Greetings! A well-chilled air has settled here, and Shovel Shop Pond has been skimmed over with a thin icy layer since Sunday. Today's bright sun reflects nicely off the surface of the pond reminding me of the natural beauty here in Easton. The Museum will be open all this week for your holiday shopping needs. We have the Mary Bodio prints available as well as Reminiscences Volume 9 and other great gifts. Be sure to stop in and find a really great gift for someone special. Special attention should be given to Stonehill College alumni, current students, and employees who would be interested in the print of Stonehill College! Remember that many items are available in the online store on our website, and these items can be easily shipped.
Today I spent about three hours with an historian who is researching Nathaniel Hayward. A few years back I gave a short talk at our annual meeting on Hayward and the rubber industry. In his "History of Easton", Chaffin records that Hayward was engaged in the manufacture of rubber products in Connecticut, but does not go into any detail. This particular Hayward family was well established in the Furnace Village area, and operated a successful carriage manufacturing business. Nathaniel somehow gets involved with a fellow named Goodyear who fronts him the money to develop a way to make rubber more useful. Although rubber was available, it was usually a sticky, gooey mess, and early attempts to make it useful led nowhere. Hayward, funded by Goodyear, worked to find a way to process rubber products that would have a long lifespan, and not fail in hot or cold weather. Ultimately, he succeeds in being the first person to vulcanize rubber! Goodyear held the patent, but reached an agreement with Hayward to allow him to produce rubber sheeting and materials not in competition with Goodyear's products. Hayward went on to establish large rubber material plants in the Stoneham, Ma are as well as a large plant in Colchester, Connecticut, where he was a leading citizen. He owned a large home there, and his land holdings were so extensive that his front yard became the town common. When Hayward died, his monument in the local cemetery was a rubber tree made from sandstone. Recently there has been more activity on researching Hayward. This fall, I had a visit from Douglas Heath, who along with Alison Simcox has authored a book titled "The Lost Mill Village of Middlesex Fells" (The History Press). Among the topics is a story of Hayward's rubber plant and the village of "Haywardville" that grew along the factory. Today, I gave a tour to Ryan Hayward (no relation) who is also researching Nathaniel Hayward. I took him to Hayward's boyhood home on Poquanticut Avenue, several other related Hayward homes, and finally the Furnace Village Cemetery where we saw the Hayward grave and stones. I think it is quite interesting that the man who was responsible for discovering the process of vulcanizing rubber has such little note in history. We should be proud of an Easton boy who made good. After all, what would our world be like without rubber?