My laptop has finally returned from the doctor! So I can return to the world of blogging. It’s back to Boston and the Revolutionary War today.
Call it yellow journalism, if you will, or a post with a National Enquirer flair. Except this story isn’t filled with the ‘alternative facts’ of modern tabloids, tweets, and Facebook. Bodies did actually float to the surface in the Granary Graveyard found along Boston’s Freedom Trail. Back in the early 1700s, families occasionally discovered their loved ones surfing and needed to replant them.
It was a swampy area, overcrowded with dead bodies. An estimated 5,000 people were buried in the two acres. Digging a new grave inevitably meant running into the previously departed. Plus, there were the cow pies. Grass grew quickly in the graveyard (was it because of the wet conditions or the enriched soil) and the city fathers determined there was money to be made by renting the land out to a grave-digger as a pasture for his cattle. On a positive note, he was required to repair any damage his herd caused.
I imagine his report to Boston’s Selectmen went something like this: “Yes sir, Old Bessie did eat Grandma’s ear. She thought it was a mushroom. But I reburied Grandma along with the appropriate cow pile.” (Definitely an alternative fact.)
Today the Granary Graveyard is considered to be one of America’s most hallowed grounds. Benjamin Franklin’s parents are buried here. As are several Revolutionary War heroes including Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, James Otis, and Robert Treat Paine. Hancock, Adams and Paine were all signers of the Declaration of Independence. There is also a grave marker for the five men who died in the Boston Massacre— Crispus Attucks, Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, James Caldwell, and Patrick Carr.
The graveyard backs up the stately Park Street Church, which in turn, sits on the edge of the Boston Commons. The leading Abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison, gave his first fiery sermon against slavery in the church on July 4, 1829, and the anthem, America (“My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty…”) was first sung from its doorstep. Liberty wasn’t so sweet for black people.
As for the Commons, it was a true cow pasture. Communities in early New England often set aside a common area where all of the town’s cattle and other livestock could graze and be jointly tended. In 1775 the British turned it into a campground for its Redcoats. That would be the common soldiers, of course; the officers stayed in much more amenable accommodations, held parties and danced the night away. Today the Commons is an attractive public park and has served as a rallying point for the likes of Martin Luther King, Pope John Paul II and the recent Women’s March. Massachusetts’ attractive gold-dome statehouse overlooks the area.
One of the really attractive things about the Freedom Trail, besides its historical significance, is the fact that it can easily be walked in a few hours, or a day if you prefer to dawdle and take time at each of the sites. Or, if walking isn’t your thing, a number of popular bus tours will take you to all of the locations minus the exercise.
Peggy and I did most of the Trail but didn’t cross the Charles River to Bunker Hill. That will have to wait for another time. We did, however, reach Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, a site I found equally interesting to the Granary Graveyard, not because of the people buried there, but because of the tombstones.
I’ve already introduced you to a number of sites along the Freedom Trail including Paul Revere’s home, the Old North Church, the Old State House, the Old Corner Bookstore (there are a lot of old things in Boston), Faneuil Hall, and the Latin School. I’ll finish my posts on Boston today with a few other sites and some additional photos of Faneuil Hall and the Old Statehouse.
Wednesday: Back to the Sierra Trek. Our first night out, a conservative doctor out of Sacramento camps next to us and claims he is going back to Sacramento and tell the media that the Lung Association is running a “pot smoking orgy” in the mountains. Not true, but worrisome, none-the-less.
Friday and Saturday: The wonderfully weird world of mutant vehicles at Burning Man.