Tuesday, July 9, 2013

William Boardman House
17 Howard St.
Saugus, Mass. 01906

Although I mentioned the William Boardman House several years ago on this blog, I had actually never been inside the home. So I just recently decided to take advantage of a open house held by Historic New England  and toured the property.

      The Boardman house was built in 1692 on 300 acres in what was then a very isolated part of Lynn. William Boardman was from a prominent Cambridge family, his father was a town selectman and trustee of Harvard College.

      Originally built as a four room, two and a half story home with two bedrooms, a hall and a parlor. The house lacked a kitchen. An addition to the rear of the house was added a few years later to make up for this deficit. There is an existing privy behind the house but this is from a much later period.

     The house was built by a professional builder hired by Boardman. This was the usual practice among the early Puritan settlers in Massachusetts who were after all from well established communities in England. Homes of this type were quite common in East Anglia at this time.

    Years ago this house was misidentified and thought to be a much earlier structure. At that time it was known at the Scotch/Boardman House and it was believed that Scottish indentured servants lived in the house and worked at the nearby Saugus Iron Works. Later analysis of the age of the Boardman House proved that this was not the case.

     The Boardman House remained in the same family until 1911 when the property was purchased by a developer and it may have passed into history except for the efforts of William Sumner Appleton, the founder of what is now Historic New England. Recognizing the importance of the Boardman House, Appleton purchased the home along with some adjoining property and saved this late 17th home for prosperity.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Battle of Kings Mountain

On the 7 of October, 1780 the Battle of Kings Mountain took place in South Carolina. In what was part of a civil war in the South, British Loyalist forces under the command of Col. Patrick Ferguson were soundly defeated by Patriot Militia. Men from "over the mountain" from as far away as Virginia had gathered in the western part of the state and surrounded the Loyalists forcing them to make a stand on top of Kings Mountain.

   Despite their best efforts, including three bayonet charges, the Loyalists were overwhelmed by the Patriot forces who advanced tree by tree up the slopes of the mountain. Col. Ferguson, along with many other Loyalists, was killed in the fighting. The rest of his force was captured. Interestingly enough Col. Ferguson was the only British Regular on Kings Mountain that day.

   In the aftermath a number of the Loyalists were summarily executed and a number escaped while being escorted as prisoners. This victory by Patriot forces, along with another at the Battle of the Cowpens, were viewed as turning points in the War in the South. Gen. Cornwallis was forced to change his strategy and ultimately Cornwallis was forced to abandon the Carolinas and retire with his small army to Yorktown, Virginia.

    The Kings Mountain National Miltary Park preserves the actual grounds of the battlefield. Allow an hour to walk the paved walking path that navigates the ridge where the fighting took place. The National Park is open year round and is located off exit #2 on Rt. 85 in North Carolina. Follow the signs back into South Carolina and the Park. (Don't be confused by the South Carolina State park with the same name). The visitors center has a short film and static display area and an excellent selection of books on the American Revolution.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thomas Jefferson Born

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson of Virginia was born on this date in 1743. Our third President, Jefferson was instrumental in writing our Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. He served as Ambassador to France and was a prominent Francophile in the years after our sucessful Revolution.

As President he is most famous for the "Louisiana Purchace", a purchase of  land west of the Mississippi from Napoleon Bonaparte of France, which included the modern states of Louisiana and many other states. Jefferson considered the deal to be outside the powers of the presidency, but felt it was too important for the future of the young nation to ignore.

Jefferson also was responsible for rebuilding the U.S. Navy and engaging in a naval war against the Barbary Pirates. Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826 just a few hours before his old rival and former President John Adams of Massachusetts.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winston Churchill Born

Winston S. Churchill

Sir Winston Spencer Churchill was born on November 30, 1874 at Blenheim Palace, the home built for his famous ancestor the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, who led an allied victory against the French at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. As the future Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill would lead his nation to win even greater battles, first in the Battle of Britain and later in the ultimate defeat of Germany and Japan in World War II.

Winston Churchill was a soldier, journalist, writer, politician, historian and even an artist. A brilliant orator and a man of genius, he made many grave mistakes in his career but he was instrumental in keeping Great Britain and its Empire in the fight against Hitler's Germany in the early years of the Second World War when a Nazi victory seemed certain. When the United States finally declared war against the Axis powers (Germany, Japan, Italy) in December of 1941 Churchill knew that although the fighting was far from over, the war was all but won.

Throughout his life Churchill was a fervent supporter of the British Empire. As a soldier and a journalist he fought on the North-West frontier of India and took part in the Sudan expedition that culminated in the Battle of Omdurman in 1898. He was taken prisoner in the Boer War and escaped to write about his exploits. During the First World War he fought again as an officer on the Western Front.

Following in his fathers footsteps, Lord Randolph Churchill, he became a member of Parliament. He was First Lord of the Admiralty in both World Wars before becoming Prime Minister in 1940. He served as Prime Minister from 1940-1945 and again in 1951-1955.

Upon his death in 1965, Sir Winston S. Churchill was given an official state funeral, an honor generally reserved for royalty in Great Britain.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

An American Cemetery in France

Today, Thursday November 11, 2010, is Veteran's Day, a national holiday to commemorate all past and present war Veterans and the sacrifices they made for this country. The actual date marks the end of hostilities in the First World War (1914-1918) which was at the time called "the war to end all wars". Of course this common desire to bring an end to all wars has not yet borne fruit.

A lot of great poetry was inspired by that brutal conflict and many of the authors of that poetry did not survive the war. Alan Seeger was an American living in Paris when World War One began. He joined the French Foreign Legion and was subsequently killed in battle. A monument in Paris is dedicated to those Americans who volunteered to fight for France in the years before the U.S. entered the war. Some of Seeger's words are inscribed on the monument:

They did not pursue worldly rewards; they wanted nothing more than to live without regret, brothers pledged to the honor implicit in living one's own life and dying one's own death. Hail, brothers! Goodbye to you, the exalted dead! To you, we owe two debts of gratitude forever: the glory of having died for France, and the homage due to you in our memories.

This poignant poem, published posthumously, is his most famous work:

Rendezvous With Death

Alan Seeger (June 22, 1888 - July 4, 1916)

I HAVE a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade

And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
and lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath—
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear...
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.