By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Bob Ellis has lived in Northborough for a half-century and has been an integral member of the Northborough Historical Society. He not only knows a lot about the town’s history, but now will be a part of its history as the 2016 Applefest Grand Marshal.
When Ellis and his new bride Christine originally moved to Northborough, the town was celebrating its bicentennial. He has witnessed many changes since then.
“When we moved to town, there were 8,000 people living here and now it is greater than 14,000,” Ellis said. “Everyone knew everyone.”
Another change he noted was in government as he recalled a story of a resident who was a mail carrier and then became a town accountant for many years.
“Government has become more professionalized,” he said. “Jobs now require specialized education and backgrounds for positions.”
What hasn’t changed is how much he likes Northborough and the people living here. The honor of being chosen as the Grand Marshal was a surprise to Ellis.
“I was voting for someone else,” he said.
A former English professor at what is now Worcester State University, Ellis is retired and has turned his energies to volunteering at the Historical Society. A member since the ‘80s, he now focuses on writing for the organization’s newsletter, The Hourglass, and helping people research their homes and families.
“After I retired, it’s been something to do and a place to go,” said Ellis.
He often receives email requests from family members who have ancestors who lived in Northborough.
“They are interested in the houses their ancestors lived in and about many aspects of the town,” he said.
Volunteers at the Historical Society have been collecting town information for over 100 years, which Ellis has helped to organize. Ellis said that there are decades of amazing information and recollections about Northborough that has been passed along over the years.
“The Historical Society is well-known in town and has a good reputation,” said Ellis. “There are outstanding people in this organization and I am happy to know them.”
Although Ellis is often called the “Historian” of the Historical Society, he describes himself as the fact man. He is not a newcomer to research and writing; in fact, he is an author of several books. “Francis Bacon -The Double Edged Life of the Philosopher and Statesman” was published in 2015. His interest in Francis Bacon was sparked as a young student when reading a book of short biographies and again when taking a 17th-century literature course. In addition, he has written books focused on Northborough’s history including “Northborough in the Civil War: Civilian Soldiering and Sacrifice” and “To Celebrate Our Town – The First One Hundred Years of the Northborough Historical Society.”
Historical Society Board member and Northborough’s 250th Committee member Norm Corbin is thrilled that Ellis was selected for the grand marshal. Corbin said that Ellis has helped to supply historical information for many of the 250th events, such as the 50 historic marker project and for the upcoming cemetery tour. He has also been busy writing articles highlighting the town’s history.
“Bob is always willing to give his time,” said Corbin. “He is a great resource and a great guy to work with. He is a tremendous asset to the town.”
The Applefest parade, featuring Ellis as the grand marshal, will be held Sunday, Sept. 18, starting at 1 p.m. All Applefest weekend events can be viewed at www.northboroughapplefest.com. Additional information on the Northborough Historical Society can be found at www.northboroughhistoricalsociety.org.