Marcus Aldrich and Mendon's Founders' Park

    Marcus Aldrich was very proud of his family heritage and the role that it played in Mendon history.  His
    ancestors served the town in many capacities, but it was the settlement of the town in the 1660's that
    was his greatest source of pride. He was deeply grateful for the many hardships that his Aldrich
    forebearers had to endure on behalf of future generations, and this served as an inspiration for him to
    be actively involved in preserving the town's history.

    George and Katherine Aldrich and their eleven children were one of several families who traveled from
    Braintree or Weymouth in the 1660's to begin a new life  in the wilderness. An eight mile square parcel
    called  Squinshepauge had been purchased from Indians in 1662, and the new settlement was called
    Netmocke Plantation. In  order to create a new town out of the forested land of the Nipmucs, much
    hard work had to be done. Land was cleared, trees were chopped, planks were cut, and houses were  
    built.  Paths were widened to form roads, and a new town emerged on May 15, 1667. It was named
    Mendon, after Mendham,  England.  A meeting house was built in 1668 on land owned by Joseph
    White. It was between Willow Brook and Muddy Brook. This first public building became the center of
    their lives. The people were governed by democracy, and they were required to worship in accordance
    with their Puritan and Quaker theology. The town was isolated, the nearest neighbor being Medfield,
    fifteen miles away. The Aldriches and other families worked hard on their farms on a daily basis in
    order to survive.  

    The King Philip War devastated the vulnerable frontier town. Nipmuc warriors attacked on July 14,
    1675, killing five people, the first casualties of war in Massachusetts Bay Colony. The terrorized,  
    inadequately protected inhabitants fled back to Braintree and Weymouth in November in order to avoid
    the inevitable return of the warriors. As anticipated, every wooden structure was burned to the ground.
    All the hard work of the pioneer families had been destroyed. With Philip's death in August 1676, the
    war ended. During the next four years, the residents returned to their charred ruins and rebuilt their
    homes, barns, and sheds. A second meeting house was built on Joseph White's property in 1680,
    and the brave inhabitants began a second attempt at an agricultural way of life in their resurrected
    town. The destruction of their town was only a temporary  setback for Mendon's first residents.

    In 1905, Marcus Aldrich, president of the Mendon Historical Society, became aware that the parcel of
    land that once belonged to Joseph White was for sale. It had played an extremely important part of
    Mendon's history. It was the site of the town's first three meeting houses. The settlers first worshipped
    and practiced democracy here. It was the focal point of their religious and political lives, only to be left
    in ashes. The sawpit was located here in which logs were cut into planks for the construction of their
    homes and farm buildings. Marcus thought that it would be a fitting tribute if the land could be
    purchased and preserved as a park in memory of the town's first residents. He wrote letters to all the
    known descendants of the founding families and asked them for donations for the purchase of the
    land. The response was very generous, and the descendants included many distinguished donors.
    They included Sen. Nelson Aldrich , Gov. Royal Taft (RI), General William Draper, Lt. Gov. Eben Draper,
    George Draper, Austin B. Fletcher, D. Webster Comstock, and many others . The town graciously
    accepted Founders' Park as a gift at a town meeting on November 7, 1905.

    Mendon's establishment  was based on a group of courageous  families who had a tireless work
    ethic, a willingness to endure the dangers of the wilderness, an enthusiasm for farming and hunting,
    and an amazing  resilience to the effects of the town's destruction by war. Marcus Aldrich's leadership
    and the generosity of fifty descendants made it possible to purchase and preserve a historic parcel
    and to create a park in memory of the first settlers. It serves as a perpetual tribute to an incredibly
    stalwart group of families who laid the foundation for our way of life.

    Richard Grady                                                                                                                                                             
    July 23, 2013

                                                          Founders Park                       Mendon Menu             

                                                              Founders Park

                              By Emily L. Coleman, Town Clerk, August 10, 1970

    Mendon Town Records, Vol. 9 Page 413.  Town Meeting, November 7, 1905, Article 2. To see if the
    Town will vote to accept a gift of the Corner House Lot, so called, to be forever held by it solely as and
    for a public park and a memorial to the founders of Mendon, or act in any way in relation to securing
    and accepting such gift to the town.

    Article 3:  To see if the Town will discontinue the street, way or travelled path connecting Main Street
    with Hastings Street near or over the north-easterly portion of The Corner Lot, so called.

    Article 4.  Shall sections one to fourteen inclusive of Chapter twenty-eight of Revised Laws authorizing
    cities and towns to lay out public parks wihin their limits be accepted?

    Mendon Town Records, Vol. 9 Page 417.  Town Meeting November 7, 1905 Article 2 Voted that the
    town will accept as a gift The Corner House Lot, so called, to e forever held by it as and for a public
    park and a memorial to the founders of Mendon, and the Selectmen or Park Commissioners are
    authorized in behalf of the town to accept a proper deed of said Corner House Lot for the purpose
    aforesaid.  Yes-eighteen votes.  No-two votes

    Article 3:  Voted that the town do discontinue the street, way or travelled path connecting Main Street
    with Hastings Street near or over the north-easterly portion of the Corner House Lot, so called.

    Mendon Town Records Vol. 9 page 417,418.  Adjournment from November 7, 1905 to November 13,
    1905  Article 4:  The voters were invited to bring in their votes “Yes” or “No” in answer to the question
    “Shall sections one to fourteen inclusive of Chapter twenty-eight of Revised Laws authorizing cities
    and towns to lay out public parks within their limits be accepted?  Yes – fifteen  No – none  (Park Law-
    Land taken for or held as a park, under this chapter shall be forever kept open and maintained as  
    public park and no building exceeding 600 square feet shall be erected on a park without leave from
    the General Court.)

    Mendon Town Records, Vol. 9, page 438.  Town Meeting November 6, 1906  Article 2:  Voted that the
    town will accept as a gift the lot of land named in Article 2 being bounded as follows, viz:  Beginning at
    the northwesterly corner of the premises at land of Alonzo E. Brown, formerly of Rebecca L. Holmes;
    thence southerly with line of an old fence and bounding on said Brown’s land to land formerly Mr.
    Childs but now belonging to Isaac L. White; thence easterly to building on said White’s land to land
    belonging to the Inhabitants to Hastings Street; thence westerly with Hastings Street to point of
    beginning; the same to be forever held by it as and for a public park and as a memorial to the
    founders of Mendon; and the Selectmen are hereby authorized in behalf of the town to accept a proper
    deed of said land for the purposes aforesaid.  Yes eighteen votes unanimous.

    Mendon Town Records Vol. 9, page 454.  Town Meeting November 5, 1907.  Article 2:  To see if the
    town will vote to place on record any Resolution pursuant to its acquirements of the lot of land now
    know as Founders Park or take any action in relation to the same.

    Mendon Town Records, Vol. 9 page 469.  Town Meeting November 5, 1907 Article 2 Voted:  That in as
    much as at the hands of the Mendon Historical Society, by donations from descendants of the
    founders of the town of Mendon, secured through the efforts of its President, Marcus M. Aldrich, the
    town has secured the lot of land now known as Founder’s Park, that the town do extend to the Mendon
    Historical Society and the said donors its thanks for said gift and that the Town Clerk is hereby
    directed to enter upon the records of the town the names of said donors.

    Mendon Town Records, Vol. 9 page 471, 472 1907 Founders Park:

    We, the undersigned, agree to pay the sums set against our respective names for the purpose of
    purchasing and beautifying as a permanent memorial to the founders of the ancient town of Mendon,
    Massachusetts, what is known as the “Corner House Lot”, at the corner of Main and Hastings Streets
    in said town, where the three earliest meeting-houses were successively built, the same to be
    conveyed to said town and forever held by it solely for use by the public for the purpose above named,
    with no building thereon unless built solely and evidently for such memorial purposes, or as a library
    building to be itself so designated and marked as to be forever known as a memorial to such
    founders of the town.

    Gen. William F. Draper        Hopedale        $100.00

    George A. Draper        Hopedale        $100.00

    Eben S. Draper, Lieut. Gov. of Mass.        Hopedale        $100.00

    George Otis Draper        Hopedale        $ 50.00

    George W. Knight        Hopedale        $ 25.00

    William E. Hayward        Uxbridge        $ 50.00

    Royal C. Taft, Ex Gov. of RI        Providence, RI        $ 50.00

    Charles F. Claflin        Milford        $ 50.00

    Joseph B. Bancroft        Hopedale        $100.00

    Julius A. George, Esq.        Mendon        $ 50.00

    George M. Taft        Mendon        $ 25.00

    Harriet E. Darling        Mendon        $ 50.00

    Gustavus B. Williams, Esq.        Milford        $ 10.00

    Charles M. Thayer        Worcester        $   5.00

    Harry T. Hayward        Franklin        $ 50.00

    George W. Knowlton        West Upton        $ 50.00

    Mrs. Eli W. Batchelor        West Upton        $ 50.00

    Margaret Chapin Bazeley        Uxbridge        $ 50.00

    Fred H. Daniels        Worcester        $ 10.00

    Eben J. Knowlton        New York City        $ 50.00

    D. Webster Comstock        New York City        $ 25.00

    Fred C. Taft        Uxbridge        $ 25.00

    Leonard T. Gaskill        Mendon        $ 10.00

    Nelson W. Aldrich, US Senator        Providence, RI        $100.00

    Henry M. Aldrich        Woburn        $ 50.00

    Marcus M. Aldrich        Mendon        $ 50.00

    Henry W. Taft        Cincinnati, Ohio        $ 50.00

    Charles P. Taft        Washington, DC        $ 25.00

    T. H. Aldrich, M.C.        Birmingham, Alabama        $ 50.00

    Charles T. Aldrich        Providence, RI        $ 25.00

    Edward D. Thayer        Worcester        $ 50.00

    William F. Aldrich, M.C.        Birmingham, Alabama        $ 50.00

    Armenia S. White        Concord, NH        $ 50.00

    Austin B. Fletcher, Esq.        New York City        $100.00

    Ellen Thayer Clary        Worcester        $ 25.00

    H. D. Bowker        Milford        $   5.00

    George E. Stacy        Milford        $   5.00

    John O. Austin        Providence, RI        $     .50

    Helen C. Adams Hanson        Uxbridge        $   5.00

    Arthur Wheelock        Uxbridge        $ 10.00

    Edward J. O’Sullivan        Milford        $     .50

    Frederick H. Whitin        New York City        $ 10.00

    Henry L. Patrick        Hopedale        $ 10.00

    M. J. C. Russell        Milford        $   5.00

    Daniel Thurber Nelson, M.D.        Chicago, Illinois        $   5.00

    Francis N. Thayer, Esq.        Blackstone        $   5.00

    Annie Metcalf        New York City        $   2.00

    Rev. Charles J. Staples        Burlington, Vermont        $ 10.00

    Bertrand Aldrich, Esq.        Douglas        $ 10.00

    H. L. Aldrich        New York City        $ 20.00

    George H. Whiting        Mendon        $   2.00

    The foregoing subscription list is entered in this book of records in accordance with a vote of the town,
    passed at a town meeting held on the fifth day of November A.D. 1907, and is a true copy of said list
    with this exception, ie, where any of the donors were entitled to a prefix or suffix to their names it has
    been inserted in the foregoing list, in order that generations to come may know the type of individuals
    that were interested in “Mother Mendon.”

                                           Horace C. Adams, Town Clerk