Category Archives: Schools

Congratulations Graduates!

Stop by the Library and take a look at this month’s exhibit, which highlights Kingston graduates and graduations from 1862 on.

Kingston High School Class of 1911

This photograph was donated by the daughter of one of the graduates pictured.  The inscription on the back reads “Vesta Porter. Mamma first girl on left, next to her (front) Susan Quinn & Margaret Holmes. Others are Freda Tobey, Abbie & Adaline Harrub, Philip Smith, Ralph Drew, Stanley Skakle.” Vest Porter wrote the Class Prophecy, which peered into the future lives of her classmates.

Laddie – A Christmas Story

Laddie convinces Santa, 1928
Laddie convinces Santa, 1928

In 1928, the first and second grade students in Elspeth Hardy’s class wrote a holiday story about a little dog named Laddie saving Christmas for his family. As Mrs. Hardy described the process, “The children worked collectively; one child started with an opening sentence, the others took the thought and followed on until the tale was finished.” Illustrated by Kingston High graduate Marion Cobb Dries, the book was published in November 1928.

Laddie will be featured at Storytime in the Children’s Room on Monday, Dec. 21 at 6:30 in a special reading by archivist Susan Aprill.

Martin Parris & the Small-Pox

Martin Parris, no date
Martin Parris, no date

Who was Martin Parris?

One of Kingston’s first school teachers, Martin Parris was born in Pembroke in 1766.  He attended Brown University; in May 1794 the Kingston Selectmen hired him to teach school at an annual salary of seventy pounds.  That same year, he married Kingston native Julia Drew; they would eventually have three sons, all of whom predeceased them.  Parris taught in Kingston for about eight years, then continued teaching in Plymouth for several more.

In 1817, he was ordained as a minister of the First Congregational Church of Marshfield.  Though noted as an excellent teacher of good character, he appears to have been less successful in his second career, perhaps in part due to the deaths of two of his sons during his Marshfield tenure.  Parris retired in 1838 and returned to Kingston, where on November 15, 1839, he died of “old age and hiccoughs.” *

In 1792, he was inoculated against smallpox.

Certificate of 'inoculation' of Martin Parris by Ephraim Wales, 1792
Certificate of 'inoculation' of Martin Parris by Ephraim Wales, 1792

Braintree Oct.r 9th 1792
This certifies that Mr. Martin Parris, having received the Small-Pox at my hospital, is properly cleansed from the infection, and has paid the customary fees for inoculation, board and attendance.
Ephraim Wales

And who was Ephraim Wales?

Born on May 9, 1746, in the South Precinct of Braintree (later Randolph ), Ephraim Wales was “an eminent and successful doctor.” After graduating from Harvard College in 1768, he studied with Dr. Amos Putnam of Danvers, then returned to South Braintree to establish his medical practice.  He opened a smallpox hospital across South Main Street from his home, where in 1777 he inoculated Continental Army soldiers after General George Washington ordered all troops and recruits who had not had the disease to undergo the treatment.

A year earlier, the disease had struck the Army severely, part of an epidemic that affected the new country between 1775 and 1782 and killed an estimated 125,000 people. Though the first inoculations in North America dated to 1721, town residents opposed Wales’ hospital.  The disease had a frightening mortality rate and inoculation, also called variolation or insufflation, meant purposeful infection with a milder form of the disease to create immunity. A true vaccine would not be developed until 1796.

In 1793, Dr. Wales served on the committee that formed the town of Randolph from the South Precinct, and as the first town moderator. He also taught a number of medical students. He died April 7, 1805.


* Vital Records of Kingston Massachusetts to the Year 1850. (1911)

In the Pilgrim Way: History of the First Congregational Church, Marshfield, MA. by Linda Ramsey Ashley (2001)

“Old house isn’t as historic as was thought” by Fred Hanson. The Patriot Ledger, May 2, 2005

Contributions to the Annals of Medical Progress and Medical Education in the United States Before and During the War of Independence by Joseph Meredith Toner (1874; reprinted 1970)

Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of the State of Massachusetts. Edited by William Richard Cutter and William Frederick Adams (191 0)

Back to school

To the despair of children everywhere (and likely to the joy of their parents), it is that time of year when the school year starts anew.
Here are Elspeth Hardy’s first graders at the Center Primary school on Green Street, now called the Faunce School.  Mrs. Hardy taught generations of Kingston children in a career that spanned several schools and more than fifty years.
Mrs. Hardy's first grade class at the Center Primary School, 1915
Mrs. Hardy's first grade class at the Center Primary School, 1915

The text on the chalkboard tells us that “the body is the temple of the soul,” a lesson for all time perhaps.

School’s out!

Students on the steps of the old Kingston High School, May 6, 1892
Students on the steps of the old Kingston High School, May 6, 1892

The spring is sweet for many reasons, not least of which is the end of the school year. These Kingston High School students, posed on the steps of that august institute of learning, probably looked forward to three months off as much as their counterparts today.

The old high school stands no more; the site on Main Street is now occupied by the Kingston Police Department.   Dedicated on May 10, 1867, KHS served generations of students until replaced in 1955 by the brand new Silver Lake Regional High School. The school-age population had long outgrown the old building, which according to one newspaper account “was inadequate and unsound…in a state of condemnation by the State building inspector.”  The KHS building stood vacant until October 1962, when it was demolished.

“Proficiency in Typewriting”

"Certificate of Proficiency in Typewriting," October 26, 1925
“Certificate of Proficiency in Typewriting,” October 26, 1925

Here is a recent acquisition, a fragment of the past that made its way into the Local History Room. This wallet-sized certificate attests to the speed and accuracy of the typwriting skills of one Esther De Marzio. Who was she, we ask?

A 1927 Kingston High School graduate, Literary Editor and writer for The Quill, the KHS literary magazine, a teacher at Kingston Elementary School for 38 years and Principal there for 34, Miss De Marzio (or Di Marzio, as sometimes appears) moved to Kingston at the age of 10 and spent the next 80 years here. She volunteered in the Local History Room, served on the scholarship committee of the Council on Aging, read for the blind, traveled the world and enjoyed Gray’s Beach and her garden. Here she is sometime in the 1930s.

Florence Esther De Marzio, circa 1935
Florence Esther De Marzio, circa 1935

To find out more on Underwood typewriters (don’t laugh: the history of office equipment is fascinating!), click here or here.

Source: Kingston Reporter, “Florence DeMarzio, 90, school principal,” August, 17, 2000.

South Shore Football Champions of 1933

Football Champions

This group portrait shows some of the 1933 South Shore Champion Football Team of Kingston High School on the football field at the Bailey Playground (note the goal post in the background). Twenty-eight  boys, out of a total student body of 131 in Grades 9-12, went out for football that year. The new principal Mr. Gotschall supervised the football team (and the boys basketball team) in addition to his administrative duties.  Under the principal’s leadership, this small, inexperienced team won five games, lost two and tied one to capture the championship.  And as icing on the cake, the football games cleared a profit of $70.33; along with money from magazine sales and gifts, the school’s athletic and lunchroom bills were paid in full.

Members of the 1933 Kingston High School Football team
Members of the 1933 Kingston High School Football team

Front row (kneeling): Bob Bailey, Raoul Corrazari, George Candini, Clyde Mills, Eddie Cadwell, Stephen Reed, Bob Davis.  Second row: Malcolm “Mac” Peterson, Alfred Bruneau,  Harold “Slim” Alberghini,  Chester “Chet” Morrison, Amelio Ruffini, Russell “Prout” Prouty.

Note the equipment that would never meet today’s safety standards.

Back to school

Back to school

The first day of school in 1909 found some Kingston children attending the newest school in town, the Maple Avenue School. It was a two room building, planned so that another room could be added if necessary, and it was the most modern and hygienic schoolhouse to be had. Students entered through a porch which afforded protection in stormy weather, and studied in two well-lighted and ventilated classrooms. A teacher’s room and coat room were also included. The classrooms were arranged so that one teacher could oversee both as well as the entrances to the two playrooms in the basement. The latter were light and airy, with a toilet approved for schoolhouse use. Except for the blackboard ledges, there were no projecting surfaces to catch and hold dust and germs; there were no thresholds to stumble over. The coat- and hat-racks were carefully arranged so each individual garment touched neither the wall nor its neighbors.

Maple Avenue School, 2002
Maple Avenue School, 2002

Land for the school had been purchased for $500 from Albert E. Holmes, partitioned from the rear of his lot on Main Street. The school was built by George B. Holmes, who five years later built the Cobb School in Rocky Nook. Construction costs totaled $8,618, somewhat more than expected but the town was for the most part pleased with the new facility. On opening day, four grades were taught by two teachers, Annie Fales and Stella Baker. There was no gymnasium, no lunch room, and storage space was hard to find, but few complained and all made do. Music instruction and speech therapy classes were held in a storage room, hot food deliveries supplemented lunches brought from home, and students were bussed to the larger Elementary School for special events.

The Maple Avenue School served the children of Kingston for many years. Over its history, as many as 132 students attended in a single year, split into four grades in the two classrooms. The school was closed several times only to be reopened to relieve overcrowding in the Elementary School or the High School. In 1974, the Maple Avenue School closed for good, replaced by the new Kingston Elementary School. The building served as overflow office space for the old Town House, housing many town departments until the completion of the new Town House in 2003.

Maple Avenue School, class portrait, circa 1914

These children are posed on the steps of the Maple Avenue School around 1914 or so. Although we don’t have an date for the photo, they appear to be fifth or sixth graders, and the second boy from the left in the front row is Russell Loring, who graduated from Kingston High School, Class of 1920. The Town Report for 1914 notes that 47 pupils attended the Center School, as Maple Avenue was known, that year; our photo shows 42. Any information about the children or their teacher might more accurately date the photo, so if you can identify someone, let us know in the comments.

In 1914, schools in Kingston included the High School; three Center schools (later differentiated as Maple Avenue, Faunce and Patuxet) for grades 1-8; the Stoney Brook School for grades 1-3; the Silver Lake School for grades 1-7 and three Rocky Nook Schools for grades 1-7, including the new Cobb School in Rocky Nook which housed grades 4-7. In 1914, Kingston was just starting to move toward centralized schools rather than the more traditional neighborhood schools, although it was still common for different grades to share a classroom and a single teacher, as our photo seems to show.

The students are all dressed up for their class portrait with knickers and ties for the boys and long stockings and big hair bows for the girls. Styles have certainly changed, but school still starts in September.

Sources: Town of Kingston Annual Reports; Vertical Files collection.