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Harry and Elna Strong


Elna Strong
Elna Strong
Harry Strong
Harry Strong

In January of 1950 Lena Putnam (see essay) became so disabled with rheumatoid arthritis that she was no longer able to do the nurse-work in the caring of RSW. He had already set about searching for a replacement. The lady he discovered was a registered nurse working in a nursing home in Northampton, Massachusetts: Mrs. Elna Strong.

Lena left amongst tears all around in late January of 1950, and Elna Strong, RN, along with her husband, Harry, moved in, occupying the upstairs front bedroom where Lena and Abbie had slept for many years. These were lovely people. Elna was, of course, very proficient at the nursing required each morning, and Harry was of immense assistance in helping around the house. He assisted Elna with the meals and a lot of cleaning and brass polishing, which naturally, much pleased RSW.

Elna was born in Northampton on November 10, 1889. She graduated from the Northampton High School and Lynn Hospital Nursing School and worked for many years as a registered nurse. She was the district nurse of Northampton, one of the first women to drive a car, and was the nurse at the Clark School for the Deaf before coming to Buckland.

Harry was born on September 16, 1887, graduated from Northampton High School and then worked until retirement for 33 years from Foster Farrar hardware store in Northampton.
Elna Strong's Hooked Rug
Elna Strong's Hooked Rug
The Strong House built in 1748
The Strong House built in 1748

They were married in 1913 and had three daughters: Harriet, Esther, and Jean. Elna was very creative in the making of hooked rugs, even very large ones. The 9 x 12 pictured to the left was started while working for RSW, and finished years later while she and Harry were the curators of the historic Strong House on Amity Street in Amherst, Massachusetts.

They left Buckland and the employment of RSW about 1956. Most of the years that they worked here I was not around much, having been married and living in Boston while attending Tufts Medical School. My wife and I did come back during all our vacations to help out. We very much loved the Strongs.

Both Harry Strong and Robert Strong Woodward claimed to be descendants of Caleb Strong, however, genealogists have disputed a direct line of descent. The famous Dwight Genealogy of the Strong Family does not mention either of the two men.

 Caleb Strong
Caleb Strong (1745 - 1819)
Caleb Strong was born in Northampton in 1745. In 1748 his father built the family homestead on the corner of Amity Street in Amherst and this was the home of Caleb during his lifetime. His father planted two sycamore trees in the front of the house. These became known as the "Bride" tree and the "Groom" tree. Caleb graduated from Harvard in 1764 and then studied law and practiced in Northampton until he became representative to the Massachusetts Great and General Court in 1776. In 1788 he was elected as a senator to the U.S. Congress. Subsequently, he was elected Governor of Massachusetts for 11 terms between 1800 and 1807 and from 1812 to 1816. He became known as an exceptionally capable man. He died in 1819.

The Strong Homestead and Amherst Historical Society
The Strong Homestead and
Historical Society

The Caleb homestead became an historic site and has been the home of the Amherst Historical Society. For more details about Caleb Strong, and the Strong Homestead, click on the following web site:

There was interest in finding a connection between Harry Strong, Robert Strong Woodward and Caleb Strong. Evidence of this was found in the attic of the Robert Strong Woodward Southwick house of a framed "Discharge Paper" of a soldier from the Revolutionary War signed by Caleb Strong. This paper was donated to the Northampton Historical Society.


While the Strongs were employed by RSW they purchased three of his oils or chalk drawings. We have attempted to trace down the current owners who inherited them. We have discovered one oil Spring Comes Again and will soon be obtaining a digital color image for the Gallery section of the web site. (The records show that RSW made an oil and an identical chalk with this same name.) This painting is of an old weathered house on a knoll in early spring in the town of Colrain, Massachusetts. We have learned that one of the other Woodwards owned by the Strongs was of the Heath pasture beech tree, and the other one was of a church. The names of these are not known. It has been learned that these two were taken across the country in a moving van which was destined for two different delivery points. Apparently they were left at the wrong address. Hopefully they now hang in a appreciative home somewhere in California.

 Sycamore tree trunk coffee table
Sycamore tree trunk coffee table
Strong house with Sycamore trees, in Digital Amherst, Item #744, (accessed July 24, 2012).
Strong house with "Bride and Groom" Sycamore trees
By permission of the Jones Library, Inc., Amherst, Massachusetts.
During their curatorship of the Caleb Strong House, one of the large sycamore trees, the "Bride" tree at the front of the house had to be taken down. Elna and Harry salvaged a large section of the trunk of the tree, which was then made into a large coffee table. This still remains in the Strong House. The "Groom" tree still stands, now over 250 years old.

Harry died in 1962 and Elna died in 1975. They are buried in a cemetery in Northampton across from the Tri-County Fair Grounds.

For more information about Elna Strong, please click here.

For more information about Harry Strong, please click here.

While the Strongs were employed by RSW, they purchased three of his oils or chalk drawings. We have attempted to trace down the current owners who inherited them. So far we have discovered one chalk drawing Spring Comes Again.

March 2010