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Beehive series: From Our Collections

Collection Data on Collecting Eggs: Having Fun with William Jenks's Diary

comments: 1 | permalink | Published: Friday, 12 December, 2014, 1:00 AM

The Old North Cemetery of Holliston, Mass.

The MHS recently acquired a small volume of records of a cemetery in Holliston, Mass. that contains some fascinating information about this 19th-century town. The volume is not the original record book, which has apparently been lost, but a manuscript copy made by local historian John Mason Batchelder between 1894 and 1916. The loss of the original book makes this copy that much more significant, since it may contain records that exist nowhere else.

The North Burying Yard of Holliston, now known as the Old North Cemetery (or the Old Indian Cemetery), was established on an acre of land bought from Henry Lealand in 1801. Subscribers purchased lots for their families, and the appointed clerk, Samuel Bullard, recorded “the death and age of all persons buried in any of the Lots in said yard.” The burials listed in this volume date from 1803 to 1876. The entries are brief, but include some interesting details.

 Many of the townspeople interred here are members of the Bullard, Eames, and Lealand families. Included is Civil War soldier Emerson Eames of the 22nd Mass. Regiment, who died on 22 Oct. 1862. (His remains have since been moved to the U.S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.) The cemetery also contains several veterans of the American Revolution, including Aaron Eames (d. 1827), Reuben Eames (d. 1818), Timothy Lealand (d. 1843), Ephraim Bigelow (d. 1834), and Aaron Pike (d. 1848). In recognition of their military service, some or all of these men received new headstones from the U.S. government in 1916, as noted by Batchelder. Pike's story is especially poignant: he was buried as a town pauper at the age of 82 and apparently had no grave marker at all before 1916.

 Also buried in the pauper section is the “child of an Irish family,” who died in 1838 at 16 months. Elsewhere we find 14-year-old Isaac Allard, a victim of typhoid fever in 1860; the unnamed baby daughter of a “single woman”; and poor James Bigelow, who “came to his death by his neckhandkerchief being caught in the turning lathe.”

 Sadly but not unexpectedly, most family lots hold the remains of a husband and wife and any of their children that died young. For example, Eleazer Bullard and his wife Patty are buried with their children: Luke (10 mos.), John (3 days), Peter Parker (3 years), and Martha (4 weeks). Grown children of Eleazer and Patty were presumably buried elsewhere.

 The Old North Cemetery also contains the graves of a few black residents of the town, including Jane Muguet, a state pauper and “colored girl” who died in 1846 at 16. Reuben Titus was another pauper who “lived with Wm Lovering until aged and infirm” and died at about 90 in 1855. The earliest recorded death of a black resident is that of Rose, “negrowoman of Isaac Cozzens,” in 1812.

After copying the records, Batchelder compared his book against the headstones in the cemetery, checking off the names he found there. About half of the names are not checked off, indicating burials recorded by the cemetery clerk but graves unmarked at the time of Batchelder’s visit. (These names are also missing from the Old North Cemetery name index compiled by the Holliston Historical Society in July 2011.) There are several possible explanations for this discrepancy: an error in the original record book or the transcription, a grave that was moved, or one that was never marked in the first place, such as those of the paupers. If the original volume really is lost, this copy may be the only record of the final resting places of Isaac, James, the four Bullard children, Jane, Reuben, Rose, and many others of Holliston.

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Wednesday, 10 December, 2014, 1:00 AM

New Web Presentation of Documents & Engravings about the Boston Massacre

What do you remember learning about the Boston Massacre?  Did you learn the event took place outside the Old State House (at that time called the Town House) in Boston?  Was it presented to you as a key event leading up to the American Revolution?  Do you remember learning that five people (including Crispus Attucks) lost their lives?  If you think of a visual image, do you think of the engraving by Paul Revere depicting townspeople being fired upon by an orderly row of British soldiers?  Are you curious to explore how various primary sources describe the chaotic confrontation that took place on 5 March 1770?

It is interesting to read the words of people who were either at the scene or were able to comment on the overall atmosphere of the town after the event. Thanks to funding from the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati, the MHS has created a new web presentation, Perspectives on the Boston Massacre, featuring letters, pamphlets, diary entries, legal notes, and engravings relating to the Boston Massacre. 

Some examples of the manuscripts that are available for browsing and reading include diary entries written by merchant John Rowe who observed, "the Inhabitants are greatly enraged and not without Reason" and a letter dated 6 March 1770 by Loyalist Andrew Oliver, Jr. who wrote, "Terrible as well as strange things have happen'd in this Town."  The website also includes printed materials;  some convey the Patriot perspective of the event (A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston and On the Trial of the Inhuman Murderers) and some the Loyalist view (A Fair Account of the Late Unhappy Disturbance at Boston).

One section of the new web presentation focuses on visual representations of the Boston Massacre.  Seven prints of the event, as well as one painting showing the same location in Boston in 1801, are available for close examination.  Website visitors can use a comparison tool to view any two of the featured images side by side. 

 

The website also features some selected documents relating to the two legal cases (the trial of Captain Thomas Preston and trial of the eight soldiers).  John Adams served as one of the defense attorneys and the website includes page images of some of John Adams's handwritten legal notes as well as links to the digital edition of  The Legal Papers of John Adams, Volume 3, edited by L. Kinvin Wroth and Hiller B. Zobel, part of the Adams Papers Editorial Project.

The Boston Massacre was recognized as a pivotal event and supporters of the Revolutionary cause organized anniversary commemorations.  The website includes published versions of orations given between 1771 and 1775 by noted figures including James Warren and John Hancock as well as a manuscript copy of an oration given by someone on the opposite side of the political spectrum who ridiculed many Patriot leaders.  

Please visit www.masshist.org/features/massacre.

 

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Tuesday, 9 December, 2014, 1:00 AM

Thanksgiving in London

On October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation, calling for November 26 of that year to be celebrated as a day of thanksgiving by the whole nation now independent and united under a new Constitution. Exactly 74 years later, President Abraham Lincoln, seeing the nation embroiled in a bitter, devastating, and deadly Civil War, recognized that there was still much to be grateful for as “the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Charles Francis Adams was one of those Americans sojourning in foreign lands as the United States minister to Great Britain. Invited by a group of Americans living in London to attend a Thanksgiving Day celebration and give a toast to President Lincoln, the dinner opened with a reading of Lincoln’s proclamation. No devotee of the president, Adams noted that the proclamation was “very good, and...therefore never emanated from Mr Lincoln’s pen.” In his diary, Adams summarized his toast and feelings on the honoree: 

“The press here had sneered at the notion of a thanksgiving in the midst of a desolating civil war. I thought it a good opportunity, whilst avoiding the topic of victories over our fellow countrymen which necessarily take a shade of sadness, to explain more exclusively the causes of rejoicing we had in the restoration of a healthy national solidity in the government since the announcement of the President’s term. I went over each particular in turn. The result is to give much credit to Mr Lincoln as an organizing mind, perhaps more than individually he may deserve. But with us the President as the responsible head takes the whole credit of successful efforts. It certainly looks now as if he would close his term with the honor of having raised up and confirmed the government, which at his accession had been shaken all to pieces. And this a raw, inexperienced hand has done in the face of difficulties that might well appall the most practised statesman! What a curious thing is History! The real men in this struggle have been Messr [William] Seward and [Salmon] Chase. Yet the will of the President has not been without its effect even though not always judiciously exerted.”

 

Shown here is the program for that Thanksgiving Day celebration. Since 1863, Americans around the world have stopped in late November each year for a day of joy and thanksgiving with friends and family, as we will tomorrow. Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

      

 

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Thursday, 27 November, 2014, 1:00 AM

“For We Are Brother and Sister”: Luis and Isabel Emilio

One of the highlights of the Luis F. Emilio papers at the MHS is his correspondence with his younger sister Isabel. The siblings were obviously very close, but their relationship suffered a serious blow in 1862 as the result of a misunderstanding involving one of Luis' best friends, Oliver Wendell Holmes Upham.

First, our cast of characters: Luis and Isabel were the two oldest children of Manuel and Isabel (Fenollosa) Emilio of Salem, Mass. Luis had enlisted in the Union Army and, in the fall of 1862, at just 17 years old, was serving as an officer in the 23rd Regiment at New Bern, N.C. Luis's friend Oliver Wendell Holmes Upham, a.k.a. Wendell, had enlisted with him but was discharged due to illness and sent back to Salem. Naturally, while there, he visited his friend's family, which included Isabel, then 15.

Opinion seems to have been divided on Wendell. Luis described him as “a good boy, rather odd, but in every respect a gentleman[...] He is my most faithful friend.” A mutual friend complained of Wendell's laziness. At any rate, Wendell was warmly welcomed and liked by the Emilio family, particularly Isabel and her four younger siblings, who ranged in age from 11 to 4. As Luis' mother wrote, Wendell “was delighted to meet the children[...] He played with them as if one of their age.” She called him a “good affectionate boy.” Wendell also enjoyed his visits immensely and wrote to Luis with effusive praise for his family.

However, just 2-3 weeks after his first visit, Luis' mother started to express some reservations to Luis.

Wendell comes in often. He is very fond of fun and quite fond of kissing which I do not like as I have to be present when he [is] in the room or else he would be I fear too wild. Isa seems to like to have him come. I hardly know what to think of him. Can you explain[?]

 Isabel also wrote to Luis about this time, joking about one of Wendell's visits. That letter is missing, but Luis' reply is filled with consternation.

I must confess I am ashamed to hear of such actions as you write. He has made a perfect fool of himself[...] I must pray you not to humor him in the least thing, and if he attempts to act so again to leave the room, and let him know his company is not wanted; sometimes he acts in the most foolish manner, so that I have been ashamed of being with him.

After some digging, I discovered that Wendell's primary offense had been to kiss Isabel. As an old friend, he was in the habit of kissing all the members of the family, including the younger children and Mr. and Mrs. Emilio, but Luis felt it was inappropriate for him to kiss the 15-year-old Isabel. It was not the first time he had advised his younger sister in this big-brotherly vein. It was also, apparently, not the first time he'd been embarrassed by Wendell's behavior. He wrote angrily to his friend, and while his letter is not included in the collection, we can infer its contents from Wendell's hurt reply.

On 2 Nov. 1862, Wendell scrawled an emotional 8-page letter in which he argued that the kiss had been intended innocently and that neither Isabel nor her parents, who witnessed it, had objected. He resented that Luis assumed the worst and dredged up past offenses, and was heart-broken by the reprimand. After all, their families had always been close.

I am sorry to think that you can’t allow the same friendship to exist between Isabel and myself, without jealousy, that I have always seen with pleasure existed between yourself and my sister Sarah. I never rebuked you for kissing her nor never will, nor do I claim a right to interfere. That is her business.

He paid another call on the Emilios to address the issue and to apologize, if necessary. The family assured him he had caused no offense.

Wendell's distress greatly affected young Isabel, who is by far my favorite player in this drama. Her compassion and confidence are impressive. While she respected her older brother's advice and appreciated his protectiveness, she passionately and articulately defended Wendell against the unjust accusations. In her 8-page letter about the “unpleasant affair,” written the same day as Wendell’s, she told Luis he had misunderstood the entire situation and that his friend’s behavior had been merely “playful.” Luis' interference was unnecessary, and worse still, he had “implicated” her in the whole mess.

It is very humiliating to your friend to be told he acted like a fool, and I am also placed in a very unpleasant position, as it must appear to him, as if I had told you, if not in those words, in words equivalent to them that, he had acted so, which was far from my intention to say.[...] Wendell had a funny fit on, as we all have at times, and acted just as he felt, nothing more.[...]

I don’t like the idea of my letters to a brother, making hard feelings between friends, and neither do I wish to be called upon to state what I say in my letters to my brother. I feel provoked to think that Wendell should have the impression that I am in the habit of informing or complaining to you of his conduct here, for he will not feel at home and at ease when he comes to visit us but will be entirely unlike himself.[...]

I have not written a very elegant letter. It is rather disconnected and ungrammatical, I have no doubt, but I don’t care one snap for that. I have tried to tell you what I think, and how badly I feel about the whole thing.[...]

You know, Wendell, is very peculiar, but he thought as he was in the house of an old friend who would not mind his way, and he thought rightly. I think on the whole he is a very good boy, and we all make mistakes and sometimes very gross ones, and therefore should not judge others too harshly when they commit them.

Isabel argued, as Wendell had, that if she or her parents had objected to his familiarity, they would have put a stop to it. After expressing her regret at being “the one who has done all the mischief,” she finished with this wonderfully snarky parting shot:

When you write to Dave Sawyer please remember me to him and tell him I should so much love to see him once again. You might give him my love, if it would not be improper for me to send love to such an old friend as Dave.

Now it was Luis' turn to be hurt. He insisted he'd only been thinking of Isabel's welfare and maintained he “had a perfect right” to admonish Wendell, but admitted he'd been “rather hasty” in his letter and was sorry for the trouble it caused. All the fuss was soon smoothed over. Luis wrote a conciliatory letter to Wendell, whom he called an “esteemed” friend. Everyone apologized, and the relationships between all parties were as close as ever. Isabel wrote to Luis on 17 Nov. 1862:

I had no wish to pain you and would not for all the world, on any account, for we are brother and sister, Luis, and both of us are quick-tempered and hasty when provoked or excited, are we not?[...] Our lives are short and uncertain; we cannot tell how long we may remain in this world of sin and sorrow. So while we may, let us forgive, and be forgiven by others, any injuries we may have done or received.

 Unfortunately, Isabel Maria Emilio did not live long. She died of typhoid fever at the age of 32. Wendell Upham lived until 1905, and Luis Emilio until 1918.

 

 

Image: Daguerreotype of Luis and Isabel Emilio, ca. 1852-1853, Photo. 1.574

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Wednesday, 19 November, 2014, 1:00 AM

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