From the Files of the Rochester Historical Society

Lawrence Clifford (better known as L.C.) Humphrey was an interesting man. I have mentioned him many times as his papers tell us a lot about the people and events in Rochester’s past. He is, of course, interesting in his own right.

            Born in 1864 into a farm family, he worked on the farm from boyhood and took it over as an adult. It was a large and prosperous farm of 200 acres. They grew corn among other things, had an orchard, a dairy with cows and also chickens and sheep.

            Humphrey wasn’t only a farmer. He stayed in school to the age of 20 which was a long time for a boy in the 1800’s. At one stage of his life, he was a lawyer, and he was Town Assessor for 33 years. From the mid-1800’s until his death in 1954, he was present for just about anything of note that happened in town.

            A paragraph in his papers, however, shows his true love was farming. At one time his interviewer asked about people and events during his life that stood out in his memory. There were quite a few, but his memory of a visit by two ladies caught my attention. The “very English ladies” were driving by “in an auto” sometime in the 1940’s. They stopped and asked to look at his sheep roaming through the orchard. Noticing a few starlings flying around, they told him that they had an English herd of sheep imported to New York City several years previously and that they were told that English shepherds relied on starlings to clean the sheep of ticks. He agreed and said that he had seen “over five birds at a time running one sheep for ticks”.

            The picture shows Mr. Humphrey with his sheep. I wonder if the ladies’ visit stuck with him over the years because it reminded him of his many years of farming or because he had a hard time picturing a herd of sheep in New York City. It gave me a new appreciation for starlings.

            On a separate note, if anyone has any pictures or memories of “Donkey baseball and basketball” in Rochester, I would appreciate you sharing them with me. I can be reached at or 617-750-2818 or items could be mailed to PO 322, Rochester, MA 02770 and we could copy them and return them if necessary.

By Connie Eshbach

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