After The Cow That Tried to Swallow a Potato was published in 2017, quite a few folks with Worcester connections wrote the WHS about their own experiences and memories of our little hamlet. These stories have not been shared and need to be, because many of them clearly demonstrate the character of the place we call home. So from time to time, we will do so in this column.
This one is shared by Donna Smith Ryan of Bridgewater, MA, whose great grandparents, Edward and Etta Smith, lived on Hampshire Hill from 1910 to 1912. She writes, "The people of Worcester Village saved my family twice.”
The first instance occurred when Worcester residents responded to a plea from Edward's brother, the Reverend George Smith, then pastor of the Worcester Methodist Church, to come to the aid of Edward and Etta, whose newborn son needed to move away from the damp, wood and coal smoke-filled atmosphere of Boston, where they then resided. Ms. Ryan explains, “Someone offered a job logging in the woods for a dollar a day. Someone else had a farmhouse to rent. Another offered a horse, and the generosities went on from there."
Edward and Etta moved to Hampshire Hill in October 1910 and found a wonderful community on the hill and in the Village. From time to time, says Ms. Ryan, “someone left a small stove on the doorstep, or a bushel of apples, or a food basket. It was very humbling for them to be the recipients of such charity.” The newborn, their ninth child, grew stronger and flourished.
The second rescue was a bit more dramatic. In April 1912, Edward, a man of small frame weighing only about 120 pounds, was working a log jam on the North Branch when he set the key log free. He was immediately tossed into the ice cold river and was pummeled by logs while men raced along the bank trying to save him. Despite attempts to reach him at a bridge, one of the rescuers only managed to touch his hand but could not grasp it. For more than 20 minutes, Edward Smith felt his life was over. Right before reaching the falls and rapids, however, the log he was gripping was swept into a quiet eddy and he was able to drag himself to the shallows where the men made a human chain down an embankment to get him out. One of the men, Everett Morse, took him to his home and stayed up all night with him, providing him with warm drinks, warm blankets, and hot bricks around him. Bruised and battered, but with no broken bones, Edward fully recovered.
Ms. Ryan concludes her letter: "So, thank you for saving my family. Your kindnesses have never been forgotten."