Massachusetts


Hulling cacao beans

Mortar and pestle grinding

Rolling out (further grinding)

Closer…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We started the morning (3/28/17) at Colonial Williamsburg to check out the chocolate making process. It is a long, time-consuming process. Because of this, at the time, most chocolate was purchased in the stores.  The chocolate was produced in chocolate factories in the North located in Boston, Newport, Philadelphia, and New York.  Those who were extremely wealthy (or had a love for chocolate worth the sacrifice) had their own chocolate stones and employed slaves to make their chocolate. There were 3 chocolate stones in Virginia–the Governor’s Palace, Thomas Jefferson’s, and Lee Hall. In the 1700’s, most cacao beans were bought from the Caribbean. Today, we mostly get it from Africa. Colonial Williamsburg gets theirs from Mars Company, which I think is cool!

Preparing the Massachusetts flag

From there, we headed to Yorktown where it was Massachusetts Day.  I expected the opening ceremonies to be bigger than they were.  They basically consisted of opening comments (welcome) and a member of the National Park’s staff putting Massacusetts’ puzzle piece into a joined snake from the Ben Franklin “Join or Die” image, symbolizing the unity of the colonists in joining the nation.  After that, we followed the members of the fife and drum corps as they led an army of middle school students to the artillery area for an opening ceremony.  After comments introducing the speakers and events for the afternoon, they raised the Massachusetts flag over the encampment.  It was a cool celebration, but not necessarily something I’d go early again to see.

We spent the afternoon listening to four talks.  While I will not try to cover four hours of lectures in a blog, I will merely point out a few of the fun facts I learned from each.

John Mascarene’s Custom’s papers

First up was Curtis White, who presented Customs enforcement in Salem, Massachusetts: Prelude to War 1760-1775.  Most of his talk focused on John Mascarene, who went from being a glass maker to a customs official.  Most customs officers received a minimal salary from the crown and made up their money from fees.  One of the most interesting discoveries Mr. White made was the rules for customs officers.  Interestingly enough, he found the John Mascarene’s own papers.

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Gage’s order for destruction of Colonial property

 

 

 

 

The second lecture was Leslie Obleschuk’s on The Battles of Lexington and Concord. One of the most fascinating facts here was that when Gage gave orders to march on Lexington and Concord, he gave orders how to destroy the property taken from the armory.  He’s very specific that the musket balls were to be disposed of by degrees–scattered in fields, etc.  Instead, they dumped the 500 pounds of ammunition they confiscated into the mill pond, where it was easily recovered later.  I’m sure this had to do with the British army’s speedy retreat out of town.

Ms. Obleschuk also explained the vital choice behind the shot heard round the world.  John Buttrick (father of 10 kids and Member of the Committee of Correspondence) was the commanding officer at the North Bridge. While positioned on the high ground outside of town, the men saw smoke coming from the center of town.  They assumed the worst–that the British had set the town on fire.  Buttrick has to make the choice between staying put and facing the British.  They decide to face off. The British are tearing planks off the bridge, and a shot rings out.  Buttrick orders his men to fire–even though firing on the King’s troops is treason.  Both sides have a “Now what?” monent.  The day has not gone the way either side had planned.  Finally, British soldiers who are exhausted (having left at 10 pm the night before) decided to leave.  Ms. Obleschuk believes Concord was the true “Shot heard round the world” for two reasons.  First, Emerson (who coined the phrase) had a grandfather who lived in a house directly by the North Bridge.  No doubt he gave Emerson an account of what happened that day.  Additionally, this was the first time an American commander gave a direct order to fire against British troops.  While this wasn’t a point from which they could not turn back, the reality is, they didn’t.

Howe’s plan of attack

The third and fourth talks were given by Garrett Cloer.  He began with Joseph Warren and the Battle of Bunker Hill.   While Joseph Warren is an amazing character and often overlooked, I was most fascinated by John Stark and the New Hampshire boys (whom I’m sure they’ll discuss on New Hampshire day).

Howe’s plans were to make a major attack, cutting off the colonists in the redoubt. He first orders the navy to burn Charlestown so colonists have nothing to hide behind–obviously learning a lesson from the British retreat from Lexington and Concord.  But when John Stark brings his regiment from New Hampshire to the redoubt and is allowed to position them as he sees fit, he immediately anticipates Howe’s flanking maneuver and orders his men to the gap.  There, they fortify a two rail fence, all that would have stood between Howe and the redoubt.  Stark also puts his men in 3 deep to be able to rotate the men firing.  When the British attack, 90 British soldiers are killed in the first volley.  They would never breach the fence.  In fact, many British commanders would lose between 3/4 and 9/10 of their men.

Outside Yorktown Victory Center

Cloer’s second talk was on Washington:  “The gentleman and the soldier looked agreeably blended in him.” He explained what an adjustment it was for Washington as a Virginian to enter Massachusetts society and lead.  It was indeed a clash of cultures.  It really gave some perspective on exactly what it took for such different colonies to work together–something that should give us hope today.

The final talk of the day was Jason Halin on The Revolutionary Partnership of John and Abigail Adams. One fascinating detail he pointed out was that the average age in Boston was 16.  So, you have a young, discontented population in the middle of economic depression, ruled by an authority they don’t agree with.  No wonder Franklin described it as a powder keg waiting to erupt!

Honoring Massachusetts

Another fascinating detail was Abigail Adams role in the revolution.  In addition to holding down the fort in Boston, caring for sick family members, running a farm, and making supplies for the army–John Quincy remembers her making her own musketballs–she also served as John Adams’ eyes and ears, passing vital information which he could share with congress.  Another fun fact about her is that she pushed her husband to ensure women’s rights in the new independence–something John Adams doesn’t push for in light of everything else they were fighting.  She truly is a remarkable woman.

Definitely incredible information to learn!

Courtesy of HWMoore

Courtesy of HWMoore Quincy Adams Station

After being up late, we got up early Friday morning (8/8/14) to head into Boston with much fear and trepidation on the part of my mother. The main concern? We had no idea where we were going. We had planned to do the park and ride at Quincy Adams Station, but could not find an address anywhere. Google maps gives coordinates; even customer service didn’t know the address and gave us the address of a pediatrician 1 mile away–apparently, that was supposed to help us find it. Additionally, we didn’t know for sure how to work the subway cards, so that was another unknown. But, we set off anyway, determined to figure it out.

We made it to the pediatricians and kept going a bit to see if we could see anything, putting the Google coordinates in the GPS. What we saw was a kid jumping down from a 12+ foot fence. When we’d made the block without finding anything, we saw the same kid, so we asked for directions. He told us it was a pain in the butt to get to, but proceeded to tell us anyway. After we’d executed a series of twists and turns, we saw two construction guys sitting outside who directed us the rest of the way to the parking garage conveniently located right off Thomas E. Burgin Parkway. It’s also right next to a Home Depot, which would have made an easy GPS location. (Since returning, I used that to determine the REAL address. It is 450 Centre St. Quincy, MA 02169.)

Courtesy of Boston Tourism

Courtesy of Boston Tourism

With the first leg completed, we tackled buying a Charlie Card. We had determined that this would be the best, as it allowed us access for any subway, bus, or ferry for 24 hours. Not knowing what we’d tackle in Boston, we purchased this for $12 and set off. (We actually only ended up taking the subway there and back, so we’d have been better purchasing individual rides, but we were able to give our passes to a man and his son when we returned, so that was nice.) We boarded the red line, only to be delayed by another train with trouble. But, we eventually arrived in Boston.

We got off at the Park Street Station, which is right in the middle of the Boston Commons where we were to meet our Freedom Trail walking tour. The staff at the Visitor’s Center there was immensely kind and helpful, sending us to activate our trolley tickets, helping us get rid of additionally tickets, and in every way walking us through the process. Once we got our trolley tickets, we were ready for the Freedom Trail tour (Both were included with the Go Boston card.) Our tour guide was hilarious and gave a ton of great information.

Meeting the Tour

Meeting the Tour

We started the tour at Boston Common which, established in 1634, is the oldest park in America. William Blackstone (Blaxton) was the first European settler in Boston, where he moved to be alone. But, when the Puritans came in, he invited them to share his land. They did, then had problems with him because he was an Anglican minister and ordered his house burned down. With such neighbors, Blackstone decides to move to Rhode Island (pre-dating Roger Williams) and sells Boston to the Puritans for 50 pounds (about $100,000 today). To this day, it is legal to graze cows, do laundry, and settle duels in the Commons. Another fun fact is that the playground was originally the site of hanging tree (lost in 1847). It also served as the militia training ground. One thing I didn’t realize is that Boston today is quite different than it was on Apr. 18, 1775. What is now Charles Street was the Charles River. In fact, 70% of Boston is landfill, Boston previously being only one mile square.

Massachusetts State House

Massachusetts State House

From the Commons, we headed to the “New” statehouse. Built in 1775, it used to be John Hancock’s cow pasture. Apparently, he was quite the character. John Hancock was the second best smuggler of the day, naming his ship “The Liberty” to spite the British, and he was the richest man. He had inherited 50,000 pounds (about $5,000,000 in today’s economy.) He loved spending money, throwing parties, and being influential. This may be another reason for his large signature. He wanted to be commander and chief of army, but Congress wanted someone with war experience. When the war is over, he makes a bid for president. Congress refuses. Hancock was furious. Interestingly enough, when Washington goes to Faneuil Hall, John Hancock won’t come greet him. Since his son is named John George Washington Hancock, one would think he’d forgiven him, but apparently, his wife did it to spite him–she’d also made John wait 10 years to marry her in a day when the average lifespan was 42.
The dome of the statehouse was initially wood. It was later covered by copper, made by Paul Revere, who got the job because Sam Adams was in the government. Later, it was gold leaf, painted black during WWII to prevent it from being seen by invaders, then returned to gold leaf after the war.

Grave of Boston Massacre Victims

Grave of Boston Massacre Victims

From the Statehouse, we headed to Boston Cemetery. This also was part of John Hancock’s pastures. There are a number of bodies in the graves, but the stones don’t necessarily coordinate with who’s buried under them. In addition to the practice of burying members of a family together under one stone, they also didn’t have burial rules, so graves might be a foot and a half deep or ten feet deep. When the shallow graves started to show the bodies, the government ordered the cemetery cleaned up. So, they moved the stones into straight lines, but did not move the accompanying bodies.Every one of the 2,300 stones represents 6-10 people.

One of the most famous stones is the marker for the casualties in the Boston Massacre. Edward Garrick, a wig maker’s apprentice was walking home when he saw Captain John Goldfinch. He accused Goldfinch of not paying his bill and asked for money owed.

Boston Massacre site

Boston Massacre site

Private Hugh White came to the aid of Goldfinch, saying that his Captain was a gentleman and would pay his bill. Garrick responded, “There are no gentlemen in 29th regiment.” White hit Garrick in the face with the butt of gun. Other civilians pushed White against the wall where he called for aid. “Turn out Captain Preston!” (British soldiers aren’t allowed to fight without their officers–a reason the Americans would pick off officers first in the American Revolution.) Preston will first order his men to load their guns, then to fix bayonets, which his men will use to keep the crowd at bay. One citizen tells him, “I hope you don’t mean to fire.” Captain Preston responds, “No, my place is in front of my men. I’d be a fool to give that order, as I would be a sacrifice then.” Something is thrown, which strikes one of the officers who fires his gun. Preston turns to ask why he fired without orders and is struck with a bottle and knocked down, at which time the soldiers, hearing the cry of “Fire” from the angry crowd, assume it to be Preston and fire. Though only 5 will die, Sam Adams makes them famous. Henry Pelham will make the artwork which Paul Revere will engrave (apparently without Pelham’s permission, as Pelham will write him a scathing letter accusing him of highway robbery!) This early piece of propaganda will display a street scene. But, Preston is behind his men, the British soldiers are smiling while the blood runs, and there is a dog, the symbol of innocence. Definitely an agenda there.

Revere foot stone

Revere foot stone

Another famous grave is Paul Revere’s, which showcases the original footstone. On April 18, 1775, the British are going to Lexington to get both Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Paul Revere finds out the direction they’re heading (Courtesy of the lanterns) and goes to Reverend Jonas Clark’s house to warn them. On the way, he cries “The regulars are out.” He does not say, as Tennyson popularized, that “the British are coming,” since we were ALL British at that time, and the phrase would have had no meaning. The Regulars are the British army. On the way, however, Revere meets a patrol. One soldier shoots at Revere and misses. Samuel Prescott, who is with Revere, will complete the midnight ride as the only one to reach Concord. Revere is captured by six British officers. Major Mitchel put a pistol to his head and asked him a variety of questions. Revere tells him he’s already warned the cities of the British plans. Mitchel tells Revere to escort them back to Lexington. When they get close, they hear gun fire. Mitchel asks Paul what it is. They run off to see what is taking place, and Paul leaves, though they’d captured his horse. He’s able to see the whole thing, though.

The Old Statehouse

The Old Statehouse

From there, we went to the old statehouse. It is here that James Otis, called by John Adams the patriot’s Martin Luther, spoke against Writs of Assistance for 4 hours. Otis, who was both a lawyer and a speaker, is a volatile man. He railed against search and seizure. At this time, if you refused entry to a soldier looking for contraband, the militia can break down the door. He states that Americans are not second class citizens, so we deserve the same rights as Englishmen. He demands representation in parliament. In fact, James Otis will coin the phrase “Taxation without representation is tyranny.” He does have an interesting life story, though. On September 5, 1769, he gets in a fight with British officers in a British Coffee House. One will bash in his head. Dr. Joseph Warren fixes him up, but puts a lead plate in his head. Otis will go crazy either from the head wound or lead poisoning. He supposedly told his sister that he hoped God would take him in a flash of lightning. Ironically, he will die struck in the head by a bolt of lightning.

Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall

We concluded our tour at Faneuil Hall. Peter Faneuil wanted a marketplace, while the government asked for meeting house. The solution Peter offered was to do both at his own expense. So Faneuil Hall offers shopping on the lower level while the government meets on the upper level. Many speeches by many famous Americans were given here, yielding it the title the “Cradle of Liberty.” This concluded our Freedom Trail tour.

Since we were by the Statehouse, we decided to visit the museum there, which is an incredible treat. When you walk in, you are given a new identity as a Revolutionary character (Mine was Phillis Wheatley.) The card gives you your description, social connection, and additional information. As we walked through the display of artifacts and facsimiles from the time, one item caught my eye.

Melville's tea

Melville’s tea

We had learned at Arrowhead that Herman Melville’s grandfather had been part of the Boston Tea Party, and when he returned home, brushed the tea off his boots and put it in a vial, which he kept as a souvenir. Imagine my surprise when that very vial was on display in the statehouse museum! It has amazed me how often on this trip I have discovered something of one historical figure intertwined with information about other historical figures!

From here, we decided to catch the Trolley tour, which turned out to be a mistake. Not that it wasn’t interesting–we had a snarky tour guide whose stories mainly focused on being poor and going to bars instead of actual history. But, the problem was that we caught the tour at stop four, desiring to visit stops 1-3. Unfortunately, the trolley had 13 other stops to make before starting over at stop one. We should have walked the short distance from stop four to one.

Paul Revere and the Old North Church

Paul Revere and the Old North Church

Instead, we spent an hour and a half on a bumpy trolley, which put us behind in the sightseeing department.

When we got off, we headed to the Old North Church. This was one of the places I’d especially wanted to go to get my own pictures of the Paul Revere statue. The Old North Church is an incredible piece of architecture and gives a lot of good information on those who participated in the events prior to the battles of Lexington and Concord. One thing I especially admired is they have an array of dog tags in the courtyard representing each soldier who has fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Definitely an incredible tribute!

From there, we walked to the Paul Revere House. This amazing example of 17th Century architecture is a jewel, containing many originals examples of Paul Revere’s work. Though you cannot take pictures inside the building, it is well worth the minimal admission ($3.50–included the GO Boston Card)

Paul Revere House

Paul Revere House

One thing that fascinated me was the fact that Paul Revere had three descendants who fought in the Civil War. The museum shares their story as well. It’s hard to believe that Paul Revere had 16 children (8 by each wife), but apparently they didn’t all live in the house simultaneously.

When we finished the tour, it was about 4:00, and we knew the trolley stopped running at 4:30. We debated trying to get up to Bunker Hill and the U.S.S. Constitution, but didn’t want to have to make the long walk in either direction. So, we checked out the print shop and a chocolate store and finally opted to go home. In retrospect, I should have pushed myself because I discovered that the U.S.S. Constitution is leaving for a three year restoration process after this season, so we missed our chance to view “Old Ironsides.” But, at the time, our throbbing feet were the priority. And so, another amazing time comes to an end. Until next time, may all your adventures be breathtaking!

Plymouth Plantation

Plymouth Plantation

I was extremely excited to head out to Plymouth (Plimoth) this morning (8/7/14). Since I have been back teaching history. I love the opportunities I have to use my own pictures for power points. (Plus it’s easier to give copyright credit!) So, this leg of the trip visiting Plymouth today and Boston tomorrow offered a chance to get lots of good material. We had purchased the Go Boston card which can be purchased for between 1 and 7 days and offers a 55% discount on 47 locations. For those like my family who try to jam pack in everything you can, it’s a great deal. (They have them for a bunch of cities. Check it out at http://www.smartdestinations.com) It reminds me of the Firenze card we bought in Florence. One of the things I like best is that it encourages us to try things we might not otherwise do because “We already paid for it.”

Wampanoag structure

Wampanoag structure

We started off the day at Plymouth Plantation. This reminds me a great deal of Jamestown Settlement, one of our favorite Virginia locations. Our first stop was the Wampanoag Homesite. One thing that is different here is that the interpreters are not representing people from the past. All of them are of Native American descent–many from the Wampanoag tribe. So they speak about their heritage and culture as they have lived it and heard it from their ancestors. The first gentleman we spoke to had moved down from Canada because the current Canadian Prime Minister ran on a platform which ended funding to First Nation Schools. As a result, his school had to close. Now he works at Plymouth where he can share his heritage with those who want to learn. Another woman I spoke to decided to work at Plymouth because her whole family worked there. In another area, a man shared the difference between responsibility of Native peoples. For his tribe, you can marry when you are responsible for yourself and able to provide for an eventual family. For some, that was fifteen; others weren’t mature until thirty!

Miles Standish

Miles Standish

From the Wampanoag Homesite, we headed up to the 17th Century English Village. This is a breathtakingly scenic area with some of the best reenactors I’ve met–and I’ve met plenty! Costumed interpreters wander throughout the village, engaging visitors in conversation and asking questions. Unlike the Native Americans, they stay in the 1600’s, complete with dialect. We first ran into Miles Standish, but each interpreter represents a person who actually lived in Plymouth. We walked the length of the village, chatting with interpreters who discussed everything from how to mud and daub a house, to child care, recipes, clothing, government, and everything in between. It was truly fascinating because everyone had a different perspective to offer.

Jenny Mill

Jenny Mill

Since it was only 12:30ish, and I wanted to see the dancing at 3:00, we opted to drive into Plymouth and catch a walking tour (another courtesy of the Go Boston Card.) Of the three tours we could choose from, we took the “Discover Plymouth’s History” tour. Our tour guide, Leo, was one of the guides who assisted Kirk Cameron in the making of Monumental. Beyond that, he ran the Plymouth Mill for 17 years and now is in charge of the Museum there. Our first stop was the Jenny Mill. Leo explained how the pilgrims had landed on sand and utilized the river here in a number of ways.  In the days of Plymouth Plantation, they built 14 mills on the river. The Jenny Mill is the oldest mill in the US, dating back to 1736. It was a great location because the sand purified the water, the water provided power for the mills, and the fish provided fertilizer to supplement the sandy soil. (This past year 112,000 fish came up this river.) The river also served as a dividing line between the Indians and pilgrims.

Women in Plymouth

Women in Plymouth

When the Colonists set sail, there were 102 aboard. Initially, there were two ships, but leaving England, the Speedwell leaked, so they all took the Mayflower. 14 single women and 18 married came over, in addition to children. They came to build a society. Two children were born on the journey and two died along the way. (My ancestor was the second child to be born on board the Mayflower.) Of the men who died, one was a servant of the doctor who was told to administer lemons and limes to everyone in order to prevent scurvy, which he did with all diligence. He, however, did not like the taste of either, so he didn’t take them himself, and consequently died of scurvy. The next was a sailor who didn’t like the Pilgrims hymn singing. In a fit of temper, he told them he couldn’t wait for them to die so he could wrap their bodies and throw them in the ocean. He died the next week. No other sailors saw fit to comment…

At Work

At Work

When they finally arrived, the first arrangement was more communal–everyone got equal shares. During the first winter, however, 51 died (exactly half.) They had found a bit of corn upon arrival, but towards the end of winter, rations were 5 kernels of corn per person per day. Many women sacrificed their shares for their children and 14 of the 18 married women died. But their sacrifice paid off–10% of Americans are now Mayflower descendants.

The communal aspect wasn’t working because someone who did nothing or minimal labor got paid equally to one who worked hard, so there wasn’t much incentive for success. (Hence, the starving time). Therefore, in 1623 Bradford changed to individual land ownership. From then on, there wasn’t any more starving. Each member got a share of land equal to members of his family (including children.) Plymouth was unique in having been settled by families. A number of people think the Pilgrims had no education since there were no formal schools.  But they were educated at home.  To understand how educated they actually were, our guide explained that Bradford brought 400 books to the New World and could speak 5 languages. By comparison, when John Harvard (founder of Harvard) donated his personal library to start Harvard, he had fewer books than Bradford.

Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rock

At this point in the tour, we were caught in a gale force rainstorm. We hurried for shelter around Plymouth Rock, which helped a little, but the blowing rain insured we were all pretty much soaked. While we were there, however, we learned about Plymouth Rock. Mom asked how it split. It actually split during American Revolution. Many Plymouth men didn’t want to go to war. So, they had the idea to bring Plymouth Rock to the  town square and have the men rally around it. So, they loaded it on to a wagon. While they were moving it in the wagon, no one was touching it, and it split. The driver said it was an omen to split from England. They named the small half England and left it on the beach. The big half (America) they took to the to square where they mustered and went to war.

Massasoit Statue

Massasoit Statue

Our next spot was the statue of Massasoit. Most know Massasoit as the one who helped the Pilgrims make it through the starving time. When they threw the first Thanksgiving out of thanks to God, the colonists chose to honor Massasoit and his immediate family by inviting them to participate. Unfortunately, “immediate” doesn’t translate well–he brought 99 guests with him. A few years later when Massasoit fell ill, Edward Winslow (who was the first to meet Massasoit and help negotiate the peace) nursed Massasoit back to health. In an ironic twist years later, the son of Winslow, the current governor, goes to meet with Massasoit’s son Metacom (Metacomet), the current chief. Metacom refuses to meet with him, saying he only meets with kings. He will thereafter be known as King Philip–leader of King Philip’s War against the son of the man who saved his father’s life. When Caleb Cook shot King Philip, Governor William Bradford had King Philip quartered and hung. He then placed his head on pole, where it remained for 25 years. He wanted to dissuade others from attacking. Bradford had done something similar when he first arrived. The Wampanoags made a treaty with the Pilgrims when they first landed. When questioning why they would make a treaty with 51 half starved people, the answer is they were weak themselves, having just survived an epidemic. Soon after the treaty was signed, the Wampanoag’s enemies, the Narragansett found out about the treaty.  They sent William Bradford arrows in rattlesnake skin–the message was clear: We’re coming for you. Bradford sent rattlesnake skin back–with bullets inside. The message was also clear: Bring it. The fort was never attacked. But the graves of William Bradford, Caleb Cook, and John Howland remain at the top of the burial hill–the fort’s original location.

Old Courthouse

Old Courthouse

Our last stop was by the oldest wooden courthouse in America. Here two very famous people hung out–John Adams in the government, and his friend Paul Revere, who will make the bell in the church. We also heard the story of John Howland. He was an indentured servant of a carver. He became freeman when the carver died and Howland inherited his property. John Howland has the significance of  being the Mayflower passenger with the largest number of descendants–at the last reunion, over 1500 attended.  His famous relatives include Bush, Roosevelt, and Churchill. He also holds the distinction of being the last pilgrim to die in Plymouth. But what I found fascinating is that John Howland almost didn’t make it to the new world. During a storm when the captain had declared for no unranking person to be on deck, he went up–perhaps to deliver a message–and was washed overboard.

The Mayflower II

The Mayflower II

Luckily, he grabbed onto a topsail and was able to be hauled up. Think of how much would be different if the man with the greatest number of descendants had perished before any of them came to be.

From the walking tour, we booked it back to see the dancing. This is an audience participation event and was great fun. (A shout out to Gabriel, my five year old dance partner!) We got to learn and dance two Colonial dances–one slower, one more lively. During the instruction, it started pouring rain again. So, since most people were stuck, our guides taught us two Colonial Songs, which we preformed in rounds. Beautiful!

Forefathers Monument

Forefathers Monument

Finally, the rain let up so we could check into our hotel and head down to the Mayflower. This also was great fun getting to learn about the voyage from reenactors. After dining on lobster bisque and clam strips at Woods (the recommendation of where the “locals” eat), we made our way up to the Monument to the Forefathers. To learn more about this amazing monument to faith in God, I’d recommend checking out the movie Monumental. Finally, we headed back to the Mayflower to get a few sunset pictures with the strains of an oldies (Swing) band in the background. While our feet feel about to fall off (I hope we’re recovered by tomorrow!), it was an incredible day!

Melville's Arrowhead

Melville’s Arrowhead

This morning (8/5/14), we set out for Herman Melville’s Arrowhead. Like most American’s, I have never been a huge fan of Melville, and I have never read Moby Dick though I did enjoy “Billy Budd.” But, as we were in the neighborhood and I cover Melville in class, I thought I owed it to myself to get a better understanding of the man. I’m definitely glad we did. Our time there definitely made Melville more three dimensional.

Melville's view from the Piazza--his neighbors all thought he was building it on the wrong side since it was away from the sun

Melville’s view from the Piazza–his neighbors all thought he was building it on the wrong side since it was away from the sun

We ended up taking two tours, and I’m glad we did. I had read in the reviews of the place many who said how amazing their tour guides were, so I was rather disappointed when our first tour sounded like reading a text book, giving amazing facts with little finesse. Our second tour guide, however, supplied everything missing in our first tour guide’s presentation, sounding much more like reading a novel with all the personal details and drama I’d hoped for. Here’s a bit of Melville’s life that I gleaned:

"Piazza" where Melville wrote "The Piazza Tales"

“Piazza” where Melville wrote “The Piazza Tales”

Melville seemed to have had a rough life from start to finish. Born third of eight children, Melville had the first big change as an eleven year old when his father went bankrupt, forcing the family to move to New York. His father then died a year later, forcing Melville to quit school and begin working. His brother insisted they continue their education through their own reading, and Melville did. He worked as a banker, a teacher, and then finally at 19 signed on as a cabin boy headed to England. In Liverpool, he signed on as a whaler to the Marquesas Islands. But the life of a whaler was a difficult one, requiring hard labor and a three year commitment. Melville and a young friend decided to jump ship–an illegal decision–and hid out on the island. There, they were embraced by a tribe of cannibals, who were so fond of them that they found it difficult to leave. Melville had hurt his foot, so was unable to escape, but his friend escaped, promising to bring help which never came. Melville wasn’t afraid they’d eat him, though; he was afraid they’d tattoo his face and he’d never be able to return to normal society. Finally, another ship docks and provides him an opportunity to escape. But, no sooner has he joined the crew, that they decide to mutiny and Melville lands himself in jail in Tahiti. He’s eventually able to get to catch a whaler to Hawaii, where he will be able to get passage home in exchange for service in the US Navy. At last he returns home, where he gets married, writes about his experiences abroad, and is an instant success.

Front view of Arrowhead

Front view of Arrowhead

It is in the height of this success that he buys Arrowhead. His move to this area put him in contact with Nathaniel Hawthorne, whom he would encounter on a hike up Mount Monument arranged by friends who thought the two authors should meet. An account was published that the two authors were caught in a rainstorm and had a secret conversation which resulted in the production of Moby Dick–However, this account was published forty years after both authors’ deaths by someone who was not on the trip. Whatever the truth, we know that Melville admired Hawthorne immensely, as with the success of The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne represented everything Melville aspired to be: successful, handsome, happily married, and wealthy. Melville will dedicate Moby Dick to Hawthorn, perhaps giving rise to the rumor of Hawthorne’s influence on the story. Yet, while Hawthorne loved Moby Dick, the critics deemed it a dismal failure. This disheartened Melville, who wrote another book which did even worse. Melville will eventually swear off prose, turn to poetry, which never takes off, and finally give up on writing altogether. He will leave Arrowhead, which he can no longer afford, and swap houses with his brother to finish out his days working in a custom house for $4.00 a day.

Barn where Hawthorne and Melville met while the piazza was being constructed

Barn where Hawthorne and Melville met while the piazza was being constructed

But his literary disappointments were nothing compared to his personal tragedies. In addition to a variety of financial troubles, he suffered the loss of all but one of his four children. His oldest son Malcolm died at 18. He belonged to a militia group which was obsessed with pistols. One evening, he came home at two in the morning. His mother had waited up for him and noted that he did not smell of alcohol. She proceeded to lecture him about the choices he was making, and Malcolm, remorseful, promised it would not happen again. In the morning, however, he did not get up for work, and Melville told his wife to let him sleep and pay the consequences for his actions. But when Melville returned in the evening, he had still not come down, so Melville broke the door down to discover his son dead with a gunshot wound. The coroner determined it a suicide, but the Melville’s fought it in court, stating that their son was happy, ambitious, and well-loved. So, the death certificate will be changed to an accident. His next son, Stanwix, will be discovered dead in a hotel room in San Francisco. The death certificate here says “Causes unknown,” though the speculation is Tuberculosis. His daughter Bessie was virtually crippled by arthritis by early adulthood. Only Francis lived until adulthood, married happily, and had four girls of her own.

Arrowhead

Arrowhead

When Melville died, the newspapers mentioned “An obscure author” had died. It’s only a fluke that he didn’t remain obscure. The final push actually came through a manuscript discovered after Melville’s death. His wife found “Billy Budd,” and it seemed finished. She contemplated publishing it, but didn’t want to give the critics another opportunity to slam her husband. Her decision was to lock it in a breadbox–a breadbox that would be passed to daughter, then granddaughter. It might have remained there, had not Professor Raymond Weaver been assigned to write about Melville and sought out his granddaughter Eleanor, keeper of the Melville papers, for information. When he read it, he thought it could be published with a bit of cleaning up. This publication led to a resurgence in interest in Melville that has continued until the present. The desk and the breadbox are currently on display at the town library.

Hancock Shaker Village

Hancock Shaker Village

From Arrowhead, we headed to the Hancock Shaker Village.  This is an incredible place of peace and tranquility.  Because of the two tours at Arrowhead, we only had about two and a half hours at the village, but had it been a few degrees cooler, I could have spent all day.  The grounds are beautiful in both architecture and many gardens.  But, in addition to the gorgeous scenery, visitors can hear the stories of the Shakers.

For those who don’t know, the Shakers were the most popular Utopian society. They broke off from Quakers when they banned dancing. That dancing is a huge part of Shaker culture is evidenced by the fact that in England, where the group started, founder Anne Lee got arrested for dancing on a Sunday. But, she believed Christ’s spirit had come on her equivalently to the Second coming of Christ. Amazingly, she shared this with her small group of followers, and they believed her, establishing the United Society of believers in Christ’s second coming. It is the critics of their dancing that will call them “Shakers.”

Women's side of Shaker Dining Room

Women’s side of Shaker Dining Room

Because they believed Jesus had already come in spirit on their founder, they viewed the Bible as history written by flawed people. It was helpful, but the real deal was the Spirit of God moving on them in worship where they would sing and dance. Worship services varied in length, with the longest service being 22 hours! They merely lasted until the got what they felt they needed. Their services were open to everyone.

Peaceful Tranquility

Peaceful Tranquility

But, as other Utopian Societies before them, the Shakers emphasized community. Their founder stated, “You can get to hell all by yourself but it takes a community to get to heaven.” What made this community unique was not their commitment to celibacy, as many modern people believe, but rather their commitment to gender equality and racial equality. Another unique aspect is that men and women lived in the same house as brothers and sisters. While many today focus on the struggle of celibacy, it’s easy to see the draw the Shakers had to others–especially the down and outers. The community took in orphans who were kept until 18, when they decided whether or not to stay. They also took in a lot of single moms or women in abusive relationships. The peaceful setting and respectful community must have seemed like heaven to these young women.

Shaker School House

Shaker School House

A few things struck me as especially fascinating. First, in a time of deep racial inequality, Shakers reached out to the African American community and were a part of the Underground Railroad. One man who settled with his three girls later decided he wanted to leave. When his daughters wanted to stay, he tried to use slavery laws to get his three girls to leave with him, claiming they were his property. The Judge, however, ruled in favor of girls.

Horse Treadmill--fun invention for power production

Horse Treadmill–fun invention for power production

Another interesting point was the Shakers political involvement. Though they were pacifists and against voting, they were so much against alcohol consumption, that the only time they voted was to elect a Prohibition candidate. They did, however, find other ways to lend their support. One of my favorite discoveries was the fact that they sent Abraham Lincoln a chair because they thought he needed something comfortable to sit in with all that he was dealing with politically.

Finally, I was surprised to find the Shakers love of technology. Where one usually thinks of religious orders as shunning worldly things, the shakers were well known for many inventions. They were the first to use seed packets, the inventors of the broom design we all know and love, and many other inventions. One of the coolest things I observed was their arrangement for milking. In the circular barn, each cow would pick her own stall. The worker would undo a peg to let the cow approach the food.

Barn Design

Barn Design

When she had settled, he would replace the peg, securing the cow’s neck between two bars. The platform the cow was standing on was shorter than the cow, arranging her hindquarters off the platform. This way, all excrement fell out of reach of the cow and the milker. I love the ingenuity that looks at a problem and says, “What can I do to make this better?”

In 1960, though, the last Shakers left this area. Now, there is only one community left in Maine. Founder Anne Lee in one of her visions stated that the Shakers would start small (the original group was eight), grow large (about 6000 at its height,) and shrink to where a small boy could count them on his hand (Currently, only three remain.) But, she said it will grow again. I guess we’ll have to see.

The Norman Rockwell Museum

The Norman Rockwell Museum

Today (8/4/14) is our first full day in Massachusetts. We had arranged to meet distant relatives of ours that mom had met on ancestry.com. Since the town where they lived was very close to the Norman Rockwell Museum, we decided to go there as well. It is one spot I definitely recommend!

We started off in the lower level of the museum. Here on display are the 320 something Saturday Evening Post Covers painted by Rockwell. I can’t even imagine how much work went into this much artistry! It shows an incredible amount of variety, but also allows the viewer to take a stroll through American history, chronicling such events as the popularity of cars, the US involvement in WWII, basic American life, the Civil Rights movement, JFK…the list goes on. Amazing! The lower level also boasts a biographical movie of Rockwell’s life narrated by his son Peter. It explains his personal life and three marriages, plus his artistic career. Very much worth watching.

Family Tree

Family Tree

From there, we went upstairs to the Gallery tour. This 11:00 tour is well worth the price of admission ($17.50 with no discounts–lower depending on being a child, senior, or student) Our tour guide gave us the information I love best–personal details about the artist and his family which are not common knowledge.

One thing I was unaware of is how many pictures include members of Rockwell’s family. From “The Critic” which features his wife Mary Rockwell as the lady in the portrait and son Jarvis as the critic, to “The Train ride” featuring son Peter, to the “Freedom From Want” with his wife Mary and his mother, Rockwell utilizes his “free models” often. But, he often reused other models as well. The first portrait he sold to the Saturday Evening Post features 3 boys, which are all the same model. The “Family Tree” features the same male model throughout–even as Rockwell’s Preacher self-portrait’s wife! Rockwell also kept his models on their toes by casting them in non-traditional roles. For example, the Rabbi in “The Golden Rule” is Irish Catholic, while the Catholic in “Freedom to Worship” is a Methodist. He even incorporated famous people like Abraham Lincoln as one of the models for the standing man in the “Freedom of Speech.”

Another fun story is the story of the Four Freedoms themselves.

Freedom of Worship

Freedom of Worship

Rockwell was concerned with the war effort but considered himself too old to enlist. Wanting to help and inspired by Roosevelt’s speech on the freedoms Americans needed to fight to protect, he decided to create a portrait for each of the Four Freedoms. He went to Washington to offer these to the Government. After being shafted around from office to office, the government finally rejected his offer. Needless to say, Rockwell was crushed. Here he is trying to DONATE something to help the war effort, and the government won’t let him. He shared the problem with the Saturday Evening Post who decided to run the Portraits inside their issues. The portraits were wildly popular and attracted the attention of the government who suddenly saw their way clear to accept Rockwell’s work. While touring to raise money for war bonds, the “Four Freedoms” raised $132,000,000 for the war effort. An exorbitant sum of money!

Another cool fact we learned on the tour is the legacy of Rockwell’s artistry in his own children. Son Jarvis is a painter in his own right. Though an incredible portrait painter like his father, he has moved more in the direction of modern art. Tom, Rockwell’s middle son, expresses his artistry in writing. I was amazed to learn that Tom Rockwell is the same Tom Rockwell that authored the best selling How to Eat Fried Worms! Norman’s youngest son Peter is a sculptor who now resides in Rome, Italy. The various sculptures around the museum property were contributed by Peter.

Rockwell's Studio

Rockwell’s Studio

From the museum, we took the path down to the studio. This is Rockwell’s last studio, moved from his home in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. It contains many original artifacts, but two were favorites of mine. The first is the “Humility helmet.” Rockwell had bought this at an antique store in Paris after being told it was ancient. He found out the next day during a fire that the entire French Fire Department wore them. He kept it as a reminder to stay humble. The second is a burned out bucket. Because Rockwell smoked pipes while he worked, he kept a bucket beside him to dump ashes in. Unfortunately, this is also where he dumped other trash like oiled rags. Obviously, not a good combination. He started a number of fires this way, and was usually diligent to stamp out any embers. But, one time, he hadn’t been diligent enough and woke up to an incinerated studio. He kept the bucket to remind him to pay attention to details.

But, the most interesting thing to me was the fact that Rockwell had dropped out of school at 15. As a teacher, my commitment to education should be assumed, and yet, I firmly believe we have got it wrong with expecting every child to not just finish high school, but college as well. Yes, education has value, and every citizen needs a cursory knowledge of a variety of subjects. Yet, on the other hand, every person is different, and not everyone’s talents and abilities are fostered by traditional education.

Interior of the studio with the bucket and "the humility helmet"

Interior of the studio with the bucket and “the humility helmet”

While the work ethic of today’s youth is drastically different than those in previous eras, I still believe there are students I encounter daily who would be much better suited to an apprenticeship or a technical job than traditional book education. I think Rockwell is a shining example of just such a man.  To see more of his work without an onsite visit, check out http://www.nrm.org!

After an amazing voyage into the life of Norman Rockwell, we headed to Richmond, Massachusetts to connect with our distant cousins, the Bakers. Mom made a connection with the Bakers through ancestry.com, and we were excited for the opportunity to meet them and swap information on out Cheney ancestors. We spent an incredibly delightful afternoon, dining on homemade coffee cake and “Boston Harbor” tea (Be still my history-loving heart!) Mom and Mr. Baker told stories of what they knew of our history.

Mrs. Baker and I had other conversations. An unexpected connection to our morning was the discovery that Mrs. Baker had actually known Norman Rockwell and his family. I realized this by finding the more than suitable “Family Tree print” and a signed print of Rockwell’s Stockbridge in their “genealogy room.” One thing I love more than anything is the “behind the scenes” look at someone’s life, so this was a dream chance to hear about the real man. Mrs. Baker shared many memories about what wonderful people the Rockwells were. She recalled how she never saw Norman drive a car.

Bakers and Beauty

Bakers and Beauty

He rode a bike everywhere he went or rode with his wife Molly. Because Rockwell was good friends with the Pastor of the church where she worked, he would often stop by. Karen said they sounded like a couple of school boys giggling, and when Norman left, the Pastor would talk about how badly his stomach hurt from laughing so hard. “He was a hoot!” She shared. She also explained that many of his child models still live in town. They shared how hard it was for them to pose with Norman making faces, cracking jokes, and generally laughing the whole time. In one article I read, a child model explained he would do that to get them to make a certain face for him, knowing instinctively just what antics would elicit the desired response. And, it is precisely this understanding of people which allowed Rockwell to capture so much of the American experience and find humor in it all.

We had a delightful afternoon enjoying conversation, company, history (one of the Baker ancestors liberated Dachau), architecture (their house is over 200 years old!), and beauty (Mrs. Baker was the number one perennial distributor in this area and has a breathtaking garden!) We’re looking forward to seeing them again on Saturday!

Hannah Duston Statue

I hadn’t expected to be writing so soon, but I had the opportunity on the way home yesterday (8/12/11) to stop by the Haverhill, Massachusetts Historical Society to check up on one of my ancestors. We have long taken pride in the fact that we are descended from Hannah Duston (Dustin) of history book fame (Mary Neff was her midwife, if you’ve heard that side of the story.)

For those who are unfamiliar with that event, it took place in March of 1697. Hannah and her husband Thomas lived in Haverhill with their twelve children, the youngest only a few days old. One day when Thomas was out in the field working with the children, Indians started to attack. He sent the children up to the garrison then went to get his wife, but quickly realized he wouldn’t have time to save her and their new baby, so he followed the children, holding off the Indian party that had followed them.

Rendering on Thomas defending the kids

Back at the house, the house was ransacked and Hannah and Mary were made to dress and go with the Indians. Along the brutal march, the new baby was crying, so one of the Indians took her and smashed her head against a tree in front of the horrified Hannah. Over the next few days, they were marched and threatened. They were also joined by a fourteen year old captive named Samuel. Hannah was determined to escape, especially after seeing the treatment of her baby and hearing the stories of expected treatment in Canada.

Rendering of the slaying of the captors

The opportunity came after Samuel had asked one Indian how to scalp people. The Indian proceeded to explain in great detail how a victim was struck and the “proper method of scalping.” Samuel passed this information on to the ladies who began to watch for an opportunity. One night, the Indians let their guards down. They were sleeping soundly, convinced Samuel was like family and the two women to weak to escape. The three positioned themselves around the Indians. On Hannah’s signal, they quickly killed ten of the twelve Indians (two awoke and fled, wounded.) Hannah, Mary, and Samuel took provisions, a gun, and the tomahawks and headed out in their captor’s canoe. Realizing their story was too incredible to be believable, they returned and took the scalps of their victims for proof and bounty. Eventually, they were able to make it back home and rejoin their families. They later made it to Boston to claim a bounty offered for Indian scalps.

Artifacts of Hannah Duston at the Buttonwood Historical Museum

While driving through Haverhill, we got to visit the museum which housed various artifacts from the Dustons including a bullet pierced window, a scrap of cloth torn off her garment as she escaped, a ring, a few tomahawks, a small Bible, and Thomas and Hannah’s confessions of faith. We also got to visit the statue dedicated to her. It was an amazing reminder to me that we come from a long line of survivors. Thomas and Hannah’s oldest daughter Hannah married into our family line. It was also a reminder of the fact that everyone has a story, and there are many more legacies to be found.