James F. Higgins was an undertaker and amateur photographer who lived in West Boylston around the turn of the 20th century. He ran his embalming business in the Sawyer General Store located on the old town common. He took a lot of photographs during his time in West Boylston. He eventually moved to Athol after several decades in town. He often took snapshots of his family members and their animals. Through his work, we see a lot of the town’s residents and get a glimpse at the fashions of the day.
The three pictures below were taken by James Higgins: a fashionable girl (possibly Higgins’ daughter) seated with a large dog, Eugene Higgins and Mary Higgins Maxwell with a horse and dog, and an unknown couple enjoying a sleigh ride. These simple yet surprisingly poignant photographs give us a glimpse into the lives of history’s residents and a bygone era.
These pictures remind us that, despite changes in fashion and technology, people remain unchanged: we still love animals, we still love fun outdoor activities even on the snowiest of days, and we love our families and want to preserve our memories in a more permanent form. Thank you, James Higgins, for preserving your memories.
The below pictures were taken from the Beaman Memorial Public Library Historical Collection from Digital Commonwealth. Peruse more photographs from our collection here: https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/…/commonwealth:8049gm711.