Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Helen Paige Shackley - Librarian, 1st Woman to Become W. Brookfield Town Treasurer

Helen Paige Shackley Bandstand
Dedicated May 20, 1972
Located on the Town Common in West Brookfield, MA

Helen Paige Shackley was born in West Brookfield on April 14, 1883 to John Gardner Shackley, a local boot and shoe manufacturer, and his wife Ella Georgiana Luther.  She attended local schools, graduated from Warren High School in 1900, and entered Radcliffe College.  She graduated from Radcliffe in 1906, and went on to teach school in Connecticut, first in Thomaston and later Windsor. 

Sometime between 1912 and 1917, Helen returned to West Brookfield where she became active in church and town affairs.  She became the town librarian about 1916 and served in that capacity until 1948, and again briefly in 1951.  She was  a member of the Congregational church and a charter member of the Martha Club (later the Martha Guild) which was formed in 1919.  Miss Shackley also served on the town's Burial Ground Commission.
Springfield Daily Republican
Feb. 10, 1931, page 2
 Helen was elected treasurer for the Town of West Brookfield in February of 1931 having defeated eight year incumbent John Webb by thirty-three votes (240-207).  She was the first woman elected to that position, and continued to serve as Town Treasure for 32 years until her death.

Signature from a copy of a document found at Masslandrecords.com
 Helen died in Ware, Massachusetts on March 3, 1963, and was buried in the family plot in Pine Grove Cemetery in West Brookfield.  She left a sum of $60,000 to the Town of West Brookfield to be used to build a bandstand on the town common.  The necessary permissions and acceptable plan revisions took a number of years, but the bandstand was finally constructed, and was dedicated in a ceremony in May of 1972.  Free concerts are held there each summer for the enjoyment of the community.

Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910, http://www.americanancestors.org
Various articles - Springfield Daily Republican, http://www.genealogybank.com
A History of West Brookfield, Jeffrey H. Fiske, West Brookfield Historical Commission, 2009