Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Pine Knoll ca.1917


For better quality image, see note marked * below.

This copy of an old photo of Pine Knoll was sent to me with a Christmas card years ago (1998?). I just re-discovered it this week as I thumbed through old photo albums looking for something else. 

With it came a typewritten document of 4 pages, with several handwritten notes at the bottom of page 4:

"Christmas Greetings from Florence and Jack Lord" 

"Picture probably taken by Charlie Osgood in 1917 of Florence learning to ride Aunt Oda's English bicycle on the western Avenue."

"Earl and Betty Clay assisted with copying and mailing logistics."

I assume this mailing was sent to many other Nichols relatives. I will make inquiries and see if I can learn more. I do recognize all the names in these notes, and know, sadly, that none are still living today. I wish I'd paid more attention at that time to family history and stories. 

The document, written by "M. E. Nichols  January 4, 1948," is not related to this photograph, but tells much about the early history of this home, which we called "Pine Knoll," and the trees and other plants  included in the landscaping. Andrew Nichols created this homestead in 1861. M.E. Nichols is Mary Eliot Nichols, his daughter, whom I knew as my great aunt, "Aunt May."

The address of this home was 98 Preston Street, Danvers. This view is from the Preston Street side. Beyond the house was a knoll of pine trees, and beyond that, the Newburyport Turnpike. This homestead was said to be near the halfway point between Boston and Newburyport.

 * For better quality image, and family photos of that era, visit:

Monday, December 21, 2020

Locust Lawn Club patch


Last week, when I opened an envelope from a childhood friend, I was surprised and delighted to find this wool felt patch inside. 

This gift triggered many fond memories of skiing at Locust Lawn, and memories of my father, who founded the Locust Lawn Club and built the ski tows there. He probably designed this patch, too, though I'm unsure about how and when this patch was created. 

I confess that I don't recall seeing this patch before.  That's the biggest surprise to me. (Is my memory fading, or was this patch designed after I had grown up and moved on?)  My sister Jean, two years younger, does remember it.

Please add comments, below, if you have memories of this patch.  Thank you. 

About 20 years ago I began writing about Locust Lawn skiing in order to fill in a gap on the NELSAP website. The organizers of NELSAP (New England Lost Ski Areas Project) were identifying abandoned ski areas by hiking over hills and looking for evidence of old ski trials and remains of ski lift equipment. Since the Locust Lawn ski hill had been bulldozed and removed in 1971 to make way for Rte 95, I knew that no hikers would ever find it. Thus, I submitted a short report and also created a supplemental webpage with links to many photographs.  

Receipt of this patch prompted me to re-visit the NELSAP website. A photo of the Locust Lawn Club patch (same design, also a bit moth-eaten) now tops the Locust Lawn page! It is fun to see what other people have contributed. See

You'll find a link there to my original LL webpage, which looks very plain and old-fashioned, by today's standards. But it still tells the history:

Sunday, November 8, 2020


This morning's earthquake in New Bedford, Massachusetts, is a reminder that earthquakes can happen in New England.  

Decades ago, when I was living in earthquake-prone California, and married to a seismologist, I was very conscious of earthquakes. For a while I volunteered in our city's earthquake preparedness efforts, educating people about appropriate preparations and supplies to keep on hand, in case "the big one" came.

My father, visiting from New England, brought me his copy of The Holyoke Diaries, 1709-1858. I didn't have time then to read that book, but later became curious. I thought it would be interesting to read diary entries from family members so long ago.  In truth, those diaries entries were disappointingly short and cryptic, needing other clues to round out a story.  I was fascinated, however, to see many mentions of earthquakes.  I began to write those entries on a piece of paper...

Today, I reached up in my bookshelf, pulled down the old volume, and was pleased to see that my piece of paper was still tucked in front.  

My notes include these 11 New England earthquakes noted by Rev. Edward Holyoke in his diary: 

  • June 3, 1744  City shook of an earthquake  (p. 7)
  • Nov. 18, 1755  A very great Earthquake at 4h 13'  (p. 15)
  • Nov. 22, 1755  A considerable Shock of an Earthquake 8:30 P.M. (p. 15)
  • Dec. 19, 1755  A small Shock of a Earthquake at 10h 15'  P.M. (p. 15)
  • July 8, 1757  A considerable Shock of an Earthquake 2h 17' P.M.  (p. 17)
  • Feb. 2, 1759  An Earthquake  2h 2'  Mane circa.  (p. 20) 
  • Nov. 9, 1760  A Small Earthquake 8h 30' Mane circa. (p. 23)
  • Mar. 12, 1761  A very considerable Shock of an Earthquake about 2. 19 morn (p. 23)
  • Nov. 1, 1761 A Considerable Earthquake 8. 12 P.M. (p. 25)
  • Jan 23, 1766  An Earthquake 5:30 Morn. (p. 29)
  • Oct. 15, 1767  A small Earthquake circa 11h A.M. (p 29)
His son, Edward Augustus Holyoke, also kept a dairy and noted earthquakes on June 3, 1744 and Feb 4, 1746 ("A smal Earthquake as Some Say at 1-2").

As I typed up my notes, I consulted the Diaries, and made a few necessary corrections. This list above is more accurate than my handwritten notes shown in the photo.  I also searched on the Internet to learn more about some of these earthquakes. Here's a good overview of the history of earthquakes in Massachusetts:

From 1668 through 2016, Massachusetts had a total of 408 felt earthquakes!  The northeast US has had over 2000 in that period.