Madison Historical Society
Madison Historical Society had a most interesting and enjoyable Christmas
Party last Wednesday night at the Society’s meeting place. To save
time the business meeting was made as short as possible, which was rather
Donated to the Society were an old hay-cutter, blade of an early saber,
cow-poke, wool-comb, copper printing plates about 1900, bee-smoker, and
a forty five star American flag. All these things caused a great deal
of discussion concerning who had used them and where and what had happened
So many of our members do so much work in their spare (?) time. The windows
all washed, storm windows washed and put on, stove set up and connected
to the chimney, coat rack built, hall swept and made ready for meetings,
all these things are done so readily it makes one feel glad they are privileged
to live in such a community.
Geo. Shaw had charge of the entertainment and soon had various ones popping
corn, string it with cranberries, decorating the tree with apples, pop
corn balls and real live candles. Recordings of Christmas Carols were
tried on a record player but the competition with everyone talking was
too much, so the records were dispensed with.
Other highlights of the meeting were Christmas stories by Geo. Shaw and
Alice Ward. Singing of carols gave everyone a chance to try their voices,
but as we had no piano it was a little difficult to start on the same
pitch. Regardless, we all had a good time trying. To top the evening there
were presents for everyone taken from the generous stockings hanging by
Coffee and honey dipped doughnuts were served by Bea and Harry Harmon
with Lou and Arthur Gilman
Our next meeting is January 20, (1960). You had better be there if you
want a very enjoyable evening.
Within the minutes of that December meeting I found this information:
Martha and Malcolm Kelly donated 45 star flag, Frank Nason donated cow
poke and wool comb, hay-knife or hay-cutter and blade of saber displayed
by Mark Knickerson and Ernest Meader. Leon Gerry donated copper printing
Harry Harmon donated four storm windows, Guy Nickerson donated load cut
dry slabs. Bee smoker donated by Lee Drew.
JOY FARM AT Silver Lake, taken
from the Northern Light August 20, 1985
Back in August, Earl Whitaker approached me and proceeded to let me know
that the Madison Corner School is not the only building in town that is
on the National Register of Historic Places, but that Joy Farm is too.
The only difference here is that the Schoolhouse is a Town building and
Joy Farm is a private residence.
Earl received his information from Herbert Arnold and gave me a copy of
the Northern Light front-page article about Joy Farm dated Tuesday, August
20, 1985. The following are excerpts from the article entitled, Joy Farm:
e.e. cummings’ summer home, written by Kevin Early.
MADISON – The farm sits at the end of a dirt road in the
Silver Lake area of Madison. There is a small, unpretentious Cape Cod
house situated in the middle of a hillside meadow facing Mount Chocorua
with an el attached to a woodshed and a small barn, all dressed in weather-beaten
clapboards. A small bronze plaque has been affixed to the dwelling, proclaiming
that the house is on the National Register of Historic Places.
What’s significant about the house and grounds --- known simply
as Joy Farm --- is that it was the summer residence of a man recognized
throughout the world as one of America’s greatest poets --- e.e.
Undoubtedly cummings would have mixed emotions about his home being designated
a national historic place. A poet, artist, novelist and social satirist,
cummings was an intensely private man who savored his solitude and it
was at Joy Farm and Silver Lake that he found that solitude which helped
in the creation of many of his most famous works.
Further on in the article:
Born Oct. 14, 1894 and baptized Edward Estlin, young Cummings began visiting
New Hampshire as an infant when his father, Dr. Edward Cummings, a Congregational
minister, bought the farm in Silver Lake. It was called “Joy Farm”
after its previous owner, Ephraim Joy, but as cummings’ younger
sister, Elizabeth, later wrote --- “it earned the name on its own
account.” Dr. Cummings put in windows on the farmhouse from which
Mount Chocorua could easily be seen, and an extension with a flat roof
which the sunset and stars could be seen.
It was on that flat rooftop that Estlin (the name he preferred to use)
painted oil landscapes and watercolor sunsets. It was at Joy Farm that
the Cummings children learned woods lore and were taught self-reliance
when exploring the area or boating on the waters of Silver Lake, where
once the Cummings children faced great peril.
In 1936, Dr. Cummings was killed when the car he was driving was struck
by a train at the crossing in Ossipee during a blinding snowstorm. Joy
Farm eventually became Estlin’s, and a small cottage on Silver Lake
his sister’s. The young poet continued coming to New Hampshire each
summer and it proved to figure greatly in his later works……
And further on:
It was on a September day in 1962 that e.e. cummings drove his old Ford
down to the Silver Lake post office and dropped off the final draft of
that book (one in which e.e. cummings wrote and his wife Marion Moorhouse
Cummings did the photography of which many of the photos were shot at
Joy Farm) when he was stricken with a cerebral hemorrhage. Upon his return
to Joy Farm. He was rushed to Memorial Hospital where he died later in
the day. His wife continued coming to Joy Farm until her death in 1968,
after which the farm was sold. It still sits remote and unpretentious,
like its former owner who once expressed his feelings about the farm in
a letter he wrote to Ruth Shackford prior to coming to Silver Lake for
his summer visit.
“Please thank Buddy for taking such wonderful care of Joy Farm.
I guess he knows how much it means to us to feel the place we love best
in the world is sound and safe!”