We don’t have many interior views this nice of the old Hingham shops. On the shelves of E. Wilder and Son Grocery Store (at 613 Main St., now the Cracker Barrel) you can see Quaker Oats, Van Houten’s Cocoa, canned foodstuffs, and various tobacco products. The man is Fred Wilder. Fred worked not only in the store, with his father Ezra, but also in a Weymouth shoe factory, where had had the enviable job of “stitcher.” Fred and his wife, Hattie Shute Wilder, lived in an apartment over the store for 12 years before moving to 606 Main Street. Fred and Hattie both worked in shoe factories in addition to caring for aging relatives and and the store.
Hingham’s 19th century woodenware and cordage industries get most of the attention, but did you know that our town also made umbrellas and parasols? By 1818, an umbrella factory was already in operation on South Street; its owner, Benjamin S. Williams, incorporated the Hingham Umbrella Manufacturing Company in 1825.Edward Cazneau succeeded Williams as proprietor of the umbrella factory in 1828. According to the 1893 History of the Town of Hingham, Cazneau announced in an inaugural advertisement in the Hingham Gazette that “all Umbrellas or Parasols sold here by retail will be kept in repair twelve months, gratis.” The late John P. Richardson recovered several umbrellas from the attic of what had been Edward Cazneau’s home. A note that he attached to the umbrella frame in the photo above reads, “Found in the attic of the Cazneau House on the east corner of South and Hersey St. Hingham, Mass. I, John P. Richardson recovered several umbrellas from this attic. Cazneau owned an umbrella factory at Hobarts Bridge, North St.”
By 1837, the Hingham Umbrella Manufacturing Ccmpany had 75 employees (20 men and 55 women) and, that year, it made and sold over 18,000 umbrellas. This success was not lasting, however; the umbrella factory closed five years later, in 1842.
Fearing Burr of Hingham kept a journal from 1840, when he was 25 years old, until his death in 1897. We are fortunate to have all fifteen volumes in our archives. Burr recorded his day-to-day observations about the weather; town and church affairs; his mercantile pursuits, which included the shop in Centre Hingham which he ran with his brother ; and the horticultural interests for which he is remembered.
In an entry penned on Christmas Eve, 1872, this life-long bachelor wrote about Christmas gift-giving, noting how customs had changed since he was young. Indeed, these were the years when the Christmas holiday began to take the shape we know today!
Was very busy in the sale of gifts for the holidays – it’s an illustration of the great change that has gradually taken place since Peter and I first began to sell goods. We are satisfied that the sale of confectionaries for one week of 1872 was very largely in excess of the gross sales of this article for one year from 1825 to 1830 and after. My brother affirms that some of his young patrons in this line expend one dollar per week. The change in the quantity and costly character of gifts of other descriptions is scarcely less noticeable. I recall the days of my early boyhood when my holiday gifts were summed up in three or four copper cents – presents which so far from creating any feelings of dissatisfaction were regarded as truly munificent. Today it is by no means rare that a parent who is wholly dependent on his daily labor invests in toys or articles for amusement, from one dollar upwards, for each of the little ones comprising his family. The change in the general distribution and enjoyment of the more important articles of human comfort and luxury is almost equally great.
Historian John Richardson (1934-2011) was an avid collector of all things Hingham– its places, its buildings, its people. Among his collection in the Historical Society’s archives are 64 binders of material, gathered from families, purchased at estate sales, or sometimes rescued from homes or buildings facing demolition, that chronicle the lives of a disparate group of Hingham individuals and families.
Two binders are devoted to Daniel Daly (1825-1911), one of the town’s earliest Irish immigrants, and his descendants. They tell a story that takes the family from newcomers just prior to the Civil War to well respected members of the Hingham community by century’s end.
Daniel Daly was born in County Armagh, Ireland and arrived in Hingham in 1855, soon after marrying Nancy Crowe (1835-1905) from the County of Tipperary. Daniel began as a gardener, hiring himself out to local families. After serving in the Civil War he started working as a gardener and florist with prominent Hingham families, such as Charles B. Barnes.
With the money he earned, he bought a house at 19 Green Street where he and Nancy raised their family. The Dalys had two children who survived to adulthood and who both attended Hingham schools: Daniel (1857-1900), who later moved to St. Louis and became a police officer, and Edmund (1866-1930), who started out working in retail stores in Boston and later became a businessman ins own right as a partner in the Hingham Bicycle Company and later as the sole owner of Edmund Daly & Co., Hatters and Furnishers, which had a store in West Hingham.
The Daly Family materials include this floor sample from Daly & Co.:
Because he was a well respected businessman, members of the local community urged him to run for public office, including for a seat in the state legislature in the early 1900s.
Though he did not win this election for state office, Edmund served on many town boards, including the Playground Commission. Meanwhile, he inherited the family house on Green Street after his father’s death in 1911.
His community standing and political connections allowed him to be appointed as Hingham Postmaster by President Wilson in 1917, a job he held until 1930 when he suffered a fatal heart attack walking to work from his home. The town was shocked and saddened in hearing the news.
Edmund Daly married Margaret E. Daly (1864-1952). They had one daughter, Annabel Daly (1900-1993) who also attended the Hingham schools. The Richardson Daly binders even include one of her primary school class photos.
She then attended Hingham High School where she graduated in 1918. In her adult life, she kept a scrapbook of her early years and her father’s career, through which most of her family’s history was saved.
She not only kept items of a personal nature but chronicled important events in town as well. Among her materials is media coverage of the destruction of the original Hingham High School by fire in 1927.
Annabelle Daly continued to live in the Green Street house until her death at age 92. She did not marry and had no children. She was buried in the family plot at the St. Paul’s Cemetery. Her collection was obtained by John Richardson, who organized the Daly family materials into binders. These Daly binders and other family materials collected by John Richardson will soon be greatly more accessible at the new Hingham Heritage Museum.
This recently donated photograph depicts the interior of the George E. Kimball Lumber Company office on Summer Street near Hingham Harbor. The office perfectly represents the changing times around the start of the 20th century. Taken in 1914—as evidenced by the calendar on the wall to the right—the photo depicts furnishings which are a telling mix of new and old. The bentwood chair, spare tire, and cabinets filled with all manner of supplies, along with the desks themselves, show a company that has been around for years. The telephone, electric fan, and hanging electric lights are representative of a business that is readying itself for the future. Identified in the back of the photo, wearing an apron, is the mustached James M. Kimball. He would help keep the business running for years to come by shipping lumber by boat from Kimball’s Wharf or delivering it by cart to locals residents and builders. To his left is his nephew James H. Kimball. In addition to helping run Kimball Lumber, he was the leader of the Imperial Saxophone Quartet in Hingham and a member of several of Hingham’s earliest baseball teams at the end of the 19th century. The well-dressed man at the desk presumably is the eponymous George E. Kimball, father of James H. and founder of the firm.