Category Archives: Learn

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

It’s almost Town Meeting Time

Town Meeting begins at 8:00 am on Saturday, August 8. As of July 27, the venue is the Kingston Collection, 101 Kingston Collection Way, in the space next to the movie theater,  formerly occupied by K1 Speed.

mall map with town meeting space hightlightedKingston’s Town Meeting is run according to Town Meeting Time: A Handbook of Parliamentary Law, by the Massachusetts Moderators Association.

You can borrow a copy from KPL and other local libraries, or read it  online at the Internet Archive (account required, but it’s free).

Juneteenth

Portrait of two children
From the Library of Congress

Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day.

https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog-post/historical-legacy-juneteenth

The Emancipation Proclamation freed enslaved people in Confederate states at the start of 1863,  and the 13th Amendment ended slavery across the U.S. almost three years later. In the year between, the news of freedom spread slowly. It was only when the Union Army reached Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, that an officer read aloud the order “that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free”

 

Juneteenth commemorates the liberation of thousands of people in Texas that day.  In the 155 years since, Juneteenth has been joyously celebrated,  solemnly observed and virtually erased, all at the same time. In the conflicting ways that we know our shared history, and how we acknowledge and resolve those differences, lies the liminal lesson of Juneteenth:

The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

Requiem for a Nun by William Faulkner

What will our next Juneteenth be like?

Kingston Public Library YouTube Channel

The staff of the Kingston Public Library have curated playlists on the these topics: Do It Yourself (DIY), Library/Community, History, Live Music, Music, Science, and Natural World.  Click here to visit our YouTube channel.

Keep checking back as we’ll be updating our channel with new content!