Saturday, December 30, 2017


For Granville historians, here is a link to Digital Commonwealth's copy of a 1794 surveyor's map of Granville. The map is hand drawn and a little hard to read so use the "enlarge" function to get a close up look. You can also download a copy if you wish.  CLICK HERE



Noble & Cooley Center for Historic Preservation (NCCHP)

Media Contact: Elizabeth Smith, 860-830-1244,

Grant will support Preservation of 19th Century Historical Archives

Granville, MA: The Noble & Cooley Center for Historic Preservation (NCCHP) is pleased to announce that it has been selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to receive a 2018 Preservation Assistance Grant. The grant is one of 253 supported projects countrywide, 12 of which are in Massachusetts.

NCCHP's grant will be used to assess and preserve the unique and comprehensive collection of 19th century documents, records and books located at the NCCHP museum in Granville. With well over 100 years of material the collection paints a complete picture of life in the Pioneer Valley as the industrial revolution transformed American society.

"We are grateful to the NEH for selecting NCCHP," said Matt Jones, NCCHP President. "Our mission is to tell the story of Yankee ingenuity in the Pioneer Valley, and we depend heavily on our archives to tell that story in the actual words of the people who came before us. The NEH grant will help preserve this important history for generations to come."

The NEH grant will also bring preservation experts to Granville to provide training in archival preservation techniques. These sessions will be offered to other non-profit preservation organizations in the area. Further details will be announced later in 2018.

CLICK HERE to link to the NEH press release.


About the Noble & Cooley Center for Historic Preservation: NCCHP is a non-profit museum located at 42 Water Street in Granville, MA. Additional information is available at

About the National Endowment for the Humanities: Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the NEH supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the NEH and its programs is available at

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Tucked In For The Winter

Although many old toy drums have been moved to better storage conditions in Building 15, there are still many to go! Throughout the move process it seemed as though the remaining drums were multiplying via some mysterious property inherent in Building 14. We tried leaving money up there but alas the mysterious multiplying force only seems to work on dusty old drums.

Due to the unpredictability of 100+ year old roofs the remaining drums have been covered and tucked in for the winter, protecting them from dust, any possible roof issues, and shielding them from further light fading.

Thanks Zachary and Kyle Cahill for volunteering their time in 2017. With their help we were able to complete the shelves in Building 15. In the Spring of 2018 we will begin again!

Click on the image for a larger version (NCCHP photo)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christmas, Toy Drums and The Great Depression

The Noble & Cooley company has survived the challenges of many economic upheavals since it's founding in 1854, whether from wars, recessions or changes in trade policy. Few economic events have tested the country as much as The Great Depression which essentially began with the stock market crash of 1929 and lasted until the beginning of World War II.

One of the more common questions posed by visitors during NCCHP museum tours is, "How did Noble & Cooley manage to survive the Depression years?" Because the tour is usually given by a direct descendant of company co-founder James Cooley, the answer is as much family history as it is company history.

In fact Noble & Cooley did well during the Depression, at least compared to the majority of companies. Christmas had a lot to do with that survival. Parents had very little money to spend on gifts. For many even one gift required a serious sacrifice. There were few social safety nets so "doing without" meant exactly that, right down to the basics of life. At the beginning of the Depression many banks were not part of the Federal Reserve system so when the banking crisis struck people could suddenly find themselves broke. There was no Federal unemployment protection until 1935 so when your job disappeared, your income went to zero.  Unemployment exceeded 20% and for those who were not already unemployed there was constant fear that they would be next. It is unimaginable by today's standards.

The result was that if parents could afford that one gift they wanted it to be something large but inexpensive. They wanted something that would make a big impression when it was wrapped and sitting under the Christmas tree. A toy drum offered the perfect solution. Big, inexpensive, flashy. Not to mention interactive. Kids would be able to make big noise with their new drum! What healthier statement can one make than to happily bang on a toy drum in the face of the gloomy economic conditions and family stresses that surrounded children in the 1930's.

And that's the story of how Noble & Cooley survived the Great Depression. For better or worse the days of giving toy drums for Christmas are pretty much a matter for the history books but N&C still makes a limited number of toy drums at the factory in Granville and there are still kids who enjoy them as gifts. There will always be "future drummers" and those who just want to grin and bang on a drum. As for The Great Depression, we are thankful for "The Greatest Generation" who lived through that time and whose strength and character shaped the best aspects of the world we live in.

For a 1938 photo and list of Noble & Cooley employees CLICK HERE.

Thursday, December 7, 2017


Did you know....?

That the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) has digitized many records and images of Granville buildings and places? Currently there are 174 Granville places listed, with downloadable images associated with most of them.

You can access the MHC "MACRIS" database by CLICKING HERE and following the steps outlined on their web site.

Benson's Store, West Granville (Massachusetts Historical Commission photo)
Did you also know....?

That the project to digitize images in the Granville Library Historical Room is up to nearly 500 images? There are many to go, but to see progress to date CLICK HERE.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

NEW Granville Historic Images Web Site

The Granville Public Library Historical Room and NCCHP have pooled resources to begin digitizing their many images relating to Granville's history, and making them available to family researchers and historians everywhere.

Above: A Determined Young Girl (Unknown), about 1874,
from the Granville Public Library Historical Room, Barlow Album
This is a project with several opportunities and goals:

1. To help families explore their Granville roots and learn more about the amazing people who made up the Granville community.

2. To encourage and support the preservation of Granville's many historic homes and other buildings.

3. To invite everyone to join the effort by contributing additional photos and documents (in either tangible or digital form).

4. To "crowd source" information about the many mystery photos in the collection, and restore the stories that belong with these people and places. So brush up on your Granville history and contribute any information you can. It will be greatly appreciated by somebody.

This is a truly exciting project that we hope everyone will participate in, so please visit the web site and become a "Granville History Detective." Maybe you'll meet an ancestor face to face for the first time, or see what your house looked like 125 years ago, who knows. There's a discovery around every corner when you travel through time!

To visit the new site CLICK HERE. Please keep in mind that the site is under construction, with new images and content being added on a continual basis. Thanks!

If you have new information or images to add, comments, corrections, etc., please contact

Above: "Ripley Home" from the Granville Public Library Historical Room Collection

Friday, September 29, 2017


Granville resident Elizabeth Jones had her photo of an eagle perched near Cooley Pond published on the Smithsonian's photo page. Here 'tis:

"Liberty" (copyright Elizabeth Jones, Granville, MA)
And to see it on the Smithsonian page CLICK HERE! Nice shot Liz!  Beautiful!

Update: Here is Liz's latest shot:
Granville Eagles (copyright Elizabeth Jones, Granville, MA.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Thanks to the generosity of the National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Institution Archives NCCHP has been able to obtain a high resolution photo of a quilt made by Granville-born Esther Elizabeth (Rose) Cooley to commemorate the Centennial celebration of the founding of the United States. We will exhibit a large format photo of the quilt alongside the quilt currently in the NCCHP collection. The Cooley quilt is currently in the National Quilt Collection and was last exhibited during the 1976 Bicentennial.
Esther Elizabeth (Rose) Cooley Centennial Quilt
(National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Institution Archives)
For more information about this wonderful Western Massachusetts quilt please CLICK HERE.


There will be a progress report on the Archives Project beginning at 6:30 PM on Thursday, September 28, 2017 at the museum, 42 Water Street, Granville, MA. NCCHP members are cordially invited to attend. If you are not a member but interested in becoming one we  would be most happy to see you too!

Donegan & Swift Upright Engine; engine on display at NCCHP (NCCHP Archives digital image)
The archives update will immediately follow the annual business meeting (6:00 to 6:30).

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Thanks to a recent donation of historic records, the NCCHP Archives Project has added a digitized copy of the Granville Valuation and Taxes report for 1892 to our museum "Collections" web site.
Granville Valuations and Taxes, 1892 (NCCHP Archives image)
You can view the complete report by CLICKING HERE. When you get to the report you can enlarge the thumbnails by clicking on them, then use the > arrow to advance through the report.

More years will be added as time allows.

NCCHP is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization supported entirely by unpaid volunteers and dependent on membership dues, grants and donations for operating costs. Please consider supporting NCCHP by becoming a member. For more information on membership CLICK HERE.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


The NCCHP Archives Project has just digitized and made available online the first of the Granville Town Reports that were recently donated to the museum.

Although it sounds like a dry topic, there is an amazing amount of detail concerning town expenses and the school system, all the way down to who was paid to shovel snow, and who achieved perfect school attendance. Your Granville ancestor(s) could well be mentioned in the report. If you are a researcher looking into late 19th century life, there is a wealth of information about cultural values and how things were done. The School Committee report is especially enlightening.

Granville, Massachusetts Annual Report, 1894 (NCCHP Archives image)

Here's the link: 1894 Granville Annual Report

Additional years will be added as time permits.

Monday, September 11, 2017


NCCHP President Matt Jones was driving past the museum on a recent Saturday when he noticed two cardboard boxes sitting on the NCCHP front doorstep. Kittens? Puppies? Twins? He stopped to investigate and to his amazement (and relief) the boxes were chock full of old documents and photos relating to Granville history! The material ranks among the most significant donations to the NCCHP Archives to date.

We're still sorting and organizing the contents of the two boxes but it includes the Granville Valuation and Taxes for 1892, 1894, 1897, 1899 and many other years:

1892 Granville Valuation and Taxes Book (NCCHP Archives digitization)
What makes these records so important is the detailed tax information for each property owner, for example (you can click on any images for a larger, easier to read version):

1892 Granville Valuation and Taxes Book, example of contents (NCCHP Archives digitization)
More recent material relates to the Granville Village School. A few examples:

Granville Village School, girls basketball team? Date unknown. (NCCHP Archives digitization of David W. Pulaski photo)
Thanks to Ralph Ledger (who happens to be in the photo below) for identifying his classmates in the photo above. They are:
Top row (L-R): Patty Trip, Susan Nestrovich, Darlene Sandman, Wendy Hansen, Donna Blakesly, Jill Wackerbarth, Barbara Zambs.
Front Row (L-R): Debbie Duris, Unknown, Gail Carpenter.
So who knows the cute kid holding the basketball??

Granville Village School, boys basketball team, date unknown (NCCHP Archives digitization of David W. Pulaski photo)
Granville Village School students with Senator Ted Kennedy, date unknown
(NCCHP Archives digitization, unknown photographer)
A challenge to all NCCHP History Detectives: If you happen to know the dates of the three photos above, or have the names of the people in the last photo, please drop NCCHP an email at We think the first two pictures date from the same time, perhaps around 1965; the third looks like classic 1980's. Thanks!

The plan for this collection is to preserve the physical documents in the NCCHP Archives, and digitize it so it will be available on line for the enjoyment of anybody, anywhere.

Footnote: The thoughtful donors have been identified and explained that they found the boxes while cleaning out the attic and were on the way to the dump when they realized, "Maybe the museum would like to have this stuff?" The Archives project does not have a slogan per se but we are now considering, "NCCHP Archives: Last stop before the dump!"

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


NCCHP will present "Cornelia Hancock: Civil War Nurse" at 7 PM, Wednesday, September 13, at the museum, 42 Water Street, Granville, Massachusetts.

Historian Carolyn Ivanoff will take guests back in time with excerpts from letters Cornelia Hancock wrote to her family. As well-known as Clara Barton during the Civil War years, this 23 year-old never publicized her contributions, yet was revered by the men of the Army of the Potomac. She describes events of the Civil War from the perspective of the doctors and nurses who tended the wounded, sick and dying soldiers in makeshift hospitals. Cornelia's experiences included the Battle of Gettysburg, where the military drum in the NCCHP collection was recovered after the battle. It is a story of dedication during the darkest hours of the war.

Ivanoff, assistant principal at Shelton Intermediate School in Shelton, CT is a versatile educator with more than 25 years in the industry. She is a past recipient of the Civil War Trust's "Teacher of the Year" award and assisted in the development of the Civil War Trust's national Civil War curriculum. You can read an interview with Carolyn Ivanoff by clicking HERE and view the Trust's Civil War Curriculum by clicking HERE.

NCCHP's free Living History program is made possible in part thanks to a grant from the Granville Cultural Council and by donations from members and friends of the museum. Light refreshments will be served following the program. For more information visit www.ncchp,org or call 413-357-6321.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


After a trip to the Granville Public Library's History Room and great help from curator Rose Miller, the intrepid NCCHP history detectives can claim their first solved case! OK, there is still a bit of confusion about the identity of two of the fifteen people in the photo so technically we can only claim 88% victory.

After going through many, many photos carefully preserved in the History Room we were close to giving up until Thom's sharp eyes noticed a framed photo sitting on a display case. It happened to be a copy of Mystery Photo #6 (Granville Methodist Quire 1888; yes, that's the way it was spelled on the photo: "quire").

The big question- were the identities of the people in the photo written on the back? After a deep breath and pause for added effect, Thom turned over the photo and there on the back were the names of everyone in the photo, including Thom's grandmother, Lizzie Holcomb. It was the first image of her as a young woman he had ever seen.

Here are the notes from the back of the photo (click on any image below for a larger version):

Reverse of 1888 Granville Methodist Quire photo (Granville Public Library History Room photo)
Here's the photo:

1888 Granville Methodist Quire (Granville Public Library History Room photo)
There are a few items that were either corrected or points of disagreement concerning identities. First, the two bearded gents on the right side of the middle row are Lorenzo Noble and George Peck. But which is which seems to be up for debate, thanks to conflicting notations. So we still have one mystery left in Mystery Photo #6. The second item is clarification of "Myrtie" Rowley, which was corrected via an attached note indicating her correct name as Mary (Mati) Noble Rowley, wife of John Rowley, sister to Mrs. Charles Thompson. This was confirmed by the other NCCHP mystery detective in the room who happens to be her great grandson.

For NCCHP blog followers who may have noticed the names of ancestors in the list of people in the photo, let's take a closer look at these remarkable people:

1888 Granville Methodist Quire detail, upper left side (Granville Public Library History Room photo)

1888 Granville Methodist Quire detail, lower left side (Granville Public Library History Room photo)
1888 Granville Methodist Quire detail, left side (Granville Public Library History Room photo)
Now for the final mystery of Mystery Photo #6: Of the two gents in the upper right of the photo above, do you know which is Lorenzo Noble and which is George Peck? If so, join the NCCHP History Detectives and "help keep the drumbeat of history" alive. Send an email with your answer to along with any reasonable proof that you're right. Thanks!

Friday, August 25, 2017


The latest NCCHP mystery photo comes from the Gilbert/Holcomb/Rowley family collection. This time we're lucky because the "what and when" questions are already answered in the photo's border.

This handsome group is the Granville Methodist Choir (or "Quire" as spelled in the 19th century). The photo is dated 1888. So the remaining mystery has to do with "who." Do you recognize any ancestors? Have an old photo with any of these people in it? Or a list of choir members from around 1888?

There is a clue as to the identity of one person in the photo. The bearded gentleman with the tie, second to the right, seated, seems to have a baton in his hands. The choir conductor?

To see a larger version click on the photo below. If you have any information on the identities of the people in the photo please drop an email to Thank you!

Granville Mass. Methodist Quire, 1888. M.O.T. Coleman, Photo.
(Photo courtesy of the Gilbert family)

"History of Lost Quabbin Towns" Living History Event

NCCHP's 2017 Living History series continued on Wednesday, August 23rd when longtime Quabbin Reservoir educator and photographer Dale Monette presented "Quabbin: Then and Now."

A full house was treated to Mr. Monette's incredible account and breathtaking photos of life before and after the construction of the reservoir. You had to be there to appreciate the amazing photographic work as the audience traveled through time with images fading from the past into the present, and back again. A brilliant and highly creative approach to a remarkable subject.

As things turned out, Mr. Monette happens to be a drummer and devotee of Noble & Cooley drums so he was thrilled to have had a tour of the drum factory before his presentation began. As he noted to the audience, "I'm still recovering from my amazement at this place. I'll never look at my drums the same way again."

A packed house gathered at NCCHP on August 23rd for "Quabbin: Then and Now" (NCCHP photo)
Dale Monette took State Department of Conservation and Recreation images shot in the 1930's from the Quabbin Reservoir archives and then took his own photos of the same spots for the displays. This gave visitors the opportunity to see how houses and scenes looked before and during construction of the reservoir and how those areas look now, some 80 years later. Many of the older images had never been seen by the public.

Monette specializes in nature photography, wildlife and landscapes. He was born and raised in Athol and since the early 1970's has lived within two miles of the reservoir, where he finds many of his subjects. An avid bird watcher since youth, Monette has hiked and fished at the Quabbin for years. During the 1980's he was involved in the successful efforts to bring back the common loons and bald eagles as nesting species to the Quabbin watershed.

(Dale Monette photo)
The free Living History programs at the NCCHP museum are made possible in part thanks to a grant from the Granville Cultural Council and by donations from members and friends of the museum. For more information visit or call 413-357-6321.

For more information on the 2017 Living History schedule, CLICK HERE.

The museum is open for tours from noon to 3 PM on the second and fourth Sundays of the month from May through October. Tours are available at other times by appointment.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


The NCCHP digitization project is continuing to make good headway, with our latest batch of industrial books and catalogs just being added to the NCCHP Internet Archives site. This collection is becoming a comprehensive source of information for historians, hobbyists, researchers, and anyone with an interest in manufacturing history. Not to mention those who are just plain curious and interested in learning new things about old things!

To see the NCCHP collection including the latest additions CLICK HERE.

Please note that you "flip pages" in Internet Archives simply by clicking on the pages to page forward or back, and if a page is too small you can expand it. If it is still too small you can use the "zoom in" feature.

The latest batch also includes the first digitization of a Noble & Cooley Time and Payroll book, covering October 1891 to December 1893. Is one of your ancestors in the book? CLICK HERE and find out!

Along with industrial history material the NCCHP collection includes a variety of interesting books about art, music and other topics. For example, NCCHP's 1923 Taber-Prang art book is an excellent example of popular tastes in art reproductions during that period.

Cover of 1923 Taber-Prang Art Company catalog (from NCCHP Collection at Internet Archives)
As always, NCCHP is grateful to the people at the Internet Archives and Digital Commonwealth located at the Boston Public Library, for their wonderful work on this project.

Friday, August 4, 2017

MYSTERY PHOTO #5: Noble & Cooley Employees- Who and When?

Mystery Photo #5 comes from the Roberts family archives via Joe Roberts. This is a wonderful photo of Noble & Cooley employees in front of the main building. The mystery is: when was the photo taken and can you identify anyone in the photo?

A number is handwritten by each person so there must have been a corresponding list to identify who's who by number. Unfortunately that does not seem to have survived.

This is an interesting photo when compared to Mystery Photo #3 which came from the Gilbert family collection. Compare the older codger with the wild double beard toward the upper right of Mystery Photo #5 to the younger gent toward the lower right of Mystery Photo #3, with the braided double beard. Same person? That would help confirm that Mystery Photo #3 is in fact an earlier "lost photo" of Noble & Cooley employees.

If you can shed any light on the who-and-when of Mystery Photos 3 or 5 please drop NCCHP an email at Thanks!

The Roberts family will celebrate their 135th Annual Family Reunion this weekend. We wish them a great time!

As always you can click on the photo to view a larger version.

Noble & Cooley employees, date unknown (photo courtesy of the Roberts family)

MYSTERY PHOTO #4: Where In The World Is Richard Clark?

Today's first mystery photo comes from NCCHP member Bob Clark and fits nicely with the upcoming Quabbin Reservoir "Living History" program on August 23rd. The photo is of Bob's father, Richard N. Clark but the mystery is: where was the photo taken? It appears to be at a dam and Bob believes it is in either Massachusetts or eastern New York, taken around 1930. If you recognize the location please drop NCCHP a note at We'll pass your answer on to Bob.

Richard N. Clark at Unknown Dam, about 1930 (courtesy of Clark Family)

Monday, July 10, 2017


One of the great misperceptions about NCCHP, and the Archives Project in general, is that the focus is on the Noble & Cooley company history. In fact, manufacturing history is only part of NCCHP's collection and focus. Community history, national events, and cultural trends all factor into the museum's mission to "keep the drumbeat of history" alive. The museum uses Noble & Cooley's company history and manufacturing equipment as a starting point for telling the much bigger story of Yankee Ingenuity, the Pioneer Valley, America, and "how we became who we are."

The Archives Project places a heavy emphasis on telling this same story through the massive amount of "non-Noble & Cooley" material consisting of over 150 years of saved books and documents. That includes manufacturing manuals and catalogs from hundreds of American companies from the 1880's to the present. In many cases we probably have the only copies in existence.

To the question raised in the title of this post (finally), the answer is a resounding, "Yes!" There are many hundreds of company letterheads that provide the names of company officers, which can help researchers identify where an ancestor works and what his or her function was at the place of employment. There are many books including original Dun reference books from the late 1800's and early 1900's. The Cooley journals from 1860 into the late 1800's provide a fascinating, daily window into farming and manufacturing life in Western Massachusetts. There are also group photos of company employees. These may have the only known photographic image of some of the people depicted. That's only the tip of the iceberg.

Closer to home, there are time and payroll books from Noble & Cooley dating from about 1889 into the 20th century. These have detailed, daily information for every employee, in many cases including pay rates. These documents have a remarkable way of almost bringing people to life; certainly their stories becomes much richer, and their lives more clear.

As an example.... Did your ancestor work at Noble & Cooley in 1914? We can tell you with reasonable certainty one way or the other. Here's an employee list from that year. And we tell you how many hours a day they worked; in many cases we can tell you what they made and how many, on a given day or week.

Click on the image below for a larger version:

Friday, July 7, 2017


“All To The Tune Of A Hickory Stick:
A Look At Education In The One Room Schoolhouse”

 Join us on Wednesday, July 19th at 6:30 PM at the NCCHP Museum at 42 Water Street in Granville, MA when Dennis Picard, in period attire and with accompanying artifacts, will share the history, legends and myths about what was called “district” school education. One room schoolhouses were the norm in New England before the adoption of the graded elementary system in the latter half of the 19th century. Don’t miss this fun presentation about what it was like to attend school in one room with students of all ages!
Can you identify anyone in this photo of local school children? It comes from a Granville family collection.
Who, when and where? (NCCHP Archives image from the Gilbert collection)
Dennis Picard, former Director of the Storrowton Village Museum in West Springfield has been a museum professional in the “Living History” field for over 35 years. NCCHP is pleased to host Dennis and his program which ties into the museum’s revolving exhibit on old toys and games.

Dennis Picard ("The Republican" file photo)
Light refreshments will be served following the program. The presentation is free to NCCHP members, and donations from non-members are always welcome and appreciated. For more information visit the NCCHP website or call 413-357-6321.

The free Living History programs at the NCCHP museum are made possible in part thanks to a grant from the Granville Cultural Council and by donations from members and friends of the museum. Thank you for your continued support in 2017.

The museum is open for tours from noon – 3:00 on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month from May – October. Tours are available at other times by appointment.

Thursday, July 6, 2017


After entering World War II at the end of 1941 America immediately swung into war production mode. Materials and manufacturing capabilities were shifted to the war effort. Industries that did not have workers, skills and manufacturing capacity that could adapt to contribute to the cause faced the possibility of severe production cutbacks at best, and potential closure at worst. In fact many such businesses did not survive. But as 1942 began the stakes for the free world could not have been higher. By February the War Production Board (WPB) mandated sharply reduced use of critical materials for non-critical manufacturing, effective March 1st:

Boston News Bureau, February 19, 1942 (from the NCCHP archives collection)
Among non-critical industries were music instruments and toy manufacturers. Noble & Cooley sat squarely in the center of both industries but once again "Yankee ingenuity" prevailed and ways were found to apply drum-making skills and equipment in ways that would support the war effort, using locally sourced material.

Working with Ensign Bickford, located in nearby Simsbury, Connecticut Noble & Cooley shifted to the manufacture of spools and reels for Ensign Bickford's primer cord product (commonly referred to today as primacord). Typically used in mining operations, the explosives detonating cord was suddenly vital to the war effort:

Primer cord reels and World War II sign on display at the NCCHP museum (NCCHP photo)
 At the same time work went into finding ways to continue toy drum production using material that would not detract from the war effort. This would also provide much-needed jobs to the many Granville area families who depended on the income. Noble & Cooley came up with an ingenious use of cardboard to create drum shells and drum hoops, replacing the use of metal for these parts. Unfortunately this method did not create the most durable drums thus they are very rare today, but they brought some much needed happiness to the birthdays and holidays of many children during some very dark days for the country and the world.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


It's a perfect day to celebrate independence as the annual 4th of July parade kicks off in Granville with bright blue sky and comfortable Berkshire summer temperatures.

To mark the day on line, let's recall some of Noble & Cooley's "patriotic theme" drums, including two 100-year anniversary flashbacks to 1917. First some suitable music with great drum content:

Noble & Cooley "Continental" drum, from 1917 catalog

Noble & Cooley "Flag" drum design, flat drum shell, embossed
Noble & Cooley "Uncle Sam" drum, from 1917 catalog.
Noble & Cooley "Flag" design, flat drum shell, unembossed
We also take a moment on this holiday to express appreciation for all the patriots who fought for independence, including Silas Noble (great-grandfather of Noble & Cooley co-founder and namesake Silas Noble) who marched to Boston with other western Massachusetts Minutemen on April 20, 1775 immediately after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and died on July 11th during the Siege of Boston.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Work on NCCHP's new Research and Digitization Room kicked off today. The new room will be conveniently located on the first floor of Building 15 and the official opening is planned for 2018. If you are one of the many who worked at Noble & Cooley back in the day, you may remember it as the box labelling room!

What is a Research and Digitization Room? There are two distinct functions:

Research Center: The room will be laid out to provide a comfortable place for researchers to view material from the NCCHP Archives. Because the archives are on the third floor in an unheated space conditions are less than ideal for spending hours looking over historic records and documents. The new room on the first floor will have a proper work space, lighting, a copier/scanner, and even a bit of heat to take the chill off.

Digitization Station: The digitization facility will be set up to make it easy to digitally photograph and/or scan documents, photos, artifacts and other items that are relevant to the Granville area and community. Our goal is that beginning in 2018 the digitization facility will open to the public and we will begin scanning historic photos and documents that are tucked away in local attics, barns and basements. Anyone who wants to have electronic files made of their old photo treasures, papers or artifacts will be welcome to bring them in for photographing or scanning at no charge. If you bring a USB flash drive you will be given a copy of the electronic files. More details to be shared when the time comes but that's the basic idea. Our mission is to make sure Granville's rich and amazing heritage is shared with the community and passed on to future generations.

Here's box labelling room this morning:

(NCCHP photo, 2017 Jun 25)
Here's the beginning of the Research and Digitization Room this afternoon:

(NCCHP photo, 2017 Jun 25)
Lots of work ahead to make this a comfortable, dust-free work space but it's a start. Stay tuned for progress reports!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

NCCHP Archives and Genealogy Research

It has been over two years since the Archives Project kicked off in earnest. It has taken that long just to construct archives storage facilities, collect records, do a preliminary cleaning, get them organized, and re-boxed in archival containers. During that process we stumbled across some amazing documents. In the years ahead we will be reviewing the material itself in much more detail.

One of our very pleasant discoveries is the amount of material that relates to family histories, including handwritten payroll records dating from the 1880's, "Age and Schooling Certificates" required by law for underage workers, newspaper articles, and so on. We will be working to have this material digitized and made available on line.

As an example we researched the Age and Schooling Certificate for Fred Rowley:

Age and Schooling Certificate (NCCHP Archives, Genealogy Collection)
By combining information on the Certificate with information available on, we learned that Fred's father William filed a Last Will and Testament in June 1893, months after signing the form that would allow his son to go to work at the age of 14. William died in August 1893 of tuberculosis. By putting these puzzle pieces together we can make a reasonable assumption that Fred wasn't going to work in November 1892 because he was on summer break. It was because his father was ill and the family would likely depend on Fred's income to help pay bills and offset the loss of his dad's income. Suddenly the story becomes much more meaningful and provides far more insight on the circumstances of one Granville family.

We believe that every Age and Schooling Certificate (and there are many) has a story and is a valuable part of Granville's community and family histories. They are another fascinating way in which NCCHP "keeps the drumbeat of history" alive.

Stay tuned to the blog for announcements later in 2017 regarding the availability of NCCHP's genealogy collection on line.

And what became of Fred, you ask? He lived a long and happy life, eventually moving from Granville to East Longmeadow. Here he is with two of his grand-kids. Good job, Fred.

Friday, April 28, 2017

IMPORTANT: Valley Gives Day, and NCCHP Dues are Due!


The museum needs your support this week during the 5th Annual Valley Gives fundraising event.

Your donation between now and May 2nd 
will help the museum grow!

Please help us get the word out to family, friends and co-workers to make a $12 (or more!) tax deductible online donation during this annual campaign. You don't have to wait for May 2nd to donate; every donation between now and midnight, May 2nd counts.

Thanks to your generosity over $1700 was donated last year and this year our goal is to win the prize for most new donors.  The more people who donate, the better the chances are for NCCHP to win random cash prizes on May 2nd.

By the way, this is also a great time to pay your 2017 NCCHP membership dues via the NCCHP's Valley Gives donation page. If you have put off becoming a member, or have not yet renewed, now's the perfect time. Basic individual membership is $35 annually. Other membership levels are outlined at the NCCHP web site.

Here's a link to NCCHP's Valley Gives donation page: CLICK HERE

For general information about Valley Gives Day, click here.

​Thank you for your continued support and belief in the NCCHP mission "Keeping The Drumbeat of History"​ alive.

New Additions to NCCHP's Digital Archives Site!

The wonderful people at the Boston Public Library, in conjunction with the Digital Commonwealth, Internet Archives, and Digital Public Library of America projects, have added an amazing EIGHTY-PLUS industrial trade catalogs from the NCCHP archives to our Digital Archives page.

These catalogs sat in a nailed-shut wooden crate stored at the Noble & Cooley facility on Water Street. Most date to the late 19th century. In many instances they may be the only remaining copies in the world. Now they are available to anyone via internet. And the best news, it is all at no cost to NCCHP.

Matt Jones opens the mystery crate, which turned out to contain well over 100 industrial trade catalogs
from the late 19th and early 20th century (NCCHP photo)
The catalogs cover everything from large lathes and presses, to building architectural details such as finials, down to leather hides, twine and samples of roofing material. Many catalogs feature detailed renderings of the manufacturing plants, complete with horses, carriages, wagons and carts in the streets. Then in the early 20th century the occasional "horseless carriage" was added to the picture. As always, you can click on any image for a larger version:


As historical reference material the catalogs will be invaluable to researchers.

Here's a link to the full content. Prepare to be amazed! CLICK HERE When you get to the site, click on the catalog you want to view and you'll be able to flip through all the pages of the catalog.

Thanks to Jake Sadow, Nichole Shea and the rest of the team at the Boston Public Library for making this a reality. And we still have more to add to the site so stay tuned to this fascinating NCCHP project.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Brownies Welcome April

The opening lines of "The Brownies in April" by Palmer Cox
(NCCHP image)
In 1891-92 "Ladies Home Journal" ran a series of illustrated stories about mischievous elf-like creatures called "Brownies" whose purpose in life was essentially to run around having playful adventures. The stories were written and illustrated by Palmer Cox. Noble & Cooley even produced a toy drum featuring a comical image of the Brownie Band (as noted here in a prior blog article about decoupage drums).

It is easy to imagine parents reading the adventures of the Brownies to their children at bedtime. The stories are charming and, well, there weren't a whole lot of options for kids back in 1892. If your parents could read and had time to read you a bedtime story, that was as good as it got.

To view and/or download the full text and illustrations of "The Brownies in April" go to the NCCHP Collections on line site by CLICKING HERE. If you have kids who like bedtime stories it's a pretty fun read that lends itself to as much dramatic interpretation as any parent might want to add!

Noble & Cooley "Brownie Band" decoupage drum panel (NCCHP photo)