ‘Mill Creek’ recognizes the importance of both the mill and the creek to the Sandwich residents and visitors for the past 375 years.”

Download Complete Proposal

RELATED STORY: A Name for the Park at 135 Main Street

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A Name for the Park at 135 Main Street


by Cindy Russell

135 Main Street has been privately owned from 1639 until 1963 when Town Meeting voted “to purchase a certain parcel of land located at Main Street, at Town Hall Square, owned by Manuel and Leona R. Jacinto for $14,000.

Bill Daley and Don Bayley, members of the Sandwich Historical Commission, spent many hours researching the property in the archives and even spoke to Barbara Gill about the property. Their research found:


(Click for Larger View)

1. 1839 John Warner Barber drawing of Town Hall with historian Russell Lovell stating “This is the only view found showing the early Calvinistic chapel on the site of the present First Church of Christ. The smaller buildings in the left foreground are a blacksmith shop, the building (Spite Barn) that was to become part of the glass museum and lastly the Fred Bunker museum.
There is a story that Melatiah Bourne had a small barn near the Calvinistic chapel and made it a point to stir the animals when services were going on. This became known as “The Spite Barn” and part of town legend. This barn building was later moved across Main Street and then over the millstream and is incorporated into today’s Sandwich Glass Museum.


1857 Map showing Carriage Shop on Mill Creek across from Town Hall (Click for Larger View)

2. 1857 Sandwich Village Map shows the property to have a carriage shop.

3. 1880 Sandwich Village Map shows a shoe factory.

4. 1950 aerial view shows a garage.

Sandwich historian Jonathan Shaw remembers a house and foundation there that were demolished. At one time, he visited that house – where some friends of his were living. “It was a tall, rather ugly and awkwardly sited house and it was a stroke of genius that the Town bought the lot.”

Some may argue that it should be called Town Hall Park. However, Town Hall was not built until 1834 and the creek had been a vital component of the town for more than two centuries by the time the hall was built.

So why name the park “Mill Creek Park?” This name acknowledges the heritage and beauty of the area by recognizing the historic grist mill and the natural creek upon which the park is located. Mill Creek Park celebrates the historical fact that the Dexter Grist mill was able to operate because the water from the dammed up pond flowed into this creek. The mill was built in 1640 and it gave the farmers in this agricultural community the means to turn their corn crop into flour which provided sustenance for the population for more than 200 years.


Postcard ca. 1915 showing Town Hall, Grist Mill, Tag Factory and Shoe Factory on Shawme Pond (Click for Larger View)

From spring-fed Shawme Pond and down the herring run, Mill Creek also brought economic prosperity to Sandwich by powering many businesses such as the Tag Factory and the Shoe Factory. Today, it brings visitors to see it wind through rich marshland and flow under the famous Sandwich boardwalk to the Old Harbor where the Boston & Sandwich Glass Factory was built by Deming Jarves in 1825.

The name “Mill Creek” recognizes the importance of both the mill and the creek to the Sandwich residents and visitors for the past 375 years.

(Photos courtesy Sandwich Town Archives)

RELATED STORY: Historical Markers Part of Improvements Planned for Mill Creek Park

Posted in 375th Anniversary, Articles, Current Events, Historic Preservation, History of Sandwich, News | 1 Comment

Voters Reject Renovating Clark-Haddad Building



Sandwich voters reject using $1.1 million to renovate Clark-Haddad building

SANDWICH – Voters rejected the use of $1.1 million in community preservation funds to renovate the Clark-Haddad Memorial Building, formerly the Sand Hill School.

The project received a majority vote of 148-110, but not the two-thirds required.

The building, named for two Sandwich men who died during World War I, has been vacant since the Sandwich school administration moved out in 2007. It’s been a target of vandals since and has fallen into disrepair.

Town groups hoped to use it as a community center.

“What we need is something that is a more reasonable cost and a more accessible space,” said Joanne Westerhouse, a member of several clubs including the Sandwich Arts Alliance.

Resident Steve Barr questioned the overall cost of the project. “Am I the only one who thinks this is excessive?” he asked.

Voter Carl Johansen urged the town to sell the property because it will need future upkeep, as well. “This particular building has been neglected by the town,” he said. “Historically speaking, we do not have a good track record maintaining (buildings).”

Robert King, a member of several town boards, pointed out the town already voted not to sell the property.

“There were people who wanted to dispose of this property and this body said no,” Selectman Patrick Ellis said.

What the town will do with it now remains to be seen. Town meeting has sent mixed messages.

A motion to reconsider, after dozens of voters left the room, failed and prompted about 15 minutes of back and forth about whether that was “dirty pool.”

A short time later, voters approved turning over another old building to the control of the town as of July 2017. Care and custody of the Henry T. Wing School, which was closed as a school a year ago, was turned over to the Board of Selectmen from the School Committee.

Town voters also approved spending $1.2 million in community preservation funds to repair Lower Shawme Pond dam, the Dexter Grist Mill and surrounding properties.

“This project is long overdue,” voter Carl Johansen said.

Community preservation funds are generated from a 3 percent surcharge on property taxes. The funds can be used for open space, historic preservation, and affordable housing.

Repairs to a historic cemetery at $70,000 and $20,000 for the Thornton W. Burgess Green Briar Jam Kitchen were also approved, though the jam kitchen did generate some debate about whether funds should go to a private nonprofit organization.

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New Civil War Memorial Wall Plaque Now in Town Hall

Sandwich Civil War Plaque

Bill Daley inspecting the new Civil War plaque. The Historical Commission extends its highest praise and appreciation to Bill for spearheading this important project.

The Civil War Memorial Wall Plaque has been delivered and it now hangs on the wall of the first staircase case landing at Town Hall. It shows the full names of the 294 Sandwich men who served as soldiers and sailors. A gold star is beside the names of the 54 men who lost their lives because of the war.

As far as Cape Cod is concerned, Sandwich raised the first military unit on the Cape; the Sandwich Guards (Co. D 29th Regiment) saw the first military action; Sandwich had the most men join of any town on the Cape and sadly lost the most number of men. Sandwich was not alone in its losses; more than 600,000 Americans lost their lives during this 4 year nightmare.

Roster of Civil War Soldiers & Sailors, Sandwich, MA


Posted in Articles, Civil War, History of Sandwich, News | Leave a comment

The 10 Men of Saugus


“The year 1637 marks the era of the first English settlement on the Cape. The settlement at Sandwich was projected by Mr. Edmund Freeman and others who, April 3 of this year, obtained a grant from the Colony of Plymouth and at once with a large number of families from Lynn, Duxbury and Plymouth but chiefly from Lynn, the ancient Saugus, removed to the location designated. The settlement was begun this year under very favorable auspices although it was not regularly incorporated as a town until about two years after.

“Touching this settlement the following record appears: ‘April 3, 1637, it is also agreed by the Court that these ten men of Saugus, viz., Edmund Freeman, Henry Feake, Thomas Dexter, Edward Dillingham, William Wood, John Carman, Richard Chadwell, William Almy, Thomas Tupper, and George Knott shall have liberty to view a place to sit down, and have sufficient lands for threescore families, upon the conditions propounded to them by the governor and Mr. Winslow.‘”
(from: The History of Cape Cod: The Annals of Barnstable County …, Volume 1
By Frederick Freeman)










DSCN7172Click each name below to read a transcript of speeches given at the Sandwich 375th anniversary celebration in 2014.




William Almy
(portrayed by Mark Pommrehn)

John Carman
(portrayed by Bill Powell)

Richard Chadwell
(portrayed by David Schrader)

Thomas Dexter
(portrayed by Doug Dexter)

Edward Dillingham
(portrayed by Jeff Miller)

Henry Feake
(portrayed by Bill Imes)

Edmund Freeman
(portrayed by Irving Freeman)

George Knott
(portrayed by Raymond Tobey)

Thomas Tupper
(portrayed by Paul Williams)

William Wood
(read by Kaethe Maguire; William Wood was her 9th Great Grandfather)


Posted in 375th Anniversary, Articles, History of Sandwich | 3 Comments

Twinning with Sandwich, England




Photo courtesy: Taylor White

“Our towns share more than their name, not least local and national distinction as historic communities. I hope that we can grow closer in mutual understanding and appreciation of each town’s heritage and community life.”

–The Mayor of Sandwich, Kent, UK Cllr Paul Graeme


The Sandwich Atlantic Twinning Association is looking for digital photos of Sandwich for a joint website with Sandwich, UK. Please send any photos via email to dean@deancoe.com.


Sandwich UK

Tea with Sandy Schrader from Sandwich, Mass. at The Salutation in Sandwich, UK with the Mayor & Mayoress, Deputy & Consort, Chair of Sandwich History Society and BASH members. — with Dave Batchelor, Rowan Frost, Amy Batchelor, Sonia Frost and Tony Cooper in Sandwich, Kent.

Tea with Sandy Schrader from Sandwich, Mass. at The Salutation in Sandwich, UK with the Mayor & Mayoress, Deputy & Consort, Chair of Sandwich History Society and BASH members. — with Dave Batchelor, Rowan Frost, Amy Batchelor, Sonia Frost and Tony Cooper in Sandwich, Kent.

Sandy Schrader from Sandwich, Mass. in the mayor's seat at the Guildhall Courtroom, Sandwich, Kent. The Mayor seemed happy with the arrangement. — in Sandwich, Kent.

Sandy Schrader from Sandwich, Mass. in the mayor’s seat at the Guildhall Courtroom, Sandwich, Kent. The Mayor seemed happy with the arrangement. — in Sandwich, Kent.


Items sent from Sandwich UK on display at the Sandwich MA Library


WATCH Video on Twinning Charter with Sandwich, U.K.








Would you like to take part in the Sandwich twinning? Sign up as an epal!

We are working with the people of Sandwich UK to create a network of email ‘penpals’ across the twin towns.

If you would like to correspond with someone in Sandwich UK, please email our epal coordinators. Send us your name, age and areas of interest and we will endeavour to find you a suitable match. We would welcome group epals too – if you belong to a special interest group and would like to join up with like-minded people in Sandwich UK, please send us your details and we’ll see what we can do…

SandwichUKCelebrationVisit Sandwich England’s websites:

B-A-S-H: Bringing Alive Sandwich (Kent) Heritage

BASH UK Facebook Page

Kent Online: Sandwich News

PINTEREST SITE: Messages to Massachusetts

OPEN SANDWICH: All about the Medieval Town of Sandwich in Kent

VISIT SANDWICH: A Taste of Medieval England



Of Sandwich, Seals and Sandwiches:

Sandwich, Massachusetts is named for the seaport of Sandwich, Kent, England. The name “Sandwich” comes from Old English (O.E.) Sandwic, and literally means “sand village,” “sandy place,” or “place on the sand.” The old English wic is a loan word from Latin vicus, which also gives us the word vicinity. The word “sandwich” as an item of food came into being centuries later (we’ll get to that in a bit) . The first recorded mention of Sandwich in the United kingdom was around 664 AD but there was probably some kind of settlement in Roman times as the site is very close to a Roman Fort (Rutupiae).

The seal for Sandwich in Kent, England had 3 ships with lion heads. seal200By 1900 all towns in Massachusetts were required to establish a town seal. The design adopted for Sandwich, Mass. was proposed by Melanie Elisabeth Norton (who married Jonathan Leonard in 1898). She drew American eagles in place of the British lions. On the version of the seal shown here, those 3 blips on the ships don’t look much like eagles, but we hear from the Leonard’s grandson that the town is working on re-drawing the seal so the eagles can be more easily discerned.

If you are curious about the Latin phrase on the Town Seal “Post Tot Naufragia Portus,” it translates to: “After So Many Shipwrecks There Is A Harbor (or a Haven).”




Earl of Sandwich Coat of Arms
(click for larger view)

Earl of Sandwich

John Montagu 4th Earl of Sandwich

This phrase was also the motto of John William Montague (1718-1792), the 4th Earl of Sandwich, and is on the Montague family Coat of Arms. It is said that we get the name of the “sandwich” we eat from the 4th Earl. Legend has it that Montague was a hardened gambler and usually gambled for hours at a time at a restaurant, sometimes refusing to get up even for meals. He ordered his valet to bring him meat tucked between two pieces of bread so he didn’t need to bother with utensils to eat it. Because Montague was also known as the Earl of Sandwich, others began to order “the same as Sandwich!” And the name stuck.

An alternative explanation is that the Earl invented it to sustain himself at his desk, which seems plausible since there is ample evidence of the long hours he worked from an early start, in an age when dinner was the only substantial meal of the day, and the fashionable hour to dine was four o’clock.

Note however, the family of the Earls of Sandwich has no real connection to the English town itself, only the title. Apparently, the First Earl, Edward Montagu, originally intended to take the title of the Earl of Portsmouth—this might have been changed to honor the town of Sandwich, because the fleet he was commanding in 1660 was lying off the coast of Sandwich, before it sailed to bring Charles II back to England.

We can be thankful the name was changed, otherwise we’d be eating Peanut Butter Portsmouths!

–Don Bayley, Sandwich Historical Commission





Origin of Sandwich and The sandwich
OPEN SANDWICH: History of Sandwich Kent
Hexmaster’s Factoids

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William Eaton and the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument


By William F. Daley
June, 2009 (revised January 2011)

Nearly 100 years ago, the town of Sandwich celebrated a very special Memorial Day. On May 30, 1911 William Eaton, a wealthy business man from Brockton, donated a 30 foot Civil War Monument to the people of Sandwich. It was erected next to the Town Hall on a piece of greenery that became known as Eaton Square. The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument is still there today for all to see.


The dedication took place on a rainy day, but that did not dampen the spirit of the throngs of townspeople and visitors who turned out for the festivities. There was a parade lead by the band from the Keith Car & Mfg. Company and, the full crew of the USRC Gresham, Civil War veterans from the GAR, school children and a host of town officials. There was even a recital of Lincoln’s Address at Gettysburg. Patriotic speeches were given including one by the keynote speaker, John F. (Honey Fitz) Fitzgerald, the Mayor of Boston and the grandfather of President John F. Kennedy. Mayor Fitzgerald spoke of the custom of various nations honoring their great generals, but said the United States was the one nation to recognize the common soldier in granite.

William Eaton, the donor, was not always a rich man. During his youth he was desperately poor. His English father, James, was a glass worker at the Boston and Sandwich Glass Co. (B&S), but he died in 1856 when William was only 8. There were no government social services in mid 19th century America and young William had no alternative but to go to work at the glass factory. In his short autobiography he describes the situation:

After my father’s death I went to work in the Boston and Sandwich Glass Works, where they worked night and day, beginning at one o’clock a.m., Monday. After I worked in the factory some time Mr. Fessenden, the superintendent of the factory, became interested in my case. He sent me to board with a family by the name of Reighel. He paid my board every two weeks to them out of what I earned in the factory; he also gave me what I needed to get shoes and clothes. I tried to be careful of them and tried to make them last as long as possible as I feared I might not be able to pay my way, my wages being very small. After paying for these things, what little was left was saved for me, but this sum was very small.

He was a tireless worker and by the time he was 14 he had saved enough to buy some furniture, hire a house and make a home for his Irish mother Mary and his 2 brothers. At the factory he was fortunate to meet a good friend of his father, John F. Clayton, who was the steam engineer at the factory. Billy Eaton was interested in all things mechanical and Mr. Clayton took him under his wing, spoke words of encouragement to him and answered the hundreds of questions he put to him. Whenever he had “spare time”, he was in the engine room learning all he could from his mentor. He was a quick learner, had a natural
ability in this field; and eventually he became the assistant engineer to Mr. Clayton.

Years later, Mr. Clayton asked the B&S for a raise, but the company refused the request and Clayton resigned. The company asked Eaton to show the new engineer around the factory and to make him familiar with the operations. In an amazing show of loyalty, Eaton said he would not do so and he resigned as well. The company found Mr. Clayton too valuable to lose and he was soon hired back and his demands were satisfied. William returned as well and stayed as Mr. Clayton’s assistant until the company closed in 1888. After Mr. Clayton died, William carried flowers to the grave of his friend at least twice per
year and did so for the rest of his life.

William Eaton moved on to other parts of the country and improved his career as an engineer. Eventually he made his way back to Brockton where he invested money in real estate and accumulated some wealth. During his retirement years he took the time to visit different places in the US. One of these journeys took him to Gettysburg where he was emotionally overcome with the sacrifices that so many young men made in defending the Union. He remembered his boyhood years in Sandwich and recalled the young lads from
the glass factory who answered Lincoln’s call for volunteers. It was this experience which motivated him to donate the monument and its inscription reads:

Presented by William Eaton
to his Native Town of
Sandwich, Mass.
As a Memorial to his Father
James R. Eaton
May 30, 1911

Erected in memory of the
Soldiers and Sailors
From This Town
Brave Defenders of the Union
and the Flag
We Honor Their Noble Deeds.
“Let Us Have Peace”

When the Memorial Day festivities took place in Sandwich on May 30, 1911, they were exclusively directed to those who had given their lives during the Civil War. Its tradition was begun by General Logan in 1868 when he had his troops place flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The practice quickly spread among the northern states and May 30 was initially known as Decoration Day. The southern states did not participate in May 30 observances, choosing instead to honor Southern dead on separate days. It wasn’t until the end of World War I that Memorial Day changed from honoring those who died in the Civil War to honoring all Americans who died in any war.

During the years from 1861 to 1865, 386 men from Sandwich enlisted in military service. Approximately 100 of these were glass factory workers. Patriotic fervor was running high and Deming Jarves, the head of the glass factory, suspended the rents of any factory worker who enlisted in the war. Volunteers reduced the number of workers in the factory and glass production decreased. It would take years to rebuild the manpower at the factory. By the war’s end, 43 Sandwich men had died on the battlefields or from wounds or
diseases. For a small town of 4,500 people, this represented a tremendous sacrifice. It was within this atmosphere that William Eaton spent his early teenage years at the glass factory in Sandwich and as head of his family household.

Martha Hassell, former Curator at the Sandwich Glass Museum, captured the meaning of Eaton’s monument in an article she wrote in 1981. “Although it was particularly those men [enlistees] whom Eaton was honoring in erecting his monument, he was also remembering all the workers of the Boston & Sandwich Glass Factory who had played such an important role in his life. Therefore it seems appropriate that the monument should be placed not only near the town but also facing the Sandwich Glass Museum where so many beautiful
pieces of Sandwich glass are on display.”

It should be said that without Eaton, there would be no Civil War Memorial in Sandwich for town records show that a committee was formed in 1867 to explore the proper way to honor the Civil War dead, but the town ultimately voted to postpone the enterprise and nothing was ever done until William Eaton donated his monument in 1911. He never married and died in Brockton in 1928 at age 80. He is buried in the town where he was born in the Old Town Cemetery on Grove Street and his grave is distinguished by a large Eaton granite stone bearing not only his own name but lovingly those of his parents and brothers and sisters as well. He also honored his first cousin, Joseph Eaton, a glass worker who served in the 36th Massachusetts Regiment during the Civil War. At the Mt. Hope Cemetery on Route 6A, a large granite boulder bearing the name Eaton was placed beside the simple headstone of the Civil War veteran.

Eaton had done well in life, but he always felt badly about his own lack of formal education. He had said, “I could have gone farther in life if only I had had some mathematical training.” In his later years he placed $10,000 in a scholarship trust to be used for worthy Sandwich students. He did not name the scholarship after himself, but after the man who had provided him with the education he needed. The John C. Clayton Scholarship has been awarded to deserving Sandwich High School seniors for nearly 80 years and the practice continues to this day.

Finally, William Eaton never forgot how difficult it was to be poor. In his will he set aside $5,000 in trust known as the Mary, Charles and John R. Eaton Memorial Fund in honor of his mother and brothers. It calls for the fund “to provide needy and worthy families in the town with Christmas dinners and other comforts during the Christmas season” It is still in existence today. He was a humble man of quiet dignity who did the best he could. He loved his country, his family and his native town of Sandwich. Mr. Eaton concluded his own short biography with these words. “I have been industrious and it has been a source of great happiness. I have been temperate in my habits and believe in the simple life, which I have followed to a great extent. I have been able to accomplish some things beyond my expectations. I have made the most of the talents God gave me.’

Posted in Articles, Civil War, History of Sandwich | Leave a comment

Sandwich & The Civil War


By William F. Daley

The Sandwich Guards –
29th Regiment, Company D

On April 12, 1861, the American Civil War began with the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. The shelling rapidly escalated into a series of actions including President Lincoln’s call for 75,000 troops to put down the rebellion. They were to be raised from the state militias to serve a term of 3 months of active duty; a clear indication that this would be enough time to put the Rebels in their place. It would soon become apparent that 3 months would not get the job done and that the enlistments would need to be extended for a longer time.

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Historical Tid-Bits of Cape Cod’s Oldest Town


By Don Bayley

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