History of Blackburn Memorial

In 1929 the Town of Walpole received a legacy of $50,000 from Harriette F. (Blackburn) Nevins (Mrs. David Nevins) of Methuen, for the erection of a public building in memory of her father and mother. Her father at one time lived and carried on business in Walpole. This building is the Blackburn Memorial Building. In addition, Mrs. Nevins left $2500 to build a fountain for horses and dogs. This fountain is erected on School St. nearly opposite the Stone Schoolhouse (same location as the Walpole Public Library).

Blackburn Bequest History (PDF for download)                         Blackburn Memorial Dedication (PDF for download)

100th Anniversary
Blessed Sacrament Church
Walpole, Massachusetts
1874 to 1974

The Cardinal

“The Centennial Jubilee of a parish is always a most significant event because it does not simply mark a considerable amount of time elapsed but rather represents a century of devoted and loving service to Almighty God and His Church.”

Humberto Cardinal Medeiros

The Blessed Sacrament

“And while they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessing it, he broke and gave it to them, and said, “Take, this is my body.” And taking a cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank of it; and he said to them, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is being shed for many. Amen I say to you, that I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

St. Mark XIV

The Pastor

As the 9th pastor of Blessed Sacrament, I am particularly pleased to participate in the 100th Anniversary Celebration. The past eight years of my pastorate here have been most rewarding and very happy. This satisfaction is due to the devotion, generosity and loyalty of our parishioners for which I shall always be grateful. I pray that God will continue to bestow his choicest blessings and graces upon our parish for years to come.

Reverend George P. Gallivan

Associate Pastors

Reverend Walter J. O’Hearn (1967 to Present)
Reverend Richard S. Tierney (1972 to Present)

Pastors and Associates


Rev. Francis Gouesse 1872-1901
Rev. Daniel H. Riley 1901-1919
Rev. Timothy Fahey 1919-1933
Rev. John P. O’Riordan 1933-1940
Rev. Bennet J. O’Brien 1940-1949
Rev. John M. Manion 1949-1952
Rev. John J. Costello 1952-1965
Rev. Msgr. Russell H. Davis 1965-1967
Rev. George P. Gallivan 1967-present

Associate Pastors

Rev. James Fennessy 1900-1900
Rev. James H. Courtney 1900-1901
Rev. William H. Walsh 1901-1902
Rev. William N. Ullrich 1902-1908
Rev. Richard S. Millard 1909-1911
Rev. Francis T. Mahoney 1911-1913
Rev. Michael F. Maguire 1913-1917
Rev. William F. Cahil 1917-1918
Rev. Eugene A. Maguire 1918-1925
Rev. Jeremiah F. Twomey 1925-1926
Rev. Rudolph M. Tuscher 1926-1930
Rev. William E. Kerrigan 1930-1932
Rev. Daniel J. Scully 1930-1931
Rev. Richard F. Callahan 1932-1937
Rev. William J. Linehan 1937-1941
Rev. Thomas L. Burns 1941-1941
Rev. John D. Zuromskis 1941-1942
Rev. Frederick M. Walsh 1943-1946
Rev. Daniel J. Gilmartin 1946-1946
Rev. James E. Connelly 1946-1947
Rev. Joseph L. Murphy 1947-1948
Rev. John E. Bowen 1948-1949
Rev. Francis G. McGann 1949-1953
Rev. Donald G. Ballou 1953-1954
Rev. John F. Donovan 1954-1961
Rev. James M. Rogers 1956-1958
Rev. John T. Foley 1958-1959
Rev. Lawrence R. Parlee 1959-1963
Rev. Philip B. Lavin 1961-1965
Rev. Henry M. Cunney 1963-1964
Rev. Arthur J. DePietro 1964-1964
Rev. Bernard L. Sullivan 1964-1967
Rev. Thomas A. Cummings 1965-1971
Rev. Walter J. O’Hearn 1967-present
Rev. Richard S. Tierney 1972-present

Sisters Serving Blessed Sacrament 1952-1974

Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Trinity 1952-1966

Sister Theresa Marie
Sister John Alice
Sister Elizabeth Ann
Sister Paulin Marie
Sister Thomas Jude
Sister Grace Frances
Sister Anita Marie
Sister Ann Mary
Sister Edna Marie
Sister James Ann
Sister Beatrice (CCD Coordinator – 1973-present)

Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, PA

Sister Maria Gross 1966-1972
Sister Martin Noreen 1966-1969
Sister Martha Pooler 1966-1969
Sister Elizabeth Murphy 1966-1971
Sister Helen William 1967-1968
Sister Agnes Rita 1968-1969
Sister Ruth Goodwin 1970-1974
Sister Xavier Matt 1968-1974
Sister Patricia Bove 1969-971
Sister Kathleen Carroll 1969-1974
Sister Patricia Doyle 1969-1970
Sister Ceclia Perone 1970-1971
Sister Mary Coleman 1970-1971
Sister Dorothy Byrne 1970-1970
Sister Marie Secor 1970-1971
Sister Daniel Marie McCarthy 1971-1973
Sister St. Vincent Stynes 1971-1974
Sister Mary Kennedy 1971-1972
Sister Viola Marie O’Keefe 1971-1973
Sister Margaret Christine Sullivan 1972-1973
Sister Celeste Crine 1972-1973
Sister Flavian Kumerant 1972-1983
Sister Iphigenia Feeley 1972-1973
Sister Lareen Francis Sugrue 1973-1974
Sister Rose Louise Murphy 1973-1974
Sister Mary Walsh 1973-1974
Sister St. Francis Coco 1973-1974
Sister Shawn Therese Smith 1973-1974
Sister Corda Marie 1974-
Sister Nora Nash 1974-

Religious Vocations From The Parish 1895-1974

Priests / Ordained
Rev. Thomas Lane / 1875
Rev. Theodore Brandley, M.S. / 1930
Rev. Gregory J. Fynn, C.P. / 1936
Rev.Justin Goodwin, S.A. / 1940
Rev. Canisius D. Hazlett, C.P. / 1936
Rev. Joseph F. McGlone / 1952
Rev. Normand Pepin,S.J. / 1963
Rev. Paul G. Connolly / 1956
Rev. Robert R. Pellini, M.M. / 1960


Bro. James J. McCaffrey, Mary Immaculate Friary, Garrison, N.Y., Capuchin
Bro. John D. McLellan, O.F.M., Holy Name College, Washington, D.C.
Michael F. McLellan, St. John’s Seminary
Bro. John E. Tokaz, Mary Immaculate Friary, Garrison,N.Y., Capuchin

Family Name/Entered/Religious Name/Order

Esther Carboney/1910/Sr. Mary Innocentia/Sisters of St. Joseph
Louise Carboney/1911/Sr. Louise Marguerite/Sisters of Notre Dame
Margaret McCarthy/1912/Sr. Mary De Lourdes/Sisters of Mercy
Mary Parker/1913/Sr. Mary Matthew/Sisters of St. Joseph
Lyda Carboney/1914/Sr. Mary Helena/Sisters of St. Joseph
Gertrude Kelley/1922/Sr. Mary Reparatrice/Adorers of the Precious Blood
Mary Killian/1924/Sr. Mary Winifreda/Sisters of St. Joseph
Esther Brady/1926/Sr. Parschaline/Sisters of St. Joseph
Mary Kannally/1926/Sr. Maria Thomas/Sisters of Charity of Halifax\
Ruth Hennessey/1932/Sr. Mary Luella/Sisters of St. Joseph
Gertrude Manning/1932/Sr. Mary Paula/Sisters of Notre Dame
Margaret Downing/1932/Sr. Mary Petrina/Sisters of St. Josephy
Alice Goodwin/1932/Sr. Leo Catherine/Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul
Esther Goodwin/1932/Sr. Aime De Maris/Sisters of the Good Shepherd
Grace Goodwin/1933/Sr. St. Francis Regis/Sisters of the Good Shepherd
Thelma Patton/1945/Sr. Mary Raphael/Dominican Sisters
Mary Beryl Maguire/1948/Sr. Maguire/Hospital Sisters of St. Joseph
Harriet Neault/1948/Sr. Mary Bennet/Dominican Sisters
Jeanne Jarvis/1949/Sr. Mary William/Sisters of St. Joseph
Laura Lee Campbell/1962/Sr. Mary Pius/Order of St. Clare

Program of Centennial Activities

Saturday, May 18, 1974 at 10:00 am
Participation of the parish CYO float in the 250th Anniversary Town Parade

Sunday, October 27, 1974 at 7:00 pm
Centennial Reunion Dinner – Blue Hill Country Club

Friday, November 1, 1974 at 7:30 pm
Memorial Mass for deceased priests and parishioners of Blessed Sacrament

Sunday, November 10, 1974 at 3:00 pm
Solemn Pontifical High Mass celebrated by His Excellency Humberto Cardinal

Sunday, November 10, 1974 at 4:30 pm
Reception and greeting of Humberto Cardinal Medeiros, Archbishop of Boston, in
School Auditorium

Friday, November 22, 1974 at 7:30 pm
Historical Pageant presented by Blessed Sacrament School children in

Solemn Pontifical High Mass


Prelude: Organ
Introductory Rite
Entrance Hymn: “All the Earth” (Diess)
Gloria: “Glory to the Father” (Quinlan)
Liturgy of the Word of God – Lectors: Joseph McManus – Irene Mulrey

First Reading: From the second book of Chronicles, Chapter 2, Verses 3-8
I intend to build a house for the honor of the Lord, my God, and to consecrate it to
him, for the burning of fragrant incense in his presence, for the perpetual display
of the showbread, for holocausts morning and evenings, and for the sabbaths,
new moons, and festivals of the Lord, our God: such is Israel’s perpetual
obligation. And the house I intend to build must be large, for our God is greater
than all other gods. Yet who is really able to build him a house, since the
heavens and even the highest heavens cannot contain him? And who am I that I
should build him a house, unless it be to offer incense in his presence? Now
send me men skilled at work in gold, silver, bronze, and iron, in purple, crimson,
and violet fabrics, and who know how to do engraved work, to join the craftsmen
who are with me in Judah and Jerusalem, whom my father David appointed. And
send me boards of cedar, cypress and cabinet wood from Lebandon, for I realize
that your servants know how to cut the wood of the Lebanon. My servants will
labor with yours in order to prepare for me a great quality of wood since the
house I intend to build must be lofty and wonderful.

Response: Psalm 138

Second Reading: From the letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, Chapter 11,
Verses 23-26
I received from the Lord what I handed on to you, namely, that the Lord Jesus on
the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of
me.” In the same way, after the supper, he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the
new covenant in my blood. Do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of
me.” Every time, then, you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the
death of the Lord until he comes!

Gospel Reading: According to Saint John, Chapter 6, Verses 47-51
“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died.
This is the bread that comes down from heaven for a man to eat and never die. I
myself am the living bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread he
shall live forever; the bread I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.”

Profession of Faith
Prayers of the Faithful
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Preparation of the Gifts: Ave Maria – Soloist – Delphine Brule
Eucharistic Prayer
Preface Acclamation (Mass of Christian Unity)
Memorial Acclamation: “Christ has died, Alleluia” (Wise)
Great Amen: “Amen, Alleluia” (Szigray)
Communion Rite
Rite of Peace: “Peace, I leave with you…” (Repp)
Communion: “Panis Angelicus” (Franck) – Soloist – Delphine Brule
“Amazing Grace” (Trad.) – Soloist – Ellen Andre
Pastor’s Response
Concluding Rite
Pontifical Blessing
Recessional: “America”
“Glory to the Father”

Invited Concelebrants
Solemn Pontifical Mass of Thanksgiving
November 10, 1974

Chief Celebrant and Homolist – His Eminence Humberto Cardinal Medeiros, D.D.
Episcopal Vicar – Reverend Monsignor Robert J. Sennott, P.A.
Concelebrant – Reverend George P. Gallivan
Concelebrant – Reverend Walter J. O’Hearn
Concelebrant – Reverend Richard J. Tierney
Concelebrant – Reverend Leonard R. LaRocque, A.A.
Concelebrant – Reverend Richard F. Callahan
Concelebrant – Reverend James E. Connelly
Concelebrant – Reverend Paul G. Connolly
Concelebrant – Reverend Henry M. Cunney
Concelebrant – Reverend Monsignor Russell H. Davis
Concelebrant – Reverend Arthur J. DePietro
Concelebrant – Reverend John F. Donovan
Concelebrant – Reverend Gregory J. Flynn, C.P.
Concelebrant – Reverend John T. Foley
Concelebrant – Reverend Daniel J. Gilmartin
Concelebrant – Reverend Justin Goodwin, S.A.
Concelebrant – Reverend Canisius D. Hazlett, C.P.
Concelebrant – Reverend Phillip B. Lavin
Concelebrant – Reverend William J. Linehan
Concelebrant – Reverend Monsignor John M. Manion
Concelebrant – Reverend Francis J. McGann
Concelebrant – Reverend Joseph F. McGlone
Concelebrant – Reverend Monsignor James B. Murphy
Concelebrant – Reverend William J. Noonan
Concelebrant – Reverend Daniel J. O’Connell
Concelebrant – Reverend Robert R. Pellini, M.M.
Concelebrant – Reverend Normanc A. Pepin, S.J.
Concelebrant – Reverend James M. Rogers
Concelebrant – Reverend Joseph J. Ruocco
Concelebrant – Reverend Bernard L. Sullivan
Concelebrant – Reverend Michael D. Sullivan
Concelebrant – Reverend Frederick M. Walsh
Concelebrant – Reverend John D. Zuromskis
Master of Ceremonies – Reverend William M. Helmich
Server – Brother James McCaffrey, O.F.M.
Server – Mr. Michael McLellan
Server – Brother John McLellan, O.F.M.
Server – Brother John E. Tokaz, O.F.M.

The History

The story of the Catholic Church in Walpole follows closely the pattern of growth
of the archdiocese of Boston, just as the Town of Walpole followed the general
pattern of growth of the towns within the Mass. Bay Colony.

When the first settlers came to Massachusetts in the 1620’s, 30’s and 40’s they
had nothing but what they could bring in their limited baggage and very little
money. Massachusetts had two things Europe needed: forests and fish. So,
hamlets sprang up along the shore wherever harbors could shelter their fishing
boats, and other settlements followed the retreating forests inland. Walpole was
one of these, inland about twenty miles from the coast. From earliest days we
read of crude mills here along the Neponset – saw mills for lumber, grist mills for
food. The few families who worked them lived nearby.

Walpole developed along the post road to Providence as the southern extension
of the Town of Dedham, which in its turn had been an extension of Boston. For
many years Walpole was a part of South Dedham. The first homesteaders came
to Walpole about 1663, but it was not until 1724 that the Great and General Court
of the Province of Massachusetts Bay passed:

“An Act for the Dividing of the Town of Dedham and making a new Town there by
the Name of Walpole….

“Whereas the South Part of the Town of Dedham within the County of Norfolk is
compresetly settled with inhabitants who labor under great difficulties by their
remoteness from a Place of Public Worship…

“Provided that the inhabitants of said Town of Walpole do within the space of
eighteen months from the publication of this Act, Erect and Furnish a suitable
house for the Public Worship of God, and…Procure and settle a learned
Orthodox Minister of good conservation and make provision for his comfortable
and honorable support.

“That the inhabitants of the Town of Walpole…are empowered to access all
lands…one penny per acre towards the charge of building the Meeting House and
settling and maintaining a minister there.”

In this incorporation Walpole typified the elder town of Massachusetts Bay. In the
original colony the town grew around a congregation, hence the name
Congregationalist. The civil unit was established to provide taxation to pay the
minister’s salary, and in course of time, the teacher’s. Walpole was, therefore, a
definite congregation, a group of hard-working, God-fearing men and women –
Protestant in their belief and their philosophy.

Transients moved into Walpole through the first hundred years following the
demands for laborers in mills, woods or farms. They were transient workers of a
different race and faith and made no impression upon the tightly-knit town. No
mention of them appears in its town records. They were neither numerous
enough nor permanent enough to attract attention. They paid no taxes for they
owned no land.

The first Catholics came to Walpole sometime in the years of 1755-56 as
displaced persons. That year, the English Navy expelled the neutral French
Acadians from what is now Nova Scotia, breaking up families and scattering their
members among the settlements of the eastern seaboard – a story Longfellow
has told in Evangeline.

A large number were dropped in Boston. The Great and General Court, not
knowing what to do with them, in turn divided them among the towns of the
colony. Eight adults and three children were sent to Walpole. Ill, destitute,
unable to speak the language, they were a problem to the town. They had to be
housed in a community with no spare houses, fed and nursed.

For some years they remained in the town, very often in need of public charity,
always hoping and petitioning to be returned to their own land. After a wait of ten
years, the Acadians of the Bay Colony banded together to walk back through the
forests of Maine to their own land. With this group went the Walpole Acadians,
and so disappeared from town history.

They left behind at least one dead man buried in the old cemetery at the corner of
Main and Kendall Streets.

In the roster of Walpole soldiers of the American Revolutionary army are names
of decidedly Irish derivation. In 1754 Nicholas Buckley was a provincial
volunteer. In the Continental army were Edward Murfee and Timothy Callahan.
Who these were, whether residents or transient workers, Irish Protestants or Irish
Catholics, the blank pages of history do not tell.

Just at the close of this period a notable event fastened the attention of the town
for one brief moment upon a great Catholic figure. When Bishop Cheverus left
Boston for Europe a large delegation of the men of Boston walked beside his
carriage as far as Walpole. The Bishop went on to France to become Archbishop
of Bordeaux, and later a Cardinal.

By 1824, the beginning of the second hundred years of Walpole, a new influence
had been brought to bear upon the town. Water driven mills were adapted to
make textiles and all their related products. There were many of these in
Walpole where, in a series of ten water privileges or mill sites, the Neponset has
a combined fall of 155 feet. There were many, also, in the neighboring towns of
Easton, Mansfield, Foxboro and Franklin. These small mills, like greater ones in
Fall River and Taunton, needed workers, “hands.” When there were not enough
local people available, these hands were recruited from the tide of immigration
beginning to flow westward from Europe.

Most of these workers were transient, unmarried men, here today and gone
tomorrow. They made as little impression upon the life of the town as did the
Acadians half a century earlier.

Yet since it is characteristic of human nature to make homes where there is work,
it is not improbable that some Catholic families, Irish or perhaps French, settled in
the town. Gradually, for lack of spiritual attention, their children drifted away from
the Church they had never really known and were absorbed into Protestant

Even as late as 1833 the Congregational Church was supported by public
taxation. In that year the Massachusetts legislature severed the connection
between the church and the State of Massachusetts.

There were a few Catholics in Walpole in these early industrial days. Here and
there in the old burying ground at the corner of Main and Kendall Streets are a
few stones upon which are inscribed the letters R.I.P. There too, are found a
cross or two, a cluster of grapes, a sheaf of wheat, symbols of the Blessed

Then, too, in the records of Saint Augustine’s parish in South Boston, established
in 1819 by Father Matignon, are records of marriages and baptisms of residents
of Walpole.

The first mention of Catholics in Walpole comes, not from town history, but from
an account of Reverend Peter Connolly, a young priest who from his parish in
Sandwich on Cape Cod, maintained a roving apostolate among the transient Irish
mill hands of southeastern Massachusetts. It is recorded that several times in the
years between 1830 and 1832 he visited Easton, Foxboro, and Walpole on
horseback, caring for the spiritual needs of such Catholics as he found there,
saying Mass, administering the sacraments.

Does it seem strange that Walpole should have been tended from Sandwich
seventy miles away, rather than from Boston, scarcely twenty? It was, on the
contrary, quite natural. At this time in the whole diocese of Boston, which
embraced as well Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and part of
Connecticut, there were but fourteen priests besides the Bishop. Of necessity,
these were widely scattered. The few who were in Boston caring for that heavily
populated section were much too busy to go out into the country.

Sandwich on Cape Cod was a glass-making center. The workers, recruited
directly from East Cambridge, were originally glass workers from County
Waterford in Ireland. Sandwich had become in the twenties a small but flourishing
congregation and a new church was built there. From this center Father Peter
Connolly, newly ordained and full of apostolic zeal, roamed the mill centers in
search of Irish workmen, doing missionary work, for at that time the United States
was a missionary country. Many Irish from Waterford arrived first at Sandwich
and thence made their way to large centers, Fall River and Taunton, and to
smaller ones, Foxboro, Wrentham and Walpole. Indeed, many Walpole families
of today trace their ancestry back to County Waterford.

No mention is made in the unwritten history of the parish, handed down from one
generation to another, of any serious opposition to the ministrations of Father
Connolly or of any of the priests who followed him through the succeeding years.
Yet in 1832 the Congregational Church was still the official church of
Massachusetts and the salaries of its ministers were paid out of public tax funds.
Perhaps the Mass and the sacraments were performed so quietly no one was
aware of what was going on. No one seems to have cared unduly, or to have
been unduly alarmed.

Yet in Massachusetts throughout the forties and continuing almost to the Civil
War there was directed against Catholics a rising tide of political and religious
opposition, known commonly as the “Know Nothing Movement.” There were
several reasons for this.

First there was the threat of sheer numbers. The ever swelling influx of Irish was
arousing fear that they might overwhelm the established citizenry.

There was also another, an inherited complication. The native Protestant
population of Massachusetts had an English background. They were
descendants of that race which had fought for years to compel the Irish to accept
a status as a dependent and quiescent province within the British Empire. For
hundred of years the Irish had resisted this status, and had risen in each
generation to fight long and bloodily against the forces which were to them still
after so many centuries “the invader.” It was inevitable that conflict should arise
between their descendants in the new world, for none of them as yet had come to
know the full meaning of the word “American.”

Walpole was quite typical of its age and generation. There was opposition to the
newcomers; that was to be expected. It was bitter rather than violent, due
perhaps to the fact that the southeastern section of the diocese grew very slowly.
The industries of Walpole were small and diverse. The number of hands they
needed to employ was limited. The building of the railroad brought numbers of
young Irishmen in its wake but these centered in Dedham and in Norwood, rather
than in Walpole. The Irish who came to Walpole were few, and therefore were
not so grave a problem. Like the Acadians who preceded them, for many years
they drifted across the life of the town.

In the years of the 1830’s, 40’s, and 50’s, through the episcopacies of Bishop
Benedict Fenwick and his successor, John Fitzpatrick, the story of Walpole and
its neighbors was the story of small missions attached, or rather detached, from
one city parish after another as the number of priests and churches grew. Even
during the years of Father Peter Connolly, Walpole was a station of Saint
Augustine’s in South Boston. There is no record that any priest from this parish
ever said Mass in Walpole, although there are records to prove that people from
Walpole went there for baptisms and marriages.

When Saint Patrick’s Church was built in the south end of Boston in 1836
Walpole became a mission of that parish and remained so until 1846 when it was
attached to Saint Joseph’s in Roxbury, better and more affectionately known as
Tommy’s Rock. There for the next decade the Catholics of Walpole were
baptized and married; there are records of pre-Civil War days. At this time Mass
was celebrated with some degree of regularity in the Old Temperance Hall in
Dedham, and later in a Universalist Church in South Dedham, now Norwood. To
these some of the Catholics walked for Sunday Mass. Others, in the 1860’s went
to Canton.

That Irish were in Walpole in considerable numbers during Civil War days is
borne out by town records. Here are but a few names so distinctively Celtic as to
leave no question. Patrick Hern was killed in 1862 in the Battle of Bull Run.
Patrick Driscoll appears on the roll of honor of Regiment 12. There are other
names upon the roster of Regiments: John McGinnis, Patrick Flood, John Daily,
Michael Griffin, Patrick Kirby and Thomas Shea, to mention but a few.

In 1866, the year after the Civil War, His Excellency John J. Williams began his
long episcopate which stretched across one century well into the first decade of
the next. Just previous to his accession, in 1863, to lessen the burdens upon the
priests of Saint Joseph’s in Roxbury, the missions of Foxboro, Wrentham,
Walpole, and Mansfield were attached to North Attleboro. At this time the parish
was attended by a very active priest from Greenville, Rhode Island, a Father
Philip Gillick. In 1866, Father Gillick resigned from his parish at Greenville to
devote all his time to North Attleboro and its flock of little stations.

With Father Philip Gillick the Catholic parish of Walpole, as we know it, really
begins. He was not the first pastor of Walpole but he is remembered as the first
priest to care for the religious needs of Walpole with any degree of permanency
and continuity.

Because of his learning and his integrity he was one of the best-known citizens of
North Attleboro in his day. Rain or shine, summer or winter, he traveled in his
familiar horse and buggy over rough roads to tend his missions. He said one
Mass each Sunday in his church at North Attleboro. The second he said in
rotation at one of his stations, so that the people of Walpole had Mass once a
month in their own town. On other Sundays they had a choice of walking to
Dedham, Roxbury, Canton, or one or other of the missions.

Father Gillick said Mass at Walpole at private houses. We do not know whether
he tried to secure a public building as he did in Franklin, or a mill-room as did
Father Gouesse in a later day. We do know that he said Mass in the home of
Roger Cunningham, who lived first in a section called Honey Pot, in a house
which stood near what is today the junction of Winter Street and Route 1-A
opposite the entrance to the Norfolk Prison Colony, and later in a house to which
he moved on Stone Street. We next hear of Mass being said in a more central
location in the home of Michael Buckley, a small red house which stood where
today there is a block of stores opposite the Town Hall.

Parishioners of the day told of Father Gillick’s help and strength at the time an
epidemic struck, a mysterious fatal sickness brought from Russia in some badly
cured hides, a plague which felled worker after work in the hair mill of Manning,
Glover, and Cram on South Street. Day after day Father Gillick toiled, side by
side with Doctor Stone (for whom the street is named), to save the workers’ lives.

The depth of his parishioners’ devotion to Father Gillick is shown by this story,
told here not because it is true – and it may be – nor because it is not true – and it
may not be – but to show that the Catholics of Walpole paid him the supreme
tribute Catholics can pay to a priest’s work. They credited him with a miracle. It
was performed during the epidemic, a simple thing and that weighs heavily
towards its authenticity. When men invent stories they are usually fantastic;
when God performs one it is apt to be a very simple, natural thing. One of the
afflicted workers was at the point of death. Father Gillick anointed him and
immediately the sick man was cured, and in the course of a few hours was about
his daily occupations.

Father Gillick remained in charge of Walpole until 1872. That year the new
diocese of Providence was established. Its dividing line was drawn at North
Attleboro. Father Gillick became a member of the diocese of Providence.
Walpole and its neighbors remained within the Boston archdiocese. A new parish
was created with Walpole as its center, and the other three as missions attached
to it. To this as pastor came Father Francis Gouesse.

Father Gouesse was typical of the many priests who served in the first years of
the Boston diocese, when the demand for priests was far in excess of the supply,
when the few native clergy had to be supplemented by priests from Catholic
dioceses of Europe who volunteered for the missions. It was the land-lease plan
in reverse. Some of the priests of these early years came from Ireland; some
from Italy; most of them came from France.

One of these was Father Francis Gouesse, born in Laval in 1817. He studied
theology in Saint Sulpice but before ordination came to America in search of a
bishop. Although we have no documentary proof of it, tradition has it that he was
ordained in 1845 by Bishop Blanc in New Orleans.

His first assignment was as superintendent of Saint Mary’s Orphan Boys Asylum
in New Orleans. After several years’ service here, he volunteered for the frontier
missions of Michigan and Indiana. Later he worked in New York until ill health
forced him to return to France for a brief period of rest. In 1869, at the age of 52,
he came to Massachusetts to relieve the pastors of several parishes, especially
those of Southbridge and Randolph. In Marlboro he organized a flourishing
French Canadian parish and built a church. Almost immediately upon the
completion of this came his assignment to Walpole, as its first pastor.

But Walpole had neither church nor rectory. Father Gouesse, therefore, made
his headquarters in Foxboro where Father Gillick had built a church and upon its
destruction by fire, had rebuilt it. Before its completion the diocese of Providence
had been cut off. It fell to Father Gouesse to complete the church. He remained
in Foxboro until this had been done and the debt was in a fair way to be paid off.
In the meantime he followed Father Gillick’s example and continued to say Mass
for his Walpole congregation in private houses. Among these were the homes of
William Mahoney on South Street, close to the hair mill, and of Timothy Hale,
where a section of the Kendall Mill now stands. Confessions were heard usually
in the home of William Mahoney.

After the church in Foxboro was well under way towards independence, Father
Gouesse moved to Walpole. He bought for a rectory a house at 191 Kendall
Street, now the home of Mr. Henry Caldwell. It was not long before Father
Gouesse made the acquaintance of Mr. Jerome Bonaparte Cram, part owner of
Manning, Glover and Company, manufacturers of curled hair, mattresses, cotton
batting and wicking, whose mill stood on South Street. When the acquaintance
had ripened into friendship, Mr. Cram offered the use of the mill for services and
for Mass until such time as Father Gouesse could build a church. Not only did
Mr. Cram give Father Gouesse the use of his mill, but he is said to have aided in
selecting and acquiring the present site of the Blessed Sacrament Church.

In the history of the diocese which appeared about the turn of the century, there
appeared a fantastic story about the secrecy and finesse Father Gouesse had to
use not only to hold services but to obtain property upon which to build a church.
It stated that when negotiations were in progress the priest left town with great
ostentation and remained away for three months. During that time the property
was bought for him by a straw man. The cold facts of the Registrar’s Office in
Dedham (Book 440, page 4) do not bear out this tale. There does not seem to
have been any attempt at secrecy. The owner had been in possession of the
property for some years and transferred it directly to the Catholic Archdiocese of
Boston on May 8, 1873.

That such a story could have been told and published is evidence of the fact that
some opposition did exist. It is even possible that pressure may have been
brought to bear upon the owner not to sell. Such things are not unknown even in
our own day, in various places and for various reasons. But no credence can be
placed upon the story embroidered over the fact.

Nor can there have been too great delay in obtaining the property, for the diocese
of Providence was set off February 16, 1872, and the purchase of the land at the
corner of Diamond and East Streets was made in May of 1873, little more than a
year later. We have no written documents upon the transaction other than the
deed to the property.

Father Gillick, who was an intelligent man, knew it was but a matter of time
before he would have to build a church in Walpole. His experience during the
epidemic at the hair mill had given him a better acquaintance with the town and
certainly with J.B. Cram, the active manager of the mill. Very probably the matter
of the property had been the subject of more than one discussion between the
men. When the dioceses were separated in 1872 and Father Gouesse
succeeded Father Gillick, it is not improbable that Father Gillick turned over to
Father Gouesse the information and perhaps the preliminary negotiations for the
property, together with the good-will and friendly interest of the mill-man, old J.B.,
as he was called affectionately.

It was not long before the acquaintance of the mill-owner and Catholic priest grew
into friendship and the established business man smoothed the way of the new

For many months Father Gouesse worked to assemble funds to start the building
of the church and to place his missions of Franklin and Foxboro on a sound
financial footing. Alas, calamity struck in the approved Hollywood fashion. In
1876, when Father Gouesse was deep in building the Walpole church, the
Foxboro church was destroyed by fire one week after its fire insurance had
lapsed. Father Gouesse replaced this church with a small barn-like structure and
procured the transfer of this mission to Franklin, which he had cleared from debt
and had caused to be established as an independent parish in 1877.

In November of 1874, Father Gouesse turned the first sod upon the lot on
Diamond and East Streets for the future Saint Francis Church. This is the
account of it as it is recalled by William Mahoney, then a little boy in primary
school. One weekday morning in November – he is sure it was a weekday
because it had been declared a school holiday for the Catholic children – Father
Gouesse surrounded by as many of his little congregation as could take time off
for the ceremony, met on the property where the location of the church had
already been staked out. There he dug the first sod, followed in turn by each of
the men present. Some of those whom the little boy of 1874 recalls were his
father, William Mahoney, Michael Dalton, Roger Cunningham, in whose house
many Masses had been said, Timothy Hale, another parishioner who had given
his house for Mass, John Rooney, Patrick Smith, James Smith, Edward Cashin,
Patrick Riordan, Patrick Kivlin, Peter Moore, Patrick Dalton, David O’Brien and
his son James P. O’Brien, Michael Mansfield, Thomas Kannally, John Bulger,
Patrick Crowley, and Mr. Gallagher of South Street.

The work of digging the cellar of Saint Francis Church, for Father Gouesse had
named his new church in honor of his patron, Saint Francis of Assisi, proceeded
slowly. There were no mechanized helps, no steam shovels, no bull-dozers.
Moreover, there was no money except for essential needs. Many of the men
contributed hours of labor instead of money; many worked with pick and shovel to
save what money there was for work that called for skill. Up to the time the
ground became too frozen to work, and all throughout the year following, the
parishioners worked. They labored to lay the foundation, they worked to gather
funds, but the church grew very slowly.

In October of 1876 a fair lasting for a week was held in Bacon Hall. A
considerable sum of money was raised through the generosity and good-will of
the non-Catholics as well as through the hard work of the parish. Finally in
December of 1876 the basement was ready for occupancy and service. The first
Mass was celebrated by Father Gouesse on Christmas Day.

The basement of the original Saint Francis Church was not elaborate. The plan
called for a simple wooden frame building, large enough to seat about four
hundred people. The pews were simple benches; the altar a wooden one made
by a carpenter. In the front corner of the epistle side stood a wood-burning
furnace which gave what heat it could to Sunday morning congregations. John
Mahoney, the first janitor, did his best to keep it stoked. In this he was ably
assisted by the first altar boys, Harry and Frank Lane, Thomas Mahoney, and
Terrence Hennessey. About two years later, when the upper church was
furnished, a one-pipe, hot-air furnace was installed and two other altar boys,
William Mahoney and Daniel Dalton, were added. Somewhat later other altar
boys, among them Hugh McElheney, Patrick Lane, Patrick Mahoney and William
Hale were added.

While work on the basement was under way, Father Gouesse, who had been
living on Kendall Street, began the construction of a rectory. By the time the
basement was finished he was able to move into 10 Diamond Street. The rectory
of today does not resemble very much the house Father Gouesse built.
Nevertheless the original building is there. The two front offices are almost as
they were. One of them was used as a morning chapel for weekday Mass during
the winter months.

Work on the upper structure of the church continued; early in the winter of 1897 it
was finished. The first Mass was said by Father Gouesse on Christmas of that
year. The church was very simple, the altar a crude wooden one, the whole
auditorium painfully bare. The work of beautifying it went on for several years.
By 1884, it was fairly complete. A new altar, the gift of Monsignor Dion
O’Callaghan of South Boston, long a close friend of Father Gouesse, had been
installed. Stained glass windows – for the most part gifts of parish families – were
set in place; the stations of the cross, also gifts of the parish, were upon the
walls. Two windows, however, were the gifts of non-Catholics. One was given
by George Plimpton in memory of Patrick Smith, the first Irishman he had
employed, the other by Francis W. Bird, in memory of Patrick Connelley who had
been killed in an accident in the Bird mill.

When in later years, a new church was being constructed in South Norwood for
the Polish people of the district, Father Riley gave the altar, the stations of the
cross, and the pews as a donation. They are there today, sacred relics of the old
St. Francis Church.

Father Gouesse was now sixty-five years old. He had given up the missions of
Foxboro and Franklin. Nevertheless his gradually failing health was being taxed
by his pastoral duties, for Walpole had grown from the dozen families of 1850 to
almost 350 families. So scarce were priests in the diocese, however, that it was
not until twenty years later, when Father Gouesse was eighty-four years old, that
an assistant was sent to help him.

The first curate sent to Walpole was a Father Fennessey, and very little is known
about him. Since he, too, was in failing health, his stay was very short. In the
brief month of his service he organized two choirs, one of adults, the other of

Father Fennessey was succeeded by newly-ordained Father James Courtney.
He remained in the parish until after the death of Father Gouesse.

The first pastor was now a very old man, worn out by his single-handed work of
many years, in Walpole and his earlier missions. He could no longer do the
arduous duties.

He was often seen sitting in an arm chair under a maple tree which stood near
the rectory and the church.

So dear did this spot under the maple become to him that he left a written request
that when he died he might be buried under it with a monument to mark his
grave. Father Gouesse died on January 14, 1901. He was buried under his tree;
his monument had to await a later day.

But time and change and the exigencies of a growing parish cannot always
respect the wishes of dead men, not even of an old, well-loved priest. When the
time came to rebuild the church the grave of Father Gouesse was transferred to a
new grave under the church. The spot is marked by four granite posts, set off by
chains, directly below the altar. A section of the trunk of the maple tree, about
four feet of it, was laid above him. And there, under the altar of the beautiful
church which replaces the little wooden one he built, Father Gouesse, first pastor
of Walpole, sleeps. Nor was his request for a monument forgotten. Look closely
sometime at the brass plate upon the altar of the Sacred Heart. It reads: In
memory of Reverend Francis Gouesse. Look closely, too, at the chalice used at
Mass on Sundays and on Holy Days. It is the chalice Father Gouesse brought
with him from France, the only keepsake the parish has of the devoted and
saintly man who was its founder.

One week after the death of Father Gouesse the Reverend Daniel Riley came to
Walpole as its second pastor. Up to this time he had been assistant in
Bridgewater. Ordained in December, 1882, Father Riley had been a priest for
nineteen years. Physically vigorous, spiritually strong, a student of people rather
than of books, Father Riley entered upon the duties of his office with
characteristic zeal. He had many excellent qualities but his kindness and
sympathy were pre-eminent. His whole administration of the parish to epitomized
in the manner in which he handled the matter of Father Gouesse’s grave. His
sympathy made him feel the poignancy of the old man’s request; his sound
common sense told him that sentiment should not be allowed to stand in the way
of progress; his keen intelligence led him to find a way in which his predecessor’s
wishes could be satisfied in a greater degree than Father Gouesse had ever
dreamed, and yet the new and beautiful church which Father Riley already
visualized was not forced into an awkward angle because of the location of a

When Father Riley took over Walpole in the first years of the century Walpole
had expanded, although by some standards it was still a small parish. In a history
of the diocese published in 1899 the families were distributed as follows:
“Irish, 324; French, 28; Italian, 9′ Portuguese, 1. There are 150 English speaking

Because Father Riley was a young man and able to do a good deal of work,
almost immediately the Archbishop attached Medfield to Walpole as a mission.
This little town had been alternately part of Roxbury, Dedham, Foxboro and
South Natick. It had been long isolated and there was much work to be done.
Father Riley, therefore, left the routine of the main parish in the able hands of his
assistant, Father Courtney, and took over the work in Medfield. This he
performed faithfully until that mission was cut off and made into a separate parish
in 1903.

Father Riley was the better able to do this because the material affairs of the
parish were under the supervision of Mr. Michael Downing, whose vigilant care of
the parish property had lightened the burdens of the old man’s declining years.
When Father Riley became pastor, Mr. Downing remained in charge for many
more long and faithful years. He contributed much to the parish’s welfare.

Father Riley had not long been pastor of Walpole when it became evident that
the growing industries of the town were attracting many people, some of whom
were Catholics. Saint Francis Church was fast becoming inadequate to meet
their needs. The first and the easiest answer was to increase the number of
Sunday Masses. This was but a temporary solution for no sooner had a Mass
been added when that, also, became overcrowded. The answer was a larger
church, so Father Riley began to set aside funds to enable him to start rebuilding.

It was not until 1911 that he could see his way clear towards making plans for the
actual building. Then came the troublesome problem of where to locate it. The
center of the Town of Walpole was where it had been for many years, around the
Common and the streets which led from it. Many of the parishioners felt that the
time had come to remove the church from the site Father Gouesse had selected
to a more central spot. One of the members of the parish who had built a
successful contracting business, Mr. Michael McCarthy, offered to Father Riley as
a gift to the parish his estate on Common Street. This was an ideal spot and
Father Riley was urged to accept it. However, East Walpole, another section of
the town where a number of Catholic families had settled, was much dissatisfied
with the prospect of a new location. In those before the automobile, distance was
more important than it is today.

Father Riley decided to retain the original site. A few years later, when East
Walpole was cut off from the mother parish, there was regret at the decision.

In 1911, Father Riley was ready to select an architect and talk plans. He chose
Matthew Sullivan and gave him an idea of the kind of church he had in mind –
brick, with a bell tower, a large capacity for Sunday Masses, and a morning
chapel. Matthew Sullivan died fairly young, before he had done too much
important work, but the Blessed Sacrament Church in Walpole is a testimony to
the worth of his talent. Even in the architect’s drawing, Father Riley could detect
the beauty of line and proportion, the grace of the tower which distinguishes the
structure. But neither priest nor architect dreamed that the interior finish of the
church would lift it out of the small number of lovely churches and set it apart
among the very few in America which are rare architectural gems. Neither knew
then of the genius of John Kirchmayer.

In the spring of 1911 Father Riley had old Saint Francis church moved to a
location back of the rectory because it would be needed for services while the
new church was building. On July 5, 1911, he observed the traditional rite of
turning the first sod, and not he alone but all the boys who were about shared the
honor with him.

It was this side of his nature that gave him courage to listen to John Kirchmayer,
immigrant wood carver from Oberamergau, when he begged for a chance to
finish the interior in hand carved wood like some of the great cathedrals of
Europe, to copy the morning chapel after one of the famous chapels of the Middle
Ages, to set the great Crucifix over the altar, to carve the reredos, the side altars,
the stations and the altar furniture, the cross beams, and last but not least to
carve in the solid oak of the front door the twelve apostles, the angels, and the
symbols of the Blessed Sacrament. It gave him courage to adopt an artistic finish
somewhat somber in an age when people were used to color and bright paint. it
led him to get the needed color through glorious stained glass windows.

John Kirchmayer put into the church of the Blessed Sacrament all the wealth of
his genius, all the fire of his ambition. No church he did later was quite like this
one. He began as an unknown workman; he finished a recognized artist.

This is not the place, even if there were space, to tell of the symbolism built into
the morning chapel, the windows, the decorations of the altar. Our church is like
one of the great cathedrals of the Middle Ages, where no decorations existed for
decoration’s sake, but each one was part of the story of the glory of God and the
liturgy of his Church.

On Easter Sunday, April 23, 1913, the cornerstone of the church was laid and the
new edifice dedicated. Because it was a completely new church Father Riley
decided to give it a new name, to dedicate it to God along under the title of the
Blessed Sacrament. At the first solemn high Mass Father Riley was the
celebrant. Father Thomas I. Gasson, President of Boston College, deacon and
preacher, Father Michael Maguire, the assistant, sub-deacon. Mrs. Ella Haney
was the organist and there was a choir of thirty mixed voices to sing the Mass.

Although the building of the church was Father Riley’s masterpiece, it was not his
sole accomplishment. In 1906, he bought a large tract of land in South Walpole
which he consecrated as Saint Francis cemetery. Previously the people of
Walpole had to go to Canton or Foxboro to bury their dead in consecrated
ground. With the land Father Riley acquired the old Joyce house, which he
intended to use as a home for the superintendent of the cemetery.

The first plot developed in the cemetery was called by Father Riley after his
patron, Saint Daniel. He had Mr. Branley, a local forester, surround it with
evergreens. Today beautiful arbor vitae trees keep watch over the dead of the
early families of old Walpole.

In his time, also, the rectory was enlarged to care for the additional assistants
necessary in the growing parish. He left it commodious, attractive and well
appointed. Nor did he overlook the needs of the young people in the parish. they
had athletic teams, socials, and even a temperance society.

After eighteen as pastor in Walpole, Father Riley was appointed by His
Eminence, Cardinal O’Connell, to be pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Jamaica
Plain. He preached his final sermon one Sunday in June, 1919.

On the following Sunday Father Timothy Fahey came to Walpole as its third
pastor. If he found here a beautiful property, he found also a correspondingly
heavy debt, one of $57,000. He felt it was his mission to wipe out this debt, and
quickly. He set about this task with his customary energy and earnestness. In a
surprisingly few years the parish was free of debt.

During these years, Walpole and East Walpole continued to grow. Into them
poured a tide of immigration as it had once before during the years after the Civil
War, but this time it came not from Ireland but from Italy. The Italians were
attracted to the town by work offered in foundries and machine shops, accepting
in their turn hard labor as their lot, as the Puritan founders accepted it, and as the
Irish had accepted it in their turn. Walpole had another advantage in the eyes of
the land-loving Italians. There was land about, plenty of it, and not too costly to
be out of range of a thrifty, hard-working family. At first the Italians had to be
satisfied with the poorer, worn-out lands, or raw, unbroken fields, but as time
went on and family after family became more prosperous they were able to buy
more desirable property. By Father Fahey’s pastorate the Italians had become a
large and important factor in the town. Other groups were beginning to move in,
also. The Poles and Lithuanians were moving in, along the roads from South

All this steady flow of new-comers helped to swell the Catholic populations of
both Walpole and East Walpole. It was quite evident that the time had come to
make provision for separate quarters for the Catholics of East Walpole. At their
request Father Fahey interviewed Mr. Charles Sumner Bird, who had on more
than one occasion proved himself a staunch friend of the Catholics and a
personal friend of Father Riley. He readily granted Father Fahey the use of Bird
Hall in East Walpole for the celebration of Mass on Sundays and Holy Days.
From 1919 to 1926 the Catholics of East Walpole worshipped here.

In 1926 Father Fahey began the construction of a missionary chapel. Although
Mr. Bird had offered as a gift to the parish a piece of land for the new chapel,
Father Fahey decided upon another piece of property he thought more suitable.
The chapel of Saint Mary’s was dedicated by Cardinal O’Connell on May 22,
1927. Father Fahey had expected that the new chapel would remain a mission of
Walpole, but in September 1931, East Walpole and South Norwood were set
apart as a new parish under the Reverend John Meheran as pastor.

Although the separation of Walpole and East Walpole was inevitable in the
nature of things, it was a sad parting. Many of the families of East Walpole had
been parishioners of the mother parish from the time of Father Gouesse and had
watched the building first of Saint Francis and then of the Blessed Sacrament
Church. But time and growth cannot be held back by sentiment and East
Walpole was soon on its way to becoming as large as the original parish.

Father Fahey continued to work and beautify the church and the cemetery. He
built the brick steps at the front of the church and thereby added the one thing
lacking in its original beauty.

The cemetery, too, came in for his attention. Father Fahey bought a strip of land
along South Street, opposite the cemetery, to protect the property in future years.
He placed a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Grace on the first terrace, landscaped
the entrance, planting spruces on either side of the drive.

Personally he was brusque and stern, but beneath his rather harsh exterior he
was kindly and charitable. The sick and the poor knew his real depths; they knew
how sensitive and shy he was in reality. He made no effort to attract or charm his
parish, but people respected him and loved him. They were proud of his
eloquence and his superb delivery whenever he was invited to participate in a
town function.

In April of 1933 Father Fahey was assigned to the Blessed Heart Parish in
Roslindale, and on Easter Sunday he left Walpole for his new duties.

Reverend John O’Riordan succeeded Father Fahey as pastor in the depression
year of 1933. He is remembered as a frugal man, befitting the times, who used
paper flowers at the altar to preserve the sparse funds. It is ironic that the man
who took such pains to save should also the reputation of being a poor

A quiet, tall, reserved man, Father O’Riordan sought to enrich the lives of his
parishioners by initiating the encouraging spiritual and social activities alike. The
children’s welfare was always uppermost in his mind. First Communion prayer
books, children’s Lenten services, and rides with the youngsters on the Ferris
wheel were an indication of his concern for their happiness.

He started the novena of the Miraculous Medal, which lasted for ten years on
Monday nights.

He continued field days and card parties that his predecessor had established;
and he encouraged the formation of the Walpole Catholic Women’s Club.

To some of the Walpole Catholics of the ’30’s, Father O’Riordan appeared quiet –
yet others remember his priestly understanding, particularly his work with the sick
and his tremendous affection for children.

Father O’Riordan remained in Walpole until July, 1940, when he was transferred
to St. Mary’s Parish in Winchester.

Reverend Bennet J. O’Brien, pastor from 1940 to 1949, wrote the history of the
Church for the Diamond Jubilee celebration in 19439. The story you are reading –
Walpole, its growth, and the Church’s rise to prominence in the town – is in his
words through the tenure of Father Fahey.

Father O’Brien was a classmate of Richard Cardinal Cushing at St. John’s
Seminary. A scholarly man, he translated Volume I of the Breviary (priest’s
prayer book) from Latin to English. Volumes II and III were translated by the

Father O’Brien gave Blessed Sacrament music and formality – he purchased the
organ for the church and had the ushers at Sunday Mass wear tails.

He also dusted off Father O’Riordan’s paper flowers, found them not to his liking,
and indulged in fresh cut bouquets for the church.

In 1941, Father O’Brien initiated the St. Theresa Society and the altar society
within the Catholic Women’s Club. He regenerated interest in the Knights of
Columbus, Holy Name Society, and the Sodality.

Sunday school was held in the basement of the chapel and a girls’ and women’s
choir was formed under the direction of Alice Hennessey during Father O’Brien’s

Perhaps most importantly, Father O’Brien saw the parishioners of Blessed
Sacrament Parish through the trying years of the Second World War, providing
spiritual comfort and guidance in a time of national crisis.

Father O’Brien continued as pastor until December, 1949, when he was
transferred to Sacred Heart Parish in Weymouth.

Monsignor John H. Manion ushered in a period of growth and prosperity for the
parish when he arrived in 1950. A dynamic, forceful man in spite of an asthmatic
condition, he knew what had to be done and possessed the forthrightness and
organization to accomplish his goals.

Father Manion invited the Sisters of the Most Blessed Trinity to set up a
kindergarten in the parish to help teach religious education classes.

He arranged to have the organ refurbished, put the stations of the cross in the
chapel, and expressed great interest in the refurbishing of St. Francis cemetery.

He started the Sacred Heart Holy Hour on Mondays in 1950, to which he drew a
surprisingly large attendance – mostly, some claimed because the Monsignor was
a dramatic and inspiring speaker.

A man ahead of his time, he experimented with English in the Mass. Father
Manion, it was said, was never afraid to move forward.

The best testimony of his great understanding of people and their needs was the
growth of the parish from 450 to 750 families during the first three years he was

Father Manion’s stay in Walpole was cut short due to his health and he was
transferred to St. Mary’s Parish in Winchester.

Reverend John J. Costello is a legend to Blessed Sacrament parishioners. A
practical and rather gruff man, he was known for his faithfulness to the sick and
for initiating communion breakfasts for the children and outings to Nantasket
Beach for the altar boys.

He is best known for his overwhelming desire to build a parish school. Father
Costello spent a little over 12 years as pastor (from November, 1952 to February,
1965). In that time, he raised over $400,000 for the school fund.

Failing in health, he took to the pulpit early in 1865 to announce that he had
realized his life’s goal – groundbreaking ceremonies would be held that coming
Spring. He may not live to see the completion of the building, he said, but at least
he knew his dream would eventually come true. A month later, he passed away.

He was replaced by Reverend Monsignor Russell H. Davis, who had been
choirmaster at St. John’s Seminary for 20 years.

Although Msgr. Davis’ tenure at Blessed Sacrament was brief (February, 1965 to
June, 1967), his accomplishments were many. He renovated and refurbished the
main church, the chapel, the rectory, the parking lot and the church grounds. He
lighted the tower and electrified the bells. He planted maple trees along Diamond
and East Streets. All this had been accomplished by the time Richard Cardinal
Cushing visited Blessed Sacrament to rededicate the church on July 26, 1965.

Msgr. Davis also broke ground for the school on May 22, 1965. (The first class
entered in the fall of that year.) A month earlier, he had initiated the first parish
reunion at the King Philip.

In addition, he started the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which works with families
with various material and spiritual needs. He also changed the Ladies Guild to
the Blessed Sacrament Guild and combined it with the Sodality.

During Msgr. Davis’ tenure, the church had two choirs – a 25-member boys’ choir
and a 20-member men’s choir. The choirs performed at concerts as well as at
Mass and participated, as did other members of the parish, at ecumenical
services with representatives of Walpole’s Protestant churches.

A special Confraternity of Christian Doctrine program was implemented under
Msgr. Davis, and he gave a great deal of credit to Father Bernard L. Sullivan, one
of his curates.

In July, 1967, Msgr. Davis was transferred to St. Catherine of Genoa Parish in

It seems appropriate at this time to say a few words about the people of Blessed
Sacrament for no parish can survive, prosper, and grow without the continued
support of its parishioners. This support, for the most part, is found in its active
societies and may be measured by the vitality of them. These groups provide
opportunities to the parishioners to grow spiritually and socially as well as provide
financial aid as necessary to the well being of any parish.

The societies of Blessed Sacrament Parish and St. Francis Parish before it have
been numerous. Some like the Holy Name, Sodality, and St. Theresa’s Society
have had continuity for many years and have provided the spiritual needs which
helped strengthen the faith of its members. Two of the most often mentioned
parishioners in these societies were Bill Hale, who was active over sixty years in
the Holy Name and went on to Archiodesan fame, and Maria Tomaino Tarchea,
truly a missionary and founder of the St. Theresa Society.

Others have experienced faith through their desire and purpose to help those in
need – especially in the area of companionship, such as visits to the ill and
confined both at home and in nursing homes, emergency babysitting and
transportation, help with family problems, and visits to parish homes by inner-city
children. The organizations providing these opportunities for Christian action
have been the Ladies Guild, the Legion of Mary (newly organized by Sister
Vincent), the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and Christian Service Commission of
the Parish Council. Still others – the Knights of Columbus, the Ladies Benevolent
Association, the Foresters, and the Catholic Women’s Club have been fraternal in
nature and have provided its members with the brotherly love aspect of parish

Fund raising is a necessary part of parish life, and the activities generated to
accomplish that end are pleasantly remembered by those involved.

Different neighborhood groups were designated each week to sponsor whist
parties during Father O’Brien’s time.

Field days, lawn parties, carnivals, minstrel shows, fairs, Christmas bazaars, and
fashion shows each took their place as a financial supplement to the regular
parish income.

In 1952 and continuing through 1965, the School Building Fund was established
and continued to grow under the auspices of the Ladies Guild, which the
Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity formed from a small group of
kindergarten mothers.

The Trinitarians will long be remembered by the ever-grateful parishioners for
their truly missionary work in the parish. These sisters, who lived in the Cenacle
in Norwood, worked endlessly in our parish visiting each home as a census taker,
distributing clothes to the needy, bringing families back to the sacraments,
instructing women in home care, and conducting minstrel shows.

The work with the children of the parish by the sisters, however, will be most
remembered because of its far-reaching effect in the spiritual formation of the
young. These few nuns conducted religious instruction classes for as many as
900 children a year in grades 3 through 9 (aided by high school girls), special first
communion classes, and babysitting on Sunday mornings, and kindergarten
classes daily for thirteen years.

When the Blessed Sacrament School complex was finally realized, the Sisters
of St. Francis of Philadelphia, Pa., joined our parish to staff the new school.
However, in 1972, the Trinitarians came to our aid once again when Sister
Beatrice became coordinator of the parish Confraternity of Christian Doctrine

The CCD program in the parish was finalized at the time of Vatican II by Father
Bernard Sullivan, who worked endlessly recruiting lay teachers and
administrators to teach the children of the parish who were attending public
schools. This program requires a constant replenishment of workers and is the
largest lay apostolate in the parish today. The continuance and success of this
program currently rests with Father Richard Tierney.

No parish could efficiently function without the faithfulness of the Altar and Usher
Societies. The Altar Society, as mentioned earlier, was founded within the
Catholic Women’s Club. The work of these dedicated women, not often
publicized, is to maintain the altar linen and vestments each week, clean the
sanctuary, as well as care for the flowers and decoration of the altar.

The Usher’s Society, of course, is observed at work each Saturday, Sunday, and
Holy Day. What makes these two groups unique is that they require a continual
effort and long term commitment. Ann Travers and Irene Connolly have served
the Altar Society since its inception. Leo Travers is our head usher, and with his
wife Ann, they celebrated in 1974 fifty golden years of a marriage that was
entered into in the Blessed Sacrament Parish on June 2, 1924. Such devotion to
their parish on the part of so many similar good and faithful servants is the more
real and vibrant story of our parish that words cannot convey.

The youth of the parish have represented themselves and their parish well over
the years in various activities under the auspices of the C.Y.O. Baseball, hockey,
basketball, and drill teams have carried the name of Blessed Sacrament. Youth
dances, retreats, Search weekends all have been organized by the young people
in the traditional Catholic philosophy, that both the social and spiritual must be
combined to form a solid Christian person. The present Spiritual Director of the
C.Y.O., Rev. Walter O’Hearn, has worked with the young people since he joined
the parish in 1967.

The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia joined our parish in the fall of 1966 with
the opening of the new parish school complex which includes a convent, parish
auditorium, 16 classrooms, a cafeteria and kitchen facilities.

These nuns were not new to Boston as they formerly staffed the Holy Trinity High
School and St. Francis Orphanage in the Roxbury area for more than 50 years.

The school opened with 118 students in two first and two second grades. Sister
Maria Gross was the first superior as well as one of the second grade teachers.
Two grades were added each year until the seventh year when the enrollment
would only support one seventh and eighth grade class. The first graduating
class held its commencement exercises in June, 1963. The students, the nuns,
and the lay teachers comprise a new influence on the life and customs of our

It is interesting to note that Sister Frances Georgia, a member of the Order of St.
Francis, although never stationed in Walpole, was instrumental in establishing the
inner-city children’s visiting program in the Town of Walpole. This includes
families of all faiths and continues under the direction of the Christian Service
Commission of the Parish Council.

A Home and School Association was founded February 14, 1970, by the parents
of the parish school to promote the welfare of the school in the parish, act as a
liaison with the Walpole community, and conduct various functions to help reduce
the extensive debt undertaken by the parish to promote Christian education.

In 1969 in answer to the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity from Vatican II and
a mandate from the Archiodesan Office, a Parish Council was formed.

Bill Foley, its first vice-chairman, worked long and tirelessly guiding the formation
of the six commissions: namely, the Administrative, Christian Service, Religious
Education, Liturgical, Youth, and Parish Activities.

Bill Foley served as vice-chairman for two years and was ably assisted in his
work by our Pastor, Father Gallivan, in the role of chairman of the Council,as well
as each associate pastor and a representative of the teaching faculty, who also
have seats on the Council.

The Charter of the Council dictates that the Council not replace the active
societies of the parish, but rather that it foster the growth of them.

Ted Stevenson replaced Bill Foley as vice-chairman in the summer of 1971, and
the Council continued its work under his supervision for another two years when
its present vice-chairman, John Coleman, started his tenure. Although the history
of the Council is less than six years, the success of the work of its six
commissions is evidence of a bright and distinctive future for Blessed Sacrament
parish life.

In July of 1967 Reverend George P. Gallivan was appointed pastor of Blessed
Sacrament Parish. Father Gallivan was not new to the area for he was associate
pastor in St. Catherine of Sienna Parish in Norwood prior to his coming to

Father Gallivan is hard at work today and it is under his direction, guidance, and
devotion that the parish, Parish Council, and the Centennial Committee function.
Parish life today belongs more to the field of current events than of history.

It remains for the historian of the future to look back upon our tenures to evaluate
our contribution to the life and spiritual progress of the parish.

It is evident from the preceding history that the vitality of Blessed Sacrament
parish in the future will depend on the dedication of its pastor, associate pastors,
religious and lay people alike to the Christian goal of reaching the Kingdom of
God through love of fellow man.

This history has been built in two stages – The first stage was written by
Reverend Bennet J. O’Brien and his sister Mercedes E. O’Brien, Ph.D., and
includes all the information through the year 1933 and the period of Father Fahey.

The information upon which stage one was written was contributed by:
Mr. William Mahoney
Mrs. Margaret Creedon
Mrs. Elizabeth Caldwell
Miss Anna Caldwell
Mrs. William Goodfellow
Miss Ellen Mahoney
Mr. P.J. Mahoney
Miss Gertrude Kivlin
Mr. Jerome Kivlin
Mr. Joseph Greenwood
Mrs. Charles Haney
Mr. William Hale
Mrs. Hannah Hale
Miss Edith Walsh
Mr. Frank Walsh
Miss Margaret Moore
Miss Margaret Kannally
Mrs. Salvatore Camelio
Mr. James Reardon

The second stage from Father O’Riordan’s time through the present was written
by Miss Jacqueline M. Deckel and Mr. Joseph P. McManus.

The information upon which stage two was written was contributed by:
Miss Margaret Moore
Mrs. William P. Flynn
Miss Eleanor Flynn
Rev. Gregory J. Flynn, C.P.
Mr. & Mrs. Thos. L. Travers
Mr. & Mrs. James Walsh
Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Hazlett
Mr. William E. Foley
Mr. Edwin J. Ryan
Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Taylor
Mr. & Mrs. Paul Dalton
Sisters of St. Francis
Sisters of Most Blessed Trinity
Msgr. Russell H. Davis
Rev. Philip B. Lavin
Rev. Francis G. McGann
The Chancery Office
Rev. George P. Gallivan
Rev. Walter J. O’Hearn

Pontifical Blessing

Most Holy Father, Rev. George P. Gallivan, pastor, and the parishioners, on the
occasion of the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Blessed Sacrament
Parish in Walpole, Mass., humbly beg a special Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of
divine graces and favors.

Centennial Committees

Honorary Chairman – Reverend George P. Gallivan, Reverend Walter J. O’Hearn,
Reverend Richard S. Tierney
General Chairman – Thomas J. Coughlin
Secretary – John P. Connor, Jr.
Treasurer – James E. Gately
Book Production Committee – Mr. Joseph P. McManus, Chairman, Mr. Paul
Dalton, Miss Jacqueline M. Deckel, Mr. Paul Glasheen, Mr. William M. St.
C.Y.O. Float Committee – Mr. William R. Duffy and Mr. Edward T. Stevenson,
Chairmen, Miss Janice Connolly, Miss Janice Franklin, Miss Janet Hill, Miss Zita
Kelliher, Miss Patrice Lamperti, Miss Martha McCaffrey, Miss Nancy McManus,
Miss Debra McSweeney, Miss Donna Murphy, Miss Mary Murphy, Mr. Edward
Nolan, Miss Kathleen Nolan, Miss Cheryl Parente, Miss Julie Prendergast, Miss
Lisa Proctor, Miss Mary Sullivan
Reunion Dinner Committee – Mrs. Edward T. Verderber, Chairman, Mrs. John J.
Coleman, Mrs. John J. Dwyer, Mrs. Lawrence Hogan, Mrs. Gilbert Keteltas, Mrs.
John P. Connor, Jr., Tickets, Mrs. Samuel A. Lorusso, Mrs. Robert Servais, Mrs.
Michael A. Rizzo
Pontifical Mass Committee – Mrs. & Mrs. Paul Glasheen, Chairmen, Miss Marjorie
Delaney, Mrs. John A. Johnson, Reverend Leonard LaRocque, Mr. Thomas L.
Travers, Sr.
Reception Committee – Mr. & Mrs. Edward T. Stevenson, Chairmen, Mr. & Mrs.
Ronald A. Fucile, Mrs. & Mrs. Robert W. Lee, Mr. & Mrs. Robert F. Harwood
Historical Pagent – Sister Nora Nash, O.S.F., Director
Publicity Committee – Mr. Albert W. Deckel, Chairman, Mr. Russell J. Czyryca
Patron & Book Sales Committee – Mr. Edwin J. Ryan, Chairman, Mrs. Joseph
Bacchieri, Mr. George V. Brown, Mrs. Paul K. Conley, Mrs. Edward P. Damish,
Mrs. Michael DeRosa, Jr., Mrs. William L. Doyle, Jr., Mrs. John P. Dwyer, mrs.
Robert A. Furbush, Mr. Albert Diangomenico, Mrs. Frank E. Kelley, Mrs.
Raymond R. Masce, Mrs. John E. McTighe, Mrs. Philip A. Murphy, Mrs. Joseph
Parent, Jr., Mrs. Walter H. Pelrine, Mrs. John W. Proctor, Mrs. Raymond C.
Rockwood, Mrs. Warren Young

The Boston Post Cane

The Boston Post presented a cane intended to be “owned and carried” by the oldest citizen of Walpole beginning in 1909. Upon the decease of the present oldest citizen, it is duly transmitted to the then oldest citizen.

The cane itself was manufactured especially for this purpose by J.F. Fradley & Co., of New York, of “carefully selected Gaboon ebony from the Congo, Africa, and the head is made of rolled gold of 14 karat fineness,” as noted by E.A. Grozier, Editor and Publisher of The Boston Post in his letter to the Board of Selectmen of Walpole in August of 1909.

Walpole Recipients

Addison Page, August 30, 1909

Henry G. Scherer,

Henry E. Achorn, September 29, 1920

Porter Boyden, May 23, 1930

Samuel Hannaford, July 13, 1931

John McDavitt, April 5, 1933

George Kingsbury, October 31, 1935

Edmund F. Gay, January 21, 1940, (part 2 of article)

Charles Goodwin, October 26, 1941, (part 2 of article)

Theodore Slafter, February 18, 1943 (part 2 of article)

Henry Hildebrand, September 23, 1943

David Yuill, September 21, 1950

Joseph Greenwood, February 7, 1957

Patrick Broderick, May 8, 1958

LeRoy F. Spear, August, 1970, (photo)

Frank Smith, February 4, 1985 (photo and part 2 of article)

Grace M. Speir, March 20, 1986

Maude Allen, April 8, 1994
Gertrude Nelson, April 8, 1994
Both recipients were born on the same day. (photo and part 2 of article)

Georgie Marie Meyer, December 1, 1995 (part 2 of article)

Cane Retired

Walpole’s Boston Post cane is on display in the Town Hall next to the Town Clerk’s office.

Early Industrial Sites in Walpole, MA

by Karl West (1997)

1. About 10,000 years ago, when the glaciers started to melt, the large Lake Medfield broke through to Walpole and down the Neponset River to the sea. This was before the Charles River was established. Pot holes from the swirling water can be seen at the rivers edge at Water St. at the Norwood line.

2. Native Americans fished in the Neponset and ground corn and acorns in a bowl formed on the river’s edge in East Walpole.

3. Remains of three grinding bowls are located at the Deacon Willard Lewis House, 33 West St. on the lawn.

4. The earliest industry was bog iron ore on Spring or Spice Brook and on Mine Brook. The appearance of oil on the water surface indicates the formation of bog ore.

5. The ore was refined at a sight on Stop River where the remains of a large mill may be seen on Campbell St.

6. In 1659 permission was granted (a privilege) to form a dam at White Bridge for a sawmill.

7. In 171 members of the Bird family bought the dam where Hollingsworth and Vose is today.

8. Where the Bird factory is today was a grist mill, but in 1835 Bird bought an existing paper mill at the sight and expanded it.

9. Joshua Stetson bought a privilege in 1796 and manufactured farm tools. Before he was done, there were about a dozen small industries along the dam on the Neponset River across from Kendall St. Kendall St. went over the top of the dam and joined with North St.

10. To get an idea of the size of some industries examine the cellar hole on North St. opposite to Spear Ave. . This was Ira Gill’s hat factory before he moved to larger quarters on the Stetson Dam.

11. On Main St. opposite Kendall St. is Allied Auto Parts Co. and Hydralign, Inc. Later generations of the Stetson family lived in the house where Hydralign is and Stetson’s grandson manufactured card clothing where Allied is now. Adjacent to Stetson’s Dam is the cellar hole of the home of the Arcadian family by the name of D’Entremont who had been exiled here.

12. Henry Plimpton went downstream and developed a large industry making holes and rakes. He had two privileges. This was the start of Plimptonville.

13. The Lewis privilege on West St. has been in existence since 1794. Lewis made cotton products.

14. The lower Blackburn Dam in back of the high school still has a turbine used by the Blackburn factories which started in 1811.

15. The upper most privilege was run by Timothy Gay who has a grist mill in 1814. A large foundation is still there. More importantly, he was the toll collector for the Norfolk and Bristol Turnpike, which was along Washington St.. His toll house is still standing at 1920 Washington St. Both places was on the left side of Washington St. after crosses the Neponset River in South Walpole.

16. Associated with the Turnpike is the Fuller Tavern at 1885 Washington St. which, with the Polley Tavern across the street (now gone), fed and bedded travellers on the Toll Road. It was known as the Half Way House between Boston and Providence.

17. Speaking of taverns, the Hidden Tavern is probably the oldest tavern still in existence having served soldiers going to the Alarm on April 19, 1775. It is located at 492 Lincoln Road which was known as Back St. and was a Post Road to Franklin.

18. In the same area off Lincoln Rd. is a lime kiln and quarry that was operating around 1800.

19. The people who owned that kiln also owned a slate quarry which is still operating after 200 years. It is at the end of Forrest St.

20. Schools in those years were much differest. Young people were taught for a few weeks in houses, such as the house at 283 East St. Later they had their own buildings such as the one in the woods in North Walpole which was dragged over the fields in about 1860 to become the ell on the house at 186 Gould St.

21. On Robbins Road the Robbins family dammed up Mine Brook to make a pond for a factory to make axles. This pond was called Morey Pond before it becam know as Turner’s Pond.

Early Population of Walpole

– from Vital Records to 1850-
New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, MA 1902

Year – Population

1765 – 785 (Prov.)
1776 – 967 (Prov.)
1790 – 1005 (U.S.)
1800 – 989 (U.S.)
1810 – 1098 (U.S.)
1820 – 1366 (U.S.)
1830 – 1442 (U.S.)
1840 – 1491 (U.S.)
1850 – 1829 (U.S.)
1860 – 2037 (U.S.)
1865 – 2018 (State)
1870 – 2137 (U.S.)
1875 – 2290 (State)
1880 – 2494 (U.S.)
1885 – 2442 (State)
1890 – 2604 (U.S.)
1895 – 2994 (State)
1900 – 3572 (U.S.)

The Kendall Company
50 Years of Yankee Enterprise!

by Henry P. Kendall

“Were American Newcommen to do naught else, our work is well done if we succeed in sharing with America a strengthened inspiration to continue the struggle towards a nobler Civilization – through wider knowledge and understanding of the hopes, ambitions, and deeds of leaders in the past who have upheld Civilization’s material progress. As we look backward, let us look forward.”

Charles Penrose
Senior Vice President for North America, the Newcomen Society of England

This statement, crystallizing a broad purpose of the Society, was first read at the Newcomen Meeting at New York World’s Fair on August 5, 1939, when American Newcomen were guests of The British Government

“Actorum Memores simul affectamus Agenda”

50 Years of Yankee Enterprise!
An Address at Boston

AMERICAN NEWCOMEN, through the years, has honored numerous industrial enterprises both in the United States of America and in Canada, and has paid tribute to those whose pioneer leadership has made possible the growth and development of what today are corporate organizations of reputation and importance. Such a Newcomen manuscript is this, being the very human, colorful, and dramatic life-story of The Kendall Company.

“For a moment let me travel back in memory to a day in 1903 when as a young man I had been called in to look at a decrepit little plant in Walpole, not far from Boston – a plant with 75 employees scattered through several old buildings where a few antiquated machines were running. The business was insolvent, saddled with debt, and apparently on its last legs.

“Today, fifty years later, The Kendall Company operates thirteen plants in six States and others in Canada, Cuba, and Mexico, has about 8,000 employees, and does a $100,000,000 business.”

Henry P. Kendall

“The Kendall Company”
50 Years of Yankee Enterprise!

Henry P. Kendall
Member of the Newcomen Society
The Kendall Company

The Newcomen Society in North America
New York San Francisco Montreal

Copyright, 1953
Henry P. Kendall


Permission to abstract is granted provided proper credit is allowed


The Newcomen Society, as a body, is not responsible for opinions expressed in the following pages


This Newcomen Address, dealing with the history of The Kendall Company, on occasion of its 50th Anniversary (1903-1953), was delivered at the “1953 Massachusetts Dinner” of The Newcomen Society of England, held in Louis XIV Ballroom of Hotel Somerset, at Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A., when Mr. Kendall was the guest of honor, on March 26, 1953.


My fellow members of Newcomen:

The story of The Kendall Company is one of typical American enterprise, resourcefulness, and far-sightedness, displayed in the character and career of its founder. Henry P. Kendall was graduated from Amherst College in 1899, and the legend of his athletic prowess was still vivid when I received my diploma six years later. To that college, and to American Education, he has always been devoted, and the roster of his good deeds is long and creditable.

The tale of how he took over small and unprofitable mill and built it into a company with sixteen plants from Toronto to Mexico City and eight thousand employees is intensely dramatic. When his advisers urged him to change the name to The Kendall Company, they did well, for from the beginning he has been its leading spirit. He has been a wise administrator, recognizing that the interests of labor and management are intimately related, and willing to offer rewards commensurate with production. In this and other respects he has been consistently ahead of the thinking of his industrial generation.

A Clergyman’s son, who, after his father’s death, was brought up in a small country town, has been awarded by three colleges their highest honorary degrees. He has been a generous employer, a public-spirited citizen, and a loyal friend. His wide interests as a collector and sportsman have given him relief from administrative monotony and kept him young in body, mind, and spirit. As he moves into his seventy-sixth year, we hail him as one of the outstanding industrial leaders who have made, and will keep, this Country great!

It is my happy privilege, at Boston tonight, to introduce a distinguished American industrialist: HENRY P. KENDALL.

My fellow members of Newcomen:

For a moment let me travel back in memory to a day in 1903 when as a young man I had been called in to look at a decrepit little plant in Walpole, not far from Boston – a plant with 75 employees scattered through several old buildings where a few antiquated machines were running. The business was insolvent, saddled with debt, and apparently on its last legs.

Today, fifty years later, The Kendall Company operates thirteen plants in six States and others in Canada, Cuba, and Mexico, has about 8,000 employees, and does a $100,000,000 business.

How did this come about within the span of fifty years? What were the underlying factors, the driving forces, in the rise of this New England industry from humble and unpromising beginnings?

The story in detail, Mr. Chairman, would fill a book. In this Newcomen address I shall only try to give a brief first-hand summary of what seem to me significant high spots. If in doing this I make some unavoidable use of the personal pronoun, please bear in mind what we all know, that while every team has to have a leader, the joint efforts of all are what pile up the gains and winning points. No one who has ever played football, as I did at Amherst, could ever forget that. Such business success as I may have had has been the joint result of my own efforts and the support and cooperation of able and loyal associates, in the business and outside of it, who have stood by me down the years from that distant day in 1903.

The rundown old plant in Walpole was that of the Lewis Batting Company, better known locally as the Shoddy Mill. It was making a little absorbent cotton and also cotton batts, stair pads, and carpet linings. An analysis of costs showed a loss on everything except the crudely-made absorbent cotton. The manufacturing processes were quaint. The cotton, for example, was dried on chicken wire over boxed-in steam coils through which air was blown.

We disposed of the old lines except the cotton, revamped the plant by putting in some second-hand machinery, added gauze as a new item, hired a salesman, and went into the absorbent cotton and gauze business in competition with bigger and stronger rivals. We changed our name to Lewis Manufacturing Company, and, by the time the First World War broke out, we had established a niche for ourselves.

Then came a period of tremendous pressure from the U.S. Government and the Red Cross on the surgical dressing industry. I went to Washington and helped to organize a committee of the industry to deal with the problem and work out contracts with the Government and Red Cross which met their needs. To provide our share, we made extensive additions to buildings and machinery at Walpole.

To enlarge our capacity further, in 1915 we bought the Slatersville Finishing Company at Slatersville, Rhode Island. I also had decided – and this was one of the most important of my early decisions – that instead of buying our grey goods in the open market, we should own our own cotton mills, buy raw cotton in the bale, weave it ourselves, bleach and finish it in our northern plants, and sell it to users through our own salesmen – an integrated operation. In 1916, we took the first step in this program by buying the first of our cotton mills, the Wateree Mill at Camden, South Carolina, followed in 1918 by the purchase of the Addison Mill at Edgefield, South Carolina.

At the close of the war the Government and Red Cross threw on the market tremendous quantities of surplus surgical dressings, the bottom dropped out of prices and earnings, and our business entered one of its most critical periods. Only the strenuous efforts of our organization and unwavering support from our banks enabled us to weather the storm.

By 1924, growth had been resumed. That year we bought another cotton mill and merged our five plants into a new corporation, Kendall Mills, Inc. During the remainder of the 1920’s we added two more cotton mills in the south, followed by four more in the 1930’s, two of which were later sold.

We also increased our output by modernizing equipment and by doubling the size of our Oakland Mill in 1950. Today we operate approximately 300,000 spindles and 6,800 looms.

Meanwhile we also were growing in other directions. Our most important addition in new fields was Bauer & Black of Chicago, acquired in 1928. In that year we changed our name to The Kendall Company. Later acquisitions were the Bike Web Manufacturing Company of South Bend, Indiana, in 1929, another finishing plant at Griswoldville, Massachusetts, in 1932, and the Burson Knitting Company of Rockford, Illinois, in 1948. In 1950, we built a new Canadian plant near Toronto. Our plant in Mexico City was built in 1947.

How did it come about that we needed these plants, and what did we did with them after we got them? The answer to this question leads us back to some ideas underlying the development of the business.

Early realization of the importance of evolving new products and improving existing products led us into the development of research laboratories. Our search for new products and new uses for old products has gone on unceasingly from that day to this, in all parts of our business. Today, well-staffed and adequately-equipped research laboratories are found in all our divisions.

In addition to product research, we have continuously studied manufacturing techniques and improvements in machinery, equipment and plant layouts, purchasing methods, and sales programs.

What has all this done for us? One outstanding result is the fact that a large proportion of our present business consists of products that either did not exist in their present form or did not exist at all 10, 15, or 20 years ago.

Here are just a few examples of what research has done for us, out of a multitude that might be mentioned if there were Tim:

Twenty years ago gauze diapers were unheard of. Mothers used whatever cloth they happened to have, or bought Birdseye, a heavy and somewhat uncomfortable material. Our research men got the idea that gauze would make better diapers than any other material. They developed a special weave. They turned the product over to our market research specialists. Tests showed acceptance by mothers. Effective advertising and promotion campaigns were devised. The result? We were ready for the expanding baby crop with a superior, nationally-accepted product, the “Curity” gauze diaper. Today we are struggling to keep abreast of demand, operating thousands of spindles and hundred of looms in our southern mills on a full three-shift schedule, the year round, producing diaper cloth which we finish in our northern finishing plants.

Another example: Several years ago our Bauer & Black Research Department decided that basic improvements could be made in the small finger bandages produced by us and others. Extensive research, not only on the product but on the machinery for manufacturing it and the sales techniques for selling it, led to the introduction of our “Curad” plastic bandage, in 1951. Millions are now being made, sold, and used every week.

Our Research Department at Walpole worked for years on the development of a non-woven fabric which would have new qualities and new uses. Today a separate plant at Walpole is manufacturing various forms of “Webril” for new markets and new applications.

One of our early sales objectives was to develop specialized uses, products, and markets for surgical gauze and cheesecloth. One early result was the marketing of attractively packaged 5 and 10-yard bolts of cheesecloth adapted to counter display and effective advertising.

Later we cooperated with the American College of Surgeons and some of the leading hospitals in developing a line of ready-made gauze dressings adapted to many surgical uses. Hospital gauze was customarily sold in 100-yard bolts. The nurses cut the bolts into dressings. Bolt gauze now has largely been replaced by ready-made dressings pioneered by us and made on automatic machinery first developed by us.

The work of our research departments in developing new products and new uses for old products has been supplemented by continuous market research.

From the beginning we determined to build up our sales organizations with high-grade men, carefully selected, who are given systematic training in the home office and in the plants before they are put into the field under competent home office direction. For over 30 years we have brought our field men together in annual sales conferences and regional meetings, at which sales problems, policies, and future programs are thoroughly discussed. Our branch managers and home office executives have come up through the ranks, and have developed the kind of initiative, imagination, and drive that creative selling requires.

The sales-mindedness of our organization, its belief in our products, and its enthusiasm in selling them have been large factors in putting us where we are.

Certain forces or principles underlie the development of any structure, be it a business or a personality. What were the more important forces and principles which have shaped our development?

In all we have done, we have tried to apply imagination, courage, and unwillingness to accept anything as necessarily final or perfect. To an important degree this has been due to the profound influence of Frederick W. Taylor, the father of Scientific Management, upon my early business life.

I read Taylor’s book and was deeply impressed by it. After correspondence I went to Philadelphia to see him and he had me visit a small plant where his principles were being applied.

Taylor’s fundamental thesis, as you will recall, was that there is one best way to do things and that this way can be found by analyzing in detail what is actually being done and then reshuffling the elements of the job to evolve a new technique which will eliminate waste of time, energy, and materials.

Taylor never believed that the status quo is necessarily right or best. On the contrary, he put a question mark against what is. What is MAY be right, but it may not. The mere fact that something is being done in a certain way, that it may have been done that way for a long time, or that a lot of people think it is the best way to do it and don’t want things to change, is no proof at all that this present way is best. Let’s find out, Taylor said, and if there is a better way, let’s adopt it.

You can forget everything Taylor wrote about the details of his technique, and if you remember that one basic tenet you have an invaluable industrial asset. I always have remembered it and have tried always to impress this viewpoint upon my associates. I believe it has been a significant factor in our progress.

The evolution of organization and management in our company has been marked by a series of stages.

In the beginning I had to be a sort of executive-of-all-work, but as soon as we had the money to do it, we began to build up a supporting organization of promising young men.

In a research survey made to determine what makes executives tick, the conclusion was that “the most important attribute of any executive is his willingness to delegate his authority along with his responsibility.” I decided early that I couldn’t build a large business by trying to do everything myself or know everything myself. I delegated responsibility to our young executives and gave them authority to act. By 1918, the foundation for a strong supporting organization had been laid, and I had begun to free myself increasingly from operating details.

Thenceforth I devoted much of my time and energy to forward thinking and planning, basic financing, the acquisition and development of plants, the selection of key personnel, and to cooperating with my associates in the development and business-building programs and policies.

Our present form of organization dates from 1929, shortly after we acquired Bauer & Black. The number of plants and the size and diversity of the business had so increased that it then became clear that we needed a greater degree of decentralization of management, involving large delegation of local responsibilities coupled with centralized correlation and control.

We now have three operating divisions. Each has a complete line and staff organization, headed by a Divisional Vice-President, covering all segments of a self-contained business except financing, which is handled centrally.

Our seven cotton mills are included in the Kendall Mills Grey Cloth Division. Each mill is in charge of a mill manager. The central executive office of the division is at Charlotte, North Carolina. Cotton buying for all mills is controlled centrally, through a buying office in the South. Most of the division’s product goes to our northern finishing plants, but its sheetings and some of its other products are distributed through its New York Sales Office.

Our Kendall Mills Finishing Division includes our three northern finishing plants. Its head office is at Walpole, Massachusetts. A specialized sales organization, with branches in various cities, sells the division’s products.

The division makes and sells a variety of textiles, going to many fields of trade, including industrial applications. It also manufactures surgical gauze, ready-made dressings and other products distributed through our Bauer & Black Division.

Our Bauer & Black Division includes our plants at Chicago and at Rockford, Illinois, and at South Bend, Indiana. It is responsible also for our operations in Canada, Mexico, and Cuba, as well as for our export business. The division has a large sales organization. Products include gauze, absorbent cotton, ready-made dressings, adhesives, and other products for hospitals, elastic goods in various forms, plastic tapes for industrial and other uses, “Curads,” “Blue Jay” foot products, and a wide range of other items.

How did all of this come about from a financial standpoint? How do you start with no money, and come up finally with something like The Kendall Company?

When I was given the job of trying to salvage the Lewis Batting Company, its account was at The First National Bank of Boston, of which Daniel G. Wing then was President. The Lewis Batting Company had borrowed there, and Mr. Wing knew something about my work at the Plimpton Press in Norwood, which also had an account at his bank.

After I had been working on the Lewis problem for a time, I went to Mr. Wing, told him I was in charge, and handed him a balance sheet that I had prepared. I said: “Here is the first true balance sheet you have ever had from this company.” He looked at it and said: “Why, this company is completely insolvent.” I said: “I know it is, but I think I can pull it out.” “Well,” he said, “what do you want?” “I’d like a line of credit of $30,000 and no questions asked,” was my reply. He looked at me hard for a few minutes and then said: “All right, you can have it.”

That was the beginning of mutually valuable relationships with The First National Bank and other banks and banking houses that have extended down through the years, and have had much to do with the progress and success of our company. One rule we have always followed – tell your bankers the whole story at all times. In return they have given us unwavering support, and have come forward with voluntary help in tight places.

Indispensable as this banking support has been, we could not have done what we have without consistently devoting a good part of our earnings to plant expansion and improvement, research and other constructive uses.

Early in my business life the meaning of obsolescence was borne in upon me. I saw that the only permanent thing in the industrial world is change. It became clear to me that machines could sometimes run long after their profitable economic life had ended. As the world goes forward, obsolescence applies not only to what you can see, like buildings and machinery, but also to intangibles like ways of doing things, methods and procedures, and points of view.

So we have tried unceasingly to make buildings and machinery more efficient, and to find ways to better our methods, save labor, reduce costs, and improve products. This requires imagination, open-mindedness, courage, confidence in the future, and willingness to spend money to make money.

In the seven postwar Years 1946-1952 inclusive, we put back into our plants out of earnings approximately $20,000,000 in capital outgoes, exclusive of maintenance costs, research and advertising and development programs. We did this with no new public financing and with no borrowing except short-term bank loans to finance seasonal cotton buying.

It always has seemed to me that quality of personnel and the spirit of the organization are even more important than bricks and mortar, money or products. The essence of The Kendall Company and of all it has done is in its people.

A defined philosophy of people runs through our history. As we see it, an office or factory is not just a place to work for a living. It is, rather, an important part of the whole life of every worker.

So we have tried to provide not only good surrounding and good equipment for our workers, but we have shared with them our belief in the importance and worth of every job and its significance in the chain of production.

This philosophy has led us into pioneering developments that now have become standard practice in the more progressive companies and industries.

From the beginning, we discarded the traditional system of having employees “hired and fired” indiscriminately by plant superintendents. We began organizing employees’ departments, headed by trained personnel. We had nurses and first-aid rooms in our plants when these were a rarity. We always have believed in clean, safe, orderly plants. We have spent important sums to keep our mill villages well painted and in good repair. We have encouraged and supported churches, schools, and community activities. More recently we have sold our village houses to our employees in some of our communities, fostering the personal pride which comes with home ownership.

This concern for our employees in not based on paternalism. We always have believed that it is just sound management and good citizenship. As a result we feel that an unusual spirit of friendliness and cooperation prevails in our company and makes it a good place to work.

The selection and training of key people always has seemed to me one of the most vital of executive responsibilities. The outcome of our efforts in that field is our experienced, competent, hard-hitting organization. To insure its continued strength in the future, we watch for outstanding talent in our own ranks and steadily add as trainees picked young men from the colleges, business schools, and technical schools. We push them along as fast as they are ready for added responsibilities and suitable avenues of promotion and development can be opened up for them.

I always have believed in young men and what they can do. Our motto here is still what it always has been – get the right kind of young men around you, train them, given them responsibility, check results, and you won’t have to worry too much about what will happen after you are gone.

Those of us who have grown up in New England and live in New England have a heritage of great worth. It may be true that New England lacks some natural resources and currently suffers some geographical disadvantages. It has, however, one great offsetting advantage- the quality, intelligence, and skills of its people. They have made New England businesses great in the past; they will make them great in the future.

I believe success is likely to attend soundly-managed businesses, wherever located, founded on honest work, worth and useful products, fair prices, and fair dealing with suppliers, customers, employees, and the community – businesses whose executives show initiative, teamwork, courage, open-mindedness, and resourcefulness in adapting their operation to the needs and conditions of the present, while foreseeing and planning for the possibilities of the future.

The World of 1953 is obviously very different from the World of 1903. How different, you all know. The 50-year span has seen panics, depressions, booms, inflation, deflation, wars and the aftermath of wars, and advances in science, in production, and in all sorts of techniques unimaginable in 1903.

Of necessity the future is a closed book, to be opened only page by page. I shall not fear these pages as one by one they come into view. The Country is growing apace. Needs are expanding with its growth. There will always be a place, an important place, for those who can meet these needs.

I hope I shall be pardoned if I close on a note of what seems to me justifiable pride in the growth and accomplishments of The Kendall Company during its first half century – pride in the contributions of its men and women to the development of the philosophy, policies, methods, and practices of a traditionally conservative industry. All of us in the company are happy, too, in the fact that so many of our products have become a part of the fabric of American life.

It happened in New England! It can happen again. It will happen again – and again – and again, as time unrolls its scroll.


“Actorum Memores simul affectamus Agenda!”


This Newcomen address, dealing with the history of The Kendall Company and on occasion of its 50th Anniversary (1903-1953), was delivered at the “1953 Massachusetts Dinner” of The Newcomen Society of England, held at Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A., on March 26, 1953. Mr. Kendall, the guest of honor, was introduced by Dr. Claude M. Fuess, Headmaster-emeritus, Phillips Academy, Andover; Member of the New England Committee, in American Newcomen. The dinner was presided over by Dr. Karl T. Compton, Chairman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; Chairman of the New England Committee, in The Newcomen Society of England.


American Newcomen, interested always in industrial and economic history, takes satisfaction in this well told, intensely human, and intriguingly colorful Newcomen manuscript. It is a narrative marking an important milestone – a half century – in the life of a leading New England industrial organization; one whose operations throughout the period have contributed to New England’s economic progress. Truly is it entitled: “50 Years of Yankee Enterprise!”


Broadly, this British Society has as its purposes: to increase an appreciation of American-British traditions and ideals in the Arts and Sciences, especially in that bond of sympathy for the cultural and spiritual forces which are common to the two countries; and, secondly, to serve as another link in the intimately friendly relations existing between Great Britain and the United States of America.

The Newcomen Society centers its work in the history of Material Civilization, the history of: Industry, Invention, Engineering, Transportation, the Utilities, Communication, Mining, Agriculture, Finance, Banking, Economics, Education, and the Law – these and correlated historical fields. In short, the background of those factors which have contributed or are contributing to the progress of Mankind.

The best of British traditions, British scholarship, and British ideals stand back of this honorary society, whose headquarters are at London. Its name perpetuates the life and work of Thomas Newcomen (1663-1729), the British pioneer, whose valuable contributions in improvements to the newly invented Steam Engine brought him lasting fame in the field of the Mechanic Arts. The Newcomen Engines, whose period of use was from 1712 to 1775, paved a way for the Industrial Revolution. Newcomen’s inventive genius preceded by more than 50 years the brilliant work in Steam by the world-famous James Watt.

Walpole Times article, page 1 and page 4, May 6, 1916; Boston Globe article, May 6, 1916; Boston Post article, May 6, 1916.

Memorial Boulder