The History of Big Alum Lake

Chapter 3

as told by Martha Fearing

A story told to me by my mother-in-law may interest you. Her parents built the cottage (now 32 Mt. Dan Rd.) when she was nine years old. They lived in Southbridge where her father had a small optical business.
They would come by trolley at the beginning of the summer hauling all of their possessions...including her canary in its cage... and then continue on by horse and wagon to settle in for the season. Her father had a horse which he kept tied up behind the cottage and rode each morning to Fiskdale to take the trolley to work. They also kept chickens in a coop in the yard so that they could gather eggs and have some roast chicken dinners.

There was a farm on Brookfield Rd. (I believe she said it was the St. John farm) where they would walk to buy their milk. For drinking water they used a spring behind Ken Gajewski's home. The meals were prepared in a large cast iron wood range in the kitchen of the cottage. In a corner of the kitchen was a built-in ice box. There were several places on the lake where people would cut ice in the winter and preserve it in ice houses for the summer, thus providing the "cottagers" with refrigeration.

There were a good many Southbridge residents who summered here and that seemed logical because it is close to Fiskdale. I finally decided that the trolley line running from Springfield was the reason there were so many people from there at the lake early on. Of course, it wasn't too long before the automobile took over.

"Grandma" always referred to different cottages by the names of the owners when she was young. I can remember her calling Puffer's the "Dunton place" and Lamarine's " the Eccleston place". DiGregorio's was always "The Silver Ball" and it was built by a farmer named Adams who lived over the hill behind Mt. Dan Rd. and whose cow pasture used to come up to the ridge where an old stone wall still exists. ( The Silver Ball was built for rental and it is said that dances used to be held on a porch which used to wrap around the sides of the building. My mother-in-law's family rented it for one or two summers while their cottage was being built...remember, there were no power saws, no front-end loaders for digging or any other modern equipment to make the job go quickly.) Another name I remember her using was "the Silk place" which is now the Farland home on the east side point. Next door to that cottage was one built in the late 1890's by Francois X. Tetreault.

Silver Ball - note the "ball" on top.  It was also known as the "old Karle place."

His decendants are still lake residents. The old cottage was replaced in the 1940's by his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Roy. The Roys are probably the only family to have six generations on Big Alum. The children of Kate Roy Alexander are sixth generation descendants of Mr. Tetreault.

Another family of lake historical interest are the descendents of John Irwin Morris. J. I. came here as a young man and pitched a tent for his first camp. His grandson is Paul Mills who replaced the old cottage a few years ago with the great Arts and Crafts design home on the other east side point. J. I.'s great-grandsons and great- great- grandchildren are here whenever possible in the summer, carrying on the tradition. My mother-in-law told the story of how J. I. saved her from drowning at "sandy bottom beach" when she lost her "water wings" by grabbing her by her hair and dragging her to shore.

Introduction, Chapters:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17