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In Memory of Frank , a Faithful Horse

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Near the entrance to Clapp Park on West Housatonic Street in Pittsfield Massachusetts is a large granite planter carved with the inscription: “In memory of Frank, a faithful horse”.  Since my first name is also Frank, its presence has always been intriguing to me. 


Former Mayor Allen H. Bagg (1867-1942) donated the sixteen and a half acres of land to create Clapp Park in 1919.  It was to represent an enduring memory to Edwin and Jason Clapp, per the wishes of Bagg's late first wife, Mary Campbell Clapp Bagg.  The planter was originally a horse watering tub erected by Mrs. Bagg.  It was created from a large single piece of granite and cost approximately four hundred dollars to create.  A number of these horse watering tubs were strategically situated around the city.  Frank was a horse that had served in the Cleveland Fire Department and was adopted and was brought to Pittsfield by Mrs. Edwin Clapp, the mother of Mary Bagg.  (Cleveland, Ohio would eventually retire the last of their fire horses in 1926.)   It was said that whenever Frank heard Pittsfield’s fire alarm sound he would get excited and would occasionally break a halter or jump a fence in an attempt to reach the fire house.  Frank brought enjoyment to the family for many years until he eventually died of old age.

Cleveland Fire Horses Circa 1913

In 1932, the automobile would strike yet another blow to horse drawn transportation.  The Pittsfield Board of Public Works voted to remove most of the water tubs in the city.  They cited the decline in the number of horses and the excessive amount of water that the tubs wasted.  It was also said to be difficult to prevent them from freezing in the winter.  Slated to be removed were the tubs located at South Street, near Housatonic River, Pecks Road and Wahconah Street, Tyler Street and Dalton Avenue, Holmes Road and Elm Street, East Street near Silver Lake, West Street near Briggs School, City Hall, and the tub located at Clapp Park.  The watering tub to the east of Pittsfield City Hall was fondly remembered as a favorite watering place for visiting circus animals when their shows were in town. 


A public outcry resulted from horse owners as well as dog owners. Among the protesters was Mayor Bagg himself, who sent a letter of protest to the board which stated that while he wasn’t old fashioned, he loved dumb animals. The board characterized the protests as “a lot of sentiment not based on fact.” Most of the watering tubs would be removed, but the one at Clapp Park endured.  It remains to this day as a lasting tribute to the spirit of the community--and especially to a not so dumb horse named Frank.

One additional granite watering tub survives in Pittsfield.  It  decorates the front lawn of a private residence on West Street in the city.

Frank J. Leskovitz