West Brookfield Celebrates the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Lucy Stone

Regina M. Edmonds

On August 11 and 12 of 2018 the Town of West Brookfield, Massachusetts, honored the 200th anniversary of the birth of its favorite daughter, Lucy Stone, by hosting six wonderful celebratory events. The first event began at 8:30 on Saturday morning and involved a tour of Stone’s birthplace on Coy Hill and the nearby Rock House Reservation where it is said Lucy and her siblings often played. Joelle Million, author of a biography of Lucy Stone entitled, Woman’s Voice, Woman’s Place: Lucy Stone and the Birth of the Woman’s Rights Movement, provided interesting interpretative comments in each location. Later in the day a wonderful Birthday Party for Lucy was held in the Great Hall of the West Brookfield Town Hall where guests were greeted by volunteers in marvelous period costumes, many borrowed from WWHP. It was a truly glorious event with nearly 200 participants filling the Hall and enjoying wonderful treats, including a marvelous cake displaying the banner “Votes for Women” in the colors used by the suffragists in the early 1900’s. The Hall was decorated with life-sized banners of the women and men central to the movement for women’s rights and in the entry ways to the Hall hundreds of birthday cards for Lucy, created by local school children, added to the festive feeling. The tables were covered with linen table cloths and napkins along with flowers, fans and other Lucy Stone-themed objects, including a rock painted with her name at each place setting – a take home “Lucy Stone” for each guest. [See photos on page 8.] At the birthday party Anne Gobi and Steve Brewer, the town’s current and former senators, spoke as did local state representatives Donald Berthiaume and Todd Smola. A keynote address honoring Lucy and her legacy, delivered by Regina Edmonds, was also a highlight of this event. [See keynote address on page 6.]  Later that night a performance by the choral group called The Sturbridge Village Singers rounded out the truly marvelous day.

On Sunday three additional events were held. The first was a performance of the one-woman play I Now Pronounce You, Lucy Stone with Judith Kalaora depicting Lucy’s life in a most inspiring way. The play was performed in West Brookfield’s First Congregational Church – the church Lucy and her family worshipped in until Lucy was expelled from it due to her ”radical views” regarding women’s rights and the abolition of slavery. She was reinstated into the church in 2017. Following the play, Samantha Gillogly and Virginia Bailey gave a  beautiful concert of music composed by women working during Lucy’s lifetime.      

The final event of the celebratory weekend was a Round Table discussion moderated by WBUR radio host and senior correspondent, Deborah Becker, with the discussion theme being – Where Do We Go From Here?

Every aspect of the weekend was wonderfully   orchestrated and enormous thanks were given at each event to the West Brookfield Historical Commission which took the lead in creating the events. Three people singled out for their enormous contributions were Barbara and Dick Rossman who took care of every detail of the Birthday Party and Dan Hamilton whose remarkable artistic vision was evident in every event. Numerous volunteers from the town also were thanked for all they did to make everything run smoothly.

Two things I loved best about the weekend were the presence of a significant number of descendants of the Stone and Blackwell families and a guest from Scotland.  Moira Hickey, a radio journalist from Scotland who had written to the West Brookfield Historical Commission in late 2017 asking what was planned to honor Lucy Stone on the anniversary of her birth. And from Moira’s question, the previously empty space of – no plan – was filled with this incredible celebration. All of us involved and the participants, if their smiles and tears are any indication, really did have “the time of our lives!!!”

Published Date: 
September 25, 2018