He Taught Henry Ford How To Dance: Swanzey New Hampshire’s Benjamin B. Lovett (1876-1952)

Much is known about Henry Ford–as an inventor, developer of the production line, and history lover. He also was a collector of antique furniture, clocks and violins. What is usually not known about him is that he loved old-time dances. Henry Ford desired intently to bring back the knowledge of dances from his youth–quadrilles, contra dances and round dances.

During his travels Henry Ford found Benjamin B. Lovett and his wife Charlotte who had been teaching “New England social dancing” in Massachusetts for several years. Ford invited the Lovetts to Dearborn, Michigan to help organize dances for the Fords–for his executives and for the Village school students. They did so for twenty years.

Benjamin Lovett, about 1925. From the collections of The Henry Ford, copy and reuse restrictions apply.

THF24975. Benjamin and Charlotte
Lovett Dancing, about 1925. From the
collections of The Henry Ford, copy
and reuse restrictions apply

Benjamin Lovett wrote a book that was published in 1926 called “After A Sleep of Twenty-five Years, Old-fashioned Dancing is Being Revived by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford.”

Lovett Hall in the Henry Ford Museum complex, is named after the Lovetts. Contra dances  were held in this hall up until 2005. Shame on them for stopping these dances!

A newspaper article of 1924 posted this amusing story. September 10, 1924, State Times Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, page 5. Ford, Fed Up on Flivver Rattles, Wants To Take Shimmy Out of Dance. Hudson, Mass, Sept. 8.–Henry Ford, who turned antique dealer when his presidential timber was ruled off the market, is taking up reforming again. It’s the great man’s great weakness.  First it was war, then banking, and now it’s dancing that has become his pet aversion.
 So he is going to reform it–take the shimmey out of it, as he did in his flivvers; make it stand on its own feet; and put the whole business on a safe and sane basis.
  But history, at last, has taught Henry that it is difficult to bring about a reformation single-handed. For although he shakes a mean hopp himself, when the fiddler strikes up, he can hardly compete with a first-class finale-hopper. So he has turned to puritanical New England for help. Here in quiet Hudson, not far from his Wayside Inn, where he runs his antique shop, Henry found a couple of dancers who still remember the waltz, the square dance and the minuet. At first he thought of putting them in his antique department, but then he decided to invite them to Detroit for the week of September 7, to start the dancing reformation there. Inspired with the zeal of crusaders, Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Lovett accepted the invitation. They are now practicing up on the dances of yesteryear and before, with which they hope to put jazz to rest, and make Henry Happy.


**Additional Reading**

Nelson New Hampshire’s Moment in the Guinness World Record Book

Some Square Dancing History

Lovett House in Dearborn, Michigan

Photograph Mr. & Mrs. Benjamin Lovett dancing c1925

Detroit Free Press newspaper report of 5 April 1926

Detroit Free Press newspaper report of 5 April 1926


Joseph Lovett, b abt 1825 Salem MA.  He m.  Henrietta Stimpson, possibly daughter of James C. & Hannah (Smothers) Stimpson.  James C. Stimpson was a tanner.  This Henrietta was b. abt 1827 in Salem MA.  [A Lydia H. (Stimpson Watson) d. 16 Aug 1885 in Salem MA; she m. 21 Jan 1849 to Daniel P. Watson, and possibly this is Henrietta.]
Child of Joseph & Henrietta (Stimpson) Lovett:
1. +Joseph Lewis Lovett, b. 25 Sep 1850 Salem MA

Mr. & Mrs. Lovett

Mr. & Mrs. Benjamin B.
Lovett.September 10, 1924, State
Times Advocate, Baton Rouge,
Louisiana, page 5

Joseph Lewis Lovett, son of Joseph & Henrietta (Stimpson) Lovett, was b. 25 Sep 1850 in Salem MA, and died 15 October 1916 in Hudson MA. He married abt April 1873 to Frances L. “Fannie” McConlogue/McConlough, daughter of Neil & Hanorra McConologue. She b. March 1854 in Woburn MA. His occupation was currier/tanner. They resided for a time in Swanzey NH and shortly after the birth of their son Benjamin in 1876 they removed to Ayer MA. In 1900 they were living in Hudson MA. The 1910 census of Hudson MA indicates that Frances had 9 children and that by 1910 they were all living. In 1920 Frances is a widow living in Hudson MA, “a perfume canvasser,” with sons Clarence and George both single living with her. He is buried in Forest Vale Cemetery, Hudson MA.
U.S. Census > 1900 United States Federal Census > Massachusetts > Middlesex > Hudson > District 766
Lovett, Joseph L. Sr. Head W M Sept 1850 49 married 27 yrs MA MA MA  currier, tannery
Lovett, Frances Louise wife W F March 1854 46 married 27 yrs 9 ch 9 living MA Ire Ire
Lovett, Benjamin B. son W M Feb 1876 24 single NH MA MA
Lovett, None G. dau W F Aug 1880 19 single MA MA MA
Lovett, Grace W. dau W F Apr 1882 18 single MA MA MA
Lovett, Frances Louise dau W F Apr 1884 16 single MA MA MA
Lovett, Phillip Henry son W M June 1886 13 single MA MA MA
Lovett, George W. son W M Feb 1888 12 single MA MA MA
Lovett, Clarence C. son W M June 1895 4 single MA MA MA
U.S. Census > 1880 United States Federal Census > Massachusetts > Middlesex > Ayer > District 354
Lovett, Joseph W M 29 Currier Mas Mass Mass
Lovett, Fannie E. W F 26 wife Keeping House Mass Ire Ire
Lovett, Joseph B. W M 5 son NH Mass Mass
Lovett, Benjamin W M 4 son NH Mass Mass
Lovett, Maryetta W F 2 dau Mass Mass Mass
–Lovett, Phillip Henry, b. 6 June, 1886 in Ayer MA, son of Joseph Lewis Lovett and
Fannie L. McCoulogue. Father born Salem, mother born Woburn.
–Lovett, Grace Winnifed, b. 18 Apr 1882 Ayer MA
–Lovett, Nora Gertrude b 8 Aug 1880 Ayer MA
–Lovett, Francis Louise b 19 Apr 1884 Ayer MA
–Lovett, George Washington b 1886 Ayer MA [no image avail]
U.S. Census > 1910 United States Federal Census > Massachusetts > Middlesex > Hudson > District 826
Lovett/Lovitt, Benj. B. Head M W 34 married 4 yrs NH MA MA Teacher, Dancing
Lovett, Charlotte L. wife F W 30 Married 4 yrs 0 ch 0 living NH NH NH
U.S. Census > 1920 United States Federal Census > Massachusetts > Middlesex > Hudson > District 168
Lovett, Benjamin B. Head W MF 43 married NH MA MA Teacher, Dancing
Lovett, Charlotte C. wife F W 39 M NH NH NH
U.S. Census > 1930 United States Federal Census > Michigan > Wayne > Dearborn > District 903
Lovett, Benjamin B. Head 7500 M W 54 married at age 29 NH MA MA
Lovett, Charlotte C. wife F W 50 married at age 25 NH NH NH
Mason, Mildred, Lodger F W 35 single MA MA MA
NEHGS Database
—-Joseph L. Lovett, b. Sep 1850 in MA; he married in 1873 Salem MA to Frances L. “Fannie” McConlogue (marriage intentions filed in Woburn MA 4 Apr 1873). She was born March 1854 in MA.
Clarence Caryle Lovett, b. 10 June 1895 Hudson MA; res. Marlborough, Middlesex Co MA, Teamster, Single, WWI Draft Card, 1917-1918 // World War II Registration: Clarence Carlyle Lovett, 83 Central Ave, Newtonville MA; 46 yrs old, b. 10 June 1895 Hudson MA; nok Mrs. Wilbur Turner 94 Myrtle St. Waltham; employed Dell Restaurant Washington St., Newtonville MA
23 July 1910 – Joseph Ernest Calvert, age 28, Hudson MA, Wool Sorter, b. England, father Joseph, mother Annie Noddings
to Francis Louise Lovett, age 26, Hudson MA, rubber operative; father Joseph L., mother Frances L. McConologue, 1st marriage for both.
June 23, 1906 — Hudson MA — MARRIAGE
Arthur L. Libby 30 Hudson Painter b. Portland ME son of Luther S. Libby & Mary A. Ladd  married toNorine Gertrude Lovett 26 of Hudson, musician, b. Ayer MA, dau of Joseph L. Lovett & Frances L. McConlogue, 1st marriage for both
Children of Joseph Lewis & Frances L. (McConlogue) Lovett:
1. Joseph L. Lovett, b. 8 Sept 1874 in West Swanzey NH; He married 2 August 1898 in Hudson MA to Nettie L. Murphy, daughter of Patrick E. & Ellen (Lambert) Murphy. In 1930 living in Hudson MA with wife Nettie C. (age 56, b. VT), and children, Joseph Louis (age 27 b MA), Walter B. (age 24, b. MA), Barbara (age 19 b. MA).
2. +Benjamin Basil Lovett, b. 2 Feb 1876 in West Swanzey NH
3. Maryetta Lovett, b. 1878 in Ayer MA; possibly died young as she disappears from the records.
4. Nora “Norine” Gertrude Lovett, b 8 Aug 1880 Ayer MA; m. 23 June 1906 in Hudson MA  to Arthur L. Libby, son of Luther S. & Mary A. (Ladd) Libby. Their marriage record shows Arthur was a painter, and Nora a musician.
5. Grace Winnifred Lovett, b. 18 Apr 1882 Ayer MA; in 1910 living with parents in Hudson MA. She married 1 June 1913 in Waltham MA to Wilbur L. Turner, son of James & Cassie (Rofines) Turner.
6. Francis Louise Lovett, born 19 Apr 1884 Ayer MA; married 23 July 1910 in Hudson MA to Joseph Ernest Calvert, son of Joseph & Annie (Noddings) Calvert. He was born in England abt 1884. They resided in Hudson MA.
7. Phillip Henry Lovett, b. 6 June, 1886 in Ayer MA; He married Mildred Hitchings. in 1910 living with parents in Hudson MA; in 1920 living in Hudson MA with wife Mildred H., a car salesman. No children in household. He provided info on his father’s death record.
8. George Washington Lovett, b 2 Feb 1888 Ayer MA; in 1920 living with mother in Hudson MA, a real estate agent. He married September 1926 in Boston to Irene M. Trefry, daughter of Mrs. Ella M. Trefry of Boston. Afterwards they lived at 18 Forest St., Cambridge MA. He was at that time manager of the Cambridge office of the Charles E. Howe Co.
9. Clarence Carlyle Lovett, b. 10 June 1895 Hudson MA; abt 1917 was residing in Marlborough MA, single, a teamster; in 1920 living in Hudson MA with his mother, a driver for a rubber company; In 1940 he was single and employed at Dell Restaurant in Newtonville MA.

Lovett obituary 1952Benjamin Basil Lovett, son of Joseph Lewis & Frances L. (McConlogue) Lovett was    born 2 Feb 1876 in West Swanzey NH, d. 5 September 1952 at South Shore Hospital in South Weymouth MA.  They are both buried in Forestvale Cemetery in Hudson MA [verified by cemetery staff] ; He married 5 Aug 1905 in Alstead NH to  Charlotte Luthera “Lottie” Cooke, dau of Charles H and Adella E. (Lewis) Cooke of Alstead NH. She b. 18 Feb  1880 in Alstead, Cheshire Co., NH, and d. 14 Apr 1956 at age seventy-six.  [see Cooke genealogy]. He taught Henry Ford how to dance.
Boston Traveler, Boston MA, Saturday, September 6, 1952
Services for Benjamin B. Lovett, 76, of 145 Oak Street, Braintree, former social secretary for the late Henry Ford, Sr., will be held tomorrow at 1 PM at the Leland Funeral Home, Hudson with burial in Forestvale cemetery. He died yesterday at South Shore Hospital, South Weymouth. A native of West Swanzey, N.H., he leaves his widow, two brothers and two sisters.
April 15, 1956 Boston Herald (Boston MA)
LOVETT, of Braintree, formerly of Hudson, April 14, Mrs. Charlotte L. (Cooke) widow of Benjamin B. Lovett. Funeral services will be held at the Leland Funeral Home, 42 Central st., Hudson, Monday afternoon at 2 o’clock. Please omit flowers. Contributions may be sent to the Heart Fund.
They had no children.

[Post & genealogy updated December 2014, and August 5, 2016]

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