New Salem Then
Quabbin Facts
Quabbin Wildlife
New Salem Now
Experts and Bibliography

The information presented on this page was researched and written by third grade students.


New Salem Farmers' Band



Rabbit Run

"My favorite parts of the Quabbin History Project were seeing the artifacts. My favorite artifact is a hand-made map of Enfield."

3rd grade student

Photo courtesy of the Swift River Valley Historical Society

Highlights of New Salem before the Quabbin

Farmers' Band

Photo courtesy of the Swift River Valley Historical Society


  • The coronet had undergone many repairs
  • Ralph Stowell played the coronet in the New Salem Farmers' Band



  • This drum was used by the Farmers' Band
  • Two people had to carry the drum because it was so large
  • The people that played the drum were James Chamberlain, Charles Moulton and Earl Hansen



  • In 1891 Mr. McGibney created the Farmers' Band in New Salem
  • He gave music lessons, planned concerts and directed the band
  • This hat was worn by a member of the band
  • The hat was navy blue wool and trimmed with gold braid
  • All band members wore gray uniforms



  • The bandstand burst into flames and burned to the ground in 1942

Photo courtesy of the Swift River Valley Historical Society


McGibney Family

  • Frank McGibney started the band in 1891
  • Other band leaders were Walter T. Crowl and Fred Ballard
  • Frank McGibney gave lessons to anybody who wanted to play an instrument
  • Mr. McGibney bought the “Kendall” house in 1890
  • Frank McGibney, his wife and children spent their summers in New Salem
  • The McGibney’s New Salem house burned to the ground in 1896
  • During the year, the McGibney family performed, touring the country by train

Photo courtesy of the Swift River Valley Historical Society




Notebook page

Pencil box, inside and out

Photo courtesy of the Swift River Valley Historical Society

"One of the places we went to was called the Swift River Valley Historical Society. They had a fake schoolroom that I liked."

3rd grade student

What was school like in the early 1900's?

  • Students used a slate, pens, and pencil box
  • They had slates to practice their penmanship, arithmetic, writing, and spelling
  • The desks were small
  • There were no big chalk boards
  • They did not have much paper
  • They had no typewriters so they had to use paper and ink

School Bell

  • Fay School rang the bell when it was time for school to start and time for it to end
  • At lunch time they rang the bell and when classes started and ended
  • The metal striker inside the bell was called a clapper or a tongue
  • The bell was made of wood and metal
  • Lydia Goddard used the school bell
  • When she got married she could not be a schoolteacher anymore


Bell label courtesy of the Swift River Historical Society




  • Their cursive book was called “Common School Writing Book”
  • They wrote with quills with metal tips and used ink pots
  • They usually used black ink
  • Children at schools practiced cursive for a long time until their cursive was perfect
  • They had to keep practicing cursive because there were no typewriters so it had to be neat for letters


Book strap

  • The book strap was used to carry books back and forth to school
  • The bottom of the book strap was made of wood, the strap was leather
  • Approximately five books fit in the book strap
  • If it was raining the children covered the book strap with cloth
  • The book strap was used from 1850 to 1890
  • Books were rare and very valuable at that time


Autograph Book

  • Children wrote messages in autograph books with their best cursive
  • They showed off penmanship to other children
  • Friends wrote in other children’s books
  • Children put fancy stickers in their books
  • It was an honor to write in each others book
  • The owner is Linus Pierce

Schools in New Salem

Map courtesy of Petersham Historical Society

School Names

  1. New Salem Center
  2. Paige
  3. Carpenter Road
  4. Cooleyville
  5. West Street
  6. Hagerville
  7. Herricks
  8. Millington - only school made of bricks
  9. Poole District
  10. Northwest
  11. North New Salem
  12. Fay

No Buses Yet!

Children arriving at school in a horse drawn wagon.



Photo courtesy of the Swift River Valley Historical Society




Homes in the early 1900's


  • People used inkpots and feather pens for writing
  • Puffballs, a fungus, were used to stop cuts from bleeding
  • They used chamber pots for going to the bathroom at night so you wouldn't have to walk outside in the middle of the night
  • Since there was no electricity they used candle lanterns and kerosene lanterns for lighting the way in the dark
This is a bed tightener
This is a loom
  • There were no heaters so they had wood stoves to keep warm
  • Glenwood is a type of wood stove
  • The wood stove in the kitchen was used for cooking as well as heat
Photo courtesy of the Swift River Valley Historical Society
  • The wood stoves went out at night so they had to use heated stones in bed for warmth and also feather down comforters
  • Blocks of ice were cut out of the nearby lakes with large saws
  • Large tongs were used to pick up the blocks and put them into wagons
  • The ice blocks were stored in straw which acted like insulation
  • If you needed ice for your ice box you put a sign in your window that said ICE
  • The ice man drove his wagon through town to sell the blocks of ice to people
  • Under each ice box was a pan for the water melting from block of ice
Photo courtesy of the Swift River Valley Historical Society
  • Dr. George Peirce lived in New Salem
  • He came to your house if you were sick
  • He came on a horse or in a carriage
  • He brought a medicine case with bottles with powdered medicine with hand written labels
  • The bottles had corks
  • The medicine case was very heavy
  • There was a leather piece that would keep the medicine case closed by latching onto a screw
  • The splints were made of wood
  • The screws were made of wood and they were carved with a jack knife
  • They could not walk with the splints on
  • There were different sizes for adults and children
  • The doctor kept them and re-used them.


Rabbit Run

  • The Rabbit Run was a train route which started in Athol, went through North Dana, Greenwich Village, Greenwich, and Enfield, and ended in Springfield
  • Completed in 1873 the Rabbit Run took three years to complete
  • The Rabbit Run made 20 stops and was 47 miles long
  • One reason it was called the Rabbit Run was because rabbit hunters rode on it and the trainmen made more stops to let them off
  • The last run was on June 1, 1935

New Salem Train Station
Photo courtesy of the Swift River Valley Historical Society
Enfield Train Station
Photo courtesy of the Swift River Valley Historical Society
  • The Rabbit Run was used by school children
  • It was the only means of getting to daily classes at Athol High School
  • Some kids caught the train from Springfield and Enfield in the mornings around 9:15
  • School children liked to ride the Rabbit Run because they did homework, visited with their friends, the older kids helped the younger kids with homework