Shrewsbury Historical Society
Executive Board: 2023 - 2024
President: Erik Larson
Vice President: Kristine Gustafson
Treasurer: Jeff Underkoffler
Assistant Treasurer: Jim Jolicoeur
Corresponding Secretary: Lois Benotti
Recording Secretary: Karin Underkoffler
Curator: Linda Davis
Assistant Curator: Lauren Finacom
Webmaster: David Prince
Directors: Nancy Burnett, Ed Pescaro, Martha Thomas
The Town of Shrewsbury
In 1716, a group of thirty-one persons petitioned the General Court to set aside a tract of land for a new township. This was granted on November 2, 1717 "Provided they have at least 40 families settled there with an orthodox minister within three years". When granted it bore the name of Shrewsbury.
The petitioners, called Proprietors, were granted about seventy acres each for three pounds, twelve shillings per plot, and they erected a meeting house dedicating it on December 4. 1723.
For the first ten years, the town was governed by a committee, but on December 15, 1727, it was incorporated with all the rights and privileges of a town.
The Old Post Road, which passes through Shrewsbury center, was the first Post Road in America, being so designated in 1673 (sometimes called the King's Highway or the Great Road.)
History of the Society
The Shrewsbury Historical Society was organized on January 7, 1898 and incorporated on June 23, 1902.
In response to an invitation signed by Messrs: H.A. Maynard and George E. Stone, a number of people interested in forming a Historical Society met at the house of Mr. Stone on the evening of November 26, 1897 and formally discussed the matter. A committee consisting of H.A. Maynard, D.W Bemis and G.E. Stone was appointed to prepare articles of organization.
A second meeting in the course of forming a Historical Society was held at the house of G.E. Stone on the evening of December 30, 1897, at which time the Committee reported a set of by-laws.
On January 7, 1898, the Historical Society met at the Town Officer's room. After some discussion is was voted to "place the entrance fee and dues at 50 cents instead of $1.00; also voted to limit the membership to 50 members."
By-laws were adopted and the following officers elected:
President: Herbert A. Maynard
Vice President: Henry J. Hascall
Secretary: George E. Stone
Treasurer: David B. Rice
Directors: Daniel W. Bemis, Rev. E. A. Lathrow and Miss Bessie A. Rice
Other early members to join the Society were: Dr. Franklin W. Brigham, Henry and Thomas Harlow, Mr. and Mrs. F. Kent McKenzie, Mrs. Jessie Prairie, and Mr. Edward P. Sumner.
At the March 10, 1898 meeting: "the matter of setting up the ancient mile end guide stone which stood at the old Baldwin Tavern was brought up."
Only one year after the Society limited their membership to 50, the records show that they had 60 people attending, so they upped the limit to 100 (Shrewsbury's population in 1900 was at 1,626).
At a meeting in early 1901, it was decided to have the Society mark the grave of Levi Pease, "father of stage coaches" and the first person in the United States to receive a contract for carrying the US mail. Levi Pease did not have a marker so the Society placed a stone thereon and a bronze marker. His grave is opposite the Artemas Ward family lot directly north of the Congregational Church. Also the Society voted to mark the spot at the corner of Main and Boylston Streets where the minutemen assembled on the day of the Lexington Alarm.
On February 24, 1902, a meeting of the subscribers agree to constitute a Corporation to be known as the Shrewsbury Historical Society, these subscribers being: Henry Harlow, Ella H. Ward, George E. Stone, Mabel E. Knowlton, George W. Cogswell, H. A. Maynard, Samuel D. Ward and Thomas Harlow. On March 13, 1902, the first meeting of this group was held. The certificate of incorporation was signed and forwarded to George Stone on June 23, 1902.
Records of April 28, 1903 state that the "Trustees of the Public Library" voted to extend to the Shrewsbury Historical Society the privilege of holding its meeting in the rooms of the library building. Meetings there after were held in the library hall.
Alden C. Stone, "Seventy-Five Years of the Shrewsbury Historical Society (1898 - 1973) as taken from the records of the Society as kept by its secretaries.