There’s a new exhibit in the Local History Room’s lobby display case featuring photos, artifacts, and ephemera from a selection of notable Kingston businesses, including H. K. Keith & Company Store, Toabe’s Hardware, Tura’s Pharmacy, Ye Kyng’s Towne Sweetes, and the stores of Myrick’s Block.
It will be up until the end of August. Stop by and check it out!
Source: Image from Jones River Village Historical Society Lantern Slides IC4.
In honor of Throwback Thursday, let’s take a look back at a moment in Kingston’s past!
Over 140 years ago, William H. Myrick of Kingston entered the tinsmith’s business, and his first shop was located on Summer Street. Emily Fuller Drew, a Kingston resident and the creator of the lantern slide shown above, kept a card file of valuable information about the images she took. The file for this image reads:
55. Myrick’s Tin Shop & Cart, 1876
Building used previously as a finishing shop for augers by “Uncle” Nahum Bailey. Such work as did not require water power, such as filing and hand polishing, could be done here. All else was done at the Stony Brook Mill. The work, or the use of the building, antedates that at the Mill (1805). Later Myrick (Wm. H.) used, as shown, as tin shop and stove works. The tin car went the rounds of the outlying districts, serving the more distant farm-wives, bartering tinware and the like for eggs, fowl and other farm produce.
She expands on her description in her notebooks, explaining:
The tin cart was always a curious sight, especially when it started out in the morning from the shop. Tinware, brooms, wooden buckets and other wares hung from every conceivable spot, so that “those who ran” might see. At first only metals wares were carried, but soon all sorts of household conveniences were added, and they became small departments stores in themselves…Mr. Myrick built up quite a business, of tinware, later stoves and furnace heating equipment. He soon outgrew his small shop with metal ware and stoves alone; then he built in 1878 the block at the corner of Summer and Evergreen Street, which bears his name, and increased his business to correspond.
As you can see, this building was a great improvement! Myrick’s store was on the second floor, while the post office, O. B. Cole’s Apothecary, Cantori’s fruit store, and Stegmaier’s Barber Shop were on the ground floor. The building even had a dentist, Dr. A. C. Woodward. In this image, William Myrick Sr. and William Myrick Jr. are both standing on the top steps.
Myrick’s Block was eventually moved from its location at 48 Summer Street to 78 Evergreen Street by Edgar W. Loring, Inc. for use in his wood, coal, and cranberry business around 1940. The building is now occupied by Kingston Sheet Metal.
Both of these images are part of the Jones River Village Historical Society’s collection here in the Local History Room. As always, if you have any questions or comments about Kingston history, you can send us an email at email@example.com. You can also visit the Jones River Village Historical Society’s website for current information about the Major John Bradford Homestead and the group, including membership and events.
Here’s a view south, up the hill towards the Thomas House, taken from a spot just before the Great Bridge over the Jones River.
And here are a couple of views looking the opposite way down the hill.
[This wood cut is from this book, originally published in 1839.]
And here’s one of indeterminate direction, but with a nice shady feel to it.
These images all bear the description “Thomas’ Hill,” because that’s what’s it’s been called for quite some time. Now, though, there’s a need to update our shared geographical vocabulary. There’s a whole group of Kingstonians with a completely different point of reference, for whom this area doesn’t relate at all to an 18th century Kingston family or their stately home atop the hill.
Let the historical record now reflect the vernacular alternative: “HoJo Hill.”
The Local History Room recently received a trove of old ledgers from H. K. Keith & Co. These hand-written record books track inventory in the general store, customer accounts and daily sales, like this apparently busy Saturday exactly 153 years ago today.
It appears that the column between the item and the price is a code for the purchaser’s account.
Henry Kingman Keith (1826-1909) was born in North Bridgewater and spent some time in Duxbuy, but lived most of his adult life in Kingston.
In 1847, he married Vesta Snell Cary (1827-1903).
Keith built his general store in Kingston in 1848, just three years after the Old Colony Railroad first drove through town.
The store was a success, and would thrive under a variety of owners and retail formats: Lewis H. Keith, Henry and Vesta’s son; Burges and Keith; Burges and Bailey; Toabe Hardware; Kingston Hardware; Crossroads Liquor; Trackside Liquor (and possibly more).
The building has been enlarged and lowered and added-onto; here’s a more recent look.
There’s a lot of talk about Kingston’s business community these days, so here’s a look at efforts 50 years back to bring new business to town.
Published in 1965 by the Industrial Development Commission, this colorful pamphlet lays out the advantages of mid-20th century Kingston: a strategic historic location, efficient town government, fine schools, a well informed public, and more!
This is one of those with little information attached; we have only what’s depicted in the image. It looks like it may have been taken between 1920, when the garage was built, and 1925, when the Fire Department moved the Surprise Hose Company in.
The building at right was the second train station at the Old Colony Railroad’s Kingston stop. It was moved sometime around 1890 to the spot shown here, used as a laundry, then demolished in the early 1960s.
We’ve got a new exhibit in the Library lobby. Stop by and take a look.
The spot where the Kingston Public Library stands was once the site of Kingston’s first hotel, built in 1854, just nine years after the Old Colony Railroad first chugged through town. Former boarding house proprietor Josiah Cushman bought the land from Spencer Cushman, and immediately borrowed $1500 from the seller to finance the building. Josiah ran the hotel, known as the Patuxet House, for the next 25 years, until another of his creditors, merchant Henry K. Keith (listed in the 1888 publication Twenty Thousand Rich New Englanders), took over the property, though Keith did not run the Inn himself.
Sometime around 1900, the hotel’s name had changed to either the Hotel Kingston or, the better known Kingston Inn. In 1921, right in the thick of Prohibition, crime struck. The double-crossing rum runner murder happened after hotel proprietor Richard Rowland (or Roland) ordered 26 cases of illegal Scotch from a well-known bootlegger. According to the Boston Globe, “Rowland had a good market for liquor at the Kingston Inn,” which had a reputation as a sporting house with a regular dice game, but he didn’t want to pay for the booze. Rowland plotted with two local thugs to fake a robbery in the hotel garage, but the bootlegger fought back and his driver, Edward Cardinal aka Eddie Gardner, was gunned down. The bootlegger escaped with the liquor, and Rowland, “the debonair blond gambler,” was eventually convicted of manslaughter, but his accomplices were never caught.
By 1927, the hotel was known Bay View Inn, and served as the grand prize in a raffle advertised by the Plymouth chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The brochure described the Inn’s
“28 rooms, including reception parlor, one large and three small dining rooms, hotel office and billiard parlor. It is situated on over 1 acre of land and the beautiful trees and lawns add to the enhancing surroundings. In addition to the main Hotel, there is a 20-car garage, with a cement floor, with an accessory store and office included in the buildings.”
For reasons unknown, the raffle never happened. The Inn sat empty and changed hands a few times until 1953, when Coley and Lillian Mae Hayes bought the property. Originally from Georgia, the couple worked together as chauffeur/butler and housekeeper/cook in the 1930s and 1940s in private homes around New York City and Boston. Between 1933 and 1941, they spent summers at Twin Oaks, the Duxbury camp they owned with Lillian’s two sisters and their husbands. The camp was a great success among its African-American clientele, but when one of the sisters died, another took over, and the Hayes went back to private employment, until 1953 when they bought the Kingston Inn.
The Hayes advertised in publications like Ebony and the Amsterdam News, and focused on African-American vacationers from Boston, New York and Philadelphia. The promotional materials produced during the Hayes’s tenure emphasized the near-by sights of Plymouth, the delights of Cape Cod, and the comfortable family atmosphere at the Kingston Inn, where “you don’t have to dress for dinner.” Coley Hayes ran the Inn until his death in 1966; Lillian appears to have predeceased him, though her death date isn’t known. In 1970, Hayes’ executor sold the vacant hotel to New England Telephone, which razed the building and constructed the long-distance equipment facility, which eventually became the Kingston Public Library in 1995.
Okay, it’s a business pitch to the Board of Selectmen, but what exactly is a lungmotor?
Our friends at the Library of Congress can help!
If you need to know more about the Lungmotor (like I did), the Boston company put out a whole book on their product. Popular Science reported on a special motorcycle squad with Lungmotor-equipped sidecars in Chicago. And finally, according to this, screenwriter Rube Goldberg picked the Lung Motor as the favored resuscitation apparatus in the big-screen debut of Three Stooges.
Now, that’s an endorsement that should have made the pitch letter.
Source: Town House Attic II TOK5, “Health” Digitized glass plate negative from the Library of Congress: catalog record here.
Who was Peanut Jack? There’s nothing in the Local History Room to help identify him, but the 1890 Plymouth and Kingston Directory gives us this.
The 1909 Plymouth Directory has almost the same ad, but the proprietress in that version is a Mrs. M. D. Costa, exactly what we see printed on the tarp or wagon cover right next to Peanut Jack in the photo. So it seems likely that Peanut Jack was one of the “teams making regular trips to all places in the vicinity.”
Old Home Day is a small town New England tradition popular from the 1860s into the 1930s, and later in many cases. In Kingston, the town-wide event, which included clambakes, sports, dancing, singing and parades, was held annually from 1903 to 1908, again from 1933 to 1938, in the 1970s and the 1990s.
This month’s exhibit features programs and photos from some of these events.
And the tradition continues on September 8, Kingston’s new Old Home Day! To get involved, contact the Board of Selectmen now.