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)