New Book Shows South Shore History Through Thomas Drew’s Photos

By John Galluzzo

“Thomas Drew was many things,” writes Hanover resident Les Molyneaux in his new book, “Images of America: Thomas Drew’s South Shore.” “He was a veteran, storekeeper, postmaster and most importantly for this book, an amateur photographer.”

Drew lived from 1845 to 1913 and once the photography bug bit him, he traveled extensively within the region, capturing scenes in Halifax, Hanson, Hanover, Pembroke, Norwell, Marshfield and Scituate. He went as far afield as Rockland, Abington, Duxbury, Kingston, Plympton and Plymouth. For the purposes of the book, Molyneaux printed images directly from Drew’s extensive collection of glass plate negatives, most of which came from his camera, though a few predated his work and instead came from his family collection. Most importantly, many of these images have not been seen for more than a century. This small sampling whets the appetite of anyone who loves South Shore history.

Drew Store
Thomas Drew had the entrepreneurial spirit of many men who grew up in the era of the self-made man. Drew owned a storefront and served as South Hanover’s postmaster, a job usually granted by the Postal Service to a reliable man of means within a neighborhood.

Old Rexhame
Drew captured a changing world in this picture of old Rexhame in Marshfield. On one side of the stone wall is the Thomas family farm, dating back to the 1750s. On the other side are cottage lots sold in the late 1800s and desired for their cool ocean breezes.

Drew in Uniform
A good cavalryman knew his horses and probably had more freedom than the average citizen to roam the South Shore when roads were muddy in spring and dusty in summer. Thomas Drew, like many of his brothers in arms, was proud of his Civil War service with the 4th Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment—and it showed.

Hanson Daguerrotype
William Bourne, Sr., built this building just east of the present Hanson Town Hall. By 1830, Lemuel Hatch ran a store on the first floor and the second floor was Bourne’s Hall, a typical gathering place of the day. The building burned down in the early 1860s but not before being captured in this daguerreotype, one of the earliest captured photographs of the South Shore.

Pembroke
Duck hunters loved Oldham Pond in Pembroke when Hira “Bill” Bates hunted from his island camp. He spent so much time on the island that it simply became known as Hira Bates Island. In 1909, the construction of cottages finally overwhelmed the area and gunning lost its allure.

Shipwreck Helena
The Fourth Cliff Lifesaving Station crew responded to the wreck of the schooner Helena on January 30, 1909, and all were saved. But the ship never went back to sea as efforts to refloat it failed. Drew revisited the site many times to document its dismantling.

Cornet Stetson property
One of the first settlers of the North River, Cornet Robert Stetson found a home in what would eventually become South Scituate and later Norwell in 1634. His homestead no longer stands, but his descendants have never forgotten him and still own the tract of land he occupied on the banks of the river.

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