“Colossal Coward!”: Plymouth Protests the Compromise of 1850: Part One

In early 1850, tensions between the North and South regarding the issue of slavery had brought many politicians and American citizens to seriously consider dividing the Union. Kentucky Senator Henry Clay presented a series of bills known as the Compromise of 1850 which offered compromises between the free North and slave-owning south regarding newly acquired territory from the Mexican-American War. South Carolinian senator John C. Calhoun, on his deathbed, dictated his final Senate speech, read aloud in the Senate on 4 March 1850, in which he blasted the North and emphasized that compromise was unlikely. Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster, a … Continue reading “Colossal Coward!”: Plymouth Protests the Compromise of 1850: Part One

“Nobly Braving the Wild, Maddened Sea in Obedience to a Sacred Sympathy for the Helpless Stranger”: 1867 Shipwreck by Manomet, Plymouth, Mass.

In Massachusetts, the nor’easter season typically ends in March. But occasionally a rare late nor’easter occurs in April, bringing heavy rain, hurricane-force winds, and rough seas. On Wednesday, April 17, 1867, an “unparalleled April gale” occurred along the Atlantic ocean off Massachusetts. Four Manomet men died while attempting to rescue the crew of the schooner Charles H. Moller, which became stuck “outside the breakers” south of Manomet Point near Stage Point and Manomet Bluffs, and had been partially wrecked by the storm. Caught unawares by the storm, the Charles H. Moller came ashore mid-afternoon near Manomet Point, but due to … Continue reading “Nobly Braving the Wild, Maddened Sea in Obedience to a Sacred Sympathy for the Helpless Stranger”: 1867 Shipwreck by Manomet, Plymouth, Mass.

The Thomas Family: A 19th Century Multiracial Family of Middleborough and Carver, Mass.

On a cold December day in 1854, Baptist minister Josephus W. Horton performed the wedding of 19 year old Mary E. M. Pierce and 38 year old widow John Atwood Thomas. The couple’s nineteen-year age difference was not unusual for the era. What was unusual was the legality of their marriage itself. Only a decade previously, their marriage would have been illegal in Massachusetts. But in 1843, the state repealed a law from 1705 which banned interracial marriage. John A. Thomas was white. Mary E. M. Pierce was multiracial: black, white, and Native American. After a century of Massachusetts’ anti-miscegenation law, … Continue reading The Thomas Family: A 19th Century Multiracial Family of Middleborough and Carver, Mass.

1882 Tragedy in Daniel Eason’s House – Augusta, Maine

On 13 November 1882, the Daily Kennebec Journal (Augusta, Maine) reported a terrible accident: “An eight year old daughter [Bessey Martha Eason] of Daniel Eason, colored, who resides on Prospect Street, in this city, was so horribly burned by her clothing being set on fire Saturday morning that she died yesterday. It seems that Mrs. [Sarah Jane] Eason had left her three children abed about half past 6 in the morning to go to Mrs. Russel’s, where she had been engaged to work. Mr. [Daniel] Eason, who went away earlier in the morning, was returning to the house in order … Continue reading 1882 Tragedy in Daniel Eason’s House – Augusta, Maine

Origins of the Quacum Sisters: Founding Mothers of Wilberforce Colony, Ontario

Sisters Vilana, Rosanna, and Salome Quacum were born at the turn of the 19th century on the south shore of Massachusetts, the daughters of a multiracial family with African, Mattakeeset (Massachuset) Indian, and Herring Pond (Wampanoag) Indian heritage. Although they had lived as free New England women, they each married husbands in the 1820s who were fugitive slaves. After spending several years in their hometown of Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts and Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, each of the married sisters made the decision to leave their extended family behind and become founding members of the Wilberforce Colony in Ontario, on … Continue reading Origins of the Quacum Sisters: Founding Mothers of Wilberforce Colony, Ontario

Thoreau’s Perfect Day in Lakeville, Mass.: Beautiful Assawompset Pond and a “Vexing” Encounter with Assawompset Indians: Part One

PART ONE:  A PROBLEMATIC THOREAU ON VACATION Today marks the 200th anniversary of Henry David Thoreau’s birthday. This talented, problematic writer was a study in contradictions. He was an elegant writer on the subject of the natural world, but prone to didactic lecturing on the subject of humanity. He was an avid student of history, especially Indian history, but he failed to reconcile his fictional and romantic image of Indians of the past with the realities of the contemporary Indians whom he met in Massachusetts and Maine during his lifetime. Below is a story about a favorite day of Thoreau’s … Continue reading Thoreau’s Perfect Day in Lakeville, Mass.: Beautiful Assawompset Pond and a “Vexing” Encounter with Assawompset Indians: Part One

Suffragettes Buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Seattle

In the spring of 2016, the mayor of Rochester, New York placed a poster with the following statement on it beside the gravestone of suffragette Susan B. Anthony: Dear Susan B., We thought you might like to know that for the first time in history, a woman is running for President representing a major party. 144 years ago your illegal vote got you arrested. It took another 48 years for women to finally gain the right to vote. Thank you for paving the way. Lovely Warren, The first female mayor of Rochester. Following the primary, word spread as numerous social … Continue reading Suffragettes Buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Seattle

Augusta’s Forgotten Minister: John Eason (1786-1879)

Last week I transcribed a remarkable interview from 1877 detailing the life of John Eason of Augusta, Maine, an African American Freewill Baptist preacher who played by Plymouth Rock as a child. The interview contains numerous fascinating stories from John Eason’s life, as well as several inaccuracies. So let’s dive a little deeper into his background and life.   John Eason’s Controversial Birthyear – 1776 0r 1786?  The reporter stated “The old bible in the chimney corner bears this record: John Eason, born May 14th, 1776, making Mr. Eason one hundred and one years old the 14th of May last [1877]. It is … Continue reading Augusta’s Forgotten Minister: John Eason (1786-1879)

The “Man of a Century”: Parson John Eason of Augusta, Maine

In the autumn of 1877, a reporter for Augusta, Maine’s Daily Kennebec Journal documented a remarkable interview with an elderly African American man known as “Parson Eason”, a former Baptist preacher with Massachusetts roots.   FATHER EASON. The Man of a Century – Something of His Life and Experience. “It may not be generally known that there lives in our midst a man whose birth day dates back more than one hundred years who stands among us a living monument of a past age and whose memory travels back almost to the time when the foundations of the republic were laid … Continue reading The “Man of a Century”: Parson John Eason of Augusta, Maine

Mattakeeset Indian Lucy Stewart (1763-1859) of Norwell, Mass.

  Part One: The Funeral of Lucy Stewart     In the fall of 1859, an unusual obituary was published across the country: A DECIDED CHARACTER. Miss Lucy Stewart, of South Scituate [Norwell], Mass., recently died at the great age of 96 years. The following account is given of her strange personal history: Her father was a white man, a sea captain, and her mother a full-blooded Indian. She was brought up in [the Stockbridge family] one of the first families of the town of Scituate, and had, until within a year or two, lived in the family down to … Continue reading Mattakeeset Indian Lucy Stewart (1763-1859) of Norwell, Mass.

Mystery Monday: The Disappearance of George McClellan: Life and Death in Boston

George McClellan packed his bags and left his wife and three children behind in Hanson, Massachusetts. He took the train to Boston, and disappeared. His family never knew what became of him. But of course, his story continued. He settled in Boston where had lived when he first emigrated from Nova Scotia, and he continued to work as a brick mason. In the 1900 Census, taken 13-14 June 1900, George R. McClelland (b. Jan 1846, Canada English, to father b. Canada English and mother b. Scotland, single, immigrated 1880, naturalized, brickmason, 3 months unemployed in the year) was enumerated at 6 … Continue reading Mystery Monday: The Disappearance of George McClellan: Life and Death in Boston

Mystery Monday: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan: George and Imogene’s Life in Hanson

In the spring of 1881, George McClellan reported that he had found a new job in Denver that was more suitable than his work as a police officer. Whatever his new position was, however, he did not remain in it for long, as he had returned home to his family in Hanson, Massachusetts by the winter of 1881. Upon reuniting with his wife Imogene, they conceived their son Roderic Cameron McClellan in December 1881.  On 1 June 1882, George R. McClellan was naturalized at the United States Circuit Court, Boston, Massachusetts. The witnesses to his naturalization were Friend White Howland … Continue reading Mystery Monday: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan: George and Imogene’s Life in Hanson