Waiting for the Evening Stagecoach Mail Delivery in the 1890's
In Mendon center, on a summer evening in the 1890's, waiting for the seven o'clock stagecoach mail delivery
was a social and entertaining experience. The locals gathered around the post office at the general store
exchanging stories and local news. In addition to the social interaction, there was also an element of
entertainment provided by a small group of musicians. They used a piece of commercial farming equipment as
a focal point of amusement.
Mendon's agricultural way of life provided not only fruits, vegetables, and dairy products for the surrounding
industrialized towns, it also provided hay. The sale of hay was such a significant aspect of the economy that the
Town purchased commercial hay scales for farmers to use and to pay a fee. It was located in an area in the
road in front of where the Taft Library is located. The building in 1896 was the Union Evangelical Church.
Farmers and buyers could pull up to the scales in their horse-drawn wagons for their exchanges, and the town
gained financially from the purchases.
The platform of the scales served a non-agricultural use in the evening. It served as a bandstand for an
enthusiastic group of musicians who called themselves The Hay Scales Quartet. They played old favorite songs
as an appreciative crowd awaited the anticipated stage coach. The dual purpose platform worked well until the
turn of the century.
It is well known that the maiden voyage of the Milford- Uxbridge Electric Street Railway in December 1901 had
an immediate impact on Mendon's way of life. However, it is not so well known that it also had an impact on the
evening concerts. On the second day of the new transportation system, a trolley car travelling up Maple Street
lost power and rolled out of control down the tracks. With its built up speed and loss of brakes, it jumped the
tracks, wiped out the hay scales and settled 8 feet from the library steps. Fortunately, there were no passengers,
as it was the final trip of the day. The next year, new scales were purchased, but they were placed in a new
location, the blacksmith shop. It was out of the way of any possible future trolley accidents. This shop was
located on the site of the fire station next to the town hall parking lot.
There have been changes in the village center. The site of the scales has been replaced by a traffic island
dedicated to honoring Mendon's military veterans. The post office has been moved across the street. Mail is
delivered to our homes, unless we choose to use a post office box. The blacksmith shop has been replaced
with a fire station. The members of The Hay Scales Quartet chose to end their gig after the trolley mishap. The
1890's were special years in our history. Entertainment was simple. There were no radios, televisions, movies,
cell phones, and I-pads. Waiting for the stagecoach mail was a special time of day for Mendon farmers. After a
hard day's work, it was a time to relax, to enjoy music, and to interact with friends, just like people do today.
Richard Grady -- August 10, 2014
Information for this article was obtained from notes by Florence Aldrich and E. Jane Coleman, deceased former
members of the Mendon Historical Society.
Hay scales on right. As construction of the trolley line was nearing completion,
(1901) workers can be seen in the middle of the picture putting up wires.