Celebrating friendships, stories and discoveries along the way

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Remembering the Gettysburg Address - 150 Years Later

On this day 150 years ago President Abraham Lincoln visited Gettysburg to dedicate the Soldiers National Cemetery as a place of honor for the fallen Union soldiers from the July 1863 battle. In doing so he marked the dedication ceremony with a 272-word speech that has since been revered as a masterpiece. Lincoln’s brilliant speech, the Gettysburg Address, presented the human sacrifice of the Civil War as devotion to the struggle for freedom and a continuation of the noble principles established in the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln’s fervent dedication to preserve the Union and to secure freedom for all Americans situated the Union and the Confederacy on opposing sides during the four-year Civil War conflict. In honoring the sacrifice of the Union soldiers at Gettysburg Lincoln recognized that the Union cause must persevere and succeed to reconcile the divided nation, to establish a lasting freedom for all Americans, and to secure the Declaration of Independence as a cornerstone of democracy.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Boston University Genealogy Alumni Meeting Schedule for 2014

B.U. Genealogy Program Alumni meetings for 2014

The schedule for Boston University Genealogy Program alumni meetings for the remainder of 2014 is listed below. All meetings are held at the New England Historic and Genealogical Society beginning at 9:00 A.M. except where otherwise noted.

January 25 at 1:15 P.M.
February 22 at 1:15 P.M.
March 22
April 26 - afternoon tour of Forest Hills Cemetery and St. Michael Cemetery
May 17
June 21 - guided tour of Back Bay
July 12
August 23
September 27 at 1:15 P.M.
October 18
November 22
December 20

In addition to the regular monthly meetings the group is planning two Boston Harbor Islands tours, a morning tour of Spectacle Island on Sunday, June 1 and a all-day tour of Georges and Peddocks Islands on Saturday, June 28.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Civil War Sites in Greater Boston and New England Presentation

Yesterday I gave a presentation at the monthly Boston University Genealogy Alumni meeting on Civil War sites in Greater Boston and in New England. As no Civil War battles were fought north of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the focus of Civil War research in New England revolves around abolitionism, with Boston as its epicenter. My presentation drew heavily on my recent experiences at Civil War walks along Freedom Trail sites, on Beacon Hill, and the Public Garden in Boston, as well as walks at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. Outside of Boston some of the sites highlighted include Concord, Massachusetts, the home and burial place of many abolitionists and literary giants, including Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott; the African-American Heritage trail in New Bedford, Massachusetts; the Clara Barton birthplace in North Oxford, Massachusetts; the Augustus Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire, and the New England Civil War Museum in Vernon, Connecticut.

The handout for the presentation, entitled Civil War Sites in Greater Boston and New England, is available from the Presentation Handouts widget located in the right-hand margin of this site.

For more information about Civil War sites in Boston please visit Boston Civil War tours at http://www.bostoncivilwartours.com/ and my Journeys of a Constant Genealogist blog posts labeled Civil War Walking Tours.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mayflower and Plymouth Colony Reading List

A wide range of source material exists on the Mayflower passengers and Plymouth colony. During our recent visit to Plimoth Plantation our tour guide Jim provided excellent recommendations for further study. I want to thank my friend and colleague Robin Wirthlin, who compiled this list during our tour:
  • Berry, Lloyd Eason and William Whittingham. The Geneva Bible: A Facsimile of the 1560 Edition. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969.
  • Bradford, William. Of Plymouth Plantation 1620 – 1647. New York: Random House, 1981.
  • Bunker, Nick. Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.
  • Hatcher, Patricia Law. Researching Your Colonial New England Ancestors. Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2006.
  • Heath, Dwight B., compiler. Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Bedford, Massachusetts: Applewood Books, 1986.
  • James, Sydney V. Three Visitors to Early Plymouth: Letters about the Pilgrim Settlement in New England During its First Seven Years. Plymouth, Mass.: Plimoth Plantation, 1963.
  • Morgan, Edmund S. Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea. New York: New York University Press, 1963.
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot. Story of the "Old Colony" of New Plymouth, 1620-1692. New York: Knopf, 1956.
  • Stratton, Eugene Aubrey. Plymouth Colony: Its History and People 1620 – 1691. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, 1986.
  • Winslow, Edward. Good News from New England: with an exact relation of the first planting that countrey, a description of the profits accruing by the worke : together with a briefe, but true discovery of their order both in church and common-wealth, and maintenance allowed the painfull labourers in that vineyard of the Lord : with the names of the severall towns, and who be preachers to them. London: Printed by Matthew Simmons, 1648.
I would like to suggest three additional books that were not on our tour guide's list:
  • Deetz, James and Patricia Scott Deetz. The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony. New York: Random House, 2001.
  • Philbrick, Nathaniel. Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War. New York: Viking, 2006.
  • Van Zandt, Cynthia J. Brothers among Nations: The Pursuit of Intercultural Alliances in Early America, 1580-1660. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
This reading list is also available on the Suggested Reading page of this blog. For additional information about our recent visit to Plimoth Plantation please visit my Plimoth Plantation Tour blog post.

Plimoth Plantation Tour

Last Saturday I visited Plimoth Plantation with a group of genealogy friends and colleagues from the Boston University Genealogy program. Plimoth Plantation is a living history museum modeled after the original colony at Plymouth and is located approximately three miles south of Plymouth center. We were fortunate to have beautiful, clear, crisp autumn weather during our visit.

Our group met at the Visitors Center to view an orientation film before our tour began. We met our tour guide, Jim, who gave a brief lecture on the history of the Plymouth settlement and an overview of our tour and the sites along our visit. Our first stop was the Wampanoag Homesite, modeled after the native settlement of Patuxet. The re-enactors at the Wampanoag Homesite are of Wampanoag or other Native descent, who wear period costume but speak from a modern perspective. We observed a mishoon, or canoe, burning demonstration and visited a nush wetu, a large bark-covered house with three inside fire pits.

We also witnessed a demonstration of native cookery over an open fire.

Our next stop was the 1627 English Village, where the re-enactors speak in 17th- century English from the 1627 perspective. The village is modeled after the original settlement in Plymouth along Leiden Street.

This modern-day view of Leiden Street in downtown Plymouth is the site of the original Plymouth settlement. The brick house on the left side of the view is on the site of Governor William Bradford's house.

Our tour guide encouraged us to explore the 1627 village on our own. The fort at the top of the hill offered fine views of the settlement.

I visited my ancestor Governor William Bradford's home and had short conversations with Edward Winslow, who was tending the fire, and Juliana Carpenter Morton, sister of Governor Bradford's wife Alice.

Across the street from the Bradford home was the house of Mayflower passenger John Billington, who welcomed our group with tales about the settlement and its inhabitants.

We ended our tour at the Craft Center, viewing various exhibits of 17th-century craftwork.

For additional information about Plimoth Plantation please visit their website at http://www.plimoth.org. For additional information about Plymouth history please visit the Pilgrim Hall Museum website at http://www.pilgrimhallmuseum.org and the Plymouth Antiquarian Society website at http://www.plymouthantiquariansociety.org/. Please visit my Mayflower and Plymouth Colony Reading List blog post for suggestions for additional reading.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

TIARA Family History Session with Jennifer Doherty of Clonmany Genealogy

On Sunday I attended a special Family History event held by the Irish Ancestral Research Association (TIARA) at the Irish Cultural Center in Canton. Jennifer Doherty of Clonmany Genealogy in County Donegal, Ireland was the highlighted speaker. Jennifer gave two excellent advanced genealogy presentations: Widows, Wills, and Workhouses: An Advanced Look at Irish Genealogy, and Advanced Irish Genealogy: Alternatives to the Brickwall. Both presentations focused on conventional and alternative methodologies for finding Irish ancestors in Ireland, the United States, and Canada. TIARA hosts frequent Irish genealogy events and trips during the year.

For additional information about TIARA please visit their website at http://www.tiara.ie. For additional information about Clonmany Genealogy please visit http://www.clonmanygenealogy.com.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Massachusetts Society of Genealogists 2013 Annual Meeting

On Saturday I attended the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists (MSOG) 2013 Annual Meeting at the LDS Church in Littleton. The theme of this year’s meeting was the Civil War. The meeting spotlighted three excellent presentations. Dr. Janette Greenwood, Professor of History at Clark University, presented a social history on the Union and Confederate home fronts. Dennis Ahern, a trustee of the Acton Memorial Library, presented information and methodologies for researching a Civil War ancestor. The 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Re-enactment group offered an interactive living history demonstration of Union soldier life and civilian attire. Meeting attendees had the opportunity to present displays on their Civil War ancestors, and I was delighted to present my three Civil War tribute blog sites along with the displays.

The Massachusetts Society of Genealogists has five chapters in Massachusetts (Bristol, Martha's Vineyard, Merrimack, Middlesex, and Worcester) and holds regular meetings. For additional information about the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists please visit their website at: http://www.massachusettssocietyofgenealogists.org or http://www.msoginc.org. For additional information about my Civil War tribute blogs please visit the Twentieth Massachusetts Regiment 150th Anniversary, the Thirteenth New Hampshire Regiment 150th Anniversary, and the 27th Connecticut Regiment 150th Anniversary.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Italian Genealogical Society of America Annual Meeting

On Sunday I attended the annual meeting and dinner of the Italian Genealogical Society of America (IGSA) held at Teresa's Italian Eatery in Middleton. Our dinner consisted of a hot-and-cold antipasti buffet of prosciutto, salami, cheese, olives, artichokes, tomatoes, roasted peppers, eggplant, and arancini (rice balls) with tomato sauce as an appetizer, followed by a main-course buffet of Pasta Pomodori, Meatballs, Sausages with Peppers and Onions, and Chicken, Broccoli, and Ziti in White Wine. I had a fantastic time sharing a delicious meal with friends while discussing Italian family history and genealogical research. Marcia Melnyk, president of the group, proposed ideas for future meetings, including an encore presentation of Italian onsite research by Mary Tedesco and a lecture exploring food and travel in Italy.

The Italian Genealogical Society of America meets quarterly at the National Archives in Waltham. For additional information about the Italian Genealogical Society of America please visit their website at http://www.italianroots.org.

For additional information about Italian onsite research please visit my blog post Italian Onsite Research Demystified.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

New Hampshire Families in 1790 Project

On Saturday I attended the October meeting of the New Hampshire Society of Genealogists in Concord, New Hampshire. Diane Gravel and I led presentations on the New Hampshire Families in 1790 project, an ongoing undertaking to document all of the families living in New Hampshire at the time of the 1790 census. Diane led two presentations focusing on 1790 New Hampshire research, Fleshing out the Families of the 1790 Census and A State Treasure: The New Hampshire Historical Society, and I led a presentation focused on the 1790 project blog, How to Use the NH Families 1790 blog.

For additional information on the New Hampshire Society of Genealogists please visit their website at http://nhsog.org. For additional information about the New Hampshire Families in 1790 project please visit http://nhfams1790.blogspot.com.

Monday, September 30, 2013

National Archives Virtual Genealogy Fair

For the first time the National Archives presented their annual genealogy fair as an online event on September 3 and 4. The outstanding presentations and slides are available for viewing and download at http://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/know-your-records/genealogy-fair/.Thirteen sessions focus on the vast array of holdings at the National Archives. Military records, alien registration files, Native American records, penitentiary records, and Chinese Exclusion case files are among the excellent topics covered. I want to thank colleague John Allen for directing me to this wonderful online resource.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Discover the Civil War at Mount Auburn Walk - September 21, 2013

On Saturday I attended a Civil War theme walk at Mount Auburn Cemetery entitled Discover the Civil War at Mount Auburn, an ongoing series of walks held at Mount Auburn every other month during the year.

The walk focused on notable figures who participated in political or civilian service on the home front and in military service in the Civil War.

Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Hallowell family were Quakers and ardent abolitionists who relocated to Medford, Massachusetts. Brothers Edward and Norwood Hallowell, formerly with the 20th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, served under Colonel Robert Gould Shaw of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and survived the conflict at Fort Warren. Edward assumed the role of Colonel of the 54th Massachusetts after Robert Gould Shaw's death. Their brother Richard was appointed by Governor John Andrew as a recruiter for the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. All three brothers survived the Civil War and are buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery on Indian Ridge Path.




Fireside poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, author of many notable poems including "Paul Revere's Ride," "Evangeline," and "The Song of Hiawatha," was a devoted supporter of abolitionism and reunification of Northern and Southern states during and after the Civil War.


Physician and Fireside poet Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. was the father of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who enlisted in the 20th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment during the Civil War and later became a Supreme Court Justice. Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. published many of his literary works in the Atlantic Monthly.


Colonel Thomas Cass, an Irish immigrant, served as commander of the 9th Massachusetts Regiment, a regiment of Irish recruits. Colonel Cass was mortally wounded at the Battle of Malvern Hill on July 1, 1862, the final of the Seven Days Battles of the Peninsula Campaign.


Adjacent to the Colonel Cass memorial is the gravestone of John Micheal Tobin of the 9th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, who won the Medal of Honor for his exemplary service at the Battle of Malvern Hill on July 1, 1862. Tobin took voluntary command of the 9th Massachusetts Infantry after Colonel Cass was wounded, rallying and reforming the regiment and twice picking up the regimental colors during a series of attacks.7


Nearby is the memorial to Joseph S. Hills, a Captain in the 16th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, who was killed at the Battle of the Wilderness on May 6, 1864. His gravestone memorial prominently displays a hat and sword to commemorate his Civil War service.


Charles W. Folsom was quartermaster for the 20th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment during the Civil War and later became a superintendent of Mount Auburn Cemetery. He is buried in the same plot as his parents.10


Brothers Edward and Paul Revere served in the 20th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and gave the full measure of their devotion to the Union with their lives. Edward was an assistant surgeon for the 20th Massachusetts Regiment and was killed at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862 while tending the wounded on the battlefield.


Paul was Colonel of the 20th Massachusetts Regiment during the Gettysburg Campaign and was mortally wounded on the battlefield on July 2, 1863.


The brothers rest in the Revere family plot with their father, Joseph Warren Revere, son of the famous midnight rider Paul Revere, who spread the alarm of the impending approach of the British Regulars through Lexington on the evening of April 18, 1775.


Charles Sumner, one of the most prominent politicians of the Civil War era, was an unceasing advocate for the abolitionist movement. His efforts almost resulted in his death when he was caned by Preston Brooks on the floor of the U.S. Senate.


Edwin Booth gained fame as a Shakespearean actor and notoriety as the brother of John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln.


Henry Todd, a colorbearer for the 36th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, was tragically killed at the Battle of the Wilderness on May 6, 1864. His gravestone commemorates his service as colorbearer for his regiment.


Dorothea Dix was superintendent of nurses during the Civil War and an activist for the mentally ill.


Charles Carleton Coffin was a journalist and Civil War correspondent. He accompanied the Army of the Potomac for the entire duration of the war and was an eyewitness to major battles.


Rosemarie Smurzynski, a Mount Auburn docent, was a wonderful guide for this fascinating history walk. Civil War walks are an ongoing series of events at Mount Auburn Cemetery to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. For additional information about Civil War walks at Mount Auburn please visit http://www.mountauburn.org/2013/the-civil-war. For other events at Mount Auburn please visit their calendar of events at http://www.mountauburn.org/category/events.

For additional information about the Hallowell brothers please visit my blog post Remembering the Civil War at Mount Auburn and my Civil War blog Twentieth Massachusetts Regiment 150 Anniversary.

For additional information about Colonel Thomas Cass and Charles Sumner please visit my blog post Boston in the Civil War Walk at Mount Auburn Cemetery.

For information about monuments to Colonel Thomas Cass and Charles Sumner and to the gravestone of Paul Revere, please visit my blog post Boston in the Civil War Walk at Mount Auburn Cemetery - Continued.

For additional information about the Beacon Hill home of Edwin Booth and the Beacon Hill birthplace of Charles Sumner, please visit my Beacon Hill Civil War walk post Beacon Hill Civil War Walking Tour.

For additional information about the Revere brothers please visit my blog posts Boston in the Civil War Walk at Mount Auburn Cemetery and Remembering the Civil War at Mount Auburn and my Civil War blog Twentieth Massachusetts Regiment 150 Anniversary.

For additional information about Dorothea Dix please visit my blog post Banks Brigade Bee Walk at Mount Auburn Cemetery

1Mount Auburn Cemetery (Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts), Edward N. Hallowell marker, Indian Ridge Path, Lot 4124, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 21 September 2013.
2Mount Auburn Cemetery, Norwood P. Hallowell marker, Indian Ridge Path, Lot 4124, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 21 September 2013.
3Mount Auburn Cemetery, Richard Hallowell marker, Indian Ridge Path, Lot 4124, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 21 September 2013.
4Mount Auburn Cemetery, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow sarcophagus, Indian Ridge Path, Lot 580, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 21 September 2013.
5Mount Auburn Cemetery, Oliver Wendell Holmes marker, Lime Avenue, Lot 2147, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 21 September 2013.
6Mount Auburn Cemetery, Thomas Cass marker, Chestnut Avenue, Lot 1049, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 21 September 2013.
7John Michael Tobin, "Military Times Hall of Valor," Valor Awards for John Michael Tobin, (http://projects.militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=1966: 25 September 2013).
8Mount Auburn Cemetery, John Micheal Tobin marker, Chestnut Avenue, Lot 1049, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 21 September 2013.
9Mount Auburn Cemetery, Joseph S. Hills monument, Petunia Path, Lot 1450, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 21 September 2013.
10"Col. Charles W. Folsom,", The Cambridge Chronicle, 21 May 1904, online archives (http://cambridge.dlconsulting.com/cgi-bin/cambridge?a=d&d=Chronicle19040521-01.2.8521 : accessed 22 September 2013), citing original p. 7, col. 5.
11Mount Auburn Cemetery, Charles Folsom marker, Myrtle Path, Lot 33, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 21 September 2013.
12Mount Auburn Cemetery, Edward H. Revere marker, Walnut Avenue, Lot 286, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 21 September 2013.
13Mount Auburn Cemetery, Paul J. Revere marker, Walnut Avenue, Lot 286, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 21 September 2013.
14Mount Auburn Cemetery, Joseph Warren Revere marker, Walnut Avenue, Lot 286, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 21 September 2013.
15Mount Auburn Cemetery, Charles Sumner monument, Arethusa Path, Lot 2447, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 21 September 2013.
16Mount Auburn Cemetery, Edwin Booth marker, Anemone Path, Lot 3281, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 21 September 2013.
17Mount Auburn Cemetery, Henry Todd marker, Spruce Avenue, Lot 1762, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 21 September 2013.
18Mount Auburn Cemetery, Dorothea Dix marker, Spruce Avenue, Lot 4731, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 21 September 2013.
19Mount Auburn Cemetery, Charles Carleton Coffin marker, Gentian Path, Lot 5781, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 21 September 2013.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

87th Annual Cosmas and Damian Festival

Last Sunday morning I attended the 87th Annual Festival for the Italian Healing Saints Cosmas and Damian in East Cambridge. At 8:30 A.M. the procession of the Saints began at the Society of Cosmas and Damian Chapel at 17 Porter Street in East Cambridge.

Accompanied by the St. Alfio and North End Marching Bands the procession advanced along Porter and Harding Streets to Cambridge Street and continued for several blocks to St. Francis of Assisi Church on the corner of Cambridge and Sciarappa Streets for a 9:30 A.M. high mass.

The festive and reverent high mass was celebrated by Bishop Peter Uglietto, Monsignor Anthony Spinosa, Father Walter Carriero, and Father Jim Darcy. Many of the hymns were sung in Italian, including the Canto Al Vangelo and the Saints Cosmas and Damian Hymn. A tapestry venerating the Saints was beautifully displayed near the Altar.

After the high mass the procession returned to an outdoor shrine for the Saints in Gaeta Square at the intersection of Warren and Porter Streets.

Cosmas and Damian were physicians in Cicilia in the third century. They were raised in the Christian faith at a time when it was death to profess Christianity. They were captured and suffered three tortures to renounce their faith. They miraculously escaped injury from their tortures but were sentenced to decapitation. They were executed on September 27 in the year 287 as martyrs to the Christian faith. Many miracles have been attributed to prayers of intercession to the Healing Saints Cosmas and Damian, and they have long been the patron saints of Gaeta in the Latina province of the Lazio region of Italy.1

Immigrants from Gaeta who settled in East Cambridge brought the festival tradition to this country and celebrated the first Cosmas and Damian Festival in 1927. The Festival has been held annually every year since in September.2

For me it was a personal journey and a great honor to celebrate mass at the church where my mother attended weekly and was raised in the Catholic faith. During her youth she attended the annual Saints Cosmas and Damian Festivals and remembered them with great fondness throughout her life. For more information about the Saints and about the Cosmas and Damian Society of Cambridge and Somerville please visit the Society's website at http://www.cosmas-and-damian.org/index.html.

1“The Lives of Saints Cosmas and Damian,” The Saint's Story (http://www.cosmas-and-damian.org/saint_story.html: 12 September 2013).
2“The Society,” The Society (http://www.cosmas-and-damian.org/our_society.html: 12 September 2013).

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Boston in the Civil War Walk at Mount Auburn - Continued

While in Boston on a recent weekend I visited memorials to several of the figures in my recent post, Boston in the Civil War Walk at Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Thomas Cass, Colonel of the 9th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment, was mortally wounded at Malvern Hill on July 1, 1862. Members of his regiment erected a statue in his honor, which was unveiled on the Boylston Street perimeter of the Boston Public Garden in 1899.

Located nearby on the Boylston Street perimeter of the Boston Public Garden is a statue to abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner.

A short distance away on Tremont Street is the Granary Burying Ground, the final resting place of Revolutionary War notable and midnight rider Paul Revere.

Colonel Thomas Cass, Charles Sumner, and Paul Revere's son Joseph Warren Revere and grandsons Paul and Edward Revere, officers in the 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment, are buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery.


For additional information about these important figures in American history please visit my blog post Boston in the Civil War Walk at Mount Auburn Cemetery.

1Granary Burying Ground (Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts), Paul Revere gravestone, Section D, Lot 23, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 24 August 2013.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Boston Civil War Walking Tour

On Saturday I attended a Boston Civil War walking tour of sites along the Freedom Trail that played a significant role in the War of American Independence, the Abolitionist Movement, and in the Civil War. The central theme of the Boston Civil War Walking Tour is the recognition of the Civil War as an ideological continuation of the War of Independence in the struggle for freedom through the abolition of slavery.

The tour group met at the Visitors Center on Tremont Street and walked across the Boston Common to the first stop of the tour, the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill. The State House has been the center of government for Massachusetts since 1798.

Displayed in the courtyard of the State House are statues of prominent figures in Massachusetts history, including Daniel Webster, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts from 1845 through 1850. Webster’s support of the Compromise of 1850, including the Fugitive Slave Law which enforced federal capture and return of runaway slaves, triggered the enmity of the abolitionists in Massachusetts and resulted in his resignation from the Senate.

During the Civil War volunteer regiments marched past the State House as they departed from Boston for war. The first African-American regiment, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, paraded past the State House before departing for war on May 28, 1863. A magnificent bronze memorial depicting the parade of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw faces the State House on the opposite side of Beacon Street. The memorial was the creation of noted sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and was unveiled on Memorial Day in 1897.

Our walk continued along Park Street to the Union Club, founded in 1863 to support President Abraham Lincoln’s reelection in 1864. Many of Boston's intellectual and political elite were members of this private men's dining club, whose conditions for membership included unwavering support of the Constitution of the United States and of the government to suppress the Confederate rebellion. In 2013 the Union Club celebrates its sesquicentennial anniversary.

We next stopped at the Park Street Church, a Congregational Church founded in 1809, which hosted the first anti-slavery speech of abolitionist publisher William Lloyd Garrison on July 4, 1829.

We advanced along Tremont Street to the Tremont Temple Baptist Church, where noted abolitionist figures, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, and Thomas Higginson awaited news by telegraph of President Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.

Crossing Tremont Street and proceeding along School Street we stopped in the courtyard of the Old City Hall, constructed in 1862 on the site of the first public school in America.

Directly opposite the Old City Hall is the Parker House Hotel, a purveyor of dining and accommodations to significant players in American and Civil War history. The “Secret Six,” also known as the Secret Organization of Six, was a group of six prominent Bostonians who secretly funded John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry. The “Secret Six” included physician Samuel Gridley Howe, ministers Thomas Higginson and Theodore Parker, schoolmaster Franklin Sanborn, philanthropist Gerrit Smith, and industrialist merchant George Luther Stearns.1 In 1859 Stearns, a chief contributor of funds and arms for John Brown, met Brown at the Parker House to discuss and fund the Harper's Ferry raid in October of that year. In April 1865 John Wilkes Booth stayed at the hotel the week before his assassination of President Lincoln and practiced at a nearby shooting gallery.

Continuing along School Street we arrived at the site of the Old Corner Book Store at the intersection of School and Washington Streets. Formerly known as "Publishers Row," this was the site of Ticknor and Fields, the publisher of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852. This location is also significant in American history as the site of the home of Anne Hutchinson, a martyr to women's rights in Puritan society.

Directly opposite the site of the Old Corner Book Store is the Irish Famine Memorial, dedicated in 1998 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Great Famine in Ireland and the emigration of millions from Ireland to America. Irish immigrants played a significant role in the Civil War, enlisting in military service for both the Union and the Confederacy.

Our tour continued along Washington Street to the Old State House, where abolitionist publisher William Lloyd Garrison sought refuge from an angry mob on October 21, 1835.

Proceeding along State Street we stopped at Court Square, the site of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Courthouse, which rendered decisions on fugitive slave cases in the 1850s. In 1851 Shadrach Minkins was arrested and held in the courthouse awaiting trial. He was rescued by a mob of black abolitionisits. Thomas Sims and Anthony Burns were also held here when they were sentenced to return to their Southern owners. Ironically Sims and Burns were led along State Street past the site where Crispus Attucks, an African-American, was killed during the Boston Massacre in 1770, a harbinger of the War of Independence.

Faneuil Hall has always been the platform for inspirational calls for liberty and freedom throughout American history. Before and during the Civil War the Hall hosted abolitionist orators Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. Following the surrender of Fort Sumter to Confederate forces on April 13, 1861 President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to defend Washington, D. C. At Faneuil Hall on April 16, 1861, Massachusetts governor John Andrew commissioned four Massachusetts Regiments, the 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 8th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiments, as the “Minutemen of 1861” to answer President Lincoln’s call. The 3rd and the 6th Massachusetts departed from Boston on April 17, and the 4th and the 8th departed on April 18, the anniversary of Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride.

Boston Civil War Tours also runs the Beacon Hill Civil War Walking Tour, which focuses on the homes of noted Boston abolitionists and significant antislavery locales on Beacon Hill. Please visit my blog post, Beacon Hill Walking Tour, for a pictorial overview of the Beacon Hill tour. I highly recommend these excellent tours to anyone with an interest in Boston Civil War history. For more information about Boston Civil War Tours please visit http://www.bostoncivilwartours.com.

1“The Trial of John Brown: The Secret Six,” The Secret Six: Influential Supporters of John Brown (http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/johnbrown/secretsixdetails.html: 23 August 2013).