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flag  History of Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

Journey back in time to Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

(Globe) (Lensdale) (Saundersdale) (Shuttleville)

Visit Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures, postcards and ancestry.

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Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA - Harrington Cutlery Company 1818 Cutlers Manufacturers Dexter Knives and Blades established June 18, 1818 by Henry Harrington   The Harrington C

Southbridge, Worcester, Massachusetts

Home of the largest eye glass factory in the world

Southbridge includes: Brookside, Dennison District, Globe, Hooker District, Lensdale, Morse District, Saundersdale, and Shuttleville.

Southbridge was first settled by Europeans in 1730. In 1801 a poll parish, named the Second Religious Society of Charlton, and popularly called Honest Town, was formed from the west part of Dudley, the southwest part of Charlton and the southeast part of Sturbridge. In 1816 this parish was incorporated to become the township of Southbridge.
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Postcards and Memories of Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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There is MUCH more to discover about Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA. Read on!

Southbridge Nostalgia: Vintage Photos, Ads, and Postcards

Harrington Cutlery Company
1818 Cutlers
Manufacturers
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Harrington Cutlery Company
1818 Cutlers
Manufacturers "Dexter" Knives and Blades
established June 18, 1818 by Henry Harrington

The Harrington Cutlery Company was established in 1818, in Southbridge, Massachusetts by Henry Harrington, a New England craftsman and inventor. The Harrington Cutlery company was the first cutlery manufacturing company established in the United States. Harrington manufactured surgical equipment, shoe knives and firearms. Some of his firearms are on display at the Old Sturbridge Village Museum in Sturbridge, MA. In 1884, Harrington introduced the Dexter trade name. Named after one of his sons, Dexter Harrington, the Dexter line of kitchen and table cutlery became known for its high quality in American homes and restaurants. wikipedia
Hamilton Woolen Mills, postmarked 1910
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Hamilton Woolen Mills, postmarked 1910

"Located in the Globe Village section of Southbridge, the company incorporated in 1831, with a capital of $200,000, The company started a newsletter, called "The Hamiltonian", the first issue was published on January 1,1920. This plant is now home to Dexter-Russell Inc., the largest and the oldest manufacturer of professional cutlery in the United States." www.digitalcommonwealth.org
1858 Bank Note
The Southbridge Bank

By 1865 a wide assortment of manufactories and services exis
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

www.sec.state.ma.us
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1858 Bank Note
The Southbridge Bank

By 1865 a wide assortment of manufactories and services existed in Southbridge. These included manufactories of cutlery, card paper, railroad cars, coaches, wagons and sleighs, clothing, tinware, pumps, coffins, boxes, ice, baked goods, teeth, and wheel spokes.

Two daquerrian and photographic establishments existed as did a harness shop, blacksmith shops, a gas plant, ice house, and planning mills. Two banks were organized during the major period of industrial and commercial expansion. The Southbridge Bank was formed in 1836, followed by the Southbridge Savings Savings Bank in 1848.
Hotel Columbia, postmarked 1910
Built in 1867, by Leonard Cutler. Purchased by Thomas F. Murphy in
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Hotel Columbia, postmarked 1910
Built in 1867, by Leonard Cutler. Purchased by Thomas F. Murphy in 1904.
"This hotel has forty rooms and a restaurant for its guests, and is a leading hostelry of Southbridge." www.digitalcommonwealth.org
Main American Optical Co. Factory, Southbridge, Mass.
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Main American Optical Co. Factory, Southbridge, Mass.

"The name 'American Optical Co.' dates back to a meeting on Feb. 26, 1869, of members of two neighboring Southbridge firms, Robert H. Cole & Co. and H.C. Ammidown & Co. They met to combine into one firm and chose the title American Optical Co. because it was broad in scope. The company's objective was stated as "to manufacture and sell spectacles and eyeglasses of gold, silver, steel and plated metals, also rings and thimbles, and such other like articles as said company may from time to time desire to make. The firm was formally incorporated March 6, 1869, with R. H Cole as president; G. W. Wells, clerk; E. M. Cole and A. M. Cheney, directors. The capital stock, of 400 shares, totaled $40,000. Robert H. Cole had 150 shares; E. Merritt Cole, 80 shares; Alpha M. Cheney, 50 shares; Hiram C. Wells, 50 shares; George W. Wells 40 shares; and Charles E. Edmonds, 30 shares. They agreed to purchase from R. H. Cole for $1,900, real... Read MORE...

Read more about Robert Henry COLE photo of ancestor
Charles Anger's blacksmith shop in the Westville section of Southbridge
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

Thanks to Paul Laliberte
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Charles Anger's blacksmith shop in the Westville section of Southbridge

"The Blacksmith shop, located between the bridge and the river bend, was operated by Mr. Charles Anger, maternal grandfather of the large Laliberte family... Waggons, buggies and farm equipment were repaired. Young boys like to stop there and watch the way different things were repaired. If the blacksmith was kicked by a horse while it was being shod, the boys would learn some words to add to their vocabulary, ones they wouldn't learn at Sunday school. It was also a good place to get a discarded wagon wheel and use it to make a rolling hoop. If a boy had mechanical abilities, he'd be helpful to the blacksmith in doing odd jobs and running errands. In return he could get help and parts to build a coaster wagon from some old baby carriage wheels or some steel for a double-runner sled." Blacksmith shop in Westville.

"The Denison School District" author unknown, Southbridge, Massachusetts
Read more about Charles ANGER photo of ancestor
Main Street, 1870s
Geo. M. Lovell Portrait and View Photographer, Southbridge, Mass.
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Main Street, 1870s
Geo. M. Lovell Portrait and View Photographer, Southbridge, Mass.
1882 ad
J. & W. Booth
Furniture & Coffin Warerooms
Paints of all kinds
paper Hangings, Curtain F
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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1882 ad
J. & W. Booth
Furniture & Coffin Warerooms
Paints of all kinds
paper Hangings, Curtain Fixtures, Frames, &c.
Alden's Block, Globe Village

1882 Massachusetts City Directory - Webster and Southbridge (MA)
The Journal, Southbridge, MA, Thurs. June 7, 1888
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA
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The Journal, Southbridge, MA, Thurs. June 7, 1888
Town Hall & High School, Elm Street, postmarked 1910, built in 1888

Southbridge Town Hall is an h
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Town Hall & High School, Elm Street, postmarked 1910, built in 1888

Southbridge Town Hall is an historic town hall at 41 Elm Street in Southbridge, Massachusetts. The imposing Romanesque Revival building was built in 1888 to serve as both the town hall and the public high school. It is the only major Romanesque building to survive in Southbridge. and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
wikipedia
George H. Hartwell
Druggist and Apothecary
Cor. Main and Central Sts., Southbridge, Mass.

Built
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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George H. Hartwell
Druggist and Apothecary
Cor. Main and Central Sts., Southbridge, Mass.

Built in 1867, George H. Hartwell operated an apothecary from this premises, at 98 Main Street and 1 Central Street.
digitalcommonwealth.org
Read more about George Henry HARTWELL photo of ancestor
Westville section of Southbridge
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

Thanks to Paul Laliberte
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Westville section of Southbridge

"...The principal part of the population and of the property is the Village of Westville, situated in a bend of the Quinnebaug River, near the bridge, marked A., on the subjoined plan. The distance from this Village, measuring from the Town-line on the centre of the bridge to Sturbridge is two miles two hundred and eighty rods and tow Southbridge one mile two hundred and eighty-six rods, so that the inhabitants of the Village are about a mile nearer to Southbridge than to Sturbridge. There are five families situated north and west of the Village, who are included in the territory prayed to be set off, and who are themselves Petitioners; and those of them the most remote from the Village, and nearest to the centre of Sturbridge, are about the same distance from Sturbridge and Southbridge.

This territory is not only nearer to Southbridge than to Sturbridge, but the roads are much better to the former place, than to the latter. Westville is bounded... Read MORE...
C. C. C.
Connecticut Clothing Co.
Bates & Lindsey
Putnam, Conn.
Southbridge, Mass.

In 1884, C
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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C. C. C.
Connecticut Clothing Co.
Bates & Lindsey
Putnam, Conn.
Southbridge, Mass.

In 1884, Col. Gustavus Davis Bates established the Connecticut Clothing co., in Putnam, with a branch at Southbridge, Mass., the firm name being Bates & Lindsey. In 1893, they sold out the Putnam store, and that in Southbridge in 1895.

Commemorative Biographical Record of Tolland and Windham Counties, Connecticut
Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens and of Many of the Early Settled Families · Part 1
1903
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Elm Street
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Elm Street
Main Street
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Main Street
View of South Main Street
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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View of South Main Street
Town Hall (built in 1888) and Congregational Church

A new town hall, incorporating the high schoo
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Town Hall (built in 1888) and Congregational Church

A new town hall, incorporating the high school and memorial hall, was built in in 1889 (the old one was torn down). The new building of brick trimmed in brownstone and terra cotta measured 119 x 75 feet
with a 137-foot tower.
www.sec.state.ma.us
G. L. Winter, Southbridge, Mass.
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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G. L. Winter, Southbridge, Mass.
E. D. Reynolds & Co.
Dealers in Men's, Youths' and Boys' Ready-Made Clothing,
Hats, Caps, Boots, S
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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E. D. Reynolds & Co.
Dealers in Men's, Youths' and Boys' Ready-Made Clothing,
Hats, Caps, Boots, Shoes and Gent's Furnishing Goods.
Also, Trunks, Bags, Valises and Lap Robes.
Children's Clothing a Specialty.

Hotel Block
Southbridge, Mass.
Read more about Edward D REYNOLDS
Bank Building, Main Street, postmarked 1906, razed January 3, 1975
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Bank Building, Main Street, postmarked 1906, razed January 3, 1975

"Constructed of brick with brownstone trimmings, located on Main Street, the Southbridge Savings and the Southbridge National Banks are adjacent to the YMCA building (razed January 3, 1975). The Southbridge Savings Bank was incorporated April 23, 1848. The building has two arched windows on the first floor and a large arch overhead. There are chimneys and a balcony depicted... The Southbridge National Bank was originally organized June 7, 1836, when ten of the most prominent town citizens met in the sitting room of William Healey's Tavern: Bela Tiffany, Ebenezer D. Ammidown, recognized as the leader of the initiative; Samuel A. Hitchcock, Linus Child, John Seabury, Theodore Field, Jr., Moses Plimpton, Holmes Ammidown, William Beecher, Chester Clemens, John M. Warren, Larkin Ammidown and Secretary Sam."
www.digitalcommonwealth.org
Hamilton Street
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Hamilton Street
Fire Department Headquarters, Elm Street, built in 1899, postmarked 1905
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Fire Department Headquarters, Elm Street, built in 1899, postmarked 1905

"The building for the Centre companies is in process of erection on Elm street and will cost upwards of $25,000, including land. The uniformed members of the department and a ladder truck are depicted in front of the Fire Department. An historic location, formerly, the site housed the tavern where the new town was planned, the Freeman blacksmith shop, the ancient elm tree planted by Mrs Freeman returning from horse riding, from a switch or sapling elm she had used as a whip."

"Southbridge: A Souvenir", published by the Ladies' Circle and YPCA of the First Universalist Society of Southbridge
Main Street, looking W. Southbridge, Mass.
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Main Street, looking W. Southbridge, Mass.
Marcy Street School
(built around 1898, demolished July 1962)
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Marcy Street School
(built around 1898, demolished July 1962)

"Marcy Street Grammar School, located in the heart of the Centre Village. The front entrance of the Victorian brick facade is shown. The building has a Queen Anne style turret, flanked by symmetrical arched entrances, two chimney stacks, and a conical broach roof. Three eagles are mounted over the arches. Two sets of granite steps lead to the symmetrical entrance ways, on either side of the turret. First occupied at the beginning of the school year in 1898, the building was razed, in 1962, to facilitate a parking lot, for the adjacent Mary E. Wells Middle School. In the 1899 publication Southbridge: A Souvenir the following description was included 'The Marcy Street Grammar School is the latest and best public school building in Southbridge. It is a brick house constructed according to the most approved methods of heating, ventilation and sanitation, at a cost of nearly $50,000. Located very centrally and conveniently... Read MORE...
Chapin Street
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Chapin Street
Elm Street
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Elm Street
July 4th Celebration on Main Street (around 1900)
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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July 4th Celebration on Main Street (around 1900)
Main Street Looking South
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Main Street Looking South
Union Church, Hamilton Street
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Union Church, Hamilton Street

"The Evangelical Free "Union" Church was organized in 1854. The agent, executives of the Hamilton Woolen Company and other Globe Village businessmen initiated the construction project. As a consequence, it was often referred to as the Mill Church. The present structure was built in 1869. A large brick church with an impressive tower is shown. Built during a time when the designs of Protestant churches were changing from the severe and symmetrical Romanesque Revival, to the more imposing and complicated Victorian Gothic. The Romanesque Revival elements in this church are its regular fenestration, the tight, brisk articulation of the brick corbel tables, and the round arches. It's Victorian Gothic look is suggested by the imposing steeple with it's polychromatic roof slates. Romanesque motifs were preferred by the low churches. The Church is located on Hamilton Street in the Globe Village section of Southbridge. The rose window dominates the front of the ... Read MORE...
Residence of Channing M. Wells. This home was originally built by Moses Plimpton. Channing Wells was
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Residence of Channing M. Wells. This home was originally built by Moses Plimpton. Channing Wells was one of the owners of the American Optical Company.
Read more about Channing Mcgregory WELLS
D. M. Rosenthal store, 1906

D.M. Rosenthal for David M. Rosenthal, also known as Rosenthal Brothe
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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D. M. Rosenthal store, 1906

D.M. Rosenthal for David M. Rosenthal, also known as Rosenthal Brothers, a ladies' and gents' outfitters, at 11, Hamilton Street. According to the Southbridge Press, Saturday, July 2, 1904 "The firm of Rosenthal Bros. has secured a splendid reputation in this line. The business was started three years ago by Messrs. D. M. and J. Rosenthal and was then located in a small store across the street from their present location, increasing trade compelling them to seek larger quarters in September, 1902. They have secured a large and constantly increasing patronage through strict attention to business and a careful study of the wants and interests of customers. Great attention is paid to keeping the stock up to the latest and best things in the market, all those novelties produced each season finding a place among it as soon as introduced. The stock is very large and each department is noted for its variety and standard quality, as well as for the moderate... Read MORE...

Read more about David Mayer ROSENTHAL
Southbridge, Mass., Post Office Square, looking West - 1907
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Southbridge, Mass., Post Office Square, looking West - 1907
View on the Quinebaug, Shuttleville, Mass.
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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View on the Quinebaug, Shuttleville, Mass.
American Optical Co. Works, Southbridge, Mass. - 1909
A portion of the American Optical Company Pla
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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American Optical Co. Works, Southbridge, Mass. - 1909
A portion of the American Optical Company Plant, Lensdale, Southbridge, Mass.
American Optical Co. - 1910
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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American Optical Co. - 1910
St. Mary's Church
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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St. Mary's Church
Residence of Joel Cheney Wells

On the north side of Main Street were the side-by-side residences
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Residence of Joel Cheney Wells

On the north side of Main Street were the side-by-side residences of George Washington Wells, founder of American Optical; and his son Joel Cheney (J.C.) Wells. This house no longer exists. It has been replaced by Dresser Park.
Read more about Joel Cheney WELLS photo of ancestor
Main Street View - Baptist Church

By 1837, the Baptist congregation had acquired
sole possession
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Main Street View - Baptist Church

By 1837, the Baptist congregation had acquired
sole possession of the 1797 meetinghouse. The remodelled building was a two-story gable end structure with a recessed, columned portico. In 1848, they sold this structure and built a new church which burned in 1863 and was replaced by 1866 with the two-story, brick, Romanesque Central Baptist church. www.sec.state.ma.us
Birds Eye View
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Birds Eye View
Central Mills Dam
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Central Mills Dam
Main Street, 1910
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Main Street, 1910
View from Page Hill (Paige Hill)
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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View from Page Hill (Paige Hill)
Southbridge from Page Hill (Paige Hill)
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Southbridge from Page Hill (Paige Hill)
Railroad Station
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Railroad Station
Railroad Station, built 1910

The former station is located on a roughly triangular parcel between
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Railroad Station, built 1910

The former station is located on a roughly triangular parcel between Southbridge’s downtown and the Quinebaug River, where much of its industry was historically located. The parcel is bounded on the northeast by the former railroad tracks, the south by Larochelle Way (formerly Depot Street), and on the north and west by Hook Street. It is a single story wood frame structure, built in a Spanish Colonial style, with stucco walls and tile roof. A similarly-roofed passenger waiting area once lined the south side of the track on the platform just north of the station, but this has been removed.

Southbridge's railroad service began in 1866, with service provided by the Blackstone and Southbridge Railroad. The track originally extended further to the northwest, nearer the Hamilton Woolen Company mill complex, where there once stood passenger and freight depots and an office building. After a series of mergers, the service was taken over by the New York, New ... Read MORE...
Post Office Square, South Bridge, Mass., 1910
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Post Office Square, South Bridge, Mass., 1910
Eglise Notre Dame
(Notre Dame Church) (1912)
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Eglise Notre Dame
(Notre Dame Church) (1912)
Brochu Academy

The Academie Brochu is located on the east side of Pine Street, south of its junct
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Brochu Academy

The Academie Brochu is located on the east side of Pine Street, south of its junction with Hamilton Street in central Southbridge. It is a three-story brick structure, set on a raised stone foundation, with a hip roof. Its red brick walls are contrasted by limestone and yellow brick trim, and a metal cornice and frieze below the roofline. The academy was constructed in 1899 by Chickering & O'Connell of Springfield in a Colonial Revival style to serve the growing French Canadian population of Southbridge.

The academy was named for Msgr. George Elzear Brochu, pastor of the Notre Dame Church, who gave personal funds to the effort. The academy served as the parish school for Notre Dame Parish, and was run first by the Sisters of St. Anne, and then by the Sisters of the Assumption from Nicolet, Quebec. The school had been established in 1881, and was by the late 1890s in need of proper quarters. The academy building has six classrooms on each of the first two floors,... Read MORE...
High School
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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High School
Jacob Edwards Library
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Jacob Edwards Library
Read more about Jacob EDWARDS
American Optical Co., 1924
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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American Optical Co., 1924
Home of J. E. Paige
39 Elm Street
At one time this house was owned by United States Representative
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Home of J. E. Paige
39 Elm Street
At one time this house was owned by United States Representative Calvin De Witt Paige, (1848-1930).
Read more about Calvin Dewitt PAIGE photo of ancestor
Southbridge National Bank
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Southbridge National Bank

"Southbridge National Bank built in 1930, by F. X. Laliberte & Co., of Southbridge. Stone plaque over door inscribed 1929. Located on the south side of Main Street between Elm and Everett streets. Four majestic columns define the front entrance. Granite steps lead to the doorway." www.digitalcommonwealth.org
The Harrington Memorial Hospital
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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The Harrington Memorial Hospital

"Built during the Depression, the Harrington Memorial Hospital was opened on Labor Day, September 7, 1931. The first facility had 34 adult beds and 6 children's cribs. The brick structure was constructed by local company, F. X. Laliberte and Son, General Contractors. The twin end chimneys and hipped roof are Federal Revival in style, while the elaborate doorway is Georgian Revival. The hospital is typical of Laliberte's civic and institutional buildings which tend to have a plain brick facade relieved by an elaborate Georgian or Classical Revival entrance. Mr. and Mrs. Charles D. Harrington (of the Russell Harrington company) pledged $150,000 to the project, as early as 1929, with the sum to be matched by community contributions. Additions have been added in 1958 and 1971." www.digitalcommonwealth.org
High and Grammar Schools
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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High and Grammar Schools
Post Office, built 1928
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Post Office, built 1928
Hyde Manufacturing Co., Southbridge, Mass.

...The Hyde Mfg. Co. opened the period with the erecti
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Hyde Manufacturing Co., Southbridge, Mass.

...The Hyde Mfg. Co. opened the period with the erection of a new brick plant in 1917... www.sec.state.ma.us
Southbridge Tool Company, Charlton Street, Southbridge, MA - 1941 - Edgar Tremblay, Archie Gagnon, J
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

photos belonging to Jeannette Lippe Tremblay
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Southbridge Tool Company, Charlton Street, Southbridge, MA - 1941 - Edgar Tremblay, Archie Gagnon, Joseph Seremet
Read more about Joseph Raymond SEREMET
A Portion of the American Optical Company Plant, Lensdale, Southbridge, Mass.
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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A Portion of the American Optical Company Plant, Lensdale, Southbridge, Mass.
American Optical Company, Southbridge, Mass.
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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American Optical Company, Southbridge, Mass.
Southbridge Tool Company, Curtis Street, Southbridge, MA - 1949 (approx. 5,000 sq ft of space)
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

photos belonging to Jeannette Lippe Tremblay
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Southbridge Tool Company, Curtis Street, Southbridge, MA - 1949 (approx. 5,000 sq ft of space)
Read more about Edgar Arthur ("Ben") TREMBLAY photo of ancestor
Ad for Southbridge Tool Company
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

1949 Manning's Southbridge Directory
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Ad for Southbridge Tool Company
Read more about Edgar Arthur ("Ben") TREMBLAY photo of ancestor
Main Street, 1951
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Main Street, 1951
American Optical Company
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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American Optical Company
Gregoire's
Hamilton Street, Southbridge
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

Southbridge News, Bicentennial Edition, Southbridge, Massachusetts, 1976
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Gregoire's
Hamilton Street, Southbridge
United Lens Company
Worcester Street, Southbridge
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

Southbridge News, Bicentennial Edition, Southbridge, Massachusetts, 1976
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United Lens Company
Worcester Street, Southbridge
Bicentennial celebration, May 14, 2016
Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Bicentennial celebration, May 14, 2016

Discover Southbridge: History, News, Travel, and Stories

Add informationAdd History/News/Story
About Southbridge, Massachusetts
Southbridge, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
The area was initially inhabited by the Nipmuck and Mohegan tribes, with the Quinebaug River dividing their territories. As early as 1638, John Winthrop, Jr. purchased a tract for mining lead at what is now Leadmine Road in Sturbridge (it was thought at the time that where there was lead, there should be silver nearby).

Southbridge was first settled by Europeans in 1730 and incorporated in 1816; among the first settlers was Moses Marcy, who owned a home on the site of what is now Notre Dame church and was elected to Congress, and the Dennison family. Water power from the Quinebaug River made Southbridge a good location for sawmills and gristmills in the 18th century, and textile mills in the 19th century. After the Civil War, many immigrants of Irish and French Canadian descent came to work and live there; by the 1930s they had been joined by Poles, Greeks, Italians and others.

wikipedia.org
John Winthrop, Jr. purchased a tract of land around 1638 in what was to become Southbridge. It was purchased for mining ore for graphic deposits.

Street Corners of Southbridge, "The Way We Were" by Joe Capillo, 1996
In 1732 (Southbridge), Moses Marcy built a saw mill and a few years later, a grist mill.

Street Corners of Southbridge, , "The Way We Were" by Joe Capillo, 1996
By 1775, small businesses like coopering and carpentry were started in Southbridge. The town reached a population of about 400 inhabitants and a school and a meeting house were erected.

Street Corners of Southbridge, "The Way We Were" by Joe Capillo, 1996
By 1814, some textile mills were built in the Globe section of Southbridge, and downstream, in an area known as Centre Village, the business district began to establish itself.

Street Corners of Southbridge, "The Way We Were" by Joe Capillo, 1996
February 15, 1816, Southbridge was officially recognized as a town. Population 830.
The first town meeting was held several weeks later, March 6, 1816, which included the election of five selectmen. They included Capt. Gershom Plimpton, Maj. Samuel Fisk, Joshua Mason, William Morris and Fordyce Foster.

Plans were made for constructing a large water-sewer line crossing Main Street and to raise the road grade some six feet.
Street Corners of Southbridge,
1826 - William Beecher comes to Southbridge
In 1826 William Beecher, a jeweler and watchmaker, settles in Southbridge, a small town on the Massachusetts / Connecticut border. He is part of a relatively new trend - jewelers expanding into the business of spectacle making.
(massmoments.org)

Read more about William BEECHER photo of ancestor
1830 - Water Snakes
Mr. Ephraim Wheelock, of Southbridge, Mass. while mowing, came in contact with a large water snake, measuring 3 feet 9 inches. After killing it, he cut it open, and found it to contain 43 live ones.
Huron Reflector
Norwalk, Ohio
September 14, 1830
1833 - Manufacturing of Spectacles Begins
Within seven years of his arrival in Southbridge, William Beecher opens a shop above his jewelry store to manufacture spectacles. Business prospers. Beecher teaches one of his apprentices, a 14-year-old boy named Robert Cole, to craft the first steel-framed spectacles made in America... Southbridge becomes a center of the American spectacle-making industry.
(massmoments.org)

Read more about William BEECHER photo of ancestor
1839 - Southbridge
Southbridge, Massachusetts
Worcester county. Southbridge was taken from Sturbridge in 1814.—Population, 1830, 1,444; 1837, 1,740. It is 54 miles S.W. from Boston and 19 S.S.W. from Worcester. This town is watered by the Quinneboag, a branch of the Thames, and a good mill stream. There are one woolen and three cotton mills in Southbridge, and manufactures of boots, shoes and cutlery: the value of which, for the year ending April 1, 1837, was $262,212. This town has an excellent soil and a pleasant and flourishing village.
The New England Gazetteer containing descriptions of all the states, counties and towns in New England: also descriptions of the principal mountains, rivers lakes, capes, bays, harbors, islands and fashionable resorts within that territory. By John Hayward, author of the Columbian Traveller, Religious Creeds, &c. &c. Boston: John Hayward. Boyd & White, Concord, N.H. 1839
1845 - SOUTHBRIDGE. [Pop. 2,031.Inc. 1816.]
Southbridge was composed of portions of Sturbridge, Charlton, and Dudley.

The Quinebaug passes across the township, and affords abundance of water-power.

The chief manufactures are cotton and woollen cloths, boots and shoes.

Distance from Worcester, 20 miles ; from Boston, 60.
An Elementary Geography for Massachusetts Children by William Bentley Fowle and Asa Fitz, 1845
Get it HERE!
1845 - Fires in the "Columbian" factory, today "Lensdale," and the "African" factory, today "Sandersdale," resulted in a number of families moving to Webster, Milbury, and Worcester.

History of the Franco-Americans of Southbridge, by Felix Gatineau, translated by Elizabeth Blood
1848 - Southbridge
SOUTHBRIDGE was originally a part of Sturbridge, Chariton, and Dudley. It was incorporated as a town in 1814. The first church was organized here in 1801, and Rev. Jason Park was ordained the first pastor in 1816. He was succeeded by Rev. Henry J. Lamb, who was ordained in 1833. His successor, Rev. Eber Carpenter, was installed in 1835. There are 3 churches, 1 Congregational, 1 Baptist, and 1 Methodist.

The above is a south eastern view in this flourishing village, which consists of about 40 or 50 dwelling houses, besides other buildings. The Baptist church is seen on the right; the Southbridge Bank, Hotel, &c., on the left. The township is watered by the Quinnebaug, which passes centrally through the town. Population, 1,740. Distance, 20 miles from Worcester, and 60 from Boston. In 1837 there were 3 cotton mills, 6,844 spindles; 1,139,160 yards of cotton goods were manufactured; value, $95,900; males employed, 83; females, 89; one woollen mill, 4 sets of machinery; 50,000 yards of ... Read MORE...

French Canadian Emigration to the United States 1840-1930
Source:
Marianopolis College
faculty.marianopolis.edu/ c.belanger/ quebechistory/ readings/ leaving.htm


"...the emigration of French Canadians to the United States was internally caused by demographic pressures, rural poverty created by indebtedness and a host of other ills related to the climatic and geographical characteristics of the province, low productivity of the farms, the developing agricultural crisis, the lack of suitable regions of colonisation, the insufficient level of industrial development to absorb the excess population and the low wages that inevitably attended such a catastrophic situation. Externally, the proximity of the New England factories that offered easy employment, good wages by Quebec standards, and the cheap and easy access through the rail system fuelled the migration.

... Given his poverty, the French Canadian emigrant could not afford to go very far. The farther the destination, and the greater the length of time one had to travel, the... Read MORE...

1850 - A fire in the "Hamilton" factory caused several families to move elsewhere.

History of the Franco-Americans of Southbridge, by Felix Gatineau, translated by Elizabeth Blood
1850 - By 1850, there were about thirty Canadian families in Southbridge. Most of them lived in the "Globe Village."

"Histoire des Franco-Américains de Southbridge, Massachusetts" by Félix Gatineau, Framingham, MA: Lakeview Press, 1919
A Glimpse into the Past: Life in Southbridge, Massachusetts in the Mid-1800s
Introduction

Travel back in time with me to the picturesque town of Southbridge, Massachusetts, nestled along the banks of the Quinebaug River. The mid-1800s marked a period of profound change and growth in this charming New England town. From its bustling mills to the tight-knit communities that formed its backbone, life in Southbridge during this era was a tapestry woven with threads of industry, culture, and community spirit.

Economic Landscape

Southbridge's heartbeat in the mid-1800s was its burgeoning textile industry. The town's landscape was dotted with textile mills, powered by the Quinebaug River's rushing waters. These mills, such as the American Optical Company and the Hamilton Woolen Company, were instrumental in shaping the town's economic destiny.

The textile industry brought about a transformation in Southbridge, attracting a diverse influx of workers seeking employment and a chance at a better life. Immigrants from Ireland, Canada, and various parts of... Read MORE...

1854 - Southbridge
Southbridge, a post-village in Worcester co., Massachusetts, near Quinnebaug river, 60 miles S. W. from Boston, contains 2 or 3 churches, and 1 bank. Population of the township, 2824.
A New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States: Giving a Full and Comprehensive Review of the Present Condition, Industry, and Resources of the American Confederacy ... Thomas Baldwin (of Philadelphia.) Joseph Thomas January 1, 1854 Philadelphia : Lippincott, Grambo & Company 1854.
1856
"In 1856, because of the presidential election in which Buchanan was elected President of the United States, there was a great financial reaction, and in 1857, several mills were forced to close. This trying time negatively affected a great number of Canadian families who then had to leave Southbridge. Another fire occurred at the Hamilton factory and several families left the area to go live elsewhere, some even returned to the homeland."
History of the Franco-Americans of Southbridge, by Felix Gatineau, translated by Elizabeth Blood
1862 - Robert Cole Takes Over
Southbridge, Massachusetts - William Beecher, prominent spectacle maker, retires in 1862 and Robert Cole takes over the firm... George Wells, a schoolteacher from nearby South Woodstock, Connecticut, leaves his job to become an apprentice at Robert H. Cole and Co. Young Wells has a genius for mechanics... When Robert Cole foolishly refuses to raise Wells's pay, the youth goes to work for a competitor.
(massmoments.org)

Read more about Robert Henry COLE photo of ancestor
1863 - Fire
A fire in Southbridge, Mass., on Saturday morning, destroyed the Baptist church, the Tammany Hall Building, the Amidon brick block, and Dr. Hartwell's block of stores. The whole loss is about $30,000.
The Windham County Transcript
Danielson, Connecticut
November 19, 1863
1869 - American Optical is Formed
Southbridge, Massachusetts - The merging of two competing spectacle making companies results in the formation of the American Optical Company.

American Optical (AO) is a historic and significant company in the optical industry, which was founded in 1869 in Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA. The company played a crucial role in the development and production of eyewear, optical instruments, and ophthalmic equipment.

Founded by William Beecher and George W. Wells in Southbridge, Massachusetts, American Optical started as a modest spectacle manufacturing firm. However, due to its dedication to innovation and high-quality products, the company quickly expanded and gained prominence in the optical industry.

Over the years, American Optical became renowned for its optical advancements, particularly in the field of eyeglasses and sunglasses. They were known for producing innovative and high-quality lenses, frames, and optical instruments. Their products were not only popular among... Read MORE...

1879 - George Wells accumulates AO stock
George Wells has accumulates a majority share in the stock of the American Optical Company. Wells builds the A.O. into the largest optical company in the world.
(massmoments.org)

Read more about George Washington WELLS photo of ancestor
1883 - Bound to Get Away
BOSTON, June 22. - J. P. Olds was arrested at Southbridge to-day on a charge of stealing large quantities of gold from the American Optical Company. Olds had been a respected citizen, and has had change of the valuable stock of the company. When arrested he was place in an upper room of the factory in charge of an employe. He jumped forty feet through a window, swam a river, and made his escape to the woods.
Dunkirk Evening Observer
Dunkirk, New York
June 23, 1883
1884 - FIRE RECORD. AT SOUTHBRIDGE.
Worcester, August 9. - The Columbian mill at Southbridge, with a boarding house and tenement, burned this morning. The mill had 9,000 spindles and employed 60 hands. It was owned by Providence parties.
Fort Scott Daily Monitor
Fort Scott, Kansas
August 10, 1884
1886 - American Optical
The American Optical company is just closing a very busy season. They now employ over 400 hands, and during the past year have, in addition to their large lens-grinding business, made over one million pairs of spectacles and eye-glasses.
The Southbridge Journal
Southbridge, Massachusetts
January 1, 1886
1889 - Largest Spectacle Factory in the World
Southbridge, Mass., has the largest spectacle factory in the world. More than 3/ 4 of the gold spectacles and eyeglasses made in this country are made in Southbridge, one company alone in that town turned out 1,600,000 pairs last year.
The Indiana Democrat
Indiana, Pennsylvania
March 14, 1889
1889 - Early to Bed
Southbridge goes to bed early as a rule. A stranger in town always notices how quiet the streets are after 9 p.m. Ten o'clock usually finds scarcely any one on the streets except the night watchmen, unless there happens to be entertainment at one of the opera houses. There are a number of reasons for this. The early closing of the stores on several evenings of the week may have something to do with this. There are no evening trains to arrive and depart and no strangers to arrive at midnight and begin a hunt for a hotel as in many other towns, where trains arrive at all hours of the night. There seems also to be an absence here of the distinctively rowdy element that in many small towns devotes a large share of its time to promenading the main street and making all the noise allowable until a late hour.
The Southbridge Journal
Southbridge, Massachusetts
December 26, 1889
Southbridge, Massachusetts 1890
Southbridge is a prosperous and important manufacturing town lying in the southwesterly part of Worcester County, 27 miles from the city of Worcester, and 70 miles. from Boston; being connected directly with the latter by a branch of the New York and New England Railroad. Charlton lies on the northeast, Dudley on the east, Sturbridge on the west and north west, and Woodstock, in Connecticut, on the south.

The assessed area is 12,029 acres. There are nearly 4,000 acres of forest, consisting mostly of oak, chestnut, ash, pine and hemlock. The public ways, also, are bordered by many elm and maple trees, of which some are very large and old. The principal rock is ferruginous gneiss and dolerite. The soil, in parts, is loamy and sandy. The land is broken, and rises into several beautiful eminences, the most commanding of which is Hatchet Hill, whose summit is 1,016 feet above the level of the sea. The Quinebaug River, a steady and generous stream, flows southeasterly through the centre... Read MORE...

1894 - Gedeon Gregoire establishes a shoe repairing shop in Southbridge
Gedeon Gregoire... came to Southbridge and started a shoe repair shop. In 1923, business had grown. His sons Joseph & Roland joined the frim and the present building (15 Hamilton Street) was built. Shoes and men's furnishings were added to the she repairing department. In 1947, after 53 years, Gedeon Gregoire retired. Gregoire & Sons has been a landmark in Southbridge and continues under the management of Joseph & Roland Gregoire.
Southbridge News, Bicentennial Edition
Southbridge, Massachusetts
1976
1894 - DEADLY RAILROAD CROSSING. TWO KILLED OUTRIGHT AND MANY ARE INJURED.
WORCESTER HAS ANOTHER ARGUMENT AGAINST THE GRADE CROSSING.

Worcester, Mass., Nov. 30. - The most horrible accident which ever occurred in Southbridge happened there yesterday morning, and turned the day into one of sadness instead of thanksgiving, as the lives of two young men were shut out in a flash, two more were fatally injured and 18 others were more or less hurt, two of the latter not being expected to live.

The injured men are all members of the Southbridge Y.M.C.A., and were on their way to the Fair grounds to play a game of football with the Worcester Polytechnic institute eleven, the barge in which they were riding being struck at the Central Street crossing by a passenger train on the New York and New England road.

The killed were:
CHARLES GAUTHER.
JOSEPH COOK.

The fatally injured:
VICTOR NELSON, skull fractured.
JOHN STREET of Lee, quarter-back of the Williams College football team, who was to referee the game, skull fractured and legs broken.
The others... Read MORE...

1895 - Southbridge
Southbridge, a post-village in Southbridge township, Worcester co., Mass., on the Quinebaug River, about 32 miles E. of Springfield. It is on a branch of the New York & New England Railroad, 70 miles W.S.W. of Boston. It contains about 6 churches, a national bank, a savings-bank, a high school, a newspaper office, and manufactures of cotton prints, delaines, calicoes, carriages, shoe-knives, boots, &c. The township contains Globe Village. Pop. in 1890, 7655.
Lippincott's Gazetteer of the World: A Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer Or Geographical Dictionary of the World Containing Notices of Over One Hundred and Twenty-five Thousand Places ... Joseph Thomas January 1, 1895 J.B. Lippincott
1899 - $2,000,000 for Southbridge People?
SOUTHBRIDGE, MASS., March 17. - It is believed here that the family of Mrs Lucier, mother of Michael Lucier, of Southbridge, has fallen heir to $2,000,000. Word was received here to-day of the death of Rev. F. R. L. Belthosor at San Jose, Cal., who, it is said, left this fortune. Mrs. Lucier is his sister. There are other Southbridge relatives.
The New York Times
New York, New York
March 18, 1899
By 1900, Southbridge had a population of 10,000, with an estimated 6,000 of French-Canadian ancestry.

Street Corners of Southbridge, "The Way We Were" by Joe Capillo, 1996
1901 - Nearly $600,000. Amount Paid in Wages Annually By Southbridge Firms. Importance and Vastness of the Business of Optical Goods Manufactures.
George W. Wells, Head of the American Optical Company, Says the Proposed French Reciprocity Treaty Would be a Menace to the Industry.

Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, in his much-talked-of reciprocity speech before the Middlesex club, recently, said that in the opinon of those interested in the manufacture of optical goods at Southbridge, the adoption of the new French reciprocity treaty would be a great danger to this industry.

Comparatively few people in Massachusetts know that in the town of Southbridge there is located the largest optical goods manufactury in the United States, if not the largest in the world.

Nearly 1500 hands are employed in this industry in Southbridge, producing over 3,000,000 pairs of specatacles and eyeglasses yearly and 3,500,000 spectacle and eyeglass lenses in the same period.

Nearly $600,000 in wages is paid annually.

About $700,000 worth of gold and silver is used every year in the manufacture of these goods, and something in excess of 110 tons ... Read MORE...


Read more about George Washington WELLS photo of ancestor
1902 - Would Rival Mr Carnegie - Massachusetts Millionaire Goes the Scotchman About Two Better
Boston has a multimillionaire who is a rival of Andrew Carnegie in regard, at least, to one of the famous Scotchman's offers of public libraries in Massachusetts towns.

Jacob Edwards, who is one of Boston's richest manufactures, goes Mr Carnegie about two better on a library offer to the town of Southbridge and a merry controversy is going on in that township as which offer shall be accepted, says the Boston Post.

The people of the town are also beginning to discuss the propriety of even accepting both offers if such a thing can be arranged.

Meantime Mr Edwards seems to have the inside track in the race to give away money, for Southbridge is his native town and he offers a sum about twice as large as that tendered by Mr Carnegie, as well as other strong inducements.

Southbridge people feel that because of the rivalry between Mr Edwards and Mr Carnegie the town has fallen into rare good fortune.

Mr Carnegie offers $20,000 to build and equip a library, stipulating that... Read MORE...


Read more about Jacob EDWARDS
1903 - LATEST 6:30 O'Clock - Half a Force - Optical Plants Crippled at Southbridge - Employers Grapple With Union - Membership Bars From Work
Despite the Dictum the Shops Open.

Police Guard Factory Where Windows Were Broken.

One Concern Retains 700 Men Who Wo't Quit.

First Disturbance Created in Fiskdale by a Lockout.


SOUTHBRIDGE. Nov 10 - Notwithstanding the threat of the optical manufacturers of this town to clos their factories if their employes held to their detremination to remain in a union, the shops were open today, but less than half of the regular force of 1900 men reported for work, and several factories were not running in full.

The contest is really one between a number of manufacturers in Worcester county who are resisting the introduction of union methods in their respective trades.

The first disturbance occured las week in Fiskdale, where the employes of the Snell Mfg Co were locked out because of the formation of a union among them. This week, however, the works are in operation, although Supt John F Hebard states that the polishers have not reported at the works and will not be hired... Read MORE...

1904 - Town Stricken With Diphtheria
Southbridge, Mass., Oct. 24. - An epidemic of diphtheria prevails in Southbridge to an extent that alarms the members of the board of health, who will appeal to the state board for help in stamping out the disease. A total of ninety cases and nine deaths is reported.
Pittston Gazette
Pittston, Pennsylvania
October 24, 1904
1905 - No Suspicions. H.S. Cheney Will Drop Stolen Box Matter. Securities Returned to Home of Father-in-Law. Family Away at Time They Were Left.
"I am as much mystified as you are," said Herman S. Cheney of Southbridge to a Globe reporter yesterday afternoon, "concerning the way in which my property was stolen from me last winter. I am equally in ignorance of the identity of the person who left the box of securities in the house where I found them more than a week ago. No one was present in the house as far as I know. But I have the missing securities.

"I wish to say, however," Mr Cheney went on, "that the securities were not worth $285,000 as reported. About $150,000 would cover their value. I do not care to say more as to the manner in which the stolen bonds were returned to me. It is enough to say that they were placed in a house in Southbridge and that when I visited the house the box was shown me and I recognized it. That was a week ago Thursday. The box had all the securities in it that it contained when it was stolen. All the bonds and stocks were found intact."

Mr Cheney was in the office of his attorney,... Read MORE...

1906
Southbridge, a banking post-village in Southbridge township (town), Worcester co., Mass on the Quinebaug River, about 32 miles E. of Springfield, and on the New York, New Haven and Hartford R. It has manufactures of cottons, optical goods, shoe-knives, general cutlery, shuttles, etc. Pop. of the town in 1900, 10,025.
Lippincott's New Gazetteer: A Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer Or Geographical Dictionary of the World, Containing the Most Recent and Authentic Information Respecting the Countries, Cities, Towns ... in Every Portion of the Globe Publisher J.B. Lippincott Company, 1906
1910 - BANK TREASURER NOT FOUND.; Shortage in Southbridge Savings Bank Believed to be About $100,000.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass, Jan. 22. - John A Hall, the Treasurer of the Southbridge Sayings Bank, which was closed yesterday by an injunction after the discovery of discrepancies in its accounts, is still missing to-night. Some of his friends here say that the missing man is a suicide, and the woods near the town were searched to-day, but without revealing any trace of him. There is a warrant against him charging the larceny of $21,000 from the bank's treasury. A description of the man has been sent brodcast [sic] by the authorities, with a request for his arrest if found.

The treasurer is 41 years old and is 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighs 190 pounds, and has dark brown hair and mustache. He was known as a home man, with quiet tastes, living apparently well within his means.

During the day a suit was brought in the Worcester County Court against Hall's estate by the Trustees of the bank, and an attachment for $100,000 was placed on his property.

While to-day's continued investigation of... Read MORE...

1911 - Southbridge
"SOUTHBRIDGE, a township of Worcester county, Massachusetts, U.S.A., on the Quinabaug river (which here falls 165 ft.), about 20 m. S.S.W. of Worcester. Pop. (1900), 10,025, of whom 3468 were foreign-born; (1910 census), 12,592. Area, about 20 sq. m. The township is served by the New York, New Haven 81 Hartford railway, and by inter-urban (electric) lines to Worcester and Springfield. The Southbridge public library (1870) contained 22,000 volumes in 1910. Optical goods, cotton, woollen and print goods, cutlery and shuttles are the principal manufactures; in 1905 the value of the total factory product was $4,201,853. The factory of the American Optical Company here is probably the largest of its kind in the world. In 1801 a poll parish, named the Second Religious Society of Charlton, and popularly called Honest Town, was formed from the west part of Dudley, the south-west part of Charlton and the south-east part of Sturbridge; and in 1816 this parish became the township of Southbridge. ... Read MORE...

1911 - Bank Cashier's Books Straight - E.D. Hamilton Drops Out of Sight
Suffered Temporary Loss of Memory Three Years Ago.

Hard Work of Removal May Have Renewed It.

GREENFIELD, May 25 - Ernest D. Hamilton, cashier of the Southbridge national bank of Southbridge, Mass. left the bank Tuesday at 3 p m., took a trolley car on his way to Springfield to take an afternoon train out of that city for Greenfield, and has mysteriously disappeared.

Judge Henry J. Field, Thomas Manning, chief of police, and James A. Whitbeck, all personal friends of the missing man, went from Greenfield to Springfield last evening in the auto of Judge Field, visiting the police hospitals, hotels and station agent officials in Northampton, Holyoke and Springfield, endeavoring to locate the missing man. They were only able to get a clew that Hamilton was at Brimfield on the trolley line near Palmer, about 4 p m.

Judge Field, Chief Manning and Mr. Whitbeck came bac to Greenfield. They or other friends kept the wires hot during the night. Finally it was learned that Hamilton... Read MORE...

1912 - Death Takes George W. Wells - Head of Amercian Optical Company
Man of Wide Business and Social Interests.

End Comes at His Home in Southbridge.

SOUTHBRIDGE, Sept 30 - George W. Wells, president of the American Optical Company, died of neuritis at his home here today.

Mr Wells had been a sufferer from neuritis since February, 1911. The effots of physicians and specialists at Hot Springs, New York and Mt Clemens failed to give substantial relief, and this infliction, together with complications that later developed as a result, have been fatal.

As president of the American Optical Company and as a active officer and director in many Massachusetts banks and corporations, Mr Wells formed a very wide circle of business acquaintances.

George W Wells was born at Woodstock, Conn., April 15, 1846. He was descended from English stock, his ancestors on both sides having come from England less than a score of years after the landing of the Mayflower.

The boyhood days of Mr Wells were spent on the farm at the family homestead in Woodstock.... Read MORE...


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1912 - Litchfield Held in Poison Case - Indictment Follows Death of Whittier.
One Count Relates to His Actions for Six Months Past.

He is Related to Wealthy Southbridge Family.

Wilford J. Litchfield, 45 years old, was arrested yesterday in his apartment in Hotel Navarre within an hour after being indicted by the Grand Jury in connection with the death of Frederick N. Whittier, who expired las Monday morning from cyanide of potassium poisoning after becoming ill in the rooms of the accused.

Related to the wealthy Litchfield family of Southbridge, Litchfield enjoyed a large income and lived in ease in the hotel.

As a result of several conferences between Medical Examiner Leary and officials of the district attorney's office, it was decided that Litchfield acted improperly in speech and behavior for six months. Beside the indictment on this charge, the Grand Jury yesterday returned one other indictment against him.

The accused took his arrest calmly. At Police Headquarters he talked with his attorney, Cornelius A. Parker. He was photographed and... Read MORE...

1913 - REVIVE GRAND TRUNK WORK. Construction of Southern New England Line to be Resumed.
Special to the New York Times.

SOUTHBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 22 - Work is to be resumed immediately on the Southern New England Railway, the Grand Trunk subsidiary planned to connect the Canadian system with tidewater at Providence.

The construction stopped ten months ago, and it was charged that this was due to an agreement between C. S. Mellen, then President of the New Haven, and E. J. Chamberlin, President of the Grand Trunk. Last week Vice President G. C. Jones came here and inspected the right of way throughout. John Marsch of Chicago, general contractor for the line, reopened his office here to day and with a few days the steam shovels will resume operations. It will be some time before work will be general, because some of the sub-contractors have in many instances removed their apparatus.

There is great rejoicing all along the line because of this resumption of work on the road. Mr. Chamberlin repeatedly promised that the Southern New England should be completed provided ... Read MORE...

1916 - Southbridge
"Southbridge, a banking post-village in Southbridge township (town), Worcester co., Mass., on the Quinebaug River, about 32 miles E. of Springfield, and on the New York, New Haven and Hartford R. It has manufactures of cottons, optical goods, shoe-knives, general cutlery, shuttles, etc. Pop. of the town in 1900, 10,025."

Lippincott's New Gazetteer: A Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer Or Geographical Dictionary of the World, Containing the Most Recent and Authentic Information Respecting the Countries, Cities, Towns, Resorts, Islands, Rivers, Mountains, Seas, Lakes, Etc., in Every Portion of the Globe
Angelo Heilprin
Louis Heilprin
January 1, 1916
Lippincott
1916 - Fine Edifice in Southbridge - Will Very Soon Be Dedicated by Bishop Beaven - Fr. Triganne, Pastor - Said to Be One of Finest Churches in New England
Final plans are nearly arranged for the dedication of the new Notre Dame church at Main and Marcy streets in Southbridge next month, which has been completed after five years at a cost of about $300,000, with a seating capacity of 1600 people.

Rev. Louis O. Triganne, pastor of Notre Dame church, ahs arranged with Bishop Thomas D. Beaven of the Springfield diocese to be present at the exercises which will mark the culmination of nearly 40 years' work in obatining a site for the magnificent structure, the funds and the work of building.

Thirty other priests are expected to be present, as well as Bishop Bruneau of Nicolet, Que., who is in charge of the Nicolet diocese in Canada and whom Rev. Fr. Triganne visited a month ago.

Before the decication exercises there will be consecration of the altar services, and if arrangements can be made a concert will be given on ghe $14,000 electrically operated organ, one of the finest in New England.

Hundreds of former residents of... Read MORE...


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1918 - Help Wanted
Help Wanted - Help Wanted in Southbridge, Mass., to work in Hamilton Woolen Co., established nearly 100 years, employing 2,000 hands. Easy work, steady employment, best of wages, especially good for boys and girls. Southbridge is a proseperous town with a population of 15,000, situated on N.Y. N.H. R.R. and the Worcester & Springfield trolley line. 45 miles to Boston, 45 miles to Providence, 35 miles to Springfield, 20 miles to Worcester. Has a large variety of industries…


The Adirondack News
New York
Saturday, April 30, 1918
1931 - MSGR. TRIGANNE DIES AT 71 YEARS
MSGR. TRIGANNE DIES AT 71 YEARS

Former Pastor of Notre Dame in Adams

ILL TWO YEARS

Pastor of Notre Dame Church in Southbridge for the Past 27 Years.

Worcester, Mass., Oct. 14 - (A.P.) - Right Rev. Monsignor Louis O. Triganne, for 27 years pastor of Notre Dame church in Southbridge, died today in St. Vincent hospital here of heart disease, from which he had suffered about two years. He was 71 years old. He was born in Plesisville, Megantic county, Province of Quebec, and had been stationed in Holyoke and Adams before going to Southbridge.

Monsignor Triganne was pastor of Notre Dame church in Adms from 1903 until November 21, 1904 when he was appointed pastor of Notre Dame church in Southbridge in which pastorate he had served ever since. Prior to assuming the duties as pastor of the Adams church, he was pastor of Notre Dame chuch in Pittsfield and previously served as curate of Notre Dame chruches in this city and Holyoke.

He studied for the priesthood at Nicolet... Read MORE...


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1934 - SOUTHBRIDGE DIRECTORS VOTE TO LIQUIDATE MILL
MEANS THAT 1,000 WOOLEN WORKERS MUST FIND JOBS ELSEWHERE

Boston, Dec. 19 - (AP) - The board of directors of the Hamilton Woolen Co. of Southbridge late today voted to recommend the liquidation of the company.

Their decision was arrived at after several hours debate behind closed doors and it was announced early tonight. It means that 1,000 workers or one-fifth of the working population of Southbridge and neighboring towns must seek employment elsewhere.

There have been three strikes at the mill since last Summer and recently State police in large numbers were called to the scene. While many have left there is still a detachment on duty.

"The directors have, therefore, arranged to call a special meeting of the stockholders and have voted to recommend the liquidation of the company," said the directors' statement after reviewing the causes of the controversy between the management and "outside union organizers."


The Lewiston Daily Sun
Lewiston, Maine
December 19, 1934
1938 - New Mask Invented - His Face Is Dirty
His Face Is Dirty - Seeking to combat silicosis, lung malady suffered by those who work in dust, researchers for the American Optical Company of Southbridge, Mass. have developed a mask. Its efficacy is demonstrated by the laboratory worker above, who has taken off the mask, after emerging from a chamber flooded with carbon black. Nose and lips were not blackened.

The Citizen Advertiser
Auburn, New York
Saturday, May 14, 1938
1939 - When World War II broke out, Southbridge had a population of 16,801.

Street Corners of Southbridge, "The Way We Were" by Joe Capillo, 1996
1945 - Maker of Bomb Very Depressed
Maker of Bomb Very Depressed - Southbridge, Mass. August 17 (UP) - A scientist who helped develop the atomic bomb said today, with permission of the War Department, that he became so depressed over the possibilities of the projectile, that he hoped its eventual use "would fail".

Dr. E. D. Tillyer and Dr. Alexis G. Pincus, research scientists at the American Optical Company, disclosed today that they kept their work secret even from their wives for the past two and a half years.

"Every few months", Dr. Tillyer said, "I would be overcome by depression. My wife couldn't imagine what was wrong but as a realization of what the atomic bomb would mean became clearer with time, I would become depressed and wish that nobody had ever thought of it and that efforts to develop it would fail."
The Citizen Advertiser
Auburn, New York
Friday, August 17, 1945

Read more about Edgar Derry TILLYER photo of ancestor
1945 - Radio Phone for Pocket Use to Be On Market Soon
"Radio Phone for Pocket Use to Be On Market Soon -- Southbridge, Mass., August 23 (UP) - A pocket-size radio telephone for civilian use, which will cost about $25 and will be effective for distances up to three miles, will be placed on the market within six months, Richard Mahler, general manager of the Harvey-Wells Communications, Inc. announced today.

Mahler said his company, a pioneer in development of radar for the Army Air Force, would produce the instrument, which would be about six inches long and weigh about a half pound…The pint-size phone he said would operate on a band from 450 to 470 megacycles. To talk to a friend, Mahler said, a phone owner would merely tune in on the friend's wave length. A signal would be given automatically and the pair would begin their conversation."

Thursday, August 23, 1945
The Citizen Advertiser, Auburn, NY
Searching For Your Ancestors in Historic Newspapers
1946 - Women See Colors Better
Women See Colors Better - Southbridge, Mass (UP) - The American Optical Co., studying the incidence of color blindness, discovered that 90 percent of the nation's color blind are men.
Oswego Palladium Times
Oswego, New York
Tuesday, December 24, 1946


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A Glimpse into Mid-1900s Southbridge, Massachusetts: A Tapestry of Community and Change
Introduction

The mid-1900s marked a transformative period in American history, and small towns like Southbridge, Massachusetts, were no exception. Nestled in the heart of New England, Southbridge, with its rich history and close-knit community, experienced the ebb and flow of societal shifts, technological advancements, and the winds of change. Join me on a nostalgic journey as we explore what life was like in this charming town during the mid-20th century.

The Town of Southbridge

Southbridge, with its picturesque landscapes and mill-lined streets, was a quintessential New England town. Settled in the early 18th century, it flourished as an industrial hub with mills, factories, and a bustling downtown area. By the mid-1900s, Southbridge had become a microcosm of American life, reflecting the broader cultural, economic, and social changes of the time.

Economic Landscape

The heartbeat of Southbridge was its industrial sector. Textile mills, paper mills, and manufacturing... Read MORE...

1951 - New Goggles
American Optical Co. of Southbridge, Mass. has a new airtight industrial goggle for use in working with gas fumes or smoke. The headband of the goggle is fastened to the outer frame. The inner frame is of rubber and when fitted perfectly give a gas-tight seal.

Utica Daily Press
Utica, New York
Saturday, July 7, 1951
1951 - New Machine Take Blood Directly from Veins for Red Cross
New Machine Take Blood Directly from Veins for Red Cross - Southbridge, Mass. - (UP) - A new miracle machine that takes blood directly from your veins for the Red Cross was announced today by the American Optical Company.

Thursday, July 26, 1951

The machine is the culmination of years of work at Harvard in splitting blood to make plasma and many medical remedies. Harvard last Fall built a trailer truck, carrying large blood-splitting machines and called the bloodmobile. It was designed to travel around the country.

The new machine is a small 150-pound stainless steel box and it does everything the many tons did. And does the blood-splitting jobs quicker, cheaper, and better.

The designer is Charles A. Ellis, American Optical Engineer...
Utica Observer-Dispatch
Utica, New York
Thursday, July 26, 1951
1955 - WESO On the Air
March 20 - Radio Station WESO goes on the air for a first time. Announcers and newscasters are Bob Binet, John Bunnewith, Joe Capillo, Esther Costa, Bob Harris, Mildred Henshall, Bill Mindy, and Bob Nims.
(oldewebster.com)
1958 - Ames Worsted Textile Company
Milton and Irving Gilman open their first store in the Ames Worsted Textile Co. mill in Southbridge. This is the start of Ames Department Stores, which at its peak operated 700 stores in 20 states.
1961 - Keeping Out Noise
Southbridge, Mass. (UPI) - A new plastic, anti-noise ear plug for military and commercial aviation purposes has been developed by American Optical Co.

The device is about three fourths of an inch long and comes in three sizes - small, medium and large. While the device sharply reduces industrial noises, it still permits the wearer to hear conversation.
The Citizen Advertiser
Auburn, New York
Wednesday, February 3, 1961
1975 - Ames Has Grand Opening At New Amenia Store
From a humble beginning in an old factory building in 1958 to a modern new store in Amenia to serve the residents of the Harlem Valley area, Ames Discount Department Store has developed a unique history in the modern age of discount store retailing.

In 1958, Ames opened its first small store in an empty mill factory building in Southbridge, Mass., to rank as a pioneer in the new discount store field in New England. This first Ames store was replaced in 1971 with a modern self-service store in Sturbridge, Mass. to serve the combined areas of both communities...


The Harlem Valley Times
Amenia, New York
Thursday, March 6, 1975
1980 - Making Eyes
In the days of old, someone who lost an eye wore an eye patch. That was replaced by getting a glass eye: now, American Optical of Southbridge, Mass. uses a light-weight plastic eye that can be modified in shape and size so the fit is exact. Here, an artist paints an eye to match the real one its owner still has. (UPI)


The Citizen
Auburn, New York
Tuesday, January 15, 1980
MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL COMMISSION RECONAISSANCE SURVEY REPORT
I. TOPOGRAPHY
Southbridge is located in the southwestern corner of Worcester County just to the north of the Connecticut border. Its surface consists of a series of parallel north-south ridges in the western 2/ 3 of the town, with less defined, lower hills and ridges in the eastern 1/ 3. This topographical difference also marks a change from Brookfield series soils in the western portion to Charlton series soils in the eastern area. Elevations range form more than 1,000 feet above sea level in the south and southwest to 600-700
feet above sea level on the north and east orders.
Cutting a narrow, steep sided valley through the north central portion of the town is the Quinebaug River. The drop in elevation of more than 100 feet as the river winds approximately five miles through the town in a southwestern direction provided a number of good water power sites, as did its several tributary streams. Both the Brookfield and Charlton series loams, ranging from stony to fine loams, are... Read MORE...

THE BACK ROAD (About the AO Tunnel) by Joe Capillo
Over the years, hundreds of thousands have walked its darken underground paths across the Quinebaug River.

The AO service tunnel was a Wells family engineering marvel but after 80 years of existence it will no longer be in use.

Franklin Realty Advisors, leasing agent for the Southbridge Business Center, today closed the tunnel to workers and tenants, mainly for safety and security reasons. The tunnel connects the main plant building at 14 Mechanic Street to buildings across the river.Franklin is supervising proposed extensive renovations for the U.S. Department of Defense finance and accounting center, to be located in the main plant building. Strict security will be needed for both the DOD office and for the science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), according to John Soursourian, Franklin spokesman. SAIC is the company setting up the DOD training programs.

Soursourian stated, “In none of the business center leases does anyone have an express permission to use the... Read MORE...


Read more about Albert Bacheller WELLS photo of ancestor
2002 - Out of Business
Ames Department stores, which began in Southbridge in 1958, goes out of business.

Ames was a well-known discount department store chain that operated in the United States. At its peak, it had hundreds of stores across the country. However, due to financial difficulties and changing market conditions, the chain faced financial troubles and eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2001. After the bankruptcy, many of its stores were liquidated or acquired by other companies.
If you're a history enthusiast, Southbridge and its surroundings offer a wealth of attractions and activities to explore:
Westville Recreation Area: This town park is perfect for a family outing or a peaceful walk, with hiking trails, a playground, and picnic spots.

Optical Heritage Museum: Dive into Southbridge's optical manufacturing legacy at this museum, showcasing its pivotal role in eyeglass manufacturing with a fascinating collection of optical artifacts.

Westville Lake: Enjoy some quiet time fishing or bird-watching at this serene lake, also great for kayaking or canoeing.

Wells State Park: Just outside Southbridge, this park offers hiking, picnicking, and swimming by Walker Pond and the Carpenter Reservoir.

Roseland Cottage: Visit this Gothic Revival-style house in Woodstock, Connecticut, for a glimpse into the past. Guided tours are available in the summer.

Antique Shopping: Explore the area's antique shops and markets for unique finds and collectibles.

Local Dining: Sample New England cuisine at Southbridge's charming restaurants, especially the seafood dishes and regional... Read MORE...

Cemeteries in Southbridge:
Oak Ridge Cemetery: Oak Ridge Cemetery is one of the most well-known cemeteries in Southbridge. It is located on Central Street and serves as the final resting place for many residents of the town.

St. Mary's Cemetery: St. Mary's Cemetery, located on Marcy Street, is associated with the St. Mary's Parish. It is a Catholic cemetery and has been serving the local Catholic community for many years.

Westville Cemetery: Westville Cemetery is situated on Main Street, near the Westville Dam. This cemetery has historical significance and is the burial site of some of the town's early settlers.

St. Hedwig's Cemetery: St. Hedwig's Cemetery is located on Lebanon Hill Road and is affiliated with the St. Hedwig's Parish. It is a Catholic cemetery serving the needs of the local Polish community.

New Notre Dame Cemetery: This cemetery is part of the Notre Dame Parish and is located on Marcy Street. It serves as the final resting place for members of the Notre Dame community.

Calvary... Read MORE...

Discover MY Roots: Southbridge Ancestry

Ancestors Who Were Born or Died in Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

We currently have information about 1,600 ancestors who were born or died in Southbridge.

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Ancestors Who Were Married in Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

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Ancestors buried in Southbridge - Cemeteries in Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA

St. George’s Cemetery

Old Notre Dame, St. Mary's, Sacred Heart Cemetery

New Notre Dame Cemetery

Oak Ridge Cemetery

Genealogy Resources for Southbridge

"Histoire des Franco-Américains de Southbridge, Massachusetts" by Félix Gatineau, Framingham, MA: Lakeview Press, 1919

Southbridge Evening News, Southbridge, MA
Searching For Your Ancestors in Historic Newspapers

1949 Manning's Southbridge Directory
Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com: How to Find Your Family History on the #1 Genealogy Website
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Southbridge Press, Southbridge, MA
Searching For Your Ancestors in Historic Newspapers

Southbridge News, Southbridge, MA
Searching For Your Ancestors in Historic Newspapers

1882 Massachusetts City Directory - Webster and Southbridge
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1919 Massachusetts City Directory - Southbridge
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Manning's Southbridge and Sturbridge (Massachusetts) Directory September 1931. Springfield, MA MA: H. A. Manning Co., 1931
Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com: How to Find Your Family History on the #1 Genealogy Website
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1930 Massachusetts City Directory - Southbridge
Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com: How to Find Your Family History on the #1 Genealogy Website
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1928 Massachusetts City Directory - Southbridge and Sturbridge
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Index to Births, Marriages and Deaths in the Town of Southbridge, MA -- microfilm -- Jacob Edwards Library, Southbridge, MA

The Southbridge and Sturbridge Directory 1922. Salem Massachusetts: Henry M. Meek Publishing Co., 1922
Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com: How to Find Your Family History on the #1 Genealogy Website
Get YOUR AncestryDNA Genetic Test Kit!

Polk's Southbridge (Worcester County, Mass.) City Directory 1965
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1936 Massachusetts City Directory - Southbridge
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1929 Massachusetts City Directory - Southbridge
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Southbridge, MA Marriages of 1834 to 1916 and MA Vital Records Southbridge 1883

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