Research Project Teaches Civics Students about Local History

Sarah Ryan, Editor in Chief

Earlier this year, members of the Holbrook Middle-High School Civics Club worked with the Holbrook Historical Society to research the town seal. This was suggested by Mrs. Stevenson, who thought it would be interesting for the students to learn about their town’s history. This seal is currently engraved on the floor of the STEAM Commons in the new school building.

The town seal features three different symbols that are meant to represent the town; a plow, an anvil, and a sword. The plow symbolizes agriculture, as Holbrook was originally a farming town. The anville, on the other hand, represents the industry. When the town was founded, it was primarily comprised of shoe factories. The sword was intended to call attention to the town’s militia. During their research, the Civics Club learned that the Elihu Adams was the only person from Holbrook to die in the Revolutionary War. He was the cousin of President John Adams of Quincy. His body is buried in the Union Street Cemetery, alongside hundreds of other veterans.

The town seal also lists the towns of Braintree and Randolph, mentioning that they were incorporated in 1640 and 1793. Braintree originally encompassed the land of Quincy, Randolph, and Holbrook, but they later broke off to become their own towns. When Randolph split away from Braintree, it included what would later become Holbrook. Eventually, Elijah Nialls Holbrook donated the land to form the town.

The border of the seal reads “Holbrook, Mass. Incorporated 1872.” Some have argued that Massachusetts is shortened improperly, but that was a common abbreviation at the time. The American Postal Service would later establish and standardize two-letter abbreviations in order to simplify processing the mail.

The word “Cochato” can also be seen on the seal. This is the name of a Native American tribe that originally settled the area. The Cochato River, which runs from Avon to Boston, is also named after this tribe. That river runs through the Richardi Reservoir, which served the towns of Holbrook, Randolph, and Braintree until it was contaminated in the 1980s by the Baird & McGuire company.

The most prominent part of the town seal is a picture of the benefactor, Elisha Niles Holbrook. When the state legislature was petitioned to incorporate Holbrook, Elisha provided $50,000 to create the library and town hall. Unfortunately, he passed away before the petition was passed.