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Tewksbury Historical Society, Tewksbury Massachusetts

For more than a decade we have worked to preserve, document and educate the community about our local history. We always welcome the opportunity to acquire or accept your tax deductible donations of images, documents and other Tewksbury items for preservation purposes.  Please contact the Tewksbury Historical Society for more information.

Members are reminded of the new membership policy:  Please check you mailing label to see when your dues are due. It is printed

on the mailing label.


Click here to print 2013 Membership Application



The Search for Scot's Heather


            The search for Scot's Heather on August 4, 2013 is the only Tewksbury Historical Society program for this summer.  The search is open to the public and interested people should meet at the Community Gardens parking lot at 1:00pm.  This event is free and will be led by Dave Marcus, Society Board Member.

            It is Tewksbury's other famous plant after Carnations.  While Tewksbury became known world wide for their carnations, Scot's Heather growing in a meadow off Livingston Street won a "New Native Plant", second place medal from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in 1861.  The petite, low growing heath was found by some young Tewksbury girls one day.  They picked some of the pretty purple-white flowers to adorn their mothers' kitchen table.  Jackson Thornton Dawson, a young 20 year-old horticulturist from Andover, spied the heather on the dinner table, asked where it came from, and then proceeded to dig a plant for the Spring Show of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.  While Massachusetts Horticultural Society did not doubt it was Scot's Heather, a heated discussion on the Flower Committee followed.  Was it a native plant to Essex County or was it planted?  Soon the Flower Committee was in turmoil.  The only solution was to take their cars (railroad cars) out to Tewksbury to survey the quiet heather meadow for them self.  All seven members tramped down Livingston Street from Tewksbury Junction and started interviewing the resident's.  "Don't deceive us!" the Flower Committee badgered the neighbors.  Additionally these neighbors were Scottish.  The Strachan's were indignant and the Livingston's who came back from Lowell to meet with the Committee were staunch in their testimony that the heather had been growing locally since before the Revolutionary War had started.             

            Massachusetts Horticultural Society finally did declare it a "New Native Plant".  Unfortunately for Massachusetts Horticultural Society's Flower Committee, Vanity Fair Magazine from New York City got wind of the controversy and created a caricature of the Flower Committeemen bending over in the field of heather in 1862.  This poked fun at their efforts.   Anyone joining our 45-minute hike will not be made fun of!

            So, is the heather still growing in Tewksbury off Livingston Street?  On Saturday, August 4, 2013 at 1:00pm a group of explorers will meet in the Community Garden's parking lot on Livingston Street.  From there, a group led by Dave Marcus, will search for the heather.  Please dress appropriately with long pants and sunscreen. There is some poison ivy and other environmental hazards that will be avoided.  This program is free and open to the public.

            Sign-ups for walk will be made by emailing the Society at: tewksburyhistoricalsociety@MSN.com or people my contact us by mail at Tewksbury Historical Society, P.O. Box 522,Tewksbury, Ma. 01876.



Click here to print Administrative Assitant Application







What's New on our Website?
Is John Hancock's legendary signature the real thing?  See it for yourself in our Archives.
Selected 1880's Lowell Weekly Sun Newspaper articles that reference the Tewksbury Almshouse (State Hospital) Investigation of 1883.