Wellesley Historical Society

Ether Day - History Mystery, October 2016

 

Question - October 15, 2016

Every October, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) celebrates Ether Day. On this day, a Wellesley resident is recognized as being the first person to publicly demonstrate the use of ether for anesthesia during surgery at MGH on October 16, 1846.  This person lived in the home pictured above, appropriately named "Etherton Cottage.” Do you know the name of this noted Wellesley resident?  Return on Oct. 28th for the answer!

Answer - October 28, 2016

The name of the Wellesley resident who lived at Etherton Cottage was Dr. William Thomas Green Morton.  Surprisingly, Dr. Morton was a dentist, not a medical doctor, when he demonstrated the use of anesthesia.  Dr. Morton manufactured artificial teeth and did so in an outbuilding on his property.  In fact, it was his patients’ discomfort while having teeth pulled that led to his interest in anesthesia.

Dr. Morton lived at Etherton Cottage with his wife and five children when Wellesley was still part of Needham.  The property had extensive grounds with barns and outbuildings.  Morton farmed the land and raised Jersey cows, geese, hens and ducks. When William Morton died in 1868 the property passed to his wife and children.  His family sold the property to H.H. Hunnewell in 1878.  Shortly after Wellesley was incorporated in 1881, Mr. Hunnewell gifted the land to the town to build a town hall and library.  H.H. Hunnewell had Etherton Cottage moved to a nearby flat section of land, aptly named Morton Field, where it stood for about 40 years before it was torn down.  

Wellesley Town Hall still stands on the property formerly occupied by Etherton Cottage.  If you are ever up for a game of hide and seek, see if you can find the stone marker pictured below.  It is located at Town Hall and reads, “Here lived Dr. W.T.G. Morton, He gave to the world the use of ether in surgery A.D. 1846.”

For more information on Morton and his role in the discovery of anesthesia, please click on this PBS article: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/the-painful-story-behind-modern-anesthesia/

Ellen Murphy, Volunteer Research Assistant

 

 

 


Summer Interns Install New Data Loggers


Wellesley Historical Society was fortunate to have the help of two volunteers this summer, Tycho McManus and Rachel Woodring.  Tycho is a Wellesley resident and senior at Binghamton University majoring in History and Rachel is a student at Simmons College in the Masters of Library Science program with a concentration in Archives.  Both interns assisted Kathleen Fahey, WHS Curator, with a variety of projects.
Our interns are shown above installing our new Onset data loggers which help monitor our museum environment.  Data loggers in storage areas will take hourly temperature and relative humidity readings while data loggers in exhibit areas will take hourly temperature, relative humidity and light level readings.  Readings are downloaded to our computer and provide graphs and charts to help us understand how temperature, relative humidity and light levels change from day to day and season to season.  Maintaining an optimal, stable environment is vital to the long term preservation of any museum or archival collection and the data loggers will help us to understand how our heating and cooling decisions affect the collection.


A data logger in our archives storage area.

Denton Butterflies in Bloom!

Denton Butterflies in Bloom!

Spring brings our annual collaboration with the Hills Garden Club of Wellesley, when garden club members create floral arrangements inspired by the Wellesley Historical Society's collection.  This year, six specimens from the Denton Butterfly Collection were selected to inspire these elegant arrangements. 

The Denton Brothers was a successful local business started by Wellesley residents William D. and R. Winsford Denton in 1895.  The brothers, better known as Willie and Winsey, sold their patented butterfly mounts at exhibitions throughout America and also locally from their shop on Denton Road.  The Wellesley Historical Society is fortunate to have both the Denton Brothers business papers and a collection of over 2,400 Denton entomology specimens from the turn of the twentieth century.  

Each arrangement was created by a group of Hills Garden Club members and revealed at their annual meeting and luncheon on May 13th at the Wellesley Country Club.  Floral interpretations were exhibited alongside each Denton butterfly and truly captured the essence of each delicate specimen

Pictured above is a Prioneric Clemanthe specimen from the WHS Denton Brothers Butterfly Collection along with its floral accompaniment. This group arrangement was led by Hills Garden Club President Cynthia Ballantyne and former President Lucy Lynch.


Ice Sculpture - History Mystery, March 2014

March 14, 2014 Question

As we slog our way through these closing weeks of winter, here's a fun reminder of the joyful side of snow. Do you recognize this Wellesley resident and her magnificent sculpture?  Look for the answer on March 26th.

March 26, 2014 Answer

This 1978 photograph shows artist Isabella Livingston (1919-1993) and her towering T. Rex ice sculpture in front of her Benvenue Street home.  Livingston, born in Wellesley and a resident much of her life, was famous for her spectacular annual ice sculptures, which included a dragon, a walrus and a unicorn.  Each 10 to 12 foot sculpture was modeled from scale drawings and required months of planning.


Linden Street Delicatessen - History Mystery, January 2014

Welcome to the Wellesley Historical Society's first History Mystery. This will be an ongoing series in which we pose an open-ended question related to our community's storied past. How does your local knowledge measure up?  For those who are stumped, answers will be revealed in two weeks.

Let the mysteries begin!

January 9, 2014  Question

Do you remember this man and the famous fare he served? Do you know which current local hotspot is this locale's successor? Look for the answer in two weeks!

January 23, 2014  Answer

If this picture brought to mind mozzarella and prosciutto and hot italian subs, then you were RIGHT!  This circa 1963 photograph shows Nino DiPirro, owner of the Linden Street Delicatessen, fondly known at the time as "Nino's."  The deli, just ten stools large, was as much of a town fixture then as it is now.  Originally opened in 1933 by the DiPirro family, the deli was taken over in 1979 by the LeBrun family, which still stands at the helm and keeps Wellesley residents well fed today.

Photo of the Linden Street Delicatessen, c. 1963 by Ulrike Welsch, from the archives of the Wellesley Historical Society

 


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