Showing posts with label melissa berry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label melissa berry. Show all posts

Monday, December 29, 2014

Captain Eddie and the Salisbury Rum Runners

Featured in Newburyport News and Lawrence Eagle Tribune

  Photo courtesy of “The Salt Book” by Pam Wood 
Henry Weaver, a federal agent from Maine, busted the illegal rumrunning ring based in Salisbury.

There have been two periods in American history when the government tried to temper “spirits.” In 1648 the general court passed a law to limit access to alcohol to the Wampanoag tribe. In 1920 the entire nation was banned from the sauce during Prohibition, known as the “Noble Experiment.” Efforts to restrain tipplers were unsuccessful and nothing could keep America dry. Folks wanted their wassail and few fell under the influence of the teetotaler reform. The number of liquor theft cases in the states was staggering and federal courts were loaded with cases of illegal transport of liquor.

Salisbury was one hot den for a clandestine liquor enterprise that made a notorious buzz as the “most sensational liquor trial case in the history of federal courts.”

During Prohibition smugglers transporting “white lightning” over land were known as “bootleggers” and when over water they were called “rumrunners.” No matter how the hootch got in, there was much mazuma to be made.

The Salisbury gang in 1923 had a most auspicious run. The leader, police Chief Harold Congdon, aka “Captain Eddie,” was “juiced in” and his wife was his right-hand deputy. She mapped out the drops and scheduled the runs. The remote banks of the Merrimack were an ideal area. All was wine and roses as most of the police force, selectmen and Coast Guard were in it. In fact, rumrunning became part of the community’s “official duties.”

However, human nature made a few greedy goers and the operation started to tank. Mrs. Congdon resented the fellows “drunk with power” and the rumor was she had eyes for more than the chief.

Outsiders started to cut out the band even though they were using their turf to traffic. One of them was Anthony Caramango, aka “The Jap,” who flushed them out of a big score and the horns started to lock.

Mrs. Congdon, fed up, turned to the feds, but the chief’s $1,500 fund filtered in by officer True bought him the stenographer’s court report. This seemed to “distill” the busy bodies for a brief time, but the feds were plotting a plan to teach these cowboys that a new sheriff was coming to town.

Henry Weaver, a federal agent out of Maine, busted the lot. Henry noted that “Salisbury was always a haven for bootleggers.” His boss ordered him to round up his best and make haste to Massachusetts to “catch a sheriff.” He would “deputize” them when they got to Salisbury.

The feds received tips from Mrs. Congdon to do a stakeout. The chief was there when the raid went down. He gave his crew the thumbs-up to start unloading and the agents jumped the fellows.

One of the runners from the rough Detroit crew shot agent England in the groin, but he had a bottle of gin in his pocket. Although it cut into his love log one could argue he did get lucky that night.

Over 30 incitements were brought down and there were two trials. The court was jammed with spectators. Isaac Coleman gave testimony of his sleepless nights due to the traffic from motor trucks. He swore there were “32 on the eve of Thanksgiving.” When he complained, he was told “to mind his own business” and sent off with a quart.

Several witnesses had similar stories and most went with flow. Loose lips were buttoned with a bottle. Another testified he saw “The Jap” sell a quart right at the police station in front of the chief.

Several reported piloting loads into town by orders of Congdon.

Among them were Superintendent of Streets T.O. Corliss and Selectman Howard George, both paid $25 a night. William Jackson was paid $30 for trucking the liquor but never associated with the “outlandish people.” Henry Fowler made four runs to Pierce Cottage.

William Eaton caught wind of the ring while he was duck hunting at the “break of day” along Black River Creek. While Eaton was observing the obvious illegal activities, he was approached by officer True, who promised him a private stash “over at the Blaisdell home.”

The chief was put on the wrong side of the bars, but only for a short stint. He ran a speed ring operation on Interstate 95, which ended his reign and his pension. It came to a screeching halt when he stopped a Maine couple in May 1955 who said Congdon “shook them down for $15.”

The chief and his wife ran against each for town office, but he must have still carried a flame.

He was charged with assault when he chased her and a man friend off the road with his revolver. This time he had no problem telling the judge he was all liquored up!

Thanks to Linda Dyndiuk at Robbins Library, Arlington, and Paul Colby Turner at Salisbury Historical Society.  Sources for this column include the Boston Herald, Boston Associated Press, Haverhill News, The Day New London, Conn., 1977, The Northeastern Reporter, Volume 165 Commonwealth vs Congdon, Portsmouth Herald 1924, The Winchester Star; and “The Salt Book:  lobstering, sea moss pudding, stone walls, rum running, maple syrup, snowshoes, and other Yankee doings” by Pamela Wood.

 SALISBURY, Mass., Feb. 19 (AP) — A heated political campaign loomed here Friday when Mrs. Sarah B. Congdon, right, estranged wife of Harold F. Congdon, left, chairman of selectmen and police chief, announced she would seek a place on the board. “We should be able to work together even if we cannot live together,” Mrs. Congdon said. She recently filed suit for divorce. Chief Congdon is a candidate for re-election.

Henry Weaver at home in New York from The Salt Book

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Capt Samuel Samuels and the Clipper Ship The Dreadnought

Captain Samuel Samuels seaman, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 14 March, 1825. He came to Newburyport to oversee the building of his new command "The Dreadnought " built by Currier and Townsend, became the most famous Liverpool packet-ship, and was the only clipper to have a chanty composed in her special honor. Samuels was "unexcelled as a driver of men and vessels, commanded this "saucy, wild packet" for almost seventy passages across the Atlantic, in which she made several eastward runs under fourteen days." The Maritime History of Massachusetts, 1783-1860 By Samuel Eliot Morison
From The Flavor of Old Sea Days Sunday, May 24, 1908 Springfield Republican (Springfield, MA)
CLIPPER SHIP. "DREADNOUGHT From Springfield Museums

During the era of the clipper ships many of the most noted were, built in Newburyport, including the "Racer," "Highflyer" and "Dreadnought." The most famous of all these was the "Dreadnought," nicknamed "The Wild Boat of the Atlantic." She was built in 1853 by Currier and Townsend and was of fourteen hundred and thirteen tons register and two hundred and ten feet in length, being owned by David Ogden and others of New York. (After a short career the "Dreadnought" was wrecked off Cape Horn in 1869) She was commanded by Captain Samuel Samuels who is authority for the statement that she was never passed in anything over a four-knot breeze.

A rare photograph of the Currier and Townsend shipyard at the foot of Ashland Street. Maritime History of the Merrimac - Shipbuilding by Robert K. Cheney. From Clipper Heritage Trail

This ship was employed largely as a packet between New York and Liverpool, making some sixty to seventy passages across the Atlantic. Her best run was to the eastward. February 27 - March 12, 1859, in thirteen days, eight hours, being within seven hours of the fastest record of a sailing ship, made by the "Red Jacket" in 1854.* The "Dreadnought" has been credited with a much shorter passage but it is difficult to substantiate this claim and in his history of the ship contained in "From the Forecastle to the Cabin," Captain Samuels does not mention such a voyage but particularly refers to the above mentioned run of thirteen days, eight hours.

                                                             Setting Sail from PEM 

Article: From The Dreadnought of Newburyport, Massachusetts: and some account of the old transatlantic packet-ships by Francis Boardman Crowninshield Bradlee

The maritime history of Newburyport, Massachusetts, has never yet been adequately written. Many famous vessels were owned and sailed from this old Essex County city, but not a few ships were also built in Newburyport for Boston and New York merchants, and among the best known of these was the "Dreadnought," built by Currier and Townsend in 1853, and afterwards celebrated for making the shortest passage across the Atlantic ever accomplished by a sailing vessel, nine days and seventeen hours, from Sandy Hook to the pilot-boat off Queenstown, Ireland.
At this period the transatlantic carrying trade, both passenger and freight, was, and had been for many years, controlled by American packet-ships, as the regular sailing liners were called, and three out of the five lines of steamers then existing were also under the American flag. The "Dreadnought" was built for the Red Cross line of New York and Liverpool packets owned by Governor E. D. Morgan, Francis B. Cutting, David Ogden and others of New York; she measured 1400 tons register, 200 feet long, 39 feet beam, and 26 feet depth of hold, and was commanded by Capt. Samuel Samuels, who became quite as famous as his ship. She was launched in the presence of a large concourse of people October 6, 1853, from the yard at the foot of Ashland street, and on the third day of November following left for New York in tow of the steam-tug "Leviathan."
Gov Edward Denison Morgan (February 8, 1811 – February 14, 1883)
Hon Francis Brockholst Cutting (August 6, 1804 – June 26, 1870)

By the sailors the "Dreadnought" was named "the Wild Boat of the Atlantic" she was what might be termed a semi-clipper, and possessed the merit of being able to bear driving as long as her sails and spars would stand. It is understood that her builders also designed her, and so deserved the greatest credit, as well for her model and fine lines as for the strength and solidity of her hull, which was constructed principally of white oak and yellow pine. Twice the "Dreadnought" carried the latest news to Europe, slipping in between the steamers; she was naturally a favorite among the traveling public, and her cabin accommodations were usually engaged a season in advance. On her westward voyages she carried large numbers of emigrants. At one time goods shipped by the "Dreadnought" were guaranteed delivery within a certain time, or freight charges would be forfeited.
In February, 1854, her first voyage westward she crossed the bar in the river Mersey the day after the Cunard steamer "Canada" sailed for Boston, and when the news of her arrival reached New York the "Dreadnought" was reported off the Highlands of New Jersey. Her best passages were as follows:
  • New York to Liverpool, December, 1853, 24 days.
  • Liverpool to New York, February, 1854, 19 days.
  • New York to Liverpool, April, 1854, 18 days.
  • Liverpool to New York, June, 1854, 26 days.
  • New York to Liverpool, August, 1854, 80 days.
  • Liverpool to New York, October, 1854, 29 days.
  • New York to Liverpool, December, 1854, 13 days, 11 hours.
  • New York to Liverpool, February, 1856, 15,days.
  • New York to Liverpool, May, 1856, 16 days.
  • Liverpool to New York, February, 1857, 21 days.
  • New York to Liverpool, March, 1859, 13 days, 9 hours.
When one takes into consideration the fickleness of the elements and the prevalence of westerly gales in the north Atlantic ocean, the rapidity and especially the regularity of the "Dreadnought's" trips are wonderful. Capt. Samuels, in his interesting autobiography, "From the Forecastle to the Cabin," attributed his success to good discipline and to forcing the ship at night as well as during the day. "Night," he says, "is the best time to try the nerve and make quick passages. The best ship masters that I had sailed with were those who were most on deck after dark, and relied upon nobody but themselves to carry canvas. The expert sailor knows exactly how long his sails and spars will stand the strain, the lubber does not, and therefore is apt to lose both." It may be noted in passing that the "Dreadnought" carried the old-fashioned single topsails that in themselves "held a whole gale of wind," requiring to reef each one a whole watch, as a division of the crew is called.

 Alex Bellinger at the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport
Until after the death of Captain Samuels in 1908, no doubt had ever been expressed as to the rapidity of the "Dreadnought's" record trip of nine days and seventeen hours from land to land. Unfortunately in the last few years a small coterie in New York, jealous of Captain Samuels' success, have endeavored, with no real foundation of fact, to deny that the fast passage of 1859 ever took place. The author has investigated the case with the greatest care, and the result as here stated speaks for itself and proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the fastest voyage across the Atlantic ocean ever made by a sailing ship was by the "Dreadnought," in nine days and seventeen hours, from Sandy Hook to the pilot-boat off Queenstown harbor, in March, 1859. Some excuse is due the reader for the minuteness and repetition with which the case is stated, but those on the other side have worked with such energy to prove the record a myth, that the author thinks it is due the memory of Captain Samuels and the American merchant marine generally to clear up beyond doubt the facts of the "Dreadnought's" most celebrated voyage. In his "History of the New York Ship Yards," page 141, John H. Morrison says: The log book of the "Dreadnought" containing the record of this famous voyage of March, 1859, is not in existence, so far as known to the descendants of David Ogden (the agent of the Red Cross line). Captain Samuels informed the writer that on this voyage he ran the vessel to Daunt's Rock, communicated with the pilot-boat on the station at the mouth of Cork harbor (Queenstown), and proceeded on his way to Liverpool after a very short stop. The vessel left New York harbor with a high northeast wind, but about twelve hours later this was succeeded by a high northwesterly wind on the North Atlantic coast. An examination of the reports of vessels arriving at New York from Great Britain after the "Dreadnought" sailed from New York on February 27, 1859, till the day of her call oft Cork harbor, show us that there was a succession of heavy westerly gales during the whole period . . . this favorable condition for a fast eastern passage continued to the time of the stop off Queenstown, but leaving there the "Dreadnought" encountered light head winds, and arrived at Liverpool on March 13, according to the London Times. In response to an inquiry by Mr. Morrison while he was compiling his above mentioned book, Capt. Samuels dictated to his daughter the following letter: 194 Clinton street (Brooklyn), April 2, 1908. Dear Mr. Morrison: You ask me for the record voyage of the "Dreadnought." We discharged the pilot at 3 P. M., Feb. 27, 1859, off Sandy Hook. We were off Queenstown at the end of nine days, seventeen hours, when we sent our mails ashore by a Cork pilot boat.2 The wind then became variable and died down. In thirteen days, eight hours, we were abreast the Northwest Lightship at Liverpool, and one hour later anchored in the Mersey, March 12, noon. The following will give an idea of the character of the ship and the time she made, including the above. In 1854 she made the same passage in thirteen days, eleven hours, and six times in succession under sixteen days, including one run of fourteen days and one of fifteen days.
Yours, S. S.

US Naval Institute Review
Newburyport Clipper Ship Museum
The World Renowned A No.1 Clipper Ship "Dreadnought" Wm. T. Coleman & Co.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Charles Lenox Remond and others who heard the call of Garrison

Charles Lenox Remond   (February 1, 1810 – December 22, 1873) was an American orator, activist and abolitionist based in Massachusetts. From my column They answered Garrison's anti slavery call

Pioneer abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison attracted a legion of revolutionaries who pressed total reform to “break the yoke of oppression.” Garrisonian satellite groups rose all over, crusading for social equality. The opposing public filled the editorial pages, calling Garrisonians “a farce,” not short of “Bedlam let loose,” subscribing to “hot headed ravings of an insane man.”
Andover Theology School and Phillips Academy ordered Abolition Society (A.S.) meetings to cease “as they did not wish to identify with Garrison’s imprudence.” On the issue of slavery, the order was “not to pray about it publicly.” Nevertheless, over 50 of the firebrand fellows joined an A.S. off campus and were expelled. Two of the Andover “defiers,” Richard Rust and Gilbert Pillsbury, enrolled in the progressive Noyes Academy in N.H.

Both men would play an instrumental role in the abolitionist movement. Rust helped set up Wilberforce University, the first college to be owned and operated by African Americans. He established Rust College, offering teacher training for freed slaves, and went on to organize 14 others. 

Francis and Archibald Grimké From The Earnest Protest of Francis Grimké

Pillsbury was elected commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau of South Carolina. His wife, Ann Francis Ray, opened a school for black students that included the Grimké brothers. The Pillsbury family also sponsored them, sending Archibald to Harvard and Francis to Princeton. Both became co-founders of the NAACP. 
Charles Lenox. Remond, a black lawyer from Salem, won the favor of those “generally dark on the issue of slavery and prejudice” with his compelling speeches. He was a global reformer, and society ladies from Bangor to Newport financed his travels. On one mission, Redmond brought back 60,000 signatures endorsed by the lord mayor of Dublin encouraging Irishmen in America to oppose slavery and “insist on liberty for all regardless of color, creed, or country.”
During the Civil War, Remond recruited soldiers for the black regiments while Garrison and his associates raised funds to support them.
His sister, Sarah Parker Remond, a brilliant orator and gutsy woman, challenged discrimination on all levels. In 1853, Remond made national headlines when she filed suit against Boston Howard Athenaeum. The opera house forcibly evicted her when she declined her seat in the segregated area. She won and was awarded $500.

Sarah Parker Remond (1826-1894) From ‘Bury Me Not in a Land of Slaves’: Unsung Legacy of Frances Harper & Sara Remond

While overseas, Sarah Remond sparred with the American Embassy in London when denied a passport to France due to her color. She remedied the matter by contacting the press. When the buzz circulated, the British foreign secretary approved her visa. She got her medical degree and established a successful practice in Italy.

Charles C. Burleigh (Photo) met Mary Moody Emerson at a lecture and aroused her with Garrison’s valiant deeds, and by the end of the evening she declared: “he out be canonized!”
Some sources suggest Burleigh’s long flowing beard and sandy ringlets may have sealed the deal.
Mary Emerson rallied her Concord friends like Lousia Alcott and Lidian Emerson to raise a handsome sum to aid fugitive slaves.
The Anthony Burns case, where a fugitive slave was recaptured in Boston, tried and sent back to slavery, fueled anti-slavery sentiment and Garrison publicly burned a copy of the Fugitive Slave Act. 

Amos A. Lawrence was one of the many who redeemed his “old fashioned, Whig conservative” ways and “woke up a stark mad Abolitionist.” J. B. Swasey was “a new convert and a very zealous one” (Charlotte Forten Grimke). Many noted he lit up the Port during his speeches.
Caleb Cushing’s “zeal and ability” to defend the abolitionist cause was not above board, as he “failed to remember the pledges” he promised. Cushing’s attempt to suppress his antislavery record and gain power with the Whig party was quickly diminished by John Greenleaf Whittier, who reprinted a telling letter from Cushing with a witty preface, sinking his ambitions.
The petition to boot Judge Edward G. Loring from the bench over the Anthony Burns tragedy put Cushing back in the arena. The newspapers printed his performance, praising him as he brought down the house with his attacks on Garrison, “a half insane colored man,” and a few “possessed with monomania” as representative of the true commonwealth. Cushing was wrong, as Loring was disrobed and had lost the confidence of the people.
In the first edition of The Liberator Garrison wrote: “I WILL BE HEARD!” Well, he was heard and so were his soul sparkers. They spoke “in a slumbering nation’s ear,” and “the fetter’s link” was broken!

Soldiers of the 54th From Detour to Liberty: Black Troops in Florida during the Civil War

In 1840, Charles Lenox Redman was an American delegate to the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London, but he refused to take his seat when women delegates were segregated from the main floor into the gallery. He remained in England and Ireland lecturing against slavery and returned to the United States in 1841 with an "Address from the People of Ireland," with 60,000 signatures, that called on Irish Americans to oppose slavery and all discrimination. He became a close friend and associate of Frederick Douglass, initially advocating peaceful means to end slavery, but became increasingly militant. He broke with Douglass in 1852 when the latter refused to adopt the view that the U.S. Constitution was an instrument of slaveholders. Remond increasingly advocated violent means if necessary to overthrow slavery, declaring "slaves were bound by their love of justice to rise at once, en masse, and throw off their fetters." At the outbreak of the Civil War, Remond joined Douglass in recruiting black soldiers for the Massachusetts 54th and 55th regiments. After the war he continued to lecture for the freedman and worked as an official of the customs house in Boston. (bio by: Bob on Gallows Hill)

PHOTO: Abolitionist group at Lucy Stone's house, undated. Picture includes: Samuel May, William Lloyd Garrison, Elizabeth B. Chase, Francis Garrison, Sarah Stone, Samuel E. Sewall, George T. Garrison, Zilpha H. Spooner, Wendell P. Garrison, Henry B. Blackwell and Theodore D. Weld. By Notman Photograph Company, Boston, Massachusetts. Photograph courtesy of the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts. Author's note: The reference to William Lloyd Garrison in this citation is probably to his son William Lloyd Garrison Jr.   From Common Place

  • African-American Orators: A Bio-critical Source book edited by Richard W. Leeman 
  • The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: National protection for national citizens, 1873 to 1880
  • Charles Lenox Remond: Black Abolitionist, 1838-1873 William Edward Ward
  • The Frederick Douglass Papers: 1842-1852 By Frederick Douglass
  • The Journals of Charlotte Forten Grimké By Charlotte L. Forten
  • Picture From Find a Grave
  • Hidden History of Salem By Susanne Saville
  • The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne By Margaret B. Moore
  • Charles Benson: Mariner of Color in the Age of Sail By Michael Sokolow
  • Black
  • See Salem Women's History

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thomas Macy and George Peaslee Powow preacher spats with Puritans

My story in Newburyport News with added news clips and pictures

Powow preacher spats with Puritans
During preparations for a visit to the Macy-Colby house in Amesbury next month, research led to some intriguing court documents that divulge the spiritual squabbles surrounding Thomas Macy, the first to occupy the dwelling in 1649.

Although listed in early deeds as a “merchant” and “Clothier,” Macy’s “great energy and determined will” earned him multiple positions of rank including that of town clerk, deputy to the General Court, and overseer of highways and schools. Macy also received a grant for a sawmill on “the west side of the Powow, with the privilege of using all the timber on the common.”

By all accounts, Macy appeared to be a golden boy with the Puritan power heads, except on matters of prayer. In fact, he openly defied them by preaching with Joseph Peaslee in separate assembly from the authorized Sabbath. This did not go over well with Puritan officials, who deemed it “unfit preaching” and charged the two provocateurs with “exhorting the people on the Sabbath in the absence of an ordained minister.” The General Court had passed a law in prohibiting preaching “except by leave of the authorities.”

Since Master Macy was not the sort of fellow to be trifled with, he made it very clear that his faith would not be dictated to him and “Brother Peaslee, brave confessor” was not about to rob followers of “gifted” sermons. This surge of passion animated another pet of the Puritan fold, Robert Pike, who held high public offices.  Picture of Pike below

Pike spoke out against “restraining unfit persons from constant preaching” and engaged on a crusade against the civil tribunal, asserting they “had violated their oaths as freeman; that their act was against the liberty of the country, both civil and ecclesiastical, and that he stood ready to make his declaration good.”

The provoked court arraigned the “culprit who thus dared to insult their majesty.” A series of petitions were filed to release Pike from his charges. Notables from several towns signed, and the court ordered commissioners to gather “incorrigibles” to give reason on why they were “induced to subscribe” to such a defiance. Pike waged on, accusing the leaders of “assailing magisterial authority and dignity.”

Certain commissioners who sided with Pike, such as Thomas Bradbury and William Gerrish, retracted to avoid trouble with the boss-men magistrates. Most became “refractory spirits” and were fined for turning on God’s chosen officials, but 15 men stood their ground after the officials finished their hunt.

Here are a few of the loyal souls who held up their conviction to the court: John Bishop “desired to go to the meeting house and turned his back and went away” (QC 1:367). John Emery and John Bond refusing to comply and did so in “a bold, flouting manner.” Benjamin Swett replied, “Every free subject hath liberty to petition for any that had been in esteem, without offence to any; and the petition itself hath answer in itself sufficient.” John Wolott agreed if he “be called to [a higher] power to answer, he will then answer and so went away very highly” (368).

In 1657, Macy found himself in further turmoil for sheltering traveling Quakers in his barn during a fierce rain storm. For this brief hour of gracious harbor he was ordered to appear in court, but he sent the officials a letter instead.

In 1658, “certain inhabitants” (Macy and Peaslee) filed a petition to break off from the official church of Reverend Worcester, but it was denied. The court demanded attendance to the true fellowship, and fines were issued to the flock of dissenters for “slighting and neglecting the order” and “disorderly practices.” However, Peaslee preached on as the “Come-outer,” and Pike, “the moral and fearless hero of New England,” fought injustice against Quakers and accused witches.

Macy sought religious refuge on a voyage recalled in Whittier’s poem, “The Exiles.” Macy legend states that his wife, Sarah, pleaded with him above the cries of their five tots to curtail his warrior spirit and sail away from an evil storm brewing, but he just replied, “Woman, go below and seek thy God. I fear not the witches on earth, nor the devils in hell.”

The crew made it to safety to Nantucket, where Macy took an active role in negotiating the purchase of the island.

Thomas Mayhew sold it for 30 pounds sterling and two beaver hats.

Although Macy was accused of skirting the Mass Bay despots, this sturdy pioneer preacher consciously chose not to accept laws that openly engaged in religious persecution.

With that said, no one could accuse this pulpiteer of missing his true calling where “charity and freedom dwell,” so “Let the dim shadows of the past” be a reminder for today.

Links and sources to check out
History of Essex County, Massachusetts: With Biographical Sketches, Volume 1 edited by Duane Hamilton
Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Nantucket Historical Association 
Thoughts and Experiences in and Out of School By John Bradley Peaslee
The New England Magazine, Volume 22Genealogy of the Maulsby Family for Five Generations, 1699-1902: Compiled by Careful Research Among Quaker, Government and Family Records by Patty Payne
The Essex Antiquarian, Volume 8 edited by Sidney Perley
Genealogy of the Macy Family from 1635-1868 By Silvanus J. Macy
Away Off Shore: Nantucket Island and Its People, 1602-1890 By Nathaniel Philbrick
The Successful American, Volume 1, Part 1 - Volume 2, Part 1
The Coffin Family: The Life of Tristram Coffyn, of Nantucket, Mass., Founder of the Family Line in America; Together with Reminiscences and Anecdotes of Some of His Numerous Descendants, and Some Historical Information Concerning the Ancient Families Named Coffyn
Nantucket Genealogies By Alexander Starbuck
The New Puritan: New England Two Hundred Years Ago: Some Account of the Life By James Shepherd Pike
Early Settlers of Nantucket: Their Associates and Descendants edited by Lydia Swain Mitchell HinchmanGenealogical and Personal Memoirs
The Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury, Massachusetts By David Webster Hoyt
The Churchman, Volume 39
Nantucket Historical Commission
Miner Descent 
Pike Family
Coffin Family Story
Coffin Family History
Lucrtia Mott Coffin


The Settlement Of Nantucket

Date: Saturday, December 31, 1831
Paper: Nantucket Inquirer (Nantucket, MA)
Page: 2 


200 Years Old but Nantucket Celebrates Its Centennial Only Island T Own En Fete a Notable Program of Addresses

Date: Wednesday, July 10, 1895
Paper: Worcester Daily Spy (Worcester, MA)
Page: 3, 1 

Nantucket Island
Date: Monday, August 4, 1873 Paper: Public Ledger (Philadelphia, PA)
Volume: LXXV    Issue: 113 Page: 2

From Saturday, July 9, 1836 Paper: Norfolk Advertiser (Dedham, MA)
Volume: VI   Issue: 28 Page: 1

The First White Settler in Nantucket

Date: Tuesday, August 23, 1842
Paper: Boston Evening Transcript (Boston, MA)
Volume: XIII   Issue: 3705 Page: 2 


Monday, March 17, 2014

Infant boat industry grew along the Merrimack

Melissa D Berry from Newburyport News

There is no doubt that the watercrafts forged along the magical waters of the Merrimack and Parker rivers could not be matched. In colonial New England, shipbuilding was an “ancient and useful art — one of the first practiced in the New World, where water carriage, for a long period, preceded land carriage” (Sketches of Shipbuilding Currier). Local legends of the shipbuilding trade include Currier, Hardy, Clark, Morrill, Lowell, Webster and more.

The Mass Bay Colony government offered incentives like land grants to build infrastructure, designed to attract the wealthiest, most desirable fellows around. Amesbury, once known as “Jamioca” for the large quantities of rum brought in from the West Indies, was given grant rights along the water covering “1000 acres, 90 feet above the sea” because it had “a constant and extensive water power” source.

William Osgood was granted the “liberty to make use of all the pine timber on condition of his building a saw mill.” It was at this mill that the first planks were flitched for shipbuilding. Robert Quimby received two land grants, but his marriage to Osgood’s daughter sent him floating on a sea of golden opportunity. Walter Taylor (1659) was awarded the right to cut timber on the Common for building vessels. Nathan Gould’s 1658 court deposition confirms that “heaps of boards” were abundant and mentions a vessel built by Mr. Greaves.

George Carr was given the “greatest Hand in ye river Merrimack,” known as Carr’s Island. Carr was a ship builder, and he ran a ferry across the Merrimack. S. L. Redford’s History of Amesbury asserts that historians rightfully credit Carr “as the one who fathered this infant boat industry,” not only in this area, “but along the entire New England coast.”

By 1749, shipbuilding and farming were “the principle branches of businesses and main stay of the people.” At that time, over 600 vessels had been built, many contracted for and sold to English merchants and foreign parties. The Alliance, a continental frigate, was built at Daniel Webster’s yard in Amesbury by William Hackett, “one of the most enterprising and scientific shipwrights; his services were required in many places on account of his superior knowledge in the art.”

Newbury’s early shipbuilding occurred along the Parker River. As town grants were issued, several “ship yards were scattered along the river bank from Pierce’s farm to Moggaridge’s point.” The ship Salamnder was built by Woodman (1675) at the foot of Woodman’s lane. The Johnson family (1695) had a shipyard at the bottom of Chandler’s Lane operated by three generations, and another shipwright was noted at Thorlas’s Bridge in 1723. Stephen Cross, along “with seventeen associate ship-builders from Newbury, went to Fort Oswego, on Lake Ontario, under contract to build vessels there for the government” (Journal 1750).

The largest vessel constructed on land was “The County’s Wonder,” built on Rowley Common under the direction of Capt. Nathaniel Perley. This massive vessel weighed over 90 tons, and 100 yoked oxen were used to draw her down to the river.

In spite of these early achievements, it was not all smooth sailing in the nautical world. The Records and Files of the Quarterly Court reveals nefarious activity ranging from disorderly conduct to debt collection. For example, Walter Taylor was fined for “using cursing speeches” (EC 3:148) on his apprentices Hoyt and Johnson. Samuel Fowler was convicted for “breech of the Sabbath by travel” (EC 6:23). The Osgood, Ring, Hardy and Carr lines were infamously notable in local witchery cases as well.

Ben Franklin (1650-1727) great uncle to Ben Franklin, hired Benjamin Cocker and John Rolfe to repair his sloop, the Benjamin and Katherine. Initially, the sloop’s leaks could not be mended, creating one hull of a problem! Despite this lack of buoyancy, Ben shacked up on board for 14 days as pressure from the pier to pay up made waves, causing a heated dispute over payment. In an attempt at an amicable resolution, Stephen Greenleaf and Nathaniel Clark acted as mediators for both parties at the home of John Hale, but the “gentlemen’s agreement” forged that day would not last. Although the sloop was restored, an attachment was ordered on her for payment past due.

The matter eventually ended up in court, and local folks came forward to testify, including John March, who never received payment for “seven weeks diet and use of his home” (EC 9:93). Leaving a trail of debenture, Franklin sailed out of the Merrimack before his next court date, but his debtees were no dinghies — they capsized Franklin in Boston Harbor. The matter finally settled, Franklin made good in copper and coin (EC 9:249). Records shown below

Last but not least, the biggest catch in local maritime tales is certainly Amesbury’s “Granny Hoyt,” who met her maker when she tried to fire up the hearth by blowing gunpowder from her husband’s ship horn, causing a great explosion and coining the expression, “Quick as Granny Hoyt’s powder-horn.”

Benjamin Franklin case: September 1683 and In November the case was found in favor for plaintiff.

 December 1683

June 1684

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Brocklebank-Nelson-Beecher house Georgetown, MA

The Brocklebank-Nelson-Beecher house is a First Period Colonial house located at 108 East Main Street (Route 133) in Georgetown. 
Great old article on the house from Boston Globe February 1, 1892
This ancient and historic landmark is situated on the corner of Main and Elm Sts., on the direct road to Salem. It was built by Lieut. Samuel Brocklebank (1628-1676) in 1660; he also owned a farm of 72 acres.
Although this house is 231 years old, a passer by would hardly take it to be a half century old, as it has always been kept in good repair.
It contains 10 rooms, with two stories and an attic in front. On either side of the front door, facing the south, arc two large rooms, used as sitting-room and parlor. They are very low studded. Each room contains a large open fireplace; the large oaken beams and posts nearly a foot square, stand out prominently.

Many improvements have recently been made on the old House, the windows have been taken out and the west side raised. But the antique roof still remains, a delight to the antiquarians. It was laid out across the Brocklebank farm near the residence of John Preston, through what is now known as Pentucket Sq.; then up Andover St., over Spofford's hill to connect with the Haverhill and Salem Road, near the house of Edward Poor.

In those colonial days it was the custom for the pioneers that lived for miles around to assemble at this house with their families every night for protection from the Indians. And more than once they returned in the morning to find their homes in ashes and their crops destroyed by the Indians.
Lieut. Brocklebank was appointed captain, and was killed in a fight with King Philip and his warriors in Sudbury on April 20, 1676.
(See Photo below by Beca Find A Grave

After Capt. Brocklebank's death the inventory of his estate was made and the record is found: Farm toward Bradford, 150 lbs.
In 1686 his eldest son Samuel, who was then 24 years old, lived on the farm.
A committee appointed Nov. 20, 1686, met at this house to consider a claim for damages caused by a highway opened through his farm. This was the Rowley and Haverhill road, opened years before by his father.
In 1720, this Samuel Brocklebank, then known as Deacon Samuel, of the Byfield church, deeded this house and the adjoining land to his youngest son, Francis, provided he would support himself and his wife through life.
Six years before, Deacon Samuel Brocklebank had given his eldest brother John a deed of all the land that now comprises Georgetown centre.

In 1745 Dudley Tyler came into possession of this farm bv marriage: as the house was large he opened an inn. This sign was about four feet square, and it used to hang on a pole in the front yard. Solomon Nelson who purchased the property in 1767.  The sign is still in good condition, and is the property of Mr. Humphrey Nelson.

In 1760, when a new meeting-house or the removal of the old one then standing near where the house of David Brocklebank now is, had caused a very sharp controversy, Caleb Cushing, Samuel Phillips and Thomas Lewis met here as an advisory committee to consider the matter.

After Mr. Tyler, the next owner was Solomon Nelson, the father of Nathaniel Jeremiah of Newburyport, who was a member of Congress from Essex North for 20 years or more.

The patriots of the Revolution assembled at this house before starting for Lexington, April 19, 1775. On seeing this sign of Gen. Wolfe they shot at it. The holes made by these bullets are still plainly seen.

A excerpt from letter sent by Capt. Samuel Brocklebank of Rowley, to John Leverett, Governor of Massachuesetts, in 1675:
To the Honored Governor and Counsel, This may certifie that we have impressed twelve men according to our warrant and have given them charge to fit themselves well with warm clothing, and we hope they will and doe endeavor to find themselves as well as they can; only some of them are men that are but latly come to town, and want arms, the which to provide for them we must press other men's arnica, which is very grievous.
In 1858 the house was purchased by Rev Charles Beecher (1815-1900) brother of Henry Ward Beecher. The home was parsonage for the Old South Church.

Monday, June 4, 1866 Lowell Daily Citizen and News (Lowell, MA)

From Standard History of Essex County by Cyrus Mason Tracy
The long condition of harmony in the Orthodox Church at length gave indications of being disturbed by a difference of opinion, in reference to certain fundamental theological questions, between a portion of the church and the Rev. Mr. Beecher. The theological eccentricities of Mr. Beecher—the leading one being the doctrine of pro-existence— became so prominent in the minds of those who dissented therefrom, that unity in the support of his ministry could no longer be maintained ; and Jan. 17, 1864, eighty-five members, by consent of a council convened for that purpose,withdrew, and organized themselves under the name of the First Orthodox Society, of Georgetown, establishing worship in the chapel occupied by the Ladies’ Benevolent Society.

In 1865, a sister of George Peabody, of London, observing the position of this society, conceived the idea of having a church built for their use, and suggested the idea to her brother of building a church there, which should stand as a memorial to their mother. The suggestion met with the prompt and cordial approval of Mr. Peabody, who at once signified his purpose to carry out the plan, and a site for the church was selected in 1866, upon which the structure was erected, and dedicated in 1868, at which time the new organization took the name of the "Memorial Church.” It is located on Main Street, and is built of brick. In the rear of the church, and upon the same lot, is located the Library Building and the Peabody Lecture Hall.

The portion of the old society remaining with Mr. Beecher rallied to his most cordial support, and was re-enforced by additions from the less conservative portion of the community, who saw in his position, made prominent by the action of the seceders, a new religious departure. Although there appeared a peculiarity and independence in Mr. Beeeher’s belief in certain things, his position was not regarded as decidedly unevangelical. He retained and still retains the leading evangelical views of the Congregationalists, blended with his own philosophy, forming a theory, probably, more harmonious to his own mind than it is to the judgment of many others. He is an independent, vigorous thinker and writer, whose suggestions, if followed to their legitimate results, would open into very broad fields.

The old meeting-house had become too dilapidated for agreeable occupancy; and directly after the erection of the Memorial Church, a new and very beautiful house of worship was erected for Mr. Beecher, on the corner of Andover and Middle streets, fronting on Monument Square.

The ministry of Mr. Beecher has been well sustained,—a large, flourishing, and intelligent congregation having been gathered about him. During some portion of his ministry of twenty-one years in this town, his health has been such as not to withstand the rigors of a northern climate, and he has passed some of his winters in Florida; but he has been the constant pastor of the society, and in his absence the pulpit has been supplied in such ways as the society devised.

For a time, the Rev. Thomas R. Beeber was settled as colleague with Mr. Beecher, but resigned his ofiice in March, 1875. He was succeeded in 1876 by the Rev. Alfred F. Marsh, who remained only one year. Mr. Beecher’s health is now quite improved.

Essay: The Beechers In Our Backyard   by Agnes Howard


According to legend a servant girl mysterious trunk Mary Harrod Northend the event took place in 1679 when Hannah, the housemaid lifted the lid of the wooden chest to take out the meal to sift it for biscuit. The chest "commenced to jump and down and jog along the floor two or three inches at a time." Hannah was frightened and sent the children next door to the neighbors so they could witness the haunting event. When all surrounded the possessed trunk it remained still, but when Hannah touched it--"it commenced its grytations, trotting all over the room and becoming so noisy that the minister was sent for." When the minister arrived he knelt and prayed with all his power as the trunk bounced around the room. By then there were over 20 witnesses and the minister requested one large lady to sit upon it, but "it kept on with its jigging." Hannah was released from her duties and the trunk has sat silent and still since. The “Haunted Meal Chest” can be examined today visit The Brocklebank Museum
Georgetown, Ma
Baldpate Hill  The highest Hill in Essex County is Baldpate Hill located on borders of Georgetown, MA and Boxford, MA
Check out  The Essex Antiquarian. Vol. II. Salem, Mass., July, 1898. No. 7.
The original house was extended several times in its early years, and is now a gambrel roofed, 5-bay, center chimney dwelling of early eighteenth century appearance. A number of items are exhibited within, including many of Capt. Brocklebank's journals. There are also many historically accurate pieces within as well as a display of a small back yard shoe shop.