Madison Historical Society

During the Cummings at Silver Lake Celebration, be sure to see the new “Cummings Family Collection” exhibit at the Madison Historical Society, including two paintings by E.E. Cummings recently donated by Ruth Shackford, daughter-in-law of Jess Shackford.

Among the memorabilia are a pair of Edward Cummings’ red leather sandals from a Julius Caesar costume and some of Estlin’s baby clothes.



After the death of E. E. Cummings’ wife Marion Morehouse Cummings*, on May 18, 1969, the Madison Historical Society received the donation of a large number of personal family items as well as two paintings by Cummings and other works of art. As the Society’s first extensive exhibition of these materials was being prepared in 2014, the family of Jesse Shackford, Jr. donated two large oil paintings of local scenes by E. E. Cummings. These works compliment the several local sites that can be connected to the Cummings family, including Mount Chocorua, Silver Lake, and Joy Farm.

*Cummings and Marion Morehouse were never legally married, although she assumed the name, and was referred to by both of them, as Marion Morehouse Cummings.



The donation was accompanied by a letter addressed to “Mrs. John Meader, President, Madison Historical Soc., Madison (Courtesy Ruth Shackford).”

Dear Ms. Meader: 25 July 1970
I am sorry but the load for the Madison Historical Society was too heavy to bring to you. Therefore the Shackfords will do so.
The chest coming to you is full of Cummings family items of 19th century paisleys and other wearing apparel & household linens, all carefully preserved by E. E. Cummings’ mother.
The picture is by Charles Hopkinson, a noted New England painter. It is of Mt. Chocorua.
The wooden “shield” was made by E. E. Cummings for invented games. He did the wood burning.**
The red sandals were worn by Rev. Cummings when he played the part of Julius Caesar.
The colonial spoons are RHF=Reginald Hebert Fitz, C=Cummings.
The flax wheel was in the family.
Everything comes to you courtesy of Marion Morehouse Cummings and Elizabeth Cummings Qualey (who can give you any further family history).
Yours sincerely,
Administratrix, Estate of M. M. Cummings
The paintings of wood of local scenes by E. E. Cummings


TWO LARGE OIL PAINTINGS OF LOCAL SCENES BY E. E. CUMMINGS, donated to the Madison Historical Society on October 22, 2014, by the family of Jesse Shackford, Jr.

1. The Shackford Fields, dated on the back October 11, 1949. Marion Morehouse Cummings requested that Jere Knight, the executor of her estate, give this painting to the Shackford Family because of Marion’s “affection for their devoted work.” They received the painting in 1969, after Marion’s death.

2. Mount Chocorua from Joy Farm, dated on the back October 8, 1956. The painting was presented to “Bud and Ruth Shackford” in 1969 because, according to Jere Knight, “Marion wanted them to have it.”



1. Silver Lake Sunset, painted by E. E. Cummings, vertical, on thick wooden plank
2. Silver Lake with Dramatic Clouds, painted by E. E. Cummings, horizontal, on thick wooden plank
3. Mount Chocorua from Joy Farm, painted by Charles Hopkinson (July 27, 1869-October 16, 1962). Inscribed “To Edward Cummings” and signed with the initials C. H.
4. Female portrait, pastel, signed “Faldo [?]”
5. Male portrait, pencil drawing, signed “Julia,” 12/27/29
6. Large wooden chest. A card inside the chest states that it belonged to Mary H. Fletcher Cummings and that it contained “Mr. Cummings’ baby clothes and fabric from other countries.”
7. Baby clothes and bonnets (several notes say “Estlin’s Baby Clothes”).
8. **Child’s wooden shield, made by E. E. Cummings for “invented games.” He did the wood burning. The main motif is a large elephant, a motif favored by Cummings throughout his life. Around the edge are 10 rather abstracted animals, including a goat, a snake, a tiger, a leopard, a dog, a rhinoceros, and an alligator or crocodile. The design is wood-burned onto the inside of what seems to be a barrel cover. The back, which has had two leather straps for holding the shield, has the stenciled words “New York Sugar Refined Standard X, Granulated Sugar, 109 (?) Wall Street N.Y. 271 149.”
9. Framed photograph of Reverend Edward Cummings, E. E.’s father.
10. Elizabeth Qualey’s Doll and doll clothes. Elizabeth Qualey was E. E. Cummings’ younger sister. She wrote a memoire entitled “When I Was a Little Girl” about her childhood.
11. Kathryn Cummings’ Doll, with doll clothes
12. Two monogramed white linen towels with red Greek key motif, monogramed “RHC” [Rebecca Haswell Clarke or Rebecca Haswell Cummings]
13. Red leather sandals worn by Rev. Edward Cummings when he played the role of Julius Caesar
14. Mexican fabric with note: “Brought to me by Estlin and Marion from Mexico. I have enjoyed it tremendously. I hope they will accept it from me and get as much pleasure as I have had. Jane.” [Jane is probably Edward Cumming’s sister, known as “Aunt Jane”).
15. Black shawl with narrow embroidered paisley edge
16. Black shawl with wide embroidered paisley edge
17. Beige fringed woven runner
18. Woven blue and white bedspread
19. Locket with initials KCQ (Kathleen Cummings Qualey)
20. Flax wheel
21. Fifteen photographs by the Rev. Edward Cummings: The 1970 donation to the Madison Historical Society included eleven original photographs taken by the Reverend Edward Cummings plus four duplicates. These were clearly part of a larger collection of photographs of local sites, as indicated by the list on the back of one of the photographs. One purpose of the photographs was apparently to document the property on the lake, purchased by Rev. Cummings, and local sites. The list reads: “1. R. R. Station=Madison, N.H. Post Office, Silver Lake, N.H. 2. Public boat landing at R. R. Station. Land bought and deeded to Town to be held in perpetuity for that purpose. 3. Property begins at point about one mile down lake, and on opposite side from R. R. (i.e. East Side). 4. Property accessible by wood road from village. 5. 100 acres: about ¾ mile from shore, two small ponds on property (Perhaps 10 acres each). 6. Saw Mill at Village — Lumber very moderate prices. 7. Good Country Store at Station — Milk, eggs etc from neighboring farms. 8. Trains to & from Boston…about 4 hrs. 9. Lake Stocked by State, Good fishing. 10. Admirable wood — Mountain tramping in every direction. 11. Silver Lake about 3 miles by the Ponds on property. 12. Silver Lake (Madison) N.H. East Shore, i. Ossipee Range, ii Sandwich, iii Presidential, iv etc etc, all in view from the lake.” The photograph with this list is labeled: “3rd View across South end of the Northern pond, — looking East. This lot of 100 acres; contains two ponds, shown in picture; about ¾ mile of lake shore (estimated); — heavy pine growth along shore. Edward Cummings, 104 Irving St. Cambridge.”


1. At Joy Farm, about 1907. From left to right: Sandy Hardy, the hired man; Rebecca Cummings, mother of E. E. and Elizabeth; Estlin on the horse; Elizabeth on Jack Donkey holding a kitten; and Aunt Jane Cummings, holding Estlin’s dog Rex. Original photograph was taken by Reverend Edward Cummings.
2. Elizabeth Cummings at Joy Farm, about 1907. Original photograph was taken by Reverend Edward Cummings.
3. Elizabeth Cummings and Estlin. Cummings, at the well at Joy Farm, about 1907. Original photograph was taken by Reverend Edward Cummings.
4. Formal Portrait of Elizabeth and Estlin Cummings. Elizabeth was 7 years, 8 months old and Estlin was 14 years, 2 months old. Original photograph was taken by Marceau, 160 Tremont Street, Boston.

From: A preliminary checklist compiled by David G. Wilkins, October 2014

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