The Ichabod Washburn Benevolent Fund was established over 130 years ago through a bequest to the Town of Kingston. Washburn, who was born and raised in Kingston, made his fortune as a wire manufacturer in Worcester but never forgot his hometown or the struggles of his mother, who raised her family alone after the death of her husband. In 1869, Washburn’s will left $10,000 to the Town for the creation of a fund from which interest would be distributed to “widows and maiden ladies of good character and reputation.” Original account books, receipts and other records of the Fund are now on display in the Local History Room exhibit case.
Happy Helen Foster Day!
September 24 marks the birthday of one of Kingston’s notables, Helen Foster. Born in 1900, she studied art extensively and eventually became the first female commercial artist in Boston. She lent her talents to her hometown, designing the town seal and town quilt, collaborating on the town flag, and serving on the Council on Aging. For more on Helen’s life, click here for the biography written for the Kingston Arts Festival “Past Masters” exhibit, which featured Helen’s work.
One of the LHR’s long-term, part-time assistant amateur archivists, who knows Helen only through indexing the extensive diaries Helen kept throughout her life, had this to say:
She was very deep, an exceptional woman. Her description of the world she saw is an explosion of detail and color. I can see from just her words the fields of her childhood, every flower, tree and rock. When she writes about the spontaneous parade she saw at the end of World War I, the soldiers march off the pages and the flags fly high. I am always moved by her words. What an amazing, talented artist.
This kind of connection — getting to know someone you never had the chance to meet in real life — is one of the special things about a local history collection as rich as ours.