Frederick W. Cheever (late 1800’s)

Newspaper article about Frederick Cheever

Frederick W. Cheever was a West Boylston resident in the late 1800s/early 1900s who came from a line of military men. He was descended from Revolutionary War Generals Hosmer and Norcross and his father served in the Civil War. Now, Frederick’s turn to serve came in 1898 with the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. The…

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W. J. Burns (1897)

Image of a newspaper clipping about W. J. Burns

 W.J. Burns became West Boylston’s first uniformed policeman in May 1897. Before him, there was a local sheriff, but we aren’t positive what local law enforcement looked like in industrial West Boylston. Burns came into the force in response to increased “tramps” in town—homeless people who came to and stayed in West Boylston because of…

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James F. Higgins (1900’s)

Higgins Girl seated with dog

James F. Higgins was an undertaker and amateur photographer who lived in West Boylston around the turn of the 20th century. He ran his embalming business in the Sawyer General Store located on the old town common. He took a lot of photographs during his time in West Boylston. He eventually moved to Athol after…

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Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880)

Image of Lydia Marie Child

The town of West Boylston owes a great debt to Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880). Though she did not live in West Boylston for long, her husband David Lee Child (1794-1874) was born in town. Lydia donated his entire book collection to found the first West Boylston public library upon his death. Lydia was born in…

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John Temple (1762-1841)

John Temple restored son in law of Ezra 3

John Temple was a prominent farmer and charismatic public figure who served as Chairman of the West Boylston Board of Selectmen for six successive years and aided the town in other areas with his energetic public presence. In 1793, he married Persis (Beaman) Bigelow, daughter of Maj. Ezra Beaman; she was the widow of Dr.…

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Ezra Beaman, West Boylston’s Town Father 1736-1811


Why is this Library called the *Beaman* Memorial Library? The Beaman Memorial Library is named after EZRA BEAMAN, known as the “Town Father” for his critical role in West Boylston’s foundation… Ezra Beaman’s family stretched back far into Massachusetts’ past; his ancestor Gamaliel Beaman came to the new colony from England in 1635. He originally…

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Ezra Beaman, Jr., son of the Town Father 1770-1863

Ezra Beaman Jr bestshot

Ezra Beaman, Jr. was born in December 1770, the youngest son of Ezra Beaman and Persis Keyes Beaman. He lived to be 92 years old, managing the Beaman Tavern until he died in 1863. Ezra Jr. was an eccentric man known to townspeople as “Uncle Ezra.” He even had his own expression: “Faith, I vow,…

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Who was Thomas Plunkett?


Sgt. Thomas Plunkett had a choice: to flee to safety after receiving a horrific wound or to protect the flag of the nation he volunteered to defend. His decision cost him both of his arms but ultimately made him an American hero. Born in Ireland, Thomas Plunkett moved to West Boylston as a child and…

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