A Famous Citizen of Natick Massachusetts - Still Remembered

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Henry Wilson's Shoe shopA Famous Citizen of Natick Massachusetts - Still Remembered  

Prominently sitting on Route 135 in Natick not far from the Framingham line, is the little shoe shop that was originally owned by a distinguished citizen of Natick

Henry Wilson was known as the "Cobbler from Natick."  He was also the 18th Vice President of the United States. 

Born in 1812, he was originally named Jeremiah Jones Colbath, a name his father had given him after a financially successful neighbor with the hopes of getting an inheritance for his son. The child, Jeremiah, learned to hate that name and vowed to change it at his earliest opportunity. 

That time came in 1833 when he changed his name to Henry Wilson. After an unsuccessful attempt at finding work in his native New Hampshire hometown, he walked over 100 miles to relocate to Boston where he learned the skills of shoe making.  He eventually saved enough money from his labors to open his own shoe shop in Natick. 

During a trip to Washington D. C. he became appalled by the sights of slavery that he witnessed there. And, when he returned he decided that he would dedicate himself to its abolition.  

Henry Wilson ran for and was elected to the Massachusetts legislature where he served until 1852.  However, two other politicalHenry Wilson aspirations went unfulfilled with an unsuccessful attempt to run for Congress in 1852, then governor in 1853. 

He was eventually elected to the U. S. Senate in 1855 where he served until March 1873.  That year he was elected Vice President of the United States with President Ulysses Grant. While in office he suffered a stroke that caused him to be bedridden and he used much of this time to write a history of the rise and fall of Slavery in America.

Henry Wilson served in the office of the Vice Presidency until his death in 1875.  He was laid to rest in Old Dell Park Cemetery in Natick, Massachusetts.  

His little shoe shop still stands as a tribute to this prominent citizen of Natick.  



Copyright 2010 "A Famous Citizen of Natick Massachusetts - Still Remembered"

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Comments (7)

Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster Real Estate - Gainesville, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Your historical pieces are great, especially when they have such a local tie to your towns.  I had never heard of Henry Wilson before this piece.  Now, I will never forget him.

Jul 06, 2010 01:25 PM
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass

Chris Ann:

I think it is interesting to have had a vice president in our local area. And the little cobbler shop is a unique tribute to him. Thanks so much.


Jul 06, 2010 03:46 PM
Debbie Walsh
SHAHAR Management - Middletown, NY
Hudson Valley NY Real Estate 845.283-3036

What an interesting story.  I can't believe he walked 100 miles.  Very good post!

Jul 07, 2010 12:55 PM
Jennifer Dulmaine
Keller Williams Realty - Spencer, MA
Seth Campbell Realty Group

Great history!! So much around these parts that we can be relaying to others...Thanks for sharing Jen

Jul 07, 2010 02:32 PM
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass


I think in those days, without the benefit of cars and public transportation, people walked distances that we cannot even fathom these days. It is difficult to even relate to.


New England has a lot of history and I always find it fascinating. Particularly the fact the we had a former Vice President of the United States who lived right here in Natick.


Jul 07, 2010 04:14 PM
Elizabeth Bolton
RE/MAX Destiny Real Estate Cambridge, MA - Cambridge, MA
Cambridge MA Realtor

Hi Claudette ~ I've always loved this building and really enjoyed your write-up. I had no idea Natick produced a VP - cool!


Jul 07, 2010 04:25 PM
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass

Hi, Liz:

Thanks so much. I was also delightfully surprised at this when I researched it. 

I did not find any Vice Presidents from Cambridge but you did have Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.


Jul 08, 2010 06:48 AM