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May 6

Sterling, Massachusetts

Mary Had a Little Lamb Statue

This wooly sculpture supposedly marks the birthplace of a famous nursery rhyme, or not  

The birthplace of Mary Sawyer, Sterling, Massachusetts has long claimed to be the birthplace of the well-known nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

The poem was written by John Roulstone, a visitor to the classroom on the day in 1815 that Mary Sawyer was followed to school by her pet lamb. Henry Ford even purchased the schoolhouse the event was reported to have happened in and moved it to the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, MA.

There is some controversy between Sterling, MA and Newport, NH over which is the true home of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Newport, NH claims that “Mary Had a Little Lamb” was written by Sarah Josepha Hale, a resident of the town. It was published in an 1830 collection called “Poems for Our Children” under her name. There are some that believe that Roulstone originated the poem and that Hale contributed the last three verses when she published it. Further conflating things, there is also evidence that points to an almost identical British poem about a “Lucy” and her lamb.

Know Before You Go

Corner of Main St and Meetinghouse Hill Road.

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