Thursday, March 28, 2019

Plimoth Plantation

The Fort at Plimoth Plantation

For the past few years now members of my family have been going back to Plimoth Plantation every fall right before Thanksgiving. Some years our visits have been colder than others, but it's the cold days that, I think, give you some small idea what the original settlers endured.

For me personally, visiting Plimoth Plantation isn't just the experience of walking through a recreation of the 1629 Plantation. There is also the added nostalgia of my childhood memories from my visits back in the early 1960's. The visitor center is much improved and the Native American village has been added, but the English village is still very much how I remember it from years ago. The fact that some of my ancestors came over on the original Mayflower gives even more meaning to the visit.

Those English 'Pilgrims' sailed thousands of miles from their familiar countryside to live in a strange land with a much different climate and landscape. Even with their cannon and stockade walls they certainly must have realized how precarious a situation they were in. If it wasn't for their diplomacy, the timing of their arrival and the aid of some Native Americans they would not have survived the experience.

(Re-posted, with some edits, from another of my Blogs).

Treasure Island

Treasure Island

Robert Louis Stevenson

      One of the greatest fictional adventure tales for young people is "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson. This classic story of a boy's coming-of-age in the midst of a life and death struggle over a buried treasure has inspired young people for many years. But it also the basis for much of the mythology that surrounds pirates in the public mind continuing to this day. Just as Hollywood's Western movies have their archetypes, so does the classic (and modern) Pirate movie. Stevenson's Long John Silver, Ben Gunn and Captain Flint provide those archetypes.

Reading Treasure Island again I was struck by this introduction by the author:


If sailor tales to sailor tunes,

Storm and adventure, heat and cold,

If schooners, islands, and maroons,

And buccaneers, and buried gold,

And all the old romance, retold

Exactly in the ancient way,

Can please, as me they pleased of old,

The wiser youngsters of today:

--So be it, and fall on! If not,

If studious youth no longer crave,

His ancient appetites forgot,

Kingston, or Ballantyne the brave,

Or Cooper of the wood and wave:

So be it, also! and may I

And all my pirates share the grave

Where these and their creations lie!

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.