This month’s exhibit is a glimpse into the long history of cranberries in Kingston. Stop by the Library to gather some trivia to show off at Thanksgiving dinner!
Sometime back, coconuts mysteriously appeared in a “Kingston” photo. Today, the mystery was nearly solved, but not quite. This print by Huc Mazelet Luquiens, a Massachusetts-born artist known for his images of Hawaii, had been hidden between a silhouette of Abby Bosworth Holmes Jones and the back of the frame that held it. At first glance, it appeared to place the coconut party in Hawaii. Perhaps Abby and her husband Henry M. Jones bought this print as a souvenir of a trip to the islands, but no, the date at lower left is 1931. Abby died in 1922, Henry in 1926.
While the print links Kingston with tropics once again, reminding us that Kingston ships sailed the Pacific throughout the 19th century and into the 20th, still we wonder: where exactly was the coconut party?
Two years ago, we noted that the wooden planks in the Howland’s Lane bridge over the railroad tracks needed to be replaced, an issue had been under discussion for a decade. The bridge, built in the 1870s and renovated during the 1930s, is now closed for repairs. Rocky Nook’s primary water main, carried over the tracks underneath the bridge, will also be upgraded. See here and here for details.
Here are few early images of the bridge and the surrounding area.
How peaceful is this setting in the fields. One can hardly imagine the many trains that now go to steadily stream to and from Plymouth each day.
The Standish monument already stood across the Bay, but other familiar elements were missing. Howland’s Lane was not yet unpaved. No water line crossed the bridge. No one lived in Rocky Nook. Gray’s Beach Park was still a marshy, rocky shore. Shade trees stood few and far between. It’s easy to imagine old Joshua Delano walking along the tracks, travelling from his warehouse at the wharf now named for him to his home on Main Street for his mid-day meal.
This picture postcard shows the view from Rocky Nook across Kingston Bay toward the Standish Monument in Duxbury. Oh, and lots of rocks.
A beautiful cabinet card recently came into the Local History Room, part of a larger collection. While the contrast in the original is a little faded (and has been adjusted in this scan), the image is otherwise perfect, and the subject — harvesting the cranberry crop — could not be more timely.
This close-up shows men, women and children at work, dressed more formally than we might expect for such manual labor.
But where is this bog? It could be almost anywhere: the blank back of the cabinet card yields no clues. A little sleuthing through the photograph collections however, turns up a second copy, much more worn but bearing a typed caption that tells us that this is indeed a Kingston location.
Emily Fuller Drew took this photograph “expressly for the booklet” The Story of Jones River, which she and Sara Y. Bailey completed in 1920. The original caption reads “Flat House Dock. The home of Joseph Bradford, youngest son of the Governor. It is said that the name was given because of the flat roof of Mr. Bradford’s warehouse at the wharf.”
The area, known as the “Short Reach,” was also the site of a lumber yard, probably supplying timber for ship builders. Facing north, Emily shot this image standing near the spot where today Route 3 crosses the Old Colony Railroad tracks, seen in the foreground. In the background left, Captain Joyce’s stone house at 5 River Street is visible, with the Bay Farm at right in the far distance. The Jones River takes a reverse S-curve here.
It is one of my favorite landscapes.
The Old Bay Path
Well before the Pilgrims landed, the Native Americans of southeastern Massachusetts had an extensive network of well-worn trails, among them the Old Bay Path shown in these two lantern slides. By 1637, the colonists had adopted the Bay Path as the main highway through Kingston. Eventually the route became a private road for the Bradfords, then reverted back to a foot path between Stony Brook village (today’s Summer Street neighborhood) and the settlement at Island Creek once the Boston Road (now Summer Street, or Route 3A) was laid out in 1708.
Around 1900, the fields through which the path ran were purchased by private interests, the trees and bushes cut down, and a sand pit opened nearby; soon just a vestige of the old path remained. The lantern slide below shows the handsome Old Shiloh on the path. Old Shiloh lived with his mistress Miss Charlotte Cutts on Brewster Road; the path ran close to their home, from the Stony Brook schoolhouse to Miramar.
Although the Bay Path connected first the numerous Native American villages, then many of today’s South Shore towns, it began in our town, specifically in what was once the village of the Patuxet, near the present Kingston/Plymouth line. From that point, the path divided, with one branch following today’s Main and Crescent Streets and another going along the shore of Rocky Nook via the present Howland’s Lane to the Jones River. Here the water level determined the method of crossing: stepping stones at low tide or skin boat at high tide. As late as 1900, evidence of this branch of the trail was still visible, crossing the Jones River between the Poorhouse and the boat houses on Landing Road , continuing past the Bailey Playground tennis courts and across the ballfields — once a low, wet area now filled in — up the hill to Summer Street , then over to Maple Street, left at Bradford Road, onto Foster’s Lane and finally along Brewster Road. Other paths intersected the Bay Path here, continuing on to Island Creek and other communities. The Bay Path itself continued along Tarkiln Road into Duxbury near the Tree of Knowledge , running past the Twin Schoolhouse and north to other villages.
Little did those Patuxet realize that many years later we would still be using parts of their well worn trail, and even less, perhaps, do today’s travellers realize just how old the roads they follow actually are.
Source: Emily Fuller Drew Manuscript Collection MC- 16 2.1 Early Roads and Trails.