for my story to be told

For the past almost nine years, I have lived in Maynard, a little town on the banks of the Assabet.  After living in colonial Concord for almost a quarter of a century, the nearest we get to any Revolutionary topics is on the morning of Patriots day when the Stow Minutemen march by my house early in the morning, shooting off their muskets.  In the book, Maynard Massachusetts – A Brief History, it states “As a town where few (or no) famous events have ever taken place and few notable people ever lived or worked, Maynard is bereft of significant monuments to its glorious history.” (p.160).  That being said indicates that this mill town, established in 1871, has nothing worth seeing.  However, while there may not be lots of colonial artifacts or significant monuments, there are a lot of curious objects, just waiting for their story to be told.

For example, there are a trio of “planters” that I have walked past that are all inscribed.   This post will focus on the one right at the end of my street, at the intersection of Concord and Acton Street, sits a granite planter of sorts, inscribed with W.A. Haynes 1904.  I pass this object whenever I walk towards town, but had never thought about its story.  What is it exactly, why is it here and who is W.A. Haynes are the questions I sought to answer.

This object sits in a small park of sorts.  It sits on the far right corner of this park, between Acton Street and the Assabet Rail Trail that runs parallel to Haynes Street.  Running perpendicular is Concord Street.  While there are several benches and a kiosk in this park, they are not near this object.  Relatively near to this project is a marker that says Concord Street is where the Minutemen marched on April 19, 1775. This area is interesting in that what is now Route 27, consists of three separate street names in a quarter of a mile – Acton Street, Haynes Street and Brown Street.  In a map of the development of these streets, done in 1925, it shows how Acton Street goes to the left at the park and how the new streets – Haynes and Brown intersect Concord Street.  

There are two parts of it – a base and then a part where flowers are planted in better weather.  Inscribed on the front of the object in all capital letters are W.A. HAYNES 1904.  There is some evidence of weathering on the object, there is lichen on both the base and the planter part.  When you are walking on the rail trail, you notice this big object if you are heading south towards Maynard center.  While it does sit next to the historic marker previously mentioned, it is probably not something that people will leave the rail trail to go over and see what it is.  There is also no mention of it in the kiosk that sits next to the benches placed right on the rail trail.  My guess would be that there is very minimal interaction with this object.  My questions on this object are:  1. What is it?  2.  How did it end up here?  3.  Who is W.A. Haynes?  In order to help learn more, I will use both more books about Maynard and explore the Maynard Historical Society’s page to see if I can find out more about this object.

In the same book about Maynard history, it also describes “named watering troughs.”  In 1888, Maynard appointed a committee to create a water system in town.  Along with where the water would be obtained, the committee was also looking at where public watering troughs could be placed in town.  After the water system was put in place, over the next 20 years, four Maynard citizens donated four water troughs that were placed all over the town.  These water troughs could be used for both animals and humans.  Warren Haynes donated one of those troughs; however it was inscribed with his name after he died.  He did not die in 1904, (he died in 1897); the 1904 date is when the town accepted the gift of the trough from the family. The other interesting fact is that this trough was initially at the corner of Concord and Tremont Streets and dismantled and brought to its current site in 1971, to celebrate the town’s 100th anniversary.  The base is the only original part of the watering trough, but it is unclear when the trough part was re-created.  This picture is from 1971 and it shows the original place where it was located.  The picture on the left was taken in 1972 in its new location with a new top piece.

(from Maynard Historical Society)

But who exactly is Warren Hayes?  From his obituary found in the Boston Daily Advertiser, Haynes died on March 26, 1897 at age 55 from pneumonia.  More research revealed that Haynes and his three brothers were initially raised in North Sudbury but moved to what became Maynard in the “60’s”.  The obituary calls him a “prominent” businessman and additional research revealed that he was one of the original petitioners for Maynard to become a separate town.  He and his brothers all seemed to be business owners in Maynard.  Additional primary sources from the Maynard Historical Society provided the answer to these questions.

The W.A. Haynes Company sold a lot of different objects.  From a 1913 receipt, the goods sold included grain, feed, hay, straw, lumber, brick, lime, cement, wagons, carriages, sleighs, harnesses, farming tools, seeds and fertilizers.  Additionally, this receipt also stated that it sold cattle and poultry feeds and salts and automobiles.  The 1917 calendar also listed lumber, paints, sheet rock, auto and auto trucks and real estate.  The 1910 promotional lead pencils listed grain & lumber and auto & auto trucks.  What was puzzling about these dates on these items is that they are all after Haynes had died.  I wondered if the company didn’t start until after his death.  I soon found my answer when I came across a notebook from the W.A. Haynes Company.  There are the dates of 1885 – 1900 listed on this notebook and that is was founded with honor.  There is actually a picture of Haynes as well included in this notebook.  It is not clear what year the notebook was created but it was printed by Enterprise Printing Company of Hudson.

While this public water trough is not a monument honoring a war hero, it does focus on an important part of everyday life – livestock’s role in transportation and the need to have places for them to get a drink, as seen in this image from the Library of Congress.  An internet search of public watering troughs revealed many towns had public ones for this reason.  Since at this time frame, around the 1890s and early 1900s, horse and carriages were the main mode of transportation, these public watering troughs were a very important part of a community and are an important part of the town’s history.  Additionally, while Warren Haynes was not a war hero, he was an integral community member as a prominent businessman and an original petitioner for Maynard’s incorporation as a town. To me, the most amusing historical items are those that aren’t particularly really “monumental” but instead describe more about every day life.

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