Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ben Perely Poore So how do you like them APPLES!

A Great story on Poore, but before you taste this tidbit a little back ground info from the Archives and some new adds from a private collection

Ben Perley Poore was born November 2 1820 in Neburyport, MA and died May 29, 1887 Washington DC. He was the son of Benjamin Poore (1797 - 1853) and Mary Perley Dodge Poore (1799 - 1861)

Served in Civil War as a Major in Company A, 8th Mass. Inf. was a member of Major Boyd G.A.R. Post #151 in West Newbury. He married (June 12, 1849) Virginia, daughter of Francis and Mary (Thompson) Dodge, of Georgetown, D. C. Ben attended Governor Dummer Academy and after graduation became editor of Georgia paper.

In a private Collection purchased last month. Signature of Poore--Never bet on election if you do, pay up, or wheel up.

In 1844 "he was authorized by the Massachusetts legislature to procure copies of all the important documents relating to the American Revolution on file in the archives of the French government. Ten large volumes of valuable manuscript papers and two volumes of maps were sent to the state house in Boston as the result of his labors and investigations in Paris. When the work was accomplished, he returned home, and soon after was engaged as Washington correspondent of the Boston Atlas." Currier "Ould Newbury"   Complete list on the works of Poore

Taken from The Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Ipswich, MA
A response will be made by Hon. Ben: Perley Poore of our sister town, West Newbury.

Is there a society with a long name here at Ipswich, whose protection I can claim against the cruelty of calling upon me — a reporter, and not a speaker — to address this brilliant audience? I find, too, upon reference to the programmer, that I am one of two respondents to this toast— a pilot balloon, as it were, sent off in advance of the larger and imposing one which is to follow. It was perhaps well, however, that a resident of Old Newbury should be selected to respond to the toast of " Our Guests;" for during the past two centuries and a half the men, women, and children of Old Newbury have often been welcomed here. A convenient resting-place, in the old days of horse-power, for those who journeyed between Newbury and Salem, Ipswich was noted for the hospitality of her citizens and the reasonable charges of her tavern-keepers. Why, Mr. President, the men of Newbury have drunk enough punch and flip here in Ipswich to fill the channel beneath Choate's Stone Bridge ; and I doubt whether there was a headache in the whole of it. Ipswich Photo

Newbury, sir, was once a part of Ipswich, which was originally bounded on the north by the Merrimack River, on the east by Gloucester, and on the south by the Salem villages now known as Manchester, Wenham, and Gloucester. It was an Indian sagamoreship, or earldom, of which Masconnomet was the last sachem, and he sold his territory to Mr. John Winthrop, afterward the governor of Connecticut, for twenty pounds.
While I am not disposed to condemn the Puritans, who endeavored to found a theocracy in the forests of "New England, I may be pardoned for saying that they were dependent on the military men who had been invited to cross the ocean, and who were not disposed to submit to the strict laws dictated by bigotry. At Ipswich, which was one of the frontier towns behind which Boston and Salem found security, Major General Denison, and others with martial reputations, gave proof of that military spirit which the soldiers of Ipswich afterwards displayed so gallantly and so gloriously in the old French war, in the Revolutionary struggle with Great Britain, and in the recent contest for the suppression of the Rebellion.
But, sir, I am to speak of the "guests" of Ipswich. Shall I go back to the Norsemen, who were here 877 years ago, or to Captain John Smith, who called the place Argona when he visited it in 1614? Shall I go back to Governor Winthrop, who came here in 1637; or to President Rogers of Harvard College, whose father preached here, and who married a daughter of General Denison; or to Governor Shute, who was escorted from here to Newbury by the once famous Ipswich troop? Shall I recall the visit of that gifted Frenchman, the Marquis de Chastellux, or that of the Father of his Country, George Washington, who here reviewed in 1789 the Third Essex Regiment, many of whose officers had served under him during the Revolution; or of General Lafayette, who in 1824 once more fraternized with his old comrade Colonel Wade, who was the commander in the Revolution (permit me to say) of my maternal great-grandfather, Robert Dodge of the Ipswich hamlets? Shall I recall those guests of Ipswich, — John Adams, Lowell, Parsons, Dexter, Webster, Story, Cushing, and Choate, — who often, with others "learned in the law," used to plead for their clients in the old Court House, and then tell stories at the tavern fireside?

What a brilliant panorama would the visits of the distinguished guests of Ipswich make and how much could be said about .them, did time permit! But, sir, I will not weary your patience, and I will leave the subject in the hands of my eloquent coadjutor, expressing in conclusion a hope that the good old town of Ipswich may long continue to hospitably welcome her guests, and that her sons and daughters may say of her, as the Italians did of their beloved city, Esto Perpetua ! " Be thou eternal"

Ben and Virginia Poore had two children Alice Poore, born at Indian Hill August 27, 1854.  She married Frederick Strong Moseley, of Newburyport, Sept. 29, 1880. She died at Indian Hill July 12, 1883, leaving one son, Ben Perley Poore Moseley, born at Indian Hill Aug. 20, 1881. Second child Emily Poore was born March March 19, 1850 in Newbury and died April 19, 1879 in DC.

Taken from The Evening Star December 26, 1867

 AND now the core of the story on Ben and his famous Apples!

Information from The Old First Massachusetts Coast Artillery in War and Peace Author: Frederick Morse Cutler and Project Gutenburg

Veterans of the Mexican War organized a company in the 1st Regiment on June 18, 1849, to which they gave the title, National Guards; and were the recognized representatives of the 1st Mass. Mexican War Regiment. Ben Perley Poore, a prominent newspaper correspondent, was elected Captain. As it became difficult to secure a sufficient number of Mexican veterans in Boston, admission was granted to all militia veterans, after a few years. Capt. Poore presently removed from Boston for business reasons, and made his residence in Newburyport. There he became famous as Major of an independent battalion of infantry; and altho absent from his Boston comrades, continued to retain a warm place in their hearts. In Nov., 1856, he had made an election bet with Col. J. J. Burbank, proprietor of the Tremont House, Boston, to the effect that Millard Fillmore would get the Massachusetts electoral vote for President; and lost. So on Saturday, Nov. 8, he paid the forfeit—by wheeling a barrel of apples, on a wheelbarrow, all the way, thirty-six miles, from Newburyport to Boston. Maj. Poore’s popularity caused a wide-spread interest to develop in this feat; especially in Boston were the streets thronged with friendly spectators. When the Fusiliers learned of the plan, they determined to have a part in it; so the doughty Major, himself in citizen’s dress, was met in Charlestown by a company of thirty-four red-coated soldiers, and solemnly escorted across the bridge into Boston. Then, as a slight recompense for all the fun which had been provided, when the procession arrived at the Tremont House, the apples were sold at $1.00 apiece, for the benefit of the man who had transported them. Maj. Poore’s portrait, as well as two pictures of the event, are today in the A. & H. Art. Company museum.

The Fusiliers about 1845

From The Living Age Volume 61

Many of the election freaks throughout the country are still more evident examples of droll devices and mirthful agitation. Among these the curious wagers that are laid vary, by their ludicrous conditions, the otherwise too eager gambling for money rushed hit on a occasion of such events. One of the most original of these was between two violent politicians respectively candidates for the State Senate and for Congress, by name and title, Colonel R. I. Burbank nnd Major Ben Perley Poore; the first a Fremont "Free-soiler," the latter a Filltnore "Know-nothing," the wager for a barrel full of apples, the loser undertaking to transport the same in a wheelbarrow from West Newbury to Boston, a distance of about forty miles; the feat depending on the Presidential election and the greater or lesser amount of votes polled by their respective favorites. As Fremont was the fortunate man and Fillmore the beaten one (both, however, being out-voted by Buchanan), Major Ben Perley Poore feeling himself bound to pay the penalty of his confidence in the defeat of' Freesoil, Freemen, and Fremont" (although released from his pledge by his courteous adversary), manfully set out on the day fixed upon by the conditions to perform his stipulated engagement, a real debt of honor, with nothing sordid or mercenary either in principle or practice.

The excitement on this ludicrous occasion was intense throughout the line of country traversed by the loser, to cheer whom as lie advanced on his road, thousands of spectators awarded the best compensation for his bad luck and the troublesome redemption of his promise in shouts of laughter and complimentary addresses, and all sorts of convivial entertainment,in return for the one for which he afforded the public. As he ' progressed' towards the accomplishment of his journey, and during the two days of its continuance, the telegraph announced his advances hour by hour; the newspapers gave reports of them, the whole population within any reasonable distance of the line of march hurried to the best places foreseeing the hero, who conquered the whole country by his good-natured submission to the penalty of his defeat. He was met nt Charlestown, a before-mentioned suburb of Boston, by a delegation from the city, his escort of the Boston 'Independent Volunteers,' headed by the Boston ' Cornet band." Next came Hie Major dressed in a fancy costume, a brown hat, green-baize jacket and blue trousers, wheeling his barrow which, with its load of apples, weighed one hundred and eighty-five pounds. Above it floated the American Eagle handsomely painted on a banner, and another flag was borne close behind with this inscription, Major Poore—may the next administration prove as faithful to their pledges as he was to his.' Behind was an open carriage drawn by four horses and occupied by the two judges. A countless crowd followed the procession through the streets, sending forth loud acclamations as the dust-covered, sweltering, and jaded—but smiling—Major, harnessed by a strap to his barrow, with blistered hands and shoulders, triumphantly deposited his load in front of the Tremont Hotel, without having dropped a single apple on the whole length of route. Many a hand shook liis on that proudest moment of his life; while many a tongue uttered a pitying transposition of his names from Ben Perley Poore to Poor Ben Perley—a change which the legislature would doubtlessly have confirmed in consideration of his memorable and unique exploit, Which we celebrated on the spot of its accomplishment by a sumptuous banquet, wine without stint, and humorous speeches without end.


  1. Nice work, Melissa, I like your Apples and hope you can turn them into a fall (harvest) column with a tie to local orchards--Cider Hill in Amesbury, Long Hill in West Newbury, etc. There's also the possibility of linking the Free Soil connection to N-port hero Wm Lloyd Garrison. Today we glance at history and assume that Free Soil was an expression of Abolitionism, but it was actually a compromise that Garrison denounced. Of course, Northern apologists for slavery also denounced it, and for awhile the most prominent of them was a cabinet member (for Fillmore? Pierce? Buchanan? I can't recall) named Caleb Cushing--another N-porter.

    There's a column there for one of us: For at least four years in the run-up to the Civil War, the two sides of the national debate over what the North should do about slavery were both headed by Newburyporters...

    Jack Garvey

  2. Well done Melissa, thank you for the article.