Category Archives: LHC

Anything local history related

Standing portrait of Melvin Simmons, in uniform, 1864

For Veterans’ Day: Melvin Simmons

Standing portrait of Melvin Simmons, in uniform, 1864

Naval Constructor Melvin Simmons, born in Kingston on April 19, 1806, served as Master Carpenter for the first steam (or screw) frigate the USS Merrimack. Launched in June 1855 from the Charlestown Navy Yard, she was christened by Simmons’ daughter Mary Elizabeth, then 23.

When Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, the US Navy burned the Merrimack, then trapped in Norfolk, to prevent her capture. A month later, the Confederates raised the hull, re-built her as the iron-clad ram CSS Virginia, and in 1862, sent her into battle with the Union’s iron-clad, the USS Monitor in Hampton Roads.

Simmons also served at Philadelphia Naval Yard, and ultimately returned to Charlestown as Naval Constructor in the Construction Corps of the Bureau of Construction and Repair. Created in 1866, the Corps gave former civilian employees a formal rank in the US Navy.

Simmons’ son Frederick, then an unmarried clerk, was drafted into the Union Army in 1863. He served in the 35th Infantry, until his death on January 1, 1865 in Salisbury, North Carolina.

Melvin Simmons died in Charlestown on May 13, 1871, of apoplexy. He is buried in the Forest Hills Cemetery beside his wife Mary A. (Chase) Simmons, who lived in Kingston at the time of her death on May 10, 1890.

Source: Glass Plate Negatives IC3, photo ID: peo-09-0747-gpn

View of wetlands and trees around a spring.

Elder’s Spring

View of wetlands and trees around a spring.

“Elder’s Spring was the water supply for the house-holds of Isaac Allerton, the Mayflower Pilgrim, and of other occupants of the farm, until it came into possession of Elder Thomas Cushman, for whom the present name was given. The old spring was a lovely spot, shaded by huge willows, and boiling up from clean, white sand, a strong and steady flow. A generation ago, Mr. John Bagnell, to make a fish or duck pool, dug away the bank, cut down the willows, and so changed the surroundings of the spring, it is quite different from what it used to be.”

Trees and grass in foreground, water in the distance at right.

Source: Emily Fuller Drew Collection MC16; quote from her notes on place names in Kingston.

Kingston Photo of people buying and selling produce at the Community Market, 1917

A new idea, from 101 years ago.

Kingston Photo of people buying and selling produce at the Community Market, 1917

 

In 2018, a new farmer’s market opened in Kingston. The Library’s usually there; check us out! It’s a great new venture with some interesting echos of the past.

In  1917, Kingston also had a new community market, this one located at the Point, right where Summer Street splits from Main. The Old Colony Memorial on July 13 that year invited anyone with surplus food  to join in.

No matter how small an amount you may have to sell, you are invited to bring it to the market. Products of the garden, dairy, poultry, etc. in fact, anything you are engaged in producing…

Part of the national effort to increase local food production as the nation entered the First World War, Kingston’s market was sponsored by the Grange, the Patriotic Society and the Food Production Committee of the Public Safety Commission. There was no charge for selling: vendors just had to show up with their wares.

Within the first week the market was open, 17-year-old diarist Helen Foster wrote that “things sure were stirring there.”

Source:  Newspapers PC19; Mary Hathaway Collection MC21

Gravestone of Edward Gray in Plymouth cemetery

In other spelling news

Gray’s Beach Park is named for Edward Gray, who arrived in Plymoth Colony in the 1642 and eventually became one of the the richest men around. He owned land along what later became Kingston’s shoreline, including as this notable land record,  the site of  Kingston’s little beach.

And we know it’s Gray’s with an A, because, yes, it’s carved in stone.

Gravestone of Edward Gray in Plymouth cemetery

This is Old Burial Hill in Plymouth, and Gray’s is one of the oldest marked stones there. The more legible of the two markers is actually a sign pointing to the original stone, which appears to be  in some kind of protective frame.  The related page on Find-a-Grave has some good modern close ups of the actual stone.

Source: The Jones River Village Historical Society Lantern Slide Collection IC4, series “The Pilgrim Story, Plymouth” 90 slides copyright A. S. Burbank, circa 1920.

Black and white photo of a fork in the road with a watering trough at the split

Watering trough at the Point

The Henry R. Glover Water Trough at the Point, Main Street and Summer Street, c. 1925
The Henry R. Glover Water Trough at the Point, Main Street and Summer Street, c. 1925

In 1888, Henry R. Glover, a wealthy manufacturer of mattresses and “curled hair” from
Cambridge, donated the “Henry Glover Watering Trough” to the town for public use at the Point, the triangular plot of land at the intersection of Main and Summer Streets. Glover was the son of Rev. Samuel Glover, a Baptist minister, who raised his family in the Samuel Foster House on Summer Street opposite the Point. The trough was a place for horses and dogs to drink after the town dismantled and covered the Point Well.

 

Source: Image from the Local History Room Image Collection IC7.