By the mid-1800s, however, came the railroad and small
factories were springing up along the town's two branches
of the Sudbury River and its tributaries. Best remembered,
perhaps, is the Cordaville Cotton and Woolen Mill that
made blankets for the Civil War and left its name to one
of the four villages. And with the passing years came
straw bonnet, plaster, brush, and boot and shoe factories,
thriving now in Fayville as well as Cordaville.
But then, as the end of the 19th Century approached,
Boston and its burgeoning population, now becoming accustomed
to indoor plumbing, was searching for water beyond Chestnut
Hill and Cochituate. The Water Works looked to Wachusett
in Boylston, to the northwest of Southborough, for its
next supply-and built a dam to create storage for the
water on its way to the city. The dam was across the upper
branch of the Sudbury coming into Southborough from Marlboro.
Thus it was that the 1898 building of the Fayville Dam
assured that Southborough's prospering industry would
lose much of its water power and, rather than gaining
its livelihood from manufacturing, Southborough would
remain a rural community, growing substantially only much
later with the post-World War II housing boom and the
advent of the "high tech" industry and Route
495. The huge waterworks project also added to the growing
Irish population of the town and brought the first wave
of Italians. They were the ancestors of many who remain
to this day.
But the reservoirs were actually the second turning point.
The first had come just a bit earlier through the endeavors
of several residents destined to leave their mark on the
town just as significant as being the home of the watershed.
While there are dozens of names to be found in the annals
of our past, there has to be one family that, among its
contributions, created the town center that we still know
today. For it was members of the Burnett family who founded
St. Mark's Church, St. Mark's School, and the Fay School,
as well as Deerfoot Farm, the premier establishment of
the town from the mid-1800s until well into the 1900s.
Add the Choate family who donated the Community House
to the Village Society and Francis Fay's donation of the
first $500 for a town library, and you see that much of
the center of town, with the lawns and characteristic
buildings of the schools and the English-style stone church,
is what it is because of families prominent two centuries
It goes without saying that there are hundreds of more
names who have added-and continue to add-their contributions,
large and small, to making Southborough what it is in
the 21st Century. There were the first settlers and the
town's own company of Minutemen, the preachers and teachers
who guided their flocks in matters of education and the
spirit, the town "fathers" and, rather late,
town "mothers," who have cared for its government
and public life since the first Selectmen were elected
in 1727 and the first Town Meetings met (at that time,
nearly continuously), and as the "modern times"
came along, the developers who have built far more houses
than the founders could ever have imagined and the businessmen
who have found the town an attractive and convenient location
for their facilities. And there were, throughout the years,
the men and women who left the town, some forever, to
fight-first for independence, for the union, and for peace
in the world.
As our town fully enters the "world of the web"
with this site, we look forward to how this electronic
still-miracle can contribute to our community. Yet we
look back, too, to realize that for all of its nearly
275 years (yes, we'll be celebrating in 2002), the people
who have walked these ways before us gave us the Southborough
that we call home. As did they, we struggle with allocating
town funds, with electing officials in whom we can be
confident, and with preserving the special flavor that
drew us here and makes so many of us want to stay. It
continues to be a worthwhile pursuit, this taking care
of our town.
Read all this and much more for yourself in the town's
history, Fences of Stone, published in 1990 under the
auspices of the Southborough Historic Commission and written
by Southborough resident and Fay School teacher Richard
E. Noble. See some history for yourself in the Historical
Society's new museum in the old one-room schoolhouse behind
the Town House. See Historical Society's web site at http://home.attbi.com/southboroughhistoricalsociety