HISTORY OF WAWELA

A MORE OR LESS ACCURATE HISTORY OF WAWELA
Year 1886 Through December 1963

by Annie E. Putnam

(Not Dated, But Probably 1942)

 


Many years ago this tract of land was known as the Wakefield Farm. Some gentlemen from East Douglas discovered what a beautiful spot it was and together formed a corporation, consisting of ten persons, and purchased the farm. Next they each selected a water front lot and reserved five acres in the rear for a common playground with equal rights for all. They named the place WAWELA -- WA for WAkefield, WE for WEbster and LA for LAke. Each had a tenth share in the Farm besides their Lots and a farmer was kept at the farmhouse and later supplied the cottages with fruits and vegetables. Some of these people soon erected cottages on their premises, among these original sites being what in time became Bicknell's, Bell's, Jones', Crawford's, Hubbard's and Piehler's. Some of the original lots have never been occupied.

Some years later in 1894, the Baston family from Norwood, having rented a cottage here for a few summers, built for themselves on what was called the Harbor Lot, next to which is a public right of way to the water.

The Bastons used to make the trip from Norwood with their horse and two-seater, packed with four children, dogs, rabbits, etc., and numerous belongings. Later they arrived at Point Pleasant on the East Thompson six o'clock train and rowed across in the old fishing boat; but later as they became more prosperous they acquired a motor launch and were most generous in taking their friends around the Lake, especially the younger fry. These were the good old days, as we look back!

In 1896, Clarence Nash built his cottage, and a short time before the Fischer cottage was built by Mr. E. N. Bigelow of Webster, a well-known druggist. Later this passed to his daughters, the two Mrs. Petersons, who sold it a few years ago to Dr. Fischer. For a number of more or less peaceful years, after the Nash cottage was built, there were no intrusions on the select colony at Wawela and they carried on in a quiet way with Sunday night sings at the Nash's. Mr. Nash presiding at the organ and all Wawelaites singing lustily. The little Lake Steamer made trips to the Lookout every two hours and took on passengers who wished to go to town, and everybody rubbered to see who might get off, who might be having company for the afternoon or evening. This was a nice little trip as the boat connected with the trolleys at Beacon Park. During these years there were lively doings at the Baston cottage and Sherborne Baston and Howard Peterson made quite a reputation for themselves in this otherwise quiet community.

In the Fall of 1910, another family annexed themselves as permanent residents of Wawela and, much to the dismay of Mrs. Nash and Mrs. Baston, the Putnam cottage was taken apart and transported by motor boats from across the Lake and reassembled on a lot purchased from Mr. Cummings who then owned the Piehler cottage. This shut off Mrs. Nash's view into the beautiful woods and Mrs. Baston looked upon the newcomers almost as intruders who really had no right to invade the premises. But they both accepted the inevitable with more or less good grace and became dear friends of the Putnam family. Mrs. Nash never even complained when the noisy Putnam children used the corner of her cottage for a hide-and-seek goal when she was trying to take an afternoon nap. However, the girls contributed their share of "hustle bubble suds" to the community and soon the Piehler twins at the age of seven appeared on the scene, the Cummings cottage being sold at this time to their father. In 1924, the Marsh family decided to build and more young people were added to the Community. At this time there were thirteen children under ten years of age -- two Petersons, three Scotts, two Simonds, two Marshs, two Cases and two Harris', besides all the young people of various ages like the Bicknells, Nashs, Piehlers and Putnams.

The Marsh cottage was the last one built previous to the Durfee's and the Webster cottage is the last one added to the colony.

The Bell cottage was formerly owned by Mrs. Southwick who sold to Mr. Bell in June 1920. Mr. Hathaway built the large cottage connecting with his brother-in-law's, Mr. Lougee, about 1911 or 1912, both properties now being occupied by the Harris'.

Although both Dr. and Mrs. Baston are with us no longer, the family still retains the property. We will never forget the familiar figure as he made his rounds of the cottages, his old hat and red bandana always in evidence.

The Crawford cottage was previously owned by the Zumpfes who bought from the Smiths who bought from the Bigelows of Norwood, the original owner. It has been so transformed this last year that no one would recognize it as the original cottage.

The Hubbard place, known to old settlers as the James Barnes cottages, was previously owned by the late Henry Steinberg who made many improvements, and Mr. Hubbard has added considerable more as you all know.

The Putnam cottage after standing 28 years on its second location, 6 years on its first, was so wrecked by the September 21, 1938 hurricane that it had passed its usefulness. So the Sea Scouts kindly removed it, thus securing sufficient lumber to erect a building on their Point, and the Putnams have built quarters better suited to their needs in these days, and hope to enjoy Wawela for some years to come.

From time to time, nearly all of these cottages have had temporary tenants for a season or so, the Marshs occupying the Nash cottage for several seasons. The Case family have been to Wawela so many years (nineteen I believe) that we think of them as permanent residents, first occupying the Bicknell's, then the Nash's, then the Harris', the Bell's, and the last few seasons the Fischer cottage. Wawela wouldn't be Wawela without them now, and we hope they will continue to like us as well as we like them and continue to be a part of the community for many more season. (NOTE: The Cases did continue to come for four years more).

FACTUAL RECORDS OF WAWELA -- By Donald D. Simonds, Secretary, 1963

Supplementary to the preceding History of Wawela by Annie Putnam, the Secretary of Wawela Associates, with aid of other members, has unearthed dates and items of interest which should be passed on to posterity.

Lest we forget how to spell it with its four-four letters, we should record the name of our Lake -- Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg. And this in the Nipmuc Indian language is translated to mean "You fish on your side, I'll fish on my side, nobody fish in the middle."

Records show that Wawela came into existence after the purchase of the seventy-five acre Wakefield Farm from Nancy Wakefield, for fifteen hundred dollars, by Aaron F. Jones, Edwin Moore, Albert Butler, George L. Southwick, Herbert N. Lougee, Walter E. Jones and William Abbott, all of Douglas, Ira Southwick of Uxbridge, H. W. Barrett of Norwood, and J. F. Hathaway of Somerville. Deed of conveyance, dated Oct. 9, 1886, is recorded at Worcester County Court House, Registry of Deeds, Book 1225, Page 339.

On April 26, 1888, the ten original purchasers deeded the property to Hattie G. Abbott, as recorded on June 21, 1888, in Book 1273, Page 176. Then on May 1888 she deeded to Edwin Moore and Herbert Lougee as trustees, the land, excepting lots numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 0 and lots markerd "Harbor" and "Common" on Plan of Wakefield Farm recorded in Book 1265, Page 653, June 21, 1888 --- to manage, lease or in behalf and for the benefit of the ten grantees named in a deed from Nancy Wakefield to them dated Oct. 9, 1886 and recorded with Worcester District Deeds, Book 1225, Page 339, and their heirs and assigns and to divide annually the net rent and profits thereof equally among them. Further, on June 15, 1888, Hattie G. Abbott deeded to Herbert N. Lougee one undivided half of Lots No. 3 and No. 4.

Other deeds were issued to Ira Southwick Lot 9, Edwin Moore Lot 6, Albert Butler Lot 7, Aaron F. Jones Lot 5, James F. Hathaway Lots 3 and 4 (undivided half), H. W. Barrett Lot 1, George L. Southwick Lot 2, Walter E. Jones Lot 11. These deeds all bore the same date of June 21, 1888 and were recorded in Book 1273, Pages 178 through 193. It should be noted that in the deeds a name appeared as “Logee”, but the signature was always LOUGEE. Part of the “Harbor Lot” was reserved as a public entrance to the water for launching boats, with right of way only to all the cottagers.

No further transfer of land was made until 1890, Lot 8 to E. L. Bigelow; 1890, Lot 10 to E. A. Bigelow; part of Harbor Lot to Estelle F. H. Baston; 1895, unnumbered lot to W. E. Peterson; 1906, Lot 10 to Nash.

On July 21, 1933, the Secretary of our Association visited the Worcester County Court House, Registry of Deeds, and made a list of Conveyances as well as copies of some of the deeds. He also conferred with Title Examiners Lewis Taylor and Rufus Dunbar who gave their authoritative opinions on some of the peculiar restrictions in the early deeds as follows:

“Restrictions regarding fishing on the Sabbath, gambling, etc., are no longer legal – See Chap. 134, Sec. 20, Law of 1902, which voids such restrictions at the end of a thirty year period in deeds made after July 26, 1887. Wawela Park deeds were made in 1888 and later; hence these restrictions became void after 1918. The privilege of use of “Common” etc. still holds good and always will. Such an “easement” or rights are a matter of common law (like the “right of way”) and once recorded in a deed entitles the holder to these right forever.

THE ASSOCIATION

On September 4, 1933, the cottagers at Wawela Park met to “form an association to promote the mutual interests of the cottagers and the betterment of Wawela Park.” George W. Bell was elected as President, Roscoe W. Bicknell, Vice President, Janet Nash, Treasurer and Donald D. Simonds, Secretary. At a Special Meeting on September 8, 1933 By-Laws were adopted, the name of the organization was established as WAWELA PARK ASSOCIATION and Committees were appointed. George Bell served as President for sixteen years, but more recently there has been a rotation of the two top officers. However, the Treasurer Janet Nash (now Westphal) and Donald Simonds, Secretary, have served continuously to date. We are deeply indebted to the leading spirit of George Bell, his organization experience and vigorous development of our organization. At the Annual Meeting of Sept. 2, 1945 it was unanimously voted that the name of the organization be changed to WAWELA ASSOCIATES, that By-Laws Article 1, Section 1 and Article 2 Section 1 be so amended. Each member of our organization has a copy of the By-Laws. Annual Meetings occur on the first Saturday evening in August and are usually held in the large cottage of the Putnams.

Wawela Associates has sponsored several improvements, the most notable of which was the conversion of the half-mile dusty road into a serviceable, more permanent road with a blacktop surface. This project was first discussed in the August 2, 1952 meeting, at which time the Road Committee made recommendations on a job that would cost about $2300.00. In a special Meeting August 15, 1952, it was unanimously “voted – that the road construction project as described in the Annual Meeting of August 2, 1952 be carried out; that there be levied against each cottage an annual assessment of $5.00 for road maintenance; that, in addition, each cottage owner shall pay a minimum of $20.00 per year until his or her share of the $200.00 cost per cottage be met for the proposed road construction, the amount to be paid through the Treasury to reimburse those who have agreed to meet the initial cost of road construction.” The initial cost proved to be $2356.80.

In the “good old days” (previous to our organized efforts), Dr. Baston used to lead the parade of volunteer workers, armed with shovels, hoes, rakes, picks, crowbars and sickles, wending their way down the dusty road and performing their duties as he directed. Getting rid of the ivy poisoning which they contracted was their individual problem later – but Dr. Baston had his immediate chore of cajoling money out of the cottagers to finance the annual road repairs and upkeep. Wawela has always been friendly and cooperative!

THE TENNIS COURT

For many years the recreational activities at the Park consisted of boating, fishing and swimming, with evening trips to Point Breeze or Beacon Park for dancing and bowling. Then a gravel-top Tennis Court was built and Tennis came into its own, with both young and old participating. Tournaments were staged throughout the season, with Fourth of July as the big day. Henry Putnam was an enthusiast and played a good game even after he turned seventy. Gradually, as the younger population thinned out, the interest turned to Sailing, weeds covered the court and Tennis became just a pleasant memory.

With the passing of time a new crop of youngsters came onto the scene with an urge to play Tennis, and this feeling was voiced by Avis Simonds in our Association meeting in 1954. In our 1956 meeting she reported having canvassed all cottage owners to see who would be financially interested in again having a Tennis Court. Her report in the 1957 meeting indicated that six families had become interest in financing the new Court, that it was nearly completed and was already being used. The project was handled by a newly formed group known as WAWELA TENNIS ASSOCIATION, Ethel Putnam acting as Treasurer. The original contributing families were Whitney, Webster, Hutchins, Simonds, Hubbard and Putnam. The cost of the blacktop Tennis Court complete with backstops, the finest in this area, was approximately $2300.00. It fills a real recreational need, is in constant use and makes a fine gathering place for the cottagers to meet and get acquainted. The maple trees on the west side of the Court are Memorial Trees planted in memory of departed Wawela residents – Annie Putnam, George Bell, Avis Simonds, Charles Hutchins and William Sheldon.

SAILING

The deep blue waters of Lake Chargoggagogg have for many years attracted the skippers of small sailboats and the wide expanse of “Middle Pond” has been the scene of many exciting racing events. The first race of which we have record took place on Labor Day in 1889, with fifteen boats entered. Mr. Spaulding Bartlett of Webster was one of the participants and his continued interest, spanning many years, had much to do with the preservation of this sport by local enthusiasts.

The earliest representative of Wawela was the Leader, skippered by Henry Baston during the early 1900’s. Among the boats contemporary to the Leader were the Idler I, skippered by the Morton family who were the original owners of what we now refer to as Craver’s Point; the Undine, owned by Reggie Clark; and the Hustler, built on Goat Island by Lyman Eddy and the last of this fleet to grace the waters of our lake as recently as 1962 at an estimated age of seventy-five years!

Another of the ardent sailors, in the period prior to World War I, was Osmon Marsh who skippered the forerunner of what is now called a Y Flyer. The boat was berthed at Cobble Island, but was a familiar sight on all the three parts of the lake.

Immediately following World War I, interest in sailing dwindled and part of this decline was undoubtedly due to an unfortunate accident of the Idler I off Jones’ Point, in which one life was lost. During the early 1920’s there were only three sailboats cruising about the lake – the Hustler, Undine and Meteor. Charles and John Putnam became interested and with their Dad’s guidance converted a rowboat to a sailboat, complete with centerboard and ample decks. This sufficed until the Meteor was acquired and somewhat later, the Hustler. These boats were sailed from morning till night by the Putnams and the Piehler Twins, Ed and Court.

About 1930, a Sea Scout Ship was formed in Webster by Dick Wales, who had come to work at the Stevens Linen Co. Mr. Craigin Bartlett became Chairman of the Sponsoring Committee consisting of Mssrs. Spaulding Bartlett, Wadsworth Crawford and William Cash. Through their efforts, the Ship acquired a twenty-five foot Surf Boat which had been declared surplus by the United States Coast Guard. This boat was used for training purposes and was based on a point of land opposite the westerly side of Union Point, owned at the time by Mr. Arthur Raymond. Mr. Raymond generously allowed the Sea Scouts to use this land free of charge until the time he sold it in 1952. Accordingly, it soon became known as Sea Scout Point.

In 1932, Dick Wales invited owners of sailboats to participate in a race, as part of a training program for his Sea Scouts. Charles and John Putnam sailed the Hustler, and Horace Trull the Undine. There were perhaps four or five other boats which had recently arrived on the lake, following the development of Killdeer and Union Point during the 1920s.

Racing under the auspices of the Sea Scouts became a regular Sunday afternoon event in 1933 and interest mounted rapidly, with trophies donated by the different colonies around the lake. John Putnam joined Dick Wales and Craigin Bartlett in the administration of the races, Wawela became represented by Charles Putnam and Osmon Marsh sailing the Nipmuc, Jean and Sherb Simonds skippering the Wee Scott, Roscoe Bicknell St., Roscoe Bicknell Jr., and Leb Case.

Jean and Sherb Simonds won the Well Island Trophy in 1937 and other trophies were won by Charles Putnam, the Bicknells and Leb Case, thus attesting to the competitive spirit of the Wawelaites in this period.

In 1935, the participants formed an association to assist the Sea Scouts, but the administration of the races was handled by the Sea Scouts until their disbandment in 1954. Following the loss of Sea Scout Point in 1952, the starting place for the race was moved to Point Breeze. When the Sea Scout Ship disbanded, the Sailing Association took over and the starting point was transferred to the Putnam boathouse in 1954.

More recent trophy winners for Wawela have been Jane and Dally Putnam, Dr. and Mrs. Robert Hammond, and Jane Gras.

Webster Sailing Association built a Clubhouse at Winter Cove in 1960, to promote continued interest in the sport and aid non-residents who wished to participate. As a result, there are now sixty-six active members and fifty-eight registered boats divided into seven classes – 505s, Flying Dutchman, Gemini and Day Sailors, Town Class, Jets, and Handicap Classes A and B.

With the large number of youngsters coming along, Wawela should be well represented in the years immediately ahead

 

 


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