Wednesday, February 1, 2017

History Carnival CLXII: Double LP Edition

Mismatched buckles and shoes
Welcome to History Carnival 162 at "Another Pair Not Fellows", so named because certain "runaway" advertisements from colonial American newspapers default to this archaic phrase when describing absconders wearing mismatched sleeve links, stockings or shoe buckles. To give but one example: a Dutch serving man in New Jersey took to his heels back in 1773 with

"a broad brimmed Felt Hat, Snuff coloured Jacket, old cloth coloured ditto, old Blue breeches, white shirt, coarse grey stockings, and new shoes, with Buckles not Fellows [emphasis mine]."

This is my third time at the turntable as host of the History Carnival (see HC 56 and HC 100) but it is the first time in many years.  It is also the first time at this blog, where my 18th Century historical interpretation and material culture research interests went to live after I put Walking the Berkshires on ice.  So let me be your DeeJay and I'll lay some righteous history grooves on you here at Another Pair, &c.


TRACK 1: "1985" - BOWLING FOR SOUP.  You get two phat months for the price of one with History Carnival 162, covering both December of last year and January of this one.  Hipster youth, and others like me who are old enough to be their parents, will appreciate that this happy circumstance is akin to savoring the double LP of "Blonde on Blonde" or "The White Album" in all its sprawling glory.  In keeping with this musical vein, Not Another Music History Cliché unravels some Mozart Myths.  For a history of the spinning discs themselves, from the shellac era to the rebirth of vinyl, look no further than this post at Vinyl Lovers Unite.

TRACK 2: "AMERICAN PIE" - DON McLEAN.  If you prefer platters of a different sort, you might be inspired, as was Rich Halpern while at the AHA 2017 Annual Meeting this month, to investigate The Muddled History of the Denver Omlete at the AHA Blog.  Early Modern Whale is making Umble Pie, while Four Pounds of Flour makes a Chicken Country Captain from the 1850s and ponders naturalization.  A Tapster turned Highwayman is revealed at the blog Here Begynneth a Lytell Geste of Robin Hood.  At Process: a blog for american history, Mario Sifuentez makes a good case for lying to his students by offering "a class called the history of food but it’s about workers."

Photo credit: Wilson Freeman
Drifting Focus Photography
TRACK 3:  "THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED" - GIL SCOTT-HERON.  Because the era of American Independence is an old standard here at "Not Fellows", the next cuts on our Carnival relate to research and historical interpretation of this general period.  Don Hagist at British Soldiers, American Revolution continues to document the lives of otherwise anonymous enlisted men with a profile of Robert Mason of the 23rd Regiment of foot, who first appears on the battalion rolls at the tender age of seven.   Kitty Calash's post,  Occupy Princeton, describes a brilliantly conceived public history event in which a force of military occupation and its impact on the lives of local civilians (mainly women) had center stage.  British Tars 1740-1790 examines A New Sea Quadrant, 1748, and describes this useful navigation aid as well as the apparel worn by the sailor depicted with it. J.L. Bell at Boston, 1775 looks for evidence of "a comma in the middle of a phrase."  At the Sign of the Golden Scissors describes a contract to design clothing for two figures - woman and child camp followers - for a permanent exhibit at the new Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia.

TRACK 4: "DON'T YOU (FORGET ABOUT ME)" - SIMPLE MINDS.  Judith Weingarten at Zenobia: Empress of the East, asks "Where are the Real Women of the Ancient World?" Where indeed, and while we are at it, Yvonne Seale wonders, "where are the Medieval women in your college survey course?" Phoebe Evans Letocha guest blogs at Medical Heritage Library on Women Veterans of World War I Our Girl History dares to interpret the untold.   Over at Last Real Indians; Trace L. Hentz calls out selective memories and historians and institutions that are that are late in acknowledging suppressed and oppressed history.  It is a nettlesome read and worth taking the the time to do so, particularly for insights like this:

"So, how DO you keep violence alive in a museum exhibit or book but not make people throw up or pass out? Very carefully...Memory Studies are a new big thing. Memory is emotional, so history done right is capable of invoking a wide range of create empathy but not traumatize."

, who has been deeply engaged with memory studies for more than a decade at Civil War Memory, shares his excitement about the newly designated Reconstruction Era National Monument at Beaufort, South CarolinaMillard Fillmore's Bathtub examines a letter written by its eponymous ex-president to Abraham Lincoln in 1861.

TRACK 6: "RESPECT" - ARETHA FRANKLIN. The Women's History Network introduces us to Edith Morely, Britain's first female professor, while Historiann laments; A woman's work is never done (part II), and even when it is, it's not on the syllabus
The Australian Women's History Network hosts a tribute in celebration of the internationalism of feminist historian Marilyn Lake, with reminiscences by her many colleagues and friends.

TRACK 7: "THE EDISON MUSEUM" - THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS.  Blogs hosted by institutions large and small weigh in with such fascinating posts as a 2,000-year-old pet cemetery at (hat tip: World History Blog) and Gremsdoodle Library with 22 blocks in Schenectady.  Another Upstate story is revealed by Hoxie! in a post about armless train announcer Fred Lillie.  Just a short way up the canal, the Friends of Scoharie Crossing tell us about the notorious locks known as The Sixteens.  Our friends at Fort Ticonderoga blog discuss the heavy casualties taken by provincial rangers under Robert Rogers during the Battle on Snowshoes in 1757.


TRACK 8: "OLD AND IN THE WAY - DAVID GRISMAN".  David Gills at Looting Matters looks back at disputed cultural property and illegal trafficking in antiquities during 2016.  Dumpdiggers lauds the trend in office lobby museums and describes an artifact of office printing technology from the 1880s, now on display at a business in Toronto.  Flavia at Ferule and Fescue muses about the relevance of reference books in the digital age.

TRACK 9:  "U.N.I.T.Y." - QUEEN LATIFA. The group blog The Australian Women's History Network generated a number of excellent posts as activism against gender violence.  Among these are Lucinda Horrick's Out of the Closets: A Homosexual History of Melbourne; Dianne Hall on Early Modern Domestic Violence; Sheilagh Ilona O’Brien on Witchcraft and Communal Violence and Vera Mackie discussing militarized sexual abuse during the Asia-Pacific War.

TRACK 10: "EVERY DAY I WRITE THE BOOK" - ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ATTRACTIONS. Up next, we've got a number of book reviews. Casey Schmitt at The Junto discusses Sowande' Mustakeem's Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex and Sickness in the Middle Passage.   Viola at bookaddiction shares her thoughts on Paula Byrne's biography of Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy.  Jonathan Dresner at Frog in a Well offers a thought on military and transnational history in lieu of a review of Kenneth Swope’s A Dragon’s Head and a Serpent’s Tail: Ming China and the First Great East Asian War. The Renaissance Mathematicus reads an excellent biography on Kepler's mom.  Legal History Blog offers lessons learned from writing The Chapter from Hell.

TRACK 11:  "PLASTIC FANTASTIC LOVER" - JEFFERSON AIRPLANE.  It is hard difficult to resist a scholarly blog named Dirty Sexy History, or a post in which Jessica Cale investigates unabashedly whether Rasputin really was a love machine. Among other things, a case is made that while the Mad Monk was hot, sex for and with him was a spiritual experience. At this same blog, Dr. Stephen Carver offers a straight faced, though hardly straight laced study of The Ancient Lays of Rome.  Expect to hear more from DSH, as they will be hosting HC 163 in March.

Tim O'Brien #alternatefacts
TRACK 12: "HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN" - THE ANIMALS.  At Art and Architecture, Mainly, Hels highlights Greenwich Village in New York - Art , Literature, Progressive Politics.  English Buildings profiles The Victoria and Albert Museum. For period architecture of quite a different sort, check out the extraordinary, scratch-built 28mm scale model siheyuan block at the historical war-gaming blog Major Thomas Foolery's War Room.  Museum dioramas were my gateway to history as a little boy, and the research and artistry brought to this grownup project are of the highest order.

TRACK 13:  "WHAT IT MEANS" - DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS.  Alternate facts abound with America's post-expert POTUS. Historians know the difference and they document the hell out of it. Executed Today burns a werewolfThe Many-headed Monster examines the history of Fake News in the 17th century and compares it to that of the present day. Airminded investigates claims of Death Ray development between the wars.

TRACK 14. "HELP SAVE THE YOUTH OF AMERICA" - BILLY BRAGG.  The verdict of The Progressive Professor puts Barack Obama in the top 10 (now of 45) American Presidents.  Politics and Letters calls out Henry the K and compares him to Doctor Strangelove at the ending of the American Century, adviser as he is to the now President Trump while he slams the Open Door of US Foreign Policy. The Broken Elbow chronicles the lengthy record of Martin McGuinness as IRA Chief of Staff.  Patrick Rael demystifies the 13th Amendment and its impact on mass incarceration at Black Perspectives.  Nigerian History Channel considers models of national reconciliation 47 years after the end of the Nigerian Civil War.  Timothy Burke cautions at Easily Distracted that we need to start to recognize our connections to conspiratorial readings as well as our alienation from them.  Chris Gehrz writes at The Anxious Bench on Faith, Resistance and Self-Sacrifice and concludes;

"if we find ourselves...governed by 'an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct' — then I can only pray that God will give me and you the strength not to hesitate, not to calculate or procrastinate, but to defend what is right without fear."

Public History flashback:
Naval Impressment, Newport Rhode Island, 1765
 Photograph by John Collins
BONUS TRACK:  "FIGHT FOR YOUR MIND" - BEN HARPER.   My favorite sign from the global Women's Marches in January reads as follows:

"What do we want? Evidence-based Science!"
"When do we want it?  After Peer Review!"

So say we all.

Your Humble Blogger,
resplendent in striped calimancoe

Time to face the music.  Yes, this was actually a carnival of history's untold stories and under-represented voices, all served up with musical accompaniment.  I actively sought to highlight these posts and bloggers and you can too.

The next edition of the History Carnival -
No. 163 - will be at Dirty Sexy History. Be sure to nominate the Best History Blog Posts of February, 2017 and consider hosting this Carnival yourself.

There's no school like Old School. 
Rock on.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Buckets, Bags and Engines at the Boston Massacre

I'll be portraying a citizen of Boston at this year's commemoration of the Boston Massacre who, responding to the ringing of church bells at an unaccustomed hour, turned out thinking there was a fire.  There are numerous contemporary accounts in eyewitness testimony that describe people in the crowd carrying fire buckets and other equipment, at least two fire engines hauled to the vicinity of the confrontation at the Customs House, and people asking directions to a fire.  I've decided to adopt the persona of one of these eyewitnesses, Thomas Wilkinson, who reported:

"The Old South bell rung for nine as usual; about a quarter after I heard Mr. Cooper's bell ring, I went out and saw the Old South engine hauled out.  I ran down as far as the town pump.  There seemed to be a considerable body of people, and some with buckets...The Old Brick bell began to ring, and the people seemed to come along fast, with buckets and bags."

Wilkinson describes a full array of fire-fighting responses from the citizens of Boston, although there was, in fact, no fire.  Fellow Bostonian John Colburn recounted;

"being alarmed by the cry of fire and ringing of bells, ran out of my house with my bags and buckets; upon going to Mr. Payne's door, he told me it was not fire, it was a riot. I sent my buckets home again..."

Newtown Prince, another witness to the events that night, recalled "When the bells rung I was at my own house.  I run to the door and heard the cry of fire.  I went out and asked where the fire was; somebody said it was something better than fire.  I met some with clubs, some with buckets and bags, and some running before me with sticks in their hands."

Dr. John Jeffries and William Whittington gave similar testimony:

Dr. John Jeffries - "I then passed up the alley myself into Cornhill; as soon as I got out of the alley I heard the Old Brick bell ring.  There were many in the street running, some with buckets, inquiring where the fire was..."

William Whittington - "In a little time I heard the bells ring, and made a stop and asked what was the matter?  They said fire.  I saw several people with buckets, &c., and I asked them where they were going?  They said there is fire somewhere."

Just what were these buckets, bags and engines described by these and other witnesses to the Boston Massacre? 

Boston had a long history of fire-fighting, developing an elaborate system of public and private resources to respond to blazes and protect life and property.  The first fire engine, a wheeled wooden reservoir equipped with hand pumps and a nozzle, was imported for use in the Town in 1678, a year which also saw the establishment of the first paid fire department.  By 1770 there were ten fire engines in Boston, including two that were the very first built in America, constructed by local blacksmith and engine captain David Wheeler. The Selectmen's Minutes from March 10th, 1766 record:

" Messrs. John Green and David Wheeler having at their own cost and charge, built and Compleated a Fire Engine, which upon tryal does honor to the Country as well as to the Constructers; the use thereof on all Ocassions by means of Fire that may happen they may offer the Town, provided they will keep the same in good repair, and allow the Men belonging thereto, the Exceptions and Priviledges indulged the other Engine-Men - it is therefore Voted that the Town do accept the said generous proposal."

The following week David Wheeler was appointed Captain of the new engine, designated No. 10 and called the Green Engine. Later that year in November, Wheeler proposed building an Engine House at Pond Lane near the intersection with Newbury Street. Although David Wheeler was later replaced as Engine Captain, other Wheelers maintained control of the Engine. On the night of the Massacre, one participant testified that Wheeler's engine responded to the bells.

Thomas Greenwood - "...spending the evening at Mrs. Wheeler's, I was alarmed by the bells ringing and the people's crying fire, upon which I turned out with Mrs. Wheeler's three sons and helped Mr. Wheeler's engine as far as the Old South meeting house."

It should be noted that his contemporaries considered Greenwood an unreliable witness - he was a servant to the Customs collectors and gave wildly conflicting testimony about his involvement in the "Massacre"- but this detail may, in itself, be more credible. From No.10's Engine House to the South Meeting House was about three long blocks, a bit more than half the distance to the head of King Street at the Town House.

We already know from Thomas Wilkinson's report that the Old South Engine (No. 7) was out at this time, and probably was one of the two later reported together at King Street by eyewitness Benjamin Frizwell:

"The deponent proceeded about his business, as far as Wheeler's Point, and while there, the bell rang as usual for fire, and he with others ran to the Town-house; two engines being there drawn, the men attending, left them on the west end of the Town-house." 

According to another participant, Benjamin Davis; "I...went into King street, and saw some with buckets; the engine was in King street, but nobody with it."  He may be referring either to the South Engine or to the one kept at the Town House - No. 5, called The Marlborough Engine - that would have been closest to the commotion. Shubael Hewes, who was south of the Custom Hosue when the bells began ringing, reported;  

"I spent the evening with an acquaintance near the Town dock; sitting in the room, the Master of the house came into the room, and said fire was cried, and the bells a ringing; as I belonged to the engine, I was first out of the door, with my surtout and stick...I thought I should meet our engine coming down the lane or Cornhill..."  

Mr. Hewes belonged to Engine No. 5, and would succeed its long-serving Engine Captain Thomas Read in 1772.

From this we can conclude that at least two fire engines reached the head of King Street by the North end of the Town House (No. 5 and No. 7.) when the bells rang, and perhaps one more responded at least part way (Engine No. 10).

The paid fire companies were not the only ones who turned out that night, however. There were also
volunteer Fire Societies, associations of 25 to 30 neighbors and merchants who pledged to come to each others' assistance in case of fire. Some of the regulations and orders of these ancient associations have been preserved. One of the more colorfully named was the Anti-Stamp Fire Company, established in 1763 but evidently renamed when it published its bylaws in 1765 (republished in 1776). In addition to specifying fines for member non-attendance or non-compliance, the rules of the Society made specific mention of fire equipment that each member was to maintain and bring with him in case of fire:

Jonathon Rowe's Fire Bucket

Fire buckets were made of leather and waterproofed with pitch.   They sometime bore elaborate "folk art" designs in addition to the identifying names and numbers associated with their owners.  Fire Societies sometimes painted their motto on their buckets, though I have been unable find documentation for any that may have been associated with the Anti-Stamp F.S.   It is tempting to imagine the thundering words of James Otis rendered as a Latin motto, and I could not resist doing so, but it is purely conjectural:

                Tributum Çine RepræÇentatione Tryannus eÇt.

The other fire-fighting equipment referenced in the rules of the society was standard salvage gear.  Once a blaze took hold, the threat to personal household property was of more immediate urgency than saving the structure, which in turn was a threat to the Town.  While some members formed bucket brigades, others used their fire bags to rescue items from the burning buildings.  These bags were made of linen duck or other strong canvas, and often had a draw string to secure their contents.  A surviving Portsmouth, New Hampshire fire bag used during this period by a member of a local Fire Society appears at right.

The reference to a "Bed-Winch" actually indicates a bed-wrench, a specialized forged iron tool used to disassemble the heavy wooden beds that  were often the most valuable possession in the household. These wrenches included ends that could draw recessed bolts that joined the posts and the frames of the bedstead.  Though their form and complexity evolved over time, bed-wrenches or bed keys remained an essential part of the fire-fighter's tool kit well into the 19th century.

The fact that many people turned out for a fire when the alarm bells rang was an important point of testimony during the aftermath of the Boston Massacre.  It was necessary to establish what people held in their hands, whether buckets and bags or more dangerous items such as clubs, because it could very well affect the verdict if the soldiers acted in self defense.  Thomas Wilkinson thought there was a fire, and he described buckets, bags and engines in his account.  Although one cannot be certain that he brought any fire-fighting supplies to the scene himself, I am prepared to play him that way, with bucket in hand, when the showdown at the Customs House plays out once again this year for the Boston Massacre commemoration.  It remains to be seen whether I shall take liberties with the motto or stick to the plain requirements of name and number.


Arthur W. Brayley; A Complete History of the Boston Fire Department: Including the Fire-Alarm Service and the Protective Department; from 1630 to 1888; Boston, Massachusetts: John P. Dale & Co., 1889

Frederick Kidder, History of the Boston Massacre,, March 5, 1770, Consisting of the Narrative of the Town, the Trial of the Soldiers, and a Historical Introduction; Albany, New York: Joel Munsell, 1870

"Rules and Orders to be Observed by the Anti-Stamp Fire Society", 1763

"Rules and Orders to be Observed by the Anti-Stamp Fire Society, Instituted at Boston, October 1763, Revised and Corrected November 1776"

Selectmen's Minutes (vol 7) 1769-1775; Boston, Massachusetts; Rockwell & Churchill, 1893